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'cause it's easier being a green sinner than a green saint . . .

Iron Florist: Valentine's Day 2017

It's true enough to say the rose has become the ultimate symbol for love and romance—and the iconic go-to option when it comes to that special something for someone special. What you may not know is that roses are also the poster child for the chemical-fogged imported flower industry that is responsible for unsafe work conditions for many Ecuadorian and Columbian women, resulting in significant health difficulties and the contamination of local rivers and streams. (If you're curious to find out more about industrial cut flowers, try this article from Audobon magazine or this one from the New York Times.

We won't belabor this into a long diatribe about the cut flower industry, but these are the reasons greenSinner is adamant that we don't do roses for Valentine's Day. (We do use roses for weddings and events, but we endeavor to source them from U.S. and Canadian farms and sustainably-certified South American producers. And believe us, you don't want to see the prices for those at Valentine's Day, when roses are in peak demand.) So instead, we're introducing our first ever edition of Iron Florist: four of our designers worked to create a (non-rose) arrangement for Valentine's Day—and you get to pick the winner, by ordering your favorite!

The Contenders

For our first edition allow me a minute to introduce you to our competitors (who are also our dynamite design team):

Laura Lee, our newest member and resident artist. This little ray of sunshine is the one responsible for any custom artwork commissioned by our brides, and is greenSinner's project extraordinaire as well as regional rockstar as the vocalist and "ukulele-ist" for Rue. She's Pittsburgh famous, guys!

Next up is Olivia, who joined our crew as a freelance designer this summer. She is sassy and spunky and a perfect fit for our team, with an eye for design and retail presentation as well as a quick tongue for banter and giggles. 

I'm Rose (on cue: "Yes, that really is my name") and I agree I have the perfect job. I am a sometimes-farmer and mostly the lead designer at greenSinner, and after our crew nearly doubled this summer I scooted over into the role of production manager and "keeper of the crap" as well. Yep, it's my job to keep track of all that really cool, weird quirky "stuff" we use so often that sets us apart from the the florists who give you piles of flowers and not much else. In short, I tell Jimmy where all the magic is squirreled away.

Speaking of Jimmy, I'm pleased to introduce you to our final contestant and fearless leader, our shining star, dancing bear, design and production guru, "team dad" and mentor of the floral design team. Jimmy, the guy most of you know as the charismatic friend of all, part family therapist, and part curator of the perfect party blend, is known to us as our idea wheelhouse, guide, and critic. Constantly pushing us to bigger and better. And all around one of the best guys on the planet. (Now he's blushing somewhere—but please, he desires the accolades.)  

The Entries

So last Thursday we set off for a morning of shopping at our local wholesalers in search of a few good blooms. With the help of our supplier we shopped everything from flowers grown in North America. Most of our product danced its way into our lives from sunny California and Florida with a little bit of help from our friendly neighbors to the north, Canada. We then moseyed back to the shop to play Iron Florist!

Laura Lee: Packaged with Love


Laura Lee's inspiration came from the idea that two lovers, at great distance, exchanged their Valentines through the mail---perhaps in the World War II era, or some traveling, adventure-seeking Victorian. One package filled with seeds and love and best wishes, caught up in the mail system or delayed encounter.

While the lover back home waited eagerly for their love's return, the package began to sprout and grow into a garden of anticipation and longing that could not be contained and has broken free of its brown paper packing. This lovely springtime mix, reminiscent of conversation hearts, has purple and yellow erupting from its packing—bound with twine and littered with stamps from its many stops and side journeys along the way—tells the story of anticipated love and longing and the joy of hope finally requited.

Olivia: Love in Pastel

Olivia, a sucker for shiny plastic! To Olivia the very nature of Valentine's Day is tacky, and she sought to embrace it. Her design began with Anthurium, because of it looks like a shiny pink plastic heart.

While taking pictures of the process Jimmy said, "Don't get the hole in the wall with insulation sticking out in the frame!" (We are remodeling.)

"Are you kidding?!" she said, "that is exactly what I am going for!" Synthetic is her inspiration! While adding a big green leaf into her piece she paused. Then she said, "Nah, looks way too natural" and painted it pastel, and cut it up to mimic another, much larger leaf. Taking a classic flower arrangement shape, the "Hogarth's curve", she played around with locally grown orchids, anthurium, ranunculus, and tulips within a pastel palette. 

Even if you aren't a snark-a-saurus like our dear Olivia, this piece sings to any and every soul and is an expression of beauty precise expressions of love.

Rose: Love Wreath

The inspiration from this piece came from my love of hospitality: open arms and an open home. Having just recently purchased my home, I've become obsessed with decoration and designing it to curate the perfect level of comfort—for the primary purpose of having people over! Love is a respite in the storm-and-tumult of life. 

I began by harvesting the twigs myself from our farm and bundling and binding them to form a wreath and then I began to play. Choosing elements that  reminded me of the love of family, a close friend, or a neighbor, I used heather, a super fluffy green with tiny flowers that makes a hillside look like the fluffiest giant bed.

I also chose pomegranates and painted them gold as an expression of a more passionate life (remember dear Orpheus), woven together and nestled with an assortment of other leaves, air plants, and notions I hoped to create a symbol of welcome and warmth, and an unbroken band of love, an ornament for your door or above your mantel.

Jimmy: Mementos of Love

JImmy's inspiration was brought to him through memories. During our slow season in winter, there is ample time to sit back and reflect upon the year and also through one's life. Sifting through old photos, telling stories, and remembering good things, brought forth this sweet little arrangement that embraces the idea that love is built up and strengthened by our collections of memories.


Bursting full of buttons, butterflies, and wooden roses coupled with protea, waxflower and collections of eucalyptus greens—all in a container that looks like a bubble that'll bring you right back to summer days as a kid running through the grass barefoot.

You Decide

Which one of these arrangements is your favorite? Let us know by commenting below or on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), or vote with your wallet by ordering for delivery or pickup on Valentine's Day for your special someone. Or you can opt for our summer CSA and bring them locally grown flowers all summer long.

Flowers not really your thing? One of our upcoming terrarium classes might be just the thing for you and your lover to do together!