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Vancouver flower shop sources plants grown on local organic urban farms.
Nephentes. It’s a carnivorous plant that’s sometimes called a monkey cup. The soft pink-hued elongated bubbles on the flower hold the digestive juices that “eat” the tiny insects that land on them, but despite that somewhat unappealing fact, the Nephentes are beautiful as they dangle delicately. Especially when dressed up inside the perfectly manicured, black concrete living containers on display at Gastown’s Olla Urban Flower Project.
235 Cambie St (mezzanine), Vancouver
Megan Branson (pictured above) and Dionne Finch, the owners of Olla Urban Flower Project, are the ones making these buggers look so innocent and so intriguing. And they have a store full of more unusual plants that you’ve probably never heard of. Venus fly traps, cactus-and-agave living arrangements, hydrangeas, dahlias, rudbeckia and sunflowers (so many sunflowers)—it seems the little shop has it all, most of which I only learned about through our interview.
Apparently in the urban flower design biz, apartment size, window location and colour matching are key factors when planning the perfect outdoor and indoor floral landscape. That explains the dozens of unique and stylish living containers, vases, tables and hanging containers that Olla retails.
The shop’s planters are some of the most striking designs I’ve ever seen. Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) and minimalism are the two main style inspirations for the owners. Black and white concrete, ceramics, glass terrariums, as well as hanging vases are just some of the goodies this store offers.
Olla also offers gorgeous flower arrangements that can be ordered for parties, conferences and special occasions. One of my favourites is the One-Mile Bouquet, its flowers grown within close distance of the shop in the urban farms that comprise the Olla Flower Project collective.
The shop itself is chic. Situated on the mezzanine floor in the heritage Gastown building, the gleaming hardwood floors and open concept flood the space with natural light. And then then the fragrance hits you. Aromatic herbs scent the air.
But besides its aesthetic charm, the appeal of Olla extends to its business model. The shop is a social enterprise and has a conscience, sourcing flowers from local farms and ethically traded sources, not spraying flowers with pesticides, working toward a zero-waste mandate by sending waste to local composting plants, and urbanizing flower production through the private organic gardens it operates.
The shop also gives back to the community by employing DTES residents and donating post-conference flowers to local non-profits.
If you’re into learning more about botanical arrangements and flower arrangements, Olla also hosts workshops. Just in time for Halloween, a professional pumpkin carving workshop is being offered on October 27. I’ll be there, and you?
If you go, leave me a comment and tell me what you thought!