Jennie Greene comes up with unconventional pairings, such as green apples and hot pink French roses, to create eye-catching floral designs.
Jen Siska

Unconventional meets elegant in a Portland florist's studio

Bonnie Henderson

A rose is a rose even when it's displayed upside down, the buds drowned with ripe strawberries in a wineglass.

Such quirky arrangements abound at Jennie Greene Designs in northwest Portland, where orchid sprays entwine with metal duct pipe and chicken wire, and curly willow and calla lilies emerge from vases filled with green apples.

Adventurous brides call Jennie Greene to do their weddings, and she personally delivers her sculptural floral arrangements to discriminating weekly subscribers. "It's kind of ikebana-inspired funk," Greene says of her stylized approach to flower arranging, "plus the lushness of the Midwest."

That would be small-town Minnesota, where she grew up with florists for parents. After art college and a stint as a welder, during which she would find herself in grocery stores "petting the flowers ― I really missed it," she opened her own tiny studio in May 2005.

Greene also teaches floral design classes to handfuls of students interested in the art, not the business, of flowers. "I can say to my students, in a very humble way, 'This floral class will change the way you think about form and space.'"

In more ways than one, Greene speaks like an artist. "If I'm going to mark up the flowers," she says, "I want them to have a presence."

Info: Jennie Greene Designs (10-2 and 4-6 Wed-Fri, 10-4 Sat, and by appointment; 1408 N.W. 23rd Ave., Portland; 503/957-9567)

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