June 6, 2015
There are a few things beside the obvious that I love—one is flowers and the second is travel. And when the travel is to San Francisco to arrange flowers, even better. Sign me up!
So what’s the backstory to my fantastic floral adventure? Have you ever “discovered” a band, restaurant, or new designer that you like to proclaim yourself as the first to find? Well, this is how I feel about Kiana Underwood of San Francisco’s Tulipina. I stumbled upon her Instagram feed several years ago and fell in love with her style. Thanks to social media, I can keep my obsession in check and admire every move that she makes. Through her, I found Max Gill of Max Gill Design who is equally impressive. When Kiana announced that she and Max would be teaching a one-day flower workshop, I jumped in. Then, I freaked out. It’s my first flower workshop and I choose to fly to San Francisco to work with two of the most talented people in the business? Add to that its title as a ‘Master Class’ and there I was with a ticket to fly, a mild anxiety attack, and no turning back. After debating how I was going to get my clippers in my carry on bag, and over thinking what I was going to wear, I was ready to go! To top off this great adventure the stars aligned, my dear friend that lives in San Francisco was around for the weekend- so I got to stay with her. We had the best time. She picked me up in her electric Smart Car( I swear) – we crammed a lot into our very brief visit!
I didn’t get a ton of sleep on Saturday night and woke up early on Sunday crazy nervous. After drinking my courage in the form of a pot of coffee, I was off to to Kiana’s. And wouldn’t you know I was the first attendee to arrive. I used my few extra minutes to absorb the beauty surrounding me. Kiana had the most lovely flower arrangement and sign in her driveway directing me to her garden, and when I entered, it took my breath away. Between what she has blooming and the extraordinary variety of flowers that she and Max bought at the San Francisco Flower Market, I was in awe. She had spray roses that looked like baby David Austin roses, peonies in hot pink and coral, salmon garden roses, pink and orange ranunculus,poppies, lenten roses, climbing roses from someone’s yard, plants from a nursery—the list goes on an on. It was truly a flower lover’s version of heaven.
She and Max were so kind. At first meeting, they both put me at ease. They put all six of us at ease, and we were all a little anxious. I love arranging flowers, and I’ve turned my passion into a blog and the start of a business. But, arranging flowers in front of this gathering of experts seemed intimidating. Anyway, their kindness was evident and they were ready to meet each attendee where they were on their flower journey, and we were all different.
We started off the morning with coffee and donuts that quickly progressed to wine and seemed to be necessary to help us get over our jitters! After introductions, Kiana started us off and showed us how to arrange in her signature style that includes lots of beautiful, brightly colored flowers in a vessel with a frog. I had arranged with a frog only once before so I was intrigued to see how she assembled her masterful arrangements. She did an outstanding job explaining her thoughts step by step as she arranged. Then she cut us loose. This was it—sink or swim. And, I did it. I had a blast. There were flowers everywhere. No shoestring budget stopping me from making something pretty special myself. Kiana would walk by and offer suggestions if we felt like we were stuck, but by no means was she critical. She was kind and helpful. Music was playing. It was fun.
This was my copy of Kiana’s masterpiece!
We broke for lunch that consisted of an amazing feast prepared by Brian Bligh of Chez Panisse. It was so fresh, I felt like I was eating a cleanse. Then with a little more wine, we were ready for the afternoon session with Max.
Max and Kiana share a love of garden style arranging. Max was demonstrating a larger arrangement to compliment the smaller ones we had done in the morning. This was crazy. It was enormous! And wouldn’t you know it—there was that crazy frog again. I really doubted that we could make something so big with a frog, but he did. And then we did. I was beaming with pride and accomplishment. The larger arrangements were a little harder for me, at least to get started. I was so disgusted with the huckleberry branches when they would not cooperate with the frog, but after I realized that the branches were just building a nest for the flowers, I seemed to roll right along. One concept Max emphasized that I have thought about often is how we look at things. Most people look at a room from left to right, and an arrangement is no different. We worked with that in mind and it was truly helpful. Once again, every arrangement was out of this world and each one was individually inspired.
These are my copy of Max’s stunning arrangement!
Flower people are all cut from the same cloth. They are hard workers. Every single person started cleaning up. Hauling buckets, combining the leftovers, sweeping, and dumping out the precious water in Kiana’s garden so that we didn’t waste a drop in this drought stricken area. There were no instructions; we just did it because that is what we do.
On my flight home, I was already planning my next flower adventure. It was out of my comfort zone to fly across the country by myself to go a workshop, but I would do it again tomorrow. It’s good to be nervous. It’s good to grow and learn. Being inspired by others was the biggest gift. Spending a day with people with a passion for flowers was worth the worry. I would not trade one thing for this experience!
To see more pictures-#kianaandmaxworkshop