Monthly Archives: November 2017

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: No. 107

Today’s Expert Panel Discussion marks the end of yet another year for the panel as we prepare to take some time off to enjoy our families during the holidays. I would like to thank all of the 2017 panel members for their generosity in sharing valuable information based on their experience and expertise. What a blessing you all have been to me personally and to the BB readers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

2017 Botanical Brouhaha Expert Panel

Susan McLeary (Passionflower), Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers), Emily Avenson (Fleuropean), Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers), Alicia Schwede (Bella Fiori), Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers), Hitomi Gilliam, Beth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design), Laetitia Mayor (Floresie), Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers), Jo Rodwell (Jo Flowers)


What was your favorite new flower industry find in 2017?

White butterfly ranununculus in a footed vase

Butterfly Ranunculus | Floresie


It might seem frivolous and simplistic, but my favorite find in 2017 was the butterfly ranunculus…

Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)


My absolute favorite flower industry find for 2017 was the workshop-retreat concept!! I am so grateful for the sequence of serendipitous events that led to hosting my first workshop-retreat this year, and after a successful start going on to organize another two! The combination of simultaneously teaching and learning (it’s really a two way street), bonding with like-minded flower lovers from around the world, sharing my passion for growing/designing/styling, and encouraging others to reconnect with both their creative visions and nature is a total dream come true.

Emily Avenson (Fleuropean)


I think my favorite 2017 floral revelation was tea lights in clear cups– not the most exciting thing in the world but so very practical! No more putting a drop of water in the base of every candle holder and no more scraping wax from glass!! I also discovered that Windex wipes remove wax from glass very effectively (again not very exciting, but a dream come true for a florist!!). I also played around with using chicken wire for installation work (floral chandeliers, chuppahs, arbors, wreaths) and it made designing a lot more fun than working strictly with oasis cages, I highly recommend!

Beth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)


Short full arrangement of peach foxgloves, phlox, smokebush, scabios pods and suflowers of pale yellow with plum

There are several new pieces in Accent Decor’s inventory that I’m loving. I think they’re doing a great job keeping up with trends. I’ve also become smitten with red and plum sunflowers this year. A real surprise for me since I typically detest sunflowers!

Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)


After 3 years of designing with my homemade bouquet holder called the “egg” and my centerpiece holder called the “pillow” I have to admit the release and announcement of my exclusive partnership with Syndicate Sales is quite possibly my favorite industry find. Of course, I am partial to the product!! I am also really benefiting from using Ularas which is the software system I use for invoicing and buying flowers. The software capabilities are incredible and always evolving.

Holly Chapple (Holly Chapple Flowers)

Flowers For Your Head & Hair

hair Flowers by Yona Tin Can Photography

Flowers by Yona | Tin Can Photography

hair Botanique Belathee Photography

Botanique | Belathee Photography

hair Ashley Fox Design Jonny Edwin Photography

Ashley Fox Designs | Jonny + Liz Photography

hair IMG_1392e

Kyla Ferguson

hair Sophisticated Floral Lora Spotted Stills Photography

Sophisticated Floral | Spotted: Stills Photography


Ashley Fox Designs | Lauren Krysti Photography

head IMG_2661e

Victory Blooms

Passionflower | Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

Passionflower | Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

Woods and Bloom Shae Estella Photo

Woods & Bloom | Shae Estella Photo

Double-Fisted Bouquets

First it was “the arm” holding a single bouquet. Now there’s an exciting new double-fisted version…

Two bouquets of succulents, thistle, hellebores, white ranunculus and craspedia by Buds of Brooklyn

Buds of Brooklyn

Two bouquets of white scabiosa, scabiosa pods, white roses and lavender roses by Buds of Brooklyn

Buds of Brooklyn

Two bouquets of white ranunculus, sweetpeas and roses with pale pink roses and ranunculus and trailing pale pink silk ribbon by Trille Floral

Trille Floral

Two bouquets of king protea, pink jasmine vine and pincushion protea with trailing blue ribbons by Flower Vibes

Flower Vibes

Two bouquets of pale pink dahlias, white Queen Anne's Lace, and white snowberries by Abelia Floral Studio

Abelia Floral Studio

Two bouquets of maidenhair fern, white ranunculus, white campanula by Trille Floral

Trille Floral

Two bouquets of pale pink and peach flowers including garden roses and ranunculus by Willow Bud

Willow Bud

Two bouquets of pale pink and white flowers including roses and blushing bride protea by Buds of Brooklyn

Buds of Brooklyn

Two bouquets of white and burgandy flowers including roses, sweet peas, Queen Anne's Lace, ranunculus and jasmine vine by Flower Jar

Flower Jar

Two bouquets of blush and burgandy flowers including roses, scabiosa and carnations with cream and raspberry ribbons by Two Wild Hands

Two Wild Hands

Two bouquets o pink and pale pink ranunculus and greenery by Gwen Floral Co

Gwen Floral Co

Two bouquets of blush and burgandy flowers including scabiosa and roses with smokebush and eucalyptus with trailing pale pink and white silk ribbon designed by Trille Floral

Trille Floral

Woman in white coat holding two bouquets of white, blush and burgandy flowers including anemones, garden roses, and ranunculus designed by Heather Page of Academy Florist

Heather Page | Academy Florist


And for the grand finale…the bouquet explosion!

