Friday, August 21, 2020

Peony Confetti: Made in Provence with Love


My friends Debbie and Marcel van Eenennaam are the owners of Ferme Fleurie, a large, wholesale flower farm just outside Tarascon, between Avignon and Arles. They grow a wide range of flowers from October to June but they’re particularly well known for their peonies: gorgeous fluffy blooms in colors including Sarah Bernhardt, Duchesse de Nemours, Coral Sunset and many more...in both “simple” and “double” varieties. 

The farm’s 130,000 stabilized peony bushes will produce roughly one million stems this year.

Deb and Marcel export 95 percent of their harvest to Holland, sending huge refrigerated trucks packed with blooms--all measured, clipped, bunched and boxed—two to seven times a week in season, to be sold at auction. But they always hold back plenty of reasonably priced bunches and bouquets to sell in their small farm shop. I have friends who “go to Deb” every week, keeping their homes filled with gorgeous fresh flowers all fall, winter and spring. Many local florists, hotels and restaurants also buy regularly at the farm.

And now Deb has launched an exciting new venture all her own: producing dried-peony-petal confetti for weddings and other special events, from peonies grown and hand-picked at Ferme Fleurie.

Called Pétales de Provence, the new confetti company currently offers eight colors, ranging from rich cream to coral to deep red. The petals are 100% natural, 100% dye-free and 100% biodegradable. The most-popular use, Deb says, will be as loose confetti to throw at weddings, but they’re also perfect for flower girls, table decor, petal paths and more. Prior to lockdown here in France, Deb was making the rounds of the Provencal wedding expos and she says the response so far has been super. Samples are available and the company ships worldwide.

“Pétales de Provence was born in 2018, after an extremely hot peony season with lots of open flowers in the fields,” she explains. “And rather than see them go to waste, I had the idea to turn them into confetti. Now three years later, we’re finally ready to share our fluttering petal-confetti clouds with you! From the planting to picking to drying to packaging...it’s all done right here on the farm. We package them with love and post them to you wherever you are in the world. We like to think we’re selling smiles in a box."

In France, people traditionally throw rice at weddings so this is a new concept here, Deb explains. And most of the petal confetti already produced elsewhere comes from delphiniums,and cornflowers, which have much-smaller petals and no particular significance with regards to weddings. "Peonies have long symbolized romance and happy marriage, in both ancient and modern cultures," Deb tells me. "So in addition to being beautiful, they really do add special meaning to your day. Plus, they just look so amazing in photos!”

For more info (including prices and suggested quantities), visit the Pétales de Provence site here...and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

To learn more about the farm and boutique, read my recent blog post hereThe shop is now closed for its summer break (it’ll probably reopen in mid October) but after they reopen you can see shop hours and what flowers are available on the Facebook page here.

Photos: (1) Petal Pushers! Deb and Marcel met at a dinner party in Provence and quickly grew deeply connected. She's English, he's Dutch. They married on the farm in 2015. To learn more about the farm itself, click here. (2) The logo for the new company. (3) Peonies ripe for the picking; Deb and Marcel grow roughly one million stems each year. Marcel knows more about peonies than anyone. Many of his plants may very well outlive him...peonies can live to be 100 years old. (4) In peony season, the farm employs roughly 40 workers to get the flowers out of the field at just the right moment, then processed quickly for shipping to Holland. Marcel's brother receives them on the other end and does a final quality check before they go on to the Flora Holland Auction and world wide sales. Deb hopes that each year, more and more of the crop will become dried-petal confetti. (5)  Lily De Plano, who's studying immunology at university in Glasgow, helps out each year during peony season. Her friends think she has the best job in the world. (6) The first step is drying. (7) Beauty shot! Petals, leaves and buds in a basket. (8-11) Peonies come in every color but blue...who knew? Pictured are four of the eight varieties currently available as confetti: Duchesse de Nemours, Paula Fay, Sarah Bernhardt and Coral Sunset. (12) Deb made this petal path for a recent photo shoot at the farm. (13) Our favorite flower girl and her helper, Rejanne Havond, at a January wedding show in Aix-en-Provence. (14) You want samples? Just ask. (15) Deb says she feels like she's selling "smiles in a box" and will ship worldwide. (16) Personalized paper cones filled with confetti, ready to throw at Stephanie and Josh's recent wedding in Washington, D.C. (17) Pretty sure you get what's happening here. (18) The shop at Ferme Fleurie will reopen in October with the first flowers of fall: lillies. Then watch for anemones right though until peony season. 

4 comments:

  1. Nice article Julie and best of luck Deb and Marcel. I have seen the petals and they are fabulous. I will tell every bride I meet about them.

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  2. Fabulous idea! J'adore les pivoines! Our tour will be stocking up on those next year. I can see it now! Thanks, Julie ... as always, just the best info!!!

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  3. Gayle Smith PadgettAugust 22, 2020 at 1:29 PM

    Bravo Deb and Marcel for your most excellent venture! The world needs more happy occasions and all happy occasions need Petales de Provence! You go, guys! All the best, Gayle

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  4. Another wonderful article and this time bonus : about wonderful and very very hardworking people. The product is fabulous (used it for my daughter's wedding). This should take off and become huge!

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