Pollen Unveils Its Flower Donation Program: ReBloom

I’ve often said that after a wedding or event, the flowers are only six hours older than they were at the start of the event, and they still have a lot of life left in them. As a florist, one of the more painful parts of the event industry is seeing all of our work go into the trash after the event. Such a waste! At Pollen, we’ve worked to minimize the waste of all aspects of our business, including these slightly used flowers. We bring the flowers back to our studio, donate what we can, and compost the rest.

Flower donation

Lightly used wedding centerpieces, lined up to be reworked into bedside arrangements for donation. Photo by Clare Britt Photo.

After years of providing regular flower donations to Ravenswood Community Services’ weekly dinners and on an as-requested basis to organizations with missions that are in line with the priorities of the business, Pollen is expanding the program to include hands-on volunteer opportunities to organizations and businesses. We’re excited to officially unveil our flower donation program, ReBloom.

Through ReBloom, small groups join Pollen’s floral designers at Pollen’s studio to rework our briefly used flowers to make floral arrangements for donation to people who could use a little lift. Participants learn some basic floral design, then work under the guidance of one of Pollen’s floral designers to create floral designs from arrangements that are returned to the studio after the weekend’s events. Once the arrangements are complete, the group delivers the flowers to a nearby assisted living facility, hospital, or similar place.

Flower donation

Volunteer/designers create new arrangements for donation. Photo by Clare Britt Photo.

Flower donation workshop

Volunteers choose from the lightly used wedding flowers to create new arrangements for donation.

Flower donation workshop

Volunteers deliver and distribute the arrangements to a nearby assisted living facility.

ReBloom flower donation program in Chicago

ReBloom gives a little lift to those who could use it!

Groups of five to thirty people can schedule a two to three hour time slot to include instruction, design, and delivery of the flowers to a donation partner.  The activity is perfect for corporate team building experiences and others interested in giving back to the community.  For more information, contact lynn@pollenfloraldesign.com or sign up for the email updates here.

Update: Hospice Hearts Gift

12193338_1114287815247953_7760818650771858336_nPollen is so excited to present Hospice Hearts with a Valentine’s Day gift to help cover veterinary bills of the pets they bring in to their care.  For each wedding we booked between the date of my transport of Abby and Bosco up until Valentine’s Day, we put another $50 in the Hospice Hearts pool.  Eleven weddings booked in that time means $550 for Hospice Hearts!

Read here how Hospice Hearts captured my heart and moved me to support their mission.  As I’ve kept up with their efforts, I’m even more impressed with their work to rescue pets of people who can no longer care for their pets due to illness, being admitted to a nursing home, or death.

Bosco AbbyIf you have room in your heart and home for Bosco and Abby, who are currently with a foster family, please consider adopting these two cuties.  You can view all of the adoptable pets rescued through Hospice Hearts here.  Want to make a donation to Hospice Hearts?  Awesome!  You can support their work to rescue pets like Bosco and Abby, who lost their owner last month, here.

A Valentine’s Day Gift to Hospice Hearts

On Sunday afternoon, I was getting ready to head to Ottawa, IL to stay the night with my mom and drive her early Monday morning to get cataract surgery. While putzing around at home and getting my things together, I popped on Facebook and saw a post from Hospice Hearts, a pet rescue group, that struck a chord with me.* Two dogs whose owner had passed away needed to be picked up from the northern suburbs and transported to a foster home in Champaign, IL. That very day. Like right now.  Sooo…dog rescue transport of bonded senior dogs

I picked up these two on Sunday afternoon and brought them to my mom’s, where we stayed the night.  After dropping off my mom at the cataract clinic in Bloomington, IL on Monday morning, I took them to their foster home in Champaign.

But back to Sunday afternoon.  When I picked up Bosco and Abby from their home, their owner’s adult son, who drove in to settle his dad’s affairs, said the pound just wasn’t an option for these two. When he handed the dogs over to me, he said that knowing they would be saved was the first good thing to happen all week. Surely a rough week for everyone involved.

