Debra Prinzing

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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 252 Bouquets Grown in Massachusetts with Melissa Glorieux of Aster B. Flowers

June 29th, 2016

An historic American farm with roots dating to the Revolutionary War is home to farmer-florist Melissa Glorieux's Aster B. Flowers.

An historic, 400-year-old American farm with roots dating to the Revolutionary War is home to farmer-florist Melissa Glorieux’s Aster B. Flowers.

00527_DP_VERTICAL_AFW_Poster-page-001 This week kicks off American Flowers Week, which began yesterday on June 28th and continues through next Monday, July 4th, Independence Day!

This is our second year celebrating American grown flowers in all shapes, sizes, forms, fragrances, locations and home states.

Before I introduce you to today’s guest, a thoroughly American flower farmer and florist, I want to share a few updates about what’s going on this week:

We’ve had participation at all levels of the floral continuum, warming the hearts and sparking the imagination of flower lovers everywhere.

Beginning with flower farms large and small across the U.S. and continuing through conventional wholesaler and on to consumer-facing flower shops, online florists, grocery stores, and farm-direct channels, the message being communicated is that these flowers have a domestic origin, grown by real people on real U.S. flower farms. Can we have some fireworks, please?!

As of last week, the social media hits were adding up quickly, thanks to  your participation. According to Keyhole.co, which tracks Instagram and Twitter hashtag use, the American Flowers Week message has generated nearly one-half million impressions since we announced the 2016 celebration on May 1st (note, this is an updated figure from June 28th, four days after I recorded this podcast intro).

50statesscreengrab

A fresh-picked, red, white and blue bouquet from Aster B. Flowers -- perfect for American Flowers Week.

A fresh-picked, red, white and blue bouquet from Aster B. Flowers — perfect for American Flowers Week.

Your use of the hashtag term is making an impact, so keep on using #americanflowersweek along with #slowflowers and your personal branding terms. We’ll keep on re-tweeting and re-posting for exponential results!

American Flowers Week has attracted major media attention, including a feature called “Get to know your growers,” by Janet Eastman of The Oregonian.

As I mentioned on the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook earlier this week, when the venerable FTD writes a blog post about American Flowers Week, well, it means we’ve got the attention of mainstream floriculture. And that’s a good thing, folks!

Keep sending us your submissions for 50 States of American Grown Flowers — wouldn’t it be great if all 50 states were represented in the gallery at americanflowersweek.com?

Everyone who participates and submits an arrangement is eligible for the prize drawings that include lots of great swag and shopping sprees from our sponsors. A recent addition from Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska: a beautiful box of 20 stems of premium peonies, which she has donated to our prize pool!

Meet Melissa Glorieux of Aster B. Flowers

Melissa with a bouquet of Massachusetts-grown (and designed blooms)

Melissa with a bouquet of Massachusetts-grown (and designed blooms)

It is entirely fitting to devote today’s conversation to a farmer-florist whose land in Essex, Massachusetts (according to local lore) is said to have been used by George Washington and his troops as a camp site during the Revolutionary War.

Imagine the history that this soil contains! Aster B. Flower’s owner, Melissa Glorieux, a native of Massachusetts, blends flower farming, floral design and artistry at an historic homestead about 30 miles north of Boston, where she and her husband and 2 children settled after previously living the SF Bay Area.

Melissa was first inspired by the abundant availability of seasonal and local flowers in that benign California climate . . . and she wanted to bring that practice to New England when she started Aster B. Flowers.

Melissa has developed the seven acre New England farm around the values of growing local and sustainable flowers. Aster B. strives to be sustainable both in the field and out.

A bevy of bouquets from Aster B. Flowers.

A bevy of bouquets from Aster B. Flowers.

424796_271381576273174_48212622_n The farm reuses and recycles whenever possible, such as repurposing trellising, fabric mulch and drip tape from one season to the next.

Organic growing practices, composting and water conservation are part of the daily life on this farm. Minimal packaging means that flowers are rubber-band tied and, if a client requests it, wrapped in wax paper.

