Flowers 101: Clover Chadwick of Dandelion Ranch
The team from Dandelion Ranch will be selling stems and sharing floral advice at the Pop-Up Flower Shop at west elm Los Angeles. We asked Clover to share some florist tips with Front & Main — from her favorite splurge stems to expert advice for a novice florist. Check it out!
What is your favorite inexpensive stem/filler to use in your designs?
That’s easy, carnations. I can think of no better flower to enhance and complement an arrangement, when used in the right way. I use them as a “carpet” basically a foundation to build upon. As long as you don’t see the sides of the bloom, you can’t even tell they’re there. No other flower comes in as many shades of almost every color, therefore it’s a great blender flower, or, as I call it, a “bridge the gap” flower. Not being able to use carnations is like a painter not being able to use half of his paint palette.
What is your favorite splurge stem?
Big fluffy garden roses! Their irresistible, heavenly scent gets me every time. While not the most practical because they do not last very long, they are decadent none the less.
What tool would you recommend to a novice florist? What is the best bang-for-your-buck tool that will transform your floral skills?
Besides the obvious being your shears…pipe cleaners and a good pair of springy wire cutters. These are your best friend when working with fat, delicate stems (particularly bulbs such as tulips or ranunculus) in a tight arrangement situation. These stems tend to break on you when trying to get them into water and since bulbs don’t require that much water, this trick works wonders. Stick a pipe cleaner up the stem, the pipe cleaner goes into water easily and wicks the water to the flower through a process of osmosis.
What is your favorite shape vessel/vase/container to work with?
Boats or oblong vases give a large playing field for me to have fun and use lots of flowers. They also allow me to really pay homage to Mother Nature by creating a little slice of a garden which has become our signature design.
What is your #1 flower or floral arranging tip?
Build a good foundation. Once you’ve chosen your main floral “stars” for your arrangement, spend time looking for greens and other unusual seasonal flowers that compliment your color palette. Create a nice nest for your “star” flowers to bask in; starting with your hardiest ingredients, going to your most delicate – which should be your “stars.” By doing this you will have a more interesting arrangement. No matter the season, Mother Nature provides us with so many uncommon flowers and greenery that highlight and complement the stars of that season by providing texture, depth of color, contrast and shape and movement.
What’s hot in your market? What flower/floral trend is everyone asking about in LA?
Succulent arrangements are trendy right now. They last a long time, are beautiful, and can be planted in your garden. Succulents come in all sorts of varieties, colors and shapes, and when mixed together, they can create a beautiful arrangement.