Three young sisters at the head of an outdoor, organic flower farm and floral design studio set in the heart of the Val d'Orcia, in the Tuscan countryside: This is Puscina Flowers. I had long admired images of their beautiful farmland and their complex, organic floral composition via their Instagram feed. Finally, this past October I had the chance to meet two of the sisters in person. Gathered in the scenic setting of a Medici Villa a stone's throw from Florence, I observed Teresa, who curates the growing side of the business, and Mara, who focuses on compositions, as they unloaded a minivan full of dahlias and other native fall flowers and foliage, and set off to create a stream of stunningly arranged pots of flora. Needless to say, I left inspired by their work ethic and creativity as much as by their contagious love for plants and nature's beauty as a whole. I wanted to know more. So I eventually reached out to the third sister, Laura, who takes care of communications, and chatted with her about the inspiration (and struggles, and joys!) behind their blooming family business.
On their background and how they ended up working with flowers:
We were born between Montepulciano and Pienza, in Tuscany. Being surrounded by these stunning landscapes, and being exposed to the one-of-a-kind respect people have for nature and its harmony, we have inherited a soulful relationship with this land.
After studying and working in a wide range of fields in various parts of Italy, we all decided to go back home, back to where our roots are, and give way to a project that was at once bound to tradition ––to our land–– and innovative in its vision. At the same time, we wanted to stay curious and be up-to-date in regards to what was happening in the world of flowers internationally. And so, Puscina Flower was born.
On the ethos behind Puscina Flowers:
We are a family-run business with a strong belief that even the smallest contribution to a more sustainable way of growing and living can make a difference. This is why we only work organically. We are passionate about growing an ever-changing range of varietals and are always trying out new techniques that enable us to grow in accordance to nature’s cycles. A seasonal, local product is what we’re so enthusiastically and rigorously trying to promote.
Quality is the leading force behind everything we do. Every single flower we produce is the reflection of this vision. Seasonality, passion, and respect for the land ––these factors reconnect us with who we are, with our traditions, with nature, and gift us with simple moments of pure bliss along the way.
On their initial sources of inspiration:
Getting to know the work of Floret Flowers ––a small, ambitious American flower farm–– was a revelation for us. Their businesses focuses on knowledge-sharing and on growing some of the most stunning flower varietals in the world ––many of which are neglected by the mainstream market. They convinced us that our idea for Puscina Flowers was not just viable, but potentially successful.
Closer to home, in Italy, Laboratorio della Rosa Canina has been a reference point from the very start. They believed in our project and enthusiastically and generously taught us some of the main principles of floral design as we were moving our first steps. Now, after a few years, our relationship is not just of friendship but of mutual admiration, too.
On the love of natural beauty:
Working with flowers allows us to discover a world of unusual varietals. Flowers grown naturally are miles away from those that are commonly available on the market. They are beautifully imperfect, delicate; they have character and nothing in common with the rigidly impeccable flowers grown on a large scale.
Being here, in this beautiful land, we as floral designers have the chance to experiment with colours and botanical elements and cultivate a vision inspired by the landscape around us.
One of the biggest challenges we had to face at the beginning was to learn how to grow flowers with long stems.
Thinking about it now, we smile at our worry and deception in seeing our ‘peak’ varietals growing not more than 10cm from the ground…they were basically useless. Then, thanks to much self-training and a tireless exchange of knowledge with other producers, we realised that we had to make some changes to the soil composition ––changes that had to be implemented little by little and took quite a while to have some real effect. But hey, it worked. The worrisome looks we had only a few years ago have now turned into a smile and, at times, a jubilant laughter!
On starting out in the business:
The most important things to consider when starting a farming and design business like Puscina Flowers are the local market's potential to receive your product, and the business’ potential in terms of production, sales and distribution.
Being a farming endeavour, soil composition and water supply are also crucial. And finally, it’s crucial to invest in ongoing education and training ––in your personal and professional growth–– because what you can learn from a professional will make you save time, give you clarity, and strengthen your skills.
On the role of social media:
Social media have represented the main source of growth for us, most especially at the beginning. They have worked as “loudspeakers” for our work and as ways to connect with like-minded people all over the world ––people with whom we share interests, passions, dreams and professional goals.
Instagram, in particular, is great to put floral designers and farmers in touch with potential clients. A farmer can now ask an influential floral designer to showcase a specific type of bloom s/he’s growing by simply having it added to one of her/his compositions and posted on her/his Instagram feed. Viceversa, a designer can ask a farmer to grow a unique, hard-to-find variety exclusively for her/his compositions.
You end up creating a virtuous circle that benefits “good” growers and farmers as well as the land and the economy as a whole.
On future goals:
One of our biggest goals for the next few years is sharing. We have learnt most of what we know from others and we are at our happiest when we can share our acquired knowledge with others.
This is why we are going to add some hands-on workshops and flower arrangement courses to our event calendar. The plan is to show some of the behind-the-scenes of our work, plus our lab and garden.
We also plan to teach hands-on techniques to grow healthy flowers and lavish plants with all-natural methods; how to recognise and forage for local wild foliage that can be used in compositions; tips and tricks to make cut flowers last longer; and how to create beautiful compositions in which the natural aspects and uniqueness of every flower is enhanced, all without using artificial supports.
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English translation by Valeria Necchio