Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American grown flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, she has convened a national conversation that stimulates consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases.
Debra is the producer of slowflowers.com, the online directory to American flower farms, and florists, shops and studios who source domestic and local flowers. She is the author of 10 books, including Slow Flowers and The 50 Mile Bouquet.
Each Wednesday, you can listen to Debra's "Slow Flowers Podcast," available for free downloads at her web site debraprinzing.com or on ITunes and other podcast services. Here's what others say about her:

“The local flower movement's champion . . ."

--Ken Druse, REAL DIRT Podcast

“. . . an impassioned advocate for a more sustainable flower industry."

--Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU-FM (NPR affiliate)

“The mother of the ‘Slow Flower’ movement, Prinzing is making a personal crusade to encourage people to think about floral purchases the same way they may approach what they eat: Buy locally grown flowers or grow them yourself.”

--Debbie Arrington, The Sacramento Bee

“Debra Prinzing . . . has done more to celebrate and explain ethical + eco-friendly flowers than I could ever hope to.”

--Grace Bonney, founder of Design*Sponge

Episode 243: More About Missouri Grown with Two St. Louis-based Slow Flowers Voices

April 27th, 2016

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download

Seasonal branches from Flower Hill Farm paired with seasonal blooms from Urban Buds for my stage arrangement at St. Louis Art Museum.

Seasonal branches from Flower Hill Farm paired with seasonal blooms from Urban Buds for my stage arrangement at St. Louis Art Museum.

In March I visited Urban Buds, a flower farm in the heart of St. Louis owned by Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack.

And I know the conversation we recorded for this Podcast (click to hear Episode 238) inspired many of you interested in flower farming in the heart of a city as an alternative to using only rural land.

On that same visit to St. Louis, I also met others in The Slow Flowers Community, including several who attended my lecture and design presentation at the St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom. Two of those Missourians are guests of today’s podcast.

Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm.

Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm.

First up, you’ll hear my conversation with Vicki Lander of Flower Hill Farm.

Vickie and her husband Jack Oglander grow flowers on 35-acres of rolling hills, fields, and woods located in Beaufort, Missouri, one hour west of St. Louis.

In their fifth year of production, it’s their mission to continuously improve the art and science of flower farming.

Flower Hill Farm sells flowers to florists, designers, DIY brides restaurants and distributors, and at a local farmer’s markets  in the greater St. Louis area.

Flower Hill Farm's fields at the peak of summer.

Flower Hill Farm’s fields at the peak of summer.

The farm offers wedding and special event customers the freshest, locally-grown flowers possible and is a popular destination for “pick your own” custom parties designed for couples, families and friends preparing for their wedding ceremony.

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A heart filled with lovely Flower Hill Farm zinnias

Flower Hill Farm is guided by Sustainable practices, using organic farming methods. The farm has not pursued USDA Certified Organic labeling.

Vicki and Jack participate in a farmer-to-farmer certification program called Certified Naturally Grown, which is based on similar standards. Instead of using synthetically-derived fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, the couple strives to build good soil by amending with organic materials and minerals.

They tackle weeds and insect pests in a way that honors their commitment to long-term care of their farm, their watershed, their environment and the earth. To Vickie and Jack, farming practices matter, even if you don’t eat the flowers.

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At work on Flower Hill Farm.

Flower Hill Farm delights in providing to those who value and seek out locally grown choices. As they explain on their web site: “What gives us pleasure is offering the freshest flower-buying experience. We love it when someone looks at our flowers, a smile emerges, and the thought, the question arises: Who can I give these flowers to…..?”

Vicki describes herself this way: Somebody loves flowers.  Somebody loves sourcing just the right seeds that, if not collect and saved from her own farm, come from organic (if possible) and caring growers. Somebody loves planning, planting and caring for each seedling, watering, transplanting and tending to it. Somebody loves “vase life trials.” Somebody especially loves hands in dirt (soil, that is) and casting her shadow on her growing field. That someone would be Vicki Lander.

On the other hand, Farmer Jack (Jack Oglander), says he thinks farming is challenging. Farmers wear lots of hats, and must know how to handle many tools, responsibilities and physical tasks. Building and machine maintenance, irrigation, pruning, grounds keeping and fencing are current and ongoing projects– not to mention tilling, weeding, trimming and taking out the compost… Many farmers make invaluable use of a lifetime of experience when they wake up to a new morning…  Some don’t have that lifelong advantage.  At Flower Hill Farm, many of these tasks are up to Jack….  He’s still new to farming.  He thinks his title should be: Assistant Branch Manager.

