Wednesday, July 2, 2014


[The beautiful end to ranunculus trials at Peterkort Roses in Portland, Oregon.]

My least favorite season has descended like a hot damp cloud.
Here's a list of things I hate about summer:

1. people talking about pie
2. days over 85 degrees. no, 80 degrees
3. cookouts. (considering the state of affairs at the farm I am pretty much over cookouts forever)
4. the smell of axe body spray on the subway
5. people not working normal work day hours and not answering phones (europeans you are especially guilty of this)
6. rest areas on the thruway
7. trying to keep flowers from wilting
8. white wine
9. the hamptons
10. thinking about air conditioners and energy consumption

[Primrose in Ray Schreiner's garden]

Granted now that we have a farm and are trying to grow flowers, summer holds a few allures; I can throw myself into weeding and spraying fish fertilizer for hours in the field. This is as close as I come to meditation and it seems good for me.

Things I like about summer:

1. tomato sandwiches
2. weeding
3. when I go to the city it feels empty (and I don't have to wait in line at the mr. softie truck)

[Schrieners Iris farm in Oregon]

It's been a busy spring, and it's gone by too fast. Our baby girl Asheley got married. I met Asheley sometime around 2007 I think. She was our first intern. Years later she came back, all grown up. Within days of working as a freelancer I knew we needed her on staff. She's transformed the flower stuff at Saipua from my chaotic brainchild mess of a business to a well oiled machine. A machine that gets paid on time, and one with a much friendlier interface (Apparently I frighten clients by saying weird shit at inappropriate times, or hanging up on them).

Needless to say, employees become like family and so it was a special weekend for us at Saipua. Ben cut us some very special wisteria and azalea. Flowers are just on fire in May. Everyone should get married mid May.

ash and erik big arrangement

Between the four special weddings we made and the trips for Flower School to Portland and the UK not to mention the special wedding we did in Italy I'm feeling like a gutted fish but the kind that keeps flapping after it's been gutted. In other words, I'm not stopping. And I'm happier than I've been in a while which is really nice.

There's this meditation guru who says "If you are breathing, there's actually more right with you than wrong with you."


I am in the city now. It's 5:30 pm and I'm sitting in the back of the studio sweating. I started the day 12 hours ago at 5:30 am with the dogs the chickens the sheep the chaos of the flower field at the farm.

Its been so hot that it's best to work in the field very early and very late. The field is a wreck and I came in around 8 to express my concern to Eric that maybe we're making too many mistakes. Maybe we bit off too much. We're dumping our precious resources into a project that should have been planned better. Then I left. Just like that I threw a pair of panties and my camera in a bag and drove away. I have a meeting with a client tomorrow. Two worlds.

[Columbines at our farm]

This evening I had a phone meeting with the mother of a bride who was considering hiring us. It seemed harmless, but once on the phone she talked without letting me say a word for 25 minutes about how wrong our proposal process was, how we didn't do enough research on the venue, how our business doesn't make any sense.

She made me feel really insulted and just bad. I wanted to hang up 5 minutes in, but then I thought that everyone deserves to be heard. When she finally relented I didn't know what the hell to say. When I started to tell her about how important flowers are to us and how we're trying to grow them to make our flowers even better I started crying. Which is oddly out of character for me at work. She told me that as a female business owner I should learn to separate my emotions from my business.
I told her keeping my emotions involved made me better at business.
Then I hung up on her.

I think about the sheep in the field far away right now. There's no question what they are thinking about. Grass. And eating more of it.

Things are shifting and it feels good. Hard but good.



Anonymous said...

it's hard and it's good and you know it's got to be right when you get up the next morning and are still thinking about flowers and the farm.

I love hearing your stories, I know it's not, but your double life sounds very romantic. :) I do wish you would post more often.

I had a tomato sandwich for dinner tonight. That first tomato off the vine makes for the best sandwich of the summer.

LPC said...

Hang up on the monsters. A lesson learned pretty early, and for the better. <3

Plus you never said anything weirder than I did. And Ashley was great.

Camille said...

What a horrible, condescending woman. People fascinate me.

I love that you started with a list of what you hate about summer--gutsy broad. I get the bitterness, though, I long for summer all year (the time change--the longer days--winter just kills me) and then when it's here, I'm too busy with wedding work to enjoy it. Too busy struggling with wilting flowers. And angry fall brides who've left too many decisions to the last minute, and wonder why we don't have all the time in the world to provide better service.

So glad you've had epic weddings and classes to keep you energized. Isn't it interesting how we discover the things that make us feel like our true selves, and keep us sane.

The Garden Gate Flower Company said...

Growing flowers sounds so romantic when you tell people and so many people go ahh how wonderful but the reality for us is hands that are red roar, sore backs, stress when bloody annuals don't grow or hell don't even germinate, slugs...who invented them?! I hate explaining the reasons behind our pricing or structure of biz to people who really actually have no understanding of our industry at all. But we do get more nice brides that tough brides....phew! We are learning 3ys in that flowering shrubs are so much more rewarding than annuals, that my dislike for weed surpresent matting is something I've got to get over and we are two girls with kids and another world to tend too not super women. We will get it wrong but I've learnt to accept this. Oh & no two growing seasons are the same - talk about a mad industry...we do love it promise! Hope you will see our mad world in the future becca x

Shelley said...

I hope there's never a 'next time' but five minutes in you can sweetly say " thanks for considering us, but it seems that we aren't the right florist for you", and then slam it down.

teegan said...

I totally get the weeding thing. I've been home with my son since he was born almost two years ago, editing freelance and weekending at coffeeshops to help with the bills, but the best is summer work at a produce farm down the street; they all think it's strange and funny how much I love to weed, but there's nothing more meditative than trying to weed around delicate, tiny sprouts and savoring the quiet.