 

Melissa (left) with design partner and fellow co-op member Rebekah Mindel of Meadow Wilds, a member of the new Essex Flower Co-op.

Melissa (left) with design partner and fellow Essex Flower Co-op member Rebekah Mindel of Meadow Wilds.

As Melissa and I discuss in the interview, for 2016, Meadow Wilds, Roving Radish, 1956 Blooms (transitioning to True Vine Studio) and Jemma Tory Floral Design have joined Aster B. on the farm to create the Essex Flower Co-op, a flower grower/floral designer cooperative.

Members of the co-op grow and design side-by-side, sharing expertise and supporting one another in their flower-centric endeavors. This is an exciting new model that I’m eager to share with you, yet another innovative way to keep things local and stimulate small-farm economies.

Another lovely view of Aster B. Flowers in Essex, Massachusetts

Another lovely view of Aster B. Flowers in Essex, Massachusetts

When her customers purchase Aster B. Flowers, Melissa wants them to know they are supporting a local micro-business that provides jobs, treats the Earth kindly and makes the world a little more beautiful.

 

You can follow along with The Ritual Mandala on Melissa's Instagram feed.

You can follow along with The Ritual Mandala on Melissa’s Instagram feed.

IMG_3796 Melissa’s new project is called The Ritual Mandala, a lovely endeavor that combines her life as a flower farmer with her life as an artist.

I know you’ll be inspired to try making your own farm-nature-garden-themed mandalas after seeing images of her beautiful work.

Here’s where to find and follow Melissa:

Aster B. Flowers on Facebook

Aster B. Flowers on Twitter

Aster B. Flowers on Pinterest

Aster B. Flowers on Instagram

Last week we promised a drawing for a free signed copy of The Flower Workshop, our guest Ariella Chezar’s new book. We drew the winner’s name from those of you who took the time to post a comment on the show notes page of Debraprinzing.com. And that person is: Megan Illingworth. Congratulations and thank you for listening and commenting!

There is still plenty of time to add your voice to the AmericanFlowersWeek excitement, so post your red-white-and-blue blooms and tag #americanflowersweek. Everyone’s contribution counts and together, we are changing the conversation about flowers!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 104,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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 251: Ariella Chezar’s The Flower Workshop Book and Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture’s PhD in – yes, Floriculture

June 22nd, 2016

Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) and Ariella Chezar (right)

Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) (c) Amber Snow; and Ariella Chezar (right) (c) Corbin Gurkin

This week’s episode delivers double the inspiration as you will hear from two guests — one quite familiar to our Slow Flowers community, Ariella Chezar, and one who is an emerging leader in floral design education, Morgan Anderson.

Both interviews were recorded in May and I’m combining them here for an extended episode that will delight you as a creative person and evoke some new ways of thinking about your business model, be it flower farming, floral design or a combination of both.

MEET ARIELLA CHEZAR

The Flower Workshop Book I am so fortunate to have gotten to know Ariella Chezar over the years. We were first introduced virtually by Berkeley-based designer Max Gill, an incredibly talented floral artist who I profiled (along with the work of photographer David Perry) in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

When I interviewed Max, I asked him to connect me with someone who had influenced his work and he named Ariella. She and I corresponded by email and she contributed a lovely quote about Max’s work for me to use in the chapter about him (and PS, a podcast interview with Max is on my bucket list for the upcoming year).

I promptly ordered my own copy of Flowers for the Table, an evocative book that Ariella created for Chronicle Books in 2002, one that helped propel her into the world of editorial floral design.

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella and I finally met face-to-face in spring of 2013 at Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburgh, California. She was there at owner Kaye Heafey’s beautiful flower farm to lead a design workshop and as it turned out, I was there with Chicago-based photographer Bob Stefko to produce a clematis story for Country Gardens magazine. The following year, I interviewed Ariella for this podcast in her former Ariella Flowers retail studio in New York City (if you haven’t heard that episode, follow this link).