Aerial view of Flower Hill Farm~ lush, green, magical.

Aerial view of Flower Hill Farm~ lush, green, magical.

Vicki and Jack reached out to me before I came to St. Louis and offered to supply what they could for my design demo and lecture, despite the early time of year. They cut the most beautiful quince and forced it for me, as well as tender curly willow branches just starting to leaf out. We didn’t think we would have time to record a conversation, but when Vicki delivered the branches to me, we grabbed a short interview in her car. You’ll enjoy hearing her story and how she and Jack are developing a beautiful chapter of their lives at Flower Hill Farm.

Follow Flower Hill Farm on Facebook

Flower Hill Farm on Instagram

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Jessica Douglass's cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, called "Flowers and Weeds."

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Jessica Douglass’s cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, called “Flowers and Weeds.”

Flowers and Weeds

Flowers and Weeds

On the same trip, I also met and spent time with St. Louis florist Jessica Douglass.

Jessica and I were introduced virtually by our mutual friend Sally Vander Wyst, a Slow Flowers member in Milwaukie, Wisconsin, whose voice and story you’ve heard previously on this Podcast (we met and recorded that interview during The Flower House opening last October).

When Sally heard  that I was heading to St. Louis, she told Jessica and I that we must meet — and I’m so happy that we did.

Jessica is the owner of a perfectly-named business: Flowers and Weeds, a retail floral studio and plant emporium on Cherokee Street in St. Louis. There is a greenhouse and a cutting garden, as well as a design studio where Jessica and her team create a popular selection of terrariums as well as romantic, free-form floral designs that allow flowers to have their own movement, inspired by the garden and nature.

The Cutting Garden at Flowers and Weeds

The Cutting Garden at Flowers and Weeds

Jessica Douglass and I posed near her beautiful floral entry for the St. Louis Art Museum's Art in Bloom exhibition.

Jessica Douglass and I posed near her beautiful floral entry for the St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom exhibition.

With an on-site cutting garden of beautiful, seasonal flowers and herbs, Flowers and Weeds freely expresses year-round creativity.

Jessica believes it’s important to use what is currently beautiful and blooming, embracing seasons to include anything from spring’s ranunculus and freesia, to winter’s juniper and kale.

Her goal is to be as sustainable as possible as a designer and she states: If we can’t grow it, then we are committed to finding locally sourced flowers that are sustainably grown.

I didn’t have my wits about me when I met Jessica for dinner just after I arrived on my flight from Seattle to St. Louis.

We recorded this interview via Skype a few weeks later to combine with Vicki’s and my conversation. As it turns out, Jessica is a customer of Flower Hill Farm and she often features their flowers in her designs. So this is a perfect pairing to share with you today.

A Flowers and Weeds mini-terrarium

A Flowers and Weeds mini-terrarium

The Planting Bar at Flowers and Weeds

Jessica gets hands-on at the Terrarium table at Flowers and Weeds

Follow Flowers and Weeds on Facebook

Follow Flowers and Weeds on Instagram

Thanks for joining today’s podcast. I learned so much and gained new insights into the business of flower farming and floral design through these conversations — and I know that you’ll want to check out Flower Hill Farm and Flowers and Weeds via their online sites . . . and if you should ever make it to St. Louis, be sure to visit them and see their flowers.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 94,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Episode 242: North Bay Flower Collective, a Progressive Farmer-Florist Community

April 20th, 2016

download This is the second episode featuring members of the North Bay Flower Collective who invited me to spend two days in Sonoma County last month to tour flower farms, visit design studios and learn more about the stories of their community.

We recorded this segment at Full Bloom Farm, located just outside Sebastopol.

There, flower farmer Hedda Brorstrom welcomed me to her family’s idyllic property where old fruit trees and a flock of hens populate the grounds, along with a greenhouse and huge fenced growing area for Hedda’s organic flowers.

Inside the farmhouse, we gathered around the kitchen table for a delicious home-made meal to break bread with Daniele Strawn and Seth Chapin, other members of the North Bay Flower Collective. After lunch, we walked outdoors to record this episode while seated in the heart of the garden with sunshine on our shoulders and the breezes of an almost-spring day blowing by.

