A Way to Remember

















Big holidays are especially poignant for families who have lost a loved one. This Mother’s Day, one of our customers, who had lost a sister, wanted to send  fresh arrangement to her mother and asked that we include something in the arrangement to let her mom know she was remembering the beloved sister, too. She told me that her her sister’s favorite color had been turquoise, and wondered if we had any flowers in that color. We don’t carry any flowers that are naturally in the turquoise range, so I suggested adding a ribbon and a silk butterfly. I had in mind a certain ribbon we have in the shop, and these sweet little butterflies that come in many colors. After I got off the phone, I ransacked the shop looking for the ribbon, and couldn’t find it. Panicking just a little, I checked with our supplier, who told me they would send it over the next morning. Fingers crossed that it would be nice ribbon…and it was. So here is the arrangement I made, and as a result of this, I have a newfound love for turquoise and the dimension it brings to an arrangement.

Seasonal Centerpieces

Spring is the season for parties! We’ve been making lots of centerpieces for area hotels, restaurants and individual clients, so I’ve photographed a few of them in our in-house studio. If you’re planning a party and would like to see samples of our work, check out this gallery. We work in all styles, and are best-known for garden-style designs. We also specialize in traditional and tropical arrangements.

Baby Shower Flowers

We’re doing flowers for a baby shower at Park Plaza Gardens in a few days and the flowers for the event are starting to come in. I was absolutely bowled over by the quality of what we’ve gotten so far. The hydrangeaa are perky; the peonies are like a soft, puffy pillow; and the ranunculus are divine. We’re still waiting on the other flowers, but if these are any indication, the shower is going to be perfectly decorated! I photographed them because somehow seeing the flowers through a lens gives me a clearer view of their beauty than any other perspective, except for when they are growing in the garden–that is hands down THE BEST).

Gardenias are for Lovers

At this time of year, I pass on air fresherners that dangle from my rear-view mirror and instead opt for a gardenia bloom picked from my hedge as I leave the house. The frangrance is utterly enchanting. 

And because it is prom season, it’s a great time to kick it old school and rock a gardenia corsage or boutonnière. Call today to order one of these gorgeous, deeply-perfumed flowers for the dance! Florist gardenias are not quite the same as the ones that grow on our bushes. They are larger and without imperfections. Because of this, they are expensive. A corsage with orchids or spray roses is about $30, and a gardenia corsage is $45. But worth it!

Gardenias in bridal bouquets also float my boat. This one on the right is SO glamorous–those thick, velvety petals cannot be denied! When designing with gardenias, I wait until just before the wedding to make the bouquet. I want them to stay on the plant for as long as botanically possible so they are fresh and perfect for the walk down the aisle.

Flowers en Vogue

Enjoying my Easter Sunday on the beach, I discovered in the new issue of Vogue a story photographed at The Ritz in Paris, which is closing for renovation. A shot of their Flower Room,  normally occupied by 5 floral designers working under Djordje Varda, sees 10,000 blooms come and go each week. Varda’s designs, whether petit or magnificently huge, are nothing short of art. His beautifully intricate work really is a testament to how worthwhile it is to be high-maintenance once in a while. Take a look at his website to see inspiring photos of his work.

Varda grew up in Belgrade, and his parents moved to Paris when he had just finished highschool. He went on to study law to continue the family tradition, but was always longing for weekends when he would delve into his avocation, floral design. Ultimately he opened a floral boutique which 20 years later is a true destination in Paris..and to think, he is entirely self-taught!


Spring Fling Flower Show

Last Sunday we went to Pennock’s “Spring Fling” flower show. We arrived right at 9 a.m. when it started, and immediately went to the area where their suppliers’ farm representatives were showing off the varieties they carry. It was great to compare varieties from grower to grower–even if it is the same flower, the growing conditions and other factors influence how it ultimately looks and performs. A certain pink rose from one grower can end up looking somewhat different from the same type grown on a different farm. We were quite taken with the pale yellow spray roses, pink peonies and several ranunculus that we saw. Since I’m a huge fan of garden-style floral arrangements, these were just the sort of flowers I was hoping for. The ranunculus were enormous! And the spray roses had so many buds on each stem, it’s ridiculous.

