Thanks to Colleen LaFleur, downtown Tucson is blossoming.
The floral stylist moved her business downtown about a year and a half ago, opening the studio and workshop for LaFleur Plantscapes and Fresh Flora at 410 N. Toole Ave., Suite 110.
From the Atelier de LaFleur — atelier is the fancy French word for workshop — LaFleur and her team of six do floral and plant arrangements for events such as weddings and corporate functions. They also do rentals, event décor and classes on floristry. Appointments are the best way to get in touch with the business.
Yes, LaFleur really is her last name. Here are a few reasons why it suits her.
After about four years of running the floral design business from her Foothills home, LaFleur moved her business downtown. Her residence followed six months later.
A city girl from Chicago, LaFleur fits right in downtown.
“Tucson is my home,” La-Fleur, 43, says. “I have never felt more spiritually connected with a place like I do with Tucson, and why I found myself downtown is that it gives me a little bit of my city feel of Chicago, yet it’s in a much more spiritual and gorgeous landscape.”
LaFleur works with a whole crop of local spots to keep them fresh and fragrant.
“Because we believe in downtown, we’re offering downtown a way of getting not just fresh flowers but eco-flowers into their spaces,” LaFleur says.
Past and present clients include Tap and Bottle, Food for Ascension Café, Saint House Rum Bar, 47 Scott, Maynards Market and Kitchen, Hotel Congress and Agustín Kitchen, to name a few.
LaFleur inherited her name from her father, the owner of an in-ground swimming pool company in the Midwest that also landscaped around the pools.
At the University of Illinois, she studied horticulture and eventually went on to work for the Chicago and the Tucson botanical gardens.
“There is dirt under my fingernails 24/7,” LaFleur says. “I’m always digging in the dirt, and I don’t wear gloves because I like the feel of it.”
Her arrangements bloom with living plants — succulents, cacti, ferns and flowers, all intended to thrive in gardens after functions.
This eco-friendly approach makes the studio florist attractive to big-name companies such as Google and AOL.
The atelier offers classes, sometimes private and customized, for the budding and creative florist. At a guerrilla gardening course, students learned to find and arrange wild, desert clippings.
“Everything you would see blooming in Tucson at that time, we found in somebody’s backyard,” said Amelia Gabelman, the manager at LaFleur Plantscapes and Fresh Flora.
LaFleur’s move to Tucson from Chicago about five years ago planted her in the midst of a new landscape of aloes, succulents and cacti.
She locally sources the plants and flowers in her arrangements whenever possible, working with farms such as Pima Valley Greenhouses and Civano Nursery.
“Because we are so eco, we build from nature for our inspiration,” LaFleur says.