Monday, July 14, 2014

hashtag flowers hashtag wedding hashtag brooklyn


melissa and casey2

We fired up the SAIPUA wedding machine in Brooklyn last week again and let me tell you how smooth that shit runs. Purrs like a big kitten...


I spend a lot of my time working on Worlds End stuff; when I come back to pull together the flowers for an event I'm always surprised by the professional tactics the girls have up their sleeves. Like pre-ironed linens or a 16 foot refridgerated truck. To buy flowers they have one of our crew pick me up and drive me to the market. There was a time I would bus-to-train it to market. Which was fun in it's own way - ever ridden the subway with armloads of flowers? Great way to meet people.

melissa and casey3
IMG_0982We never have to work late anymore. The arrangements are tucked in and the studio swept (!) by 6pm.

We're finally able to cut some serious flowers from the farm at Worlds End and I brought down foxgloves, clematis, currants, yarrow, ninebark and astilbe...I bought the most gorgeous sweet peas from Ariella's Zonnderfeld Farm.

melissa and casey4

I started writing this from the apartment. It's around the corner from the studio in Red Hook. It's dingy in that way that old city buildings are, the corners, the windowsills can never be clean. The dust builds up and solidifies and then you just paint over it. Every time I come back I pick up pieces of the ceiling that have fallen. It's filled with all of our old stuff. A random gaggle of house plants that we miraculously keep watered between visits. It is where our record collection lives. When I met Eric he was 25 and I was 19. I bragged to all my friends about how I was dating an older man. He had a room in a house that was filled with obscure magazines and jazz records. The posters on his wall were vintage and framed. I had never heard of Charles Mingus or Thelonious Monk.


After the wedding on Friday I came home and threw around half a dozen records trying to find the right one.
Ella; no
Bonnie Rait; no
Grace Jones; def no
Neil Diamond; no
Judee Sill; no

Albert King, I'm in a Phone Booth, Baby ...
I prepared a very large, considerably undercooked steak which I devoured leaning at the counter half dressed. It is hotter than hell in the apartment. I have an old shitty fan called The Hawaian Breeze; it was kicking in the corner blowing dust around. My feelings for red meat after weddings are vampiric.

Cocteau Twins; no.
Boards of Canada.

You know who knows a lot about music? Deanna/aka/SoundsDisatrous. She has a radio show on Tuesday nights from 9-10 pm you can live stream it and prank call her here:

She's gonna play some Vandross, you gonna take your pants off.


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.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


On my last day in London I took our rental car due west 2.5 hours to the border of England and Wales. Before I got to the bridge to cross over the river Severn I stopped at a rest area which had a Starbucks and I was - in that moment - with an american coffee in a to-go cup, free time alone and a tank full of gas; the happiest I've been in a long while.


For two weeks Nicolette and I were flower tourists and then teachers...if there was a garden, a spectacular clematis or a medieval castle between Amsterdam and London, we saw it. I hope I absorbed somethings that will stay with me and help me make beautiful gardens and fake ruins at my farm. We certainly have enough rocks here to fake the ruins.


I've been eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches lately. I'm telling you this because I don't have much else to say. I am sort of funny about never being hungry, probably since in the 4th grade I was 'diagnosed' with hypoglycemia after lots of headaches, the doctor just told me to keep some peanuts in my locker. For a hypochondriac over-thinker like myself, this diagnosis was a boon to my inner dialog.

Unfortunately peanuts were not great social currency -- back then, it was tootsie roll pops and jolly ranchers. The unpopular kids are always more interesting adults. I tell myself.


This clematis Montana is everywhere in London right now. We're planting lots of this at the farm this spring. This season has been cold and wet; everything is about 3 weeks behind normal...daffodils have just started to bloom and our fields are still waterlogged. We're in a bit of a holding pattern. Already making lots of mistakes, like the sweet peas that got drawn out to around 10 inches of stem stretching for more light in our living room. I've been expertly advised to scrap them and start over. Eric, who cared for them in my absence (and thus feels a sort of paternal connection to the things) is angry and not ready to let go. We have a good little fight about this, and I agree to give them a shot under a low tunnel where they'll get more light.



