10 MINUTES WITH: Sarah Cilley
Beautiful, fresh flowers are the specialty of Door's Fleurs owner Sarah Cilley. Found in Brussels at the south end of Door County, she lets you create your own wedding bouquet on her Door County flower farm where the flowers are more colorful and fragrant than those that are shipped thousands of miles or found in the grocery store. Plus she sells in bulk!
What is Door's Fleurs? We are growers of specialty cut flowers and a apple, pear, and raspberry orchard (the pear and apple orchard are young, so no production until 2015). Our fresh flower biz has been great this past year, and we are focusing on the flower crop and constantly perfecting it. Wedding parties really enjoy coming out to choosing their wedding flowers, not to mentioned how memorable it is on their special day.
How did you first become interested in flowers and flower arranging? I have had a horticultural interest all my life. When my husband passed away — after making sure bills were paid, kids were fed — what was left over was spent all on flowers to help heal my soul. With my training on various flora growing communities and the sites which it thrives, arranging flowers as nature would is just part of the training and many years of observation. If you have a passion for natural beauty, putting together your thoughts comes easily, and the unique micro climate of Door County is ideal for growing beautiful and heavenly fragrant local flowers.
Tell me about the first wedding you ever did. The first couple we invited to the farm to pick their wedding flowers was so overwhelmed by our selection, it was hard for them to choose. But they finally pin down the colors of their wedding and from then on, it was color choice rather than type-of-flower choice. We don’t spray paint or dye anything we grow. What was the hardest part about floral design for weddings? Keeping it simple and elegant. So many get carried away with all the selection we have here. We like to be original, rather than ordinary like arrangements pick out from a book.
Can you give us some tips for brides? What’s the process of working with a florist like, from beginning to end? Know your florist and where they get their working stock. Nowadays everyone wants to be designer, but do they know that zinnias will not tolerate their coolers and will limp out before the wedding day? Most do not. Can they tell you which flowers are subtlety fragrant or overwhelming for centerpieces or pews? For example fragrant roses have been bred out in exchange for longer post harvest life. Some other things to consider: How fresh will they be? Can guests be lucky enough to take some home? If so, what about the containers its sitting in? Are they looking to make flowers last or just “for the moment”? Will the floral consultant be available to come to the site of wedding if needed? Hand-tied bouquets are beautiful, but have the potential to stain the wedding dress. Corsages with pins can ruin dresses also. What about considering magnets or wrist bouquets?
What should a client know before meeting with you? I am the grower with many years of experience in field work and nautural beauty that comes with it. I have a degree in horticulture and did botany surveys for the U.S. Forest Service. Describe your signature style. When people asks me to make them something, I always start by asking if they want high end sophisticate or down to earth country? 100% have replied "down to earth”. I usually like to meet and consult with the wedding couple to see what they like and incorporate their taste into their flowers, so my signature style is usually their signature style for that memorable day in their lives. Additionally, I believe the beauty of a flower comes from not only the sight but the smell of it. Aroma therapies and scientists have captured and bottled their unique fragrances, but to hold it and smell it from the source is refreshing and hard to duplicate. Lisianthus Which are your favorite flowers to work with? Lisianthus is my favorite wedding flower. Lisianthus is a royal wedding flower since the Victorian era and breeding has been perfected by the Japanese over the years. The double flower is so beautiful by itself, there is little need to add anything else so it does not take away its beauty. What are creative ways to use flowers while keeping costs down? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If the budget is tight, stay with the colors of the wedding rather than what type of flower, ie, white daisy is half the costs of white Gerber daisy. Also using every part of the flower — from greens, stems, seed pods, and low costs fillers help to keep costs down. What flowers are in your favorite budget-friendly bouquet? Perennials are budget friendly, as they come back year after year after its been cut. Snowball Viburnum What about an over-the-top bouquet? My personal over the top is the 20” pomander made from white festiva maxima peonies. One bomb looks like another but the fragrance is breath taking.
Anything else I should know? We grow and harvest flowers according to the Door County micro climate. Therefore, we would have snowball viburnums in late spring and not in fall. We do not grow roses or astromeria or anything else you find in super markets shipped here form South America, but can always order them as if a florist would do. And, we don’t do feathers.