Caroline O’Donnell founded her Somerville floral studio Wildfolk in 2013, but the seeds for it were planted long before. “I come from a family of both artists—sculptors, painters—and gardeners,” she says. “Everyone from my mother to my grandfather to my uncle are very avid gardeners, so I’ve been surrounded by art and flowers my whole life.”
O’Donnell studied art history and public relations in college, and she worked in the latter field for several years before deciding to bolt from her desk job. Her new career began as a hobby. “I started playing with flowers from the grocery store and posting pictures,” she recalls. “People started saying, ‘Your eye for color is so good,’ and ‘You should start doing this.’ ” The feedback convinced her to try using her PR skills to promote herself; within six months, she was able to quit her job to focus on flowers full time.
Now she works in a sunlit space at Vernon Street Studios, surrounded by painters, sculptors and photographers. “I approach all my work with the notion of providing flowers as art,” says O’Donnell, who often draws inspiration from the rhythms of nature—one favorite wedding was designed around the full moon that rose on the night of the nuptials. This arrangement likewise has a celestial muse. “It’s based on the union, delicate dance and collaborative efforts of Mother Earth and Father Sun to bring us the seasons,” she explains. “It’s a very common theme throughout many cultures to have this myth or story. I love it so much because basically it’s saying that Mother Earth and Father Sun don’t thrive without each other. They have very separate identities and very individual roles, and they’re very equal to each other. I love how that relates to a marriage.”
1. “The sea oats are from my neighbor’s garden. And the other grasses coming out are literally from a sidewalk in Somerville. They grow everywhere. You just have to notice them.”
2. “The cafe au lait dahlias are probably one of the most popular flowers in the fall. They’re from a local farmer,” says O’Donnell, who takes a local and seasonal approach to sourcing whenever possible.
3. “This viney clematis hanging down is from my garden. The brown foliage is called ninebark, and that’s also from my garden.”
Say It with Flowers: Orpheus & Eurydice by Forêt Design Studio | Mother Earth & Father Sun by Wildfolk | Sleeping Beauty by Pollen Floral Design | Ladyhawke by Fleur Events