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
Pollen
3717 N. Ravenswood Ave. #237
Chicago, IL 60613

REGISTER HERE

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.

REGISTER HERE

Wedding Profile: Eco-Examples

Rachel and Jason’s wedding at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum reminded me that there are many little things, easy to overlook, that we at Pollen do to minimize the ecological impact of our clients’ weddings.  Some are more obvious, liking working with locally grown flowers whenever possible.  Others are less obvious.  Here are a couple of the easy-to-miss things we do to be more eco-friendly, illustrated through yesterday’s wedding.

Avoiding Floral Foam:
This is a biggie.  We have nearly entirely eliminated our use of floral foam, and yesterday’s wedding was another step toward foam-freedom.  Why avoid floral foam?  It’s a petroleum product, and we don’t need more reasons to be digging around for oil, do we?  Floral foam doesn’t biodegrade.  And it contains formaldehyde.  When cut while dry, it creates a dust that the person cutting it can’t help but inhale.  My fellow florists can attest to the evidence of this inhalation, seen when one blows his or her nose after cutting dry floral foam.  Gross, yes, but illustrative, no?

There are just a few applications left that I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to avoid using floral foam.  One of those was to decorate structures, such as chuppahs.  What to do?  I went old school: chicken wire.  I bundled up some chicken wire, secured it to the chuppah, and added the foliage and flowers on site.


Another application requiring some trial and error in order to avoid floral foam was in designing tall centerpieces.  Usually those are designed in floral foam that is taped to a tray, then the tray then is set on top of the tall vase.  Instead of going this route, I’ve been using a tall vase and designing directly in the vase, with the stems in water.  Getting a perfect sphere of flowers is tricky with this technique, but most of my clients are looking for a looser outline, which works out perfectly!

And yet another challenge is when designing in low bowls.   In this case, I went old school again and used floral frogs in the containers.  Floral frogs come in a few different forms, including glass ones with holes in them and metal ones that look like a bunch of pins sticking up.  I used the latter in these low glass bowls, then put in some small rocks to camouflage the frog.

Below you can see a low centerpiece, as well as the tall centerpieces in the background.

On the table, we provided soy wax candles to provide soft light once the sun set.  We also lined the window ledges with votive candles.  Speaking of our candles…

Thoughtful Candles
The clients chose Pollen to provide the candles because we offer soy wax votive candles, which we have refilled by Bright Endeavors.  Most candles are made from paraffin wax.  You guessed it: another petroleum product.   Soy wax votives burn cleaner and are plant-derived.

Many times after weddings and events, the votive candles simply get thrown out.  It’s cheaper to buy new ones than the cost of having someone remove the stubborn paraffin wax from spent candles.  Soy wax, on the other hand, is quite easy to remove.   Pollen partners with Bright Endeavors, a social enterprise that provides job skills training to women at risk for poverty while producing eco-friendly bath and candle products.  Bright Endeavors offers a votive refill program that allows us to bring back our spent votives again and again to be refilled with soy wax.

Even for our clients that don’t prioritize sustainability in their wedding planning, we’re working in ways that minimize waste in our business, and therefore at their weddings.  For those who place value on sustainability, Pollen is the perfect florist to work with to host a greener wedding.

 

 

Indie Wed 2012 Recap

Wow…  I’m so honored to have participated in another winter Indie Wed (year 3!).  I had an especially good time this year.  I got to catch up with a few past clients, see a few current clients, and meet potential future clients!

I was excited to meet some vendors with whom I have been hoping to cross paths.  And I got to see some friends’ new(ish) businesses, such as Plate, Crafty Broads, and Pink Cottage Pastry.  Kudos for taking the leap!

Thanks to friend/floral designer/interior designer Paul, who was at my side while putting together the display and on the day of Indie Wed.  Here’s the final display:

A couple of weeks prior to Indie Wed, Paul and I scoured The ReBuilding Exchange for inspiration, without too much of an idea of what we would do for the display.  We picked up some folding doors and somehow came up with the idea of attaching pussy willow branches to the doors.  The overall effect of the pussy willow was of a somewhat random pattern… neutral but natural.  We went with Pollen’s colors of dark brown, mossy green, and raspberry (picked up in the flowers).

I wanted to use furniture from the studio so that the display “felt” like Pollen.  The pedestals were locally made a few years back by my talented carpenter friends Carson and Dave.  The table was a craiglist find (with a little revamping to change the tabletop from orange to white and expose the layers of plywood).  And the chair is one of four Heywood Wakefield school chairs I picked up at the Kane County Flea Market.  (Have you been?  You must go!)

