Flowers by Mary
“Twenty years ago I wondered why someone wasn’t doing for flowers what the Food Network was doing for food,” says Mary Garrett. “Till then, it was tuna noodle casserole or Italian night, and then suddenly we were all learning to cook things at home like Thai cuisine.”
Garrett, the owner of Flowers by Mary in Orleans, has worked with blooms and buds for 45 years, and is now thrilled to bring her passion for flowers to New England audiences. “We just did a soft opening of our ‘Flowerskool,’ which will be how I begin to share my design ideas and secrets of the trade.”
Two types of workshops are initially planned: “basics” classes to learn the fundamentals of creating an arrangement and caring for blossoms; and “farm-to-table flowers” where Garret will source from local growers and demonstrate caring for flowers bought at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
Anyone who’s ever farmed anything can grasp the challenges for farmers trying to grow fields of flowers for the picking. Especially here in New England, where spring can take its time, it’s hard to promise local lilacs for certain wedding dates. “If a bride wants to be the third generation to carry lilies of the valley, I can’t guarantee that for her particular date they will be local, but I can get the desired flowers, 365 days a year,” says Garrett. “Very elegant all natural weddings, a wonderful trend that’s here to stay, is growing,” she adds. “It’s one of the things I’d really like to help people achieve themselves.”
“I do always choose fair trade roses, which, like fair trade coffee, are grown sustainably, with few pesticides, and the workers are equitably paid.” says Garrett. “For some things though, we do have to reach out globally, but they can be still be sourced meaningfully. Like our orchids; they come from an environmentally friendly, small family farm in Thailand. Now I’m discovering and investigating the lovely things that are becoming available from Cuba.”
With a signature style that includes not only exquisite flowers, but also layering in indigenous grasses, berries, twigs, branches, rose hips, and maybe even a lobster claw or two, Garrett has a penchant for recycling eclectic vessels, and she’ll bring that to the table, too. She says, “You’ll learn about local flowers, harvesting from your own garden, using materials foraged in the wild, and repurposing offbeat containers.”
Garrett has a stable of Cape flower growers she relies on for old summer pals like zinnias, snapdragons, and dahlias, as well as for poetic lilies and stems of unconventional buds. Rebecca Perry’s Sabatia Farm grows exquisite lilies; Erin Smith of Sweetheart Farms brings bunches of feathery silver green Artemisia; Stephanie Foster and Matthew Leonard are the dahlia masters; and Karen Moore snips buckets of delightful perennials.
Garrett’s favorite flower? “Tulips… no, nigella (love-in-the-mist,) but at the moment I’m adoring this clematis. It’s actually a shrub variety, very long lasting, that can be used as a cut flower,’” she says, while fingering a slender branch of indigo pointed buds. “For me, the flowers never get old; every year I fall in love with them all over again.”