Having grown up in Westport, Connecticut, Kristen Blais fondly remembers spending hours outdoors with her father, a rock garden enthusiast who allowed his daughter to care for her own small garden on the family’s acre of land. Decades later, in 2003, that early appreciation for flora blossomed into a passionate career when she launched Designs by Kristen, a floral design company operating out of her fittingly gorgeous home in Ipswich.
In this role, Blais helps clients conceptualize, install, and maintain the garden of their dreams. After a detailed consultation with a client, she takes digital photos of the area where the garden will go and pastes in images of flowers and plants. “This helps people see their own space transforming, rather than trying to envision how it will come together,” says Blais, who then prepares, installs, and sets a schedule for maintenance of the garden.
“Most of my clients are actively involved with their garden and just want guidance and help,” she says. Though she sometimes has assistance from a second gardener or a landscaping crew, it’s Blais who visits the property regularly and does the majority of the work.
“When people pay for Designs by Kristen, they’re paying for me, so I want them to see lots of me,” says Blais. “I’m very accessible.” Blais’s clients often call in her help for special events like weddings or holidays; she’s even decorated their Christmas trees.
“I just love making things beautiful. A garden is like the icing [on the cake] of a gorgeous home,” explains Blais, who says that many people share her appreciation for gardens but just need help executing them. “People don’t plan ahead, or they plant flowers in poor soil or where they’ll be stuck in the shade. Or they forget to take into consideration the way their families use the yard.” Another common mistake? “Most people don’t water their flowers nearly enough, or they do it wrong, spraying the water on the plants instead of on the roots, which is the equivalent of a human taking a shower instead of a drink when he’s thirsty,” she says.
For clients who want to do it themselves, Blais offers one-hour consultations, during which she sits with them and guides them through what to do to get started. “Gardening is a great hobby to have,” she says. “It’s calming, and it’s the best exercise—you could never simulate this at the gym.”
As busy as business is for Blais—who recently began working with Ipswich’s Crane Estate and the Topsfield Commons—she still finds time to focus on the simple things. Around 5 p.m. each day, she takes a walk through her own tranquil yard, checking in on her beloved plants. “Flowers are really the most beautiful part of nature,” she says. “Every day is different.” gardendesignsbykristen.com.