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

Flower Farming in the nation’s Capitol with Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens (Episode 183)

March 3rd, 2015

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I’m so pleased that Slowflowers.com members Rachel Bridgwood and Lauren Anderson of Sweet Root Village (left) and flower farmer Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens (center) joined Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers (right) and me at a D.C. reception celebrating American Grown Flowers. (CCFC photograph, used with permission)

Today's guest is Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, which serves  florists, grocery stores, farmers markets and brides around the nation's capitol.

Today’s guest is Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, which serves florists, grocery stores, farmers markets and brides around the nation’s capitol.

I returned to Washington, D.C., this past week to join a delegation of flower farmers who invested their own resources of time and money to travel to our nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress and talk about the issues facing our industry.

First of all, I congratulate the folks who do this – they are the ones putting their money where their mouths are to elevate the awareness of policymakers who are in a position to make decisions that affect America’s flower farmers. I was honored to share this experience with them for the second year in a row. And for those of you who question why this is an important step to take, we have a lot of wins to point to.

For all of us, having the bipartisan Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, formed in 2014 and co-chaired four members of Congress who have flower farms in their districts – Lois Capps and Duncan Hunter from California, Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington State and Chellie Pingree from Maine – means that there is now a tangible body of policymakers that you can ask your own elected officials to join. If you are interested in reaching out to your member of Congress, please contact me offline – and I will help you make that introduction. What is this Caucus doing? For one thing, we have them to thank for keeping the dialogue about seeing local and domestic flowers used for White House functions.

In 2015, the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus has been asked to join the Congressional Wine Caucus – one of the most popular of caucuses (right?) – to host an event where local wine and local flowers will be highlighted. I’ll keep you posted on that event because your participation will be needed to showcase your own region’s cut flowers.

Kevin Stockert (left), a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Patty Murray (Washington), has invested time and interest in listening to and visiting flower farmers in her state.

Kevin Stockert (left), a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Patty Murray (Washington), has invested time and interest in listening to and visiting flower farmers in our state.

Another important reason for these DC visits are the relationships that emerge. When you meet your elected officials, you never know what it will lead to.

For two years in a row, I’ve been privileged to meet with the agriculture policy staff of Senator Patty Murray.

Last year, after my fellow Seattle Wholesale Growers Market board members, flower farmers Diane Szukovathy and Vivian Larsen, and I made those connections, two of the Senator’s staffers took the time to visit our market, meet farmers and enjoy our local flowers. These folks want to know what their constituents are doing in areas such as sustainable agriculture, job creation, economic development and more. We’ve received offers of support for future projects, such as USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding we may seek, and I know I can speak for Diane and Vivian that we truly feel there is someone in our nation’s capital who will return a phone call or email and listen to a concern. That is priceless!

Bob Wollam brought his Virginia quince branches to Washington, D.C. -- they added a lot of local beauty to the conversation at an evening reception!

Bob Wollam brought his Virginia quince branches to Washington, D.C. — they added a lot of local beauty to the conversation at an evening reception!

While I was in DC, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to visit a local flower farm and interview a flower farmer, right? So please enjoy today’s conversation with Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, based in Jeffersonton, Virginia.

Bob joined the flower farmer Delegation to meet with his own Virginia congressman, as well as participate in meetings with other offices.

The amazing thing is that the staffers of members of Congress from many states live and work in our nation’s capitol, where Bob sells Virginia-grown flowers at the DuPont Circle Farmers’ Market (where he was a founding member).

So the dots were connected between LOCAL and AMERICAN GROWN – and why they are both so integral in saving our domestic cut flower industry. We suspect that these young legislative assistants will now come find Bob, seeking out the flowers he grows on land less than a 75-mile radius from DC. Like the other flower farmers in our group this past week, Bob is the face of the farmer; the face behind the poppies, ranunculus, anemones, tulips, sweet peas, peonies, hydrangeas, viburnum, dahlias and more. Here’s some more background on our guest today:

Bob Wollam, seated on the front porch of the historic farmhouse in Jeffersonton, Virginia where Wollam Gardens is based.

Bob Wollam, seated on the front porch of the historic farmhouse in Jeffersonton, Virginia where Wollam Gardens is based.

The beautiful green viburnum that bloom gloriously in April at Wollam Gardens.

The beautiful green viburnum that bloom gloriously in April at Wollam Gardens.

