During her childhood springs and summers, Nicole Michalopoulos remembers planting seeds with her mother in their Coventry home garden. “I was outside from morning until night and always barefoot, which has not changed since then,” she laughs. Tending the garden with her mother and grandparents fostered her deep sense of connection to and respect for the earth, and in her late teens, she fell into her first floral design gig at a local flower shop.
“Starting that job was the universe reminding me of my true purpose, which was to share my love of flowers and plants with people, and to bring beauty into the world,” says Michalopoulos. “Never did I think I would be able to make a career out of flowers on my own, but now I can see that it was my destiny.” She believes it was always in her blood, tracing her talents back to her grandparents: Her Pappou harvested olives, fruits, and vegetables starting at a young age on his family farm in Greece, while her Yiayia was a self-taught painter, needle-craft and pastry artist, and Greek folkloric dance costume designer.
Today, Michalopoulos is better known as The Greek Gardener, a floral artist specializing in wedding and event design, workshops, and fine gardening for businesses and homes. She has appeared at the Roger Williams Botanical Center and Handicraft Club in Providence, volunteered her time harvesting lavender and making wreaths at Lavender Waves Farm in Charlestown, planted and harvested hemp at Lovewell Farms in Richmond, and hosted pop-ups at Tiny Bar PVD and Drift Café in Newport.
“I am proud to represent my Greek heritage and carry on the legacy of who my grandparents were and what they stood for through this beautiful medium of floral artistry and gardening,” says Michalopoulos, who shares that her dream is to design and execute destination weddings on the island of Santorini.
Nicole Michalopoulos, AKA The Greek Gardener, shares a step-by-step workshop on creating your own gorgeous succulent display at home.
Step 1: Spread a 1-1 ½ inch layer of gravel evenly on the bottom of your glass vessel for proper drainage.
Step 2: Add a 1-inch layer of activated charcoal to keep bad bacteria and mold from forming.
Step 3: Add a 3–4-inch layer of your succulent soil or potting mix, depending on the type of plants you’ve selected.
Step 4: Poke holes into the layer of soil and place each plant into the designated hole. Then, cover with remaining soil so that the root ball of each plant is not exposed.
Step 5: Add any additional decorative pieces as you see fit. Some examples include moss, rocks, and sea glass.
Maintenance: Water every 3-6 weeks, when soil is dry to the touch.