Today's guests, from left: Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Farm; Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm; and Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

Today’s guests, from left: Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Farm; Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm; and Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

Our topic: The Evolution and Events of North Bay Flower Collective, including its origins, the individual paths that led each of these three to the collaborative group, and highlights of the past year’s accomplishments, especially in public education, outreach and promotion.

Daniele Strawn, one half of Chica Bloom Farm

Daniele Strawn, one half of Chica Bloom Farm (c) Julian Lindemuth

We didn’t plan it this way, but it seemed fitting to begin this episode with a bonus interview I recorded with Daniele, who is a partner in Chica Bloom Farm.

Daniele was one of the people who offered to chauffeur me around, so we spent quite a bit of time chatting about the business model that she and past and present business partners created for Chica Bloom.

I asked Daniele to let me record a little background about her flower farm, so you’ll hear that conversation first before I reintroduce her along with Hedda and Seth who share their stories as well.

Here is more about each one of these talented individuals. All three farmer-florists are Slow Flowers members with their individual businesses as well as through the North Bay Flower Collective.

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Dirty Hands, Pretty Flowers (c) Betany Coffland

Daniele Allion Strawn is a youth advocate, farm advocate and an ol’ fashioned country girl at heart. She paired up with partner Ariana Reguzzoni and Chica Bloom in February of 2013.

Among the many perks of working on a farm and designing flowers, she appreciates getting her hands dirty (weeding = therapy), observing the complexity of flower growth from seed to seed and creating unique arrangements – ripe with diverse textures and bold colors.

In her free moments, she enjoys riding and spending time with her horse-friend, Penguina. Daniele and her husband, Jeremy, live in the quaint hamlet of Bloomfield, CA (just down the road towards the coast) along with their princess-diva kitty, Ammi majus(ty). They were lucky to get married on the farm with their flowers grown and designed by Chica Bloom Farm.

A Chica Bloom bridal bouquet. Photo, courtesy of the bride, Emily Hunt

A Chica Bloom bridal bouquet. Photo, courtesy of the bride, Emily Hunt

Chica Bloom Farm is a small sustainable flower farm in Petaluma that grows over 60 varieties of cut flowers for unique bouquets, special events and a Flower CSA program.

The farm specializes in a “farm-chic” design style based on seasonal varieties that grow well in coastal Sonoma County.

Ariana and Daniele say this on the Chica Bloom web site:

We believe that growing these beautiful plants should help soil, water, air and other creatures instead of hurt them. For this reason, we don’t use chemicals or pesticides that are harmful to the environment or ourselves in our farming practices.”

Chica Bloom’s web site: http://www.chicabloomfarm.com/
Chica Bloom on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/chicabloomfarm/
Chica Bloom on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ChicaBloomFarm

 

Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm.

Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm.

Next up, Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flowers. Hedda lives for flowers. An interest in agoecology took hold from a young age, which she credits to having grown up in agricultural rich Sonoma County. Hedda completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies specializing in urban food landscapes and garden education. She worked in San Francisco for six years as a garden teacher and coordinator in the school system and at the Academy of Sciences. She holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz where her love for flowers grew out of control. Hedda also earned a certificate in herbalism from the California School of Herbal Studies and she makes a line of herbal products.

Here's Hedda, flower harvesting with one of her young nephews

Here’s Hedda, flower harvesting with one of her young nephews

Hedda says this on her web site:  “A strong believer in plant medicine, I love the power, elegance and joy a bouquet gives people. The craft and skill of both being the grower and the florist is an opportunity to give extra care and attention from planting the seed to designing the centerpiece.  Thank you so much for supporting organic, local flowers. The slow flower movement is the most beautiful revolution and I am proud to call it my passion.”

Full Bloom Flower Farm is proud to design lush, gorgeous arrangements using flowers grown in  abundant, chemical-free flower fields. Sitting on what was once a worm farm, Hedda farms  on about an acre with nearly 200 flower varieties.  Memorable designs are created with unique floral varieties, colors, textures and shapes to honor the season and bring plants to ceremony.

A Full Bloom Farm local & seasonal bouquet

A Full Bloom Farm local & seasonal bouquet

Full Bloom Flowers web site
Full Bloom Flowers on Facebook
Full Bloom Flowers on Instagram

Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

And finally, please meet Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers. Seth moved to California in 2009, wide-eyed and eager to dive into the thriving organic farm scene.