Bob Wollam has now been a flower farmer for 21 years. While he will be quick to tell you he had an exciting life before 50, he’ll be even quicker to tell you his addiction to beautiful cut flowers has been nothing but thrilling — and he intends to continue the addiction well into his nineties.

In 1987, Bob Wollam moved to Washington, D.C. This was his first step of an old dream of being a flower grower.  Two years later, he asked a realtor in Warrenton to show him land in Virginia.  He said he wanted at least 10 acres and an old house.   He purchased his historic Farm House with a pre-Revolutionary history and of course 11 acres of farmland in the hamlet of Jeffersonton.

For three years, Bob grew perennials which he sold at the Alexandria, (Virginia) Farmer’s market.  After seeing a small “cut your own” garden during a trip to Central NY, he shifted his energy into cut flowers. Bob began selling to florists in Washington DC and adding more farmers’ markets near, or in, the city. He initiated an internship program in 1994 and has hosted adventurers and flower lovers from around the world.  Many of those are still active in cut flowers, some on their own farm.

A hoophouse filled with Icelandic poppies at Wollam Gardens.

A hoophouse filled with Icelandic poppies at Wollam Gardens.

In the winter of 2006-2007 he developed a 25 year plan for his flower farm and is well on the way to implementing that plan. Bob is driven to grow unique, difficult to grow and difficult to ship cut flowers for specialized florists, designers and farmer’s market customers.

Oh, those hydrangeas!!!

Oh, those hydrangeas!!!

One of Bob's first spring crops is the fanciful and alluring anemone.

One of Bob’s first spring crops is the fanciful and alluring anemone.

With no background in agriculture except a gene handed down from both grandparents, Bob has turned Wollam Gardens into an exceptional destination for flower lovers. He learned quickly by reading everything he could find and with the guidance of other cut flower farmers who  are part of the ASCFG (the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers), an association for which Bob served as a 2-term President.

Wollam Gardens now grows over 80 varieties of cut flowers on 11 acres, plus a few acres on his neighbor’s land. In addition 4 cold frames for growing cool season plants like stock, campanula, delphinium, ranunculus, and the well-known Temptress poppies, Bob has a continuing interest in flowering shrubs as cuts (quince, hydrangea, physocarpus, and viburnum), as well as fragrant bulbs (Oriental lily, Mexican tuberose), and, of course, close to 9000 dahlias.

Ready for market: Zinnias galore.

Ready for market: Zinnias galore.

In 2009, the Washington Post featured Wollam Gardens in a big story.

In 2009, the Washington Post featured Wollam Gardens in a big story.

During the season, Wollam Gardens is open to the public for customers who wish to purchase flowers and plants, Monday through Saturday 9-5, and for wedding and event consultations. People are welcome to stroll the property and look for one of the crew or interns to help with their flower needs!

Eventually Bob hopes all sales will be from the farm. Today, he also markets flowers to 15 florists in the DC metro area as well as at 5 area farmer’s markets.

Wollam Gardens’ flowers can be found at select Whole Foods stores in Virginia, Maryland and DC during the most abundant growing months of the season.

New this season, Bob is in the process of restoring a beautiful pavilion using cedar logs harvested directly from our property! It will be an artistic, rustic, and charming venue that will add even more character to this green space.

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Thanks for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

I’ve been on the lookout for good news, wishing to focus on the positive connections in my life rather than those that are less-than-positive. One of those pieces of good news fell into my in-box a few days ago and I just have to share it with you. I hope it makes you smile as much as it did me!

Here’s what my friend wrote: “Funny coincidence. Our mutual friend (let’s call her Susan) has been doing a little online dating. Yesterday for their first meeting, she had lunch with a retired lawyer who . . . is getting into gardening as a second career.  He is taking a propagation course at a Horticultural College in preparation for creating a slow flower and herb farm.  He began by telling Susan how inspired he has been by Debra Prinzing, the Godmother of the “Slow Flower” movement.  He had even brought along a printout of one of your recent online interviews. Susan really surprised him when she told him that she was friend and that you had visited our town and its gardens several times!  Boy, that really boosted his estimation of Susan.  He wants another date, this time to a public garden or arboretum.  So your work is paying off not only in better flowers, but also in better romance!

That was the best news I heard all week and I thank my dear friend who sent me that note!