Bill Schaffer, a designer from Philadelphia, did a demonstration. One of the best pieces he did was a fresh-cut terrarium in a large glass container. When you are working with all or mostly green things, it brings out a design sensibility that is more about form than color, although I am always impressed by the great range of greens from leaf to leaf. Since Sunday, I’ve been making terrariums and other form-based arrangements and so far they are a hit. We’ve even added them to our eCommerce store so our customers can order them online or over the phone.

Sunday’s Child

No one really likes working on a Sunday, but I really enjoyed it today! Jo Ann and I went to Pennocks’ open house and got some fresh ideas for new designs and materials to use for Easter and Mother’s Day. Then we came back to the shop to finish our work on a wedding taking place at Bay Hill later this afternoon. Look at the photos of the bridal bouquet!

Order Beautiful Orchids

Our potted phalaenopsis orchids are as pretty as a picture! Because Central Florida is home to many orchid growers, we have access to some of the most stunning orchids available in the U.S. Even better, orchids are native to the local environment, so they thrive in these conditions with little care. Thank your host, cheer up a friend or extend your sympathy with our ‘Orchid Delight’ arrangement. Click HERE to order.

We Deliver Spring Flowers

No matter what the occasion, a beautiful vase arrangement of spring flowers fits the bill. Order one today for a birthday, anniversary, “get well” or just because. Using the freshest-available cut flowers in our shop–like peonies, stock, orchids, hydrangeas and freesia–we design a custom vase arrangement that is reminiscent of the garden. Lush, romantic and abundant, this is our signature style. Click HERE to order “In the Garden.”

Book Your Event With Us

When it comes to floral designs for events, there’s only one chance to get it right. At Bay Hill Florist, we put the highest priority on delivering flowers that are nothing short of perfect.

If a venue is new to us, we make a site visit to be sure we draw on elements in the room’s decor when we design your arrangements. We recently did flowers for an event at Crave, and our flower choices factored in the color scheme of the selected linens (gold and burgundy) and the existing orchid arrangements at the restaurant, not to mention the all-American interior design.

The event, which was a brunch for the Orlando Wedding Guild, was attended by over 150 of Central Florida’s finest wedding professionals, from DJ’s to wedding planners to limo companies. I met some fabulous people, and even won a drawing for a painting by artist Laura Pruett. Laura paints modern, custom portraits of wedding dresses for brides.

It is eye-opening to do flowers for an event that you also attend, because you see people’s immediate, unedited reactions to your work. These arrangements, which were big, open red roses mixed with golden-peach orchids, just fit the mood to a T!

So did the beautiful linens supplied by Over the Top, the supremely delicious cupcakes by Annacakes, and the fun, pop-infused music by White Rose Entertainment. And I would really be neglecting them if I didn’t give a shout out to wedding photographers Phil and Antoinette of ArtPhotoSoul, who shot the event and sent us the gorgeous images you see in this post.

Do you have an event coming up that would benefit from beautiful centerpieces and other floral designs? Call us at 407-226-7122 for a consultation today.


Kudos to our customer!

We are super excited for our longtime customer Maryann Rems, who is competing for $1 million in the finals of the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off March 25-27 at the Peabody Orlando Hotel. Not only is Maryann a wonderful human being who always puts a smile on your face, she is an amazing cook!

Her recipe for Cherry-Jalapeño-Cream Cheese Tartlets (which you can get by clicking HERE) beat out tens of thousands of recipe entries to become one of the 100 finalists competing for the grand prize.

Maryann is rapidly becoming a public figure here in Central Florida. She was featured in the February issue of Orlando Magazine, and the interview is worth a read! She will also be making and serving her tasty recipe at Plaza Venezia Publix (7640 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819) this Saturday, March 10th from 11am to 2pm.

Expanding her reach even further, she will be included on The Martha Stewart Show in a series of segments on the Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalists. Be sure to tune in every day to see “The Road to The Bake-Off Contest”. We’re not 100% sure, but we think Maryann’s segments will be airing through the week of March 19th. Martha Stewart will announce the lucky winner in a live broadcast of her show from the Orlando Peabody on Tuesday, March 27th.

Garden-Style Designs

A customer came to the shop today to order some flowers for a party at her house next week, and while she was in, she mentioned how much she loved the rose arrangements we did for her parent’s anniversary party four years back. It struck me how incredibly memorable flowers are when they’re done right..and I suppose they’re just as memorable when they’re done wrong.

