Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Week 34 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Please meet 'Sierra Glow' - isn't she adorable?

Please meet ‘Sierra Glow’ – isn’t she adorable?

'Sierra Glow' detail - sigh.

‘Sierra Glow’ detail – sigh.

Everybody loves the ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlia for its showy yet ephemeral beauty, right? This week, I met Miss Cafe’s richer-toned cousin, ‘Sierra Glow’.

My new love has petals that have hints of copper, coral, melon and amber, all rolled into one yummy hue. Dan Pearson of Dan’s Dahlias describes it this way on his website: “Large orange-bronze blooms on strong stems. Very impressive in the garden.”

I picked up a plump bunch of ‘Sierra Glow’ dinner-plate dahlias grown by Jello Mold Farm this week and from there, all the pieces fell into place with the moody late-summer/not-quite-fall palette.

With our recent move and purging of “stuff,” I’ve discovered that many of my wonderful vases and containers are boxed up in the storage unit. But this cool brass planter, from Goodwill, serves the purpose perfectly.

Gotta love this deep burgundy smokebush foliage!

Gotta love this deep burgundy smokebush foliage!

Here’s the recipe:

Supplies: 1 brass planter, measuring and 1 vintage cage-style flower frog

Okay, you had me at coxcomb!

Okay, you had me at coxcomb!

Botanicals:

Smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple”), grown by Jello Mold Farm

Milkweed (Asclepias sp.), grown by All My Thyme

Velvety coxcomb celosia in pale apricot, grown by Peterkort

I believe this Calendula is in the Zeolights series.

I believe this Calendula cultivar is called ‘Zeolights’.

Calendula in the most perfect milky-gold hue, grown by Ojeda Farms

Golden amaranth with such gorgeous form

Golden amaranth with such gorgeous form

Upright bunches of golden amaranth, grown by Jello Mold Farm

‘Sierra Glow’ dinnerplate dahlias, grown by Jello Mold Farm

Emerald Petals and its Creator Hilary Holmes, Portland’s Eco Florist (Episode 208)

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
Hilary Holmes, in action as she designs a summer bouquet in her North Portland shop.

Hilary Holmes, in action as she designs a summer bouquet in her North Portland shop.

I’m delighted to introduce you to Hilary Holmes whose Portland-based flower shop is called Emerald Petals.

Her tagline: Portland’s Eco Florist. And that’s not just a marketing slogan.

Hilary has a longtime career in the floral industry – in both New England and the Pacific Northwest, and she has operated as Emerald Petals since 2010. Through her 15 years of floral design, Hilary has nurtured a deep-rooted love for flowers.

Emerald Petals is Hilary’s playhouse, a place she created so that customers can shop for flowers from another real person. A place where she can put creative arrangements in beautiful found objects.

She appreciates the simple joys of all growing things.

It’s no surprise that she likens her floral business as a plant that she lovingly tends.

Hilary planted the seed for this little shop on Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon, and is helping it grow with love and whole lot of dirt under her fingernails. Now she gets to watch it bloom.

A snapshot of summer, on display at Emerald Petals

A snapshot of summer, on display at Emerald Petals

Vintage hobnail milk glass with a fabulous combo of local flowers.

Vintage hobnail milk glass with a fabulous combo of local flowers.

Floral Magic: YES!

Floral Magic: YES!

A full service flower boutique committed to sustainable practices, with a focus on local, sustainable, and domestic flowers and botanicals, Emerald Petals offers fresh custom arrangements for everyday life, as well as flowers for special deliveries, weddings and events.

As Hilary writes on the web site:

“We truly care about the environment and what effect our footprint will have on it. We source our flowers daily from local farmers, whether they come to us or we go to the farms ourselves.  We love to create textural depth using Oregon’s abundance of moss, lichen, branches, pinecones, mushrooms, berries, fruits and vegetables and whatever else we happen upon. During the off season, we also use domestic, sustainably grown product, and fair trade certified when we import from elsewhere.”

Fiesta flowers! Designed by Hilary Holmes

Fiesta flowers! Designed by Hilary Holmes

Love this palette and the clematis!

Love this palette and the clematis!

Emerald_Petals_IMG_4229 Hilary was an early supporter of the Slow Flowers Movement and Emerald Petals is a member of Slowflowers.com.

She walks the talk, down to maintaining an ever-changing collection of vintage containers and vases, as well as new containers and glass made either from recycled products and/or made in the USA. Reuse is encouraged, which appeals to a core group of customers who regularly order and rotate through Hilary’s vintage collection.

