As a 50-something, I have lived most of my life in the Washington, D.C. area. I was raised by a career G.I. Joe, and a stay-at-home gardener, wine maker, and creative genius.

You know her best as the founder of this blog, I know her best as Mom...here is her mum-centric posey!

Learning new terchniques for how to arrange flowers never gets old!

Charged with earning the money to get my sisters and me to Disneyworld, something we desperately wanted, our Mom taught us to grow our own food in our backyard garden, and how to sell it back to her and our neighbors.

I sprouted my green thumb at 9, as I soon found out that there is nothing in this world that tastes better than a home-grown tomato, warmed by the sun, and fresh from the vine.

Through college and after, I did not realize how gardens were going to fit into my life. But as I moved into “young adulthood” I found that consistently, I was that 20-something who planted a flower garden at each house or apartment she lived in.

Nothing pleased me more than picking out a new variety of perennial or annual and getting my hands (and invariably everything else) dirty when putting it into the ground.

When I bought my first house at 25, I will never forget one of the first things I did after moving in. I spent the night working with my horticulturist friend Susan planting a new front garden in the pouring rain. We were soaked, but the plants were happy. When I drive by that first house today, I take great pleasure in seeing how the bones of that garden remain, and how the tiny red bud sapling is now as big as the house.

Growing stuff was good for me, as I often took better care of my garden than I did anything else. Not every green thumb is as lucky as I was to find a kindred gardening spirit in the man I would marry–a man who came from a non-traditional farming background. His parents farmed tropical fruits, herbs, teas and tisanes (herbal remedies) in the Virgin Islands.

The combination of beautiful tropical foliage, flowers and delicious avocados and passion fruit that surrounded us when we went home to visit, inspired us to grow more things in our own backyard in the states.

I learned the depth of the great talent and knowledge my father in law possessed when he came to visit. He taught me about transplanting, and lines, and landscaping so that things looked, in his simple but perfect description, “pretty.”

Midlife saw me raising two great kids, running a household, volunteering for endless events at the kids’ schools and even working a wage earning job here and there. But, none of that really stirred my creative juices…and I knew they needed to be stirred.

Enter stage left, an off-the-cuff remark from my friend Anne and her mother about an opportunity to take a class at the National Cathedral to learn the basics of flower arranging.  I agreed to try it out and after those few days and that class, I found it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

I found something I loved to do and I have not looked back.

I now am in my 6th year of volunteering at the Cathedral, and I rarely walk away from the work without having learned something valuable from any one of the very talented people there. I look forward to my work there each month, especially with the creative opportunities that present themselves around holidays.

Arranging for Easter where it all began, the National Cathedral in DC

Arranging for Easter where it all began, the National Cathedral in DC

In terms of bringing my love of flowers home, I plot every day to make my tiny suburban yard a cut-able resource for my own work with flowers. I experiment with growing things that cause a stir in the hyper-landscaped neighborhoods around Washington, D.C.

I actively seek out opportunities to learn more, to apply what knowledge I have gained and to share it with others.

This blog is a long time coming and it’s a natural extension of my lifelong path through the garden. I would love it if you would join me on this adventure to see what we can have fun with along the way!

jbryanAbout Me
  • Margie Smith

    Unbelievable! I just keep reading and thinking how professional this blog is and how absolutely beautiful the pictures are. In a nut shell, I Love it Julie! I always knew you loved color ( once LONNNG ago telling me that clothes should be fun with lots of color) and were so talented not only in the garden, but in the culinary department as well. I still have your hand written recipe for Chicken Kiev! I’m so proud of you and wish you tons of luck with your site. Best of all, I’m proud to call you a friend!

    • jbryan

      Thanks Madge! you can’t see it, but I am blushing! Hannah and I are having a great time working on this together. Xoxo

  • RoseMary Brinkema

    What a find to have stumbled upon your site while spending hours trying to find oasis foam containers. I have spent a fortune on ,what seems like a whole library of floral arranging books. They all have great pictures of what one needs for “floral mechanics” but,except for the Oasis, don’t try to find out where to buy different green plastic inserts for vases or low oblong oasis containers!!??

    When my church asked me to look after the Alter flowers, I ran out and took a 2 week crash course in a florist shop…..not enough and although I get the job done, it’s not without much tears and Grinding of teeth.

    Your “You do Flowers” is a Godsend! So much useful clearly explained information. I look forward to consulting it weekly.

    RoseMary (Church of St. John the Evangelist, Montreal Quebec.)

    • jbryan

      Hi RoseMary! What a treat to hear from you–and all the way from Quebec!

      What a huge compliment that they’ve asked you to do the Altar flowers! They must appreciate and admire all the hard work you put in to your arrangements…beginner or not, they add to the ambience!

      As a fellow florist charged with the task of creating Altar flower arrangements I completely understand your frustration. Pictures in books are nice to look at, but without additional information about WHERE and HOW (plus some hands-on experience) replicating the book’s results is really hard!

      I do hope you continue checking in to our blog, and in the meantime, I will take some time to think of some alter-specific flower tips to hopefully make your weekly arrangement a little more fun and a little less “chore” 🙂