In the late summer of 2020, we launched our first retail concept, Verdant, a botanical gift shop in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City. Verdant is the full embodiment of our Garden Category– offering plants, flowers, botanical gifts, and of course handmade ceramics.
What makes Verdant unique is that our floral program is weekly curating new flowers and foliage for our designer bouquets, which are always arranged to seamlessly fit into our Convivial vases. So once you buy our vase, visitors can just come back to buy the bouquets, knowing they'll always slot into their vases at home beautifully. Verdant’s Floral Program brings grab and go bouquets and bundles to a new level, featuring an entire new color palette with seasonal foliage, speciality blooms, and local-grown stems beautifully pieced together to create one of a kind arrangements.
Behind these one of a kind arrangements is Verdant’s Lead Floral Designer, Rachel Loewen. Rachel has been with us since the Spring of 2020, aiding Convivial in the launch of Verdant. She was integral in creating Verdant’s floral program and continues to be our constant source of floral knowledge, giving us new insight into both familiar and unfamiliar flowers on a weekly basis.
To learn more about Rachel, check out our short interview with her below.
At the end, we’ve also included a Fall Table Arrangement Tutorial led by Rachel using florals and foliage foraged from her own garden and neighborhood.
Interview1. Will you share a brief glimpse into who you are and how you came to discover Convivial Production.
My name is Rachel Loewen. I’ve always enjoyed the arts and have been a lifelong student of it – both formally and informally. I’ve worked in some form of visual communications for the past 15 years – including in Higher Education, in public radio, and as a freelancing photographer, graphic and floral designer.
I landed in Kansas City a couple of years ago by way of Chicago. Shortly after our move here, my husband and I dined at the Westside North’s Fox & Pearl, and I was taken by their serving dishes. I sensed they were handmade, and I lifted a dish to find the artist’s name. There was the Convivial Production stamp. I didn’t know anything about Convivial at the time, so I logged the name away to later research.
2. Tell us a bit about your background in floral design, how you started and your journey since.
My background in floral design is that it was born out of a desire to work with my hands, to spend less time in front of a screen, and to reconnect with my childhood joys.
I grew up in a quiet neighborhood in Ohio where my family had garden beds, a front porch swing to notice and to be in nature, and quick access to miles of hiking trails in a Metro Park.
I moved to Chicago for continued education. And while the city has wonderful parks, gardens, and the great Lake Michigan, I found it challenging to just get in nature, to be in solitude there, and to create with it.
To combat that loss of connection to nature, I routinely visited the Botanical Gardens, Greenhouses, plant, and flower shops. I occasionally would put together an arrangement for myself. And in 2015 when I was planning my wedding, I discovered great joy in curating our floral palette, and the challenge of executing the vision lit me up.
While I was working as a photographer and graphic designer, I desired to balance pushing pixels with creating with my hands in a more tangible medium. So I began playing, practicing, and studying floral design at home.
Friends and family noticed my love and developing skill for it, and one event led to the next.
My husband and I recognized our longings to find a house to make our own (we love design!) and a garden to cultivate. And we landed in KC in 2019. When we moved, I had been freelancing and was ready to build my business here but was also open to opportunities.
When I googled Convivial Production, I immediately connected with the aesthetic and offerings. And I discovered that the studio was only a mile away from home. When I realized Chentell was planning to open Verdant - I felt confident I could both be of help and also utilize my skill set.
Outside of Verdant, floral designing usually takes on a couple different forms:
The first form is casual because the act is embedded in my lifestyle – as I cut from our garden whenever I can. From Spring Daffodils to Summer Roses to Fall Dahlias, I get to enjoy cut flowers daily from May through November. So I place relaxed vignettes (one stem here; a bunch of stems there) of fragrant blooms in a variety of bud vases throughout our home.
A second form of floral designing is more meditative, thoughtful, and oftentimes for a special occasion. I designate more time for them, more materials, and the size is grander in scale than what we create at Verdant.
I love using low vessels, vases, and dishes that allow for an overflowing arrangement that reaches high and also spills over the rim.
For the main large arrangement, I am using the Minimal Bowl in Ivory with a Kenzan. I sourced the main focal flowers – Hydrangeas and Dahlias – from Verdant’s former Shop Manager Kate Matsch. The Dahlia is called Café Au Lait. I adore its unique creamy color and large ruffled petals. The garden roses came from my garden. The peachy one is named Wollerton Old Hall, and its fragrance is divine. The foliage and grasses were locally foraged. I intentionally used them sparingly as their Autumnal color and size go a long way.
*A special note about foraging: we encourage you to forage in your own yard to add depth and interest to your arrangements. Notice what’s changing on your property and think about how you could incorporate pieces to elevate your home designs. It could be pods, drying Hydrangeas, or grasses.
Though foraging is an economical approach to designing and adds depth and interest to your designs, cut sparingly and in a way that maintains the integrity of the bush or tree. And if you want to forage in someone else’s yard, always request permission first.
Tutorial: Fall Floral Arrangement
- Minimal Ivory Bowl. Any small, shallow bowl or vessel will work as well.
- Kenzan, also known as a pin frog.
- Pruner Shears, for thick stems or branches.
- Garden Shears
- Watering Can
- Branches of fall foliage
- Three stems of flower buds or small blooms
- Five stems of medium sized blooms
- Three large fully bloomed flowers
- A bundle of tall grasses
Before you begin, be sure to give each stem or branch a fresh cut and remove any leaves toward the bottom of the stem to increase the longevity of the arrangement.
1. Secure a kenzan at the base of the Minimal Bowl. Fill the bowl with fresh water.
2. Start by creating the base structure with two thick branches. For Rachel’s arrangement, she chose multi-colored foliage with natural movement. For the first branch, choose a long sturdy piece that bends slightly to the right. Insert it toward the back of the kenzan. Counterbalance the first branch with another that bends lower and toward the left. This will create an asymmetrical base for the rest of the arrangement.
3. Pin a handful of thinner branches along the left side of the kenzan, allowing each to fall in different directions.
4. Working with three buds or small blooms, position two long and one short stem that bend left in the center of the bowl. Rachel uses three dahlia stems, two long stems with multiple buds and one shorter bloom.
5. Position another cluster of small blooms, such as garden roses, on the right side of the kenzan. Allow the cluster to bend low towards the right near the lip of the bowl.
6. Fill in the negative spaces with three larger blooms. Rachel uses three fully bloomed dahlias, one positioned low toward the left, one high toward the right, and one low in the back.
7. Finish by trimming a handful of thin stems or blooms to varying heights and thread them throughout the arrangement. Allow them to lean on the existing flowers and leaves for support. For Rachel’s fall arrangement, she adds long garden roses and tall grasses so that they appear to be dancing out from the center of the arrangement in different directions.
If you have extra flowers and foliage, try creating smaller bouquets to either gift or place around your home this Thanksgiving. Whether you are creating a simple or elaborate arrangement, don’t forget to appreciate the change of season, gather what inspires you and enjoy the process. Cheers!