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

That was about the time that Ariella teamed up with her favorite editor, SF-based Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media (with whom she had created Flowers for the Table), to begin creating The Flower Workshop, the designer’s long-anticipated second book that Ten Speed Press released earlier this year.

A lovely inside page from "The Flower Workshop," by Ariella Chezar

A lovely inside page from “The Flower Workshop,” by Ariella Chezar: “How to make a tulip ‘float'” – Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

It took about 18 months to bring this lovely tome to life because Ariella and her creative team photographed flowers and her designs in season, on location in both the Bay Area, where Ariella worked in the early days of her career, and in her childhood home of The Berkshires, where she operates a studio and small flower farm in western Massachusetts.

The gorgeous new book expresses Ariella’s lush, whimsical garden style and her true passion for nature, both cultivated and wild.

Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our 2014 podcast interview, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic. Mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her, Ariella responded in kind with a loving respect for the elements. In response, her design style was and continues to be unique and iconic.

"Summer Fruits," Ariella's interpretation from the orchard.

“Summer Fruits,” Ariella’s interpretation from the orchard. Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

Please enjoy this short interview. It was recorded at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on May 25th, after Ariella had spent two full days first touring the flower farms of some of the Market’s members, then teaching a master design intensive based on the content of The Flower Workshop.

READ MORE…

Day 5 of British Flowers Week 2016

June 18th, 2016

British Flowers Week 2016

British Flowers Week 2016

Day Five of British Flowers Week 2016 (13-19 June) took place yesterday, concluding the fourth year of the industry-wide, nationwide campaign in support of British cut flowers, founded and organised by New Covent Garden Flower Market.

By yesterday, the hashtag #BritishFlowersWeek had reached a staggering 7.56 million people on Twitter and achieved a record Instagram reach of 2.72 million.

Rob Van Helden

Rob Van Helden

DAY FIVE: The British Flowers Week designs by Rob Van Helden

The British alstroemeria appears in three exquisite floral designs by Rob van Helden, event florist extraordinaire. Read more about the British alstroemeria and its use as a cut flower.

Singular Beauty

Singular Beauty

Singular Beauty: A lone stone vase of British-grown red and pink alstroemeria sits ready to adorn a smart entrance hall or elegant office foyer.

Steely Style

Steely Style

Steely Style: Alstroemeria gets a touch of urban glamour in this striking massed umbrella arrangement of elegant white alstroemeria in a magnificent silver urn.

The Alstroemeria Collection

The Alstroemeria Collection

The Alstroemeria collection: Grouped as a collection, bunches of alstroemeria assemble in pretty little ceramic vases to dress dinner party, given light from a candelabra.

LESSONS LEARNED

Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement and her #britishflowersweek collaborators at the RHS Harlow Carr Flower Show on June 12th

Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement (third from right) and her #britishflowersweek collaborators at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show on June 12th

What inspires me most about British Flowers Week is the widespread participation by people at every level of the floral industry — from growers and wholesalers to florists and public gardens. The media and politicians are paying attention and celebrating domestic, British-grown flowers. Here is my favorite “tweet” from this past week, featuring my friend Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement, a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast. She and others in Yorkshire have been deeply involved in the first RHS Garden Harlow Carr flower show, raising awareness and engagement between consumers and the source of flowers in their lives!

AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK

I’m so excited that American Flowers Week is just around the corner, set for June 28-July 4th! Follow along on Social Media by searching (and using!) #americanflowersweek #slowflowers and join the experience. We are changing the conversation and that’s incredibly exciting!

Celebrating British Flowers Week 2016

June 16th, 2016

Layout 1

British Flowers Week is truly the inspiration for American Flowers Week, our Slowflowers.com campaign that launched in 2015.

New Covent Garden Flower Market in London, the team behind British Flowers Week, has set the bar very high, giving us something quite beautiful to which we aspire — and this week, the 4th Annual British Flowers Week, has delivered far beyond expectations!

British Flowers Week’s promotional model involves a diverse lineup of events. Growers and florists nationwide are staging flower farm open days, British flower workshops, demonstrations and displays or staging pop-up stalls in town centres across the UK.

