I always love when I have to break the news that Petals by the Shore is a play on my name and not actually a flower studio by the eastern shore, it's a great conversation starter. But I will admit that having my studio by the shore one day is definitely a dream. What shore? Well that I'm not sure. I still have a lot of exploring to do and places to see and I may happen upon a certain shore that just calls to me.
One shore in particular that stole my heart was the rugged coastline that wraps itself around Homer, Alaska. Kachemak Bay and the glacier ridge behind it were my view for a week in the summer of 2017 when I was a guest designer for the Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies, a Certified American Grown flower farm. When I decided I was taking this trip of a lifetime I thought it would be my one and only opportunity so I wanted to make the most of it. Which to this floral designer meant a creative photo shoot! I reached out to a photographer through instagram finding her by way of #homeralaskaphotographer. (Use those hashtags friends - they are everything and open doors!) Donna Smith of Donna Marie Photography and I connected a month before I made my trip and we planned a shoot to take place on the farm and also one to take place on the water down at the Homer Spit - a 4 1/2 mile long piece of land jutting out into the bay. I knew I wanted a full immersion experience. I am an experiential learner so I have to connect all the senses. We had the intoxicating smell of the peonies, the salty taste of the ocean in the air, the calming sound of the waves, the sight of the mist and muted tones, and the bitter feel of the rain and the dipping temperatures.
With July being American Flowers Month I felt it was a great time to finally share this collaboration that came together so beautifully and gave me the opportunity to truly be Petals by the Shore.
For both shoots we created different looks with different dresses and bouquets. The shoot on the farm was featured in the October 2017 issue of Florists Review magazine. It was titled American Grown Heroes: An Alaska Peony Love Affair and written by Debra Prinzing. That shoot focused on the fields of peonies at Scenic Place Peonies and a lush brightly colored bridal bouquet that screamed Midnight Summers Dream.
For the coastal shoot I wanted something more subdued, more ethereal and moody that would highlight the variety of white peonies that grow on the farm. I wanted to to use them all and give them their moment to shine. So many brides want the pure white peonies like Elsa Sass and Bowl of Cream and throw shade on the other varieties with subtle lemon and cream undertones, vying for the pure white double petaled ones. But putting all the varieties together became a way for me to challenge the expected and show how beautiful all the tones and layers can blend to create something unique. The white peonies grow prolifically on the farm and ship well thus dominating the inventory so I had an abundance of choices to pull from. The varieties I used included Bowl of Cream, Avalance, Festiva Maxima and Duchess de Nemours. I wanted the bouquet to be very authentic and reflective of place so I added clam shells collected on the beach and other grasses, foliage and white blooms harvested and foraged from the farm. The high tunnel on the farm had an abundance of foxglove, statice, white salvia, dusty miller, snapdragons, feverfew and sweet peas that I used to accent the big fluffy blooms. Not your typical white bridal bouquet which is what I love! I want to continually challenge what can be used and redefine what is considered beautiful and romantic and I want all the texture, always!
The weather provided the perfect moodiness and grey tones. The only thing missing was the backdrop of the glaciers which were hidden by fog and mist.
Our model and makeup artist, Chelsea Aberkane of Borealis Beauty, was my hero rocking her roll in 40 degree rainy temps. True hardcore Alaskan spirit! And as you'll see below - she embodied all the emotion that I hoped the shoot would create - her eyes just draw you in and capture you. Donna Marie was unbelievable seeing the whole vision and knowing how to capture all the senses - better than I ever imagined! What a beautiful collaboration this was!
My awesome and talented friends here in Maryland created some pieces that I took with me. Sara Lowe of Lowe Love Calligraphy made a beautiful hand painted and calligraphy sign that I packed in my suitcase and now sits in the packhouse at the farm as a reminder of our week. Ashley Hooker of Hookberry created a beautiful invitation suite to complement all the colors and textures.
Donna Marie's friend, Nicole of Seaglass and Stardust, hand designed the sea glass pieces, including a ring. I adorned the floral crown with her beautiful sea glass pieces as well as peony buds and little textural bits from the farm. All the seaglass she collected on the shores throughout Alaska. Talk about keeping things authentic. Everything was purely Alaskan (at least in my eyes) and gave me an opportunity to create to create and in one of the most beautiful places I've ever experienced. I'm beyond excited to return to Alaska next week and do it all over again but even better! I can only imagine the adventure and creativity that awaits and to share more beauty with you!
Florals: Petals by the Shore
Farm: Scenic Place Peonies
Photography: Donna Marie Photography
Model & Makeup Artist: Borealis Beauty
Seaglass Artist: Seaglass & Stardust
Calligraphy Sign: LoweLove Calligraphy
Invitation Suite: Hookberry
Envelope Calligraphy: Flourish & Birch
Ribbon: Honey Silks & Co