Melissa Glorieux: Aster B.
December 17, 2019
Text by Tovah Martin Photography by Kindra Clineff
The boughs, berries, and vines that Melissa Glorieux forages on her seven-acre property in Essex, Massachusetts, might be anyone else’s throwaway snippets. But she sees meaning and purpose in every single twig and seed head. On a farm where nothing is wasted, a few spare leaves and sparkling berries become a centerpiece.
From the start, Glorieux wanted to utilize her land. After all, she and her husband, Alec, moved to Essex from San Francisco specifically to give their two young sons a sense of the great outdoors. “They needed to run,” is the way she sums up the impetus for their 2011 urban exodus. Glorieux initially grew vegetables, but found her creative core when she transitioned to flowers. Still, flowers provide only a fraction of the harvest, because she also explores her property’s hinterlands. What she finds sparks creations beyond the ordinary—and also fostered Aster B., the business named in homage to the wildlings that fuel her imagination combined with the name of her creative grandmother Blanche. In her seventeenth-century barn, Glorieux hosts workshops for arranging flowers, fashioning wreaths, and, more recently, mandala making. Her first mandala was made on a trip to Bhutan. “We were trekking through the country, and I kept gathering pebbles and whatnot. On a whim, I laid out a design in the dirt beside our tent, meant as a remembrance of the day’s hike.”
Now, foraging and the mandalas that result are always interwoven into Glorieux’s life, but another layer is added as the growing season winds down. The holidays provide a sterling occasion to bring the brilliance of nature into the heart of the home and share creations with family and friends—no complex arrangements required. Wreaths propped against the wall or mandalas laid on the table send a subtle message stating where your soul rests. “Do something a little earthy and wild—just let it evolve organically,” Glorieux coaches. “Imperfect is fine. Get into the moment and spontaneously craft the synthesis of the season.” Aster B. has found a deeper form of bling.
Aster B., Essex, Mass.