I hear a lot about how wonderful our roses are–how they last, how they open, how big their blooms are, how they make people smile–and it is so encouraging to know that the effort we put intofinding the best roses around has such an impact. Those roses make their way from our shop out into the world, and they do everything they’re supposed to.

It is important for our signature designs to be just as unforgettable as the quality of our flowers.

Good design is not always easy to find. The arrangements at the grocery store are usually haphazard, and not every flower shop takes design seriously like we do. In my opinion, if an arrangement does have that je ne sais quoi, it is better to buy loose flowers and lovingly arrange them in a vase you already have at home.

At Bay Hill Florist, we make sure our arrangements do have “a certain something.” In December, we introduced our custom In the Garden arrangements, which truly feel like they were put together from garden-grown blooms. Instead of following those strict rules of floral design where there should be an odd number of each flower, and the placement should be even, I ignore everything but the flowers themselves.

I make a bouquet of several kinds of greens first as a base. I look in the cooler at what’s fresh and a pick a few of this and a few of that, and sometimes one special bloom that captures my heart. I tuck them in at all different heights and make sure there is plenty of color and texture, and when I stand back and look at the design, I make sure there aren’t any off moments that were harder to notice close-up. Usually at this point I add more dimension to the arrangement in the form of an additional color or different size flower than what’s already there.  Finally I add wispy greens that flow out from the bottom of the vase.

What’s awesome about these designs is that each one is unique, and you know that you are buying one that was made just for your order. There’s no prescription–just a natural creative process that shows off flowers at their best.

David Austin’s ‘Rosalind’ Variety

As you search for the right flowers for your wedding, I strongly encourage you to consider David Austin roses, because these true garden varieties have all the lishness and fullness of a peony. The are simply beautiful, with what seems to be an endless number of petals.

Rosalind has a strong fragrance, complex and deliciously fruity, unlike so many cut flowers these days. The blush-pink buds open slowly to reveal gorgeous, peony-like blooms. The outer petals are the palest pink contrasting nicely with the dusky pink shades deep in the heart of the bloom. The chalice-shaped blooms are very full, packed with up to 160 petals. Each bloom has a classic button eye in the style of the old garden roses.

I see this pale pink rose as being perfect for a summer evening wedding, a daytime beach wedding, or a garden wedding. They look wonderful alone, like in the photo, or mixed with other flowers. Using them as a feature flower, I would mix them with lilies, freesia and hydrangea–all wrapped together in a hand-tied bouquet.

Keep coming back to our blog, Inside the Flower Studio, where we will continue to profile noteworthy flower types!

Order Premium Roses Online

Tired of red? We carry gorgeous, long-lasting roses in many colors. Order some for your sweetheart today! Click HERE for all our rose arrangement options and styles.

A Trick to Hydrate Cut Hydrangeas

We love designing with hydrangeas, and we get in a weekly shipment to keep a good supply. My personal favorite is the green hydrangea, which lasts longest and looks so gardeny, complementing most arrangements. That’s not to say pink, blue, while and all shades between aren’t enchanting as well. The one problem we’ve faced in the past is when the blooms go limp, as if they aren’t getting water. You can’t prevent that 100% of the time, but a neat trick for making it happen significantly less often is to treat hydrangeas with alum. Here are the steps:

1. Make a fresh cut on the stem.

2. Dip the end in Quick Dip solution that encourages fast hydration. (Skip this step if you don’t have access to Quick Dip.)

3. Immediately dip the ends in alum…that’s right, pickling spice!

4. Place the stem in a bucket of cool water.

72 Roses, Count ‘Em!

We all have different gifts, and one of Ken Linger’s is making stunning rose arrangements. If you think making an arrangement of 72 roses is easy, think again! Ken created this design earlier today for a customer who places a rose arrangement on the alter of his wife’s shrine each year to commemorate her birthday. This year she would have been 72.

When you’re working with this many roses, you don’t want to use a traditional rose vase. If you do, the roses won’t be evenly spaced, and it will be incredibly difficult to get all the stems in without crushing some. Here are Ken’s tips for getting several dozen roses into one container:

1. Choose a container that has at least a 6-inch diameter mouth. Them’s a lotta stems to get in there!

2. The container should also be heavy so it is a solid anchor for the top-heavy arrangement.

3. Put a few blocks of floral foam in the container and then secure it with floral tape. While we don’t usually advocate floral foam, some instances call for it–and this is one. You just need the extra support in this case.

