Trained in landscape architecture, Kailla Platt melds the garden with floristry.
Unlike most florists who head to the wholesaler with their shopping list, Kailla Platt can usually be found with clippers in hand as she prunes and trims from uncommon botanical specimens growing in the majestic 2-1/2-acre landscape created by her late grandparents, Jane Kerr Platt and John Platt.
The Platt Garden is located in southwest Portland, Ore. One of fifty residential properties featured in the 2015 book Outstanding American Gardens (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), the family’s landscape is praised for collections that include an alpine rock garden, an arboretum of species rhododendrons, deciduous trees and conifers as well as plants cherished for unique bark, foliage and blooms. The Platts’ son David Platt is the current owner and caretaker of this celebrated garden, but it is their granddaughter Kailla Platt who continues Jane’s lessons of arranging bouquets straight from its abundant plantings.
The designer is one of few with cutting privileges at her grandmother’s garden. She selects rare stems with specific pieces in mind: a bridal bouquet, an editorial shoot, a custom arrangement. When Platt was young, her family lived in the high desert community of Bend, only a few hours east of the Cascade Mountains but diametrically opposed to wet and verdant Portland. “My ten-year-old self thought it was the greenest place in the world,” Platt recalls of visits to her grandparents’ home. As a child, Platt recalls having tea with her grandmother and then being given free range with a pair of clippers. “She was a big influence on me. Photographs of my grandmother’s arrangements look like what’s being done today. She always had the idea of connecting her indoor space with the outdoors. To me, it has a lot of resonance when you’re looking at a vase of gorgeous blooms and you know they are also blooming outside or down the road.”
She traces her preference for woody branches and foliage plants to her garden heritage. “The branches and the greenery set the stage for adding layers of flowers — both in the landscape and in the vase.”
With degrees in fine art and landscape architecture and after working in residential garden design for nine years, Platt migrated to the much smaller platform of floral design. She launched Kailla Platt Flowers in 2013. Her approach to weddings and events draws from creating landscapes on a larger scale. “When I think about an event venue, whether outdoors or inside a beautiful church, it’s easy for me to visualize the scale and how people are going to move through and experience that space.”