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

Join me for Winter Solstice, December 21st

December 8th, 2016

solstice-garden-gathering-title-page-image I believe all creatives want to make a difference in their community, and to that end, may I share an opportunity that my Seattle friend Sue Nevler has suggested?

She is proposing that gardeners, ecologists, naturalists, flower farmers and anyone engaged with the environment schedule, host or take part in a Winter Solstice Garden Gathering. Sue sent this note to her community last week:

Dear Garden Friends,

I am asking gardens to join together on Dec. 21st, the Winter Solstice, to invite people to bring a light and enjoy the company of others in a favorite beautiful lighted night garden.

Solstice is a very old tradition, and people are looking for community and connections at this time.  This is not a protest, but a coming together, a chance for unity, camaraderie, savoring the calm, serenity and beauty that our gardens provide.

As past director of the Dunn Gardens in Seattle, I began a Solstice Stroll there. It was a simple, quiet, beautiful winter night’s event. Friends gathered around a bonfire, hold a candle, savor garden shadows and dark sky.

This year, I’m gathering with many sister gardens in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. All have shown interest and enthusiasm. I was inspired to think about a much larger Winter Solstice Garden Gathering after reading a message that The American Public Gardens Association sent to members on November 14, 2016.

“At this moment, the world needs public gardens more than ever. Everyone needs to disconnect from the stress and loss; then find, themselves in our gardens. Whether they are naturally preserved and conserved or deliberately designed to evoke awe and emotion, gardens are where we can all intersect.”

As Sue encourages garden communities, and I’d like to encourage floral/flower farming communities, to incorporate gatherings as appropriate to your part of the country.

Sue suggests that we find inspiration from Eric Lui, who cowrote “Gardens of Democracy” in 2011:  He wrote, “To be a gardener is not to let nature take its course; it is to tend.” 

And clearly, those of us in the Slow Flowers Movement know that “to be a flower farmer is not to let nature take its course, but it is to tend.”

Tend to your corner of the world, in a garden or on a flower farm, and participate in this simple practice of unity, community, and humanity on Dec. 21st, the Winter Solstice. Together, may we illuminate and nurture our floral communities.

Local & American Grown featured in December issue of Florists’ Review

December 7th, 2016

img193 Hot off the press, the December issue of Florists’ Review has two articles that really wow me and underscore the #slowflowers message to a larger, mainstream floral industry audience. Congratulations to editor David Coake and publisher Travis Rigby for their work on this issue!

First, a profile of the very talented Laura Dowling, who served as White House florist for six years during the Obama Administration:

This caption caught my attention: “Using locally grown blossoms when she could was an important part of Laura’s vision for the White House flower shop.”

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Laura this past year and I’m excited to say she’ll be an upcoming guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast (in January), so keep an eye on this space for that show and photos of her work!

A Laura Dowling design, featuring her distinctive technique of integrating a botanical vessel into the arrangement.

A Laura Dowling design, featuring her distinctive technique of integrating a botanical vessel into the arrangement.

img195 Second, an article about Detroit Flower Week with fantastic photos by Sarah Collier, who I met while speaking at the event.

The article features Lisa Waud and her vision for the week-long focus on art and floral design with an emphasis on American-grown blooms. Flower pundit Bill Schaffer noted these “trends” in the article’s text:

Well, thanks. I’ll take some of the credit for these “shifts” and YOU should, too! I hope to reach out to Mr. Shaffer to make sure he’s aware of all the work we are doing to advocate for local, seasonal and sustainable flowers!

If you’re interested in seeing the entire issue, and if you’re not already a subscriber, take advantage of Florists’ Review FREE TRIAL ISSUE offer here. Good for nonsubscribers in the U.S. only.

Episode 274: Russian River Flower School and new voices from the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop

December 7th, 2016

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

In October, I had the distinct pleasure of teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School + Events in Healdsburg, California.

Our Slow Flowers Creative Workshop provided a lovely chance to further share the Floral Storytelling and Floral Memoir curriculum I’ve developed. Our group gathered in one of the most inspiring places — Northern California’s wine country.

As creatives, I believe much of our inspiration comes from “place,” and for this workshop, there was no shortage of beautiful scenery, gorgeous botanicals and the most to-die-for studio space you’ve ever seen.

Dundee and her colleague Naomi Mcleod, along with their frequent volunteer Vicki McFadden, hosted our workshop for two days during which we exercised writing skills, stretched our perception of language, and stepped outside the comfort zones as florist-writers. It was such a wonderful experience that allowed me to talk about our Slow Flowers ethos with kindred spirits.