A wedding couple with an Emerald Petals bouquet and boutonniere. (c) Erin Grace Photography

A wedding couple with an Emerald Petals bouquet and boutonniere. (c) Erin Grace Photography

Follow Emerald Petals and Hilary Holmes at these social places:

Emerald Petals on Facebook

Emerald Petals on Instagram

Emerald Petals on Twitter

Emerald Petals on Pinterest

MORE FLORAL NEWS:

RaspberryHill Last week I announced that our podcast exceeded 60,000 downloads. If that wasn’t news enough, this week we’re celebrating the 600th Slow Flowers Member to join the Slowflowers.com site.

Please welcome Raspberry Hill Farm, a small family farm located on 14 acres in northern Colorado, just south of the Wyoming border, about 15 miles from downtown Fort Collins. Farmer-florist Kathy Hatfield specializes in growing high quality long-lasting specialty cut flowers, seasonally and sustainably grown — more than 150 different varieties, from old fashioned favorites to unique and unusual new varieties. During the growing season, the gardens at Raspberry Hill overflow with the gorgeous colors, delightful fragrances, and striking textures of our beautiful flowers. Please check them out!

Molly sourced flowers from nine NY-NJ-Connecticut flower farms for her centerpieces at the Field to Vase Dinner.

Molly sourced flowers from nine NY-NJ-Connecticut flower farms for her centerpieces at the Field to Vase Dinner.

Molly, a Slow Flowers Member and leader in the world of sustainable flower farming, education and design.

Molly, a Slow Flowers Member and leader in the world of sustainable flower farming, education and design.

This past week was filled with so many wonderful highlights, each of which represents a memory and another beautiful piece in the Slow Flowers quilt.

I spent time in Brooklyn attending and co-hosting the 5th Field to Vase Dinner at the famed Brooklyn Grange, where Slow Flowers member Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers designed a dazzling tablescape using seasonal flowers and foliage harvested from nine area farms in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Those arrangements symbolized so much about this conversation we’ve been having – about how essential it is to support America’s flower farmers when we also choose to support America’s food farmers.

Molly also hosted me for a personal visit to The Youth Farm in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where she is the farm manager and director of urban farm training.

What an inspiring visit! These young people are ready to take on the world! And they care about food justice, farming, entrepreneurism and the environment.

What an inspiring visit! These young people are ready to take on the world! And they care about food justice, farming, entrepreneurism and the environment.

My arrival coincided with the final gathering of the student interns, all high school juniors and seniors of the High School for Public Service. These amazing young people are the next generation of farmers — food and flower farmers — and I was so impressed with their interest in and passion for urban farming, the environment, food justice and flowers. Please visit Debraprinzing.com to check out photos of the summer students.

Suzanna Cameron (right), owner of Stems Brooklyn, with Jamie Agnello (left)

Suzanna Cameron (right), owner of Stems Brooklyn, with Jamie Agnello (left)

And finally, a shout-out to Suzanna Cameron, a new Slow Flowers member who owns Stems Brooklyn. Suzanna hosted an after-hours Slow Flowers gathering in her flower shop last Friday, which, by the way, is housed inside Sycamore Bar in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park neighborhood. We had 15 flower farmers, florists and writers in attendance and I’m still on a high from the ideas and creative energy in that room.

More news next week, when you will hear from an illustrious guest, David Beahm. David is a rock star special events producer and florist whose work takes him from NYC to destinations around the globe. He has some big news to share and I can’t believe our good fortune to feature it on the Slow Flowers Podcast on September 2nd. Please tune in!

Until 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. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Music credits:

Chris Zabriskie – “Air Hockey Saloon”
https://chriszabriskie.bandcamp.com/album/vendaface
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Grower Wisdom with Flower Farmer Charles Little (Episode 207)

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
Flower Farmers Bethany and Charles Little

Flower Farmers Bethany and Charles Little

charles-little-and-company I first met today’s guest, Charles Little, on a sunny day in June 2010, at a gathering of about 60 growers and floral designers who came to the bucolic fields of Charles Little & Co.’s farm on Seavey Loop Road outside Eugene, Oregon.

We were there for a regional meeting of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.

The full day of farming discussions, a fabulous barbecue and connecting with friends, new and old, ended with a conversation that led to the establishment of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market the following year. My presence there also gave me a chance to witness the character and generosity of Charles and Bethany Little, our hosts. Later, I wrote these opening lines about the Charles Little & Co. farm, in a section of The 50 Mile Bouquet called “Grower Wisdom.”

“As farmland matures and evolves, so do those who steward it. Just ask Charles Little, who has been tending to ornamental crops in the verdant Willamette Valley since 1986. He describes the 40 abundant acres at the foot of Oregon’s Mount Pisgah, where he and his wife Bethany grow 250 varieties of fresh flowers, fillers, wildflowers, herbs, ornamental grains and grasses, seasonal berries, pods and branches, as a “horticultural paradise with its own thriving ecosystem.” 

