The Flower Story | Bike A Bee

I love honey. I always think about flowers when I think of honey. How the bees fly from one flower head to the next. It's semi warm and it's totally rainy right now in the city. I thought today, because of the grey, would be a good day to share my little interview with Jana from Bike A Bee. Since I can't stop daydreaming about fields of flowers filled with happy little bees, I thought maybe this interview would take you to that magical place that will, in real life, soon be upon us once again. 

I have always been afraid of bees, so having your life surrounded by bees has, in the past, seemed very unpleasant. But last year we had bees at the flower farm that I helped start, Avium Flowers, and I kind of fell in love with the buggers. They were so happy being close to the dahlia and zinnia patch. 

I hope that you go out and get some local honey, or plant a bee garden in the spring. I think you will feel much better if you do. 
All Photos by Adam Alexander

This Is Jana. 

How did you get into bees and honey? 
I was interested in honeybees when I was in graphic design school (with your husband!) and for my final project I created a fake company about bee advocacy. 4-5 years later, after I decided I no longer wanted to work at the company where I was a designer, I took a class about beekeeping in Chicago. I thought I wanted to get involved with urban farming, but didn't have an interest in growing crops. Bees are the tiniest livestock, so I thought I'd try it out! I was riveted the entire class. After that, I did an apprenticeship out in Eugene, Oregon with a beekeeper and officially fell in love with bees.

What did you do before you started your company? 
I worked as a corporate graphic designer in-house at Crate and Barrel's headquarters in Northbrook, IL

Can you give us a brief history of yourself?
 I grew up in Wheaton, IL, and lived in the same suburban house for the first 19 years of my life. My Dad encouraged us kids to explore nature and take interest in critters of all kind. Our grandparents owned a house in Oregon, IL, right next to the Rock River where I spent weekends exploring the creek on their property, the adjacent forest preserve, and of course, the river. I was obsessed with tiny complex things, and developed an affinity for frogs, crayfish, and especially caterpillars. Usually we were allowed to bring home whatever critters we could find. I raised countless monarch butterflies and swallowtails, even well into adulthood. I have always loved insects!

What inspires you to keep working with bees? 
Probably the bees themselves. Beekeeping is unlike any other sort of pet or livestock. They never get to know you or develop routines with you They're an insect, and to care for them you have to understand them and respect their behavior. I love the amount of critical thinking and learning involved in beekeeping... As my friend Travis once said, "every year is a master's degree."

How important are bees to flowers and flowers to bees? Do you place your bees near flower gardens?  
Pollinators and flowers evolved together. The rule of thumb is, if we humans find a flower to be beautiful, they need insects for pollination. Other plants have flowers that humans don't notice, though, and those are wind-pollinated (like ragweed, grasses, or elm trees.) A plant that requires insects to reproduce uses their flowers as a billboard to say "HEY, come help us reproduce!" The bees don't necessarily know that, they think they're getting a free lunch of nectar and pollen. But, bees are essential to the flower's reproduction! 

I don't necessarily put my beehives near flower gardens... Bees will fly up to 5 miles around their hive to gather nectar and pollen, so I'm confident they'll find all the resources they need, especially in this resource-rich city.

How do you feel flowers are most important in your world?
 They're essential. Without flowers, I would not get honey. Without honey, I would not have anything to sell to keep my business going. A wide variety ensures my bees have a healthy diet, too. 

If you were to grow your own perfect cutting garden, what flowers and herbs would be a must? Why? What flowers attract bees? 
I would focus solely on native flowers like bee balm, wild bergamot, sunflowers, and purple cone flowers. The Xerces Society does excellent work with pollinators, and even has partnered with native plant nurseries to create flower mixes. Here's a great resource for planting flowers just for native pollinators: The Xerces.  Native prairie plants are some of the best sources of food for pollinators in the country!

