Tam Ashworth, owner and floral stylist of Isari Flower Studio
Morgan Jenkins, manager and horticulturalist at Isari Flower Studio
Related Story: Horticultural Therapy And Floral Design
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. While another agricultural area of the country might be known as the bread basket of America, San Diego County is certainly is the nation's flower pot. It's one thing to know what to do with flowers when you take that greenery in doors. Isari flowers is one of several flower studios around town trying to reacquaint San Diegans with the scent, design, even the taste of flowers. Tam Ashworth is owner and designer at Isari studio. Back to the program.
ASHWORTH: Thank you.
CAVANAUGH: And Morgan Jenkins, horticultural lift at Isari.
JENKINS: Thank you.
CAVANAUGH: Do you think people should spend more time with their flowers?
ASHWORTH: Absolutely. So they bring the best out of the best. Once you've already purchased some flowers, I think you need to strip them, clean them, rearrange it a little bit, like normally you would go to a grocery store to buy ready-made bouquets, then it's like a mix of daisies, a little bit of filler, some greeneries, some of other pretty, you know, things that's inside it. So then I think what they should do is come home, rearrange it all up, and you have a much better, prettier look than what is frefab for you.
CAVANAUGH: Now, what are some of the common mistakes people make when they are -- well, when they attempt to arrange flowers?
ASHWORTH: Right. These flowers are sort of, like, store-bought. So they come in long length, meaning probably I would to say over a foot. And then they've got an assortment of greeneries below. If you do not strip the greeneries, and cut them and put it in water, is it will cause bacteria, and the flowers will not last as long as it should. What we do is strip them all off, give it new water, and then change the water every day.
CAVANAUGH: It seems if somebody is on a tight budget, the flowers, the flowers in the vase, will probably be the first thing to go. Are there any suggestions for how people on a tight budget can keep flowers in their home? Let's say they don't have a garden and they'll have to go out and purchase them.
ASHWORTH: I think just normal -- every season in San Diego, there's always a farmer's market, there's always lots of grocery store where is they now do hold flowers. Everybody carries flowers. Picking up a little bunch of, like, sweet peas for example, in the spring, just $5-sweet peas from the farmer's market, it enriches the soul. It's so invigorating when you smell it, and the beauty.
CAVANAUGH: Morgan Jenkins, what is a horticulturalist?
JENKINS: I have studied design, and taught classes myself.
CAVANAUGH: Even just having flowers in your home, can it help with stress? Can it help with that kind of -- the problems that you have on a daily basis? Can just having something lovely in your home like that help you release that kind of tension?
JENKINS: Yes, actually it does. And science and research has actually proved that. Horticultural therapy is a profession, and a practice for people to get reacquainted with nature. It's bringing flowers into your home to reduce stress, to promote physical activity in gardening, and it increases left brain development, and creativity and imagination. So it's beneficial for the soul as well as your body.
CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you both, how did you come to floral design?
ASHWORTH: I love flowers. , ever since I was little. It's just a matter of me involving myself from being -- I went to school for interior decorating from doing that, then I became a model, so a little bit of fashion, and flowers. Arriving here, I just used all the mediums passion for flowers, and fashion all together, and I do flowers.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But it started when you were young.
CAVANAUGH: Did you arrange flowers when you were a child? No, not at such. But I used to pick them, and I used to always love having bouquets of flowers. And I knew the name of flowers because I grew up in Thailand. I knew the names of the English flowers before I could even speak English. So I was very intrigued by the beauty of flowers.
CAVANAUGH: And Morgan, how did you come to be a horticulturalist?
JENKINS: The same thing as tam. I think the nature just draws you in, and you want to work with flowers every day, because it really does make your life better, and you're happier being surrounded by them. I have a BA in communication, and after graduating from under graduate, I decided I really wanted to pursue my passion of flowers. So I got my masters in horticulture.
CAVANAUGH: And what are flowers like as a business, tam? Lots of people like flowers, but I don't think a lot of people can actually make a business out of it. Is it a difficult business to be in?
ASHWORTH: Perishable, yes.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ASHWORTH: It's all very -- doing weddings and events, weddings are very, very personal. We bring the best on their most loving day of their lives. It's just very sensitive to doing all of this. I think it's challenging.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, there's a psychological element to it as well.
CAVANAUGH: Morgan, you talked approximate the different things that flowers can do when you bring them into your home. And you were talking about -- it currentlies people to get out and garden a little bit more. What if you don't have a garden?
JENKINS: It does the same exact thing. You can cut flowers from your garden and pick a favorite bud vase that you have and always have it by your sink to enjoy that, that's going to reduce your stress by seeing it every day, smelling it every day. It's the same thing as having a garden and being outside. You can pot an orchid to be in your home, and see that every day, and the base of watering that, every two weeks. Or a lavender plant is something Hershel that you can even garnish your cocktails with on a Friday afternoon.
CAVANAUGH: What are some flowers that have a really good life span?
ASHWORTH: I want to say --
CAVANAUGH: I mean cut flowers.
>> Yes, yes. Tropical flowers are always a very long life, from the tropics, like Hawaiian hel conias, oh,ids have a long life. Local sun flowers have a long life too. They last from 5-10 days sometimes. So there are many, many flowers with long life
CAVANAUGH: And the great mystery question is how do you keep flowers fresh in a vase?
ASHWORTH: As I said, I think you should always give it a fresh cut daily, and change the water. Dump out the old water, fill it with new water.
CAVANAUGH: If you get the flowers from the grocery, store, they give you a packet to keep the flowers fresh. But it's really just keeping the bottoms cut fresh, and the fresh water each day.
ASHWORTH: Yes, it's eliminating the bacteria, I think, keeps the life of the flowers a lot longer.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. And I want to talk more about the culinary aspect of flowers, because you have a class in culinary design. Where does taste come in with accomplishes?
JENKINS: It's a sensory experience. We're going to be doing a class in July on culinary creations. Autoit's going to be all edible petals and greens. Rosemary or basil, Mary golds. You can have pienny petals as well. Roses and hibiscus. You can also add vegetables to it as well, some peppers in the fall or artichokes as well. So it can be very sensory.
CAVANAUGH: When I think of edible flowers, I think of flowers that aren't going to hurt you, if you eat them. But what would be actually the advantage eating a flower?
ASHWORTH: It sort of tastes like Aruge la, it's got that peppery note to it, and the beauty of the bright petals among your salads and really pretty as well.
CAVANAUGH: I know some flower petals will actually enchance the flavor of your salad and drinks.
CAVANAUGH: It seems to me that flowers when you buy them commercially don't smell as strongly as they used to.
JENKINS: That is true. And rose varieties have decreased in scent. There's a lot of research being done on snap dragons and their loss of scent. But double-petalled piennies still have that very sweat smell. Also your midnight jasmine still has an amazing smell. But over time, production and growing, certainly petals have lost their scent.
ASHWORTH: They lose the scent for the longevity. So you can't have them both. You can't have long lasting and good smelling flowers.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, I see. So they have been bred for longevity, and the scent is now not as strong.
CAVANAUGH: I wonder if you could wrap this up for you, tam, by just giving us an idea. With busy lives that people lead, spending time arranging flowers, it could be thought of by some as a waste of time. What are the benefits of displaying them in your home?
ASHWORTH: It lifts your heart a lot more when you walk past your living room, and you see a pretty bunch of flowers right there. It's so much more touching, I think.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you both very, very much for coming in and speaking with us.
ASHWORTH: Thank you so much.
JENKINS: Thank you Maureen.