Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle and Los Angeles-based Outdoor Living Expert. As a writer and lecturer, she specializes in interiors, architecture and landscapes. Debra is author of seven books, including Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm (St. Lynn's Press, 2013); The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers (St. Lynn's Press, 2012) and Stylish Sheds And Elegant Hideaways (Random House/Clarkson Potter, 2008). Her articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Country Gardens, Garden Design, Metropolitan Home, Sunset, Better Homes & Gardens and many other fine publications. 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

Week 3 // Slow Flowers Challenge

January 25th, 2015

Miniature cymbidiums in all their glory, offset with calla lily foliage from Danielle Hahn's private landscape at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA.

Miniature cymbidiums in all their glory, offset with calla lily foliage from Danielle Hahn’s private landscape at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA.

On the road with the Slow Flowers Challenge, I’m in Southern California this week to do some story scouting, podcast interviews and to attend the winter board meeting of the Garden Writers Association in Pasadena.

So naturally, I wasn’t able to create my own seasonal and local bouquet!

For Week 3 of 2015, I want to showcase this exquisite arrangement designed by Danielle Hahn at Rose Story Farm. I visited her in Carpinteria, CA, this week (USDA Zone 10) and was delighted to see a vase of miniature cymbidium orchids and calla foliage on the kitchen island at the Hahn family farmhouse.
Rose Story is an American flower farm, specializing in organically-grown old garden roses, David Austin’s and heirloom varieties for the floral industry. That means their field-grown roses bloom mostly in May, June, July and August! Since it’s winter now, the farm’s rose production is limited.
Orchids are a wonderful winter-blooming option for every climate.

Orchids are a wonderful winter-blooming option for every climate.

A few years ago, Dani’s father brought her a wide array of winter flowers that would bloom in her garden when the roses were dormant. She wrote this on her Instagram post of these orchids: “It’s cymbidium time . . . these are a teensy variety and first to bloom. A gift from my late father who decided we needed something during our rose dormancy. One thousand plants and some are fragrant!”
There’s something quite powerful and lovely about associating our floral choices with memories and the people we love – and Dani, how beautiful that your own remembrances of your father are connected to these orchids.
Love this glossy calla lily foliage, another seasonal option from Dani's garden.

Love this glossy calla lily foliage, another seasonal option from Dani’s garden.

Okay, I know not everyone lives in Carpinteria (just a stone’s throw from Santa Barbara), so what’s going on in other parts of the country?
Here are a few designs from Slowflowers.com Members in colder corners of the U.S.
I share these to illustrate how much beauty each region has to offer – if only you look!
From Ann Sensenbrenner, owner of Farm to Vase in Madison, Wisconsin. This was her New Year's arrangement featuring conifers and evergreens, ilex berries, dried grasses, dried seed heads and dried flowers.

From Ann Sensenbrenner, owner of Farm to Vase in Madison, Wisconsin. This was her New Year’s arrangement featuring conifers and evergreens, ilex berries, dried grasses, dried seed heads and dried flowers.

From Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. Kate posted this arrangement on Jan. 16th as part of her "Friday Night Romance" series, a peek at the bouquets she creates each week. I love how this arrangement features late-season Dusty Miller, as well as gorgeous juniper berries, dried hydrangea flowers, dried grasses. I actually think I see a few succulents in this bouquet, too!

From Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania.
Kate posted this arrangement on Jan. 16th as part of her “Friday Night Romance” series, a peek at the bouquets she creates each week.
I love how this arrangement features late-season Dusty Miller, as well as gorgeous juniper berries, dried hydrangea flowers, dried grasses.
I actually think I see a few succulents in this bouquet, too!

TIP: From the Flower Farmer

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium 'Sleeping Dream Castle'.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium ‘Sleeping Dream Castle’.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium 'Sleeping Dream Castle'.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium ‘Sleeping Dream Castle’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchids make great cut flowers!

According to Sandra Peterkort Laubenthal, whose family grows roses, lilies and orchids in greenhouses outside of Portland, Oregon, cymbidiums can be displayed as a flower-studded stem or cut individually off the stem for floating or inserting in floral tubes.
 
It’s hard to know, however, how fresh the flower is. “What makes the most difference is if they are cut right after blooming,” Sandra says.
 
