Having grown up on a Christmas tree farm, Julie Christina nurtures a lifelong affinity for nature. It’s no wonder that she grew up to become a horticulturist (and marry one) and ended up working for a place whose name translates to happy woodland. Well-known as the sunny education programs director at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum in Bristol, she credits the venue for connecting her to a community of gardeners, garden clubs, and the general public. She recently launched her own floral design side-business called Christina Flower Co., and while admittedly life is busy and the family’s kitchen floor is often filled to capacity with buckets of blooms, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
What types of arrangements do you like working on best?
I love to go big! Big arbors, installations, and ceremony decor, I even incorporate some living plant materials so it feels like you are in an actual garden. I love large show-stopping urns. On the total opposite spectrum, I get giddy about the teeny tiny details in a boutonniere or a flower crown that are so delicate and beautiful. Handing a bride her bouquet and seeing her expression makes all the hard work worth it. I am obsessed with interesting foliage and what I love most is creating natural, seasonal looking arrangements. I want it to look like it came from the garden, not a store.
Thanks to social media, floral designers have become famous. Do you have favorites that you turn to for inspiration?
I follow countless designers from around the country and the world, really. I see new and talented people pop up every day on Instagram. The wedding industry [in Rhode Island] is huge and we have an abundance of big talent. I am humbled by the good company I keep and look to many RI designers and wedding professionals for inspiration and advice. With that being said, poring over other designers’ work can get overwhelming and so I try to turn inward. You have to keep up with trends, but my passion for floral design began with the garden and so I always turn to gardens and plants for inspiration. Also, seasonality is key in my designs, so I am a part of the Slow Flowers network – incorporating local and seasonal flowers and foliage gives my designs that just-picked-from-the-garden look.
With both you and your husband being horticulturists, is your home filled with greenery inside and out, or is it a plumber with the leaky faucet situation?
Yes and no. Dan is chief horticulturist of Green Animals Topiary Gardens and it is difficult at times to juggle everything, but I want to teach my sons by example to follow their passions and to participate in their community. With both of us working, we have much less time than we would like to work on our own garden. There are some great roses that climb the side of our small cottage style house. But even a small garden can provide: one day I saw a gorgeous rose right outside my window and I cut it and put it right on top of a wedding cake that evening. Pretty satisfying.