We loved spending the day with Katie Davis, the floral mastermind behind Ponderosa & Thyme. She's shared her thoughts with us on where she draws her inspiration from, how she stays cozy during a gloomy Pacific Northwest winter, and what makes her homebase of Salem, OR magical.
As a creative, what drew you to floral design specifically as your chosen medium and what do you love about it?
My family moved in with my Great Grandmother to care for her during the later part of her life. Every year she would plant a garden with sweet peas, green beans and strawberries, and right alongside the food she would plant flowers. Sunflowers by the green beans, and pansies near the strawberries. She taught me to balance the practical with beauty. She had survived the Great Depression and she understood that beauty brings hope. We need hope to live.
I was always drawn to flowers. The clover and dandelion spoke to me as a child; each branch and bloom had a personality to me. That feeling has been carried on into my art, flowers are whimsy and wonder, and they also show us the fragility and brevity of life. I love the way flowers challenge and inspire me. They build a bridge between people, a way to have a conversation, and for me, that’s even better than the art itself.
Especially in winter when there is less vibrancy in plant life, how do you stay inspired and get creative?
I love the change of the seasons and the different challenges they bring. Currently, I’ve really been enjoying my winter floristry a lot. Winter allows us to see the structure of things, bare branches and open skies. Lots of contrast. This time of year I find myself enjoying more minimal and muted designs. I love the permission to get cozy. I love to make myself a cup of tea, get cozy and make something that inspires my imagination.
Where do you draw your biggest sources of inspiration?
Inspiration often comes to me when I’m immersed in nature, and always when I have time to be still. I love architecture, especially in Italy and England. I draw a lot of color inspiration from ancient and heirloom textiles, as well as tile mosaic and stained glass and mud plastered walls.
Keeping up shop in Salem, OR you struggle like all of us Pacific Northwesterners with the dark, cold and rain. How do you stay cozy through winter?
Gosh, yep! It can be hard to live in a place that’s as cold and damp as Oregon. I used to REALLY struggle in the winter season. A couple of years ago I led a retreat in Scotland during the Autumn and while I was there, I noticed that all the locals wore lots of natural fiber layers. Soft linen undershirts, and cozy wool sweaters, and usually a big scarf or shawl and hat too. SO cozy.
My friend Duncan made a fire every single morning and night of the retreat, and we drank warm tea all throughout the day. I never remember feeling cold, even though the temperature and climate was exactly the same as home. As an native Oregonian, I grew up resisting using an umbrella or raincoat- thinking I’d just tough it out like most of the other Oregonians I knew. In Scotland that wasn’t a thing!
Starting immediately, I decided I’d make a fire every day, and wear layers of the yummiest clothes I could find, and last winter was the best winter season I can ever remember! I think when you're cozy on the inside, everything around looks and feels just a little bit more golden.
What do you love about your community in Salem? What would a weekend out around town look like for you?
During really any day you can find us checking in with the team at my husband’s donut shop (Bigwig Donuts!), shopping at our local health food store (I’m an unapologetically crunchy mama), walking around the Bush park gardens or getting drinks at our friend’s bar if we get a night off.
Lots of our friends have started businesses near downtown, and even in the same building as us! It’s been really fun to live and work near our friends, it kind of feels like we grew up together. We all started with little seed dreams, and now we’re supporting each other as our dreams grow bigger and bigger!
We know that education is a huge driver of your work. Tell us what led you down the path towards curating workshops and retreats for people from literally around the world?
I love people, and I love helping budding artists understand their own creative process. Over the last several years I’ve had the incredible opportunity to teach florists and creatives across the globe, and now I’m bringing it all home with workshops and online education hosted in my downtown Salem classroom. It’s really a dream come true.
What do you love most about your work?
I view my work as twofold. Art and teaching. My art gives me something to teach, so I love it for that. I love that I learn something new every day from the flowers I get to work with. Nature always gives me something to keep exploring. When it comes to teaching, I love helping people discover their passion as a creative, and I love exploring all the ways to translate an idea, with color, with flowers, with words and then eventually with teaching.