I stopped in the city to check in with the girls at Saipua on my way back from London. I had a few hours to play with what was around and made this arrangement. I am reminded why flowers are so satisfying to me; they are so immediate. You put them together and right away you make something. It's such an obvious contrast to my work at the farm. Eric says I want a farm right out of the box. And he's right. 

It feels like the more we accomplish here, the more work is uncovered. I'm coming to terms with this as a lifelong project. Which is uncomfortable for me when I really think on it. 
It's frightening because it makes my life seem very short. 

scotley castle


It took 32 years to build Tintern Abbey in the late 13th century. By the mid 16th century it had been largely abandoned and for the next two hundred years it was ignored. In the mid 18th century it became very popular for people to 'explore the wilder parts of the country' and the ivy ensconced ruins of Tintern were suddenly a popular tourist destination. There are many beautiful etchings and paintings of the Abbey from this period. Swathed in overgrowth. Epically romantic.


Scientists generally agree that we've entered a new epoch on earth and they've dubbed it the 'Anthropocene' a word that infers the effect that humans have had on the surface of the earth and it's atmosphere. Most agree this epoch started around the industrial revolution, though some argue it should begin even earlier, with the rise of agriculture. 

What makes sense to me is that this shift coincides with the dawn of our self awareness. When we began to see ourselves as separate from nature. Something apart from it. 

Ironically we seem to miss nature, we want to go back to it, hike through it, commune with it, feel like we belong to it. Even if just for a day and under highly mitigated circumstances. I personally spend a lot of time trying to get back into it. I'd like to crawl inside the ivy covered ruins and make my bed. I want plants growing inside my house through the windows, along the baseboards. When I am outside in it I wait to feel some connection or rhythm. Like waiting for acceptance.

big urn flowerschool_2When I was in college and angry at the world, at coorporations, at starbucks (!) at everyone...I used to fantasize about moving to the Northwest Territories of Canada or Montana to be a rancher. To be completely alone in nature. But I'm not sure I'd have found what I was looking for there. I'm not sure that there is this difference between our lives and nature. This inside and outside. I have come to think that more likely our modern lives; our jetplanes, our iphone, our nitrogen fertilizers are all nature too. 

It's all cut from the same cloth, really. I'm not sure what I'm getting at but I've been thinking on this for a few days and will keep knocking it around.


Note: I set off writing this post to inform you about mothers day flowers, and fill you in a bit on my trip. Instead I divuldged into yet another rambling on the human condition. Whoops. In one of my classes in England we talked a little about branding and marketing your business. We talked about how you have to show what it is you want to do, demonstrate what you are first and then the right clients will find you and hire you. I believe this truly. Unfortunately for me, in a time when I really need some more clients at Saipua all I seem to be able to do is write about anxiety and global warming and post dark creepy photos of flowers and dirty sheep. Hey girls want to talk about your wedding? This makes me smile, sitting here in the dark at 5:45 am watching the sun come up.

Also my comments on nature encompassing our technology and the burning of fossil fuels are not mean to be read as a friendly excuse to continue our thoughtlessness on the planet. Quite the opposite. More on this someday soon I hope.

The shop Saipua in Brooklyn will be open Saturday and Sunday (likely the last weekend for a little bit) selling our soaps, candles and flowers. The girls are taking orders for mothers day. You can order a bouquet or ball jar for pick up starting at $35 or order something fancier for delivery (Manhattan/Brooklyn) for $250 on Sunday.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The end of winter.

sunrise house

When I was little I would sometimes be plagued by an overwhelming feeling of physical irritability...just like I needed to turn my entire self inside out. I discovered a cure for this feeling: Orange juice. It worked! Thankfully we always had orange juice in the house. When I was younger, it was concentrate from a can mixed up in a brown plastic pitcher. Then one year my mother started buying real orange juice. Those were the good years. I often want to go back in time and spend some time with my younger self, but you just can't do that. Except if you approach the edge of a black hole, the event horizon they call it, you start to slow time down, and it is thought, you may start to go back in time. 

