At the kitchen table on a windy night in LA, with Sophia Moreno-Bunge.

Illustration—Florence Rivest

Sophia Moreno-Bunge is a celebrated floral designer based in Los Angeles. Her lavish arrangements incorporate wild-growing plants that she forages from abandoned lots, the sides of highways, the leavings of city gardeners, and the fields behind her dad’s house in the Malibu Hills. Drawing on native and non-native species — often overlooked but that grow abundantly along the California coast — her designs overflow with nature’s extravagant weirdness and beauty.

Your most cherished childhood memory of being in nature.
Summers in Patagonia, with no responsibility and a lot of freedom. Horseback riding, hiking, and swimming in lakes with my cousins; aimless adventures outside, picking wild raspberries, making campfires, and hearing stories; being one of the youngest of the bunch, so a lot of learning, feeling afraid a little, and being in awe of my wild elders.

Your greatest paradox.
I practise what I feel is one of the most romantic art forms, and in many ways I am a romantic. But I’m also highly practical and “anti-romantic.” In other words, ambivalence is my middle name and a constant source of struggle for me. It’s been one of my greatest life lessons: to learn how to deal with the ambivalence I feel.

Something you think should disappear from the planet.
Do most people say plastic? Me too. I’m so curious what the planet would look like without plastic. But then, just now, I’m thinking of all the uses there are for it medically, and I’ve actually never thought about that. There must be alternatives?

An issue you are concerned about in your neighbourhood, your city, or your country.
I worry about social media and what it does to our brain and soul and life in general. How can it be such a great tool and connector, but also cause a lot of splitting and othering and suffering? You have to be highly conscious of how it affects you and everyone else.

Someone who gives you hope.
My yoga, meditation, and herbalist mentor, Kat Villain.

A project you are currently working on.
I’m slowly building a garden in Malibu to one day use as a cutting garden and community spot of some sort. I’m very excited, but recognizing it will take years before it really flourishes and is ready to be heavily cut from.

Your craftsperson alter ego makes what?
Little dwellings.

How do you disconnect?
Ocean swims and adventures.

Wild forest or ocean coastline?
Forest ON the coastline is the dream.

What small habit makes you feel grounded?
Making a big pot of herbal tea every day.

Favourite place to walk?
Any countryside really. I particularly love the Tuscan countryside in spring.

What step are you working up the courage to take?
I’m always working on creating a more sustainable life for myself and others by not burning myself or my team out. I try to delegate so others can learn and grow and work, and so that we can all have more downtime, which is extremely important to me. Basically, I am constantly working on strengthening the muscle in me that, rather than valuing production and hustle, values the ability to be mindful in every moment of the day — the muscle that lets you take things more slowly, examine yourself and your patterns in hopes of cultivating more connection and joy every day.

In which little corner of the natural world are you most invested?
In growing plants and flowers and making pockets of beauty wherever I am.

What non-digital activity can you happily do all day and never get bored?
Gardening and reading.

What experience in nature reminded you of your mortality?
River rafting in Patagonia and getting stuck under the boat, among tree branches, when the river was too high. I feared we would drown. That didn’t happen, luckily, and I learned to not raft when it has rained too much and the river is too high.

Read about her passion for wild flowers in our latest Besiders article.

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