Our group celebrated the conclusion of a successful two days. We gathered for dinner and a garden tour at Dundee Butcher's wine country home (Dundee is first on the left in this shot)

Our group celebrated the conclusion of a successful two days. We gathered for dinner and a garden tour at Dundee Butcher’s wine country home. From left: Dundee, Naomi Mcleod, Julia, Susan, Kate, Debra and Emily.

This Podcast episode will introduce you to Dundee and her story, and to four of the students in our workshop: Susan Chambers from bloominCouture in San Francisco; Emily Carey from ETC Designs in Sebastopol; Julia Beckstoffer of Kiss my Chicks in St. Helena; and Kate Rowe from Aztec Dahlias in Petaluma. Follow this link to my earlier blog post about the workshop – and to see more photos of the designs that emerged that day.

Our writing exercises ranged from simple botanical descriptions (describe a rose without using the word rose, for example), to playing with new ways of naming color, to journaling about our earliest memory of nature, flowers or art. The ultimate goal? To identify our “why,” our “North Star,” our personal value system that underscores our brand.

On Day Two, Dundee led the students in a floral design exercise to think differently about how their botanical creations reflect a personal aesthetic. We had some amazing flowers to play with, both from local flower farms like Aztec Dahlias, Home Farm, and Chalk Hill Clematis, as well as cuttings from Dundee’s personal garden. Enjoy these photos of the exquisite and distinct designs.

Dundee demonstrated her inventive use of natural elements in design.

Dundee demonstrated her inventive use of natural elements in design.

Here’s more about Dundee and Russian River Flower School:

Dundee opened Russian River Flower School in 2013 after training and working with some of the top floral design houses in London for many years. As well as teaching, she was privileged to create arrangements for a variety of events and occasions, including private parties, intimate dinners, corporate functions, weddings and even a palace!

Dundee’s vision has been to teach a form of “unstructured formality” by fusing what she learned working in a more formal style of floristry in Europe with the excitement of the natural beauty and materials found in abundance in Northern California.

Russian River Flower School’s mission is to teach people to wander with their eyes open, see differently and enjoy the creative process. The flower school is located in the heart of the California wine country, in the town of Healdsburg.

Follow Russian River Flower School at these social places:

Russian River Flower School on Facebook

Russian River Flower School on Instagram

Writing about flowers . . . it's kind of like meditation.

Writing about flowers . . . it’s kind of like meditation.

Thank you to our students — you trusted me and you were open and accepting of expressing your creativity in a new way. That’s sweet and I can’t wait to see where it takes you and your creative businesses! It was pretty special to see our group come together as a cohort of peers — and to experience the value of setting aside a few days to invest in each of our personal growth. Thank you to Dundee, Naomi and Vicki for making our experience so unforgettable!

Here are the video interviews with each student, produced by Davis and Ludell Jones of Eazl.co

Kate Rowe:

Aztec Dahlias on Facebook

Aztec Dahlias on Instagram

Kate Rowe, from Aztec Dahlias. Love her simple study.

Kate Rowe, from Aztec Dahlias. Love her simple study.

Emily Carey:

ETC designs on Facebook

ETC designs on Instagram

Love the olive branches with fruit! Florals by Emily Carey of ETC designs

Love the olive branches with fruit! Florals by Emily Carey of ETC designs

Susan Chambers:

bloominCouture on Facebook

bloominCouture on Instagram

Designed by Susan Chambers

Julia Beckstoffer:

Kiss my Chicks on Instagram

Julia Beckstoffer, floral designer and Bantam Poultry farmer.

Julia Beckstoffer, floral designer and Bantam Poultry farmer.

What I found most inspiring was the willingness of our participants to suspend fear or apprehension and dive into unfamiliar exercises as they learned how to express themselves through words. I salute everyone involved for the way they encouraged and supported one another — that makes a huge difference during any creative process, right?!

What drew people to take this workshop and invest in themselves in a new way? Here’s a sampling of the reasons:

“I lost track of my connection to creativity. I could stand behind another designer and sell someone else’s work, but not my own. I want to use flowers to tell a story.”

“I became so separate from who I am, and I started thinking ‘what would I do if I could do anything I dreamed of?’”

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop, be sure to let me know. I’m planning one for the Seattle area in early March — details to come!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 136,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016
Thank you to 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.

A big bouquet of thanks goes 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.

A fond 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

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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.

