Louesa is a participating florist in our Oh! Naturale Garden Tour, and her floral creations will be located in the front entrance and foyer of the VRG home.
What happens when a RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) trained printmaker turns her artistic talents toward floral design and decides there just might be a more “Oh! Naturale” way for us all to think about flowers?
It can only be described as…. MAGIC!
Louesa says the start of her ‘natural’ floral evolution began while working with Alice Waters and the rest of the Chez Panisse gang in Berkeley. There, the notion of eating non-sustainable, out of season, or ‘flown in’ food items rather than locally grown items would never cross their minds or lips. “So why shouldn’t we be thinking of flowers in the same way?” says Roebuck. Louesa says she witnessed ‘hyper-seasonal, hyper-local, and organic’ fare every day that was in beautiful harmony with the sustainable movement.
Her personal mantra’s are:
“Do no harm. Be gentle. No agribusiness. Keep it local, seasonal, and organic. No flying floral in from across the globe out of season. No floral foam. Don’t buy unless it is from a reputable local grower – in season. And know your farmer!”
Once she understood that all things growing on earth and using water were part of the same system, her floral work easily evolved. A born ‘gleaner’ by nature, Louesa set about to share her philosophy with the world in her book with Sarah Lonsdale, called Foraged Flora.
When not on the road between San Francisco and Los Angeles, ‘Foraging’ and installing for clients, Louesa, her partner Curtis, and their shelter dog Scrap, can be found in their home/studio in Ojai creating art, designing their textile line ‘Neem’ or entertaining on the patio with a batch of Louesa’s famous ‘Hippie Nachos.’
After your next trip to the Farmers Market…whip up a batch, you won’t be disappointed!
Want to try your hand at ‘Foraging’? Louesa offers this advice…
Begin by deeply observing the natural environment around you. See what are sprouting, blooming, thriving and also perishing and learn and be inspired from that observation. Deep looking and thinking will lead to more love and understanding.
Move away from pristine bloom obsession; avoid uniformity at all costs! Don’t be afraid to define your own look and style, and don’t be shy about asking your neighbors if you could cut something that’s overgrown. Adopt — don’t shop!
Here are Louesa’s Tips for creating your own seasonal arrangements:
- Follow your intuition and innate sense of beauty—color, line, composition—and pay attention to negative space.
- Don’t look for or adhere to formulas.
- Begin looking in your neighborhood, on the paths your life takes daily, where you walk and where you drive. Be an active observer.
- Never cut or gather in parklands (unless it’s an invasive species the parks are trying to eradicate).
- Use common sense and ask permission to forage or glean. Talk to people you might not normally have engaged. Begin a dialogue about the local persimmons or magnolias. Ask questions.
- Learn to see flora that are not “cut flowers” as equally, if not more, beautiful. Bring them into your home. Bring in big branches like magnolia or apple blossoms and then figure out how to display them.
- Reject the term “weeds” and see the beauty in wild fennel, nasturtium, borage and many more. Use what you find beautiful, not what the floral industry tells you is beautiful. Detach from agribusiness.
- Know your growers. Ask questions, just like with your food.
- Cut long and irregular. Once cut, you can never make it longer. Embrace irregularity and decay. Don’t just look for pristine and uniform; embrace all the stages of the life cycle.
- Use vines and tendrils for volume and poetic moments. Let them trail off the table or mantelpiece; don’t fight their curvature and grace.
- Look for companion plants that grow next to each other. Bring them home together and create arrangements that honor how they grow.
- Just as food that is local, seasonal and organic is more visually appealing and delicious, so it is with seasonal and sustainable flora. If all of the elements are of the same place and time, the arrangement will intrinsically be more harmonious, more beautiful, have more visual integrity and balance. The color palette will be symbiotic. It’s practically foolproof.
Here are some of Louesa’s favorite things to ‘Forage’:
Apple and quince blossoms
Lady Banks roses
Heirloom and wild roses
Geraniums of all sorts
Passion flowers and cobaea
Maybe even a magnolia or two