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The Flower Shop at Seattle’s London Plane

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The Flower Shop at Seattle’s London Plane

November 28, 2017

Yesterday, we featured Old Chaser Farm—a 20-acre working farm and garden owned by Seattle star chef Matt Dillon to supply his area restaurants. (Read the story in Old Chaser Farm: A Seattle Chef’s Garden on Vashon Island, Washington.) Today, we dive into another of his ventures: The London Plane, a restaurant, bar, and bakery with a flower shop.

The London Plane Flower Shop is a floral salon in two parts. It offers a generous array of fresh-cut flowers seven days a week at the restaurant’s entrance, and also has a floral studio to supply custom arrangements, bouquets, and centerpieces to local homes and events. Though the London Plane is part of Dillon’s empire, it’s as much the brainchild of co-owner and floral designer Katherine Anderson, who worked as a landscape architect before founding her flower shop Marigold and Mint in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood years ago.

Marigold and Mint, which sources flowers from Anderson’s family farm in the Snoqualmie River Valley, is located just across the way from one of Dillon’s restaurants, and the two became friends over shared philosophies and aesthetic sensibilities. “Katherine and I are simpatico in a lot of ways,” says Dillon. “I use a lot of wild, foraged foods in my cooking and have always really loved flowers and growing and gardening.” For her part, she says, their friendship blossomed over “shared aesthetics, and an approach to nourishing oneself, whether it be with food or flowers.” Let’s take a closer look at their collaboration.

N.B. We feature the London Plane Interiors on Remodelista today.

Photography by Ellie Lillstrom for Gardenista.

 The table at the restaurant&#8
Above: The table at the restaurant’s entrance offers a variety of seasonal, mostly local, fresh-cut flowers for guests to choose themselves; it’s the only DIY flower bar in the city. After customers choose, the shop wraps the flowers “into a little bouquet with wax and tissue and ribbon.”
The DIY bouquet table in late summer.
Above: The DIY bouquet table in late summer.

From March until the first frost (usually mid-October), almost all of the flowers come from local Washington farms, including Anderson’s. “We absolutely supplement with some from California, especially in the dead of winter,” she says. “But we’re still very close to those farmers, and those flowers are in our shop within two or three days of being picked.”

 &#8
Above: “The flower world is a few years behind the food world in terms of embracing locally grown and seasonal,” she says. “It’s now in full effect, but when I was starting out in flowers it was just beginning to take hold.”
 Aside from the obvious reduced environmental impact, Anderson extols the virtues of working with flowers when they&#8
Above: Aside from the obvious reduced environmental impact, Anderson extols the virtues of working with flowers when they’re in season: “Peonies are awesome, but you do get sick of them,” she says. “It’s nice for them to go away, and when they’re back you remember how special they are.”
 The flowers at the entrance are a &#8
Above: The flowers at the entrance are a “mood elevator,” says Anderson. “The space has a lightness to it that you don’t find in Seattle so much.”
Shades of pink on offer: globe amaranth, dahlias, and alliums.
Above: Shades of pink on offer: globe amaranth, dahlias, and alliums.

Over time, regular lunch customers become regular flower buyers, “which is just what we want,” says Anderson. “At the end of the day, the restaurant and flower shop feed each other.”

 In addition to the make-your-own bouquet table, the London Plane makes custom bouquets plus full-fledged wedding flowers, holiday centerpieces, and even floral installations for parties and art events.
Above: In addition to the make-your-own bouquet table, the London Plane makes custom bouquets plus full-fledged wedding flowers, holiday centerpieces, and even floral installations for parties and art events.

Anderson describes the shop’s design approach as “wild, really focused on texture and letting the form of the plant direct us,” she says, citing florists Saipua and Amy Merrick as compatriots.

 The flower shop is making an increasing number of dried flower arrangements, driven by demand. &#8
Above: The flower shop is making an increasing number of dried flower arrangements, driven by demand. “I used to hate dried flowers because I think of them as dusty and awful,” she said. “But they’re popular again, and now dried flowers aren’t just hydrangeas anymore; they can be more interesting.”
A balcony view of the bouquet table and floral shop, located next to the dining area and pastry case.
Above: A balcony view of the bouquet table and floral shop, located next to the dining area and pastry case.

All custom orders are made at a long wooden table, visible to customers at the London Plane. As I spoke with Anderson on the eve of Thanksgiving, two florists had 15 buckets of flowers at their feet and the shop table had become a centerpiece factory.

Dried schubertii alliums in the window at the front of the restaurant.
Above: Dried schubertii alliums in the window at the front of the restaurant.
Red dahlias entice buyers at the entrance to the London Plane in Seattle&#8
Above: Red dahlias entice buyers at the entrance to the London Plane in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

For more floral shops around the world, see:

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