Back to grandma’s garden by Laura and Pauline CAP 1B – a second look at Plein air Paris

Since the 1970s, flower production has grown immensely and as a result, we have become aware of the impact of massive production on our soil, on our way of living, and on our planet earth.

Not only an ecological constraint, but unlike intensive agriculture, whose goal is to reduce inequalities by producing enough food, the intensive production of flowers is only carried out to satisfy the world’s affluent people, for the primary reason that the products are not affordable for all to enjoy. Moreover, we can also add in the working conditions practiced in some countries that demonstrate the lack of respect that the intensive flower production industry has for ecological, economic, and human standards. A case in point is the means of flower production in Kenya, especially in Naivasha, which are deemed unethical because this industry uses the same freshwater sourced from the groundwater that is used by the locals for their drinking water.

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So, in our opinion, flowers must be produced with a single ethic because these beauties are not a need but indeed a luxury.

And here is where Paris’s first floral farm comes into play. After many years of anticipation, a small farm called “Plein Air” came to life in 2017, allowing flowers to flourish without any pesticides, any insecticides, or any chemical fertilizers. Instead, it only uses natural cultivation methods , especially micro-organisms and biodynamics inspired by Dr. Teruo Higa. All the flowers are compatible with our soil and they grow in their natural seasons. Furthermore, some types of the planted flowers are very enriching for our soil, such as the poppies  pictured below.

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Photos: Pleins air Paris

Even if we all aren’t scientifically gifted, we all could do little things, like creating our own compost, not using chemical products to avoid polluting our water, our groundwater and our soil, discovering  the virtues of all plants, even weeds, and being aware of where the flowers you buy come from. The impacts of each of these gestures would be very appreciated by our environment.

To check out Plein air Paris, take a trip to the Belleville Cemetery. Take the main alley at the bottom, take a right and go through the green gate.

Visits by appointment only Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Open to the public for visits or purchases on certain Saturdays from 2 pm to 5 pm.

40 rue du Télégraphe 75020 Paris
contact@pleinair.paris.compleinair.paris.com

So, how did it happen? By Ludmila Lê-van CAP1B

A QUICK STORY of how I ended up on top of a ladder, holding on for dear life, with roses in my mouth and having an existential crisis.

I am quite an impulsive person. So last May, when I decided that going to university wasn’t my thing, I dropped out without thinking much of a fuss about what I was going to do next.

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To my astonishment, my parents weren’t really pleased with the whole situation and told me to get out of bed and find a job. So here I was, in the streets of Paris, looking for a place willing to hire me even though, honestly speaking, there was not much motivation on my part.

Suddenly, a soft ray of moonlight landed on a store’s signboard… (only kidding, just to lay on a dramatic effect) :

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(noise of thunder)

The Deschamps Boutique, located on Avenue Niel, near the Champs Elysées, is a really beautiful and trendy shop, so if you can, go see it for yourself.

I entered it with stars in my eyes because it felt like entering a fairy tale or a magic jungle (the fun has gone now that one has to actually do a lot of cleaning to maintain that fantasy, which I later learned).

So in my mesmerized state, I naturally asked the boss to hire me, right away if possible. No, I had never put a finger on a flower before and had never even thought about doing that. I just really needed money and relief from my folks.

He thought I was funny and told me to go to a floral school first to learn a thing or two. He probably didn’t think I would be in front of him again the next morning with all the administrative papers ready to be signed for submission to the Paris School of Florists. And yes, he took me under his wings, and so there I am. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, the new journey, experience, and path that I’ll be taking this year.

That’s probably what I was reminiscing about up there on my ladder, on the verge of falling, dropping a rose in the coffee cup of a pedestrian walking by.

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I also don’t know what I’ll be doing next year. Knowing me, probably something completely different. I want to tell stories, draw comics, and travel the world. But I hope all these experiences will come together one day so that, when I’m old, I’ll look behind and be proud of my life.

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Ludmila Lê-van CAP1B

Fleuramour 2019, Bielsen, Belgium by Estelle, Marion and Lise, BP22

 

From the 24th to the 27th of September 2019, we went to Fleuramour, an international floral event in the Alden Bielsen Castle, in the Flemish part of Belgium.

