Field Flower Vase: Arranging And Crafting With Seasonal And Wild Blooms

A collection of wanderlust photographs from the countryside of Portugal with tips on how to forage and arrange simple floral arrangements

I met Chelsea Fuss about 13 years ago. She was one of my first virtual blog friends. We connected over our shared loved of design and taking a slower pace to life. I flew to Portland, Oregon in 2011 to take one of her flower arranging classes. Chelsea was enchanting. You could instantly hear her passion for flowers and how every detail was researched and understood through practice. I made this beautiful arrangement in her workshop seen here.

Flowers I arranged in Chelsea’s workshop in 2011

Over the years we stayed connected and I followed her adventures all over Europe; working on flowers farms via her blog, Frolic! Chelsea landed in Portugal where she has spent the last 6 years. I caught up with her and asked if she would share a few things about her new book, Field Flower Vase: Arranging and Crafting with Seasonal and Wild Blooms and her life in Portugal. The book is equal parts wanderlust travel diary and flower design projects using all natural materials in lieu of floral foam and wire. Each arrangement is accompanied by foraging tips that can be applied to different locales even if you live in an urban environment.

Q: First off, the photos in the book are gorgeous. Did you take them?

A: Thank you! I am so happy you like the photos. I took almost all the photos. I spent a lot of days alone at different locations in Sintra and Lisbon, styling, arranging, writing, and photographing. I also took small breaks from other work, sneaking in shots where I could. Cláudio Silva took many of the portraits as well as some additional photos and I am grateful for his cinematic eye.

Why did you pick to live in Portugal? Tell me more about daily life Sintra?

Portugal happened on a bit on a whim while I was traveling Europe. After I booked an amazing home belonging to a traditional carpenter José Pedro Silva, in Beja, a small city in the interior. After, a month there I ventured into Lisbon and after two days I knew I wanted to live in Lisbon because of the sunshine, color, the sea, and the incredible warmth and straight up charm and kindness of the people.

After about a year in Lisbon, I moved to Sintra which is about 45 minutes from Lisbon by train. I have since moved but I lived in a very tiny hamlet, a 20-minute walk from the main village. Hiking in and out of the village was part of my daily routine. I grew much of my own food and flowers. I embraced a stripped down life in a very rustic stucco home with beautiful weeds growing out of the terra cotta roof.

It was a slow, simple life there full of challenging moments and idealistic ones too, like gardening under the shadow of a castle, trying to communicate with a landlord in Portuguese when the entire house was falling apart, dealing with isolation, and decorating my dream stucco walls with local baskets, hanging herbs and foraged stems. When I look back I see what a difficult way of life it was in many ways but it is also where I really started tuning into foraging and got super inspired with arranging wild branches of roses, scouring trails for elderflower, growing my own veggies, and experimenting with eco-friendly methods of floral design.

What are your tips for gathering flowers when it’s still winter and there is no green vegetation?

Look for texture, seedpods, evergreen branches, discarded stems. I spent a winter snowed in at my parents cabin at the bottom of a mountain a few years ago. I dug tumbleweed out from under the snow and made one of my favorite wreaths. There is always something to forage.

I think I worry when I forage that I am doing something wrong and I might get in trouble. Any tips?

Ha! Yes. It is definitely good to follow your local laws. Find out what they are. It will vary according to your location. I often forage from areas that are cleared for fire hazard. I forage invasive weeds. And, I often take from debris piles or ask landscapers to share their pruning cast offs. Never take more than a few stems from a plant, and try to leave the area as it was. Don´t take from areas with clear signage asking you not to do so.

What are some containers that you use from around your house for flowers?
I have a collection of vases from local ceramicists. I also often just use drinking glasses, recycled yogurt jars, kitchen bowls, mugs, vintage glasses, and baskets. You can make any container water-tight by placing a jar inside of it. A lot of people get fussy about containers and of course that can be fun if you have the budget but I honestly like to let the flowers shine. Humble containers are great.

Do you have a favorite project in the book?

I love the strawflower hanging wreath. The potpourri is a real favorite too. I still have it in my bedroom and the petals still smell so good.

We are all stuck at home right now and I am really enjoying taking classes online. Do you offer any? 

Yes! After teaching flower arranging online for over 7 years, I launched my online flower school in May of 2019. Each month, I hold live “flower therapy” workshops! It has been such a healing way to get through this pandemic. 

Frolic! Flower School grew out of my flower centric blog, Frolic! We now have four core self-paced classes that teach the basics of flower arranging, event flowers, wreath making, and edible flowers. Two floral career courses (one of which trains aspiring in florists in eco-friendly floral design), mini workshops, and monthly lives and pop-ups.

I also teach flower arranging classes to corporate teams. I’ve taught flower arranging now to teams from GAP, Microsoft, and even some Wall Street people.  And when the pandemic is over, I will resume our launch of our Portugal Flower and Garden Retreats. Flowers make people happy and it is such a joy to be doing this work right now when we all need color, beauty, and fragrance in our lives. It truly is very heartening. If you can try to have one flower bouquet a week at home, it is mood changing. I notice when I forget (yes, even I have to remind myself), my mood is completely different. 

Chelsea is offering 15% off any class through March 12,2021. Use code: KATYELLIOTT at checkout. Visit for a list of classes offered.

Field Flower Vase: Arranging And Crafting With Seasonal And Wild Blooms, can be purchased through local book stores and

Please join us this Saturday, March 6th at 2PM EST for a virtual zoom book signing with Chelsea in Portugal. Please send me an e-mail to: to receive a zoom link invite.

Images reprinted with permission from Abrams Books

Chelsea is offering 15% off any class through March 12,2021. Use code: KATYELLIOTT at checkoutVisit for a list of classes offered.