“Look at the lip to see if it has turned pink or is otherwise discolored. This is an indication that the flower has been pollinated by an insect – and that dramatically shortens the cymbidium’s lifespan.”
 
(c) Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers, by Debra Prinzing

Chet and Kristy Anderson of Colorado’s Fresh Herb Co. (Episode 177)

January 20th, 2015

Chet and Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co. with their late-harvest scabiosas in front of the old stone schoolhouse that's now the kitchen wing of their farmhouse.

Chet and Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co. with their late-harvest scabiosas in front of the old stone schoolhouse, circa 1887, that’s now the kitchen wing of their farmhouse.

Chet, as captured by my camera in 2011.

Chet, as captured by my camera in 2011.

It is my pleasure to introduce you this week to Chet and Kristy Anderson, veteran flower farmers and owners of The Fresh Herb Co., based in Boulder, Colorado.

If you’re a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers or if you’ve read the “Rocky Mountain Flowers” chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet, you’re already familiar with the Anderson name — and their beautiful flowers.

The Fresh Herb Company is a specialty grower of culinary and ornamental greenhouse crops and fresh field-cut flowers, proudly serving the Rocky Mountain West local market for over 30 years.

Chet and Kristy grow fresh greenhouse and field-cut flowers May through October. They market field fresh bouquets, peonies, phlox, sunflowers, zinnias, delphinium, larkspur, and many more varieties to customers throughout the Rocky Mountain Region — including grocery chains, weddings and special events., as well as at the Boulder County Farmers Market,

The Fresh Herb Co. Farm, in a pre-flood photo Kristy recently shared.

The Fresh Herb Co. Farm, in a pre-flood photo Kristy recently shared.

Warm, intelligent, creative and engaging, this couple has been so generous over the years in sharing their home and time with me. I visited their farm in May 2011, after being part of a lecture series at the Denver Botanic Garden.

We reconnected in November 2012, when Kristy and Chet came to the ASCFG national conference that was held in Tacoma. And when it turned out that I was going to fly through Denver on my way to a conference for professional speakers this past November, well . . . I basically invited myself to Longmont, about 20 minutes from Boulder, where the Andersons live on the most picturesque flower farm.

Chet emailed me back almost immediately, saying “yes.” Hi Debra…..we would love to see you. Let’s count on seeing you here at the farm at 12:ish.  We’ll have a bite here and get you on the road in time to make it to the Springs by 4:00. Sound ok? Thanks, C.

The big, blue, Colorado sky, as captured on my visit last November. Wow! I know why this place is so special to the Anderson family.

The big, blue, Colorado sky, as captured on my visit last November. Wow! I know why this place is so special to the Anderson family. Note farmhouse on lower right corner of this sweeping photograph.

I was eager to see Kristy and Chet and to get an update on how things had progressed in the previous 12 months.

You see, in mid-September of 2013, we got word that an autumn storm in their area caused devastating floods from Lefthand Creek, wiping out a huge portion of The Fresh Herb Co.’s farm. Right after the disaster, Chet wrote this in an email:

” . . . pretty bad here. House is fine; greenhouse is mostly OK. Barn and coolers are still taking on water but are mostly OK. Pump house is gone. The pond is FULLY silted in (very amazing!). All roads to and from our facilities are gone and there is only one way out of here to town. Flower fields very rough….not sure what will survive, though the peonies fared the best (ya gotta love peonies, eh?). Biggest bummer may be that I have 3,000 bunches of sunflowers and nearly 500 beautiful bouquets in the cooler with no place to go! Dang! . . . “

And then he concluded with a few words that tell you volumes about Chet’s rather upbeat outlook on life:

“As we all know, things could always be worse. Very thankful that family and friends, and house are all safe. Now simply the cleanup.”

Growing fields from a prior season.

Growing fields from a prior season, with the greenhouse in the distance.

I always say that American flower farmers are tenacious and resilient. Listen to our conversation as evidence.

After a delightful lunch featuring butternut squash soup (so beautiful that I had to photograph it!), we walked the farm, saw the enlarged and repaired greenhouse, now 17,000 square feet in size, admired all the new peonies and perennials that were in the ground, ready to hunker down through winter in anticipation of spring.