How one flower farmer thanks his florist-customers

December 4th, 2016

Hats off to Dennis Westphall, one half of Jello Mold Farm, for his inventive method of thanking customers for a fabulous season!

Hats off to Dennis Westphall, one half of Jello Mold Farm, for his inventive method of thanking customers for a fabulous season!

Dennis wrote:
I wanted to thank everyone for using our flowers, while at the same time following and putting up with my goofy antics. Miss you already, love you all, and I am so grateful to be connected by your creativity, your artistry and four sets of Scrabble.

If you haven’t met Dennis yet, follow him on Instagram here: @mister.mold

Diane Szukovathy, his partner and wife, can be found here: @dianeszukovathy

Episode 273: A Tale of Two Floristas in Raleigh, North Carolina: meet Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm and Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers

November 30th, 2016

Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers (left) and Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm (right)

Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers (left) and Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm (right)

Before I introduce today’s two guests, I have to share a lovely note that I received this past week from Slow Flowers Canada member and loyal podcast listener, Jessica McEwen at Periwinkle Flowers in Toronto. She wrote:

Jessica McEwan of Periwinkle Flowers in Toronto

Jessica McEwan of Periwinkle Flowers in Toronto

I just had to send you a quick note – I have just finished reading the blog post about the newest podcast episode on Michael from Summer Dreams Farm.  I try to look at the post first, because I actually listen to the interviews while driving out to our local flower growers co-operative just outside Toronto twice weekly and like to have their images in my head to match the voices that I hear.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful people with us, and to address what you say towards the end of your blog post- never doubt that what you do is important! Sharing people’s stories, asking the questions and letting us peek behind the curtain of social media is a true gift from you to all of us in this crazy flower world.

You make me feel a part of a much larger network of people who care about the things that I do: That flowers be bought from growers who love what they do, at a fair price, and be valued at all steps along the way. And, that small business owners and creative entrepreneurs who, let’s face it, are definitely NOT in it for the money, (but) are in it because we can’t help but be consumed by the amazing world of flowers and the joy that they bring to the world, are also valued.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Debra- you truly make my world a brighter and happier place, Jessica.

Thank you, Jessica. I needed to hear that this week, and I appreciate you agreeing to let me share your note here.

You may recall my recent episode featuring Jonathan and Megan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina outside of Raleigh-Durham. I spent a few wonderful days in their community in September, which included a fun Slow Flowers Meet-Up on the Leiss farm and a hands-on Slow Flowers Creative Workshop at Maggie Smith’s Pine State Flowers in Durham. I met so many passionate and inspiring women and men on this trip, people who came together from four southern states, each of whom is changing the conversation around local flowers in their own markets.

twoup It’s been an honor to share their stories with you. Now, I want to include two additional interviews I recorded on that trip. You’ll hear from a floral designer who grows flowers and a flower farmer who also designs, both of whom care deeply about disrupting the conventional floral industry model.

The first is Maggie Smith, who, as I mentioned earlier, served as host for the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. Maggie owns Pine State Flowers, a charming retail flower shop in Durham. Our second guest is Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm, one of the many farms that provides local botanicals to Pine State Flowers. I’ll first introduce Maggie; you’ll meet Stephanie in part two of this episode. A special thanks to Jonathan Leiss for  helping me facilitate both interviews.

Maggie Smith, at work inside Pine State Flowers, her old-new flower shop. (c) Samantha Leonetti photo

Maggie Smith, at work inside Pine State Flowers, her old-new flower shop. (c) Samantha Leonetti photo

Maggie's arrangement from our Slow Flowers Creative workshop this past September.

Maggie’s arrangement from our Slow Flowers Creative workshop this past September.

Maggie is an East Tennessee native who moved to Durham in 2009 to attend the Center for Documentary Studies. Being familiar with the local farming community, she knew plenty of flower farmers in the area but realized there were no florists sourcing 100% locally grown flowers.

The creation of Pine State Flowers came out of opportunity. She knew there was demand and interest for locally-grown flowers in her community at the same time that the historic Roll’s Florist building became available for lease.

Love the Carolina cotton in this wedding's personal flowers.

Love the Carolina cotton in this wedding’s personal flowers, by Pine State Flowers

So with only a good idea, a little savings, and no background in the floral industry, Maggie reopened Roll’s Florist as a flower shop and started a small flower farm on the adjacent land.

The main goals of Pine State Flowers are to support local flower farmers and nurture good land stewardship, connect consumers with locally grown flowers, and create a neighborhood space.