The display showcased our favored naturalistic style.  On display were a bouquet, a floral centerpiece, a planted centerpiece, a boutonniere, and a showier piece, like might be used at the guest book table or bar at a wedding.  The flowers all went together, but weren’t too matchy-matchy.

The designs kept with our eco-friendly focus, eschewing floral foam (a non-biodegradable petroleum product).  The focal arrangement was designed in a recycled glass vase.  The smaller floral centerpiece was designed in a vintage glass container.  While our first choice is to work with locally grown product, during Chicago’s winters that just isn’t possible.  So we hand-selected a combination of sustainable, domestic, and Dutch floral product.

photo by Lily Red Studio (©Lily Red Studio 2012)

The bouquet was loose and sprawling, and wrapped with a plant-based ribbon.

photo by Lily Red Studio (©Lily Red Studio 2012)

The planted centerpiece, a low container of succulents, showed an example of a centerpiece that can have a life beyond the day of the wedding.

The flowers used included the following:

  • from California, acacia, scabiosa, blackberries, and viburnum;
  • from the Netherlands, kale, anemone, muscari hyacinth, cymbidium orchids, snowball viburnum, ranunculus, hellebores, and bullet allium; and
  • from a certified sustainable grower in South America, blue thistle and hydroponically grown roses.

Paul “person”-ed the booth while I joined fellow Green Wedding Alliance members Nina from Tweedle Press and Molly from FIG Catering to give a short workshop on green wedding tips.

Thanks to all who came out to Indie Wed and stopped by to say “hi.”  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Eco-Chic Weddings: An Event Planners’ Workshop

Pollen is excited to be a part of the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance‘s workshop on green weddings, being held later this month. Entitled “Eco-Chic Weddings: An Event Planners’ Workshop,” the half-day workshop will highlight achievable ways that wedding planners can incorporate green elements into their weddings. Planners will leave the workshop with real, tangible ways to help their clients plan more eco-friendly weddings.

I’ll speak about why there needs to be concern about such a seemingly harmless aspect of weddings, and offer up ideas for the more sustainable options out there, such as working with locally grown flowers or flower alternatives.  Also, I’ll recommend many simple ways to green up weddings, without compromising their elegance!

The workshop is intended for wedding planners, so please share this info with any planners who may be interested.  Registration information is available here.

Other businesses involved include City Provisions, FIG Catering, Logan Square Kitchen, Pivotal Production, Spilled Ink Press, Tweedle Press, and West Loop Studio.

Indie Wed Recap v2

Pollen was lucky enough to be selected to display at Indie Wed not just once, but twice!  I have described last year’s display as “showing off.”  I created a bouquet, centerpiece, and boutonniere for three different looks, showing the range of styles Pollen can do.  Intimidated by a sophomore effort, and no longer feeling the need to be all things to all people, I took a different approach this time around.

This year, I kept it simple, and focused on the direction Pollen is heading, both in style and philosophy.  The style we’re honing is one that is naturalistic, a little gardeny, and seasonal.  And we’re making the transition to working only on weddings where sustainability is a focus, which was the original idea behind Pollen.

When I tell people that I started Pollen to be an eco-friendly option for couples planning weddings, I’m often asked, “What does that mean?”  This year, Pollen’s Indie Wed display answered that question.

Sustainable floral design means…

Designing in water, not floral foam. Floral foam (that green spongy stuff) is a petroleum-based product that is not biodegradable.  And it contains formaldehyde.

Working with sustainably grown flowers. Locally grown flowers are Pollen’s first choice, but in winter, we need to look to warmer climates for our flower supply.  We seek out flowers that have been certified as sustainably grown by a third-party certification program, such as Veriflora.  Or flowers that have been grown in the Netherlands, which leads the way in the cut flower industry with technology, conservation, and labor rights.  Our sourcing decisions are based on a thoughtful hierarchy of the least harmful impact of the cut flower options available, while fitting the budget and color scheme of the wedding.

Working with the seasons. What is seasonally available typically also is more affordable.  A display of forced spring bulbs (in recycled glass containers with vintage marbles) as a centerpiece demonstrated a seasonal option.

Considering the life of the centerpiece after the event. By using plants (such as the forced bulbs) as centerpieces, guests can take them home to enjoy for long after the wedding.  Alternatively, flowers can be donated to a retirement home or shelter.  Pollen can arrange to have your wedding flowers reused after the big day.

Supporting the community. Our display featured votive candles from Bright Endeavors, a local social enterprise working to break the cycle of poverty.

