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 15 // Spring Awakening

April 19th, 2015

The pods and buds are waking up. They're shouting, "we're here!"

The pods and buds are waking up. They’re shouting, “we’re here!”

It’s been a crazy week here in Slow Flowers Land, but after 8 days of travel, I’m so delighted to be home in Seattle for a week. Seattle has been good to us, with mid-60s to 70-degree weather.
 
Today was no exception. I clipped a bit of this and that – all from my awakening garden. It truly is a Spring Awakening here!
Just unfurled: a vivid yellow poppy

Just unfurled: a vivid yellow poppy

The delicate leaves and flowers that are pushing up through the April soil are each special in their own way. Here’s what I included in my spontaneous spring arrangement:

Variegated hosta leaves
Acid yellow smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’)
The young tips of deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
Green-and-rust-variegated Epimedium leaves and a few flowering stems
Yellow poppies, flowers & buds

The final arrangement - all from April 18th in the garden

The final arrangement – all from April 18th in the garden

Love how all the season's new foliage works together.

Love how all the season’s new foliage works together.

A word about the vase. Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers turned me onto“Wine Punts,” 100% recycled, made in USA, these beautiful vessels are wine bottles that have been repurposed into drinking glasses. Or, small vases. Available in sets of 4 in many colors. Love the size and the pale green hue.

Flowers for Brooklyn (Farmed in Hudson Valley), with Tiny Hearts Farm and Taproot Flowers (Episode 189)

April 15th, 2015

Tiny Hearts Farm of Copake, NY - a Hudson Valley cut flower farm destined for big things!

Tiny Hearts Farm of Copake, NY – a Hudson Valley cut flower farm destined for big things!

Luke Franco, one half of Tiny Hearts Farms

Luke Franco, one half of Tiny Hearts Farm.

Jenn Elliott, one half of Tiny Hearts Farms.

Jenn Elliott, one half of Tiny Hearts Fars.

I’ve often talked about the exciting changes we’re experiencing with the Slow Flowers Movement as a “cultural shift,” not a Trend.

I credit sustainability expert and founder of Ci: conscientious innovation, Kierstin DeWest, the very first guest of this podcast in July 2013, for teaching me this concept. Trends are often momentary; cultural shifts are significant, meaningful and long-lasting changes in the marketplace.

There is a cultural shift taking place that is redefining the relationships consumers, florists and flower farmers have with one another. This is happening at all levels of the flower pipeline, from U.S. Flower Farms large and small seeking Certified American Grown status to brand and label their flowers – in order to satisfy the demands, especially at the mass market – for transparency in flower origin, to the grassroots efforts, region by region, to connect the people who grow flowers with the people who design and sell them.

In the past year, I’ve interviewed or heard from groups in Oregon, Sacramento, California’s North Bay Wine Country, western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and in New York’s Hudson Valley – all of whom realize that together we are stronger and have the potential for more economic success than going it alone. The collective energies of many are driving momentum for all.

Today’s guests are a case study to illustrate this problem-solving model.

Print Calling-Flower-Farmers+logo What is the problem? One of the top barriers is transportation. It’s hard for florists in urban/metro markets to get to the usually rural area where flowers are grown. And imagine how much variety florists need – even if a designer had the time to drive to the country to pick up her flowers, would she have time to drive to 5 different farms? That’s unrealistic.

Similarly, the flower farmer needs to do what he or she does best: Grow Great Flowers.

So driving and delivering is a necessary distraction that takes them out of the fields and greenhouse. Obviously, the challenges of transporting flowers is being overcome – people have to find a solutions and there are probably as many solutions as there are flower farmers and florists.

As the year unfolds, I’ll be collecting the stories of people who are tackling this issue. I invite you to join me as we explore the creative steps folks are taking to sell and source American Grown Flowers.