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We were accompanied by Floral Arrangement Trainer Martine Soulier, Holder of Best Craftsmen in France (MOF) Thierry Boutin, Fine Arts Trainer Nicolas Germain, International Development and Communications Intern Manon Manceau, and Administrative Head Emmanuelle Labbe.

Our mission was to  make the floral design entitled “Floral Intuition Through The Ages” on the bridge of the castle’s main gate.

Our design was created by both Martine Soulier & MOF Julian Tonnelier, and the sketches were the work of  Nicolas Germain.

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We went to the Alden Bielsen Castle by coach and brought 22 U-shaped metal structures along with us from the school. They were extremely heavy and it was laborious to get them to stand up on the stonewall of the bridge.

Our first task in the 3-day work period was to place floral foam onto the metal structures in teams of apprentices. Each team was responsible for carrying out the work on 2 or 3 structures.

After the foam was set, we started with the design. We shared all the flowers among us, and one after another, all the 22 U-shaped structures took on life.

The concept was to create a tunnel, resembling a time machine, thanks to color gradations, visible from the opposite ends. The design took on a more trendy and organic look through the addition of apples, gleaned from the Castle’s garden.

In the last part of the design, we placed some vanda orchids and steelgrass foliage, creeping down from the structure. The finishing touches were the positioning of pieces of small square mirrors to link all the 22 structures into one. This touch nicely illuminated the design and gave it a magical aspect.

“Back to the future” was the theme of the 2019 Fleuramour event, where  we could discover the works of over 100 floral designers from all over the world. All parts of the castle, i.e, the rooms, the garden, the bridges, the moats, the basement, etc., were adorned with creative structures and floral designs. The interpretation of the theme was very open, so the designs could speak from an ecological point of view to a futuristic sci-fi perspective.

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What we discovered during the event:

Planet of Flowers:

The Italian designer Angelica Lacarbonara dramatically perpetuated the tradition of drawing all eyes to the inner courtyard. This time with a spaceship landing on a planet of flowers with James Bond music and a magical palette of roses hanging from a huge spaceship right smack in the center of the hall!

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Wall of flowers:

In the chapel, the star attraction was a structure of 10,000 plastic water bottles, 25,000 sustainably grown flowers, and a play with light. The amazingly tall and enormously large structure, whose underlying ecological message was the recycling of bottles, brought on the crucial touch of going green. The creators of this design were Dutchmen Frank Timmerman and Peter Boeijkens.
A tight rope was part of creation, allowing visitors to hang up their suggestions for a better environmentally sustainable world. At the end of the event, the flower vases were donated to nursing homes and an association for autistic children.

 

The underwater world:

As for the annual Fleuramour prize, it went to the Dutch Floral Designer Sandra Attema, who came up with an underwater world in which she painted flowers and plants with a special paint to play with blue lighting. 

Others structures & futuristic designs:

 

All in all, it was a great experience for our class and a tremendous pleasure to discover the trends and designs that are always evolving in our splendid profession of floristry.

A conversation about a day in a Parisian flowershop by Lyse and Mathilde, CAP 1B

On Monday during their second week of school lessons, Lyse and Mathilde meet in front of the establishment and they talk about their past two last weeks at their flower shops.

Lyse: Hey! You know, what?  Last Friday, I got to open the shop for the first time all by myself!

Mathilde: Hi! Really?! By yourself? That’s incredible! Tell me more…

Lyse: Believe me. I arrive five minutes before the opening of the shop with breakfast croissants for the whole staff. At 10 am I get the spare keys kept at a restaurant near the shop. I put on my apron and turn on the lights. I do the outside display and I clean the floor. The shop has been readied to welcome our customers!

Mathilde: That’s great! Tell me, when do you have the most customers?  In the morning? In the evening? Do you have a lot of tourists?

Lyse: Usually we have more retired customers in the morning and many workers after 6:30 pm. In addition, we have a lot of English or Spanish speaking tourists coming by in the afternoon.

Mathilde:… and I suppose that you have more men than women in the evening, who want to pick up a bouquet of roses for a romantic dinner?

Lyse: Haha! Exactly! And a major attraction is our shop specialty — boxes of eternal roses! One day, a young man wanted to buy a box to propose marriage to this girlfriend. It costs 250 euros for a middle-sized box. Yes, we do have a huge selection of roses on hand.