Colorado peonies in the coolers at The Fresh Herb Co. (photo courtesy Chet and Kristy Anderson)

Colorado peonies in the cooler at The Fresh Herb Co. (photo courtesy Chet and Kristy Anderson)

Here's a photo I snapped in May 2011 inside the greenhouses - hanging baskets overhead and crates of lilies beneath them.

Here’s a photo I snapped in May 2011 inside the greenhouses – hanging baskets overhead and crates of lilies beneath them.

Chet (center), flanked by his lovely women -- mother Belle and wife/partner Kristy. Photogaphed by me at the Boulder Co. Farmers' Market, May 2011.

Chet (center), holding an armload of lilies and flanked by the lovely women in his life — mother Belle and wife/partner Kristy. Photogaphed by me at the Boulder Co. Farmers’ Market, May 2011.

Then Kristy, Chet and I sat outdoors on their stone patio. Yes, it was early November in Colorado, and yes, it snowed just a few days later at the conference where I was, at least, in Colorado Springs. But I felt the sunshine on my shoulders and was truly warmed by our conversation. Thanks for listening in . . .

50MileBouquet_book I’d love you to read the entire story about Chet and Kristy, as included in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Download the PDF of their chapter here: Rocky_Mountain_Flowers_The_50_Mile_Bouquet

And if you are lucky enough to make it to Boulder, Colorado, make sure to schedule a day at their famous Farmer’s Market and stop by to say hello to these intrepid and passionate folks!

Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We have exceeded 30,000 downloads and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged that more people are learning about the farmers and florists who are keeping American-grown flowers thriving.  So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Week 2: Slow Flowers Challenge

January 16th, 2015

January 15, 2015 Slow Flowers Challenge arrangement

January 15, 2015 Slow Flowers Challenge arrangement

SlowFlowersChallengeCover.jpg (2) I hope you are having a wonderful beginning to your New Year of Local Flowers!

This season and the subsequent ones throughout the year will provide us with beautiful, American Grown botanicals. As we train our eyes, plan our gardens and seek local sources for our flowers, I hope that the Slow Flowers Challenge will inspire and inform you!
Week 1: We launched the Slow Flowers Challenge on January 5th and to date, more than 250 people have downloaded the Resource Design Guide to get their own Slow Flowers Project started. Please feel free to share this project with your friends. I encourage people to begin whenever the timing is right – and continue regularly by week, month or season.

For my own arrangement, for Week 2 of 2015, I was inspired by these vivid magenta-purple snowberries,which I saw growing en masse at Jello Mold Farm  in Mt. Vernon.

This is the farm portrayed on the cover of The 50 Mile Bouquet, one of the most productive and sustainable small cut flower farms I’ve ever visited.

A huge stand of snowberry shrubs look gorgeous against the red barn at Jello Mold Farm

A huge stand of snowberry shrubs look gorgeous against the red barn at Jello Mold Farm

Owners Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall encouraged me to cut as many of the stems as I wished. It was already dusk and there was something quite wistful about harvesting floral elements in the waning winter light of January 10th.

I was excited to create an arrangement worthy of all that brilliant fuchsia. I filled a glass pitcher with the snowberry stems when I came home, and then . . . of course, GOT TOO BUSY to design.

Tuesday, while walking my elderly dog Zanny on what was actually a slow craw down the sidewalk of my neighborhood, I spotted my next design ingredient! Branches of blue atlas cedar covered the ground, knocked from a majestic tree during a recent storm. They looked like a graceful gesture depicted in a black-and-white sumi painting. I gathered a few and carried them home.
The teal-blue tinge of the needles seemed the perfect complement to the snowberries. Later that day, I eyed a piece of vintage turquoise pottery, something I ordered from eBay.com a few years ago, mainly because the glaze was so beautiful – darker than most of my other vintage vases.
Lots of texture, color, detail and seasonal interest!

Lots of texture, color, detail and seasonal interest!

