Debra Prinzing

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Episode 298: Slow Flowers Summit Preview #1 — meet James Baggett of BH&G and Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

The countdown for American Flowers Week and the Slow Flowers Summit has begun — we’re only five weeks away from the June 28th kickoff of American Flowers Week 2017 and just shy of six weeks from the Slow Flowers Summit, which will take place on Sunday, July 2nd in Seattle.

You’re invited to participate in both — and you can find all the details and links here in this post.

I’ll be previewing as many of our Slow Flowers Summit speakers as possible over the coming weeks. First of all, please meet James Baggett, science and horticulture writer, garden editor at Better Homes & Gardens and a true pioneer in garden media.

I captured this photo of James Baggett in his “happy place” — in a garden. It was the White House Kitchen Garden, which made the moment all the more special! Our colleague, photographer Bob Stefko, can be seen working in the background.

On the road with JAB

James Baggett, showing off the many titles he creates with coworker Nick Crow, his art director. It simply mind-boggling to grasp their huge productivity – and it’s an honor to be one of their writer-producers.

I’ve written and produced stories for this incredibly generous and talented man for years and I count him as a friend. In fact, as I mention often, if given a choice, I’d rather be his friend for life than ever write a single story for him in the future.

James is definitely demonstrating his friendship and support for my passion by agreeing to be our master of ceremonies during the Slow Flowers Summit.

He’s flying to Seattle from his home town, Des Moines, Iowa, where BH&G and its parent company Meredith Corp. are based. As luck would have it, my travels took me to Des Moines last month when Meredith sponsored my lecture at the Wonder of Words festival on Earth Day. While there, I grabbed a short interview with James to share with you.

James A. Baggett has been a garden editor and writer for more than 20 years. In addition to his new role as BH&G’s garden editor, he shaped content at Country Gardens® magazine as its editor in chief for nine years after serving previously as editor of PerennialsTM and as the founding editor of Nature’s GardenTM magazines, both Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications.

Early in his writing career, James wrote Martha Stewart’s “Arranging Flowers” book, which was released in 1999.

James also is the former executive editor of Country Living Gardener and Rebecca’s Garden magazines. He is the author of Flower Arranging, a Best of Martha Stewart Living Book (Oxmoor House) and the former garden editor of American Homestyle & Gardening.

James formerly gardened in New York City — where he tended a 10-x-20-foot garden behind an 1850 brownstone — and he now gardens in Des Moines, where all the available land surrounding his Arts & Crafts bungalow has been given over to flowerbeds, specimen trees and shrubs, and containers.

James has a Bachelor of Journalism degree, from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s famed School of Journalism. In 2015, the American Horticultural Society honored James with the B. Y. Morrison Communication Award, which recognizes effective and inspirational communication – through print, radio, television, and/or online media — advancing public interest and participation in horticulture.

“Garden writing is science writing with Jazz Hands” — James Baggett

Click here to download the James Baggett Profile, “Charming, Disarming and Engaging,” written by Maryann Newcomer for to the GWA Association of Garden Communicators newsletter. His curiosity and passion about everything in the natural world comes through in all aspects of his work and his life, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be joining us as the emcee for the Summit.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle’s Lola Creative.

Next up, past guest of this podcast, Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle-based Lola Creative. If you missed my interview with Emily (episode 168) you’ll want to go back and hear her entire journey of arriving at a floral career drawing from a background in landscape architecture.

It’s inspiring and it’s one of the reasons I asked Emily to speak at the Slow Flowers Summit on the topic of “Reinvention: Professionally, Artistically + Sustainably.” She will share her story and talk about how creatives are morphing with the changing cultural scene, changing aesthetic tastes and changing values.

And a huge bonus of having Emily involved in the Summit will be her “live” demonstration of building a foam-free floral wall.

It was during our recent walk-through of the Surf Incubator Event Space where our Summit will be held, that I recorded our short audio conversation. Our mutual friend Liz Browning of Laughing Girl Flowers was with us and we were all so excited to see the environment that will house the Summit gathering. We also discussed logistics of building a mini version of the massive floral wall that Emily and her team created for the 2016 Seattle Art Fair.

Her business, Lola Creative, is comprised of a team of art-minded, world-wandering, endlessly curious event and visual art professionals and ready to get obsessed with their clients’ projects. They specialize in design and production of bold events with a focus on brand enhancement and generating a meaningful connection between guests and a host organization, styled photoshoots and creative direction for online content and marketing campaigns, exceptional weddings for excellent couples. Lola Creative includes craftspeople, architects, project managers, marketers, writers, painters, organizational master-minds, and bold thinkers. Lola operates out of a light- filled studio in Edmonds, Washington, serving the entire state and Northwest region.

Lola promotes sustainable flower growing, low waste events, and low-impact practices of all kinds, including composting plant waste, reusing materials, and sourcing locally and responsibly. Lola Creative has ceased the use of floral foam for its toxicity and non-biodegradability. A portion of profits benefit scientific research, creatures, and kids’ education in entrepreneurship, art, and technology.

Check out Curious Lola, Emily’s blog where she shares tips, stories and videos about building, running and designing an event design and floral business.

Find/follow Emily at these social places:

Lola Creative on Facebook

Lola Creative on Instagram

Lola Creative on Pinterest

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 191,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

It’s time to sign up for the Summit and you can find the registration link and more details right here.

The information you will gain in a single day at the Summit is an incredible value for just $175 — and members of Slow Flowers receive a great thank-you rate  of $135/ Your registration includes all lectures and coffee/light breakfast, lunch and a cocktail reception with speakers — plus a flower lovers’ swag bag and chance to network with the doers and thinkers in our botanical universe.

I can’t wait for you to join us in Seattle on July 2 in the heart of American Flowers Week!

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.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

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

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides 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.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
The Zeppelin; Dirtbike Lovers
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 297: The Flower Power Network: Florists Coming Together to Learn and Lend Support

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Above, I’m seated on the sofa with fellow Flower Power speaker, Aimee Newlander of the Slow Weddings Network. Flower Power’s members often meet in one another’s homes, gardens and studios. These photos were taken by Sarah Gonia, an Olympia-based photographer (c) Sarah Gonia.

Sarah captured this hellebore (from Maura’s garden) in a centerpiece that welcomed us to Maura’s home. (c) Sarah Gonia

Another lovely moment from Maura’s floral arrangement (c) Sarah Gonia

We’ve been talking about networking, collaboration and community quite a bit lately and this week’s topic continues that thread with Seattle’s Flower Power.

