We’ve come a long way in developing our live and work spaces in urban environments, but it also means that enclosed spaces like offices and apartments isolate us from nature. Olla Urban Flower Project carries beautiful and unusual indoor and outdoor living containers that bring a breath of fresh air into tired or frequently visited spaces. Custom terrariums can be whimsical, cheerful, enchanting—little worlds in little, or big, glass bubbles.
Megan Branson launched the Olla Urban Flower Project in June 2010. Informed by her previous gig in landscaping and inspired by ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, Branson’s compositions are elegant, and often minimal. They’re vibrant and earthy looking, too, as they should be, with no dyes, glitter, floral foam, or plastic accoutrements.
Blooms and foliage may come from urban gardens, local farms, or a fair trade or Veriflora certified farm; many are sourced through producers in Metro Vancouver. Okanagan sage branches, sorghum, and cardoons. Cymbidium orchids from Koch Greenhouses in Langley. Herbs, nigella, and sweet peas from Bathtub Gardens in Pemberton. The socially-minded boutique redirects corporate event arrangements, often displayed for a short time only, to non-profit organizations in the Downtown Eastside where they can be admired by others for longer. Working toward a zero waste mandate, Olla also composts locally and works with suppliers to reduce packaging.
Designed to accent the outfit, corsages are a kind of nosegay, too, adding a natural perfume to the wearer. The ancient Greeks believed that the pleasant fragrance would ward off evil spirits, so women would wear flowers and herbs on their wedding day.
Early corsages often competed with hand-held bouquets. They were large and even cumbersome. Today, the corsage has travelled from its traditional spot on the left shoulder to make the wrist or waist home; it is also sometimes worn as a hairpiece.
Olla features a unique take on corsages, using unconventional plants. Tillandsia air plants, with their curious tendrils, carnivorous Sarracenia pitcher plants with their brightly coloured throats, succulent cuttings, mossy sticks, and rare urban foliage like pokeweed, herbs, and berries. All corsages at Olla are made to measure to ensure that wristbands and floral necklaces fit. Magnetic attachments are also a thoughtful touch to avoid piercing and pulling at fine fabrics with the usual pin.
A special bonus: with a little bit of TLC, the air plants on Olla’s corsages and boutonnières can be living memories from that special day.