Eight bouquets of cream, blush and burgandy flowers including mink protea, dahlias, roses, blushing bride protea, chocolate lace, and roses designed by Blush and Bloom

Blush and Bloom

Fleur de Vie: Houston Floral First Responders

What happens when the unexpected happens on a wedding day? Madeleine Elmer, owner of Fleur De Vie in Houston, Texas had to make that decision when Hurricane Harvey threatened to rob a couple of her brides of the wedding day they had envisioned. Madeleine chose to carry on as planned and ensure the brides had beautiful flowers at their weddings as long as she was confident she could keep her staff safe in the process. Together, Madeleine and her team became Houston’s Floral First Responders. We’re grateful she agreed to drop by the Brouhaha and share her story.

Rain boots photographed by MD Turner Photography

MD Turner Photography

By Madeleine Elmer

Floral First Responders Part One

When the first predictions of Hurricane Harvey bearing down on the Texas gulf coast came out the last week of August, I was pretty nonchalant.  Media hype. After all, we have been there, done that through countless hurricanes and floods and always came roaring back. We are intimately familiar with monsoon season on the steamy Texas Gulf Coast. But as the Fleur de Vie design team, otherwise known as the Fabulous Fleurettes, worked our way through hundreds of blush and ivory roses, fragrant freesias, pale green hydrangeas and lush foliage that fateful Friday for Dianne and Dan’s August 26 wedding, one of my designers said, “Y’all can eat lunch, but I’m going to get water and batteries. Don’t you want to come with me?” I passed, “We still have 16 boutonnieres to do. I’ll fill up a couple of empty milk jugs.”

Little did we know that over 50 inches of rain would fall on the Houston area over 3 days of inundations in the largest flood in U.S. history.

We installed the rehearsal dinner on Friday night in horrific humidity but not rain. Yet. Table arrangements were changing minute by minute as out of town guests cancelled by text. After all who wants to fly into the “dirty side” of a Category 4 Hurricane?  The family considered having the minister come and marry Dan and Dianne that night, just in case. But in true Texas fashion, they decided to go for it.

Saturday morning came with ominous clouds and dire predictions of massive bands of rain. Houston is only 50 feet above sea level and was built on a flat former prairie landscape. And much like New Orleans, our city is veined with bayous and tributaries draining into nearby Galveston Bay so when it rains, our streets tend to flood making them impassable for hours at a time. Except by canoe. When the mother of the bride called to cancel the wedding at 10:30 a.m., I was deflated. I felt as if my own daughter’s wedding was being cancelled. The country club where the reception was to be held told the family it would be imprudent to go forward as guests may not be able to leave the evening reception due to street flooding. Little did they know that the club itself would be filled with bayou water within three days and closed for months of extensive renovation.

The Fleurettes were called and cancelled, just as disappointed as I was. I just sat looking at all the lovely flowers feeling so sad for our sweet bride-not-to-be Dianne.  I thought about seeing if there were any batteries and water left at the store. A couple of hours later, a text came in from her mother saying the reception was being moved to the Houstonian Hotel which was going to pull together a cocktail reception on four hours’ notice. And the ceremony would be at the church, two hours earlier than planned. Without hesitation, my fabulous Floral First Responders sprang into action, threw on their rain boots and jackets, left their homes and families and scrambled from across town to load up as the first bands of  rain came.

Staff member from Fleur de Vie Houston delivering bouquets to a wedding photographed by MD Turner Photography

Fleur de Vie | MD Turner Photography

Soaked to the bone and with 30 minutes until the ceremony, we delivered the altar and bridal party flowers to a very grateful bride and family and wished them well as we whisked off in our scented caravan to install the reception. The hotel staff was amazing, with bellmen and catering staff hustling to load in all the flowers, candles and lanterns  at the front entrance with luggage carts under the protection of the porte de cocher as rain blew in from the sides.

Bride and groom under umbrella photographed by MD Turner Photography

Fleur de Vie | MD Turner Photography

By 5 p.m. the “reception v. 2.0” was decorated and ready to go. With fewer guests and tables,  the flowers were even more lush than planned and the room looked lovely. The Fleurettes had a well-deserved celebratory glass of wine in the hotel bar and watched the increasingly dramatic weather reports. I toasted their commitment to the team and to our clients. We headed home to hunker down for Harvey.

