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Andreana Bitsis

Bouquet of the Week: A Handful of Wildflowers

As part of our recurring Bouquet of the Week series, Garden Collage continues to present a weekly inspirational bouquet that incorporates intriguing new elements into the traditional practice of flower arranging. This week, Garden Collage Illustrator Jessy Scarpone styles a bouquet dedicated to the Midwestern wildflowers she misses from home.

I’m a Chicago suburbanite, born and raised– though I’ll be the first to argue that Chicago is “a pocket in the Midwest” and that it’s “way different than Iowa.” There’s nothing wrong with the Midwesterner label, but identifying myself as being from Chicago (a city with a history and name) protects me from anyone who thinks the middle of the United States is just one giant cornfield with some condominiums sprinkled in.

But who am I kidding? And why should I want to shed my title of Midwesterner anyway? After all, I grew up in the most quintessential suburban town– it’s called Libertyville, for crying out loud, and it’s pretty much exactly what you would imagine: a land of strip malls, tree-lined sidewalks, and (yes) white picket fences. I spent the majority of my adolescence yearning to escape that sheltered bubble of perfectly-manicured lawns. But now that I’ve moved to one of the biggest cities in the United States, I’m on a daily quest for nature amongst all the concrete and skyscrapers. When I go running through Central Park, I always take the dirt trails that wind through trees, because they remind me of the ones at home.

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Jessy Scarpone

A couple months back, when I was on a visit home, I went for a run on those old, familiar trails. On my way back, I was overwhelmed with how many wildflowers there were. I couldn’t keep myself from grabbing every different kind and color I saw. I had been deprived of nature for so long and here it was in front of me, in all its splendor. I had to take it with me. So I took off running back to my house with a bouquet of wildflowers tightly clenched in my hand, most definitely looking like an overgrown child.

Knowing it would be a challenge to find those exact wildflowers in New York City, I set out to spontaneously gather any greenery that would channel the spirit and simplicity of nature. I didn’t want big, bold roses or anything colorful, just wild-looking greens. This bouquet, I decided, would be a tiny, handheld wilderness, like what I remembered from my runs at home. I set off on a meandering journey through Midtown and ended up gathering my flowers and greens from the tiny oasis in Manhattan known as the Flower District, where– for just a block– greenery and flowers are more pronounced than concrete.

Try as I might to argue otherwise, I’ll always be a Midwestern girl, looking for nature.

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