Do you remember those days when your mom said “go outside, and play,” but your friends weren’t around and your older sister was doing “cooler” things? That’s when I started paying more attention. I explored my backyard in Elmira, NY and I collected small samples of every plant in my path. I noticed how many different species were growing all around me. Tiny leaves, flower petals of every shape and color, curly twigs as well as straight, reeds of grass- all of these would become the makings of my art.

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As I grew up, I began traveling with my art, seeking out tiny palettes in every new ecosystem. Each masterpiece was infinitely different, not only rooted in the materials I could find, but the creativity I was feeling that day.

When I’d gathered enough materials, making sure that I didn’t lose one tiny berry, I found a quiet place and a flat surface to “paint a picture” with my collection. I began linking together the dainty pieces to form the letters of my name. It was time consuming, being gentle and precise with every move, for a picture-perfect creation. Eventually, it would blow away with the wind.

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As my art improved, I created pieces for the special people in my life using materials from their own backyard. I loved the idea that the petals and bright little berries could represent the space shared by humans and plants, living and growing together.

When I began working at Firelight Camps, I was overwhelmed with inspiration. Not only is Ithaca, NY a haven for nature lovers, but Firelight’s beautiful glampground was perched at the top of Buttermilk Falls State Park, one of my favorite outdoor sanctuaries. It was a match made in heaven.

The décor at Firelight Camps gave me plenty of material to work with, in particular, the hand cut bouquets from Plenty of Posies flower farm. Every morning I pruned the dead flower buds, giving new life to the bouquets. The petals were not wasted on me; they were gold for a flower artist.

I couldn’t wait to repurpose all the flecks of color, mixing them with other gems grown right on the property: Tulsi basil leaves, Dill pollen, Lavender buds. In the same way I loved to make art for friends, I began leaving flower art on the grazing table for our guests. I would arrange the entire continental breakfast around a campfire scene, or write messages on the reception bar such as “Good Morning!” Sometimes a guest would catch me in the act and ask, “What are you doing?” I would smile, and say, “Oh, you’re in for a wonderful surprise!”

I’ve noticed how my flower art brings nature to life for our guests, giving them a taste of the season, the gardens and the trails. It becomes the basis for a whole conversation, and inspires our young guests to try making their own. There is so much possibility in each tiny canvas. So next time you visit, take a walk outside, slow down, and pay attention to the miracles unfolding all around you. Beauty is everywhere.

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