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In search of subtle holiday decor at L.A.'s flower marts

Holiday wreaths
Holiday wreaths created at the Fiore Designs studio after owners Jennifer Juhos and partner Nicole Renna shopped for holiday florals in the early morning hours at the Los Angeles and Southern California flower markets.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

This holiday season, if you receive a wreath from Fiore Designs, a full service floral and event design studio in Marina del Rey, don’t expect to see any typical red-and-white combos. “We don’t do obvious,” says Jennifer Juhos who, along with her business partner, Nicole Renna, brings an earthy, organic style to the studio’s creations. And don’t expect fake trees or snow flocking on branches at any of their events for Malibu plant-based skin care brand Osea or swanky fashion and jewelry boutique Capitol + Irene Neuwirth in Brentwood or in their arrangements at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice.

Instead, they’re known for a rustic sensibility that can be seen in their custom gift boxes and hundreds of premade bouquets they sell at all Erewhon stores. Their inspiration this holiday is “Winter Forest.” So look for eucalyptus pods, winterberries, magnolia leaves, lichen-covered branches, blue ice cypress and hemlock to remind you that decorating with nature really is about what grows outside. “The whole point is to bring wilderness into your home,” says Juhos. “We believe in more of a winter vibe for the holidays.” And they’re certain the rest of us can pull this off too. Or at least try.

Flower mart
Holiday orchids at the Los Angeles Flower Market.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

We got up early and went wild retail harvesting with the pair at the Southern California Flower Market and Original Los Angeles Flower Market to see exactly how Juhos and Renna envision a winter forest, without going near a single silver spray-painted branch.

What does “Winter Forest” mean to you?

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Juhos: “It’s England, cozy, not wet but damp, think evergreen, snow, the smell of juniper and pine and that feeling you get when you walk into the mountains and being in that environment.”

What about using what’s in your yard to decorate?

Renna: “Forage, we encourage that. Look outside and you will be amazed at how much is there.”

How can we break away from that traditional holiday look?

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Juhos: “It’s psychological; you don’t have to do what your parents did. If your family had a fake tree, it doesn’t mean you have to. Start your own tradition. Trust what you like. People have collections of heirlooms from their families, incorporate those but still make it new.”

Nicole Renna
Nicole Renna gathers her selection at O&J Growers in the early morning hours at the Los Angeles Flower Market.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

What’s the biggest mistake people make in their holiday decor?

Renna: “They don’t take enough risks. People think there are rules — red balls, gold balls — but there are no rules. That’s the beauty of design: Make your own rules. If you want to have a pink Christmas, do a pink Christmas.”

What are you looking for when you go to the flower market?

Juhos: “Special things. Unique. Ideally long-lasting; we don’t want to be selling stuff that’s going to die in a day. We look for the freshest product possible, like a chef going straight to a farm.”

Flowers
Nicole Renna with protea at the Los Angeles Flower Market.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Do you like poinsettias?

Renna: “We like them. But people assume that means the red ones with the foil you buy at the supermarket. That’s not the kind we’re talking about. The nontraditional colors are actually really pretty; there’s a light pink one, a sherbet color, a beautiful gold. Just use one in an arrangement.”

Fiore Designs’ favorite stalls at the Southern California Flower Market and the Original Los Angeles Flower Market:

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Villa Growers Inc.

“It’s a family-owned company; we love them,” says Juhos. “I’ve known some of these people longer than my cousins. They bring in local product from Southern California and Carpinteria you don’t see everywhere else. They also make custom garlands and wreaths; we add to them.” Southern California Flower Market Stall 7

Jennifer Juhos
Jennifer Juhos creates a wreath at her Fiore Designs studio from things she found at the Los Angeles Flower Market.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

O&J Growers

“These guys are all local growers; they have their own farms. We like to buy as much local as possible. I like protea, they’re really long-lasting. You can put them with greenery so it feels a little holiday but not too much. They can last one and a half to two weeks in your house. I’m looking for ones that look the freshest, not too open, not too closed,” says Renna. Southern California Flower Market Stall 34

FleuraMetz

“It’s very high quality; they’re imported but not all of it,” says Renna. “There’s more unique stuff, more variety here. They are one of the biggest vendors, so they get stuff from all over the world. It’s in season somewhere.” Southern California Flower Market Stall 32

Nicole Renna
Roses come in festive holiday tones beyond the traditional red-and-green color scheme.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Mayesh Wholesale Florist Inc.

“Very popular. They have really stepped it up,” says Juhos. “They’re keeping up with the trends in the floral industry. We like the magnolia leaves; they’re very holiday without screaming holiday, very elegant. We don’t go near the spray-painted silver section.” Southern California Flower Market Stall 39

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Willie Sanchez

“They have been around a long time; they’re a staple down here,” says Juhos. “He gets a lot of local flowers; we just love Willie. Their dad is usually here too; it’s kind of like a hangout. We love the lisianthus in a gold kind of color, not easy to find.” Southern California Flower Market Stall 28

Wreaths
Holiday wreaths at the Fiore Designs studio.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Oregon Coastal Flowers

“All of their product comes from Oregon, gorgeous stuff you’ll find in a forest, like moss leaves, because it really does come from a forest,” says Juhos. “Tends to be more expensive than the other vendors, but it’s worth it. Look at their eucalyptus. Other vendors have it, but it doesn’t look like this.” Southern California Flower Market Stall 27

Floral Supply Syndicate

“This place is really good for wine and candle boxes and for basic supplies like stem tape, water tubes, rubber bands, wood boxes, some vessels, pine cones, dried stuff, containers, fabric balls for garland. It’s also good for basic mechanics; if we need spray paint for something or if we’re constructing a chuppah,” says Juhos. The Original Los Angeles Flower Market: Stall G.

Flowers
Fiore Designs owners Jennifer Juhos and Nicole Renna collected a variety of holiday plant materials at the Los Angeles Flower Market.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
The Original Los Angeles Flower Market
Where: 754 Wall St., Los Angeles

Hours: Open to the public 8 a.m. to noon or 2 p.m., depending upon vendor.

Cost: $2 weekdays, $1 on Saturdays

Info: originallaflowermarket.com
Southern California Flower Market
Where: 742 Maple Ave., Los Angeles

Hours: 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday, Friday and 6 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Cost: Free

Info: socalflowermarket.com


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