That’s when the entire design came together in my mind’s eye. I just had to walk the rather dormant winter garden with clippers in hand to find the remaining elements to complete my design. Here’s what I clipped yesterday before getting started: 
  • Sweet box (Sarcococca ruscifolia), with glossy green foliage and tiny white fringes of super-fragrant, vanilla-scented flowers.
  • Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica), a fantastic shrub with chains of flowers emerging from the tips. I cut mine pre-bloom, so the strings of tiny buds are a pale pinkish-gold color.
  • Bishop’s hat (Epimedium sp.), a rather generic evergreen groundcover (the previous owner of our home planted way too many of them!) with wiry stems and a pointed leaves – thus, the “bishop’s hat.” Some of the varieties turn dark red-brown when temperatures drop, like the ones that I used in my bouquet.
  • Cedar branches, that echo the pottery glaze beautifully. A few of the curved stems drape downward from the rim of the container, which I love.
  • Lichen-covered bare branches from a weathered azalea. You can’t see them well in the photo, however, let me assure you that the pale green lichen also echoes the vase’s glaze.
  • Lots of snowberries, which arch quite nicely above most of the foliage, just where I wanted them in the vase.
  • Three stems of ‘Joseph’ Hellebores, clipped from a container in front of my home. Blooms are rare so I used these for impact.
  • Finally, I knew I wanted something bold, so I added three stems from a Rex Begonia houseplant. I believe this variety is called ‘Iron Cross’ and you can see why.

TIP: American Grown Flowers

Winter can be a challenge to find more conventional blooms, especially if you live in Zones 3-6, right? I was inspired by an event held last week at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market (full disclosure – I’m on the board of this farmer-to-florist cooperative).
We hosted Christina Stembel of SF-based Farmgirl Flowers, and you can see her design here. Christina discussed the huge variety and availability of California-grown flowers that she relies on, year-round. She encouraged Seattle area designers to draw a larger circle in their definition of “local” during the times when most local flower farms are dormant or experiencing lower productivity.
Look for CA-Grown labeling when you’re shopping at the supermarket. You’ll find beautiful flowers that are grown by U.S. farmers – all part of keeping it SLOW!
Christina’s design features California-grown eucalyptus, privet berries, garden roses, tulips, fancy-leaf pelargonium, ornamental cabbage & scabiosa.
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Share Your SLOW FLOWERS Bouquets
About Our Pinterest Boards

When I launched the SLOW FLOWERS CHALLENGE for 2015, I asked people to create their own designs using American grown, local and seasonal botanicals, and then to “share” their designs on our Pinterest board, which I had planned to set up for each month of the year. Here is the January Board.
Easy, right?
Not so easy. I did not realize that I have to INVITE YOU to join this board. I hope you create your own boards, which is something I’ve seen lots of you do. Please invite me to post to your Slow Flowers Challenge Pinterest Board and I will reciprocate and invite you to join ours, which I have made a “Group Board.” Let’s use the #slowflowerschallenge hash-tag when possible, so we can find and enjoy each other’s beautiful and seasonal work!

Floriography’s Emily Calhoun grows and designs with local flowers in New Mexico (Episode 176)

January 14th, 2015

Emily Calhoun of Floriography, lover of the Southwest and grower of flowers.

Emily Calhoun of Floriography, lover of the Southwest and grower of flowers.

Last week’s featured guest was Fran Sorin, gardening and creativity expert, and author of the just-released 10th Anniversary edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

“Digging Deep,” by Fran Sorin

Fran graciously contributed a copy of her book for me to give away to our listeners. The lucky recipient from our drawing is Wendy Gorton. In her comment on my web site, Wendy shared her earliest memory of flowers or nature – and I know that when Fran hears this, it will bring a huge smile to her face. Wendy wrote:

I’m adopted and lucky enough to have had an adoptive mother who loved working in the garden. She would take me out with her at a very early age, where we would plant vegetables and flowers and make mud puddles. This time with my mother was such a gift and taught me how to reconnect to what is important in life. A beautiful story in relation to this…my mother told me that one time, after one of our sessions in the garden where we both came in just covered in mud, the social worker stopped by, as was the case with adoptions. My mother was mortified and tried to explain why we were covered filthy. The social worker just smiled and said, “no worries; it looks like this little one is having a healthy childhood.” 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment and I hope you come back to win something in one of our future drawings!

The gorgeous floral designs of Emily Calhoun, Floriography NM. This is the project that reminds me of Frida Kahlo!

