“Our landscape helps inspire my color palettes,” says local floral designer Tali Bouskila of Flower Casita. “Going into winter, I really want to do those eucalyptus blues, the grassy golden yellows – more dried colors. I think there’s something so pretty, when we have huge clouds of storm and the bright yellow of wild dill.
Flower Casita opened its doors five years ago, after Bouskila spent nearly a decade working in flower shops in San Francisco and freelancing for studios focused on weddings and big events. She signed the lease for her Petaluma studio a few months before her daughter was born and quickly developed a following. “Many of my customers have met me as a pregnant woman, climbing ladders and cleaning and cleaning the store,” she laughs.
Bouskila and his team prefer to work with local producers and unique forage finds. Neighbors sometimes stop by the shop with something interesting from their garden – an armful of prunings from an olive tree or a few branches from a fallen birch – and ask if Bouskila can use the materials.
Its trademark is a looser, less tightly defined look, which has its roots in the idiosyncratic shapes and structures of plants in the wild. “We are inspired by what is already happening in nature. We find the shape of each rod, we find the colors; we like to look at things for what they really are and showcase their natural beauty, instead of manipulating them into a tight ball-shaped design,” she explains.
Bouskila draws lines between her natural approach to floral design and the farm-to-table approach to eating well in Sonoma County. “That says a lot about what we do here, even how we make our wines. There’s a lot of commonality between what we do and what the chefs do, the newcomers making super seasonal inspired menus that are lighter and brighter, tasting every element of the dish.
As the holidays approach, Bouskila says she appreciates the gifts given by our farmers and pickers at any time of the year. “Being in Northern California, we actually have flowers all year round, unlike the snowy parts of the country. So it’s about being really thankful that we always have something…that there’s always something that rises from the ground.
Tali Bouskila’s favorite tricks for making Christmas wreaths
Pallets and plans: Before Bouskila makes a crown, she likes to have an idea of where it will go and how big it should be. She will often use a vine or curly willow base, and sometimes hang a wreath horizontally to create a floral sheen.
Seasonal Texture: Working with what is locally grown and available fresh, Bouskila looks for interesting shapes in evergreens and flowers: “Not everything is a stiff, straight stem; it’s a combination of shapes and curls, then bringing in textures of pods and grasses.
A focal point: Bouskila usually builds a single focal point into a wreath – a dried hydrangea flower, a sprig of orchids, or a loose knot of velvet or raw silk. But there is no rule that she follows 100% of the time; Bouskila says you should let your decisions be guided by the materials at hand.
Wreath making class, $100 per person, minimum of five people. Flower Casita, 140 Second St., Suite 116, Petaluma, 707-559-5243, flowercasita.com