Well, hello and so glad you asked! I guess I am Garden Party. My name is TJ Montague and I am the founder and designer at Garden Party. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design, which is an interdisciplinary education in architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning – with an emphasis on social justice, social patterns and ecological sustainability. In short, it is a study of people and places and what makes both work and why. A great jumping off point for becoming an event florist.
When was Garden Party founded?
I graduated from The London School of Floristry and worked in downtown Seattle flower shops for several years. I didn’t love the retail market, so I worked for a boutique wedding florist and a few years later I founded Garden Party. I opened my teeny tiny studio in Seattle in 1995. In 2000 my husband and and I moved to Bainbridge Island and built a larger, private studio nestled amongst a quarter acre of flowers, herbs and trees.
Why did you choose to become a florist?
It chose me. I worked at a Chicago architecture firm and after a horrible day, I walked into a flower shop and “BOOM” – I caught the flower bug!
Describe your style:
My style is ever evolving, but mainly I am a “wild formalist”. I begin with my formal training in design and then add some quirky, unexpected, wild elements from nature (my garden). My hope is to always personalize flower arrangements in ways that compliment and embellish the occasion. For instance, if its a wedding, I want the flowers to “look like the couple”, feel appropriate for their celebration.
What is Garden Party’s specialty?
Letting the client speak; listening and hearing their story. Each event has a reason and a focus, and most brides have a dream. My goal is to translate those stories and dreams into the language of flowers. Big or small, the stories are personal and unique, just like nature’s bounty. One of my favorite quotes was from a bridesmaid about the bride’s bouquet: “If Adrian were flowers she would look just like this bouquet”.
What is your philosophy at work?
I became a florist because I love flowers and I want to share that passion with clients. My team and I are committed to designing beautiful arrangements that merge our style with the client’s wishes.
I love my role in events and enjoy working collaboratively with other creatives to know the full vision. With that said, I do not want to be an event planner or caterer or baker. I want to focus on my skills as a florist. I want each creative to use their unique skillset to create excellence. My most successful events occur when clients trust me to incorporate their vision into the perfect botanical expression.
What is your secret indulgence?
Vintage clothing and vases
If you had to chose another career what would it be?
The voice of a Disney character
Computer or Typewriter?
Typewriter alllll day!!!
Martini or Manhattan?
If you could keep only five possessions what would they be?
My wedding rings, a landscape painting from Paris, my bible, our vinyl collection (I know, collections are multiple things, or ARE they?) and a vase.
Or maybe a peony plant. Super hard and ever changing… I do have a big plant collection…hmmm
What skill would you like to learn?
To sew or sing (but no one can listen)
Who do you most admire?
Political watchdogs and hospice workers.
What do you listen to while you work?
Amy Winehouse, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Gregory Porter, NPR, Alabama Shakes, Tony Bennet, Ted Talks, classical music… depends on the day and energy level.