In spite of pounding rain as the reception ended, trapping some of the guests in the hotel overnight, the next round of Floral First Responders battled the elements, as the committed team at Floranthropy Houston came to pick up the flowers and deliver them to area hospitals and nursing homes. That is a serious commitment to floral philanthropy.

Bride and ringbearers sitting on altar steps bouquets by Fleur de Vie Houston photographed by MD Turner Photography

Fleur de Vie | MD Turner Photography

After three days of being pounded by trillions of gallons of water, the dams that held back upstream runoff were topping over and the flood gates were released to ease the pressure, flooding thousands of homes along Buffalo Bayou, including several family members of the bride, and my own home. Never thought I would own lakefront property, but life is what happens while you are making plans. So we puttered into our neighborhood in my nephew’s bass boat and waded in to survey the damage. We were the lucky ones, as we got less than two inches in the house, but as my fellow Houstonians know, two inches of water means cutting out 2 feet of sheetrock and all wood floors on the entire first floor. We were now temporarily homeless as our home dried out with giant fans and dehumidifiers.

Floral First Responders Part Two

Three weeks after our home and studio were flooded, our next bride, Marileigh was to be married to her fiancé Barrett, whose parents’ plantation style  home had flooded three feet in the aftermath of Harvey. The entire contents of the first floor were piled in a mountain in front of their home.  Floors, walls, carpets, cabinets, furniture. In spite of the chaos that once was my organized studio, I knew we couldn’t let the family down. If the parents could go through with the wedding in spite of everything they were dealing with, so could we. The venue, a lovely rustic dairy barn set on acres of green pastures with white fences in Hempstead, Texas had not flooded. Game on.

Climbing over the furniture that had been temporarily put in the garage where all my floral equipment is stored, I managed to retrieve everything we needed for the wedding. Except for the fishing lures. The groom is a big fisherman so the bride wanted customized fishing lure boutonnieres and had carefully selected them. In Houston’s Indian Summer humidity I searched high and low until I found them. It took two days but I made the catch. At last. The irony of fishing lures did not escape me.

Fishing lure boutonniere designed by Fleur de Vie Houston photographed by Jordan Isbell Photography

Fleur de Vie | Jordon Isbell Photography

With boxes filled with hundreds of small glass vases, oyster shells, barn wood boxes, mercury glass votives and all my equipment loaded into the FDV SUV, I jangled around in my  floral gypsy wagon for days having nowhere else to store it. With our studio space uninhabitable, the wonderful team at Mayesh Houston came to the rescue by offering us workspace and processing of the flowers for the wedding.  When the Fleurettes showed up to work that Wednesday, the flowers were all placed on racks, processed and ready with work tables all set up. I nearly cried with gratitude. Then Mary Frances and Beth gave me a wonderful gift from my fellow Texas florists, a large storage bin filled with supplies and goodies: mosquito spray and hand sanitizer, chocolate and wine, tote bags and floral supplies. The silver lining of going through a disaster like Harvey is acts of kindness like these fellow florists and my wholesaler showed me. When the going gets tough, Texans show up!

Incredibly, the mother of the groom who is a professional baker decided to go forward with baking the cake and did it in a neighbor’s spacious kitchen which had not flooded. On a sultry, sunny Texas day in late September, Marileigh and Barrett’s wedding went off without a hitch. Another notch in our Floral First Responders belt.

Bride and groom in front of smilax greenery arch by Fleur de Vie Houston during wedding ceremony photographed by Jordan Isbell Photography

Fleur de Vie | Jordon Isbell Photography

I am taking some time to oversee the restoration of our home and studio this fall and planning weddings and rehearsal dinners for late fall, winter and spring when everything will be back to “normal.” The collateral beauty of this epic disaster is manifold. Neighbors and strangers coming together to help each other get into their flooded homes by boat, ferrying elderly homeowners to safety and dry land. Feeding each other, caring for each other’s pets, offering their guest rooms, manning a check-in gate at the front of neighborhood to prevent looting of flooded homes and provide cold water and First Aid.

Bride and groom just married bouquet by Fleur de Vie Houston photographed by Jordan Isbell Photography

Fleur de Vie | Jordon Isbell Photography

And I will never forget the commitment, “can do” attitude and support of my Floral First Responders, Adele, Maura, Jexter, Mary Frances, Jonas at Mayesh Houston, and Lindsay her team at Floranthropy. In the wedding business we are in the business of love.  Love conquers all.

Madeleine Elmer | Fleur de Vie | Houston, Texas