Honeysuckle Hollow, LLC

Our Flower House

Flower HouseMercedes Ivener3 Comments

We used to have our flower shop in a strip mall on the south side of town. The fact that it was 20 minutes from my house - and in a strip mall - left me yearning for a more ideal spot to design flowers. When I started thinking about a new location, so many considerations came to mind, the biggest one being the constant battling roles of being a mother and a florist. I remember Valentine’s Day 2017 when my son got the flu, and he had to spend four days leading up to Valentine’s Day on a sleeping bag under the front desk at my shop so I could keep an eye on him. It was a particularly stressful adventure. That was just one of the many times that my guilt seemed to outweigh the pleasure of doing flowers. I decided that I needed a place to do flowers that would somehow blend motherhood and work in a better way. That is when I hatched the idea of having a flower house.

I started looking for homes on the north side of Sioux City (closer to my actual home) that would have a good basement for my flower studio while having a nice rest of the home for my kids and husband to live during busy flower times. Some people have second homes on a lake or at a ski area or on a beach…but I needed a flower house. I dreamt of a place where I could host all of my wedding consultations in a beautiful space, hold workshops, design flowers, eat meals with my family, and have beds where we could sleep if it got too late or where kids could rest if they were ill. In November, I found the perfect home. It is on the north side close to my in-laws, the kids’ schools, the Sioux City Country Club where the kids can swim in the summer, and only 5 minutes away from our actual home. It is a darling house home built in the 1920s and has so many incredible old, amazing details in it. It was badly in need of a facelift, but it had everything we wanted, so we bought it and set to work. We spent the winter painstakingly picking out paint colors, having the hardwood floors refinished, and furnishing this beautiful home to bring it back life.  


We absolutely LOVE this house. It is amazing to work in such a beautiful and inspiring place! The natural light streaming in from all of its windows is just so picturesque that I often find myself looking for a camera to snap a picture. I have to send out an ENORMOUS thank you to Summer for doing most of the interior design in the home. She and Everly, my daughter, worked to bring my vision of old-world opulence back to this home. I had so much fun antiquing for furniture, mirrors, light fixtures, furniture and art work to decorate the house. I had only to bring it and set it on the table for Summer, and she would artfully style it. I am so fortunate for her good taste and vision. I see her use her eye for design on a regular basis for wedding design, but she really went all out to decorate our Flower House! I could not be any happier.  

Jenni of Jenni O Photography came down to photograph our Flower House and she got some wonderful pictures of our space. She does wedding photography, as well as realty photography for homeowners and real estate agents, so we were particularly fortunate! She also helps small companies brand themselves with photographs of what they do to bring their stories to life, so she was here to capture us doing what we do. It was such a fun afternoon having her with us! Here are some of the photos she captured.


I also snapped a few fun pictures myself.

I think my favorite room in the house, if that is possible, might be the dining room. Everly picked out this gorgeous blue/green color called Narragansett Green.  Narragansett is a bay on the north side of Rhode Island Sound, and this color makes me think of water—sometimes it looks dark blue and others it has a green tint. I love paint colors that change with the light; they seem to have such depth. I also love the gallery wall full of vintage prints, mirrors, a hand-painted tray by my Grandmother, and other odds and ends that Summer styled for me. Oh, and the travertine stone table that I found on craigslist in Omaha is amazing and durable. It won’t matter how many vases of water we spill on it during workshops, it will hold up. And the amazing light fixture that came with the house! Oh, and I love my milk glass collection displayed in the built in hutch. Yes, it has to be my favorite room in the house! Here are a couple more photos from Jenni.


Thank you to my parents for bringing the amazing bedroom set for the master bedroom all the way from Idaho, and I also love my childhood beds in the blue bedroom. Like I said, there is so much to love about this old house---the ornate door knobs, the old light fixtures, the gleaming hardwoods, the sunporch off the upstairs tv room, the staircase, the trim, the pillars into the living room and so much more. Pinch me!  

Thank you to Alyssa and family for all of the family heirlooms you gifted us for this house. And a big thank you to my Gramma Bette who gave me her mother’s (my great grandmother’s) camelback, blue velvet sofa from 1930. So fun to have a part of my Great Gramma Spoerl with me at the Flower House. Thank you to my Aunt Liz for driving it to me from Virginia! So many people gave us special items to make this house feel like a home. And it does. We want this to feel like a place where you can hang up your coat, have a cup of tea, and talk/make flowers. I hope it will be a unique way to provide a flower experience to our customers. I have lots of ideas so I’m so excited about the years to come. “If you build it, they will come”. Yes that is from Field of Dreams, but sometimes it comes into my head here at our Flower House. I’m not even sure yet exactly what it will become, but I’m certain that the future is bright.  


