Spring’s Bounty: Foraged Décor With Eva Kosmas Flores

April 19, 2016

Now that April foliage is in full bloom, we’re itching to trek through the woods or meander through a wildflower field so we can gather the makings of a perfect spring bouquet. No one knows this feeling better than photographer, food blogger and forager extraordinaire, Eva Kosmas Flores, whose native Portland countryside becomes a vision of color when the weather warms. Here, she dishes on gathering and arranging natural decor, cooking with seasonal ingredients and what’s currently flourishing in her garden.

You have quite a big garden that you use for cooking and foraging natural décor. What’s blooming there right now?
I have heirloom tulip and hyacinth flowers, and my pear tree just finished blooming. I also have some hosta blossoms coming in—they look like little white bean seeds lined up on a stem until they pop open with flowers. But the biggest things in bloom right now are the old-growth azaleas that surround the house. They have huge bundles of flowers that get so heavy they sometimes fall right off the branch. I like to walk around them in the morning and pick up any that fell overnight so I can put them in water and enjoy them inside for a few days.

What flowers and natural elements do you love to use in your décor?
It depends on the season, really. In spring, I become obsessed with bulbs. My favorite daffodil I grow is called Louise de Coligny. It has a peach-colored center with these fluffy white petals surrounding it and a really sweet scent. Vining flowers like clematis, jasmine or wisteria are great in foraged décor because they add a dramatic draping element and work really well in installations. I also love using greens from the garden, like ferns, hosta leaves or even green weeds, just to add a touch of brightness and a bit of texture. In summer, I tend to use a lot of vegetable and fruit clippings with the fruit still attached. This works especially well with cherry tomatoes, since they’re light enough to stay upright in a vase. And of course, being in Portland, roses are always abundant in the summertime and make for amazing cut flowers.

Where do you find inspiration for your natural arrangements?
The seasons are my number one inspiration. I love looking around at nature and seeing what it provides. It may be some smooth stones down by the river that would make lovely decorations on a tabletop, or an old bird’s nest found on the ground in the garden. As long as I am outdoors, I am constantly inspired.

Where are your favorite places to find natural décor?
My garden, definitely, because I know what’s there and that it’s OK to take it. I also love going on walks through the forest. There are some really lovely mosses and ferns in these woods that make for gorgeous décor pieces, and some really interesting aquatic plants that grow along the Sandy River near my house.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever uncovered while foraging?
Probably the amazing array of mushrooms in the forests here. Most of them are poisonous, but they’re still very pretty. There are neon purple ones, bright orange-red ones that fade to cream around the edges, red ones with white polka dots—just an astounding variety of colors. They are really fun to style with, but you have to be very careful to keep them out of reach of pets and kids.

How does what’s growing in your garden influence what you cook?
Cooking from my garden keeps my recipes really seasonal, fresh and straightforward. The garden produces a lot, especially in the summer, so I am always working to use and preserve as much as I can. It’s funny, my body starts to crave things as the season approaches, and right now, I am totally ready for tomatoes. They won’t be ripe for another six weeks, but I am definitely anticipating them. It’s the same with squash in the fall. You start to become in sync with nature when you’re eating it, when it’s fueling you and becoming a part of you. I think it’s pretty magical stuff.

Display your own foraged decor in a new vase or planter, or browse all of our new home arrivals.

Love Eva’s flower-filled snapshots as much as we do? Stop by First We Eat to find out more about her worldwide photography workshops.