Palm Beach is in full bloom this time of year, and Tom Mathieu, along with his team, is responsible for some of the elegant floral designs that now adorn homes, offices, and venues.
Since 1996, Mathieu’s signature compositions have reflected his passion for gardening and the beauty of flowers. Over the years, he has developed special relationships with clients.
“Tom has been making flower arrangements for me for 15 years, since I got married,” said Palm Beach hostess Brandi Herbst. “He understands my aesthetic and always exceeds my expectations. I have a very specific point of view, and Tom Mathieu & Co. always seems to bring it together.
From philanthropist Audrey Gruss: “Tom Mathieu is the perfect combination of an artist and a gentleman. He understands the different styles and locations that make up Palm Beach and designs the perfect accompanying flowers for each distinctive look. From an individual bouquet to a tent for hundreds of people, he has the imagination and the business savvy to put together the right arrangement within the defined budget.
Mathieu’s design elements come from all over the world. From field to finish, reserves should be maintained at around 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The flower industry depends on this magic number. The “cold chains” – made up of refrigerated planes, storage facilities and trucks at every step of the way – ensure that the flowers stay in motion suspended from the farm to the florist.
Mathieu maintains a close relationship with his suppliers. Twice a week Andre Meuleman, owner of Hyperactive Farms in Weston, delivers flowers from the FloraHolland warehouse in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands, where 20 million decorative flowers and plants are auctioned off every week. It is the fourth tallest building in the world.
About 75% of the products sold in the United States come from Ecuador and Colombia.
Another supplier, wholesale florist Lonnie Mills of Plant City, has been in the business for over 50 years. It delivers a wide range of domestic and imported flowers every week, as well as citrus, live moss, squash, driftwood and wheatgrass.
Mathieu’s distinctive style is clean and always in harmony with nature. The intentional placement of each flower enhanced by the foliage is designed to take full advantage of negative space, he said. More is not better.
Amaryllis are extremely popular throughout the season and are always in stock. They require special treatment. Each stem is cut, staked and set aside to ripen. They are placed in buckets and stored in a secure corner of the studio so that the flowers cannot be bumped or bruised.
Recently, on his desk in his Worth Avenue boutique, Mathieu paid homage to a single flower. The rod was placed in a round glass vial. The undulating stem, delicately secured with a metal clip, contained a fully expanded orange and yellow poppy, with petals as thin as paper, in full bloom.
It has a memory for numbers and can tell you the address of everyone on the island, who owned the house before them, the colors of the walls, the art they hung, their personal likes, dislikes and names of their children.
“The joke in our store is that islanders call in to place an order and never tell you what they want, they all say, ‘Tom knows,’ said Tracey Large, Mathieu’s assistant.” No price description, no address, just who’s going and they hang up… a 10 second phone call, good. “
Gruss sums it up: “It’s a pleasure to work with Tom because he never gets angry. Her gentle, calm manners always put clients at ease even in the most potentially dire situations. I have worked with Tom for over 20 years and consider him to be one of Palm Beach’s most important resources and treasures.
Tom Mathieu & Cie.
Store312D Worth Ave.
Warehouse: 500 Palm Street, Suite 27,
Palme West Beach