Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wonder of the Woodlands, a book by Françoise Weeks

I am thrilled to share with you Françoise Weeks' new book; Wonder of the Woodlands: The Art of Seeing and Creating with Nature...

Françoise is originally from Belgium, but calls Portland home. I've been a fan of her floral and botanical creative work for years, and finally got to meet her back in 2022 when she visited the garden with my friend Tiffany. Let me tell you it was a little intimidating to not only meet the legend in person, but also have her looking around my garden—she could not have been sweeter. Later that summer I had the opportunity to visit her studio and see some of her work in progress, while I was there we talked about the book she was working on, this one!  

Of course you can hear about a book, and think it's going to be wonderful, but until you're actually holding it in your hands, you just don't know for sure. I can report it's just as inspiring as I'd hoped it would be.

The first part of the book (introduction, how I build an arrangement, respecting and appreciating nature, and tools) lays the all important groundwork for the coming chapters which cover many of my favorite things like bark, branches, moss and ferns. That's Françoise herself in the lower corner...

The artful photography in the book is by Theresa Bear, who did a great job of capturing both the detail and magic of Françoise's work.

Throughout the book Françoise shares tips for creating your own arrangements. She tells you about the underlying structure on which you'll build, where to buy and forage for material (while being respectful of public and private property) and with every page you'll become more and more inspired to create. One of my favorite quotes of the book: "Like the Dutch masters who painted abundant floral still lifes, many with flowers that never bloomed at the same time, we are not aiming for reality. Rather, our goal is to imitate Nature by enhancing the visual experience." 

You might be reading this and thinking, "well that's all well and good for someone like Loree who lives in the PNW where she has easy access to forests for inspiration and collecting"... but Françoise wouldn't let you off that easily. She aims to inspire you to find your own way of expressing the nature you see around you, wherever in the world you are. In fact many cactus and succulents find their way into her creations: "Though succulents are hardly a forest crop, they make their way into many arrangements because I find their shapes so pleasing: burro's tail, hedgehog aloe, tiny cactus--all gathered at my local garden center. You'll find that these add movement and color to a forest still life." Take a scroll through Françoise's Instagram account to see what I mean.

If you're local you might want to attend a book signing and demonstration coming up at Portland Nursery this weekend (info here), and if you're not... well I urge you to buy the book and get lost in the imagery and inspiration of its pages.

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I received a gift copy of this book from the author, however I was under no obligation to write about it. All opinions and material © 2009-2024 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. For a self-described flower freak, it may sound peculiar that I've always described my dream gardenscape as a woodland. Although my own garden can't in any way be described as such, I can appreciate the value of this book in fostering the ability to see plant materials differently when building arrangements that evoke outdoor scenes.

    1. You summed up the book in one great sentence: "fostering the ability to see plant materials differently"...

  2. You've shared some beautiful pages from the book, and the chapter on moss has me intrigued.

  3. Mushrooms would be an interesting compositional element. Many are very ephemeral, but some of the woodier ones would last a lifetime.


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