Do different varieties of flowers change the flavor of the honey that your bees produce? 
Absolutely! When foraging, bees go for areas where there are many flowers of the same type. They're very efficient. A great example of this is a fully grown linden tree, or a black locust tree. On one single tree, there are hundreds of thousands of flowers. Same goes for expansive vacant lots that are filled with white sweet clover, a non-native pasture plant. Linden trees produce one of the finest honeys in the world. So, if you want to help the bees, consider planting a tree! 

Can people get involved with your bee keeping? if so, how?
Yes! I always need help. You can sign up for our Volunteer Opportunities mailing list here!

Where can we find you?
 Find me at on facebook, and we sell honey at stores listed here! You can also follow me, Jana, on instagram at @janakinsman and @bikeabee

Can you give a recipe/DIY for our readers with honey.. or bees... or bees and honey? 
Yes! I always use honey in recipes that call for sugar... it's a 1:1 replacement. For pies and baked goods, honey adds sweetness but also a subtle aromatic flavor that adds that little extra something! With Chicago honey, though, it just tastes so good on its own that my favorite ways to eat is simply with good bread and a lot of butter, or on full-fat yogurt.

As for DIY, I would encourage your readers to help with the pollinators in our country by buying organic food, shopping at your farmer's markets when possible, and letting your lawns grow dandelions! Bees LOVE dandelions!!!


Where the Flowers Are

It's a snowy, grey and cold day here in Chicago, so I have decided to share with you a few of my favorite flower things from this week.

1. Look at this read on Why Wildflowers are so important!

2. Love this love note to rosewater. And am obsessed with this product line.

3. I have a girl crush on this girl. And she has a great book coming out!

4. Dr. Bronners Lavendar Castille Soap is all you ever need. Don't believe me, read the label! Its so entertaining.

5. The flower farm, Avium, that I started with my friends Christine and Lindsey is now offering  CSA's. Get them while you can so you can enjoy the flowers we grow during the growing season here in Chicago! If you don't live here, then buy them for a friend or family member who lives in Chicago. It's a great way to show your love over and over again.

6. Woah, totally thought these were real!

Enjoy the rest of your week friends.


An Explanation

I have been asking myself the question " Why am I a florist? "

The obvious answer is that I love flowers, think they are pretty and enjoy arranging them. I love how they create movement in an arrangement and in nature. I am drawn to the flowers that have the odd colors and I am always most in love with the flower that is not perfect to a standard definition. But it holds true to perfection of it's own definition.

This is what I could say and end it there. However, that's not the whole story. I have a large interest that lies in natural remedies, herbal uses of flowers, how flowers sustain wild life and even human kind. I bought a book when I was in high school of all these recipes on how to make your own essential oils, body scrubs, rubs, washes and such, all focusing on the flower. Perhaps, that is where my passion for flowers originated from.

I am sitting here now in the dark because I am being lazy and I rather spend my time being invested in trying to write this post before my daughter wakes up.  It's the love of flowers that keeps me working in the field. I work with flowers because of there ability to not only inspire and create beauty, but also because they are essential in keeping this world healthy, happy and alive.

As with most people in this field, the wedding and event production work is our bread and butter and it really has become the most exciting part of our work. We at Foxglove love working with people to express there love and we also rely on these events to keep our businesses running and even then we struggle to make ends meet sometimes. It is easy to get bogged down with the not so glamorous side of the flower world. So often people see instagram photos of us playing with flowers all day in beautifully lit rooms. But most of our days are spent on a computer, or paying taxes or running around hauling heavy vases and boxes. Through all of this day to day business I have to carve out time to be thoughtful and inquisitive. I want to remember why I am passionate about flowers and plants. What is it about flowers that gets people excited. Florists aren't the only people that choose to surround their lives with flowers. What about the herbalists, the product makers, the foodies that incorporate flowers into their everyday work, and what about you? Why do you love flowers? Not to mention the bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and countless other creatures that rely on flowers to survive.

If you keep an eye on our journal, we together can find out the whys and hows of flowers.
Let's explore the companies and people that rely on flowers and along the way we will learn other uses, diys and inspirations that flowers bring. I want to provide as much as I can so that perhaps you can also look at flowers like I do. When you hold that bouquet, or you see that centerpiece, I hope that you can enjoy knowing what types of flowers there are and why they are so important to this world.