Rachel Gordon of Taproot Flowers, teaching at BLOOM, a sustainable floral workshop co-sponsored by Slow Flowers and the Ethical Writers Coalition in Brooklyn

Rachel Gordon of Taproot Flowers, teaching at BLOOM, a sustainable floral workshop co-sponsored by Slow Flowers and the Ethical Writers Coalition in Brooklyn

Please meet Jenny Elliott and Luke Franco of Tiny Hearts Farm based in Copake, New York. I first learned about Jenny and Luke from famed garden writer and podcaster Margaret Roach (who was gardening editor and eventually editorial director for MSL back in its true heyday). Margaret invited me to be a guest on her popular gardening podcast, A Way to Garden,” last December to talk about the Slow Flowers Challenge. She immediately and proudly shared that her own small Hudson Valley community a few hours north of NYC was home to a new specialty cut flower farm, Tiny Hearts. It was so nice to have the “a ha” connection already made for Margaret, thanks to Jenny and Luke’s involvement in the local agriculture community of Copake.

I was delighted that Tiny Hearts joined and listed their farm with Slowflowers.com, but we had yet to meet when a month or so ago, I received an email from Rachel Gordon, a Brooklyn-based floral designer, who wanted me to know that she was beginning to work out a way for Tiny Hearts to get their flowers into NYC-Brooklyn with a regular delivery route.

The hoops a flower farmer has to jump through to get his or her beautiful bunches and stems into any urban market are many; I have seen it first hand with the Oregon and Washington growers who are members of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Cooperative, where I’m on the board. It isn’t easy, folks.

But needless to say, the twin boroughs of New York City and Brooklyn are particularly tricky.  It takes the collective will and desire to pull it off and you will hear the ways Jenny and Luke, along with their client and instigator Rachel are approaching 2015’s big wedding season with the intention of getting more local flowers to the marketplace there.

As Rachel wrote in her email to other designers and florists in the city: “I know that for many florists, collaborating with their “competitors” can be awkward…but I really, really think that we should all try to work together to make locally grown flowers more accessible in New York City. If we were a united front — oh, think of the collective buying power we’d have! It could have a tremendous impact, both for us and the flower farmers in our region.”

After our recording, I received a follow up note from Rachel wanting to tell me that she’s also going to be able to source Connecticut-grown flowers this coming season. Evelyn Lee will be delivering flowers straight from her Butternut Gardens Flower Farm in Southport, Connecticut, from mid-Spring through Fall. As Evelyn wrote in an email:

My farm is not large by any stretch, but in past years I have supplied several farmers’ markets, my own CSA, and have created wedding flowers using what I grow, and other blooms as needed. This year, I will forego the farmers’ markets and commence a wholesale delivery service in addition to continuing my CSA and my own wedding work.

Since I already have the great fortune of knowing several Brooklyn designers, and I LOVE what is going on in your little stretch of Paradise, I decided it was, “Brooklyn, here I come.”

This first year will be somewhat of an experiment for all of us, but I have great reason to believe it will be the start of bigger and better things!  As I shift away from the farmers’ markets and into this new endeavor, I am making some shifts in what I grow. For example, I will replace some of the brighter colors (tons of red dahlias, for example) with more muted tones appropriate for a greater number of events, and I will likely reduce the number of varieties I grow so that I have larger quantities of offered product. Having said this, it is important to me to continue to grow certain flowers or foliage, which might not be so readily available elsewhere.

In Connecticut, we actually have a number of growers, most small in size, and some more specialized than others. This year I will be compare notes with these other growers along the way in hopes of identifying ways to create economies, combined flower deliveries and best ways to pool efforts and product so that we might work together productively as we move ahead.

HOW COOL IS THAT? Congratulations to both Tiny Hearts and Butternut Gardens for taking the leap to pursue NYC, the vast market for flowers. I’m eager to hear how this season unfolds and I’ll make sure to follow up for a report later this year.

PS, thank you Luke Franco, for sharing your original piece, “Scabiosa,” with the listeners and readers of The Slow Flowers Podcast. What a sultry piece for a sultry flower!

One more quick announcement: If you are in the PNW, please consider making a day trip on Saturday, April 18th to Triple Wren Farms in Ferndale, Washington (Whatcom County), owned by Sarah and Steve Pabody, past podcast guests. They’re hosting an Apple Blossom Celebration and Open Farm, 1 p.m,-7 p.m., a new venture that showcases Sm’Apples, the apple orchard they manage, and the beautiful flowers they grown at Triple Wren Farm.

Steven and Sarah have arranged to have a professional photography on hand to take family portraits in surrounded by the blossoming apple trees, and they will also have fresh flowers and raw honey for sale. Their invitation sounds so enticing: “Have you ever stood and breathed in the luxury of six acres of apple blossoms? Have you ever visited a working American specialty cut flower farm?