The 1930s building that was built to house Roll's Florist, is now home to Pine State Flowers

The 1930s building that was built to house Roll’s Florist, is now home to Pine State Flowers, complete with the original copper-framed bay window

This rotating display features local farms whose flowers are currently on offer.

This rotating display features local farms whose flowers are currently on offer.

Pine State Flowers only sources sustainably-produced flowers grown in America—no chemicals, no imports—and customers know their money stays in the local economy.

More than 95% of the flowers used at Pine State Flowers are grown in North Carolina. In fact, Maggie features 16 local flower farms on her web site. She doesn’t “hide” her sources; rather, she is 100% transparent about her sources – I applaud that practice.

Entering the historic Roll’s Florist shop, now called Pine State Flowers, is like stepping back in time.

As Maggie writes on the Pine State Flowers web site, the business is rooted in the history of one of the largest floral suppliers in the Southeast, and is now a small independent shop sourcing flowers locally.

sm_dsc00304 This legacy symbolizes the American flower movement over the past 115 years. Having emigrated from Germany, Mr. Roll became a florist for the legendary Duke family, and later established his own business in 1899.

Inside the original flower shop, circa 1930s

Inside the original flower shop, circa 1930s

The original Roll’s Florist included 7 acres of botanical gardens, a flower nursery, and 5 glass greenhouses (the last one was torn down a few years ago). Maggie has saved and is preserving some elements and materials from the original flower shop, including light fixtures in the front room, the wooden walk-in cooler, the copper framed front window, rounded front door, and several receipt books dating back to 1920.

A Pine State Flowers wedding

A Pine State Flowers wedding

Pine State Flowers is North Carolina’s first exclusively local flower shop. Maggie believes that using local flowers strengthens the local economy, supports small farms using organic growing practices, and reduces waste. Pine State Flowers has received local recognition from Indy Best of the Triangle for 2015 and 2016.

A beautiful arrangement designed by Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers

A beautiful arrangement designed by Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers

Meet Maggie and follow her at these social places:

Pine State Flowers on Facebook

Pine State Flowers on Twitter

Pine State Flowers on Instagram

READ MORE…

Episode 272: A Dahlia Love Story with Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm

November 23rd, 2016

Today's guest, Michael Genevese, of Summer Dreams Farm (c) Heather Saunders

Today’s guest, Michael Genevese, of Summer Dreams Farm (c) Heather Saunders

Today’s guest shares his inspiring story, a narrative that keeps me motivated to continue with this podcast. Please meet Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm.

Here's that photo I mentioned taking when I first met Michael at The Flower House Detroit

Here’s that photo I mentioned taking when I first met Michael at The Flower House Detroit

The first time I met Michael, his arms were filled with dahlias and he had a big grin on his face! That was just over a year ago, when I traveled to Detroit to experience The Flower House and serve as co-host of the Field to Vase Dinner that took place during the weekend exhibition.

Michael showed up on set-up day and frankly, things were a mess. The area where the big event tent was erected needed some major TLC, including grass cutting and the removal of some tree stumps and a beat up chain link fence. We had volunteers and time, and maybe a rake or two, but nothing close to what was needed to turn a wild yard into a gourmet dining experience in just a few hours.

Beautifying the chain link fence at The Flower House in Detroit - an amazing gift from Summer Dreams Farm.

Beautifying the chain link fence at The Flower House in Detroit – an amazing gift from Summer Dreams Farm.

Michael arrived from his dahlia farm in Oxford, about 45 minutes north of Detroit. His truck was filled with buckets of gorgeous and fresh dahlias that he wanted to donate to the Flower House project to support florists who were his new customers from his first year as a flower farmer.

I was blown away by the variety, color and health of his dahlias as he unloaded the gifted flowers. He must have chatted with a few of the volunteers inside the tent, because someone asked him about tools. I’m not exactly sure how this happened but we noticed that Michael disappeared. As it turns out, he drove all the way back to his farm and returned with enough of the right tools to (a) remove those trip-hazard stumps; and (b) yank out that relic of a chain link fence. A miracle!

Here's a beautiful centerpiece designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events for the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Detroit, 2015. Dahlias by Michael Genovese.

Here’s a beautiful centerpiece designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events for the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Detroit, 2015. Dahlias by Michael Genovese.

Kasey Cronquist, administrator of Certified American Grown brand and Bill Stotz, whose spouse Liz Andre-Stotz was deeply involved in The Flower House core team, were part of this magical transformation, too. It was a sight to behold, and it made the dinner a huge success. That kind of kismet, connection and community only happens because of people like Michael. He is a rare individual.

READ MORE…