Working to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  We try not to buy more stuff if we don’t have to.

  • Pollen participates in Bright Endeavors’ votive refill program, in which they refill votive holders with soy wax for reuse.
  • Pollen will rent out containers for larger weddings, and otherwise offers a vase return program, in which clients (with prior agreement) can return unwanted vases from their wedding for a partial refund.
  • Pollen looks for alternatives to buying new.  The bridal bouquet in the display was wrapped with a vintage necktie, instead the usual satin ribbon.  Oh, and our table cover was upcycled from curtains and linens.

Special thanks to Kelly and Shannon for organizing Indie Wed; to Sarah (pictured below, on the right), who braved the crowds with me to be the face of Pollen; to Julie, who lent me her marbles (no joke); to Carla, who cut and folded paper for the display signage and handouts; and to Jessica and Peter of Matushek Photography, who took the photos!

December Special: Do Some Good!

In the spirit of the season, Pollen will apply half of all deposits received in the month of December to Kiva microloans, small loans that help out entrepreneurs in developing countries.  So get your deposit in, reserve Pollen for your 2011 wedding, and do some good!

For more info on Kiva, visit kiva.org.

Pollen will be focusing on loans to entrepreneurs in Columbia and Ecuador, where most of the cut flowers sold in the United States originate.  For now, we are giving priority to entrepreneurs who create with their own hands what they sell.

Keep up with Pollen’s lending at www.kiva.org/lender/pollenfloraldesign

FAQ’s: Can You Recommend a Green [insert wedding vendor type here]?

Sure!  I’m happy to recommend caterers, invitation designers, photographers, etc. that I’ve enjoyed working with, and share Pollen’s interest in greener weddings!  Putting together a little directory of other green wedding vendors that I know seemed like a simple idea.  After talking with the folks at Spilled Ink Press, we realized that this simple idea has a lot more potential.

And the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance was born!  The CGWA is a group of like-minded vendors who are working to encourage more mindful weddings and commitment ceremonies.  We’re putting together a directory and a website, planning a workshop on greener weddings, and planning a green wedding show/tour.

The CGWA has a core group of very involved founding members.  Our first task has been to figure out how to vet candidates for membership.  Until we finalize that procedure, let me direct you to the people who have been actively involved with founding the group.

InvitationsSpilled Ink Press, Tweedle Press

VenuesLogan Square Kitchen, West Loop Studio

CaterersCity Provisions, FIG Catering, Lula Cafe

JewelryGreen Diva Jewelry

FavorsKatherine Anne Confections

PhotographyChristina Noel Photography, Light on Life Images, Vrai

PlannersLisa Gordon Events

Gifts/RegistryUrban Worm Girl

If you’re a vendor interested in getting involved with the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance (or if you are involved and I forgot to list you here!), please contact me!  You can reach me by email at lynn (at) pollenfloraldesign.com

Spilled Ink Press is a husband and wife team of former architects that now design custom wedding invitations, party invitations, stationery of all kinds, and greeting cards.

Green Wedding Vendors Unite!

The folks at Pollen, Spilled Ink Press and Logan Square Kitchen have been hatching a plan.  A plan to get like-minded wedding vendors together.  And we did it!

Earlier this week, we pulled together a group of eco-friendly Chicago area wedding vendors to talk about ways we can work together to educate consumers, ourselves, and other vendors about being mindful of the choices we make when planning events.  Some of the ideas we’re talking about are to create a directory of eco-friendly wedding vendors, put together a website for the green wedding vendor community, and host a green wedding show.  And of course, we’ll be holding regular networking events to bring together the community of mindful wedding vendors.

If you’d like to join the group, please send an email to me at lynn(at)pollenfloraldesign.com.  We’re so excited to get this community together!

Green Wedding Vendor Happy Hour

I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Spilled Ink Press and Logan Square Kitchen to organize a green wedding vendor networking event!  First, the details (which can also be found in the pingg invite and Facebook event).

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2010
  • 6-8PM
  • Logan Square Kitchen (2333 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL)

Feel free to bring a drink or beverage to share.  I’ll be stopping at Provenance on my way there to pick up something tasty.

I’ve been talking with Amanda and Tony of Spilled Ink Press about ideas for getting together an alliance of Chicago-area green wedding vendors.  This would create an opportunity to educate consumers and other vendors while establishing a referral network of like-minded vendors.  Sounds cool, right?  We think so!

So if you’re a green wedding vendor, come by on Wednesday!  Photographers, florists, wedding planners, caterers…  We’d love to meet you!