As sarah said when she invited me to attend: We’re trying to increase local awareness of American grown flowers and we hope to encourage others to do the same in their corner of the country..

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.

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded more than 43,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The opinions expressed are either mine exclusively or my guests exclusively and have not been influenced by any other persons or organizations, including sponsors and advertisers.

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

Week 14 // A Visit to Laguna Beach to Play with Local Flowers & New Friends

April 12th, 2015

A golden and green floral palette - with a beautiful echeveria as a focal element

A golden and green floral palette – with a beautiful echeveria as a focal element. (c) Perry Stampfel

 

Welcome to Week 14 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

Greetings from Southern California, where I have been teaching this week! It’s a great excuse to show off some of the flowers grown in Encinitas, California – by Dramm & Echter, an established farm that grows beautiful blooms.

At the invitation of Lynn Stampfel of Laguna Beach Garden Club, I traveled to Southern California earlier this week. This established and active group of gardeners graciously welcomed me to lecture about American Grown Flowers and the Slow Flowers Movement. We had 125 in attendance and it was a whirlwind. Why? Well, for some crazy reason, I had agreed to give a 30-minute slide lecture, followed by a 30-minute eco-design demonstration.

Above is the arrangement I created for the demo. I used a vintage brass planter – low and wide – in order to show how to use chicken wire as the internal mechanics of the container.

 

The floral elements were all grown locally – well, the next county over – at Dramm & Echter, an American grown flower farm with 40 acres of field-grown crops and 950,000 square feet of greenhouses. Dramm & Echter’s primary floral crops are gerberas, lilies, spray roses and protea varieties. Then there’s so much awesome foliage and textural varieties, including solidago, leucadendron, ruscus, eucalyptus and more.

Demonstrating with the flowers from Dramm & Echter

Demonstrating with the flowers from Dramm & Echter. (c) Perry Stampfel

Working with the Dramm and Echter sales team, I ordered $800 of their flowers and foliage varieties for Laguna Beach Garden Club’s afternoon event: A hands-on design workshop.

Twenty-five participants gathered in the courtyard of the local church that hosted our workshop under the lovely canopy of a melaleuca tree, we spent two hours arranging with those blooms. Everyone was encouraged to try using chicken wire or fluffy foliage or curly willow as the stabilizing matrix — all great alternatives to conventional chemical-base flower foam. I’m pleased to have been able to demonstrate the brand new Floral Soil plant-based product in one of my designs, shown below.

This vintage footed glass bowl contains Dramm & Echter florals, including gerberas, spray roses, wax flower, and two types of eucalyptus branches.

This vintage footed glass bowl contains Dramm & Echter florals, including gerberas, spray roses, wax flower, and two types of eucalyptus branches. (c) Perry Stampfel

Twenty-five Slow Flowers designers, all members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, at work on their personal projects.

Twenty-five Slow Flowers designers, all members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, at work on their personal projects. (c) Perry Stampfel

Floral Friendship: The Florist (Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral) and The Farmer (Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farms) (Episode 188)

April 8th, 2015

Betany Coffland (left) and Lennie Larkin (right). This photograph captured the friends holding flowers they grew for Chica Bloom Farm (Betany) and Petaluma Bounty (Lennie).

Betany Coffland (left) and Lennie Larkin (right). This photograph captures the friends holding flowers they grew for Chica Bloom Farm (Betany) and Petaluma Bounty (Lennie).

Bsidelogo Chloris Floral logo Attention emerging flower farmers and #farmerflorists!

A B Side boutonniere.

A B-Side boutonniere.

I know you’ll appreciate this week’s guests because they are both in the early phases of launching their floral businesses.

Either you’ve already been there so parts of their stories will sound familiar or you’re in the thick of building a floral enterprise – farming and/or design – and will draw inspiration from their candor about the challenges, opportunities and decisions about the direction to take.

With planting and harvesting season and months of weddings upon us, I can assure you that our episode is timely. Like all of my guests on the Slow Flowers Podcast, there is much to learn from what they have to share.

Please welcome Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm. Together, they embody a unique collaboration for people who are growing and designing American flowers. Be wowed by the collective beauty of their work.

