In Des Moines, a shop called Wildflower represents a new wave of florists. Its owner crafts each arrangement like a sculpture and uses her shop to build community and inspire a love of blooms.

While a photographer snaps a portrait of Maya Boettcher, one of her floral designers, Blythe Roberts, mounds vibrant blooms in a head-shape vase. The Carmen Miranda effect is bold, sculptural and a little eccentric. In other words, it’s perfectly Wildflower.

A hot commodity in Des Moines’ wedding scene, Boettcher opened her tiny shop in 2018 as an extension of her event-planning business. Her fans dig her mod aesthetic, which incorporates unorthodox elements like dried materials and painted specimens. (Trust us; it’s way cooler than those glitter-dipped corsages from your prom days.)

They also appreciate her hyper-personal approach to arranging. What’s the budget? The occasion? The recipient’s personality? “Our longtime clients,” Boettcher says, “we know who they are and where they’ve been. We know what they’ve gone through. It’s like a drug. People rely on us and feel taken care of.”

Maya Boettcher at Wildflower
Maya Boettcher.
| Credit: Austin Day

When she opened Wildflower, Maya Boettcher knew she’d make her store a gathering place—her ever-changing wall (above) is the perfect selfie backdrop at events.

Tips From Wildflower

Wildflower shop
Credit: Austin Day

Green Up Rather than limit herself to one or two leafy accents, Boettcher uses many, mixing in palms, ferns and more. Bonus: Foliage is long-lasting and affordable.

Dry Spell Another signature Wildflower move: incorporating dried materials. Boettcher says the textures give fresh arrangements a “cool, crunchy, coastal vibe.” Hit craft stores or the web for materials like pampas grass that can be used (and reused!) in fresh arrangements.

Fun to Include

Wildflower add-ons

1, 4, 7 Pampas A family of feathery grasses. Comes white or light brown, but takes spray paint well.

2 Bougainvillea A fragile, romantic filler that’s hot pink fresh, but translucent white dry.

3 Bunny Tail Dry grass with a whimsical bobbing head (painted magenta in photo).

5 Silver Brunia Tiny balls with a crocheted, woolly look. Naturally gray; painted mauve in photo.

6 Badam Nut Pod Each dark brown, woody pod has a different shape. Painted white-gray in photo.

8 Bell Cup Playful, spherical dried seed pod. Painted lavender here, but sold bleached white.

9 Spear Palm High-drama fan-style leaf, with edges trimmed into crisp spade shapes.

How to Arrange Flowers

The Wildflower approach to building a bouquet is loose and improvisational. Just play!

Wildflower arranging
Credit: Austin Day

Foundation Unless you are arranging in a narrow vessel, you need a way to keep blooms in place. Boettcher likes to nestle in some chicken wire. (It’s more eco-friendly than floral foam.)

Materials Boettcher’s most important tip is this: Anything goes! Floral materials get pricey; consider buying special stems at a florist, then raiding your backyard. In addition to summer cutting flowers, such as peonies or zinnias, snip anything unique, shapely or textural, like boxwoods, hosta leaves or lamb’s ears.

Arrangement Remove leaves for clean stems. Place a few bits of greenery at angles to start building a supportive network of stems. Follow with focal flowers, smaller blooms, more greens, fluy filler, and (if you like) spiky accents. Pause to look at the arrangement at eye level as you go. Keep in mind that droopier stems and trailers are OK—they add horizontal shape.

Get to Know: Maya Boettcher

Got her start at a florist shop on Des Moines' south side. Mom of three. Hosts a girl-talk podcast, Kbye, featuring local biz owners.

Open-Door Policy

Many floral shops are by appointment only, but zoning requires that Wildflower has regular walk-in hours. Boettcher embraces that as an opportunity to create a special space where creativity and community can thrive.

Wildflower shop
Wildflower shop.
| Credit: Austin Day

Inspiration Space Boettcher wants to keep her staff stimulated (and inspire customers to think outside the box), so the shop is a showcase for novel ideas. Case in point: this swooping garland of dried and painted materials.

Giftables More than a money-maker, Boettcher sees her retail “extras,” such as throw pillows and hats, as a way to bring her style to life for clients. Funky candles from Paddywax are a popular add-on to flowers.

Special Events Boettcher designed Wildflower as a hub for people to connect. You can rent the shop for private parties, and one of her most popular public events is a Galentine’s Day happy hour party each February 13.

More Midwest Florists to Follow

Whether you visit them in person or just enjoy their Instagram eye candy, these shops deliver a flower fix.

Ergo Floral, St. Paul

Specializing in weddings, modern arrangements and wearables, with a Stem Bar for shopping à la carte. The store also sells houseplants and hosts workshops. @ergofloral

Ergo Floral
Ergo Floral.
| Credit: Courtesy of Ergo Floral

A full-service floral studio owned by a trio of friends. Each arrangement is a unique custom design, featuring locally or sustainably grown florals. @flowerstothepeople

Flowers to the People
Flowers to the People.
| Credit: Courtesy of Flowers to the People

Robin Wood Flowers, Cincinnati

Run by a former rock radio DJ and her daughter. Creative arrangements are sourced seasonally from area farms. The shop holds regular classes. @robinwoodflowers

Robin Wood Flowers
Robin Wood Flowers.
| Credit: Courtesy of Robin Wood Flowers