Episode 251: Ariella Chezar’s The Flower Workshop Book and Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture’s PhD in – yes, Floriculture
June 22nd, 2016
This week’s episode delivers double the inspiration as you will hear from two guests — one quite familiar to our Slow Flowers community, Ariella Chezar, and one who is an emerging leader in floral design education, Morgan Anderson.
Both interviews were recorded in May and I’m combining them here for an extended episode that will delight you as a creative person and evoke some new ways of thinking about your business model, be it flower farming, floral design or a combination of both.
MEET ARIELLA CHEZAR
I am so fortunate to have gotten to know Ariella Chezar over the years. We were first introduced virtually by Berkeley-based designer Max Gill, an incredibly talented floral artist who I profiled (along with the work of photographer David Perry) in The 50 Mile Bouquet.
When I interviewed Max, I asked him to connect me with someone who had influenced his work and he named Ariella. She and I corresponded by email and she contributed a lovely quote about Max’s work for me to use in the chapter about him (and PS, a podcast interview with Max is on my bucket list for the upcoming year).
I promptly ordered my own copy of Flowers for the Table, an evocative book that Ariella created for Chronicle Books in 2002, one that helped propel her into the world of editorial floral design.
Ariella and I finally met face-to-face in spring of 2013 at Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburgh, California. She was there at owner Kaye Heafey’s beautiful flower farm to lead a design workshop and as it turned out, I was there with Chicago-based photographer Bob Stefko to produce a clematis story for Country Gardens magazine. The following year, I interviewed Ariella for this podcast in her former Ariella Flowers retail studio in New York City (if you haven’t heard that episode, follow this link).
That was about the time that Ariella teamed up with her favorite editor, SF-based Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media (with whom she had created Flowers for the Table), to begin creating The Flower Workshop, the designer’s long-anticipated second book that Ten Speed Press released earlier this year.
It took about 18 months to bring this lovely tome to life because Ariella and her creative team photographed flowers and her designs in season, on location in both the Bay Area, where Ariella worked in the early days of her career, and in her childhood home of The Berkshires, where she operates a studio and small flower farm in western Massachusetts.
The gorgeous new book expresses Ariella’s lush, whimsical garden style and her true passion for nature, both cultivated and wild.
Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our 2014 podcast interview, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic. Mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her, Ariella responded in kind with a loving respect for the elements. In response, her design style was and continues to be unique and iconic.
Please enjoy this short interview. It was recorded at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on May 25th, after Ariella had spent two full days first touring the flower farms of some of the Market’s members, then teaching a master design intensive based on the content of The Flower Workshop.
She graciously demonstrated and spoke to more than 100 members of the Seattle floral design community that morning, and was racing out the door for another engagement when we grabbed a bit of time together to talk about the book project and much, much more. And full-disclosure: Ariella asked me to write a blurb for the book jacket, which I happily agreed to do.
Enjoy these photos of Ariella and a peek at the inside pages of The Flower Workshop, including this generous section about Slow Flowers as a resource;
Enter to win a signed copy of The Flower Workshop!
To enter the drawing for a free copy of The Flower Workshop, make a comment below about your favorite June flower growing in your own garden or on a flower farm in your area. We’ll draw a name at 5 pm Pacific time on Friday, June 24th and announce the winner in next week’s podcast.
Follow Ariella at these social places:
Ariella Chezar on Instagram
Ariella Chezar on Pinterest
Ariella Chezar on Facebook
Subscribe to Ariella’s newsletter here (scroll to bottom of page to enter your email address). She will be announcing her Fall design workshop with Max Gill soon and you’ll receive details.
MEET MORGAN ANDERSON
It was an easy decision to pair the conversation with Ariella with my interview with Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture, and as you listen to our next segment I think you’ll appreciate why. Both women are passionate about floristry as an art form and about floral education.
Morgan and I met virtually when she reached out to introduce herself last year.
At the time, Morgan was in graduate school at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, working on her PhD.
I’ll let you hear all about her work in our conversation, but truth-be-told, I was thoroughly surprised to learn that she wanted to combine her horticulture undergraduate work, her studio work in floral design and her passion for higher education, into a career teaching floral design.. . to earn a PhD, nonetheless!
Last summer Morgan invited me to be a guest speaker in a class she was teaching at Austin Community College’s School of Floral Design. She based the seminar on the Slow Flowers concept of local flower sourcing and sustainable practices. We had a great experience, albeit over Skype, an inspiration to witness the future of floral design through Morgan’s students and their obvious interest in Slow Flowers.
When I traveled to Austin last month to attend and speak at the Field to Vase Dinner at Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, the fantastic flower farm owned by Frank and Pamela Arnosky, I set aside time to meet Morgan and record our interview.
Here’s a bit more about Morgan Anderson:
Morgan adores flowers and foliage. Her deep appreciation for nature, keen eye for all things beautiful, and love for education has provided her with a distinctive aesthetic and unique perspective to the field of botanical artistry.
Uncommon in floristry, Morgan has a Master’s degree in Horticulture from Kansas State University.
She has been published in the peer-reviewed academic journal HortTechnology, and in Postharvest, Cut Flower Quarterly, and the 2011 OFA Bulletin for her research on the benefits of floral preservative marketing.
While earning this degree, she became passionate for teaching while instructing the HORT 210: Concepts of Floral Design course alongside her major advisor, Dr. Kimberly Williams.
To gain a diverse floral aesthetic, Morgan studied under the designers Jennifer McGarigle of Floral Art LA , Tam Ashworth of Isari Flower Studio + Event Design, & Amy Bodle of Merveille Events. Morgan continued to expand her design skill sets by acquiring an Extension Specialist position with Francis Biddle International to co-create the Sun Vista Farms supermarket hand-tied bouquet division; these bouquets sold in specialty markets such as WholeFoods, Mollie Stones Markets, Jimbo’s, and Andronicos.
Morgan has recently earned a Ph.D. in Floriculture (her company namesake) at Texas A&M University. Throughout her program, she taught the HORT 203: Floral Design labs while researching for her dissertation on floral design art curriculum development in universities.
Morgan and her family are in the process of moving to Arizona this summer 2016. In Scottsdale, Arizona, Morgan will continue to design for the public and teach private floral design classes for her clients. She plans to open a studio in the future alongside educating pupils at a leading university.
You will be hearing a lot about Morgan in the future as she explores ways to elevate and enhance attitudes about professional floral design as an art form.
Follow Morgan at these social places:
The.Flori.Culture on Pinterest
The.Flori.Culture on Instagram
Details about Morgan’s floral tutorial
Next week we kick off American Flowers Week on Tuesday, June 28th and continue through Monday July 4th. I couldn’t be happier with the level of participation across the country and across all channels of the floral industry.
Follow this link to the free resources and ideas and get involved. During the past four weeks, we’ve seen 80,000 impressions on Instagram and Twitter mentioning #AmericanFlowersWeek, so I’m confident we will surpass last year’s 400k impressions. Be sure to use hash-tags #americanflowersweek and #slowflowers when you post to Instagram and Twitter, as well as at other social places, and we’ll keep and share that tally in the coming weeks.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 102,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.