I was so focused on the dogs’ loss that I wasn’t even thinking of the comfort that this rescue effort was providing to the humans involved.

I wasn’t familiar with Hospice Hearts until that day, but as I’ve looked into their work, I am simply amazed by what they do. And all their work is done by volunteers.

Hospice Hearts rescues dogs and cats whose owners can no longer care for them due to illness, admission to a nursing home, or death. They coordinate the pick-up of these pets at their homes or pull them from shelters and place them in foster homes. They provide vet services for the pets to get them ready for adoption and find them new forever homes.

Many of these pets are elderly, so they would not have a good chance at a shelter. I can’t imagine if Bosco and Abby had ended up at a shelter. They surely would have been separated, if not worse.

To support their mission, Pollen is donating $50 to Hospice Hearts for every full-service wedding that we book from now until Valentine’s Day. Veterinary bills for the dogs and cats entering their care are the largest part of Hospice Hearts’ expenses and our support will help with that cost as well as the organization’s other needs.  If you would like to directly support Hospice Hearts, please visit their website to support their mission.

*A little backstory and a personal note:

Buddy the Australian shepherd and flowers20131225_154211I helped transport a senior Australian shepherd named Buddy a couple of years ago. Buddy had been in the pound in southern Illinois for over a month and was deemed “urgent,” meaning they were out of room at the pound and he was going to be put down if he wasn’t pulled that weekend. I was one of many people who took him on a leg of his trip to freedom, coordinated by Australian Shepherd Rescue Midwest.

After some time spent with his foster family being evaluated and getting healthy, that old dog became my old dog. I had no idea how much volunteering for that transport would change my life and how hard I would fall for Buddy.

Now I’m a dog person, just like my dad was.  My dad passed away last year after prolonged illness, and having experienced the decline and loss of a parent, I can only imagine what a relief it must be to families to be able to place their loved ones’ pets in the care of Hospice Hearts.  Thank you, Hospice Hearts!

UPDATE (2/18):  Pollen just sent our gift of $550 to Hospice Hearts to help pay for veterinary bills for the pets that come into their care.

Happy Earth Day!

What better time than Earth Day to explain our sustainable approach to floral design!  I started Pollen specifically to offer an eco-friendly floral design option to couples planning their weddings.  In both our operations and in our sourcing of materials, we operate in as eco-friendly of a way as possible.  It’s been an evolving process, finding workarounds to the traditional ways of doing things as we go.  Here are a few of the things that we are doing differently…

We avoid using floral foam.  Floral foam is a petroleum product, never biodegrades, and contains formaldehyde.  The less of it we are putting out there, the better.  Instead of using foam, we design our arrangements in water, using chicken wire and/or tape if necessary to provide some support to the arrangement.

summer locally grown wedding bouquetWe work with local flower farmers as much as possible.  In the Chicago area, for about half the year we have access to beautiful locally grown product. During the growing season, we work with these local blooms as much as possible.  This means the product doesn’t have to travel as far (less fossil fuel required), we’re supporting the local farming community, and our designs reflect the seasons!

Throughout the year, we have several partners we lean on for our sustainable approach.

Bright Endeavors

I met the folks at Bright Endeavors when Pollen and Bright Endeavors were located in the same building in Ravenswood.  Bright Endeavors is a social enterprise that makes eco-friendly candles and bath products while providing job skills training to women who are at risk for poverty.  They have a votive refill program, where I am able to bring back my votive candles again and again to be filled with soy wax.  (Pssst…They also have products appropriate for wedding favors!)

Collective Resource

Collective Resource swings by each week to pick up our compostable materials.  They transport all of our leaves, stems, and spent flowers to a commercial composting facility. And. yes, Collective Resource offers this service for home food scraps as well.  They can also help you plan a zero-waste event!