His Golden State beginnings overlooking the Monterey Bay at the fabled UC-Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems flooded his mind with inspiration and scientifically-based growing knowledge – and perhaps most importantly a love for cut flowers!

He has carried this love for the color, shape, and texture of flowers with him over the past five years, alongside a deeply seeded yearning to connect with the land.

With an ideal growing climate and the agricultural pulse of Napa as a foundation, Seth took note of the scarcity of local flowers in a valley where they play such a strong role in homes, restaurants, wineries, and events.

A whimsical Evermore Flowers design

A whimsical Evermore Flowers design

The genesis of Evermore Flowers* is rooted firmly in the belief that flowers should be grown locally with sustainable, soil-centric growing practices. Many conventional flower farms have traditionally been focused on production – flowers as a commodity. Much is harvested, but not enough is given back to the earth. As Seth explains: “We should remind ourselves that every seed we plant represents an intimate relationship with the land. A balance between input and output leaves us with invigorated soil that will sustain flower production for years to come.”

And by the way, the origins of the name “Evermore” can be traced to the beautiful folk ballad “The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin. A line within the song reminds us that “The ground is rich from tender care. Repay, do not forget.

Evermore Flowers web site: http://www.evermoreflowers.com/
Evermore Flowers on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sethkchapin/
Evermore Flowers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seth.chapin.9

I know you’ll enjoy these conversations as we learn more about the North Bay Flower Collective. Here is more about the group, including their values and code of ethics:

GUIDING VALUES
As a collective, we aim:

  • To value cooperation over competition.
  • To be environmentally and socially responsible business people.
  • To provide our collective with educational and enrichment opportunities.
  • To work together to ensure economic viability within our flower collective.
  • To pay dues to the collective for providing us with educational, marketing and business opportunities and resources.

CODE OF ETHICS
Members of the collective agree:

  • To support locally grown flowers.
  • To make decisions based on majority consensus.
  • To promote transparency within the group.
  • To hold themselves accountable to environmental and socially responsible practices.
  • To pay an annual due, currently $25 per year, January­-January. This will not be prorated.
  • To attend at least 5 meetings per year and to volunteer a minimum of 5 hours per year.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 92,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

Congratulations to Hannah and Andrew!!!

Congratulations to Hannah and Andrew!!!

At the end of each weeks episode, you hear me say this: The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Today I want to give my best wishes to Hannah and Andrew in honor of their upcoming marriage, which takes place this Saturday on April 23rd. I’m so excited that they’ve allowed me to create the florals for their ceremony and I wish these two talented friends much joy, love, happiness and a beautiful lifetime together.

Awed by Allium: The Starring Ingredient of a Stunning Bouquet

April 18th, 2016

This summertime bouquet features gorgeous alliums and their companions.

This summertime bouquet features gorgeous ‘Globemaster’ alliums and their companions.

The smaller, darker drumstick allium echoes form and hue of its larger cousin.

The smaller, darker drumstick allium echoes form and hue of its larger cousin.

Jan shares his vast knowledge with regular farmers market customers each weekend.

Jan shares his vast knowledge with regular farmers market customers each weekend.

Jan Roozen of Choice Bulb Farms is a good friend and brilliant (not to mention charming) flower farmer.

I’ve known Jan through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market where he is a member who grows a beautiful variety of flowers.

The selection from Jan and Ritva Roozen’s farm in Skagit Valley north of Seattle features specialty spring and summer bulbs.

Their alliums are some of the best I’ve seen — when I can, I come home with an armload of dramatic blooms and arrange with them.

Jan literally grows 15 varieties of Alliums — can you believe that? Here is the list — click on each cultivar name to see its unique form, color and stature.

Home floral designers can find Jan at the Choice Bulb stall every Saturday at the University District Farmers’ Market and every Sunday at the Ballard Farmers’ Market, both in Seattle.

Fresh-from-the-field, these flowers inspired me to make a summer bouquet a few years ago. I hope you enjoy this textural design in shades of apricot, cream, lemon, lavender and bluish purple and get ready to grow your own alliums (and companions like eremurus and dahlias) in the cutting garden.