The gorgeous floral designs of Emily Calhoun, Floriography NM. This is the project that reminds me of Frida Kahlo!

Bringing local flowers to the weddings and celebrations of New Mexico.

Bringing local flowers to the weddings and celebrations of New Mexico.

I’m super excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Emily Calhoun. A farmer-florist who owns Floriography, Emily has established her growing fields and design studios in two locations — Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Albuquerque is in the center of the state and Las Cruces is in that little niche near El Paso, Texas where New Mexico, Texas and Mexico come together. We’re talking 235 miles apart!

Floriography blossomed in 2012 when Emily saw the need, even a thirst, for responsibly grown flowers and a fresh, new design aesthetic that was modern, yet steeped in tradition (just like her!).

She proudly produces and utilizes stunning heirloom flower varieties alongside all-time favorites like sunflowers and tulips.

Check out the arrows that indicate Albuquerque in the north/central part of the state - and Las Cruces in south/central.

Check out the arrows that indicate Albuquerque in the north/central part of the state – and Las Cruces in south/central.

Floriography’s business model is unique in that Emily collaborates with other growers, landscapers, and home owners to harvest many local and native plants, cacti, and foliage, bringing a special touch from New Mexico’s beautiful landscape through her floral designs to table, event, or special occasion.

Sourcing botanicals locally eliminates many of the extra costs associated with the floral industry, thus making it affordable to enjoy the benefits of fresh flowers.

Floriography is the expression of Emily’s pleasure and skill in providing beautiful, unique, natural, and innovative floral design while honoring her agricultural heritage through sustainable best growing practices.

The name Floriography (while it is indeed a mouthful!) reinforces Emily’s belief that flowers carry profound meaning for the thoughtful giver and the lucky recipient.

Backlighting lends a Southwest glow to this Floriography bouquet.

Backlighting lends a Southwest glow to this Floriography bouquet.

Floriography, defined as the language and the art of communicating through flowers, gained popularity in the days of Victorian England. This interest in the language of flowers had roots in Ottoman Turkey, when during the first half of the 18th century the court in Constantinople became obsessed with tulips .

Floriography is founded on this powerful and romantic notion that flowers are such wonderful communicators.

“Our mission is to help our clients express their fondest thoughts, hopes, and feelings through our flowers and design,” she says. “I believe in flowers…”

Emily continues, and this is excerpted from the Floriography web site:

Such a sense of place here. The flowers are as vivid as the architecture, the sun and the sky.

Such a sense of place here. The flowers are as vivid as the architecture, the sun and the sky.

“I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds us in the Rio Grande valley.

I love walking through the farm land and down the drainage ditches collecting pods, grasses, and other unique vegetation. 

After living around the country, working in Latin America and Europe as a travel guide and cook, and traveling through several Asian countries, I always knew I’d return to my agricultural roots in southern New Mexico and West Texas to join my family’s farming business.

“Upon returning to New Mexico after one of my adventures, I threw a big dinner party and was  shocked to discover that while we live in a beautiful and productive valley, the closest source for buying “farm fresh” cut flowers was more than 500 miles away.

As an avid dinner party and entertaining enthusiast, I was sad and discouraged that the flowers for my events had to be sourced from such a distance (even South America), and may not have been grown in a way respectful to the environment or the workers.

So, I decided it was time that our beautiful valley should add specialty cut flowers to its agricultural repertoire. Thus began Floriography.”

Full of character and style ~ a Floriography bouquet.

Full of character and style ~ a  New Mexico-grown Floriography bouquet.

“We believe in honoring our environment and agricultural heritage in a way that delights the senses.” is one that resonates with me – and I know it will with you.”

On a sunny, but chilly morning last November, I got to play in the garden with Emily Calhoun of Floriography.

On a sunny, but chilly morning last November, I got to play in the garden with Emily Calhoun of Floriography.

