For Valentine’s Day, Nine Stories About Flowers

In addition to being obvious testaments to beauty, flowers are often bound up in human ritual. We give blooms to note a birth, a death and many occasions in between, including the, well, blossoming, of romantic love. At a certain point, though, we long for something more surprising and complex than the single stems of roses and carnations that we might have given to middle school crushes. Here are nine stories that show how else one might think about or use flowers (or even weeds), from turning them into sculptural headdresses to incorporating them into a home-cooked meal — on Valentine’s Day or otherwise.

In the designer Sourabh Gupta’s studio, in a nondescript apartment building in East Harlem, flowers bloom on nearly every surface. Towers of hollyhock animate one corner with their showy hot-pink-and-white blossoms. On a nearby bookshelf, pale lady’s slippers, Carolina roses and strawberry buds spring from earthenware pots. Gupta moves about gently tending to his nursery — not with pruning shears and trowels, but with tweezers and a magnifying glass. Only up close is it clear that these perennials are all made of paper, stunningly lifelike down to each delicate pistil and stamen. Read more.

“I’ve always loved gardening and plants,” says the Brooklyn-based artist Joshua Werber, who is best known for his fantastical floral headpieces. “I’ve been gardening since I was in high school.” Despite his early green thumb, Werber only transitioned from working in ceramic sculpture to floral design in the last decade, initially producing arrangements for settings and events. As part of our series on Summer Entertaining, T asked Werber to create three decorative arrangements for the table using fruits and vegetables, herbs and weeds as each of the separate main components. Read more.

To simply call Buunch a flower delivery service would be something of an understatement. The offshoot of the floral events studio L’Atelier Rouge does, in fact, offer a streamlined selection of color-coordinated arrangements for delivery throughout New York City. But Buunch’s imaginative, effervescent bouquets — which pair unconventional flower selections with shapely, colorful vases — offer an artistic, of-the-moment rejoinder to the usual floral-shop deliveries and the recent wave of digital-first florists. Clients order from a menu on the Buunch website that categorizes current selections by hue: choose “yellow/orange” for a composition made up entirely of fiery gloriosa, perhaps; click “purple/black” for an inky, arachnid-like spray of black millet, lady’s slipper orchids and heuchera leaves; or select “rainbow” for a scattering of dyed baby’s breath and dianthus. Read more.

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