I've been reading things I shouldn't be reading like this book called The Sixth Extinction and biographies on Tchaikovsky. When I say 'biographies' I mean the wikipedia page. Regardless. It's the wrong sort of reading for me right now. I've not been feeling so hot. Mentally, and also physically. And also not 'hot' like in the way women who look good feel.  I am officially the tired looking woman at Hannaford (our grocery store) who writes comment cards repeatedly advocating for the stocking of 'chubby hubby' ice cream. The teenage boy takes my card (again) and calls me ma'am
This too will pass. Days in, and days out.

Blondie here is our new maremma and she makes me happy when I sit with her, trying to get her to eat. She's four, and a bit shell shocked from switching farms. Over the last three weeks she's warmed up a lot and now will eat if I spend some time holding her paw and petting her first. She's the opposite of Puccini; thin, elegant, graceful, serious. I love her. Eric still prefers Poochi. 

And Nea. My best girl, getting a bit round in her older age. A skunky little sausage. You know I was always a cat person; grew up with a gaggle of cats but now I love dogs. 

Spring is finally starting to show at the farm, and in the worst timing, I've left for a few weeks of work in Europe. Writing this now from Amsterdam, a sunny Easter afternoon. Most of you are still asleep. My sheep likely laying down in a far corner of the field precariously close to the electric fence. When Eric wakes up and looks out the window he'll likely have a hard time seeing whether they are really there. He might worry for a minute pausing with the binoculars in hand, standing in the little bathroom upstairs, our lookout for pasture mischief. A tiny room, unfinished and full of dead flies. Impossible to find a paint color to match the old turquoise toilet and sink I insisted on putting in. 

He'll shrug it off, and go make coffee. 

I am ready to just let this winter go. 

I've been taking that physics class online that one of you suggested. And one of you sent me a beautiful japanese neck scarf (and one for Eric) and I thank you for that. Someone wrote me a card applying for an apprenticeship. You people are loving, and always with me. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One thing you may not know about me is that I'm into space. Like, outer space.
I also like my space which is another topic for another day.

Last night I came to the apartment in the city. I came in late because I had been out around collecting plants and things all day, preparing for our giant house plant sale on Sunday. After I unloaded the truck, and by the time I went and got my box of arugula and olives and whatnot it was already 9:30 or so.

I started reading about the current land rover that is exploring Mars. And then I brushed up on my knowledge of Mariner and Voyager. It's fun to close my eyes and really try to imagine what it would be like to be inside Voyager right now. Crossing the heliopause and entering interstellar space.  Headed nowhere in the abyss at 17 kilometers per second. That would be the loneliest place I can imagine.

If I wasn't a florist, I'd like to be lots of other things like a spy or an astronaut. I think I'd be good at both because I really like stressful situations and I work well under pressure. I'd be the person you'd want on a spaceship in trouble, trust me! No drama, just getting it done.

I've been teaching a lot lately, both with Nicolette at the Little Flower School and privately through Saipua. I love doing this, watching people experience the excitement of getting it, when the flowers work together suddenly and sing. Tis the season for corporate work too, and we've had our hands full. I like corporate work because it can be simpler and more straight put the lime in the coconut sort of work. Well, simpler for me because I'm usually not around for it -- Asheley and Deanna have been running that show. Pretty damn well I might say. 

Just so we're clear, if we're on a spaceship and the alarms are all going off and flashing red everywhere, I can handle the situation but Asheley and Deanna have to be there too, OK? (Eric can't be there because he has to be home chasing sheep.)

The other thing I have been reading a lot about is the news from the big telescope at the south pole that scientists have detected microwaves that could be proof of inflation at the beginning of the universe. Which affirms the big bang and the expanding universe. (and also, hello? MICROWAVE trend alert!!) When I was little I would lie in bed and think about the edge of the universe and try to think about what was beyond that edge. It would make me very uncomfortable. Now it is a sort exercise to get me out of my head stuff. 

Like when someone anonymously writes a comment that my blog has gotten too 'whiny' instead of lashing out and responding with 'go fuck yourself' I can just go to the edge of the universe for a while, where nothing really matters. 

Maybe I can audit some physics classes somewhere.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Getting to March feels like real triumph, especially up here at the farm.

I said to Eric the other day (having just arrived back at farm from city) "I really like the city. And I don't like it here. Is that OK?"

