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Meet the Maker: Nicole Tarpey of Wild Flower

December 24, 2020

On Spring Street between Maple and Warburton Avenue in Hastings-on-Hudson, a world of beauty opened it’s doors amidst the depths of the pandemic this Spring. Wild Flower founder Nicole Tarpey brings the naturalist landscape design movement and a revival of the Dutch Masters-style floral to the Rivertowns. The shop is filled with rich and textural blooms from local growers, handmade ceramics, and a unique selection of items to make your home feel like a cozy nest.

Nicole fills us in on her florist secrets and shares with us holiday traditions from her Swedish and Nordic Roots.

What tablescape stands out the most from growing up?
I’m not sure I have a memorable tablescape … but as the resident visual designer, my mom was in charge of all decor at our church growing up. My favorite day of the year was the Saturday before Advent season, when we’d pull out a mountain of decorations from storage and set up two Christmas trees, miles of garland, and at least fifty fresh poinsettias. This is where I learned how to make a perfect giant bow with 4″ ribbon, how to work with floral wire, and other tools of the trade.

What’s one tradition you are carrying forward with your family?
My paternal grandmother is Norwegian and Swedish, two cultures with a deep love of all things Christmas. Most of my holiday decor was made by my grandma, her sister, or my aunts. I’ve carried that on with my daughter, and every year we make at least one new keepsake ornament to hang on the tree.

How would you sum up your design philosophy?
I prefer everything to be very natural, which I think is also derived from my Nordic DNA. I never use any bleached or dyed materials or floral foam, and from May to October, I source 100% local, sustainably-grown flowers through the Garden State Flower Co-op. This gives our work a deep relationship with the seasons and allows us to use flowers that are much more delicate and wouldn’t last a trip through the Holland flower market. We also try to keep everything quite loose so you can see and enjoy the natural shape of each stem.

What’s your favorite flower to work with?
I curate a unique palette of colors and textures every week as though I am planning a wedding, so from week to week I am always enjoying a different favorite. That being said, could anything beat peony season?!

Tips for anyone who wants have fresh flowers in the home?
As a life-long gardener, I would say adding some cutting varieties to your yard! I’ve curated a selection of Hudson Valley Seed Company flower seeds that we’re selling in the shop, and I’d recommend getting 4-5 varieties that bloom at different times so you can have something to cut throughout the growing season. I also recommend cutting from your shrubs, grasses, and trees to add greens and texture.

Secondly, most people don’t know that bacteria in the water is the number one thing that is making your fresh flowers wilt sooner. So once you have some cut materials to work with, pick a vessel that has plenty of space for fresh water, use filtered water if possible, and change it every two to three days. Remove any plant material from the stems below the water line and pluck out any stems that wilt from day to day. This routine will help you get a few extra days out of your arrangement.

You have a wonderful curation of items in your shop! What do you look for when sourcing your assortment?
Thank you! First I’m looking for natural and sustainable products. I try to source as much as possible from makers in the Northeast and also US-made products. But I also try to keep a variety of price points when it comes to vases and plant pots so that we can serve anyone who may walk in. I’m also always looking for goods made by women and BIPoC. I plan the product selection keeping in mind that if one of my Black or Asian girlfriends comes to the shop, I’d want her to be able to find something that resonates with her needs, tastes, and values.

What’s a favorite movie, song, or book your family can’t get enough of this December?
I have a 4 1/2 year old, so most of what we do is very preschool-centric. But I was excited to realize recently that she was finally old enough to watch Master Chef Junior, which my husband and I used to binge when I was pregnant with her. She’s always adored baking (and eating frosting!) but I feel like Master Chef has helped her become more interested in cooking on a regular basis.

Order an arrangement here and surround yourself with the sights and smells that will make your holiday a little merrier. And Wild Flower’s blooms will always be there to greet you at the HudCo front desk!

Wild Flower’s holiday hours:
Christmas Eve 12/24: 11-3
Christmas Day 12/25: closed
Saturday 12/26: 10-3
Sunday 12/27: 11-4
Monday 12/28: closed
Tuesday 12/29: 12-5
Wednesday 12/30: 12-5
NYE 12/31: 10-3
1/1: closed