Even from a young age, Alisha (Island Flower Girl) loved buds, blossoms, and blooms.
"Flowers have been a part of my life in some capacity since I can remember. My Mom started arranging dried flowers as a hobby when I was a little girl. I loved helping her pick out colours and place the stems in floral foam."
But it was her Nan who ignited the love of flowers in her heart.
"I would help her plant out a big garden of flowers every year and fill big concrete planters full of blooms to dress the front veranda."
It was a natural progression for her to take that appreciation for flowers into the workforce.
"I first started working in a flower shop when I was a teenager. Over the years and through many moves to different provinces, I worked at many other flower shops, and with each one, I learned more and more. At the time, I was an artist (a painter) and decided to study Fine Art at NSCAD University in Halifax."
While she enjoyed the art, she noticed a trend in her work - incorporating wild, natural materials in her pieces.
"My love of nature was evident in every piece I created. One of my professors asked 'Florist?' under her breath as she walked by a room I had constructed to hold a living plant installation I had created. This stuck in my head as I had indeed already worked at flower shops. This also set the wheels in motion for my decision to study floral design in Toronto the following year."
After she completed her diploma, she moved to P.E.I., started her own brand, and began working with local couples that were getting married.
"In between weddings in the first couple of years, I would find other work as well, including spending a winter season at VanKampens Greenhouse. I am so happy that I worked there, as I learned to grow my own flowers. This job provided me with enough basic knowledge to really step up my flower garden in a big way!"
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Alisha looked for another way to craft floral designs rather than only arrangements for weddings and events.
It was during that time she started creating dried-floral arrangements.
"First, the flowers need to be harvested when the blooms are at just the right stage. Once you have quality flowers, they can then be dried. The primary method I use currently to dry flowers is the air-dry method."
She gathers the blooms into small bunches and then hangs them in a warm dark room, upside down so that the colour stays in the bloom while it's drying.
"You can also process flowers with bleach or dyes to create other unique colours. There are many different ways of drying flowers as well (like using silica). Some methods are better for certain floral varieties than others. I have a few old books on dried flower arranging that a sweet old lady gave me one day. I am so glad to have them, as a lot of the info on dried flower arranging has gotten lost over the years and isn't available online."
Alisha sources her flowers in several ways, including growing her own suitable for fresh-cut arrangements in the summertime, working with floral growers as the growing season in Atlantic Canada is a short one, and experimenting with wild greenery that grows on P.E.I.
"When creating a new design, what sparks my inspiration is often just a single flower. Usually, it is a beautiful colour or texture, or maybe it just bloomed into a perfect form.
"I examine the colour and then think of other colours and textures that will either compliment or contrast it some way. Once I have a collection of materials that work well together, I start to imagine how they need to be placed in the design to create the best visual flow and dimension."
The Spring Box
"Nothing says spring more than new growth, life and flowers! With the Spring Box, we were looking for ways to capture the feeling and essence of all things growth, life, and refresh," Caley said.
"We knew just who to go to! Having worked with Alisha over the last few years with both of our other hats - wedding photographer and wedding florist - I knew she’d be able to create something perfect for the box. Communication was easy, I knew her style and trusted her to take the reins with the design, she knew our style, and knew exactly what we were looking for! It was a conversation of this, this, this? Yep, yep, yep!" Caley added.
The mini bushels she arranged of dried flowers, cotton, and bunny tails are such a sweet and simple way to add colour to your home. We love working with creatives that understand and emulate our own qualities, and we couldn’t have been happier to have Alisha as Island Flower Girl be part of our spring box.
We have more projects with her in the works as Alisha's summer garden starts to blossom, and we are so proud and thankful for this relationship!
For Alisha, floral design has become a meditative practice where she can let go and just be in the moment with the flowers and her creative energy.
"I think that people need nature. Flowers seem to have this intrinsic way of evoking feelings of calmness and also joy. I think on some level, they make us feel like we are connected to something bigger than ourselves - to nature, to humanity."