I recorded this podcast in mid November when I was able to visit Emily while traveling through Albuquerque for a day. We had a lovely interlude on her homestead that included playing with all sorts of gorgeous ingredients gleaned from the farm in Las Cruces as well as from the growing fields on her land outside Albuquerque. Here are the November bouquets we designed. I think they’re simply sublime:

Quintessentially local - A gorgeous arrangement, foraged and harvested from only New Mexico-grown ingredients. Design: Emily Calhoun

Quintessentially local – A gorgeous arrangement, foraged and harvested from only New Mexico-grown ingredients. Design: Emily Calhoun

Here's my interpretation of the Floriography style.

Here’s my interpretation of the Floriography style.

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I want to conclude today’s podcast by sharing the very sad news that the Slow Flowers community lost a lovely and wise flower farmer on December 25th. Peg Moran, owner of Friends in the Country, a flower farm in Pawtucket, Connecticut, was Stonington Farmer’s Market’s flower vendor for 17 years, since the market began in 1997.

Peg Moran, Connecticut flower farmer and author of "An Acre Plus: Invitation to A Growing Life"

Peg Moran, Connecticut flower farmer and author of “An Acre Plus: Invitation to A Growing Life”

Here is what the Stonington Farmer’s Market shared on their Facebook Page:

During the growing season, she supplied the Market with a wide range of flowers, from common favorites to unique wonders that she grew on an acre of land she cultivated in Pawtucket. It was always a banner day at the Market when Peg returned for the season wearing her signature straw hat, the back of her car filled with buckets of beautiful flowers.

Her book, An Acre Plus, An Invitation to a Growing Life, describes her journey to becoming an experienced flower grower and building her business, Friends in the Country. She used sustainable farming techniques to raise cut flowers for weddings, parties and local farmers markets. She brought on teen garden apprentices from Stonington High School to learn agricultural techniques and help in her business. She grew annuals in long raised beds and fifty varieties of perennials in terraced beds that curve around her farmhouse on Mary Hall Road. Recently, responding to growing demand, she modified her business model and began growing bulbs for the holiday and early spring seasons, working with other local growers to extend and broaden her seasonal offerings.

Peg was a fervent entrepreneur, and she shared that passion with others, developing entrepreneurship courses and teaching at the University of California as well as far-flung schools in Estonia and Russia. She developed curriculum and taught peer-based programs for microloan lending agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, Willimantic and New London, Connecticut.

She was devoted to sustainable, local and small-scale agriculture. She spearheaded CLUC*K (Chicken Lovers Urge Change), the organization that promoted back-yard chicken farming and successfully worked to change planning and zoning regulations to permit such farming in Stonington.

Peg—author, entrepreneur, farmer and agricultural advocate—lived a busy, engaged life. She was a mother, grandmother and mentor to many. She worked hard, crusaded for causes in which she believed, and supported herself through her lively intellect and avid interests. She will be remembered as “the flower woman” to her customers and “quite a woman” to her friends.

I only met Peg recently – this past November at a Slow Flowers farmer/florist gathering at Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island.  It was such a lovely evening and I’m so grateful Peg drove nearly an hour to join us.  I came home to Seattle immediately and ordered An Acre Plus, Peg’s memoir that she self-published in 2009.

After reading every word I sent Peg a note only a few weeks ago telling her how much I adored her book. I didn’t hear back from her and she died six days later. But hope she read my note and that it made her smile.

My condolences to Peg’s family and her vibrant farming community. If you want to be moved by her beautiful language and honest insights about making a living as a flower farmer, I urge you to get a copy of An Acre Plus. I had hoped to have Peg on this podcast as a guest in 2015. Now, sadly, you’ll have to listen to her voice through the pages of her book.

30k Thanks for joining me today.  My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We reached 30,000 downloads this week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide, online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thanks to our new sponsor, the California Cut Flower Commission, committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers. Learn more at ccfc.org.