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded more than 36,000 times. Last week’s downloads were more than 1,100, our highest ever since this podcast started in July of 2013.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

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 a special thanks to our lead sponsor for 2015, the California Cut Flower Commission, committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers. Learn more at ccfc.org and American Grown Flowers.

The slow flowers podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com

Week 8 // My Slow Flowers Birthday Bouquet

March 1st, 2015

Springtime (almost) in a vase with flowers from my Seattle garden and pussy willow branches from a local farm.

Springtime (almost) in a vase with flowers from my Seattle garden and pussy willow branches from a local farm.

Welcome to Week 8 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!

Yesterday was my birthday and I spent a few quiet hours playing around with these elements from my garden, observing and clipping; processing and arranging — all in a favorite vintage McCoy vase.

What a lovely way to celebrate a personal new year. I apologize to friends and family members who were calling and texting. I really tried to unplug and contemplate the many gifts in my life.

Ingredients, clockwise from left:  Pussy willow, sweet pea tendrils, various daffodils, spurge (Euphorbia characias) and Pieris japonica.

Ingredients, clockwise from left: Pussy willow, sweet pea tendrils, various daffodils, spurge (Euphorbia characias) and Pieris japonica.

This design incorporates green, white and yellow ingredients. The long-lasting pussy willow branches were “leftovers” from more than a week ago. I had purchased them from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in anticipation of a demonstration at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Of course, I planned for more than I could use, so today was the ideal opportunity to pair the pussy willow with cuttings from my own garden.

Here, you can appreciate the creamy white pieris flowers and the downy pussy willow against the milky glazed pottery.

Here, you can appreciate the creamy white pieris flowers and the downy pussy willow against the milky glazed pottery.

The white vase offsets the fresh green tips of the spurge.

Many people worry about using this perennial as a cut flower – Euphorbia characiasis, after all, a relative of poinsettia, exuding milky white sap when snipped. See the info box for tips on caring for your spurge/euphorbia cuttings.

It’s not a super long-lasting cut, but anyone who has this plant in their garden probably has more than necessary.

I could easily replace any wilted stems with an abundant supply of more spurge.

The white blooms of Pieris japonica add texture and contrast, echoing the pussy willow “tails.”

 

Daffodils beneath the flowering cherry trees - on the parking strip in front of our home.

Daffodils beneath the flowering cherry trees – on the parking strip in front of our home.

I didn’t have many flowers on hand, but this mix of specialty daffodils caught my eye.

Plucked from the parking strip in front of our home, they were originally planted by a benevolent prior owner.

I looked around for something to “trail” over the rim of my vase and found some sweet pea tendrils, volunteers from a prior year’s sowing. They add just the right playfulness and carefree spirit to the arrangement.

A detail of the fresh textures and hues of the season.

A detail of the fresh textures and hues of the season.

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More from Slow Flowers
From the Farmer: Working with Euphorbia

A detail from a spring arrangement featured in Slow Flowers, with donkey tail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)

A detail from a spring arrangement featured in Slow Flowers, with donkey tail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)

Most plants in the spurge family produce a milky-white substance when cut. It can be irritating to the skin, so be sure to wear gloves when handling the plant.

While harvesting, I place the stems in a bucket of water, separating them from any other cut ingredients. Then I bring them into my kitchen where I dunk the tip of each euphorbia stem into a bowl filled with boiling water from the teakettle. This seals the stems.
Some experts recommend searing the tips in a stove top flame, but that has proven too messy for my liking.
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Get ready for Women’s Day on March 8th with Lane DeVries (Episode 182)

February 24th, 2015

celebrateWomansDay-1024x569 There’s a new holiday on the horizon and you may not have heard about it.

It’s called Women’s Day and it takes place every year on March 8th.

650Wday1 As it turns out, this holiday has been observed since in the early 1900’s where it started in New York City.

Over the years, according to today’s guest, while the popularity of Women’s Day waned in the U.S., it flourished in Europe, especially in Eastern European nations. The traditional practice of giving flowers to celebrate all the women in one’s life has been widely adopted – yet not here in the U.S.

Now that’s changing. Lane DeVries of The Sun Valley Group, a cut flower farm based in Arcata, California, learned about Women’s Day from one of his staff members several years ago. He began researching it and discovered the U.S. roots of the holiday, as well as the universal appeal of flower-giving as a way to recognize, honor and show affection for mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and neighbors — any woman in our lives who we want to celebrate.

