Friday, December 12, 2014

The Holly and The Ivy: The Original Holiday Décor

butterbee-butterbee-0026By Irene Donnelly

During the recent wreath making classes hosted by Local Color Flowers, I noticed that the holly hardly ever gets used.  Of all the evergreens we pre-cut and offer to students, the holly is rarely touched.  It must be the thorns that deters them.  Students tend to lean toward magnolia, cedars, firs and berries but as folklore has it, the most commonly used holiday decorations were holly and ivy.

PrintBringing holly and ivy indoors dates back to the 4th century when Pagan people would celebrate the winter solstice or the “return of the sun”.  It was considered bad luck to bring these evergreens indoors before the solstice (December 21st/22nd) and equally bad luck to leave them up past the twelfth day of Christmas, (January 6th, also known as Epiphany).  The hardiness of both plants was believed to ward of evil spirits and protect the household through the winter, as well as provide homes for faeries and spirits wishing to escape the cold.  These greens would give people hope and reassurance that Spring would eventually return.

According to folklore it was said that whichever plant, holly or ivy, made it’s way into the home first would predict whether the husband or the wife would run the household the following year.   Holly having associations with masculinity and ivy with femininity.  In Roman times wreaths of holly and ivy were given to newlyweds as a token of good will and good luck for the future.

As Christianity spread through Europe, pagan traditions were reluctantly incorporated along side Christian celebrations.  The ancient symbolism of both holly and ivy were altered to conform to new Christian beliefs so that people could continue to deck their halls without being damned.  While holly formerly symbolized  “protection and good will” it began to take on new meanings.  The leaves and berries would symbolize the crown of thrones worn by Jesus and the drops of blood that was spilt.  Ivy on the other hand held it’s original symbolism as representing “eternal life”. 


As time when on, holly and ivy remained the predominate evergreens in holiday decor throughout Europe and the New World. Every establishment from churches, houses, bars and schools would be decorated.  The tradition of trimming interiors grew to decorating front doors and streets.  Cards and wrapping paper use holly and ivy as a symbol of the season and there are a number of carols that incorporate the plants into their lyrics.  In fact, holly was the favored decoration for celebrating Christmas until the 1800’s when “Prince Albert popularized the Christmas Tree”.

All symbolism and tradition aside, the only green plants around my home right now are holly and ivy.  Even though I am a nut for symbolism, I think it is possible that people just used what was available, abundant and beautiful in December to decorate their homes.  I can’t think of another time of year where people emphatically decorate their homes with plants.  I guess their is some magic to it after all.



In a couple of weeks I will defiantly celebrate the return of the Sun and longer days by decorating my home with a tree, a wreath and perhaps some garland.  I’ll fold in a little Christianity and a whisper of Santa Claus and I’ll be sure to make it all disappear by January 6th.  I hope to find more people reaching for holly and ivy in our upcoming  holiday centerpieces class and open studio sessions!  Now to get rid of those pumpkins. ;)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Introducing….Open Studio Sessions at Local Color Flowers!

We’re so excited to announce our new Open Studio Sessions! Drop by our studio for some informal design time. During our Open Studio Sessions, students can choose their own individual floral project to work on, while instructors guide, share ideas and help as needed. This is an opportunity for self directed design and creation. This is not a formal class.
Join Us!
  • Wednesday, December 10th from 5-8pm
  • Saturday, December 13th from Noon-3pm
  • Thursday, December 18th from 10am-1pm
For our dates in December, come make your own holiday wreath, wreath in progressswag and/or garland. We'll provide a wide variety of floral elements including locally grown evergreens, branches, seed pods, berries and more! We'll also provide all the tools, supplies and decorations you'll need.
If you don’t have time to stay, but would like to pick up supplies for some at home design, we’ll have evergreens, branches, berries and more for sale during our open studio time.
13379178784_06fb4ab1dd_zPay when you arrive, $25 for swags, $50 for wreaths, $10 per 1ft of garland. Please arrive no later than one hour before the end time listed.
Bring a friend! Bring a snack/drink! Bring your creativity! We’re looking forward to seeing you! Questions?  Email us at

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Experimenting with Flowers: The November 2015 Maryland Cut Flower Growers Meeting

butterbee-butterbee-0032by Carling Adele Wyncoll Elder

Brrr! It’s really getting cold here in Maryland (and everywhere else in the USA), which means that flower-growing season is starting to slow down for many of our flower growers. Or, at least it’s slowed down enough for them to get together and start strategizing for next year!

This morning, I had the pleasure of attending the meeting of the Maryland Cut Flower Growers. Walker Marsh, a brand new flower grower and friend, accompanied me from Baltimore, and I loved hearing about his Van Selfieplans for his farm The Flower Factory that he’ll start this coming year as we drove. I was also excited for Walker to meet many of the seasoned growers at the meeting and for him to pick their brains! The pool of flower farming knowledge that these Maryland flower growers possess is wide and deep, and an amazing resource for anyone who wants to learn about flowers. These growers are also friendly and extremely giving of their expertise, so I knew Walker was in for a treat!