“I was one of those young men who wanted to create a hippy commune and be a farmer,” Charles says of his early years. “I’ve always wanted to live and make my living on the land.” More than 25 years after planting his first flower crops, he maintains that “farming is a lifestyle, a stewardship and commitment to the land and a generous consideration of all life around you, from the beneficial microorganisms and insects, to the birds and snakes.”

Mt. Pisgah in the distance -- a majestic backdrop for the Willamette Valley (Oregon) flower farm.

Mt. Pisgah in the distance — a majestic backdrop for the Willamette Valley (Oregon) flower farm.

Rosa glauca in the foreground with planting rows stretching beyond.

Rosa glauca in the foreground with planting rows stretching beyond.

From that 2010 tour with Charles Little.

From that 2010 tour with Charles Little.

The farm at Charles Little & Co. consists of acres of the very best river-bottom soil along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River in Oregon.

Crops raised here include flowers and foliages of all kinds; ornamental herbs, grasses and grains, and unique sticks, pods and berries. In-season floral materials are available year round to wholesalers throughout the U.S. And they are in a word, excellent!

Charles and Bethany prefer to work in tandem with the seasons, rather than using heated greenhouses or hoop houses to jump-start or extend their harvest. “The southern Willamette Valley has a growing climate that’s hard to beat, so I cooperate with mother nature,” Charles says.

I visited Eugene on two occasions this summer, and I stopped at Charles Little & Co. farm both times. In late June, I joined a small farm tour and lunch hosted by Bethany.

Bethany, harvesting flowers for me to arrange, June 2015.

Bethany, harvesting flowers for me to arrange, June 2015.

web_CL_IMG_4243

A twig wreath adorns a barn door.

She invited some floral customers and two employees who market Charles Little’s crops at the Portland Flower Market.

Bethany generously allowed a few of us to clip annuals, herbs, perennials and foliage to make a bouquet while there. It was days before I planned on launching American Flowers Week, so I was excited to create a red-white-and -blue-themed arrangement. Bethany is a gifted floral designer, so with her help, it turned out beautifull.

Charles Little with some of his favorite crops, ready to deliver to customers up and down the West Coast.

Charles Little with some of his favorite crops, ready to deliver to customers up and down the West Coast.

Naturalized calla lilies we discuss on the podcast.

Naturalized calla lilies we discuss on the podcast.

Charles wasn’t at the farm; he was off on an extended, once-in-a-lifetime fishing excursion. Bethany wanted me to get Charles in on the podcast interview. So I promised to record them when I knew I was going to come back through Eugene on my way to a photo shoot in Southern Oregon. But that time, Bethany was away, at a summer music festival on the Oregon coast. So I convinced Charles to let me turn on the recorder for what is a fantastic and longer-than-usual conversation.

What I realized, and what Charles and Bethany later confirmed, is that for farming couples, it’s almost impossible for both to travel or take a break from the farm TOGETHER. Someone has to feel the sheep and chickens; someone has to make sure the crops are harvested, processed, bunched or made into bouquets, loaded into buckets and delivered to the customer, right?

That’s what I witnessed during both of my visits. So today, you will hear from Charles. And I promise that sometime in the future, hopefully before the end of this year, we’ll bring Bethany on as a follow-up guest.

Farmhouse (left) and the soaring three-story barn (right).

Farmhouse (left) and the soaring three-story barn (right).

A dreamy (seemingly endless) row of white nigella.

A dreamy (seemingly endless) row of white nigella.

I know you will enjoy our conversation. It took place at the cozy kitchen table inside the hand-crafted farmhouse that’s just steps from the magnificent barn we discuss in our interview.

The flowers harvested from Charles Little & Co.’s fields satisfy demand for nearly every color, form and type of plant ingredient used by wedding, floral and event designers.

There’s always an eye-popping, seasonal assortment to choose from: flowering shrubs, colorful tree branches, evergreen boughs, and yes, a small percentage of dried flowers.

Since not all of you can visit the farm in person, as a special bonus, I’ve added a downloadable about them that appears in The 50 Mile Bouquet. Click here for the file: Grower Wisdom.

 

Through the power of technology, I "skype-lectured" for Morgan Anderson's Austin CC "slow flowers" class.

Through the power of technology, I “skype-lectured” for Morgan Anderson’s Austin CC “slow flowers” class.

Before I close, I wanted to give a shout-out and thank you to the fabulous students of Austin Community College’s floral design program who asked me to be a guest speaker (virtually- through the power of Skype) this week.