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Why March 8th? That’s not certain, but perhaps it’s no coincidence that March is Women’s History Month. How fitting.

And as Lane tells us, March 8th is a perfect date to promote American grown flowers – because there is an abundant supply of them. Falling several weeks after Valentine’s Day and two months before Mother’s Day, in many parts of the country, there are flowers to harvest and deliver. I know here in Seattle, we are swimming in gorgeous spring bulb flowers.

So consider Women’s Day a bonus holiday that you might want to participate in – and scroll down to find links to resources that you can use to make the most of Women’s Day, in large and small ways.

Let me tell you a little more about Lane’s genius move to bring Women’s Day back into our floral consciousness:

floral-management-cover-223x300 A past chairman of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), Lane and others in the U.S. floral industry began in 2010 to promote flower-giving and raise awareness around Women’s Day.

By 2014, the Society of American Florists honored Sun Valley with the “Floral Management Marketer of the Year” for its efforts to raise awareness and industry involvement in Women’s Day. The award has inspired the entire U.S. floral industry to support the holiday.

I always learn volumes when I have a chance to talk with Lane. He is an optimistic guy, not one to whine about the competition that America’s flower farms face. Rather, Lane looks for possibilities. And he LOVES growing flowers.

Check out Lane’s acceptance of the SAF Floral Management Marketer of the Year Award:

I love this point, which Lane points out in his acceptance speech: Half of the population is eligible to receive flowers on Women’s Day. The floral giving potential is far greater than Mother’s Day.

WomensDay_3.indd SAF has prepared a wide array of promotional material for its members’ use this Women’s Day.

It also will boost social media effort to reach new consumers, an effort supported by funds contributed to the SAF Fund for Nationwide Public Relations by Sun Valley Floral Group.

Upon winning Floral Management’s 2014 Marketer of the Year award for the company’s efforts to promote Women’s Day, DeVries returned the $5,000 cash prize back to SAF to use in its efforts to promote the holiday.

To help members drive sales for Women’s Day locally, SAF offers resources and advice, including ideas for sharing on Facebook, web sites, print ads, posts, tweets, fliers, press releases, radio scripts and more inspiration.

If you’re not sure where to start on promotional efforts, just follow SAF’s lead by sharing Women’s Day posts on its Facebook and Twitter sites.

Look for more Women’s Day Posts you can share at California Grown Flowers and American Grown Flowers Facebook sites. And the CAFlowers and AmericasFlowers Twitter sites.

And here’s a link to the Women’s Day promotional resources available from Sun Valley.

Debra goes to Washington to promote American Grown Flowers!

Debra goes to Washington to promote American Grown Flowers!

While you’ve been listening to today’s podcast, released on February 25th, I’ve been spending time in Washington, D.C., participating in the annual flower farmer “fly-in” to meet and share the American-Grown story with members of Congress and their staffs.

You may recall that I participated in this event one year ago and was invited to speak about Slow Flowers at the press conference announcing the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. The exciting news is the caucus, under the leadership of Representatives Lois Capps and Duncan Hunter, has attracted new members from additional states where flowers are grown — and I’ll be sure to share an update with you next week.

Thank you for downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast! I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing. Listeners like you have downloaded this podcast more than 35,000 times. 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 shellandtree.com.

Week 7 // Winter-blooming camellias paired with a Frances Palmer vase

February 21st, 2015

Red garden camellias (Camellia japonica) and glossy green foliage look stunning as a single variety in my Valentine's Day vase. I believe this is called the 'anemone' form, but the cultivar is unknown.

Red garden camellias (Camellia japonica) and glossy green foliage look stunning as a single variety in my Valentine’s Day vase. I believe this is called the ‘anemone’ form, but the cultivar is unknown.

Welcome to Week 7 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

My wonderful husband and our two sons gave me this beautiful vase for Valentine’s Day. It is a one-of-a-kind bud vase by Frances Palmer, a Connecticut-based ceramic artist whose work I admire greatly.

Prior to Valentine’s Day, Frances Palmer Pottery released a special limited edition collection of handmade white ceramic bud vases. There were only 36 in the series, so I knew they would go quickly. I hinted not so subtly to Bruce, asking if he would consider selecting one of the vases as my gift. When I opened it on V-Day, the card read: “Your wish is our command,” love Bruce, Benjamin and Alex.