Mathilde: Did you box them yourself ?? It doesn’t seem to be very easy…

Lyse : Noooo. I am just at the beginning of my training as a florist, but I really want to give it a try one of these days!

Mathilde: I got you! Oh no, it’s already 9 am. and time for school.

Lyse: I forgot to tell you! I bought some croissants… but now we have to go!

At 9 am Lyse and Mathilde are heading into their classroom to take their first botany test and will enjoy their croissants during the morning break at 10:45.

Bye for now!

Stop and smell the Rose de Mai by Priscillia & Sofia, CAP 1B 

 

1-rosa-centifolia-bullata-pierre-joseph-redouteThe Rose de Mai (rosa centifolia) belongs to the Rosacea family of flowers and blooms from the end of spring to the beginning of summer. This intensely fragrant fully petalled rose can be found in different colours such as white and yellow, but it is best-known and best-loved for its different shades of pink.

The Rose de Mai originally grew in the Caucasus and then could be found in Persia before it arrived during the 16th century in Europe, where it was used by the Greeks and the Romans. Later, Dutch merchants obtained some samples of the variety in order to hybridize them.

 

This rose, baptized the Rose de Mai because it blooms from May until mid-June, is only picked after it has fully bloomed and only in the early morning so that its very special fragrance is maintained.

In France, one of the most famous places where it is grown is in Grasse, located in the south of France. Since the 1800s, the Mul family has been cultivating the flower without using any artificial fertilizers. This family business is based on the production of flower essences and has experienced a huge development since its partnership with the prestigious maison Chanel, which has used the Rose de Mai essence in its Chanel n°5 perfume since the 1920s. The fashion house has contributed to the preservation and improvement of the distillation techniques in order to maintain the high quality of the flower essence.

Today the Mul family continues to grow the Rose de Mai, which is recognized as a world heritage by UNESCO, thus making them the guardians of a valuable floral heritage.

The Rose de Mai has been loved throughout the ages by artists such as the Flemish painter Jean-François Van Dael and flower lovers like Marie-Antoinette.

Read more about the Rose de Mai in Regain Magazine : https://www.regain-magazine.com/la-rose-de-mai/

 

Day 1: Departure for Amsterdam by Aude and Pierre, BP22

Our appointment for departure for Amsterdam was on June 17th at 6 am at the Paris School of Florists. We left on time by coach.

At around 10 am, breakfast at a motorway rest stop was on the schedule so we picked up some food from the area restaurants.

Then we went through Belgium, where we ran into a lot of traffic jams. Some of us got some shut-eye during the trip and some had their eyes wide open to watch “A Star is Born” with Lady Gaga. They had some fun at the same time.

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We took a lunch break at around 12 pm. Some had their sandwiches, others went for a bite to eat at McDonald’s.

Then we went back on the road to head for the Kinderdijk Mills. We arrived at the mills at around 4 pm to give us enough time for a visit.

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Nineteen windmills were built between 1738 and 1740 as part of a water management system to fight against floods, and today, they symbolize Holland’s water management system. In 1997, the site was proclaimed as a World Heritage by UNSESCO.

The mills at Kinderdijk were built to keep the Alblasserwaard Lowlands dry. Arranged opposite each other, they form an emblematic image of Holland.

Here’s a look inside the tiny spaces for the one-time tiny people:

Day 2 Morning: The Aalsmeer Flower Market and the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden by Alexia and Lise, BP22

The second day started after a 5am wake-up. We went to visit Aalsmeer, which is the biggest flower market in the world! 2

We started on the upper gallery, which allowed us to watch the workers. They were all on electric carts towing cartloads of flowers to transport and prepare for purchases.

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Then, we saw the flower auction salesroom which operates on a clock auction, meaning that the traders have to buy the goods the fastest as possible as the prices go lower and lower on the dial.

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The last stop was the laboratory, where botanists search for new species and varieties.

 

Next visit was to the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden.

 

The garden was created in 1575 by the Uiversity of Leiden in collaboration with a botanist. This was a huge help for medical students.

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It has very old trees and the largest collection of orchids in the Netherlands.

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We spent time in the greenhouses to observe carnivorous plants and walked in the Japanese garden.

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It was a really great morning!