Ciel said...

"Things are shifting and it feels good. Hard but good." That resonated at such a deep level. It sounds like you've got some good synchronicity going on.

Hannah said...

Your flowers are amazing. The emotion you instill in them is what makes them so. You are not a robot. This woman clearly has no understanding of flowers and by hanging up you dodged a work-related bullet.

Anonymous said...

One thing: make it a top priority to get enough sleep! There was a period in my life (in my 30s) when I was so relishing that two different lives adventure. It's glorious to be so fully alive, loved the feeling that I was accomplishing so much, learning so much, just take the time to figure out the right balance for you weeding can give you that time. That way, you won't risk sacrificing something of great value to you. Take the time. And get enough sleep, can't have too much happiness.

GALaxy said...

Ugh I hate it when people try to tell me how to feel! Or even worse make me feel like I need to apologize for how I feel! I'll feel and express my feelings the way I want to, damn it, and it has nothing to do with how I run my life professionally or otherwise!

Jo said...

What would your business be without emotion? Sometimes you just have to hang up on those who see things from such a strict point of view. Come on, people, don't act like we aren't all just human.

I'm glad you are happy, even with the ups and downs.
And,yes, tomato sandwiches are one of the best things about summer.

Nell said...

Glad to hear about your adventures. I've had similar client unpleasantness lately but unfortunately, I didn't have your restraint. After enduring a lengthy lecture from a chain store buyer, I allowed the words "well, maybe you should eat my ass" to escape my lips before I hung up. I blame humidity induced craziness.

Anonymous said...

Thinking back to the post about whining. A reader doesn't know the blogger, only the image they put out on the blog. Reading about farming and flower farming is super interesting but some blogs end up focusing a lot on what a crazy difficult and so on life it is. I know it is because I have been a farmer. I have lived in a different location than my farm. I have also been other things and flower farming is not by a long stretch only difficult, tiring and so on thing there is to do. That tone in the writing makes me feel like the writer has no clue how hard other people work or how hard the farm families that came before us worked. May be it is a tactic. Those posts are always followed by comments of "oh you are so amazing..." And may be it is a way to get customers. An image is created and some people who read might not work or not work that hard. This is not to say that all should be cheery all the time. For sure life has has struggles but there are a lot of us working incredibly hard out here and you seem pretty blessed. Weddings are big money for florist and growers. Some don't do weddings because they don't want to work with the stress or the angry brides or the horrible mother of the brides. But if you choose to go for weddings and the money they bring in you are signed up for the stressful events as well as the well as the easy going brides.

Michelle Stiles said...

I have missed you - I honestly find you a great inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

CocoRosie said...

catching up with you via the blog and missing you lady. another good thing about summer...your birthday ! don't forget to celebrate yourself and all the magical things you've accomplished thus far and all the wonder still to come. Xx

CocoRosie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. L. said...

It is such a wonderful feeling when things are shifting and it feels good. I’m so happy to hear that you are feeling happier than you have felt in a while. That’s wonderful!

And those wedding flowers are gorgeous! As are the irises at that Oregon flower farm too!

monica said...

But your birthday approaches, and with it, Peaches and Basil, which you taught me to love!

You don't need to hear out the complainers, it's fine to let her know that your business model may not work for her, but it works for you, and apparently your clients are thrilled with the gorgeous and personal results it allows you to produce.

Your work is not like anyone else's, which is why people want you. They shouldn't be surprised that your work methodology may be different too!

Hope to see you soon, the weeks are flying by!!!!!
xo Monica

Anonymous said...

When you get angry
count to 10....
When you get to
eight throw a punch
nobody expects


Pink Lady Grey Lady said...

Things I hate about summer:

1. thigh chafe :(
2. feeling faint in hot subway cars
3. increased water consumption—> difficulty locating public restrooms
4. pinkberry ethos

Things I love about summer:
1. more smells and the memories conjured up
2. not giving a shit and wearing sandals in non-sandal appropriate situations
3. going to the movies (for the AC!)
4. sangria

count buckula said...

grilled cheese and tomato, fuh real. that woman sucks.

FoxandFinch said...

Hi, I am a new reader. I just wanted to say that the black and white picture of the kitchen with the dog looking out the window...that is the kind of house I dream of, one with the old wallpaper still there. I love that picture.
I love to garden and I take care of five gardens for the village where I live, plus run an antique/vintage shop. Those are two areas of work where people don't understand how much work it takes to produce the end product.
I've seen this sign in some vintage stores and it is so true:
I found it.
I paid for it.
I hauled it.
I cleaned it.
I fixed it.
I restored it.

trouble said...

it's really crazy ass when peeps try to tell others what to do, totally unasked. that said, you rock, are doing what you want to do and are inspiring in your 'back off' sentiment. thanks for letting us in on the process, and again, i say, write a book!!!

JouJou Loves You said...

What you do is ART. You are an artist. Yes you have a "business" but in my opinion I think we should feel grateful that you're choosing to share your talent with the rest of the world. We as a society have become so conditioned to expect instant gratification especially if money is involved.
Weddings should be about love and bliss. I'm so over the "business" of weddings. If I was her I would say "You are the what you do, I trust you." Just because she isn't comfortable with how you do things doesn't mean they are not done right. Your work speaks for itself. Don't let the sheeple get to you. (no offense against sheep...they're more civilized) You're amazing and looking through your instagram and blog has given me such joy this morning. What a beautiful world you live in and thank you for sharing.

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Send flowers and gifts to Philippines said...

Beautiful flower snapshots! Love it..

Unknown said...

It is so nice to see that others have struggles within their small business success. That came out wrong. But I am going through one right now and its just good to know I am not alone. It keeps me going. Its hard to know when you are supposed to take it and when you aren't. Learning everyday.

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