This intentional cohort of floral designers and farmer-florists formed in early 2016 with a core group of new friends, many of whom met while taking a large-scale installation workshop with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box when she came to town.

Flower Powers’ monthly gatherings rotate among different member’s homes or studios and focus on business topics and face-to-face social networking . . . today, only 18 months after forming, the list of Flower Power members has grown organically to more than 35 participants.

Maura Whalen of Seattle’s Casablanca Floral shared this portait from her collection. She’s seen in front of her beautiful design studio.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, based on Seattle’s Eastside, at work in her home-based design studio (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Many Flower Power members are also involved in Slow Flowers and so somehow I was added to the mailing list . . . every time their monthly meeting notice lands in my in-box, I open it curious to discover the topic and host. I have felt very included but never had a chance to attend until May 1st. Maura Whalen invited me to speak about Slow Flowers when she hosted the group in her beautiful home and garden in Seattle.

Before our evening’s program began, I sat down with Maura and another early Flower Power member Tammy Myers to talk about the reasons why they started the group and how it has served their evolving floral careers.

Maura Whalen of Flower Power

Maura Whalen owns Casablanca Floral and Tammy Myers owns First & Bloom. Let me introduce a little more about them:

Maura’s Casablanca Floral began in 2014 when she hauled a wreath-making machine into her children’s tree fort and filed for a license to pursue her lifelong dream of a floral business.

 In truth, a passion for flowers and the natural world has been with Maura her entire life, beginning with time spent with her Italian grandmother Flora who had a glorious garden in which Maura loved to play.  At home as a child, her mother made her a deal:  if she weeded the garden, she could create an arrangement for the family table.   Later, Maura worked in a floral shop to pay her way through grad school. Casablanca Floral is the culmination of one woman’s lifelong love for expressing creativity through flowers.

The word Casablanca denotes Maura’s favorite flower and her favorite classic film and to her, Casablanca has always signified ultimate elegance.

Casablanca Floral has bloomed into a thriving business serving the Seattle metropolitan area. Operating out of a beautiful backyard studio rather than a storefront allows Maura to keep her work personal, close to home, and close to the heart.  It’s no surprise that being a mother to two fabulous teenagers entwines and overlaps with Maura’s life as a florist.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom

And here’s more about Tammy Myers. She writes this on First & Bloom’s web site:

If you had asked me 10+ years ago about owning a florist business, I might have laughed!  Who knew I would be here today.  Like most young twenty-something’s, I was headed to the big city and wasn’t ever going back to the country!  Growing up in a small town outside the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington, I was drawn to the city like most-  the fast pace, the glitz, the glam, and the opportunity.  And it’s all true.  Those years were fun and still are when I get a chance to sneak away.  But there’s nothing better than the sheer glimmer in my son’s eyes when he discovers something new out in the country.  As parents, we’ve all been there.  We start to live again- better, through our children.  

What I’ve learned over the years is to love what you do.  Surround yourself with passion, integrity, perseverance, and ignore anyone who says otherwise.   

​What I’ve learned in the past couple years is that I’m not really selling flowers.  I’m selling feelings.  The emotion of one person passed to the other as a feeling through the tangible package of flowers.  That’s why it’s so important I get it right.  Getting it right means everything to me and most importantly it means everything to my customers.  It means I played a tiny little part in someone feeling comfort about the life jolting news they received from the doctor or the feeling of celebration for the ass-kicking mountain they conquered called cancer.  It also means I get to see a glimpse into some of the most important days a couple experiences like walking down the aisle or welcoming another amazing person into this world.  And the best part is, someone chose me to help convey those priceless thoughts and feelings.  What a gift that touches me right to the core!

Flower Power member Katie Clary Githens of Clary Sage Studio (c) Sarah Gonia

Guest book (c) Sarah Gonia

Slow honey, shared by some guests (c) Sarah Gonia

Maura Whalen’s “of the moment” bouquet featuring elements clipped from her garden and foraged in her Seattle neighborhood. (c) Sarah Gonia

As we mentioned during the episode, I have two past episodes to share with you that relate to today’s guests:
I hosted Tammy as my guest on Episode 201 as she discussed her all-American/all-local sourcing philosophy; and I featured Tammy, Maura and several other designers who are now involved in Flower Power on Episode 230 during the workshop with Lisa Waud when the seed of an idea seemed to be forming for this group.

Flower Power doesn’t officially have a web site or Facebook group but you can get to know Maura and Tammy at their social places:

Casablanca Floral on Facebook

Casablanca Floral on Instagram

Casablanca Floral on Pinterest

First & Bloom on Facebook

First & Bloom on Instagram

First & Bloom on Pinterest

As special thank you to Sarah Gonia of Olympia-based Sarah Gonia Photography. She attended Flower Power as a guest and generously shared these photos with permission.

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 189,000 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.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

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

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides 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.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Around Plastic Card Tables
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 296: The Farm-to-Florist Wholesale Story Continues in Montana and North Carolina

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Local flowers grown and designed by Kelly Morrison, co-founder of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers. (c) Kissick Weddings

Many of you feel that pull — the desire to come together with like-minded Slow Flowers folks and create community, cooperation — and commerce — around local flowers. It’s a powerful urge, and I’ve been fortunate to observe and come alongside individuals all around N. American who are making something happen as a response to that pull.

Some of the ideas I’ve been tracking in my annual Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecasts, since our first report in 2015, embody these themes. I just shared my thoughts about this with a group of Michigan flower farmers who are exploring a new wholesale model, so the timing is ideal given today’s podcast topic.

Fresh, local, and seasonal flowers at Piedmont Wholesale Flowers © Ali Donnelly

If you haven’t noticed, I’m here to tell you: New, Farmer-Driven Wholesale Hubs are meeting the growing demand for local, seasonal and sustainable flowers coast to coast.

On the heels of recent podcast episodes featuring an update about the Sonoma Flower Market’s second year and the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange’s launch (featured in Episode 290) and the episode celebrating the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s successful 6th Anniversary (featured in Episode 294), today I am delighted to introduce you to two emerging wholesale flower hubs, run by flower farmers and tailored to their floral customers. Both flower farmers are Slow Flowers members and I’m delighted to share their stories with you.

Kelly Morrison, co-founder of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers

First, meet Kelly Morrison of Color Fields Farm and the new Piedmont Wholesale Flower Market, based in Durham, N.C. Our interview is followed by my recent conversation with Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and the Westside Flower Market in Missoula, Montanta.