Halloween Costumes When You Have a Florist for a Mom

Fall, FamilyMercedes IvenerComment

When I asked my nine-year-old son, Cale, what he wanted to be for Halloween this year, he said he wanted to be Kale with a “k”, since that is what everybody thinks his name is! I spent a little time trying to figure out how I could make a kale costume, and I finally decided that I would just cover some of his clothing in kale. Now, when I think of botanical clothing costumes, I think of floral designer Francoise Weeks. Check out her incredible creations on Instagram! I actually took a floral design course with her up at her studio in Portland, Oregon two years ago, so I thought it might be fun to put some of her techniques to use.

I bought a heavy fleece shirt and found an old outgrown winter cap with a pom-pom on top. I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of bags of curly kale. I actually ran into a friend and her eyes bugged out when she looked in my cart. I told her no, I was not on a juicing binge or something healthy like, that but instead was going to be making a costume for my son. She said oh, of course you are! I guess this is what happens when your mom is a florist. I have always enjoyed making creative costumes for my kids, but I do not tend to be one who goes to over-the-top. I just like the creative process of making our own costumes, whatever they might be.


I stopped off at our shop and picked up some oasis cold glue and scissors and headed back to the house for a late night costume making session. I had my son put on the shirt and I began gluing the kale in layers starting at the bottom and working upwards. I wanted it to have curly little sleeves and for the Cap to have a curly Brim. After covering The hat and shirt, and covering my fingers entirely with that darn glue, I took the costume into a cold basement room and went to bed. The next day I took it and kept it in our floral cooler for the day while it waited for its school debut.

Eventually it was time, and I headed over to my sons elementary school where I helped him get dressed up amidst peals of laughter and giggles from his friends. I was actually shocked that everyone for the most part got the joke and actually knew that it was kale on his costume. I guess this unloved vegetable surely has come into mainstream in recent years for an entire class of fourth-graders to know what it was. Not bad! Besides the hat being a little itchy and sweaty, Cale said he loved his costume. It did begin to wilt quite seriously after the two hour school adventure. I put it back in the cooler until the evening for trick-or-treating, added a few fresh Curly leaves, and it was ready for round two.


Here are my kids dressed up for trick-or-treating. They are getting a bit old for it, but we have friends who live on our road who expect our children every year for the last 14 years to stop by, and they make all sorts of home-baked goodies for them. So I told my daughter she better dress up another year if she wanted the sweets! She came up with her own costume after browsing Pinterest. She was a cactus - green sweater with tan pipe cleaners tucked in as the spines and a flower on top of her head. I thought this was a perfect simple costume for a teenager. I, of course, enjoyed its botanical nature. It figures that she would be wearing a cactus, which is one of the plants that has become extremely trendy this year. Everly is always up on fashion!


Their costumes were well received, and it was a particularly cold evening, so Cale's costume stayed nice and fresh. I would say that it did not hold up long-term very well, so by the end of the night it was completely wilted, and our friend suggested getting out a frying  pan and some oil and garlic to cook it! Of course, she was joking, and we we simply threw it in the trash. It had served it’s purpose. I had a fun adventure, my son loved wearing it, and another Halloween passed leaving me feeling like a good mom for having made the time for my kids. It’s hard sometimes to do this with the business. I don’t pretend to be a super mom, or anything like that, but doing these little things to celebrate holidays and special events throughout the year is important to me and my family. These are the things I think my kids and I will remember. My husband always gets a kick out of my late night adventures and wonders why I didn’t just go to the store and buy a costume. Secretly I think he loves that I do this for the kids. He generally cleans up after me once I have created a colossal mess. Thank goodness for him!

And now with Halloween over, our last wedding of the year completed this past weekend, it is now time to turn our thoughts towards Thanksgiving!

Virginia Farm Wedding - From the Florist's Perspective - Part Three

Design, Fall, Family, Local Flowers, WeddingsMercedes Ivener1 Comment

We all got to bed late following the rehearsal dinner, and, before we knew it, the wedding day dawned. I was up early again and headed over to the house looking a little rough and begging my Aunt for a hair tie (for my humidity-crazed hair) and a cup of coffee. After a few days of going straight out, it starts catching up to you as all event people know. Fortunately, with caffeine and a new group of helpers that showed up, we were able to get all the last details completed—ribbons tied onto the bouquets, urns delivered down to the river ceremony site, the wedding arch decorated, etc. I took my five minutes to soak it all in when I was down on the sandy beach by the river where the ceremony would take place. After we put up the two urns, I sat down on one of the hay bales, covered with a quilt, and realized that the sun was streaming down directly on to the site where Brodie and Jake would be married. Here were my helpers who happened to be standing there when I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture. 