Chicago Green Wedding Alliance

Chicago Green Wedding Alliance approved vendorThis group of wedding vendors began as a grassroots effort, formed by myself and a few other like-minded business owners wanting to encourage greener weddings and make it easier for couples to find eco-friendly wedding vendors.  We’ve grown to a membership of 40+ businesses, hosting an annual wedding show as well as other educational and fun events.  This Sunday, April 27, 2014 we’re holding our second annual Wedding Recyclery, a tag sale for couples to sell and buy gently used wedding items.  More info on the Recyclery here.

What’s next as I continue to green the business?  This year, I’m trying out growing a few things right here in our own backyard at Pollen.  Also, I’m going to work harder this year to more consistently find new homes for the flowers we bring back from events.  (If you have an organization that would benefit from slightly used flowers, feel free to reach out.)  Heads up: I’ll be looking for a volunteer to rework our picked-up flowers and coordinate their delivery!

Floral Design Workshop = Success!

Shears, handouts, bunches of flowersYesterday, Pollen held its first ever workshop at Pollen’s studio, located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.  Exclusive to Pollen clients (and a sidekick), students learned the basics of floral design, with an emphasis on working with farmers market flowers.

After some instruction and demonstration (and mimosas and bloody marys), the students designed their own arrangements.  I was so impressed by how well they did!

happy students
We worked with all locally grown flowers to create a low and lush centerpiece appropriate for a dining table.  The flowers selection included dahlias, zinnias, gomphrena, viburnum berries, lisianthus, cosmos, coxcomb…  Lots of bright and beautiful summer flowers.  I set up an area for students to take photos of their arrangements (then lurked behind them and took some myself).  Check out the students’ arrangements below and on Pollen’s Facebook page, where many of the students have posted photos of their work.

zinnias asclepias viburnum

dahlias, lisianthus, coxcombzinnias, sedum, asclepias, tansyI’m seriously impressed with their work!  If you are a Pollen client and missed it, have no fear, I’ll be doing it again next year.  I had so much fun reconnecting with my clients, meeting their friends and family, and seeing their pride in their new design skills!

If you aren’t a client (or if you are, and can’t wait until the next one exclusive to clients), there will be another workshop in a few short weeks.   Sunday, September 9, 2012, I will be hosting a workshop/fundraiser to help out one of my flower friends with the costs related to his recent cancer diagnosis and treatment.  You may have met my flower friend, Les with The Flower Garden, while buying flowers at the Green City Market.  All ticket sales go toward his medical costs.  This workshop is limited to just 10 people, so sign up quickly!   Get more information about the fundraiser/workshop (open to the public) and buy tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/256572


Hands-On Floral Design Workshop: A Fundraiser (9/9/2012)

If you saw our floral design workshop exclusive to Pollen clients, and wished you could take it, we have good news!  Pollen and The Flower Garden are teaming up to offer a hands-on introductory floral design workshop to benefit Les, The Flower Garden’s primo peddler of petals, to help with the costs of his recent cancer treatment.

Sunday, September 9, 2012
11AM – 1PM
3717 N. Ravenswood Ave. #237
Chicago, IL 60613


The introductory two-hour class, taught at Pollen’s floral design studio in the Ravenswood Corridor, will cover:
– flower selection,
– cut flower care, and
– the basics of floral design.

Instruction will have an emphasis on working with late summer, locally grown flowers to create a low and lush centerpiece suitable for a dining room table.  After some instruction and demonstration, each student will design a centerpiece of flowers from The Flower Garden to take home.

We’ll work with seasonal flowers such as dahlias, lisianthus, coxcomb, zinnias, gomphrena, and billy balls.  Students are encouraged to bring their own vase, and we recommend bringing a vase roughly 5″ tall and 5″ in diameter.  Vases will also be available for purchase.

To offer the most interactive instruction possible, the class is limited to 10 people.  Registration is required, and at $100 per person includes instruction, flowers, the use of tools, and refreshments.  All ticket sales help pay for Les’ cancer treatment.