These conversations really underscore the following themes I’ve been tracking in my annual forecasts:

  1. Cooperation and community – this idea needs no explanation other than to say, when flower farmers and floral designers convene, something explosive takes place – a harmonic convergence of nature and art, creativity and ingenuity. Wholesale hubs for local flowers foster that convergence.
  2. Micro regionalism – across North America, as farmers and florists form unique alliances for commerce, marketing and promotion, the net benefit means more local flowers available to more consumers.
  3. More farms selling direct – Flower farmers are increasingly taking power into their own hands to market their crops rather than abdicate to a wholesaler who may or may not represent their brands as they like.

And if you have any doubt about this cultural shift spreading far and wide, these two women’s stories will give you something exciting to consider, perhaps about your own marketplace.

I met Kelly Morrison in person when I traveled to the Triangle NC area last September as a guest of Jonathan and Megan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm and Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers, where we held a mini version of the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop and had a blast designing with gorgeous locally-grown flowers.

So it has been wonderful to correspond with Kelly about what’s happened since — and that is the debut of a local wholesale flower cooperative instigated by Kelly and two other flower farmers, Jillian Mickens of Open Door Farm and Katy Thelen of Happy as a Coneflower Farm.

Here is a little more about Kelly: A first generation farmer, Kelly comes from a long line of southern gardeners going back as far as anyone can remember.  Plants and their stories are passed down in her family like heirloom jewelry or antique furniture. They are something to be shared. They have a history and a story to tell. They are intimately tied to their season. This connection to time and place drives Kelly’s work as both a farmer and a designer. Her goal is to bring the story and seasonality of flowers to her clients’ special event and also to their lives.

READ MORE…

Episode 295: Farmer-to-Farmer – ASCFG’s Flower Farmer Mentorship Program

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

This week’s guests include, from left: Linda Doan (Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers), Sarah Ervin (Southerly Flower Farm) and Tanis Clifton (Happy Trails Flower Farm)

It’s the first week of May and we have just announced details about the third annual campaign called American Flowers Week.

Set for June 28 through July 4, American Flowers Week started in 2015 as a grass-roots endeavor inviting flower farmers and florists to post images of their red-white-and-blue bouquets on Instagram, Twitter or other social media channels.

In that first year, the campaign stimulated 400,000 social media impressions. Last year, with more time to plan, we added beautiful collateral material, a free USA floral coloring map that participating florists and flower farmers could download and share with customers, and even red-white-and-blue stickers used by florists, flower farmers and retailers to label their AFW bouquets. Impressions on social media hit 1.3 million last year.

For 2017, I’m more ambitious than ever about American Flowers Week — and you’re invited to join in!
We’ve just released the press announcement and the gorgeous campaign graphic (shown above), featuring the most beautiful wearable sunflower gown you’ve ever seen!

These and other images are included in our free collateral material that you can download and use from americanflowersweek.com. At that site, you’ll also find inspiration about what creative activities Slow Flowers members are cooking up to promote local flowers in their communities — all ideas that you can borrow and personalize for your marketplace.

At the heart of American Flowers Week we are staging the first ever Slow Flowers Summit, a one-day forum for thinkers and doers in the progressive, sustainable floral world.

Taking place on July 2nd in Seattle, the Summit will feature pioneering voices and compelling topics to perhaps push you to a new level in your own relationship with American grown flowers.

Tickets are on sale now and you’re invited to join me, along with floral luminaries like Amy Stewart, author of the groundbreaking book Flower Confidential, Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., James Baggett, garden editor for Better Homes & Gardens who is our master of ceremonies for the day, Chantal Aida Gordon from the award-winning blog, The Horticult, who will moderate our diversity panel with florist Nicole Cordier Wahquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii, landscape designer Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens, and horticulture-floriculture whiz Riz Reyes; Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative on the foam-free flower wall and professional reinvention, and floral innovator Lisa Waud of pot & box and Flower House Detroit — who will lead a conversation on the creative process.

All this for just $175 with a deep discount offered to Slow Flowers Members. We’ll have swag bags, giveaways and delicious local lunch and cocktail reception with speakers, all with a view of the Seattle waterfront from our venue, Surf Incubator Event Space in downtown Seattle. Please join us!

After the success of its inaugural two-year session, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower GrowersMentor Program is ready for another round of matching new growers with veteran farmers.

The main goals of the program are to help fast-track younger or inexperienced growers through the learning phase of beginning flower farming; build more successful growers and engage older or more experienced growers.

ASCFG has just opened up the application process at its web site for those interested in finding a mentor for the 2018-2019 class, with a May 31st deadline. Click here for the requirements and application details.

To learn more about program, I’m hosting several guests today.

Tanis and Rick Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm

Tanis Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm in Dennis, Mississippi. Tanis is the past southeast regional director for ASCFG who worked on the initial development of the organization’s Mentorship program. She provides the “big picture” thinking behind the formation of this farmer-to-farmer program.

Tanis Clifton, Happy Trails Flower Farm

Happy Trails Flower Farm

Follow Tanis/Happy Trails at these social places:

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Facebook

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Instagram

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Twitter

In 2010, Tanis and Rick established  Happy Trails Flower Farm at their homestead in the scenic hill country of Northeast Mississippi.

The couple grows hundreds of different flowers as well as greenery, vines, pods, cotton and other unusual vegetation, which they sell to discriminating florists, event designers, grocery stores, flower lovers and customers at Pepper Place Farmers Market in Birmingham, Alabama.

As Tanis writes on her web site, “Happy Trails Flower Farm is part of a growing movement to provide slow flowers all  over the USA.  We are committed and compassionate about supporting local flower farmers, like ourselves, thereby providing seasonal and local  blooms to designers, florists, grocers and lovers of flowers.”

READ MORE…

Episode 294: A Floral Collective of Greater Good: Celebrating and Selling Local Flowers with the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s Sixth Anniversary

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Six years ago this week, a band of intrepid Pacific Northwest flower farmers opened the doors at a cold, nearly empty warehouse in Seattle’s Georgetown District, and the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market was launched.

In the opening days of Seattle Wholesale Growers Market things were a little bare. Here is a photo I snapped on April 26, 2011

I have been along for the wild ride of this pioneering Market that has stimulated an entirely new way of connecting locally-grown flowers with buyers who value seasonal and sustainable botanicals grown with care and respect for the land.

“Brimming with Blooms” documents the origins of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Of that beginning, I wrote this in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

A seed germinates when it comes in contact with light, warmth and the nourishment of healthy soil. Similarly, good ideas sprout and take root when they are sown in ideal conditions. That was how the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative came into being – a new farm-to-market enterprise that connects cut flower farmers with florists and their customers.