You can really appreciate the classical form of the vase in this photograph.

You can really appreciate the classical form of the vase in this photograph.

I can’t think of a better gift for a flower-lover than an extraordinary vase in which to display favorite, seasonal stems – from the garden or the flower farm.

By now, you may realize I am obsessed with American-made vases as ideal vessels for containing American-grown flowers. When you know who the artisan or maker is behind the vase, it heightens your appreciation for that object.

We gain similar appreciation when we know the story of the flowers, including the farmer who grew those stems.

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

In this case, my camellias are straight from the landscape. I live in a community of four houses – three are only 10 years old, including mine; one is from the 1950s. The landscape here is mature and I’m guessing this camellia dates back to the era when the first home here was built. It is tree-like in scale, prolific in bloom, and provides a distinct vegetative “screen” to the southern perimeter of our property.

As you may know, camellias aren’t long-lasting cut flowers. But over the years, I have found two things about camellias:

1. When they are cut in bud or only partially open, the flowers do last longer in the vase; and

2. When you have such an abundant source of flowers, you simply replace the spent blooms whenever you wish, at least during the four-week period when camellias are at their peak.

 

Back to our artist. Here is a statement from Frances Palmer’s web site, which tells a little more about her philosophy:

I don’t make or grow things to hold onto them, but rather to send them out into the world for others to live with and enjoy. My handmade ceramics are functional art – dishware or vases that can be used on a daily basis. Each piece, no matter how large or small, is considered and individual.  

I am honored and happy to think that people across the USA are using my work when they gather in friendship to share a meal and good times.   
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More from Slow Flowers
Design 101: A very special vase.

"Summer Confections," from my book, Slow Flowers. This design features local flowers with a Frances Palmer vase.

“Summer Confections,” from my book, Slow Flowers. This design features local flowers with a Frances Palmer vase.

I was first introduced to the work of Frances Palmer when Stephen Orr profiled the American potter and her Connecticut cutting garden in Tomorrow’s Gardens. Then Frances appeared on Martha Stewart’s television show, where she discussed how she creates her exquisite one-of-a-kind vessels and dinnerware, including vases for the flowers she grows. Her delightful pottery style – classical with a touch of whimsy – is a floral designer’s dream come true.

Naturally, I set my sights on acquiring one of Frances’s pieces. I chose this fluted vase because of the generous diameter of its opening (nearly 5 inches). And to me, this butter-yellow glaze is a perfect foil for all sorts of flowers, but especially the zinnias and dahlias.

If you want to learn more about Frances Palmer, I recommend listening to this fabulous interview of her by Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney on her “After the Jump” podcast.

The Flowering of Detroit, with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box (Episode 181)

February 18th, 2015

After the crazy week of Valentine’s Day, I’m shifting my thoughts to springtime, aren’t you? That’s a little easier for me to say here in Seattle, where the thermometers climbed above 60 degrees last week and flowers are popping up everywhere. But someone reminded me today that spring is only 30 days away. Hold on, everyone!

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The Slow Flowers Movement and Slowflowers.com attracted major media attention last week – on wire services, television, radio, print and blogs. I am so grateful for the attention that is turning to American flowers, the passionate farmers who grow our favorite varieties and the talented designers who create magic with each local and seasonal stem they choose. Here is a sampling of some of the headlines we saw last week:

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“Slow Flowers Movement Pushes Local, U.S.-Grown Cut Flowers” (that story was written by Associated Press agriculture reporter Margery Beck and it literally went viral — appearing in media outlets large and small – from the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune to ABCNews.com). Slowflowers.com member Megan Hird of Farmstead Flowers in Bruning, Nebraska was also featured in this piece.

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“Slow Flowers’ Movement Champions Sustainable Blooms,” by Indiana Public Radio’s Sarah Fentem. Slowflowers.com member Harvest Moon Flower Farm of Spencer, Indiana was also featured in this piece.

“About those flowers you’re buying today; Where did they come from? ask Oregon Growers” from Janet Eastman of The Oregonian. Slowflowers.com member Oregon Flowers was also featured in this story.

“Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: Introducing Farm-to-Table’s Pretty, Flowery Cousin,” by Sarah McColl on the sustainability blog TakePark.com which also featured Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers in Brooklyn, a Slowflowers.com member.

Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez wrote: “Colorado farmers, florists seek renaissance for local flower scene,” featuring Slowflowers.com member Chet Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co.

And Reuters writer P.J. Huffstutter’s piece “Exotic US Blooms Flourish amid roses in Cupid’s bouquet,” featuring the “slow flower” movement, as well as the CCFC and ASCFG.

We can’t even tally the tens of thousands of impressions that came from this great media coverage – but suffice it to say that, according to Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the CCFC, “In my tenure at the Commission, I can confidently say that this past week of media attention and interest was greater than all of the my other years of doing interviews and monitoring Valentine’s Day coverage.”

He went on to say: “I can also quickly point to the three things that made the difference this year.

Slowflowers.com is growing with our 500th member!

Slowflowers.com is growing with our 500th member!

On top of all of that excitement, I want to celebrate a major milestone! This week marks the addition of the 500th member to the Slowflowers.com web site. Please welcome Shelly DeJong of Home Grown Flowers in Lynden, Washington. Shelly’s tagline is “Flowers as fresh and local as possible,” and she specializes in ball-jar bouquets delivered to customers in her community, throughout the year and for special occasions. Welcome to Slowflowers.com, Shelly!

We can already feel that 2015 might be THE year when the story of American grown flowers hits an important inflection point. As we witness a critical shift in consumer mindset at the cash register, I believe we’ll also see a change — in a good way — in the behavior of wholesalers and retailers who make those important flower sourcing decisions.

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One of the things I’m most excited about this year is a series of flower farm dinners that celebrate American grown flowers, as well as the farms and florists who bring them to life. To hear more about this cool project, called the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, I’ve asked special events manager Kathleen Williford to share details.

As I mentioned, you are invited to take part as a guest at one or more of the flower farm venues. The promo code for a $25 discount is DREAM, so be sure to use it when you order your seat at the flower-laden table.

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The Flower House logo, designed by Lily Stotz

Speaking of being flower-laden, our featured guest today has flowers on her brain in a big way. I am so pleased to introduce you to Lisa Waud of Pot and Box, a flower shop and floral and event studio with two Michigan locations – in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Lisa is a member of Slowflowers.com, but I think we originally met when Jill Rizzo of SF’s Studio Choo suggested to Lisa to reach out and tell me about her ambitious project called The Flower House.

Here’s the scoop:

Beginning over the first weekend of MAY, Lisa will host a preview event for an innovative art installation in Detroit.

Imagine this abandoned storefront - filled with Lisa's floral dreams. (c) Heather Saunders Photography

Imagine this abandoned storefront – filled with Lisa’s floral dreams. (c) Heather Saunders Photography

There, potential sponsors, partners, friends and volunteers will get a whiff of the “big project” on a smaller scale. In a tiny storefront, they will install a breathtaking floral display, just next door to a once-abandoned urban property where Lisa and fellow designers ultimately hope to transform an aging, 11-room duplex into The Flower House.

“We’ll generally work our future audience into a flower frenzy,” Lisa says of the kickoff event.

When October 16th-18th rolls around, cutting-edge florists from Michigan and across the country will fill the walls and ceilings of an abandoned Detroit house with American-grown fresh flowers and living plants for a weekend installation.

The project will be featured in local, national, and worldwide media for innovation in floral design and repurposing forgotten structures in the city of Detroit.  

Visitors will be welcomed to an opening reception and a weekend of exploration, and a few reserved times will be offered to couples to hold their wedding ceremonies in The Flower House.  

Re-flowering an abandoned home in Detroit - a glimpse of Lisa Waud's grand idea (c) Heather Saunders Photography.

Re-flowering an abandoned home in Detroit – a glimpse of Lisa Waud’s grand idea (c) Heather Saunders Photography.

When the installation weekend has passed, the structures on The Flower House property will be responsibly deconstructed and their materials repurposed. The land will be converted into a flower farm and design education center on a formerly neglected property. 

For more details on The Flower House, follow these links:

The Flower House on Facebook

The Flower House Inspiration on Pinterest

The Flower House on Twitter

The Flower House on Instagram

I feel like I’m saying this week after week, but today’s conversations, with Kathleen and Lisa, are so truly encouraging.

This IS the Year of the American Grown Flower. Please join efforts like the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and Detroit’s The Flower House to get in on the excitement. Both projects are community focused, with the potential for engaging huge numbers of people.

