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Walnut Creek Magazine


May 03, 2016 04:46AM ● By Pam Kessler
Written by Walnut Creek’s Lisa McGuinness, in collaboration with floral stylist Leigh Okies, and photographer Annabelle Breakey, Meaningful Bouquets (Chronicle Books, 2016) conveys emotions that go beyond the constructs of language with twenty-five celebratory floral arrangements. Step-by-step instructions, vivid narratives, a “toolbox” guide, two glossaries­­––flowers classified by name or by meaning––and dramatic watercolor illustrations rendered by Vikki Chu, combine to create both a stunning and practical piece.

 McGuinness brings to the book unbridled enthusiasm and expertise developed while working as as a freelance writer and editor. She is the founder of Yellow Pear Press––an independent boutique publisher — and has lived in Walnut Creek for the past 11 years. An avid reader, McGuinness found herself intrigued by Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers –– a novel about a young woman raised in the foster-care system who does not speak, but instead communicates by giving flowers. “We adopted our son out of foster care, so it spoke to me profoundly,” says McGuinness. “Flowers are healing to people and the Victorian-era meanings attributed to flowers are compelling. I realized that if I took it one step further, I could create bouquets that have complex meanings in a photographic book.”

Visits to the San Francisco Flower Market revealed a bonanza of choices. “There are a surprising number of flowers with negative meanings. We chose not to use those. For ambiguous flowers, we dealt with the positive side. We looked for flowers that are available year round and offer a wide variety of colors.” Bouquets are constructed from pear branches, scarlet geraniums, larch and gladiolas. Tips include how to keep stems straight or salvage a sunflower. “When sunflower petals begin to fall off, pull them all off. They’re gorgeous, like a giant green flower.” BY LOU FANCHER

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