Illustrated by David Perry’s documentary-style photography, the chapter “Brimming with Blooms” tells the story of the origins of SWGMC in June 2010 and the ideas, people and circumstances that led to its actual debut by April 2011.

Today, the SWGMC is anything but an empty warehouse with just a few twigs and flowering branches.

The Market has come into its own as a vibrant, viable economic engine for sustainable agriculture, for offering high quality local products and excellent customer service to the floral community in the greater Seattle area. Beyond this, the Market has continued to instigate, influence and inspire others who have studied its model, adapting lessons for their own regional hubs for selling flowers.

So in honor of the sixth anniversary of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, I’ve invited two past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast to sit down with me and reflect on all that has transpired and all that the Market still aspires to achieve.

Left: Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall; Right: Vivian Larsen (c) Mary Grace Long Photography

Please welcome Diane Szukovathy, co-owner with her husband Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm, based in Mt. Vernon, WA; and Vivian Larsen of Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, WA. Together they have been part of the core group that founded the SWGMC and they serve as co-chairs of the Market board.

Follow and find Seattle Wholesale Growers Market at these social places:

SWGMC on Facebook

SWGMC on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 182,000 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.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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.

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

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides 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.

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.

Syndicate Sales is 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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Heliotrope; Vittoro
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 293: A Walking Tour of Alm Hill Gardens, where my favorite local tulips grow

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Happy Spring!

I’m holding my breath, but I am hopeful that spring is truly here, aren’t you?

Before we get started, I want to share some very important news — especially for all the U.S. flower farmers listening. Every five years the USDA – that’s the US Department of Agriculture – conducts a Census, a complete count of farms and ranches, and the people who operate them, all across the country.

This year, 2017, is an Ag Census year. A lot has happened in flower farming since 2012 and I strongly believe that the Census metrics will reveal that.

For instance, we know from the 2007 and 2012 Census reports that U.S. farms representing flowers grew 16% as a crop category. To be specific, that’s a boost from 5,085 farms to 5,903 farms.

I am excited to see what the new 2017 Census reveals, but here’s where you come in. The folks at USDA work very hard to get the Census questionnaire to everyone in farming, but as you know, it’s easy for smaller or super busy farms to fall through the cracks. We cannot afford to have that happen, folks. The data reported will influence policy and funding for U.S. Agriculture and I believe that flower farms need to have a much larger piece of that pie, whether it’s through specialty crop block grants, value added producer grants or other programs that help support our industry.

Producers who are new to farming or who did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. USDA defines a farm as any place from which at least $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year — and that means unless you’re a hobby grower like me, you should be counted!

As I mentioned, the sign-up period ends June 30, 2017 — and all you have to do is follow the link and just sign up. By the end of the year, you will receive your questionnaire, which you can leisurely complete in the middle of winter! The new Census will be published in 2019 and of course, I will be here to share the highlights, hopefully with a guest from USDA  to interpret it for us. THANKS so much for checking this out.

Stunning tulips. This variety is called ‘Alladin’, a lily-flowered tulip grown by Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, WA

Crates filled with tulips on bulbs

This week, I’m sharing some audio that I recorded on a visit to Alm Hill Gardens. As I say in the title of this episode, Alm Hill is my favorite source for local tulips. I first met flower farmers Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet and there is an interview with Gretchen in that book’s section called “Grower Wisdom,” with photographs by my collaborator David Perry.

If you have bought tulips at Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, it’s probable that you purchased the vibrant, fresh and lovely sustainably-grown tulips from Alm Hill Gardens’ stalls. They are my go-to stop for when I need armloads of tulips for a workshop or demonstration. It just makes me so happy to support a local flower farm that brings its harvest direct to consumers. Established in 1974, Alm Hill Gardens is a small family farm specializing in quality. You can also find their flowers in Seattle at the University District Farmers Market, West Seattle Farmers Market and Ballard Farmers Market — all in Seattle.

‘Temple’, a lovely slender tulip.

Here’s a little of what I wrote in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

If you follow Gretchen Hoyt and her husband Ben Craft around for a season, you’ll gain a profound admiration for how their values, sustainable farming practices and sheer hard work produce something so ephemeral and delicate as a lilac, tulip, lily, anemone or peony.

The couple overcame many obstacles to reach this moment: When they planted their first field of raspberries in rural Everson, Washington, just 2 miles from the Washington-British Columbia border, Gretchen was a single parent of two young children who had escaped from the city. Ben was a veteran of the war in Vietnam who wanted to unplug from society.

“Ben’s parents were dairy farmers. I never grew anything until I was 26 years old,” Gretchen says. “We had Ben’s dad’s tractor, no running water and no power, so we started with very little at the beginning.” Their efforts grew into one of the first year-round, direct-selling farms in Western Washington. Today, the 47-acre property contains six 30-by-100 foot greenhouses, countless high tunnels (hoop houses that can raise temperatures by 10 degrees), and fields of edible crops and, of course, flowers.

Even the spent heads are stunning!

Alm Hill Gardens is known for its luscious cut tulips, which account for 80 percent of their floral production. At Seattle’s Pike Place Market the sign reads: “Alm Hill Gardens: A Small Sustainable Family Farm Since 1974” and the stall overflows with irresistible blooms in a vibrant spectrum of hues to the delight of locals and tourist alike.

The longer-than-usual production season — from mid-Thanksgiving to May — is possible, thanks to many growing techniques perfected by the farm. These include planting already-chilled bulbs so they bloom by Christmas. It means sheltering thousands of hybrid tulips in greenhouses that elevate air and soil temperatures and protect stems from Pacific Northwest rainfall. The volume of flowers required to satisfy a bulb-crazed market is mind-boggling, requiring an intensive planting system. Bulbs are planted in 12-inch-high crates and stacked for weeks like building blocks in a large walk-in cooler before being moved to the greenhouses for early spring harvesting. “We have tulip crates stacked floor to ceiling,” Gretchen laughs.

Alm Hill sends an employee with carloads of tulips to Seattle’s Pike Place Market every week and also sells at several neighborhood farmers’ markets including the Bellingham Saturday market, which is closer to home.  Depending on the season, these brilliant gems on plump green stems can sell from $20 to $30 for a bunch of 30. You can find the classic ovoid-shaped tulip, like the orange-and-purple streaked ‘Princess Irene’, or more unusual varieties, such as the parrot and French tulips.

Gretchen told me: “I knew I wanted to be a farmer when I finally grew a garden,. This is what I was supposed to do.”