And so, we explore our first company. If you have any companies that you want us to look into, or any subjects that deal with flowers, please drop me a line. I want to explore this with you.

I came across Wooden Spoon Herbs while going down a rabbit hole on Instagram. I am not even sure how I got there, but I fell in love with the passion that Lauren, owner of WSH, has for all things nature, with her focus in flowers.  I think I have some witchy ways because I have always been so intrigued by potions, elixirs and natural healing. I noticed that she uses flowers in her products and it seemed that she was really in tune with the natural world.

So I reached out to her and asked her a bit about herself, her company and the importance that flowers have on her life.

We also have a DIY for you!! I think it's important to support those who make, but also, to know how to make yourself and this Essence seems like something you can only do for yourself.

This is Lauren:

How did you get into herbalism | Flower Elixirs and natural healing? 
For me, herbalism is the perfect synergy of radical activism, art, healing, and nature. I really started down this path once I realized the abundance of beautiful medicinals all around us, in cities or in the countryside. Most people are completely unaware of how simply they can connect with the earth and heal that relationship, and in turn, their bodies. I want to help bridge this gap, and make both knowledge and beautiful high-quality wildcrafted medicines available to my community, both locally and globally.

What did you do before you started your company? 
This and that. I went to college, got a journalism degree, and wrote freelance for a while. Then, burnt out on that, I worked at a health food store, where I was really introduced to the vast array of plant medicines and how to use them. Most recently, I worked at a wonderful farm-to-table cafe in North Chattanooga, where I was afforded tremendous opportunity and creativity blending the herbal teas served at the restaurant.

Can you give us a brief history of yourself (where are you from? Were you into natural healing, flowers and herbs when you were younger?) 
I was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is where I live now. It is a beautiful city nestled in a valley in the foothills of the southern Appalachian mountains. My family has been here for at least 4 generations. Family histories are a bit hazy on my paternal side, but I'm pretty sure we came over as Scots-Irish immigrants many moons ago. Maternally I am an Eastern European Jew. I feel rich with healing heritage on both sides. As a child, I was obsessed with animals and animal rights. I advocated for a vegetarian diet, and even struggled with the concept of eating living plants. I have always held that empathy close to my heart, and never connected with the humancentric paradigm. I knew nothing of plants healing capacities until my twenties, but always felt that deep kinship as I do still.

What inspires you to create what you create?
Necessity inspires me. We need plant medicine so badly in our society, and to me that means seeing the process through from seed to end product and beyond. I aim to create a beautiful supply chain of love and support - support for medicinal herb farmers, support for the plants, and support for the customers. Obviously the plants inspire me, and often times I am just doing their bidding. 

What's your favorite flower(s) that you use and why?
That's such a tough question! I often feel compelled to say violets, though I also love white coneflowers and purple echinacea, too. One of my favorite flowers of all time is comfrey's flower. And Oregon Grape flower. This list could continue infinitely. I think, at the end of the day, I love what I do because I am working with so many flowers! 

How do you feel flowers are most important to the world? 
Flowers heal the spirit on every level. I can't imagine a world without them! Their energies are unparalleled.

If you were to grow your own perfect cutting garden, what flowers and herbs would be a must? 
Well, it would have to be a huge garden! Roses, peonies, white coneflowers, comfrey, yarrow, snapdragon, elderflower, witchhazel, hollyhock, brugmansia, dahlias, foxglove, nasturtium, saffron crocus, poppies, coreopsis, and sunflowers. To name a few. 

Where can we find you? 
Thanks for asking! You can find me on Instagram: @woodenspoonherbs. You can find me at several Chattanooga restaurants and juice bars, online, or at the Main Street Farmer's Market. I am teaching a handful of Spring workshops at a local farm, with more planned later in the year. Soon I will be on Facebook... just trying to work up the nerve. A complete list of my stockists is available on my website!


