We're lucky enough to be surrounded by a fantastic group of vendors who are not only deeply passionate and incredibly talented, but who we also consider close friends - "friendors" if you will. These are people whom we've come to know and love and who share our passion for creating beautiful and happy events.
Today we focus on Julie Raymond, owner of Bittersweet Gardens. Julie owns a small flower farm and greenhouse in Kingston, MA where she produces gorgeous in-season florals (and her hens produce the most delicious eggs you've ever tasted.) All of the photos captured on this cool fall day were shot by the amazing Abby Lorenz - photographer and friendor extraordinaire, who spent the day exploring the farm with Julie and I for an "Un-styled Photoshoot - Down on the Farm."
Name: Julie Raymond
Business Name: Bittersweet Gardens
What got you into this business/how did you get started: In my 20s, while working at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter, I started a flower garden with a group of men there. We sold the flowers in the staff cafeteria so they could earn a little money. My love of flowers was born there. Largely self-taught in the pre-internet days, I poured myself into every flower growing book I could find. Then, studies in horticulture at UMass - Amherst followed. I worked on a small organic farm, The "Serving Ourselves" Farm at Boston’s Long Island Shelter for a few months in the late 90s, getting my faming feet under me. Then I ventured out on my own, farming flowers on rented land North of Boston. Now, I’m farming my small property in Kingston and excited about a new 2 acre plot of land I’ll be farming in West Bridgewater in the coming months as I expand my growing property.
How many weddings a year do you typically design for: About a dozen. I prefer to keep my client list smaller so that I can really focus on every event.
What's your favorite type of client/wedding? I really work best with clients who have a vision, whether it’s a color they gravitate to or a specific "feel" they want to create, but who also allow me choose the flowers and vessels to capture that feel. Giving creative control to the creator is a really powerful and motivating factor for us professionals. Frankly, it's an honor when a bride gives me creative control, and pushes me to do my best work.
You have to tell us your favorite type of flower – It has changed quite a bit over the years. One season I swear I will name my next child Zinnia, and the next year I am all about Dahlias. But the one flower that has had my constant love is Dainthus, the old fashioned "Pinks." I try to grow every variety I can get my hands on. I get a kick out of their sheared edges (thus, the name “Pinks”, as though the edges have been cut by pinking shears.) And yes, carnations are in the genus "Dianthus."
Teach us one simple thing about flowers: Most folks don’t know the amount of torture involved in getting wedding flowers to open at just the right stage for the wedding. Placing roses and amaryllis in an overly hot room to hasten their opening, leaving tulips out of water on the cold porch so that they DON’T open till the big day, and "taking an open flame to the stem ends of poppies" are just a few examples of the effort that goes into preparing and preserving wedding florals for the big day.
What's your best advice for brides planning their weddings? (Any advice
- floral-related or not) Enjoy the process! That being said, do your research about wedding vendors. View their work via their websites, social media, portfolios - and familiarize yourself with their style of work. Personal recommendations from friends can also work, but remember that what works for one bride, may not necessarily work for you. Meet vendors in person to assure that you feel comfortable with them. Make sure to discuss ALL terms - whether it’s price structure and contracts or wedding cake samples and bar decor - so that there are no surprises. But once you’ve selected a vendor, place your trust in them to bring the magic to your big day. Most of us in this business are paid in gold by seeing pure joy on the faces of our happy clients on their wedding day.