Trending Tropicals at Grace Flowers Hawaii

The entry display at Grace Flowers Hawaii is a visual feast for the eyes!

Our Grown-in-the-USA floral palette is greatly enriched by the flora of Hawaii and I continue to be awed by the flowers, foliages, nuts and grasses from the flower farms across the state. Tropicals are trending. Take a look at the images here, from my recent visit to Grace Flowers Hawaii on the Big Island.

A day trip during a short vacation allowed me to spend time with Alison Grace Higgins and her team at Grace Flowers Hawaii, including my dear friend and floral artist Nicole Cordier.

Front, from left: Kama, Debra, Nicole, Terri, Missy, and Shannon; Back, from left: Ryan and Alison; not pictured: Jenna
Our beautiful welcome bouquet greeted us at the hotel!

Talk about an Aloha Welcome! When my husband Bruce and I arrived at our destination, a hotel on the Kona Coast, we were greeted with intricate, customized, his-and-her leis, which we later learned were a gift from Alison and Grace Flowers Hawaii.

We also discovered a beautiful arrangement featuring Big Island-grown tropical flowers and foliages, as well as orchids, foraged blooms, and annuals like dianthus and stock — and of course, it was also a gift from Grace Flowers Hawaii.

Grace Flowers Hawaii is a full-service florist based in Honoka’a on Hawaii’s Big Island. Alison and her team of designers have more than 25 years of experience in floristry combined, working extensively with their clients to materialize visions into tangible reality.​

Alison Grace Higgins, and one of her “tropical nouveau” holiday wreaths.
This gorgeous, textural wreath greets visitors at the shop entrance at Grace Flowers Hawai.
The base for Grace Flowers Hawaii’s tropical wreaths begin with ribbon-wrapped straw wreath, often found at craft supply stores. Greenery is added first, especially filling the inside and outer edges of the circle.
Each botanical element is attached to the straw wreath base with U-shape pins.

As a member of Slow Flowers, Grace Flowers Hawaii strives to source as many local Hawaiian-grown flowers and foliages possible.  One of the studio’s main beliefs is to leave the planet better, so staff members take recycling and composting seriously.  One member of Alison’s team even has a small herd of pigs that love to roll around in the shop’s island-grown green waste.​

Jenna Baum and Terri Perdo, Lei making (left) and vivid anthuriums (right)

Having recently moved into a much bigger space that accommodates its increased business, Grace Flowers Hawaii has a retail space, a design studio, storage for an ever-growing prop inventory, two shop cats and room to host community events. It was so wonderful to spend a day with Alison and Nicole, and to experience a day-in-the-life of a bustling flower shop. Grace Flowers Hawaii is busy year-round. There doesn’t seem to be any down time!

Nicole, hiding behind her favorite tropical foliage (Alison in the background, wreath-making)
Kama is a genius at the lei po’o headpiece making. I loved watching the process (left) and he agreed to model the finished piece (right).

I arrived on a Thursday morning to find production of multiple floral leis for a resident client who wanted a special welcome for out-of-state visitors; Nicole was designing a huge lobby centerpiece for the island’s Hilton Resort; another designer was weaving a lei po’o, the name for a floral headpiece, to adorn a baby shower guest of honor; there was a funeral wreath order, two sprays for an arbor to decorate a baby’s first birthday party; a last-minute congratulatory arrangement for a local chef who just earned a few Michelin stars, a sweet sixteen birthday arrangement and Alison herself making a few of Grace Flowers Hawaii’s famous tropical holiday wreaths. Creative insanity! And that was just before lunch!

Debra & Nicole

I met Alison through her shop manager, Nicole Cordier. I have known Nicole since 2011 when we met in Seattle. She was one of the original front desk managers at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, working closely with the flower farmers who launched the cooperative seven years ago. Nicole is also a super-talented floral artist who you can follow at Cordier Botanical Art.

She relocated to the Big Island and joined Grace Flowers Hawaii several years ago and she continues her love affair with locally-grown, seasonal flowers, connecting with farmers and growers across the Big Island to incorporate their tropical and temperate floral crops into Grace Flowers Hawaii’s design work.

If you’re a follower of Slow Flowers and our annual American Flowers Week campaign, you will recall seeing the majestic men’s cape and stunning woman’s hi-low skirt, as well as the lei and headpieces that accessorized the floral fashions created by Alison, Nicole and their colleagues at Grace Flowers Hawaii. I’m so happy we could shine a light on the flower farmers and floral designers of the 50th State. See more about that project here.

Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is the founder of Slow Flowers and the author of several books.

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Slow Flowers Journal is brought to you by SlowFlowers.com. Slow Flowers is an award-winning online directory created to help consumers find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers that supply American grown flowers. Founded in 2014, the site has grown to 700 members across the U.S.

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