READ MORE…

Episode 241: Sonoma Flower Mart Brings Slow Flowers to California’s Wine Country

April 13th, 2016

California Sister's logo is reminiscent of vintage California fruit labels

California Sister’s logo is reminiscent of vintage California fruit labels

I had a fantastic visit with Kathy (left) and Nichole (right) at their new retail-wholesale space at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA

I had a fantastic visit with Kathy (left) and Nichole (right) at their new retail-wholesale space at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA

California Sister and Sonoma Flower Mart are members of the NB Flower Collective.

California Sister and Sonoma Flower Mart are members of the North Bay Flower Collective.

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that the members of North Bay Flower Collective invited me to spend two days in Sonoma County last month to tour flower farms, visit design studios and learn more about the stories of their community.

The origins of this visit date back a year when I met and interviewed two members of this new organization — Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral Design and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm — and featured our conversation here on the podcast.

Over the course of the next month or so, I have several new interviews to share. The guests and topics were selected and suggested by the North Bay Flower Collective’s core leadership group — and you’ll soon hear how they engage in collective decision-making and collaboration.

I have to give props to Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm and Nichole Skalski of California Sister Floral Design for acting as my travel planners and key contacts for the visit.

Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm and North Bay Flower Collective, one of my hosts along with Nichole Skalski.

Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm and North Bay Flower Collective, one of my hosts along with Nichole Skalski.

You’ll hear from Daniele at the top of this interview as we revisit how we connected and how this series came to fruition. Then we will transition to two back-to-back interviews with Nichole and her business partner Kathrin Green.

Nichole and Kathy recently joined forces as partners in California Sister Floral Design & Supply to develop and open their new venture: Sonoma Flower Mart. The companion businesses are co-located in a very cool retail-wholesale space in The Barlow, a development in Sebastopol, California, in the heart of Sonoma County.

A beautiful seasonal arrangement from California Sister Floral Design.

A beautiful seasonal arrangement from California Sister Floral Design.

Called “the new artisan amusement park” by Sunset magazine, The Barlow occupies former fruit packing houses and industrial buildings and now brings together the very best wine makers, food producers and artisans, creating a venue that offers a direct connection between the consumer and the makers of the local products they love. It’s a perfect fit for California Sister’s consumer-facing retail site and the Sonoma Flower Mart’s wholesale operation and you’ll see photos of the adjoining spaces in today’s show notes at debraprinzing.com.

California Sister's all-local creation.

California Sister’s all-California-grown creation.

California Sister is a floral design company located in Sebastopol, that uses local Sonoma County and California grown flowers. The studio’s designs are crafted to reflect the wild beauty of the area that owners Nichole and Kathy call home. As they put it: “We have a passion for seasonality and work closely with our local farmers to insure our flowers are harvested at their peak.”

Offering full service wedding and event florals as well as any occasion floral delivery throughout Sonoma County, California Sister opens its new retail location at The Barlow in April of 2016  featuring plant & floral based offerings that celebrate the distinct Northern California lifestyle.

Partners in California Sister and Sonoma Flower Mart, Nichole Skalski and Kathy Green.

Partners in California Sister and Sonoma Flower Mart, Nichole Skalski and Kathy Green.

Here is more about Nichole Skalski: Nichole first noticed the effects of time by observing her mother’s lilacs cycling through stages of bud, bloom, and dormancy. She worships at the altar of flowers, and reveres their color, form, scent, and effect to bring joy and connection. A Sonoma County native, supporting and maintaining its agricultural diversity is a mission close to her heart. Also a core member of the North Bay  Flower Collective, Nichole is passionate about all things flower related. She can’t get enough of Chocolate Cosmos, is truly moved by roses, and in awe of delicate native orchids.

Here is more about Kathrin Green: Kathy began floral studies with floral designer Sarah Hayes in Worcester, England, and at the Judith Blacklock School of Floral Arts in London. A native Midwesterner, Kathy attended Luther College in Iowa and Nottingham University in England where she met her husband Richard. After raising their family in England they recently moved to California, where their three grown children also reside. Since arrival in Sebastopol Kathy has enjoyed working with local floral designers and flower growers of the North Bay Flower Collective. Offering locally grown flowers, Kathy is pleased to be a partner in the expansion of the Sonoma Flower Mart. Her favorite flower is Paeonia californica, the wild peony.

Another yummy design from Nichole and Kathy.

Another yummy design from Nichole and Kathy.

A California Sister Floral Design bridal bouquet.

