FLORAL TETE A TETE FUN & THE POWER OF WEEKLY PRACTICE with JOSH WERBER
To prepare for your own personal and perhaps public displays of celebration for the New Year - we thought we’d inject a little bit of unadulterated floral and foliage FUN into your listening this week.
Joshua Werber is a floral designer and creative out of Brooklyn, New York. He is perhaps most well known for his floral tete a tete adventures and images. Drawing from the natural world, Josh's work is an exploration of emotion through the act of creation. Josh's lush aesthetic and sculptural approach to flowers playfully ornament and engage with the interior or exterior landscape. Designing provides him with the opportunity to intuitively trust, feel, and to allow the material to guide its own creation.
His work is driven by a desire to create unique environments through which the participant can experience transformation. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his rescue puppy Delilah.
“I don’t have a book to sell, but if I did it would be about a weekly practice. If you make one arrangement a week for a year, then you have 52 arrangements at the end of the year and one of them’s got to be good. If you do that consistently - and if you make 2 arrangements a week - then you’ll have at least two."
Josh Werber, Floral Designer
Floral Tete a Tete
Floral Tete a Tete became a creative focus in Josh’s design journey after attending a workshop of The Seasonal Bouquet Project, when floral artist Kumiko Matsuura challenged Josh to a weekly headpiece competition. Originating as an Instagram collaboration between Werber and Matsuura, Floral Tete a Tete blossomed into a solo exhibition at the Botaniska Trädgården in Göteborg Sweden.
Josh works on various commissions for events and derbys and his now almost-weekly practice #FloralTeteATete is now in its third year.
Happy New Year to you ALL!
THINKING OUT LOUD this week..
In this last few weeks of Cultivating Place, especially in my podcast break Thinking Out Loud commentary, I’ve been talking about our own individual intentions and resolutions as we go into a New circle around the sun on this planet of ours. Listeners have sent in some wonderful thoughts they have on this task and I am enjoying them all. They include things like:
1-To spend more time teaching and engaging with others in both my front and back gardens, inviting friends and neighbors into the space in a effort to help them learn, grow, and further their appreciation for the natural world.
2- To find an appropriate place for and to plant a small fruit tree orchard in the garden-peaches, cherries, pears... these are all options I’m considering.
3- To get better about layering bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs for color and bloom throughout the seasons. To notice and take note of the garden and garden habitat more and note what it is lacking or needing and find ways to fill in the holes.
4 - Get my tomatoes planted outside before it gets to hot and they won't set fruit
5 - Get the Bermuda Grass out of my planting areas
6 - Figure out some good annuals for summer that won't fry in July - for the pots
But one resolution/intention really stopped me in my tracks and it came from my friend Sunday Cummins. Sunday is a literacy consultant and author. She has a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a Master of Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s worked in the public schools for many years as a classroom teacher and as a literacy coach. Her very intentional books have titles like: "Nurturing Informed Thinking", and "Unpacking Complexity in Informational Texts".
Her whole purpose in work is to help students succeed and help educators and school districts succeed at helping students think well. Sunday lives with her husband, her daughter and their cats in a lovely older home and when Sunday is not traveling for work, she is at work in her office studio above their garage at home writing. To her to her work studio, you travel from the back door and porch of their home across a corner of the garden. In the past three years, Sunday and family have renovated much of the garden to make it feel like them – to make it more water thrifty and to make it more inviting for family entertaining and fun – like fire pit dinners under an arbor.
In regards to her garden intentions for the coming year, Sunday said to me – quite thoughtfully and a little wistfully: "I want to enjoy my garden more this coming year." I'm sure I looked at her with a little confusion. And she went on with this:" I want to be able to go into my garden and sit or be and I am finding this difficult. There’s always something to DO – something needing doing."
And this is what has me thinking – about Sunday’s desire to just be and the work of Josh Werber helping to see plants in a different way – as the sum of their parts which can be FUN and which can be deconstructed. And I know what Sunday means – as gardeners I am sure you all do too. Sometimes the garden is a hard task master, sometimes we forget to see the garden because we are doing the gardening and for many of us that IS FUN and enjoyment… until it isn’t. And so I am wondering from you all – how best do you ENJOY your garden? Can you just BE in your garden? Is this enjoyable?
These answers will be different for everyone – we all come to the garden and the garden to us for a million different reasons. Who among us has not gone to the garden to whisper prayers? To celebrate and toast accomplishments? To rake or dig or weed away our anger/sadness/frustrations? Sometimes of an evening or an early morning, I will go to the garden with my coffee or water or wine and while I half heartedly have a task or a book or newspaper to read, I really just want to be outside – to watch the light and feel the temperature on my skin. ALL of these to me are some face of the prism that in enjoying our gardens. And it leads me to asking YOU just this – again.
How do you enjoy your garden Do you set aside time and space for being as well as doing? I think it’s a good question and awareness for us all.
I loved when Josh mentioned the gap between what we see in our creative mind’s eye and what ends up on the page, in the ground, in the vase, on the knitting needles, on the radio airwaves, etc. Whatever the creative endeavor might be. Because there’s often that gap – between what we envision and what is. And that can lead to some mighty frustration. I think how Josh gets through the discrepancy between the two is what many of us do – we just keep going – and we look back and from a distance we see growth.
His primary creative outlet began as a challenge three years ago and hundreds of arrangements and fabulous floral headpieces with thousands of leaves and flowers noticed, considered and then wired wildly into place –tested and then put out there in the world. It’s how he’s gotten to here and now.
According to some sources, making New Year’s resolutions date back to antiquity with the ancient Babylonians and Romans. Wonder how many of them made set intentions for their gardening year to come?
Josh talks about the importance of having a weekly practice several times in our conversation – towards the beginning and again toward the end. You’ve heard me talk about my gardening life as a practice, and my role from my perspective and in many ways is to offer out a permission slip of sorts to everyone who derives joy, strength, focus, connection, and purpose in their gardens and with their gardens to make time in their garden a priority – time set aside and protected the way we would the other things we value in our lives.
Last week, for the Winter Solstice, I sent out thank you card to the Cultivating Place mailing list - if you’re subscribed to the CP A View from Here monthly newsletter then I hope you received it in your inbox on the Solstice. For this note of gratitude and presence, I did a sort of Solstice morning altar. I went out into the garden and I finally made a seasonal wreath – my first and perhaps only one of the season. A particularly ephemeral wreath in that is was a flat lay instead of a wired and hung wreath. In the rainy, cool garden I picked everything that caught my eye – very late blooming David Austin Roses (especially meaningful with the sad passing of that wonderful rosarian and plantsman just days before), rose hips, native salvia and Manzanita, a the white scented fairy bells of winter blooming 'Wisley Cream' clematis, and the evocative shapes of fallen native oak leaves. I brought all these bits in and played for maybe an hour making my design before I felt ready to photograph it to offer out on the Solstice itself.
Listening to Josh today talk about his work and flowers and the sum of their parts, it occurred to me how apt this was in thinking and looking at and being with our gardens. They are so much greater than the sum of their or are parts, as our we their humble gardeners – which is a blessing to spend some time with this season as we look back at 2018 and look forward to 2019 – the two-faced god Janus embodied.
We may see parts that needed more tending, plants that needed feeding or pruning, borders that needed better edging, whole sections that needed more time or creative input….and yet – all those parts large and small that caught our eyes, made us smile, wafted aromatherapeutically through our work days, or ended up deliciously in our meals – they are there too.
We are never perfect and thank goodness for that. But as a whole the sum of our parts makes this world a better place. And here’s to that – just for the fun of it - as part of our weekly practices in 2019.
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