Gretchen Hoyt of Alm Hill Gardens (left) a veteran flower farmer. Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine, right.

Joshua Craft led us through the high tunnels.

You will hear several voices on this episode, Gretchen Hoyt, her son-in-law and farming partner Joshua Craft, an experienced vegetable, grain and livestock farmer who is now deeply involved in Alm Hill Gardens, and of course, me. The fourth voice is my dear friend Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture, a fabulous quarterly journal that covers people and plants on the West Coast. Our day trip to Everson was so special.

Super healthy, fragrant hyacinths grown in crates.

Here’s how to find Alm Hill at their social places:

Follow Alm Hill on Instagram

Find Alm Hill on Facebook

Lorene designed this on the spot to showcase irises, hyacinths and tulips, just-picked from Alm Hill Gardens.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 180,000 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.

Thank you to family of sponsors!

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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.

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

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides 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.

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.

I’m so excited to announce that Syndicate Sales has returned as a 2017 Slow Flowers sponsor! Syndicate Sales is 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.

And drumroll, please, let’s welcome Johnny’s Selected Seeds as our newest sponsor. I can’t tell you how jazzed I am to partner with this employee-owned company that brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Bending the Reed; Fudge 
by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 292: From trial lawyer to floral artist and entrepreneur — Meet Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Gather Design Co.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Gather Design Co. (c) Heather Payne Photography

I’m so pleased to introduce Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Seattle-based Gather Design Co. as this week’s Slow Flowers Podcast guest.

Before our main interview, I want to quickly share a conversation I recorded earlier this week with Alicia Schwede of the Flirty Fleurs Blog.

Like me, Alicia is a fellow marketing committee member at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. We also collaborate with Longfield Gardens on education and promotion of gardening with the bulbs and flowers in their catalog. I was so impressed with the Flirty Fleurs tulip collection that Alicia “curated” for Longfield last year and I asked her about her process.

Be sure to check out images of Longfield’s spring-flowering bulbs, including Alicia’s collection — I’ve posted links at today’s show notes. Longfield has just opened up the online ordering for spring-flowering bulbs. Of course, that seems a little counterintuitive because you’ll be planting them in the fall, right? But some of the hottest varieties will go quickly, so it’s smart to shop now. Note: Longfield’s Tulip Shop will “open” in mid-April.

Alicia Schwede grew and designed with this alluring medly of red-and-white tulips (and companions like bleeding heart). The tulips are part of the Flirty Fleurs collection from Longfield Gardens.

Amy and I met in January 2016 when she participated in a master class with Lisa Waud of pot & box and Flower House Detroit. Lisa was hosted by the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market to teach a large-format installation course and I spent the day interviewing the participants and photographing the process. You can read about that workshop here and listen to the interviews.

Amy impressed me for many reasons, including her enthusiasm for collaboration and her story– she told me she was working full-time as a practicing attorney. And by coincidence, she was at a law firm I knew quite well, having been quite involved as the spouse of a law partner at that firm years ago.

We continued our conversation last summer when Amy volunteered to work with Alicia Schwede to produce her annual “dahlia wall” at SWGMC. Amy jumped in to help her produce it. I was there to film a time-lapse video of the installation and so, we had hours and hours to chat while working.

Sneak Peek: I took liberties of cropping just a detail of Anna Peters’ beautiful photograph of Amy Kunkel-Patterson at work on her Americana-themed sunflower gown.

I had just finished up American Flowers Week 2016 and was already scheming what I hoped to achieve for American Flowers Week 2017.

I mentioned wanting to produce several floral-inspired fashion shoots with iconic American flowers like sunflowers, roses, peonies, dahlias and other flowers. Amy spontaneously said: “I’ll make one for you!”

That simple response led to what turned out to be the most amazing design — a high-fashion gown created with a host of flowers supplied by Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Amy created something truly beautiful for American Flowers Week 2017 and it has been so hard for all of us involved to sit tight and keep the photography under wraps until we kick off the American Flowers Week campaign.

So you’ll hear us talk about this project a bit — and I promise you will be blown away when we begin to unveil the images, and floral fashions I’ve commissioned from other teams around the country — leading up to June 28 to July 4th.

Here’s the Berkeley wedding we discussed, in which Amy used pampas grass to create a ceremony circle. All photos, courtesy Gather Design Co.

More lovely details from the same wedding.

So, let’s meet Amy. Here is her introduction from the Gather Design Co. web site:

I’m Amy; welcome.  My love for flowers runs deep and true.  I grew up ‘helping’ in my mom’s, grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s gardens, learning how to grow flowers, and more importantly, how to pick and arrange them.  

Charming and playful!

This is where the name Gather comes from – I’ve always been good at what my family broadly terms “hunting and gathering.”  I was the kid who couldn’t ever pull myself out of the blackberry patch where I wanted to pick just one more berry, or away from the beach where I spent hours collecting the tiniest, wave-polished pebbles which I called jewels.  

On a trip through Europe, I managed to gather upwards of 40 pounds of rocks, each special in my mind, from beaches my husband and I walked.

I take the same tireless care in gathering vintage vases for my collection and seeking out the most luscious seasonal blooms for my clients.  

Beautiful spring wedding flowers.

Tiny details for sweet boutonnieres.

Gathering also sparked the event design side of Gather, as I love to start with an idea – color, texture, an heirloom treasure – and spin it into an entire experience, gathering context and detail along the way.

I believe in letting flowers shine as they do in nature.  I let each stem dance and delight in their own loveliness, highlighted and supported by every other bit of foliage and flowers in an arrangement.  My designs are at once unique and timeless, romantic and whimsical, pensive and wild.  I strive to learn about and befriend each of my couples, noting the blooms that bring them joy and the colors that inspire them, so that their flowers embody the essence of who they are.

The alluring floral palette uses touches of blue to add depth and dimension.

I purchase from local farmers whenever possible and source safely and sustainably-grown flowers.   I seek out rare and interesting blooms, foliage, berries, seedpods, and other elements to incorporate the season, the place, and the people into each bouquet or arrangement.

Always hungry for the next adventure, I’ve also started hand-dying cotton and silks for table runners, ribbons, and styling pieces.

Romantic, soft, wild — and gathered bouquets, by Amy Kunkel-Patterson

Find Amy at these social places and follow along on her creative journey:

Gather Design Co. on Facebook

Gather Design Co. on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 177,000 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.

Thank you to our garden of Slow Flowers Sponsors

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

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides 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.

