Born in Italy, Raised in America
The concept of Fiore Trees came to me in Italy. My Italian roots compel me to visit the Old Country once a year – or try my hardest. (If I don’t make it once year I’d better have a very good reason.) One time, as I walked down an old cobblestone street in Florence, I noticed the most divine flowering tree I had ever seen. I was mesmerized, and walked closer to look up-close. Whatever it was, it was breathtaking, so I already wanted to buy one and grow it even grander back home.
As I walked up to the tree, it turned out not to be a tree at all, but rather a plain wrought iron plant stand with a single flower basket on top. It wasn’t only the explosion of flowers that drew me in like a moth, but also how it looked just like a real flowering tree. I’d never seen such a thing in 20+ years as a landscaper in America. I thought, “We’ve got hanging flower baskets, but nothing that looks so alive. I know exactly how to make a flowering tree, complete with lifelike branches and bark.”
My heritage drew me to Italy, and it drew me to work on the “flower garden in a tree” concept back home in Minnesota. Two years (and two more Italy trips) later I had 20 descendants of that Florentine “tree” in our front yard. Passers-by knocked on my front door. Others sent me emails or called. Others took photos. A few couples asked to take their wedding photos in our yard. My neighbors must have thought I was the new mayor.
Most people want to share, make other people happy, have fun along the way, and see their handiwork out and about. For me, building things and making art accomplishes all of that. In fact, I feel I’d break family tradition if I didn’t work with my hands to create art that lasts. My family’s roots are in Campobasso: Lucito (mother’s side) and Montagano (father’s side). Our ancestors were stone masons who helped build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. If you visit the Basilica and look closely at the walls, you’ll see the Palumbo family crest inlayed in the walls.
The only advantage I have over my ancestors is access to American steel and modern tools. All Fiore Trees are hand-forged from raw steel (though we can work with other metals, in custom orders). Each tree is heated, hammered, bent, welded, and customized – in true Italian fashion – by hand. Because everything is done by hand, no two trees are exactly the same. We number each Fiore Tree and clear-coat it as-is, to preserve the hand-forged look.
It’s in the customizations that our traditions meet yours. Your home can become a Fiore Tree’s home easily. Each tree is hollow, with channels inside, so you can drip-irrigate the flowers. Your tree can be bolted to any flat surface, spiked into the ground, or you can add “roots” to make it free-standing. Though most Fiore Trees live al fresco, you and your tree might prefer indoor seating.
We’d love to hear how your Fiore Tree becomes part of your family, street, and village.