My Morning Foraging With One Poppy Wedding Flowers
My secret career obsession: floristry. Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a florist. My childhood memories are filled with backyard moments foraging with my grandmother, making moss gardens, and little bouquets we would dot around the house. I belonged to 'The Wild Flower Association' and had seeds sent to me regularly. Dad would let me fill whole garden beds with poppies so I could lie amongst them, and I constantly had soil under my fingernails.
On a sunny winter's morning, Renee, One Poppy Wedding Flowers, re-sparked my love for floristry and made my dream of being a florist (if only for a morning) come true!
Renee lives in a gorgeous part of New Zealand, amongst fields, farms, and their own little ecosystem. We gathered up our secateurs and buckets, and made our way through the property. Renee pointed out plants I had never heard of or seen before. I learnt how to best cut off fern palms, and what mix of leaves would be best for variety in our bouquets.
After wandering through the bush, we finished up at the flax trees. This is where Renee taught me the biggest lesson; I'll remember it forever. Flax is heavily intertwined in Maori culture, and to cut it, you must have the right etiquette and respect for the plant. It can never be cut at night, in the rain, or snow, and only what you need can be taken; never more. Traditionally, women menstruating were also forbidden to harvest it, but due to new beliefs around women's health, this is not a protocol followed by everyone (and not by me, as I remember my menstrual cup was in full use!). A prayer is often said before the plant is cut, and the outer leaves are always cut in a downwards motion.
Learning this made me think of all the other plants that deserve our respect. So often I can walk out into the garden, grab a lemon from the tree, and walk inside absentmindedly. From this experience, I've learnt to say thanks, be grateful, and acknowledge that tree's gift to my life.
Next step: arranging. Our buckets were full, and we laid out our materials to decide what to create.
This is when my real 'florist' skills came into play, or rather, I watched as Renee, the amazingly talented florist that she is, arranged a beautiful bouquet and I played with flowers just like when I was a kid!
It turns out, rather than throwing flowers into a vase (like I'm quite used to!), there are layers. The image above is the base layer, acting as a natural cage for the next flowers to stick into without using floral foam or other wasteful products.
We used roses leftover from a workshop Renee had run the previous day, and made flax decorations with the flax we'd harvested. I am used to doing things fast, just throwing things in, but taking each layer at a time, meant I could stand back and look at the bouquet every so often. Time went by without a stressful deadline looming, and the process was very therapeutic.
Wa-la! I arranged my bouquet in a vase my sister gave me from the second-hand shop. I realised I had subconsciously created a bouquet that matched my outfit (classic Kate!), and made sure to put it's seatbelt on during our trip home.
My morning foraging with Renee (and eating zero-waste brownie made by yours truly!) was one I'll never forget. Getting in touch with nature in a more personal way, and using it to create art, is an irreplaceable feeling. It's one thing to walk through it during a hike or walk, but another to handle it delicately, and get up close with the intricacy of the flowers, stems, leaf patterns, and textures.
Thank you Renee for allowing me some insight into your daily work! Renee is a wedding florist, and also runs workshops to teach us every day florist-wanna bees how to create with flowers.