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

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Episode 291: What’s Happening in Washington, D.C. and a flower farming policy update

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

I’ve asked Kasey Cronquist to update us on the current policy landscape as it relates to flower farming, with details from the recent Flower Farmer Fly-In efforts.

You’ve heard me discuss my past trips to Washington, D.C., to join a group of flower farmers on the annual “fly in” to reach out to policymakers on Capitol Hill and at agencies like the USDA. Some exciting things have taken place, including (for me), meeting one of my two senators, Senator Patty Murray.

I’ve also had the privilege to speak at briefings about cut flowers, including one at the launch of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, along with former Representative Lois Capps and Rep. Duncan Hunter.

So do those efforts really matter? Today’s guest, Kasey Cronquist, spends a lot of his energy at the vortex of this question and I know he would argue, YES, these efforts matter more than ever.

Kasey is the CEO of the California Cut Flower Commission, a position he’s held for nine years. He was in that position the first time I cold-called him back in 2010 for an organic flowers article I was reporting on for the Los Angeles Times. Since then, we’ve spent hours discussing the American grown flower landscape, both for my own articles and blog posts, but also for this podcast and Kasey’s own blog and writings.

When Kasey threw out the seed of an idea that a national effort to promote domestic and local flowers could take place, I was there. It was at a working group that met prior to the 2012 Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conference in Tacoma.

Over the following year, I participating with him and others to formulate the grassroots organization that became Certified American Grown. I remember spending an entire Sunday in 2013, sitting at Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm’s kitchen table, as we sketched out our vision for the language that would eventually be used to solicit involvement for the Certified program. The following year, in 2014, the program was launched and when the advisory council was formed, I was asked to join as the non-farmer consumer representative.

Suffice it to say that Kasey was the engine that drove this train to where it is today. Certified American Grown produces the Field to Vase Dinners, now in year three; it has supplied flowers for the past three “Dream Weddings” by The Knot; it has been instrumental in all advocacy efforts to see the past and current White House use American-grown flowers; and it has flowered the First Lady’s Luncheon with all American-grown flowers, among so many other projects.

In his role as administrator for the Certified American Grown program, Kasey led the recent “fly in” with the largest group of flower farmers to date. I missed the trip this year, but I’ve heard that some incredible strides were made with the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and more, so I asked Kasey to share an update here.

Kelly Shore, Margaret Lloyd and Christy Hulsey, the dream team of floral designers who will produce the First Lady’s Luncheon florals using all American-grown botanicals.

But I’m very excited that the next big item to celebrate will be the First Lady’s Luncheon, a bipartisan, non-taxpayer-funded annual charity event that will feature American Grown Flowers, designed by Kelly Shore, Margaret Lloyd and Christy Hulsey — all three are members of both Slow Flowers and the Chapel Designers, and I know they will do something brilliant in early May — watch their feeds to follow along. Here’s the recent announcement:

An annual tradition since 1912, the luncheon is put on by The Congressional Club and attended by nearly 1,400 people. The Congressional Club is an organization representing the spouses of members of Congress, cabinet members and the Supreme Court.
 
Last year, Certified American Grown Flowers for the 160 centerpieces at the event came from California, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Virginia.
 
This year, Certified American Grown will be working with a team of designers lead by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals and Christy Hulsey of The Colonial House of Flowers.
 
The design team is currently working with the Congressional Club’s luncheon committee on selecting the American Grown Flowers that will be used and working with farms who will be able supply those flowers in early May.
 
“We have a great team coming together to help make this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon another beautiful success,” explained Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “We appreciate the Congressional Club’s commitment to source all American Grown Flowers for this wonderful tradition.”

Here are ways you can follow and find Kasey Cronquist and his many projects:

Subscribe to announcements from Certified American Grown.

Subscribe to Kasey’s blog updates #OriginMatters

Follow American Grown Flowers on Instagram

Learn more about the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus

Listen to Episode 235, my interview with Bill Frymoyer, the key D.C. player who advocates for domestic flower issues.

Holly Heider Chapple

Next up, a quick conversation with Holly Heider Chapple. About a month ago, Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events, a past guest of this podcast, sent me an email out of the blue. It went like this:

I just had to write to tell you about something that Holly Chapple’s got going on…

She’s released a video tutorial on a chicken wire mechanic that she’s developed.

Of course, chicken wire is NOT new, and most florists are very familiar with it, but it’s the way that she’s using it that I believe is incredibly game-changing.

We all know how to make a ball of it, and stuff it into a low container. This is widely done, and results in a stable, transportable arrangement.

The game-changing bit is she’s developed a way to make elevated arrangements using wire that results in very large, stable, light, transportable arrangements that do not require foam.

In all my days, I haven’t seen any others do this, and honestly, large elevated arrangements are typically designed with large chunks of foam- even by those of us who want to eliminate it’s usage.

It just wasn’t practical to design big daddy elevated pieces on site, or in water. It was hard to achieve a large, airy result, hard to transport them, time consuming, etc….

I really feel that the floral community would gain so much by knowing this, but not sure how to get the word out.

I thought I’d reach out to you- in case you didn’t already know this is going on…I really believe this can change the way florists design, and dramatically reduce foam usage!

In Holly’s video course, she also shows how to make a cascade bouquet without a foam holder, and a new take on designing low pieces with wire.

Holly used to produce massive events, using tons of foam each year, and she has turned this around completely- think of the ripple this could have!! Ok!  I hope you find this helpful.  I just think it’s incredible.

I thoroughly respect Susan’s advice and so when I had a chance to speak with Holly about the new video course, I asked if she would be willing to let me preview it to share my thoughts with you.

Holly’s new video course teaches her foam-free method of designing cascading bouquets and large-scale elevated arrangements. See the sneak peek above.

In the nearly one-hour long video tutorial, called  Creating “Hollyish” Floral Designs Holly demonstrates how she creates her ‘Hollyish’ bouquets.

From wiring stems and flower placement in the signature Holly Heider Chapple Egg mechanic to finishing with the perfect ribbon wrap, you’ll learn to create a garden style bouquet that will delight your clients. Holly also shares her innovation for creating foam-free elevated and compote designs.

The course is available in English only. (Content is available online only and cannot be downloaded.) The price for the course is $189.00. Congratulations on bringing this idea to the floral world, Holly!

And thank you for joining me today. This week, we drew names for those who entered our drawing for two copies of HARVEST, the beautiful and informative book by recent Podcast guests, Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of the Homestead Design Collective.

We asked listeners to post about their most useful garden plant in the comment section at debraprinzing.com.