Music credits (Creative Commons License)
Tryad – Lovely
Marcus Eads – Johnson Slough
Marcus Eads – Canoe Launch

Slowflowers.com Florists ‘Take Back’ Valentine’s Day From Tele-florists With Sustainable Choices

January 13th, 2015

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery (www.celadoncelery.com) says, "I consider each season in terms of which flowers and branches I can get my hands on! For Valentine's Day, I turn toward spring. Women love receiving the unexpected, so look for arrangements that are made with unusual flowers, grown locally on American flower farms. Bright, colorful arrangements adorned with ribbon and silks are a fresh alternative to a dozen imported red roses." The arrangement above was created using only California-grown red amaryllis, burgundy snapdragons, purple anemones, pink ranunculus, pink freesias, camellia flowers and camellia leaves. (Photo: Laura Grier, Beautiful Day Photography)

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery says, “I consider each season in terms of which flowers and branches I can get my hands on! For Valentine’s Day, I turn toward spring. Women love receiving the unexpected, so look for arrangements that are made with unusual flowers, grown locally on American flower farms. Bright, colorful arrangements adorned with ribbon and silks are a fresh alternative to a dozen imported red roses.” The arrangement above was created using only California-grown red amaryllis, burgundy snapdragons, purple anemones, pink ranunculus, pink freesias, camellia flowers and camellia leaves. (Photo: Laura Grier, Beautiful Day Photography)

**Note: this press release was distributed nationally via PR Newswire today – in anticipation of the news media’s Valentine’s Day reporting

SEATTLE (Jan. 13, 2015) – This Valentine’s Day, Slowflowers.com urges consumers to rethink how they celebrate and woo by supporting local farmers and florists with sustainable, American-grown bouquets.

The flower market is booming! Retail value of U.S. cut flower sales totals $7-8 billion annually, but of the 224 million roses sold in 2012, only two percent were American-grown. Nearly 500 Slowflowers.com florists committed to sourcing U.S. grown flowers have sights set on Valentine’s 2015 to take back business that has for decades belonged to 1-800 tele-florists and the imported flowers they distribute.

The battle begins in Miami where its international airport receives 80,000 – 120,000 boxes of flowers per day during Valentine’s week. Ecuador has the largest share with U.S. growers nabbing only two percent of the market, behind Canada. On the heels of the successful farm-to-table movement, Slowflowers.com is racing to galvanize support for its farm-to-vase crusade. Valentine’s 2015 is positioned as an industry coup, where the country’s most progressive Slowflowers.com florists are turning down 1-800 orders that flood their businesses every February – opting instead to meet demand with artistic pieces using only domestic flowers and foliage.

Debra Prinzing, founder of Slowflowers.com and consumer spokesperson for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, says sweethearts will select American-grown if given the option. “Fifty-eight percent of consumers would rather purchase domestic flowers if given the choice. Valentine’s sees millions of roses arrive via Jumbo Jet with a shelf life of just days,” she says. “Even if ‘American-grown’ is not a concern, buying fresher flowers should be.”

Christina Stembel, Slowflowers.com florist and owner of San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers, has built her business using only California-grown flowers. “The entire process of ordering from the big guys feels like you just got conned,” says Stembel. “We’re pledging flowers that are fresh, local, beautifully designed, and thoughtfully delivered.”

The Origin Matters push from the California Cut Flower Commission is hoping to change flower-giving this season by placing Valentine’s 2015 into the hands of florists committed to domestic flowers. “We are ready to prove Slowflowers.com bouquets and arrangements are far better than imported alternatives,” says Prinzing. “It’s time to show your love with local flowers.”

Slow Flowers is an online directory to help consumers find florists, event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers committed to using American-grown flowers. More information is at www.slowflowers.com.

PR Contact: Lola Honeybone, 615.818.9897, lola@mwnashville.com

Playing with Flowers and Digging Deep with Fran Sorin (Episode 175)

January 7th, 2015

Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we're just weeks away!

Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we’re just weeks away!

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Before we get started, I want to announce our new Slow Flowers Podcast Sponsor for 2015 – the California Cut Flower Commission.

The Commission is committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers.

I’ll be working closely with CCFC on a number of initiatives to promote domestic flowers in 2015, and I promise to keep you posted as details unfold.

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Today on the Slow Flowers Podcast we launch the Slow Flowers Challenge, share all about a new urban flower farm in Pittsburgh, and explore the meaning of flowers on a personal level with author and gardening personality Fran Sorin.

To kick off 2015, I invite you to join in the fun and creativity of the Slow Flowers Challenge. This project was inspired by Katherine Tracy, a talented plantswoman, designer and owner of Avant Gardens Nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Katherine blogged about taking the “Slow Flowers Challenge” after hearing my presentation at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Rhode Island this past fall…and she started using the hashtag #slowflowerschallenge, which in turn prompted other people to create seasonal bouquets, photograph them and share their designs on Facebook, Instagram and personal blogs.

