Meet Arika the natural florist behind
How did you get into flowers and what sources did you use when you started?
I've always loved flowers! I grew up in Santa Monica in an apartment and lived in apartments until 2018. Having my own garden was a bit of a pipe dream. When we bought our house it came completely landscaped except for a small section where the previous owners had an herb garden. My husband had been bugging me to plant some vegetables in the area. I planted a few vegetables and I was not into them at all. I had been following Floret Flower Farm on instagram for years but I missed her seed sales for the year. A few seeds became available so I bought them & I bought some Dahlia tubers from their recommended farms. I ripped up the vegetables and planted my first flowers. When the flowers started blooming I had more flowers than I knew what to do with. That is how Feirm Saoirse came to life.
I joined a few Dahlia gardening and flower farm facebook groups which are amazing sources of knowledge. I've learned a ton from other peoples posts and from asking questions. One thing about the flower community is people love to share the tips and tricks of growing. I also bought all of Erin from Floret Flower Farm's books and Cool Flowers by Lisa Mason Zeigler. And of course google.
The hardest part of growing in Los Angeles is most of the information out there is not directed toward warm climate farming. We essentially have our rules that don't apply to most of the world. I am still figuring out the rules. We have it easier in some ways because we don't have to worry about frost but we have to plant our flowers at a different schedule because of the heat. Luckily there are a huge range of gorgeous flowers that LOVE heat, such as Cosmos, Dahlias and Zinnias. While other farmers are preparing for winter our flowers can keep going through fall and into winter. Cool flowers such as Snapdragons, Sweet Peas and Ranunculus need to be planted in the fall. This is a huge advantage because most farmers are planting these in February while ours are blooming.
What do you love the most about being a natural florist?
I don't know if I am ready to call myself a florist - I'm more of a farmer than a designer. I don't consider myself creative but I do have a pretty unique taste in flower varieties and a bit of a green thumb. I count on the beauty of the flowers to do all the creative work. That said, I admire creative people immensely and growing flowers allows me to come off as creative. It's also an amazing break from my corporate job as tech project manager which is super nuts and bolts.
Most of all I love providing people with flower varieties & colors that they can't necessarily get at the grocery store or florist for an extremely reasonable price. The varieties I am drawn to are the ones I see artistic high end florists use but you are not paying luxury rates.
What's currently thriving in your garden? And how do you tend to your garden year round?
My Sweet Peas are out of control. I was not prepared for how well they'd do and I underestimated the size of my trellis and growing area. I have a Sweet Pea jungle! I've also had Anemones blooming since January!!!
Between my corporate job and my two kids, time is something I don't have a whole lot of. I have to tend to the garden in the mornings, nights and weekends. In an interview Erin from Floret Flower talked about how when she first started her farm she didn't have time to be super vigilant about weeds. When I read that I was relieved because I don't have time for that either. I think it's important for people to not feel like they have to have this perfectly manicured garden. Do what you can with the time you have - most importantly focus on growing quality flowers.
I have a drip system which is pretty important because you don't want to overhead water your plants and it's better for water conservation. My favorite soil and compost is by Malibu Compost, made locally in Malibu. For fertilizer I use Dr. Earth & Down to Earth. You also need hundreds of bamboo stakes & a mile worth of twine for keeping the plants upright.
What's the best way to purchase your blooms?
Instagram is the best way to connect with me and see what is in season @feirmsaoirse or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My bouquets can be as low as $10 and as high as $45. I offer limited local delivery for no cost, pickup at my house is free, and I use Uber for flowers outside of my immediate area. I am pretty informal about the whole business so if you tell me your budget I'll work with it.