I sat back just to remember all the times I had brought Brodie and her brother Chris down to this very beach to swim and cool off in the hot Virginia summers when they were little. I could almost see them splashing in the water. Am I really this old to be getting sentimental like this, I thought? I guess so. That was more than 25 years ago. Wow. I was already feeling a bit watery eyed and the ceremony hadn’t even begun! My five minutes was up, though, and I got a call that Brodie had decided she needed hair flowers for the top of her veil. I rushed up to the house, made a simple little comb of flowers and eucalyptus and went upstairs to find her. There she was in the most beautiful, flattering, simply elegant dress one could ever imagine. The light was streaming through her mom’s bedroom window where all of her bridesmaids were helping her get ready. It was, as usual, me barging in on a bride and her maids with flowers on their big day, but it was my cousin this time! What an honor to be here with her doing what I do. There aren’t any pictures to go with this part of the narrative because things got hectic with less than an hour and a half before the ceremony started. I had my kids to organize, last minute issues down at the wedding tent, back up to the groomsmen for missing boutonniere pins, back to the house to literally throw on my dress (not even do my hair), and I raced back down to the ceremony site where I arrived less than 5 minutes before the ceremony started!!!! I did, however, arrive just in time to see the bride and her bridesmaids and flower girls arrive at the tent on my Aunt’s flat-bed pickup truck sitting atop covered hay bales. My aunt had done that to surprise Brodie and it was incredibly picturesque for a farm wedding to have the girls arriving on the truck!!! So cute. I heard they took pictures with the horses on the way down. I can’t wait to see the photographers pictures of that when they come in! 


I rushed into the ceremony and found a seat atop a hay bale with my hubby (who earned an A+ doing a myriad of tasks for the wedding all day with my son in tow). I sat and held his hand and waited for the bridal party to begin the procession. It was time to take in everything. Time to breathe and slow the release of adrenaline that had been coursing through my veins for the last hour of rushing. Time to watch as my Aunt walked her daughter down the aisle holding hands. What a moment that was – the two of them with fingers clasped walking down the pathway lined with river rocks headed down to the beach where Jake, and all of us, awaited them. They walked slowly and stoically, a solid pair – just like the two of them had always been. A team that could do anything together. I always cry at a wedding, but this one was a bit of a gusher for me. It was so touching and beautiful, and seeing them all holding my flowers was lovely. I saw her brother up there watching her be married, and the little flower girls peering at the bride attentively, and my sweet grandparents all with that dark reflective water drifting by in the river. It was such a lovely ceremony officiated by the Groom’s father. So personal and intimate, just like the setting. 


As everyone filed out after the wedding, we all found our way to the tent. It was a huge sail-cloth tent like none I have ever seen before. IT WAS GORGEOUS!!! There were so many special touches everywhere. Flags that many of us helped sew throughout the year for decorating the tent, signs that others painted, family trees that were displayed, little branches filled with sepia-toned pictures of the bride and groom throughout their lives, amazing garlands that the Bride’s sister made, and so on. There were these beautiful sitting areas outside of the tent where people wandered out to throughout the night to sit in serene bliss, fun areas for the kids with crafts, and cornhole. I was admittedly a little tired but so unbelievably happy with how everything turned out. We danced the night away and headed home happy and tuckered out. The Bride and Groom went up to their incredible glamping tent on the top of the hill where they stayed. I think it was an authentic Turkish tent, and it looked like something out of a movie set with candles lit up everywhere, ancient rugs on the ground, a canopy bed, and the full moon peering through the clouds. What a night. 


We woke up on Sunday, my hubby and I cleaned out the basement, and we headed to the brunch before catching a flight home with my kids. It was quite a weekend. I think I wrote all this down as a way to journal the adventure so I don’t forget it! It definitely has to be one of my favorite weddings ever (second to my own of course, which was also outside under a huge tent too). My kids jabbered on about the wedding and all their favorite parts as we traveled home. I slept and slept as I’m sure many people did after this weekend. But we all slept the blissful sleep of a job well done, love witnessed, a weekend in the great outdoors, and the contentment that being with all of your family brings. Cheers Brodie and Jake! It was an amazing weekend. Here is wishing you a lifetime of love, endless joy, beauty, health, and plenty of adventure together. Following photos by Sarah Cramer Shields.


I hope you enjoyed this tale of wedding flowers and walks down memory lane. People often ask what its like to be a florist, so sometimes it’s fun to give a blow-by-blow account of what it takes to do wedding flowers. Each event is entirely unique, but I so love the creative endeavor and collaboration with the couples. Looking forward to our next wedding coming up in Sioux City! 

(If you missed them, here are Part One and Part Two!)