Living Beautifully by Bringing the Natural World Inside

Oct 16, 2018 | Living Beautifully

One of Bridget Davis’ first childhood photographs is a picture of her 4-year-old self holding a giant bouquet of daisies she’d picked from the yard. She is beaming and in her element. Years later, not much has changed.

As a teenager, Bridget used to make and sell dried flower wreaths, and by her early 20s, she helped a friend open up a flower cart in Oregon. “I have been slinging flowers for 25 years,” says Bridget, owner of Mahonia, a home store and floral design studio in Nulu. From a  rustic wooden table in her studio, Bridget and her design team arrange bouquets and essentially work to curate the natural world. Three massive watercolor cacti paintings adorn the studio walls, spilling vibrant purple hues onto the neutral tones of the room.

“These paintings say everything about us: the use of vibrant tones, the bloom of watercolor, and the fact that they are cactus. They are part of who we are,” Bridget says.

Bridget arranges a large terrarium with air plants.

Mahonia has been part of Louisville’s downtown landscape for two years now. In those two years, the shop has worked to educate all residents on the power of plants. Bridget says it’s not your average flower shop—Mahonia is more like the Humane Society of plants. “We offer our customers a way to garden anywhere they are by listening to their needs, educating them, and matching plants to the right owner. We help people see plants as living, breathing [creatures], and we are happy to hold your hand along the way,” Bridget says.

Education is a huge part of what Mahonia provides. The designers listen as you walk through your daily routine or as you show them a picture of your living room. Then they suggest a plant that will meet your needs. Bridget says many people don’t “see” plants — they treat them like a piece of furniture and eventually they die. Mahonia provides the education to keep buyers’ plants and flowers alive and them happier in their relationships with their homes’ new addition.

This tree, small cacti, succulents and other home decor items are sold at Mahonia.

Mahonia features an array of beautiful terrariums, single potted succulents starting at $3, and vibrant displays of cut flowers. “We really do offer something for everyone in a small, friendly environment. We try to provide beauty that people can take home. It’s in my blood.I’ve always been a nester and believe the home is about creating a beautiful environment. Flowers make people happy. I believe in the power of flowers to bring people joy.”

Unlike other flower shops, Mahonia prides itself on “letting the flower tell its own story.” Some floral designers use wire to manipulate the stems, but Mahonia’s designers take a more organic approach. “We look for how the stem is arching and that’s how we arrange the vase. We also source some local flowers and fill a vase with one variety. Nothing beats a big old vase of hydrangeas.” Mahonia also sells single stems to make buying flowers accessible to a variety of budgets.  

Terrarium arrangements are made in their studio. They have used giant, original watercolor paintings to decorate the walls.

Although Bridget has had little time to do her own gardening since opening Mahonia, she says her personal favorites are dahlias, ranunculus, and, of course, the mahonia plant. Her store’s namesake was inspired by a native Oregonian grape that she often incorporated into her landscape work there before relocating to Louisville. She loved the plant for its ability to bloom in all seasons and for the contrast between its delicate, beautiful blue berry and its tough, hardy stem.

Here are some of Bridget’s suggestions for giving the gift of nature :

    • Terrariums (starting at $20)
    • Fresh hand-tied bouquet (starting at $25) or vase arrangement (starting at $75)
    • Succulent planter (starting at $50)
    • In the Company of Women (book, $35)
    • Amethyst or other mineral ($15-125)