By exposing lovers of local food and floral design to the immense creativity that comes from sourcing our flowers locally, in season and from American farms, we are deepening the conversation, connecting people with their flowers in a visceral way. All the senses are stimulated, as well as our imaginations.

Thank you for downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast! Each week I share with you our “download” count and we have hit 35,000 downloads to date. I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

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 shellandtree.com

Week 6 // Slow Flowers Challenge at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

February 11th, 2015

Call it a shadowbox or a curio cabinet, this charming display cupboard was custom made by Andy Chapman of Stumpdust.com.

Call it a shadowbox or a curio cabinet, this charming display cupboard was custom made by Andy Chapman of Stumpdust.com.

This week’s Slow Flowers Challenge features my entry into the Northwest Flower & Garden Show’s floral competition.

The NWFGS opened today and runs through February 15th at the Washington State Convention Center. Follow the links in the sidebar to the right and you’ll find details about “One Bouquet; Three Ways,” design presentations I’m giving on Friday 2/13 and Sunday 2/15. Please join me if you’re in the area! All seminars are free with show admission.

I titled my floral entry “Show Your Love With Local (Flowers),” which is fitting with the show’s theme of “Romance Blossoms.” I knew I wanted to display American-grown flowers in American-made vases, so I’ve spent the past several months thinking about how to best portray that idea. The end result is above.

The idea germinated when I gathered together all the American-made vases I wanted to use, both in my own collection and those I wanted to add. Mostly in the teal-aqua-lime green spectrum, I looked at them and thought: “Each is beautiful on its own, but together they will look like a jumble unless I figure out how to organize them.” And that’s when the idea of a curio cabinet came to mind.

Here’s my original sketch I sent to Andy Chapman of Stumpdust, a talented woodworker and artist who I persuaded to construct what I envisioned in my mind’s eye.

It's pretty amazing that my sketch is pretty close to the final product (discounting my poor perspective drawing skills!)

It’s pretty amazing that my sketch is pretty close to the final product (discounting my poor perspective drawing skills!)

The teal and white "bubble vase" by Kristin Nelson of Vit Ceramics inspired the painted "back" of each nook of thd curio cupboard.

The teal and white “bubble vase” by Kristin Nelson of Vit Ceramics inspired the painted “back” of each nook of the curio cupboard.

We met to figure out the dimensions, making sure the “nooks” would have enough negative space to accommodate my flowers, while being balanced proportionately.

Andy took some measurements and we agreed to a cupboard that was about 24-inches wide by about 30-inches tall, with 6-inch deep shelves. The bottom two spaces are 12-inches square; the center ones are 9-1/2-inches tall x 7 to 9 inches wide; the top row has 6-1/2-inch cubbies by the same width as those on the center row.

I really love how Andy staggered the uprights on the top and center rows to make the spaces more visually interesting.

He used scrap lumber and suggested I purchase a thin board at the home center that I could pre-paint before he attached to the back, like the back of a bookcase. That worked out swell and I chose a high-gloss turquoise hue called ‘Seafarer’ from Lowe’s. I think it looks great in contrast to the natural boards.

This sketch is a little more  refined!

This sketch is a little more refined!

The paint color makes all the glazes and glass colors pop, and unifies the display. White flowers and just a small amount of foliage keeps everything fresh-looking. Plus, I suspected that there would be a lot of red and pink this week (there is!) and I wanted to show an alternative to the predictable Valentine’s week floral palette.

It all came together beautifully and after I picked up the finished piece from Andy last weekend, I had fun arranging and rearranging the vases for maximum impact.

And thanks to the amazing selection of white flowers from Washington, Oregon and California flower farms, I was able to showcase the diversity of American-grown floral options for Valentine’s Day.

Here is the Slowflowers.com flier I created, a takeaway for showgoers who might be interested in finding their own American-made vases or changing the way they purchase flowers – selecting domestic, local and seasonal options.

SHOW YOUR LOVE WITH LOCAL: AMERICAN-GROWN FLOWERS in AMERICAN-MADE VASES

topRow

Top Row, from Left:

MiddleRow Middle Row, from Left:

bottomRow.jpb Bottom Row, from Left:

Flower Shadowbox designed by Debra Prinzing of Slowflowers.com and Custom fabricated by Andy Chapman of Stumpdust.com.