The Dorchester hotel, Petersham Nurseries, River Cottage Canteen, NT Knightshayes, RHS Harlow Carr, Habitat on King’s Road and BBC Gardener’s World Live are among the venues hosting British Flowers Week events.

The campaign is centered around Five Days, Five Classic British-Grown Flowers, and Five Renown British Florists, showcased June 13-19th.

British flowers at Number 10 Downing Street

British flowers at Number 10 Downing Street

British flowers adorn Number 10 Downing Street! 

This stunning urn arrangement of beautiful British delphiniums, oriental lilies, alstroemeria, astrantia, garden roses, stocks and British foliage was created by floristry students at Capel Manor College, and generously donated by New Covent Garden Flower Market wholesalers Zest Flowers, Pratley, GB Foliage and C Best. The Chairman of the British Florist Association, Brian Wills-Pope MBE was instrumental in making this possible.

By the way . . . *Are you thinking what I’m thinking*? If Number 10 Downing Street, the resident of the British Prime Minister, can have British-grown flowers, why can’t the White House have American-grown flowers? 

Today, I want to share the flowers and florists behind Days One, Two, Three & Four of British Flowers Week.

Kudos to my friends at New Covent Garden Flower Market — Helen Evans, director of business development and support, and publicist Liz Anderson — and all of the British flower farmers and designers who created these iconic examples of fresh, local, seasonal blooms (and foliage) and inventive, inspired floral design. You can learn more about this campaign by listening to my Podcast interview with Helen, aired last spring.

READ MORE…

Episode 250: Sarah Hinton, Floral Designer turned Software Entrepreneur

June 15th, 2016

10626614_821774804530053_1998877968693715534_n How do you manage all the paperwork that goes into planning, budgeting, and producing a successful wedding or special event?

According to today’s guest, Santa Barbara-based designer Sarah Hinton, it took years of struggling with spread sheets and clipboards before she was inspired to develop a software program that simplifies all that paperwork into one online tool called ULARAS.

When I first learned about this project of Sarah’s I wasn’t aware of any other program like hers.

Since then, other programs have also hit the marketplace so be sure to check out “Florist App Comparison,” a useful comparison guide that our friends at Mayesh Wholesale recently published.

Here's how a ULARAS proposal inspiration board looks.

Here’s how a ULARAS proposal inspiration board looks.

Basically, Ularas handles all the facets of floral event planning — including managing weddings and events contacts; writing estimates and contracts, and managing product orders and the production workflow.

Meet my redhead floral pal, Sarah Hinton, of Ularas — a new florist tool for managing weddings and events

I’m eager to share Sarah’s story with you. Her journey feels so universal to me ~ she’s a highly creative person who ran into a “need” that didn’t seem like anyone was addressing and felt motivated to help others in her industry with a solution.

Before becoming a software entrepreneur with business partner Paul Dillow, Sarah spent 13 years operating a retail floral, gift and art gallery; that was followed by RowanOak Events, a special event floral design studio.

The origins of ULARAS began when she asked Paul, lovingly called the company “programmer and geek,” to help her correct a mistake in “a very elaborate Excel spread sheet.”

Like magic, within ten minutes, Paul repaired and returned the complex, hot mess to Sarah with one question… “What do you use this for?”

Start here: the Ularas Proposal

A Ularas Proposal (what your customer receives)

Paul has owned Houston Computer Solutions for more than 17 years. He saw in his mind’s eye a beautiful software program that sparkled and twinkled where Sarah only saw hours of frustration in a spreadsheet she kept breaking.

Basically, Paul looked at what Sarah had created on her own and suggested turning the tool into a database software platform for florists.

Check out Ularas’s “QuickStart” video (17 min) to get a flavor of this robust system and how it might work for your business (bel0w). The video and all of the slides included in these show notes are easily found on the special page for the Slow Flowers Community here.