4. Create a tall line of roses toward the back of the container, shaped like an open fan. This serves as a frame for the rest of the arrangement and guides the overall look and feel.

5. When you’re done getting all those roses in, you’ll notice that the rose greens fill all the empty space, so you don’t need much in the way of additional greens or filler. Just make sure that all the floral foam is completely invisible–any greens you have on hand will work for that.

Suiting Up For Valentine’s Day

It is a very exciting time of year!! We barely have a moment to catch our breath between phone calls because our customers are ordering for the big V.

I have to take a moment to tell you about our roses. They are nothing short of amazing. As usual, they are the ‘Her Majesty’ variety, but we have done something a little different: we’ve gotten in procona wet-packed roses this year. What, you may ask, are proconas? I’ll tell you. They are rectangular bins that serve as buckets, and the roses are shipped to us in them upright. This means they are never out of water. When they arrive here, they are fresh, perky and gorgeous–everything you would hope for in a rose. Yes, they cost us more than dry-shipped roses would. No, we do not pass that cost on to you. We have decided it is worth it to get the absolute finest quality roses so we can delight lovers everywhere with stunning bouquets of roses like they’ve never seen before. Another benefit to this shipping method is that the roses are not damaged in transit. The protective covering on top of the procona bin is fool-proof, so the blooms are flawless upon arrival.

Our filler flowers are like something from another planet, too. We do carry baby’s breath, for those who must have it. But I strongly recommend going with something out of the ordinary, like genestra (left). We have it in several colors and it has a wonderful fragrance. It has perfumed our entire shop! It arches gracefully out from the sides of the container and makes the arrangements ever so romantic. We also have bouvardia (right), which has star-shaped flowers that contrast perfectly with the orbital shape of the roses.

If you aren’t in the mood for roses, please know that we are also doing garden-style vases, and we’re calling them “In The Garden.” These include a mix of preium flowers like stock, hydrangeas, lilies, mini-callas and a few roses for good luck. These arrangements exude pure romance!

The only sad story of the seasons is that we will not have peonies this year. I did lose sleep over this, as peonies are my favorite. But at this time of year, peonies come from Israel, and they are not in season in our part of the world. A cold snap delayed the peony harvest in Israel, and no one will be having peonies for Valentine’s this year, that I am aware of.

My Love is a Red Rose

Thanks to photographer Chad Pilster for sharing these wedding photos with us. We did this wedding back in October for a bride and groom who got married beside the water at Crane’s Roost Park. This is the first time I’ve seen a wedding at that location and it turns out to be a beautiful spot. If you’re interested in booking a wedding there, call Corey Prom in Events Management at 407-571-8858.

About the trend we’re seeing with this wedding: a red bridal bouquet! Red roses are always a classic, but for a bridal bouquet it’s outside the box.  What’s so fantastic is how it contrasts with a white dress, and in this case, the bride’s beautiful amber skin. Red flowers POP and they tell your guests that you are a romantic, that you aren’t afraid to be your own person, and that you have great style.

These are other options for red bouquets besides roses that are equally beautiful: mini calla lilies and peonies are two of my favorites. A bouquet combining all three is stunning!

If you prefer to go with a white bouquet for yourself, consider red bouquets for your braidesmaids, or better yet, sumptuous red table arrangements. I love how red arrangements look in compote-style dishes, spilling over the edge as if they are pouring onto the table.

Fresh Today

I recently started going to the floral supplier early in the morning to see what they’ve gotten in fresh. We get great stuff when we buy over the phone, but when I’m there in person, I discover varieties of flowers I didn’t know they had, unusual greens, and funky branches and twigs, not to mention vases. The orange ‘Voodoo roses’, orange tulips and rusty yarrow all caught my attention, and I picked them out to complement the other flowers I already knew were in the cooler. When it comes to making custom floral designs, nothing can take the place of hand-selecting materials that look amazing and you know are super-fresh.

The Endless Possibilities

One of the great joys of making floral arrangements for the cooler is that I can create anything I feel like making. There are no parameters set by a specific order; the sky is the limit.