He said yes, and I felt better. Sometimes I think its good to just admit a situation sucks, instead of trying to pretend it's fine. Look, I'm not going to change my situation, not going to give up on the hardships of the farm. But I am going to admit that I don't like it right now, that it sucks right now. Like models probably do that a lot. They probably all stand around backstage at fashion week and say to each other "Modeling just sucks!!"

Go on girls, say how it is. How it feels.


There's little things I could do to make it better. One trouble here is that we haven't taken the time to make our house at the farm feel very comfortable. It's a project half finished. Because in my job I'm always making things look good for other people, I forget to do this for myself. Or, I just don't want to. Or in this case, we just ran out of money to do it. That's ok too. It really sucks to run out of money! But it does make us more creative, and that's a good thing I think. If we had tons of money how boring would that be!

Without a real kitchen, we are still cooking our meals outside on a grill. Which is fine, except for when I get out of the shower at 7pm and have to put all my clothes back on to go out and stir a pan of brussels sprouts and the temperature is 2 degrees. Fahrenheit. My friends made a joke that I should make a cookbook all about grilling. Apparently someones already done that and called it Seven Fires. Well, I'm going to work on a book called Eight Fires. Because I'm competitive like that.

Eric is very good at this winter energy stuff. He can watch basketball and listen to the radio and read all day long, stopping to do chores or make a bag of microwave popcorn. (We have a microwave)(Note to self: need more microwave recipes. Another book opportunity? Microwave recipes for the hipster Millennial set! NEED: a beautiful handcrafted microwave...made out of soapstone...)

When Eric eats popcorn he takes one piece at a time and eats it. One. Kernel. At. A. Time. Its like a fucking meditation in popcorn consumption. When I eat popcorn I take a fistful and like to shove the entire fistful in my mouth at once. This is how we're different. "You're going to choke on popcorn one day!" he says. What can I say I like to to live fast and furiously.
I fantasize about my obituary...

"...impatient #farmerflorist, noted author of #Eightfires and proponent of #artisanalmicrowavecookery dies alone in cold unfinished farmhouse. The scene was littered in dead flowers and popcorn."

This is going to be the last week of this weather, I just know it. I look forward to vest weather and sweater weather when I get dressed to go outside I don't look like the invisible man. Modeling just sucks!

And now a bit of SAiPUA housekeeping...

I'm heading back to the city to work on some projects and teach our big Weddings Mastery class. I love these intense classes because I get to rap and rap and rap about the industry with likeminded eager beavers who actually want to listen (as opposed to poor Eric who tires quick of flower world stuff).

Mark your calendars for our annual HOUSE PLANT SALE: SUNDAY MARCH 30th. I've already been buying plants, I'm going to bring a lot of my old big girls to sell and we're going to have some really beautiful special plant-y things on offer. For example, the most perfect Japanese clippers! I'll be leaking more details over the next few weeks...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I have been sitting staring at this screen for some time tonight. Looking for things to write you.
I'll start from where I am.
Which is sitting here, staring at this ranunculus. It is one of the most spectacular flowers I have seen in some time.

I spent a lot of time with this ranunculus today. This afternoon and evening, studying it in the apartment. Gazing at it, touching it, photographing it. Then I went to the grocery store. There was a long line and I watched my irritation at this line. Watched the irritation in the people around me. In the line. I came home and made lamb chops. I love lamb. I love eating alone.

I've heard a few people lately use the phrase 'Brooklyn Flower Mafia.' Am I a mobster in this mafia I wonder?
(and also WHO SENT YOU???)

I've had a few conversations with friends about the flower world recently. All the players. Someone should make a deck of cards of all these players. It wouldn't take long to get to 52. Who would be the ace of spades or the queen of hearts? The joker? The jacks? Good grief.

The world of floristry is changing so fast. You can throw a stone and hit a florist these days in Brooklyn. It's an exciting time for flowers. I watch my feelings about it shift. Watch myself relate to the struggles of new florists, watch myself be in awe of their talent, watch myself get irritated by how easy some of them seem to have it. I try to see where those feelings come from.

Growing pains maybe. All in the name of beauty. And trying to make a living. What's wrong with that, I think?

In the end the flowers speak for themselves. Magnolia. Queen of hearts.