Betany, performing "Carmen" - Photo by Pat Kirk

Betany, performing “Carmen,” photo by Pat Kirk

This episode was recorded in the San Jose hotel lobby after the conclusion of ASCFG’s “Growers’ Intensive” last month.

Betany Coffland has always possessed an artistic soul. Her first career lies in singing opera where she trained at the Juilliard School of Music.

Often gifted with an armload of bouquets on opening night, Betany frequently imagined herself in a Jane Austen novel.

The quintessential professional, Betany has given us permission to include snippets of her operatic performances, including the French art song, “A Chloris.” Check out her professional opera site here. 

After moving to Sonoma County and reading the book, The Dirty Life, she was inspired to volunteer at a local flower farm to see if she would enjoy getting dirt under her nails and having the outdoors as an office.

A Chloris inspiration, photo by Paige Green

A Chloris inspiration, photo by Paige Green

Betany Coffland, portrayed in an scene inspired by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, photo by Paige Green

Betany Coffland, portrayed in an scene inspired by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, photo by Paige Green

Betany swiftly and deeply fell entranced with how stunning and heartbreakingly gorgeous locally grown flowers are.

For 18 months, she co-owned Chica Bloom Farm, acting as the lead designer and wedding coordinator.

She especially loved getting to know her community through delivering weekly flower CSA bouquets.

In the winter of 2014, Betany launched Chloris Floral. The namesake Chloris perfectly combines her two artistic endeavors, classical singing and floral design.

Not only is Chloris the Greek goddess of flowers, she is also the heroine of Betany’s favorite French art song, “A Chloris,” by Reynaldo Hahn.

This song has special meaning because it was performed by a dear friend at Betany’s wedding to her husband Joseph. Now part of Betany’s repertoire, she continues to perform A Chloris.

A Chloris Floral spring bouquet inspired by Vivaldi's Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons

A Chloris Floral spring bouquet inspired by Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons

Betany and her floral arrangement, Inspired by Debussy's symphonic work- La Mer

Betany and her floral arrangement, Inspired by Debussy’s symphonic work- La Mer

Chloris Floral is a flower design studio in Sonoma County committed to using 100% local and seasonal blooms grown using organic practices. By supporting and building upon the strength of the local farming community, Chloris ensures the availability of fresh, locally grown blooms necessary to create achingly beautiful old world designs.

A little bit country: flower farmer, Lennie Larkin

A little bit country: flower farmer, Lennie Larkin

A lush B-Side bouquet, by Lennie Larkin.

A lush B-Side bouquet, by Lennie Larkin.

In her “day job,” Lennie Larkin is the community farm manager at Petaluma Bounty, a nonprofit community farm that  works to create a healthy and sustainable food system for everyone in Petaluma, California.

At Petaluma Bounty, Lennie grows lots of vegetables and a seriously beautiful patch of flowers that are sold locally, including at farmers’ markets.

She will share her story, so I don’t want to give too much away, but let me quickly introduce Lennie’s new flower farming business, B-Side Farm.

B-Side Beauty, by Lennie Larkin

B-Side Beauty, by Lennie Larkin

She describes B-Side as a small, bustling flower farm that grew out of her obsession with fragrant blossoms.

It sits on a fertile piece of land in the rolling hills of Petaluma, in the southern pocket of Sonoma County, California. From show-stopping dahlias to rare foliages and simple herbs, B-Side specializes in favorite old-fashioned flowers, picked daily and bursting with dreamy scents.

Lennie’s flowers and arrangement supply a family of local-minded florists and specialty stores in Petaluma, San Francisco, and Oakland, and she welcomes orders of loose flowers and specialty arrangements for pickup straight from the farm. Read Lennie’s extended bio from her new web site.

NBflowercollective Lennie and Betany are founding members of the North Bay Flower Collective, a group of flower farmers and floral designers in the North SF Bay Area.

I love the motivation that led to the formation of the North Bay Flower Collective: To lean on each other for support and pull our resources together to build a flower growers’ alliance helping each farmer and florist to grow and thrive. 

Here are the links to Betany’s social sites for Chloris, to Lennie’s social sites for B-Side and to the North Bay Flower Collective.