A California Sister Floral Design bridal bouquet.

I recorded my conversations with Kathy and Nichole in two parts, beginning with a harrowing car ride between Arcata, California, and Sonoma, California, a 4-hour-plus trip that was thoroughly enjoyable for Kathy and me, and probably very stressful for Nichole, who was driving through torrential rain.

You will definitely hear the ambient noise of her car and the storm outside, but this conversation was priceless and is definitely worth hearing.

After Part One, we’ll transition to Part Two, which took place on the following day when I met the women at their new retail-wholesale place in Sebastopol.

You’ll get a sense of their ambitious project and I encourage you to check them out when you visit wine country.

Their goal is to connect the flower farmers of their region, state and the West with floral designers and their customers, serving as an important flower hub for Sonoma’s weddings, events and day-to-day floral community.

Here are links to the social places for each of these guests:

Daniele Strawn & Chica Bloom Farm

Follow Chica Bloom on Facebook

Follow Chica Bloom on Instagram

California Sister Floral Design on Facebook

California Sister Floral Design on Instagram

Sonoma Flower Mart on Facebook

Sonoma Flower Mart on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 92,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

PodcastSponsorsMarch16 Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Episode 240: Williams Wildflowers – Growing and Designing with Native and Wild Plants in New York and Florida

April 6th, 2016

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The "wild" design work of Annie Schiller (Florida, left) and Rachel Andre (New York, right)

The “wild” design work of Annie Schiller (Florida, left) and Rachel Andre (New York, right)

I first met Annie Schiller of William’s Wildflowers when she introduced herself via email in 2013. The subject line: Slow Flowers in South Florida.

The note continued:

I’m reaching out to you to say hello and to say thanks for your work. Our award-winning native plant nursery in south Florida, Florida Native Plants has just expanded to offer wildflower bouquets featuring Florida native and Florida-friendly wildflowers that we grow ourselves. We are growing them sustainably, without irrigation, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. We want to provide the bouquets already arranged for clients. I’m just writing to see if you can list us on your upcoming search website for locating locally-sourced flowers or anywhere else you might have a list of resources?

This is our website: www.williamswildflowers.com.

We are really excited about this new venture, and could use any advise you might have for start-up slow flower businesses.

A lovely Williams Wildflowers infographic used to educate customers and wedding clients.

A lovely Williams Wildflowers infographic used to educate customers and wedding clients.

Our conversation continued and Annie connected me with an extension agent for the Sarasota, Florida, area who was working on a Florida Small Farms Conference. He planned to feature Slow Flowers at the conference and noted that “we love the concept of Slow Flowers as it’s the perfect complement to our conference’s emphasis on local foods, producers, advocates and systems.”

A flower girl's floral crown in New York

A flower girl’s floral crown in New York

Annie and her sister Rachel Andre were early supporters of the Slow Flowers Indiegogo campaign, which ultimately meant their Williams Wildflowers design studios appeared on Slowflowers.com when it launched in 2014.

I’ve been wanting to feature Rachel and Annie on a podcast and we finally found time to schedule an interview when they were together rather than thousands of miles apart. We recorded this episode when I was in St. Louis a few weeks ago and Rachel had traveled to Sarasota, from upstate New York to help Annie with a wedding. We had some audio difficulties due to  recording over Skype, but hopefully you’ll forget about them as you’re drawn into the conversation, the laughter and the  fabulous story these two young designers will share.

A Williams Wildflowers (Florida) wedding bouquet (c) Brenna Foster

A Williams Wildflowers (Florida) wedding bouquet (c) Brenna Foster

As a design studio, Williams Wildflowers specializes in sustainably and locally-grown, eco-friendly floral arrangements featuring native plants and wildflowers for weddings and special events of all types and sizes. Williams Wildflowers grows, forages and sources local material to create custom and artistically designed floral arrangements directly inspired by the seasons and the local environment. Annie and Rachel’s designs are truly farm to table, with a fresh, one-of-a-kind floral palette.

A centerpiece created by Rachel for Williams Wildflowers New York.

A centerpiece created by Rachel for Williams Wildflowers New York.

