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Bouquet of the Week: A European Twist on Locally-Sourced Flowers

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, Designer Laura Braun crafts a beautiful bundle of local flowers for under $25, using a visionary new design approach that incorporates kale.

This week’s bouquet project posed a bit of a challenge for me, as my instructions were to create an appealing flower assembly for $25 using flowers and plants sourced exclusively from the Farmer’s Market at Union Square. I had to choose unusual planting options where possible, and make it work.

The challenge I was given reminded me about an interesting quote I heard when I was studying design at Parsons: “If you want to be creative, get a constraint.”

As I meandered through the booths at the Union Square Farmer’s Market I found that there were plenty of options to choose from, so I began the process by focusing on color and curating a palette that would set the tone for the rest of the design. The alluring smell of fresh lavender had me convinced rather quickly that this color should be in the range of a warm purple.

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Lavender and it’s endearing, lovely hues demanded a counterpiece. To me, great design stems from smart contrasts. While I shopped for plants with darker hues and rougher leaves, I encountered a dark purple kale whose leaves were practically waving at me. I bought a few kale plants and assembled them on the counter– “You are making a flower bouquet?! I love that you are using kale!” farmers would remark, “What a great idea to make it into decor!”

“Oh Kale? I never thought of that!” others quipped. Suddenly, I had other plant-seekers all excited as they waited for the next flowers I would choose. Once I settled on incorporating kale, I added pansies (mariposa black), with their comforting round shape. These flowers are called Stiefmütterchen in German, aka “little stepmothers,” and with their dark purple petals, they added balance to the thin lavender I already had. To avoid an overly-dark color scheme, I used the pansies’ yellow center point as inspiration to lighten it up with a few yellow white-lavender leaves.

My audience at the farmers market was pleased and excited about my choices. (Though I left before I could get any job offers for unusual flower designs…)

At home, I looked for different planting options: I found an antique soup pot, a glass vase, and I also realized I had an incredible amount of Harney & Sons tea tins— they are just too beautiful to let go of once they are empty.

Using this array of different “vases” reminds me of a time when I had just moved to New York City from Europe and into my first apartment. During the first weeks of my move-in, when friends came over, we would use cups as wine glasses, and other mis-used containers for drinks. I arranged a variety of containers with different heights and shapes, which lead to an unusual but harmonic design. 

Satisfied with my creative process and feeling like I’d accomplished my mission, I rewarded myself with another floral treat I found at the farmer’s market: Lavender cookies.

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