Support Local Florists for Mothers Day

While Pollen doesn’t do individual gift deliveries, such as those for Mothers Day, we encourage you to support your local florists, and work DIRECTLY with the florist who will be delivering the flowers you send to Mom. Why? You’ll be supporting a small business, and you’ll benefit as well.

You typically will get better service, quality, and pricing if you avoid national order-gathering companies and work directly with a local florist. Read this article by Florist Chronicles for more information.

Call the local florist prepared with the day you would like the flowers delivered, the name and address of the recipient, the message you would like on the card, your budget, and your credit card number. You will often get better product if you allow the florist some flexibility, rather than picking a numbered or titled bouquet.  Think of descriptions such as “simple, white, and modern” or “wildflowery with lots of pink” instead of “TF105-3.”

And order early. You will get better service and make the florist’s job easier if you place your order sooner rather than later.

Happy Mothers Day, and I’ll be thinking of all of my retail florist friends this week!  Sending you lots of positive energy!  Some of our floral friends that can help you with Mothers Day orders are:

Helios Bash Last Chance BONUS OFFER

Take advantage of the Helios Bash LAST CHANCE BONUS OFFER:

Buy One full price ticket and receive the second at half-price!!

Go to http://2011heliosbash.kintera.org/sun to purchase your tickets today!!

Society for Urban Nature (SUN), the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s auxiliary board, is proud to host its fourth annual Helios Bash on Aug 19. Helios Bash is SUN’s largest fundraiser, with all proceeds supporting the Nature Museum’s Teenagers Exploring and Explaining Nature and Science (TEENS) program.

Once again, SUN’s event will shine as an example of an eco-friendly party. Calihan Catering will feature local, sustainable and scrumptious cuisine and Pollen will lay out eco-friendly décor. The evening includes an open bar with wine, Goose Island Green Line beer and Yes! Vodka, including a signature cocktail. Attendees will dance to tunes spread by Toast & Jam DJs.

In addition, Helios Bashers will have the chance to tour the urban gateway to nature and science, interact with live animals and pose for fun pictures in a special photo booth by the Traveling Photo Booth. Silent Auction and Raffle prizes include two United Airlines Tickets, premium White Sox tickets Cubs and Blackhawks tickets, and many more!!

Pollen and City Provisions are teaming up to offer a Sunday Fun Day: Blooms and Bloodies silent auction package, which will include a private group floral design workshop from Pollen and pastries and bloody marys from City Provisions.

Bid on a Floral Design Workshop for Six and Support the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum!

Pollen is excited to be a part of the 2011 Helios Bash, held by the Society for Urban Nature (SUN), the auxiliary board of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, on Friday, August 19th. The evening will feature an open bar, sustainable cuisine, music, tours of the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, animal demonstrations, and a wonderful silent auction and raffle.

All proceeds benefit the Nature Museum’s TEENS program.

Attend the 2011 Helios Bash and you will have the chance to bid on a private, hands-on floral design workshop for 6, taught by Lynn Fosbender of Pollen.  The introductory two-hour class will cover flower selection, cut flower care, and the basics of floral design.  You and your friends will each design a seasonal, low and lush arrangement, suitable for a dining room table centerpiece.

With this workshop under your belt, you’ll be the friend who brings the centerpiece to dinner parties!  Well, unless the dinner party is with the 5 friends you bring to the workshop–then you’ll have to fight over who gets to provide the centerpiece.

The workshop includes instruction and all materials, and is valued at $750.

The floral design workshop will be offered as part of the silent auction at Society for Urban Nature’s Helios Bash, held Friday, August 19th at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.  Tickets and more information are available at http://naturemuseum.org/sun/

Making this party rock:  Flowers by Pollen, music by Toast & Jam DJs, photography by trustudio, photo booth by the Traveling Photo Booth, food by Calihan Catering, beer from Goose Island, wine from Winfred Winery, and vodka from Yes! Vodka.