From those who took the time to comment, we’ve randomly selected two lucky winners:

Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard, based in Seattle; and listener Ashley Kirnan. Congratulations, Hannah and Ashley and thank you to Ten Speed Press for the donation!

Ladies, your books will be in the mail soon!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 175,000 times by listeners like you. In fact, we ended the month of March 2017 with more than 11,000 downloads — the all-time highest monthly listenership ever. 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.

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 thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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.

Thank you to Arctic Alaska Peonies, for supporting Slow Flowers. Arctic Alaska Peonies is 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 at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Thank you to our wonderful friends at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Thank you to the passionate plantspeople at Longfield Gardens. Longfield Gardens provides 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.

And 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.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Episode 290: New Models in Regional Floral Wholesale with Christine Hoffman of Twin Cities Flower Exchange and Nichole Skalski of Sonoma Flower Mart

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Christine Hoffman, of Foxglove, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Christine is launching the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange [photo by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine]

Nichole Skalski (right) of Sonoma Flower Mart, with Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Farm, one of her primary flower suppliers [photo by The Press Democrat]

Good news for farmers and florists in the Twin Cities!

I’m so happy today to focus our attention on what’s happening in the Slow Flowers world of floral wholesale.

I’ve heard from a number of you around the U.S. who are in various stages of exploration, evaluation or actual planning to create a hub around local flowers in your marketplace.

Yet it’s easier said than done and there are several models to consider. There is the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market example — a true producers’ cooperative with the straightforward motto: farm to florist.

And there are groups of farmers who join together to sell collectively, such as Fair Field Flowers in the Milwaukie-Madison, Wisconsin area, which has a farmer-fun shared sales & delivery service.

Teasing Foxglove’s Instagram followers with a promise of local flower news!

Today’s two guests and their businesses are based on a single ownership or partnership that operates for the good of the community, but these are certainly not co-ops.

You’ll hear from Christine Hoffman, founder of the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and from Nichole Skalski, partner in Sonoma Flower Mart, based in Sebastopol, California. Both are past guests of this podcast and both have updates to share.

First up, I’m excited to reintroduce you to Christine Hoffman, owner of Foxglove, a floral design studio that evolved from her successful retail store Foxglove Marketplace. Christine was a guest of this podcast about two years ago when I visited her in St. Paul after being part of Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Art in Bloom program.

Since closing her retail store, Christine has continued to design and teach. Her website sums up her philosophy beautifully. She writes:

As the Twin Cities first exclusively local and chemical-free florist, Foxglove is more than just a flower studio. I am a slow flowers advocate striving to form a strong community of sustainable flower farmers, small business owners, and folks who care about supporting these mindful endeavors. By providing a local, sustainable option to traditional flowers, putting a premium on collaboration, and reaching out to the community, I hope to foster change.

Hear from Christine about her new venture, which will bring regional flowers to Twin Cities Flower Exchange every week . . . housed at The Good Acre, a nonprofit organic food hub that incubates local food businesses — and NOW, local flowers! Watch Christine’s social feeds for images of opening day, June 7th.

Here’s how to follow along on her journey.

Find Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Facebook

Follow Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Instagram

Discover Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Pinterest

Check out Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Twitter

READ MORE…

Episode 289: Redefining “Harvest” with designers and authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Alethea Harampolis (L), Stefani Bittner (R) – photo by David Fenton

One of the best things about being a veteran garden writer are the friendships I’ve forged over the years with my peers.

Today’s guests are definitely in that category of favorite professional friends who have become so much more than mere acquantances.

I really value my time with them, although sadly, it’s rare. Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis are partners in Homestead Design Collective, a Bay Area-based landscape design firm.

Stefani is the coauthor with Leslie Bennett of The Beautiful Edible Garden and Alethea is cofounder of Studio Choo, with Jill Rizzo, her coauthor for The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book. Alethea and Jill are past guests of this podcast, and you can find that episode here.

Since these creatives teamed up to form Homestead Design Collective, they have focused their business on landscapes that are useful and most important, can be harvested year round.

The title of their new book, HARVEST, says it all. I’m so honored that they asked me to write the foreword. In those few hundred words that appear in the opening pages of Harvest, I wrote this:

I once believed that clipping branches and blooms to bring indoors was akin to denuding my garden. But about ten years ago, I began to interview America’s flower farmers and their customers: floral designers devoted to and creatively fueled by domestic and local botanicals.  Mesmerized by their uncommon floral crops, I began to regard the incredible beauty of my own backyard for all of its potential. That meant enjoying not just the small quantity of food (berries, herbs and vegetables) that my kitchen garden produced, but appreciating its abundance by displaying garden greenery and flowers in my vases.

This new-old philosophy of living with my garden’s generous harvest is best learned from true practitioners, such as Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective. These women are also proponents of good design, and they adhere to the guiding philosophy of choosing plants at once both ornamental and useful. Although not farms by any means, our urban and suburban backyards should be used in their entirety, say Stefani and Alethea. The culinary world has its own “nose to tail” way of eating; HARVEST, the book you hold in your hands, introduces the gardener’s version of that idea: call it a “fruit-to-root” way of growing, with an appreciation for all parts of the plant, from the first tender shoots in spring to the pods and hips of late fall.

I’ve learned so much from these two pioneers. Stefani is a role model for landscape designers, inspiring her harvest-minded clients to turn their once-unproductive yards into prolific (and lovely) sources of edible bounty. Alethea is a role model among the farmer-florist crowd, blending edibles with ornamentals; aromatics with the wild-foraged; house plants with weeds — all to create dramatic, moody, seasonal florals for everyday decor and magnificent occasions.

In HARVEST, they celebrate the Slow Food movement on a highly personal scale, integrated with a Slow Flowers ethos. When edibles meet botanicals, we live intentionally with plants throughout the seasons. And when you embrace this practice, you will be richly reward by your garden.

Lilac Flower Cream

LILAC FLOWER CREAM

An ancient French technique, enfleurage is the process of extracting a flower’s perfume into odorless animal or vegetable fat. The process used here is a simple method that will capture the fragrance of spring in a jar. The cream can be used directly on your skin or to flavor favorite sweet dishes. It is best to use the lilac’s tiny blooms straight from the shrub, picking them in the morning when they are the most fragrant.

