story and photos by Lindsey Grutchfield
What comes to mind when most people think of bouquets of flowers are the plastic-wrapped tulips or carnations that wilt in the average supermarket. The intricate arrangements of MiddleGround Florist could not be more different from these offerings. Here, Yana Poulson creates hand-tied bouquets with skill wrought from her extensive training at Flower Design of Britain, one of the oldest schools of its kind, where she learned flower design and wedding floristry.
MiddleGround Florist, on Route 2 in Middlesex, is the retail location of Poulson’s business, Regal Flower Design. Here, Poulson specializes in hand-tied bouquets, which are a tradition in Europe. Fresh flowers are arranged in a spiral, then tied with a single ribbon. This creates a light, sturdy design that balances in one hand. Designed like this, flowers can be carried in a gift bag, cradled in the crook of an elbow, or simply held in hand without fear of water spillage or damage to the arrangement. Elaborate arrangements are be made using hand-tied technique, say, 30 roses that can be presented as is, sans vase or tightly wrapped plastic. In fact, Poulson uses no plastic whatsoever in her bouquets, opting for artistic finishes like craft paper or natural textiles, which become part of the arrangement, adding sophistication and style to an already artistic bouquet.
Most people, Poulson believes, focus on the endurance of the flowers, whether or not they will fade before they can be given as gifts or make an appearance on the dining room table. She believes the real importance of flowers lies elsewhere. “I think what’s important is, how long will we keep the memory of that moment of receiving?” she says. “So you bring flowers to someone’s house house at a party or a family dinner, so it has to be impressive and honest. That’s why I emphasize the presentation of flowers. That moment of receiving a bouquet is going to last a very long time.”
Bouquets can be custom made, and the inspiration for the design of the bouquet stems from the purposes of the person ordering it. Sometimes a customer wants a favorite color to be highlighted, or falls in love with a specific flower. This is Poulson’s favorite part of the process. She recounts how, “when a person comes in, and they have a certain situation, they need a gift, or they need just-because flowers. It’s listening to the person — what they’re looking for — and finding just the right flower.” In the end, she says, the artistry of the bouquet always falls perfectly into place.
Of course, MiddleGround Florist is located near the Red Hen Baking Company, Montpelier Mud Pottery and other artisanal shops. It is not the only place in the area producing products that are as much art as they are simply products. Well aware of this, and in honor of the impending holidays, MiddleGround Florist has been trotting out seasonal gift baskets stuffed not only with flowers, but with products from other stores at the MiddleGround Complex, where MiddleGround Florist makes its home. The focus with these baskets is to highlight the local artisans around the flower shop, and to remind people, when it comes time for holiday shopping, of the wonderful products close to home.
Flower arrangements like those created by Poulson, built to be given and received (in the most literal sense), are well suited to the aforementioned impending holiday season, when the giving and receiving of gifts is of utmost importance to many people. That is the ultimate purpose of MiddleGround Florist’s bouquets. At the end of the day, Poulson says, flowers are messengers, representative of the giver’s feelings. In her arrangements, those floral messengers speak in a uniquely artistic language, one that is as appealing to the eye as it is a reminder of the emotions behind the acts of giving and receiving.