You’ll want to follow these talented individuals and watch how their coming design season unfolds:

Find Betany here:

Chloris Floral on Facebook

Chloris Floral on Instagram

Chloris Floral Web Site

Find Lennie here:

B-Side Farm on Facebook

B-Side Farm on Instagram

B-Side Farm Web Site

Thank you so much 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.

Listeners like you have downloaded the podcast more than 42,000 times. Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Slow Flowers cited in Center for the Future of Museums’ “TrendsWatch 2015″

April 5th, 2015

Please feel free to use this graphic to promote the Slow Flowers Movement to your own community of flower farmers, florists and customers.

Please feel free to use this graphic to promote the Slow Flowers Movement to your own community of flower farmers, florists and customers.

Out of the blue recently, an editor for the American Alliance of Museums’ annual TrendsWatch publication contacted me for permission to reprint the Slow Flowers‘ “Where do your flowers come from?” infographic in the organization’s 2015 annual report.

I really had no idea how this illustrious association of cultural institutions planned on using the infographic, but of course, I said YES.

TrendsWatch2015 features a report on "Slow Consumerism."

TrendsWatch2015 features a report on “Slow Culture.”

The publication just landed in my in-box and I have to say, it’s pretty impressive.

Each year, the TrendsWatch report highlights top trends that the Center for the Future of Museums staff and advisors believe are highly significant to museums and their communities.

The story of “Slow Flowers” appears in an article titled “Slooow: better a tortoise than a hare,” which highlights slower cultural experiences in all consumer categories.

In addition to the Slow Culture section, the TrendsWatch report cited Ethical Consumerism (which has a lot of connections to Slow Flowers, as well), Personalization, Rising Sea Levels, Wearable Technology and Open Data as subjects of importance to the Museum community.

Here’s a PDF of the article: Trendswatch 2015. You can download a PDF of the entire TrendsWatch report here after completing a short registration form.

 

Week 13 // It started with the apricot hyacinths

April 3rd, 2015

Here is the full view, photographed today on my back porch. So wonderful that the Japanese maple in the background is leafing out, too.

Here is the full view, photographed today on my back porch. So wonderful that the Japanese maple in the background is leafing out, too.

Welcome to Week 13 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!
To be perfectly honest, it started with those yummy apricot-hued hyacinth and the very first fragrant lilacs of the season – both from Northwest fields.
I love  the soft, billowy generosity of spring's early blooms - weed that right now after a winter of stiff conifers.

I love the soft, billowy generosity of spring’s early blooms – weed that right now after a winter of stiff conifers.

And then I couldn’t take my eyes off of the most luscious of tulips, a two-toned pink and green variety called ‘Renown Unique’, grown by my friends Pam and Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farms on Whidbey Island, Washington. (You can find incredible fancy tulips and bulbs grown by them and other local farms at the  Seattle Wholesale Growers Market right now).

In addition, I came home with a bunch of the dark-centered white anemones, also grown by Pam and Kelly. All are quite lovely but I wanted to add some goodies from my own garden to enhance this week’s arrangement.

You can see that the cotton-candy-pink flowering cherry branches and the pale blush-apricot rhododendron clusters — and the just leafing out apricot foliage of an old azalea add their seasonal sparkle to the farmers’ flowers. Combining gifts from the garden with gifts from flower fields is a good thing!

My dear friend and San Diego garden TV personality  Nan Sterman gave me this lovely pot for a birthday several years ago. I’m using it for my Easter bouquet, but I’m sending her best wishes for a blessed Passover celebration that I’m sure she’s having with her family tonight.Our worlds continue to overlap and connect, especially when we love the garden, plants and nature.

A close-up shows those tulips, anemones and the delicate azalea foliage.

A close-up shows those tulips, anemones and the delicate azalea foliage.

Here is the entire recipe:

From my garden: Flowering cherry branches, rhododendron clusters (cut when most of the flowers are in bud, to encourage a longer vase life) and branches of just-emerging azalea foliage.

From the flower farm:

  • Apricot-peach hyacinths, grown by Oregon Flowers in Aurora, OR
  • White lilacs, grown by Tosh in Snohomish, WA
  • Renown Unique pink-and-green tulips, grown by Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, WA
  • White anemones with a black center, grown by Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, WA

HappyEaster