As Walker commented on the ride home, the meeting was very “chill” and “actually useful”, a statement that I completely agree with! During the course of the meeting, we went around the room, and each flower grower shared useful tips and techniques that had worked, or hadn’t worked for them during 2014. LB (1)Dave Dowling of Ednie Flower Bulbs explained how to use Limelight Hydrangea stems instead of Rebar to stake down a hoop house cover (they won’t destroy your tiller!). Eileen Stoner of Stoney Acres, demonstrated how to soak and split Norway spruce pinecones in half for use in Christmas wreaths.

Laura Beth Resnick of Butterbee Farm told of her success using a solar powered fence baited with peanut butter to keep deer out of her flowerbeds. All this information, and much more, was shared via a relaxed and natural conversation, with many interruptions for questions and comments, and of course laughter!

Leon and Crew (1)

As Leon Carrier of Plant Masters stated, “we are constantly experimenting with cut flowers.” As all these flower growers have experienced, and I myself as a designer have experienced, there’s always more to learn about flowers, and more ways to improve growing, or designing with them. That’s why there is such a value in these meetings where we all get together, and help each other out by sharing what we know. Because when your life revolves around “experimenting with flowers” it’s nice to know there’s a bunch of smart and awesome flower growers out there who’ve got your back!

Makers Alley 2015!

In just 17 days, Makers Alley will be here again! Local Color Flowers is so excited to be hosting Makers Alley for the second year in a row, and can’t wait for a wonderful day of local Makers and their products, community building, and holiday cheer!

Makers Alley will be held on Saturday, December 6th, from 9AM-1PM at Local Color Flowers’ studio located at 3100 Brentwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21218. At the same time (7AM-12PM), the 32nd Street Farmer Farmers Market  will be happening at the end of our same alley, as well as Holiday Heap (10AM-5PM)  located nearby at 2640 St. Paul Street. So, Dec. 6th will be a great day to knock out some holiday shopping at numerous vendors, all while staying in the same Charles Village neighborhood!

The four hours of Makers Alley will be packed with fun! This year, we are thrilled to have 11 local Baltimore vendors participating! Makers Alley 2014 vendors include Woot Granola, Baltimore Rat Czar, Sparkle Designs, Pure Chocolate by Jinji, Two Back Flats, Kinderhook Snacks, Red Door Studio, Haute Mess Kitchen, Rebcycle, Happy Heat, and Local Color Flowers.

From 10:30AM-11: 30AM, Makers Alley will also have live music from the talented duo of local musicians Nadia and Kristina! They’ll be playing their lively interpretations of folk tunes, and bringing some serious festive spirit to the party! What could be more fun than listening to live music while you shop?

Mark your calendars! Bring a friend (or two, or three) and meet us at Makers Alley! For updates and further information, visit or #makersalley. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bookclub 2015 at Local Color Flowers

As we look head to the new year, we’ve got our next line-up of books for our Bookclub. If you haven’t been to the Bookclub before, you should come! It’s a great group of folks interested in flowers, nature, gardening, conservation and reading. It’s a drop-in group so no pressure to attend every meeting. We usually have some light snacks and drinks (contributions are welcome) and we meet from 7pm-9pm on the given dates.  There is great discussion and lots of laughter. What could be better!

2015’s books include:

If you’re interested, check out what we’ve read in 2014! We have one more meeting left this year. For our December 15 meeting, we’re reading Gaining Ground by local farmer/entrepreneur Forrest Pritchard. Join us!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 8, 2014


This year’s local flower CSA at Local Color Flowers was seriously awesome! If you aren’t familiar with our CSA, here’s how it worked. Over the course of 5 months (June through October) CSA members came over to our studio twice a month to pick up a wrapped bouquet of locally grown flowers and foliage.  Each bouquet included a tag telling members what is included in the bouquet and what farms the flowers came from. Most weeks, members were also treated to snacks incorporating locally grown flowers and produce.

Steve H. seen here with his CSA bouquet!


Sweet William Shortbread and Basil Limeade made by LoCoFlo designer Carling Elder

2014-09-03 20.20.23

Loved these little friends who were always interested in learning about flowers!

We always envisioned creating a space for people to come together to chit chat, laugh, eat and learn. This season felt like we had accomplished that.

If you’d like to see more photos from the CSA, check out our Facebook page.

We’re looking ahead to 2015 already! If you’re interested in signing up for the CSA, check out the registration page on our website. This year we’re offering a HALF share for $150 and a FULL share for $300.  This is a great holiday gift for anyone who loves flowers (and who doesn’t love flowers!!)

Hope to see you next year at Local Color Flowers!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Locally Grown Flowers for Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer Chrissie Hynde!

As many of you already know, Local Color Flowers loves WTMD! We are proud to support our local radio station as sustaining members and super enthusiastic listeners! (check out who our FAVE WTMD DJ’s are on our About Us Page!)

When WTMD reached out to us this week to see if we would be interested in bringing flowers over to the station for this week’s Live Lunch with Chrissie Hynde…we jumped at the chance!

Photo (20)

Our growers were equally excited!

Photo (21)

The show was AMAZING! Lots of old Pretenders songs sung acoustically and lots of new songs that sounded sooooo good. Seeing Chrissie Hynde in real life and hearing her voice in real life, was pretty incredible! To see some photos from the show (there was a NO PHOTO policy) check out WTMD’s photos! (the photographer was sitting right next to me!)

Thanks WTMD!! You are definitely one of our favorite things in Baltimore!