Step 2: Create the Proposal

Creating the Proposal Template

READ MORE…

Episode 249: Slow and Sustainable with Solabee Flowers & Botanicals

June 8th, 2016

Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers and Botanicals, in their new Portland space

Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers and Botanicals, in their new Portland space

Welcome to Solabee!

Welcome to Solabee!

The roots of this week’s episode began in December 2010 when I met Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers & Botanicals, a Portland-based design team.

I was visiting Portland’s Flower Market, in the area where Oregon-grown product is marketed, working with photographer David Perry on The 50 Mile Bouquet. At the time, we weren’t sure of the book’s title, nor did we have a publisher, but we were forging ahead to capture stories of interesting people and their commitment to American grown, local, seasonal and sustainable flowers. Somehow we snagged an introduction and invitation to Solabee.

The co-creatives in their original retail space (2010)

The co-creatives in their original and tiny retail space (2010)

It was a dreary winter day; the time of year when true “local” floral product is at a minimum, but we found bounty and beauty inside the small storefront about the size of a building foyer in Portland’s historic Kenton neighborhood.

Sarah and Alea told us how the business was founded and their story became a section in The 50 Mile Bouquet in a chapter called “Botanical Wonderland,” that documented the Portland design scene’s embrace of a new floral ethos. Click on the image below to read the story about Solabee.

chapter

The new Solabee store is gorgeous and inviting.

The new Solabee store is gorgeous and inviting.

Sarah and Alea teamed up after both women had managed other flower shops in Portland. As creative partners, they specialize in sustainable design for weddings and events. They source from local farmers, grow their own flowers and harvest ingredients from house plants, such as begonias, tillandisas, orchids and ferns.

Plants occupy every nook and cranny in the new store, including in the upstairs mezzanine.

Plants occupy every nook and cranny in the new store, including in the upstairs mezzanine.

Young and self-financed, Solabee’s owners are resourceful, hard-working and creative. In the book, Sarah discussed gleaning foliage, branches and seed pods from her parents acreage and Alea described their “wild-crafting” exploits that included picking up nature’s debris from the urban terrain.

As you will hear in today’s conversation, a lot has transpired in the past six years including the recent discovering of the most perfect corner retail space in the Humboldt neighborhood in North Portland.

More interior shots of Solabee's new North Portland retail studio.

More interior shots of Solabee’s new North Portland retail studio.

I visited Sarah and Alea at the new Solabee retail shop in April. It occupies a vintage Portland storefront with double-high ceilings that accommodate a mezzanine above. Light pours through the windows of the southeast-facing shop, dancing across the vintage mosaic tile floor.

A Solabee installation featuring tillandsias-as-mandala

A Solabee installation featuring tillandsias-as-mandala

Plants appear here in equal measure to flowers, which is a signature Solabee element. The women are known for showcasing living plants as a sustainable floral option and now, with the large display area, their shelves, walls and ceilings are lush and verdant. Plants add character and serve as the perfect complement to the wild and imaginative floral arrangements created here.

Design for the day when I visited in April 2016.

Design for the day when I visited in April 2016.

I joined Alea and Sarah in their mezzanine office where we could easily overlook and hear all the activity of their employees and customers downstairs. You’ll hear a little of that ambient sound in the background during our recorded episode.

A seasonal, summer bouquet from Solabee.

A seasonal bouquet from Solabee.

Please enjoy this conversation about floral design, floral retail, sourcing techniques, creating company values and sustaining a small business. I loved reconnecting with Alea and Sarah and Solabee, and I know you’ll love meeting them here.

Poppies, a la Solabee

Poppies, a la Solabee

A lovely bridal bouquet

A lovely bridal bouquet

Find Solabee on Facebook

Follow Solabee on Instagram

See Solabee on Pinterest

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.

ABOUT OUR SPONSORS

sponsor bar I want to acknowledge and thank our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com

Thanks to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com.

Music notes:
“Whistle While You Pod”
album: Creative Commons
by: Christopher Postill, Sounds Like an Earful
https://soundslikeanearful.bandcamp.com/album/creative-commons
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com