Flower essences are the preserved energetic impressions of the flower you are working with. The work on a subtle energetic level, helping to correct imbalances in your behavior and thus set you on a path to greatness. In many European countries, doctors prescribe flower essences to their patients. You can find many wonderful flower essence makers practicioners in the US, or make your own. It's easy!

small crystal or glass bowl
spring, well, or rain water
flowers you feel connected to
a cloudless sunny day

1. Find a spot near your flower where no shadows will be cast 
2. put your water-filled bowl here
3. take two leaves or twigs from the plant and use them to carefully get the flowers in the water. don’t touch the flowers if possible.
4. sit and commune with the plant for awhile. see what the plant has to say to you.
5. leave the flower remedy in the arc of the sun, ideally from morning to late afternoon, or sometimes night.
6. when the time comes, strain your essence into a sterilized glass jar. add an equal amount of preservative, either alcohol, vinegar, or glycerine. 
7. label this as your mother essence of whatever flower you used.
8. To make the stock bottle, fill a sterilized dropper bottle full of your preservative of choice. add two drops of your flower essence, or each essence in your formula.
9. to make the dosage bottle, fill a sterilized bottle with one teaspoon preservative and the rest water. add two drops from stock bottle.
10. Voila! now take your essence daily and see how it treats you!


The Year is 2016

Winter has finally arrived. I won't say I missed it in December, but it's nice to have it for a bit. Though come March or even mid February I am sure I will be ready to see it go.

Over our break we thought a lot about where we want Foxglove to go. How we want to bring flowers to you and our community and what that looks like in our personal lives. Running a business is much like a puzzle. No two businesses are the same and some how you have to figure out how the pieces fit together for your own business. It's both a rewarding exercise and a scary one.

This year our word is SIMPLIFY. I find myself saying this over and over and have decided that is the word of 2016 for us. We have spent to much time trying to keep up that we have been spreading ourselves so thin that we end up working 7 days a week at all hours and that just is no way to live, or raise a kid.

I reflected on why I got in the business in the first place (thank you Design Sponge circa 2009) . Flowers were inspiring and this amazing medium that I had never really thought about. Last year we were so busy with day to day that I forgot how much I truly love flowers and bringing them to people.

So, we are focusing only on our events this year, cutting out the things that don't make sense with our business model.  I plan on upping my game with stones, rocks and crystals just for shits and giggles, as my side gig. A stone wrangler if you will. We are going to hone in on our design services both with flowers and tablescapes, continuing to do full event florals but also offering tablescape and event design services so that we can achieve a more cohesive look to the events we do.

I am also working with my friends Christine and Lindsey at Avium Flowers to bring city grown flowers to Chicago florists and csa's near you. More on that in a bit, but I am so excited to experiment with bearded iris, narcissus, frittalaria, tulips, dahlias and more.

These are some images from some shoots we worked on at the end of the year. Two of the shoots were for CB2 : one for cheese (mm cheese) and one for a centerpiece idea. And one for a birthday lunch in the studio. Stay tuned for some Valentine's Day info and as always, thanks for supporting Foxglove.

All photos by M Lindsay Photography.


Dose Market

Today was a bit of a wash. I woke up exhausted. Sweet girl Jonnie-Rose had some tummy aches that made her cranky yesterday and up a lot last night. I had about 3 cups of coffee before 8am and decided to stay home until she woke up from her nap, rather then waking her and leaving to be at the studio by a decent work day hour. One thing I got to was cleaning our camera off. I found all these pictures and it was a memory lane moment through the year. Some of these are wedding flowers, the chickens and farm house were from our trip to the Hudson Valley earlier this year and some are just moments that we had around the studio.

We had a walk through at the Lyric Opera House. More on that later, but did you know they do weddings there? Ladies and Gents, it's a beautiful space. If you want classic Chicago I highly recommend you consider this space. I hear there aren't any ghosts, though the place feels like it should have a resident spirit somewhere... that is if you are into that kind of thing.

