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Petaluma Florist Shares Tips for Making Beautiful Holiday Wreaths

Tali Bouskila of Flower Casita likes to work with local growers and unique foraged finds when making wreaths. Her hallmark is a looser, less tightly-defined look.

“Our landscape helps inspire my color palettes,” says local floral designer Tali Bouskila of Flower Casita. “Going into winter, I really want to do those eucalyptus blues, the grassy golden yellows—more of the dried colors. I think there’s just something just so pretty, when we have huge storm clouds and the bright yellow of wild dill.”

Flower Casita opened five years ago, after Bouskila spent nearly a decade working in flower shops in San Francisco and freelancing for studios that focused on weddings and large events. She signed the lease on her Petaluma studio a few months before her daughter was born and quickly developed a following. “A lot of my customers met me as a pregnant woman, climbing ladders and cleaning and mopping the store,” she laughs.

Bouskila and her team prefer to work with local growers and unique foraged finds. Neighbors will sometimes stop by the shop with something interesting from their garden—an armful of prunings from an olive tree, or a few branches from a birch that came down—and ask if Bouskila can use the materials.

Tali Bouskila, owner of Flower Casita, uses dried Banksia formosa in a wreath at her shop in Petaluma. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
Wreath by Tali Bouskila, owner of Flower Casita in Petaluma. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)

Her hallmark is a looser, less tightly-defined look, one that has its roots in the idiosyncratic shapes and structures of plants in the wild. “We’re inspired by what already happens in nature. We find the shape of each stem, we find the colors; we like to look at things for what they really are and emphasize their natural beauty, as opposed to manipulating them into a tight, ball-like design,” she explains.

Bouskila draws lines between her natural approach to floral design and the farm-to-table approach to eating well in Sonoma County. “It speaks a lot to what we do out here, even the way we make our wines. There’s a lot in common with what we’re doing and what chefs are doing, the up-and-comers curating menus that are super seasonally-inspired, lighter and brighter, tasting each element of the dish.”

Going into the holidays, Bouskila says she appreciates the gifts offered up by our farmers and foragers at all times of the year. “Being in Northern California, we actually do have flowers all year round, as opposed to the snowy parts of the country. So it’s about being really thankful that we always have something… that there’s always something popping up out of the ground.”

Dried Leucadendron is used in a wreath made by Tali Bouskila, owner of Flower Casita. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
Koelreuteria paniculata, commonly called golden raintree, is incorporated in a a wreath by Tali Bouskila, owner of Flower Casita. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)

Tali Bouskila’s favorite tips for holiday wreath-making

Palettes and plans: Before Bouskila makes a wreath, she likes to have a sense of where it’s going to go and the size it needs to be. She will often use a base of grapevine or curly willow, and sometimes will suspend a wreath horizontally to create a floral chandelier.

Seasonal texture: Working with what’s locally grown and available fresh, Bouskila looks for interesting shapes in evergreens and blooms: “Not everything is a stiff, straight stem; it’s a combination of shapes and curls, then bringing in textures of seedpods and grasses.”

A focal point: Bouskila typically builds a single point of interest into a wreath—a bloom of dried hydrangea, a sprig of orchids, or a loosely knotted bow of velvet or raw silk. But there’s no rule that she follows 100% of the time; Bouskila says you should let your decisions be guided by the materials at hand.

Wreath-making classes, $100 per person, five-person minimum. Flower Casita, 140 Second St., Suite 116, Petaluma, 707-559-5243, flowercasita.com

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