Shop Local: Stem & Thistle
Florist Brooke Gagnier sources her blossoms from a local cooperative of sustainable and mostly women-owned farms.
We all know that buying local produce helps reduce your carbon footprint and increases your chances of finding the freshest fruits and veggies. Stem & Thistle owner Brooke Gagnier points out that the same principle applies to flowers.
“It just makes such a huge difference to have local flowers—they are literally harvested the day before you purchase them,” says the Arlington-based floral designer. “The color is amazing, the fragrance is incredible, and they last a long time.”
Gagnier says pandemic downtime nudged her to seek sources closer to home for the blooms in her bouquets. She eventually started working with a new Northern Virginia-based group called the Old Dominion Flower Cooperative. Most of the co-op’s farms are women-owned and incorporate sustainable practices.
“It’s nice because they’re really making it more convenient for us so we can source locally,” says the former middle-school English teacher, who finds inspiration equally through architecture magazines and in the streets and trails surrounding her home studio.
“I am a runner, and I have a lot of time on my runs to be inspired by what I see, whether it’s on footpaths or running around Arlington,” she says.
Gagnier arranges flowers for intimate weddings, small gatherings and special occasions with an aesthetic that skews “very textural, kind of organic in style, and kind of wild. More free-flowing and natural.”
She generally gravitates toward a more muted color palette, but counts colorful cosmos among her favorite blossoms—along with hellebores, garden roses and, you guessed it, thistles.
Her larger arrangements start at $120 including delivery, but she says her smallest, which she calls Sweet Jars of Joy ($35, with a minimum order of three jars), have been hugely popular of late.
“I’ve had a lot of calls or requests for those, because it’s just a small something they can send with a note like: I’m thinking of you; I’m sorry for your loss; I can’t wait to get together with you again or hug you again. It’s been a lot of that,” she says. “It’s like the next best thing when you can’t hug somebody or really spend time with somebody.”