We are wrapping up the year. We have one more event, Holidose, this Sunday from 10-5pm at Morgan Manufacturing. We will be selling small format wreaths, kissing mistletoe, bell jar terrariums and apothecary goods so make sure to stop by if you are planning on going. And make sure to pick up your tickets here if you want to go! I highly recommend it, as I am sure you have not bought all your presents yet and this place is the place to find locally well made goods.

After that we are closing up shop for the rest of the year. Aside from emailing and cleaning up, we will be taking a much needed 2 week break to relax, enjoy family and friends, maybe work on some personal projects a bit more and just give time to breath. It's been an incredibly busy year and I need a regroup so I can get inspired for the new year.

Hope you are all enjoying the last month of 2015. I am looking forward to seeing you all in 2016. Lot's of exciting changes, projects and fun to be had in the new year!


Flowers + Watercolor

Wow, the summer has flown by. Well, Seth and I had a baby. A girl and she is perfect. The apple of our eye's. Her name is Jonnie-Rose and like her mother she was born early, really early, 5 weeks early. So, naturally, I never took time off from Foxglove. But we managed to make it to here to today thanks to Ali and the countless hands that have helped us along the way. 
Babies are amazing and working with Jonnie-Rose has been an adjustment, but so rewarding. I know that these days won't last long, so I am trying to embrace every minute I get to spend with her at this young age. 

I am super excited about our workshop with our lovely friend Tiffany Wong this weekend. There is one more spot, so if you hurry you can join us for painting, wreaths and some treats from Antique Taco. Sign up here.

The workshop is this Sunday from 10-1pm at Antique Taco's Cool Event Space (perfect for a little extra decoration for your Thanksgiving dinner). 
We will be teaching how to make a rustic holiday wreath and then Tiffany will teach you how to watercolor it. She is incredibly talented and I am super excited to learn myself. I bought a set of water colors earlier in the year in a rare zen moment and haven't had the chance to use them yet. 

Tiffany not only is a talented painter, but she also has music up her sleeve.  Check out everything she does on her website. 

Antique taco will be providing us with a lovely space and with some mexican hot chocolate and abuelita cookies to snack on. 
In additional we will have a small pop up shop with Foxglove Apothecary goods (we have some new items perfect for holiday gifts for you and your friends and family) as well as Tiffany Wong goods for 15% off. 

Can't wait to share some images from the workshop and stay tuned for some new ones in the new year. If you want to learn anything specifically, let us know by dropping us a line at hello@thefoxglovestudio.com.

Now, back to office work. 


Hold On, We're Going Home

I am obsessed with Drake's song Hold On, We're Going Home. I also love the Lykke Li version. Seth is constantly singing it and I am constantly listening to it. When I get up in the morning and am dragging or not looking forward to a day of business "stuff", it really is that type of song that will pump you up. I really don't know much about Drake... but I know I love that song.

Photos by Stephanie Bassos 

I had a grand old time in Up State New York last week and can't wait to share more on that soon, but right now I am trying to catch up with all the biz work that I put on the back burner for a week. It feels good to walk away from the office for a bit, but then can be a bit overwhelming coming back.

That is in part, why I decided to have a fun impromptu photo shoot day with Ali and Stephanie. Part of the trip to the East really helped get me inspired again. After winter in Chicago and getting bogged down with the computer, it's hard to stay inspired and excited all of the time. But going to a place where the work was done for us and the flowers were carefully chosen and provided, allowed for creative freedom that I haven't had for some time.

This weekend we aren't really doing Mothers Day. I am going to spend the weekend with my mom and Grandma in St. Louis while Seth get's flown down to Austin, TX to play with his band at Psych Fest. Ali will be around on Friday and Saturday for any orders that you might want to place, but we aren't doing it "traditional" style this year. Looking forward to visiting my friends at Urban Buds to see how their growing season is going and to get some blooms for my mom and grandma. Nothing better then locally and lovingly grown flowers.

Time to get cracking on a mood board.