The first thing I do is stand in front of the coolers and see what flowers I am most compelled to use. Normally I’m not a fan of carnations, but I did buy some very pale pink ones at the wholesaler that are as full and heady as small peonies. I am bound to grab a few hydrangeas in different colors. Anything gardeny like bouvardia is a go. I need interesting greens in the mix: today they are olive branches and scented geranium leaves. Something unexpected like yarrow makes me smile; and at least one fragrant flower–we often have freesia in four or five colors.

With my armful of flowers, I set up shop at my table, placing the stems in large vases along the perimeter of my desk until I’m surrounded. All that’s left is my knife and an empty vase waiting to be filled with an inspired design.

In Loving Memory

There are so many designs for funeral arrangements. Easel sprays, urns, baskets and vases are just some of the options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are ordering.

It is very special to the deceased’s loved ones if you order an arrangement that they can take home with them after the service. The classic funeral sprays, wreaths and plastic baskets don’t really translate to the home environment. Instead, consider sending:

1. A gorgeous orchid plant. We place a white orchid plant in a large glass hurricane vase and wrap the lip of the vase with a beautiful bow. The vase is then set on a round dish adorned with greenery and cut orchids, which encircle the base of the vase. It is gorgeous! After the service, the spouse or other loved one can remove the vase from the dish and have the fineral home or church deliver the orchid to their home. Because orchids last a long time, it will be a continual reminder of your care and support for the spouse or loved one who is left behind.

2. A stunning vase arrangement (hold the foam!). Floral foam is a medium that holds flowers in place, but one downside is that when the stems are in foam instead of directly in fresh water, the flowers don’t last as long. The arrangement above is one I made for a funeral today, and it is in a bronze-finish vase, with no foam. It is a lush, garden-style arrangement that will work beautifully in the family’s home after the service. It is the same size as a traditional funeral basket, but it will last much longer, and quite frankly, it is prettier. Remember that most funeral homes will transport requested arrangements for the family.

3. Wait a week and then send flowers. Instead of sending an arrangement to the funeral, consider waiting a week and then sending a floral arrangement to the family of the deceased. One of the most difficult things for the family is the the quietness that comes after all the hustle and bustle of a funeral. They’ve been surrounded by friends and family for days during funeral preparations and during the actual service; but suddenly, the crowd subsides and they must face their grief. This is the perfect time to send a plant or flowers.

Wedding Designs From the Garden

Want to know more about our wedding designer Sarah Kinbar? Read this interview below…

What inspires your designs?

I love natural-looking, garden-style arrangements the most, although I enjoy working in a range of styles. I was a garden editor for the past eleven years, and editor-in-chief of Garden Design magazine for two and a half of those years, so I’ve seen a lot of gardens around the world. The way a flower looks in the garden is so appealing to me.

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve done flowers for?

It’s hard to say! I started as a floral designer when I was 19, so there have been a lot of weddings since then. The wedding for Stephen King’s son in the gardens at Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York was a amazing one. We did a huge arch out of flowers, and the bride and groom said their vows beneath it.

My friend Katie got married at a park in Florida and I brought buckets of orchids and other tropicals and made all the arrangements right there on the spot, without the resources of a shop to make it easy. I loved doing everything on the fly.

My brother’s wedding was under a glorious tree outside a church in Texas. My sister-in-law likes the wildflower look (left), so the flowers were very colorful and casual. The flowers have to fit the feeling of the whole wedding and the personalities of the bride and groom, I think.

Looking back, you could say I prefer doing outdoor weddings,  but every wedding is special. Each one is an opportunity for creativity that I find incredibly compelling.

What kind of flowers did you have in your wedding?

Jo Ann, our shop’s owner, did my wedding flowers, and we went with all roses. My bouquet was a cluster of white roses, and my maid-of-honor’s bouquet and table arrangements were made from gobs of ‘Leonidas’ roses, which are sort-of rusty cocoa in color. She tells me she put five dozen of them in each vase. I didn’t count, but I can tell you the arrangements were fabulous!

What kind of wedding work are you doing these days?

It’s all about the flowers. If I have great materials to work with, the bouquets are great, too. Fresh peonies that have begun to open, big, heady hydrangeas, blown roses…sumptuous flowers are my favorites. Also, I’m nuts about experimenting with color. I did a bridal bouquet for an exposition today that has a cool mix of green and melon colors. When an event or a bride calls for custom arrangments that are totally creative, I do my best work.

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