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Garden Visit: ‘Love and Care’ in Florist Gabriela Salazar’s Flower Garden

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Garden Visit: ‘Love and Care’ in Florist Gabriela Salazar’s Flower Garden

June 20, 2024

Up in the mountains, in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, is a cut flower garden that grew from necessity. Gabriela Salazar started it to ensure she could have instant access to local and seasonal flowers for her floral designs. Her tiny home and her floral studio share land with her garden. “I couldn’t see my work and my life separated, because my garden is a way of living. All is together because I love what I do and it’s my lifestyle,” she says.

Gabriela’s book, The Artistry of Flowers: Floral Design by La Musa De Las Flores, invites readers to approach floral arrangements as artistic compositions and shares techniques for creating their own meaningful arrangements. Today, we’re stepping inside the garden that feeds her floral artistry.

Photography by Ashley Noelle Edwards, courtesy of Gabriela Salazar.

Above: Gabriella Salazar’s cut flower garden in Valle de Bravo, Mexico.

Ten years ago when Gabriela moved back to Mexico from London, she was the first farmer/florist in Mexico. Of course this combination is now more common now, but the idea and practice of growing what is needed for creating is still worth celebrating. Gabriella was previously an interior designer, but she always felt that plants were truly the elements that changed a space and made it feel like a home. “When I discovered flowers in London’s Covent Garden Market, I just knew that flowers were the path I wanted to pursue.” Gabriela still grows some of those “English” flowers that she fell in love with at the market, such as sweet peas and garden roses, because both are “incredibly romantic and have the best scent,” she says.

Rows of potted dahlias await patiently to be harvested and transformed into beautiful bouquets.
Above: Rows of potted dahlias await patiently to be harvested and transformed into beautiful bouquets.

But it wasn’t until Gabriela signed up for a course taught by Erin Benzakein from famed Floret Flowers that she decided to start growing her own flowers. Erin gave Gabriela a small bag of seeds and encouraged her to go for it. “Erin has been my greatest mentor in my path as a farmer-florist.” Every year Erin sends Gabriela a small bag of seeds or dahlia tubers.

Dahlias are Mexico&#8\2\17;s national flower so they grow exceptionally well here.
Above: Dahlias are Mexico’s national flower so they grow exceptionally well here.

Gabriela’s garden presently is 3/4 of an acre and it expands little by little. She started with a 1/3 of an acre (which was grass) and the landlord agreed to rent her more space over the time. Depending on the season, Gabriela grows mainly ranunculus and dahlias, but she also cultivates sweet peas, hellebores, poppies, phlox, cosmos, larkspur, and foxgloves. When dahlia season ends, she turns her attention to celosia and cosmos, and snapdragons and sunflowers, too. Gabriela has her eye on Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’, which she will try out soon.

Gabriela shares, &#8\2\20;No garden will flourish without love and care.&#8\2\2\1; Every inch of her garden cultivates her spirit and nurtures her soul, from the casual stone pathway to the infinite number of petals.
Above: Gabriela shares, “No garden will flourish without love and care.” Every inch of her garden cultivates her spirit and nurtures her soul, from the casual stone pathway to the infinite number of petals.

Anyone who grows their own cut flowers knows just how rewarding, convenient, and cost-saving this process can be. On a practical level, Gabriela adds, “When you grow your own flowers you get to choose the best stage to cut them and you have flowers that actually last longer. You can also have curvy stems and not very standard stems. The flowers that you grow in the garden have more personality and so the arrangement will be more special.” On a more spiritual level, “growing flowers can really change the way you feel in life and can remind us that we are part of an amazing universe and an infinite intelligence that created all the beauty surrounding us to show us its love,” she says.

Above: (left) A prolific pink Chrysanthemum will add tantalizing texture to an arrangement and (right) delicate cosmos, grown from seed, will add an airy, romantic touch.

Of course successful home-grown flowers take experience, trial and error, and a bit of serendipity. For anyone who is intrigued about venturing into this self-sufficient world, Gabriela shares this tip: “Raised beds are always good, also amending the soil and having a drip irrigation system. But, more importantly, love and care for them every day. Flowers respond to our energy and care.”

Gabriela, in her floral studio.
Above: Gabriela, in her floral studio.

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