The types of cultivated wildflowers and native plants that Rachel and Annie use in their designs are unique to their regions, but there is some overlap, which really surprised me. As they point out, many varieties are native to the eastern part of North America, covering a huge geographic range. Think of black-eyed Susans, white mountain aster, goldenrod, coneflower, bergamot, Queen Anne’s lace, phlox, wild marjoram, yarrow, joe pye weed, sunflowers, bee balm, fleabane, and so many more. See this lovely gallery of flowers from the Williams Wildflowers website:

New York Wildflowers

Florida Wildflowers

Rachel Andre in New York

Rachel Andre in New York

One half of Williams Wildflowers is operated by Rachel Andre, who is based in the Rensselaerville, NY. Her upstate New York studio is located about 150 miles from NYC. She is a graduate of Hunter College in New York City with a background in art history and sculptural design. Rachel has worked as a horticultural intern at Florida Native Plants Nursery and was a volunteer for SF’s Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden. She has a passion for all wildlife with a particular interest in floral design, edible gardening and promoting native flora for sustainable environments. Rachel is currently designing for, managing and establishing the upstate NY location for William’s Wildflowers.

Annie at Williams Wildflowers Florida

Annie at Williams Wildflowers Florida

The other half of Williams Wildflowers is operated by her sister, Annie Schiller. Annie has worked at Florida Native Plants Nursery in Sarasota, Florida, for four years, but she was born in the Bronx and raised in both Chicago and in Florida. She designs butterfly gardens, grows and maintains native and Florida-friendly plants, designs and maintains social and print media (including Williams Wildflowers’ web site) and that of Florida Native Plants. She is interested in wildlife and edible gardening, permaculture, homesteading, vermicompost, sustainable practices, eco art, and floral design. Annie has a background in visual art, art history and graphic design from Florida State University and from her years spent living and working in New York City. Annie currently designs ‘growing bowls’ and arranges and designs wildflower bouquets for the Florida branch of William’s Wildflowers.

Their Mom Laurel Schiller is a wildlife biologist with an extensive background in higher education and in the Native Plant world. She runs Florida Native Wildlife Nursery.

Grandpa Bill, inspiration for Williams Wildflowers, his grand-daughters' floral ventures.

Grandpa Bill, inspiration for Williams Wildflowers, his grand-daughters’ floral ventures.

The William of Williams Wildflowers was Dr. William E. Keller, Annie and Rachel’s grandfather. Thirty years ago he turned the pasture next to their upstate NY home into a wildflower meadow.

All who walked by stopped to admire it. Grandchildren chased each other down the paths. Weddings took place there. The meadow of wildflowers remains a living legacy to “Grandpa Bill,” a passionate gardener.

I know you’ll be inspired to incorporate regional wildflowers and native plants from your state into your design language.

Follow Williams Wildflowers Florida on Facebook

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Williams Wildflowers New York (left) and Williams Wildflowers Florida (right)

Williams Wildflowers New York (left) and Williams Wildflowers Florida (right)

Thanks for joining today’s podcast.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 90,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

 

Episode 239: Flora Organica Designs and Faye Krause at the Arcata, CA Field to Vase Dinner

March 30th, 2016

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On March 12th the first of several Field to Vase Dinners for 2016 took place inside a state-of-the-art greenhouse in Arcata, California –  Humboldt County, located way, way up north in the Redwoods.

What a stunning installation, transforming a working greenhouse into a glorious dinner party setting at Sun Valley Flower Farm (c) Amy Kumler

What a stunning installation, transforming a working greenhouse into a glorious dinner party setting at Sun Valley Flower Farm (c) Amy Kumler

Faye's concept for the installation was Tulips + Bulbs overhead as the chandelier and color blocked tulips in vases down the center of the table (c) by Amy Kumler

Faye’s concept for the installation was Tulips + Bulbs overhead as the chandelier and color blocked tulips in vases down the center of the table (c) by Amy Kumler

The venue: Sun Valley Flower Farm, a leading grower of cut bulb and field flowers in the United States. According to its web site, Sun Valley chose this area as an ideal environment for growing bulb flowers, due to its mild winters, cool summers, generous humidity and coastally moderated sunlight. The fields surrounding the greenhouses also provide excellent growing conditions for spring, summer and fall iris, and summer flowers including crocosmia, hypericum, and monkshood.

Endless tulips!! (c) by Amy Kumler

Endless tulips!! (c) by Amy Kumler

On March 12th, the celebration was all about American-grown tulips and other-spring flowering bulbs — hundreds of thousands of them in all their colorful glory.

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