MAKES TWO 16-OUNCE JARS

32 ounces extra-virgin coconut oil

10 cups lilac blooms picked from the heads in 2 cup increments as needed

Pick 2 cups of lilac blooms. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat until it is completely liquefied. Pour the liquid into a 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish and allow it to harden. After the oil has hardened, score it with a butter knife. This will help the scent of the flowers penetrate it more deeply. Layer the tiny lilac blooms onto the oil, covering it with 2 inches (5 cm) of blooms. Place a second 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish upside down atop of the first one. Use electrical tape to seal the two dish edges tightly, and place the dishes in a dark area.

After 48 hours, remove the tape seal and discard the spent blooms. Pick another 2 cups of lilacs, add another 2 inches (5 cm) of flower blooms to the oil, and seal again for another 48 hours. Repeat this process three more times, for a total of five cycles with fresh blooms each time.

Scrape up the oil from the casserole dish, place it into two 16-ounce jars, and seal the lids. Store in a cool, dark place; the flower cream will keep for up to 3 years.

Midseason Herb Salad, from HARVEST

Stef and Alethea maintain that every garden—not just vegetable plots—can produce a bountiful harvest. In their beautifully photographed guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected plants, readers will discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit.

Learn how to turn tumeric root into a natural dye and calamintha into lip balm.

Make anise hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn apricots into a facial mask.

Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible chrysanthemum to liven up a salad.

This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects–organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, cocktails, beauty products, and more–using unexpected and often common garden plants, some of which may already be growing in the backyard.

With the remarkable, multi-purpose plants in Harvest, there is always something for gardeners to harvest from one growing season to the next.

Please enjoy this conversation with my two friends as we discuss their design philosophy and their collaboration on Harvest.

Stefani and Aleathea were recently featured speakers at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle and I was able to corner them in a hotel lobby to record this interview.

You can also enter to win the book — thanks to the generosity of Ten Speed Press, publisher of Harvest, we have two copies to give away in a drawing.

To enter, you must post a comment about your most useful garden plant in the comment section below. We’ll draw the winners on March 29th and announce them the following week.

Artichoke arrangement from Harvest

Instructions for the Artichoke Arrangement:

Artichokes are a favorite edible, but few know that their layers of prickly leaves can also be used to create a beautiful focal point in a mixed garden bouquet. Bring inside in a few cuttings from the garden to make a stylish and simple composition.

2 large artichoke heads, stems and leaves attached

1 or 2 stems with several small artichokes attached

5 to 8 stems wild carrot flowers (Daucus carota), 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

2 nasturtium vines with flowers, each 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

Fill a large crock or vase with clean, cold water. Remove any damaged leaves from the stems or leaves that would fall below the water line. Add the large artichoke heads in the front of the crock, with one head resting slightly higher than the other. This creates a focal point and showcases the gorgeous multilayered leaves.

Add in the smaller artichoke stems to the back and left sides of the crock. These heads should sit taller than the larger heads. They add height to the arrangement and create an asymmetrical look. Add in some of the wild carrot stems to fill in the space between the larger and smaller artichokes. These stems should be slightly taller than the small artichoke stems. Place the remaining carrot stems on the back right side of the crock to complement the wild carrot on the left and provide an airy backdrop to the arrangement.

Add the longest nasturtium vine to the front side of the crock, to the left of the large artichokes, so that it drapes over the side of the crock. This creates movement and softens the edge of the vessel. Use the other nasturtium vine to fill any gaps. Make sure that the flower heads are turned to be visible from the front of the arrangement.

Lemongrass Salt Scrub

Instructions for LEMONGRASS SALT SCRUB

Lemongrass has antibacterial, antioxidant, and other therapeutic properties. After a hard day working in the garden, we appreciate lemongrass as a remedy for our aches and pains. Use this salt scrub on your hands daily or on sore muscles once a week while taking a deep soak in the tub. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to use the salt scrub only on your hands or substitute brown sugar for the salt as a milder alternative.

MAKES ABOUT 1½ CUPS

1 or 2 fresh stalks lemongrass

1 cup sea salt

½ cup almond or olive oil

Finely chop the lemongrass by hand or in a food processor. Combine the chopped lemongrass, salt, and oil in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon—or even better, use your hands. The texture should be moist enough to hold together but not overly oily. (If it does get too oily, add a pinch more salt.) Scoop the scrub into a 12-to 16-ounce jar and seal with a lid. Use within 2 weeks.

To use, simply spoon a small amount into your hands, gently rub it in, and then rinse your hands with warm water.

Marigold Bitters

Instructions for Marigold Bitters (AMARO)

Amaro is an Italian herb-infused bitter liqueur, originally used as an after-dinner digestif, chilled or over ice. Recently, however, there’s been a bitters revival, with cocktail enthusiasts mixing the bittersweet digestif into beverages beyond just classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the old fashioned.

Gem marigolds are a perfect component because of their distinct bitter flavor and for the lovely amber hue that results. For amaro’s signature tartness, we’ve added some chinotto orange rind, the key ingredient in Campari, the popular Italian herbal aperitif.

MAKES 1 QUART

Enough herbs and edible flowers to fill a 1-quart jar, for example:

  • 1 cup gem marigold flowers and leaves
  • 1 to 3 sage leaves
  • 2 to 6 anise hyssop flowers and leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 to 6 lavender blooms
  • Small bunch of thyme (such as French, English, or lemon)
  • 1 to 6 calendula flowers
  • 1 to 6 bee balm flowers and leaves
  • Small handful of rose petals
  • 1 to 8 viola petals

5 to 10 alpine strawberries or other berries

Rind of 2 chinotto oranges

2 (750-ml) bottles Hangar One Vodka or a similar good-quality, unflavored vodka

SIMPLE SYRUP

MAKES ABOUT 1-1⁄4 CUPS

1 cup water

1 cup organic sugar

Gently rinse the herbs and flowers, leaving the blooms intact to capture the bitter attributes of their centers. Add them all, along with the berries and citrus rind, to a 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vodka to just below the rim (you might not need it all) and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Store it in a cool, dark place.

Check the amaro daily or every couple of days, and give it a good shake to ensure that there are no floating leaves or flowers. After 4 weeks, taste the amaro. If you prefer it stronger, allow it to infuse for another week or so. Once you’ve achieved the flavor you like, strain out the herbs, edible flowers, berries, and rind.

Next, make the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a nonreactive pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking. Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes), remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the strained amaro liquid and let infuse for an additional 2 weeks, then taste. If you find the amaro more bitter than you’d like, add more simple syrup but remember the sweetener is meant to take the edge off of the bitter taste rather than mask it. Once the bitters are to your liking, store indefinitely.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 170,000 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.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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.

We’re also grateful for support from 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 welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides 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.

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.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Blue Jay; Cottonwoods
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com