Katherine’s artistic arrangements reveal her love of the natural world, the seasons, the plants, the gifts of the garden and wilder places. I’ve so enjoyed seeing these bouquets pop up across the web – thoroughly serendipitous and seasonal – representing pure joy for a moment in time. SO I thought, “why don’t we make the Challenge available to everyone who loves local flowers?”

I encourage you to check out these very simple rules and download a free SlowFlowersResourceGuide2015 here. Sign up to receive weekly design updates and follow a link to the Slow Flowers Pinterest Gallery, where you are welcomed and encouraged to post your seasonal arrangements.  Let’s have fun, make beauty, and change the American floral industry with new (and more seasonal) habits.

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Briefly, before getting to our main guest, I also invited Jonathan Weber to share what’s going on with greenSinner, a Pittsburgh-based floral design, wedding and event studio and urban micro flower farm that he owns and runs with partner Jimmy Lohr.

Past guests of this podcast, the two have made good on their dream — to buy more land and establish a working flower farm. Jonathan and Jimmy recently purchased 4 acres of long-neglected land inside the Pittsburgh city limits. It’s called Midsummer Hill Farm.

I couldn’t be more excited to see them take this major step, but so much is needed to get seedlings and bulbs into the soil in time for flowers to bloom in 2015. Here’s a recent article featuring greenSinner, Midsummer Hill Farm and Jimmy and Jonathan’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, which runs through January 27th. I encourage you to check it out and perhaps invest in the growth of local flowers in Pittsburgh.

Fran Sorin, author of "Digging Deep."

Fran Sorin, author of “Digging Deep.”

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” Read on to find out how you can enter to win!

Today’s guest Fran Sorin is an author, gardening and creativity expert, and deep ecologist. Her book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, was groundbreaking when published in 2004. It was the first book to address gardening in the context of creativity, and as a tool for well-being and personal transformation. Here is a link to my blog post about “Digging Deep for Flower Lovers,” sharing favorite excerpts from Fran’s book.

Fran recently released an updated 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep. The book is even more vital today, because our culture has become increasingly obsessed with technology and progressively more “nature deprived.”

From the moment Fran decided she wanted to share her passion for gardening with a large audience and approached the local Fox TV station in Philadelphia about the idea, she became a fixture on the TV circuit. She spent years as a gardening authority on Philadelphia’s Fox and NBC stations; she was the regular gardening contributor on NBC’s Weekend Today Show, and made several appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Lifetime, HGTV, DIY, and the Discovery Channel. She is one of the creators of the popular weekly dose of garden news at Gardening Gone Wild Blog.

Fran is celebrating her tenth year as a CBS Radio News correspondent. Her Digging Deep gardening features are heard several times a week on CBS Radio stations throughout the United States. She has also written dozens of articles about gardening and well-being for USA Weekend Magazine, Radius Magazine, and iVillage.

She has spent more than twenty-five years initiating and working on community projects that have served the diverse community of West Philadelphia, most recently initiating a community garden and learning center on the grounds of a church in an underprivileged neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

Even prior to becoming an ordained interfaith minister, Fran was ministering to folks whether she was taking on the role as a garden designer, a media trainer, a TV personality, or a radio host. Fran’s greatest strengths are in connecting to audiences and individuals and galvanizing them to take action. In these tumultuous and technologically obsessed times, when so many of us feel stuck, scared, and disconnected from ourselves and others, her optimistic, grounded values, and empowering message are needed more than ever.

Here is Fran’s video – she’s a woman on the street, sharing her inspiring “Give a Flower. Get a Smile” project:

Follow Fran here:

Facebook

Give a Flower Facebook Page

Twitter

If you want to participate in the drawing for a free copy of Digging Deep, post a comment about your earliest memory of gardening or experiencing nature. Your comment enters you into the drawing, which takes place at midnight Pacific Time, this Saturday, Jan. 10th. We’ll announce the winner next week.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more frequently than ever before.  We’re at nearly 30,000 downloads, which will be an exciting milestone to reach in the coming week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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