Their topic: Slow Flowers! The seminar was developed by instructor Morgan Anderson, a PhD candidate in floral design at Texas A&M University (yes, you heard me right) and the owner of The Flori.Culture, a design studio and Slowflowers.com member.

In addition to the Q&A with me, the students have been learning about sourcing local ingredients, specifically focusing on and using botanicals from Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, Pamela and Frank Arnosky’s famous flower farm. They are also evaluating Floral Soil and they promised to send photos of their designs for me to post in the future.

I applaud Morgan because she is leading the way to educate the next generation of floral designers in an entirely different model than most conventional floristry education programs. The enthusiasm I felt from this amazing group of students was so encouraging – and I wish them all great success in their career paths.

Morgan Anderson, The Flori.Culture, and Austin Community College design instructor demonstrates local Texas-grown flowers.

Morgan Anderson, The Flori.Culture, and Austin Community College design instructor demonstrates local Texas-grown flowers.

Some of the talented students creating their floral designs using eco-techniques.

Some of the talented students creating their floral designs using eco-techniques.

 

 

60K This week was a highlight in another way, too. We broke the record with our 60,000th podcast download. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Week 32 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Glowing yellow flowers and fruit for a gray Seattle day.

Glowing yellow flowers and fruit for a gray Seattle day.

The yellow flowers spoke to me when I was perusing among hundreds of exquisite botanical choices this week! 

When I visited the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, I started with the amazing crabapple branches, harvested from Jello Mold Farm and sold by the single stem. You certainly don’t need many, but adding two stems laden with immature crabapples to an arrangement is a sure-fire way to up the interest level.

Jello Mold's crabapples were the starting point for this week's Slow Flowers Challenge

Jello Mold’s crabapples were the starting point for this week’s Slow Flowers Challenge.

If left on the tree, these crabs will redden up, but for now, there is enough golden-green tinge to make them a perfect companion for all the other yellow goodness you see here. And the vintage green glass jar that I used as a vase plays nicely with this palette, too.

Love these joy-inducing zinnias!

Love these joy-inducing zinnias!

Close up, please!

Close up, please!

Next, I started shopping around for flowers to pair with the crabapples — and that’s when I spotted Vivian Larson’s yummy zinnias, shown above. Viv is the gifted farmer at Everyday Flowers in Stanwood. I can always count on her to spot an uncommon petal shape, bloom detail or flower color and then try growng that variety for the rest of us to enjoy.

What do you call this color? By the time I paired these huge zinnias with yellow sunflowers and roses, I decided it has more muted pigments – and that’s why I love its role in this arrangement. It’s a one-off, a shade of pure yellow.

Lemony-yellow sunflowers

Lemony-yellow sunflowers

These petite sunflower heads are ideal for floral design because their scale doesn’t overpower other blooms in the vase. These are the perkiest, freshest, most charismatic sunflowers I’ve seen all summer — and of course, Vivian Larson grew them at Everyday Flowers. I know I just said they don’t “overpower” the arrangement, which is true. But their many plump petals create the necessary volume to fill out this large-scale bouquet.

Solidago with a hint of the yellow flowers to come.

Solidago with a hint of the yellow flowers to come.

There’s not a lot of foliage in this arrangement, so thank goodness for the textural “fluff” that comes from this robust goldenrod ( Solidago sp.), grown by Gonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms.

Like the crabapples, it is a palette-blender, moving easily into both the yellow spectrum and the green spectrum. Plus, I just love its from-the-meadow vibe.  I almost love it better at this stage than when the tiny flowers are fully opened!

Organic garden roses -- a few go a long way!

Organic garden roses — a few go a long way!

IMG_0190 The bunch of four stems of beautiful yellow garden roses is my finishing touch. Dawn Severin of All My Thyme grows the healthiest, most alluring English garden rose varieties ~ and these do not disappoint.

The rose color is simply delicious and there are so many petals are packed into one flowerhead that you can’t stop admiring their beauty. It was a privilege to add them to this bouquet for that extra sparkle of summer!

We are at the height of the season and I want to sign off with a note of thanks to you for following along on the Slow Flowers Challenge. I keep hearing from people who are participating, making and sharing photos of their own arrangements, and experiencing four seasons of flowers this year.

I hope you’re experiencing what I’m experiencing — the sense that there’s something wonderful to appreciate in every plant, every stem, every bud, every leaf. In all seasons. In all twelve months.When we think like this, it changes how our eyes see. And that’s a valuable gift.

Until next week, keep designing!

Debra Prinzing
www.debraprinzing.com

Portland’s Elizabeth Artis of Espe Floral + Foliage (Episode 206)

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
Elizabeth Artis with some of her favorite summer flowers, photographed in Portland, Oregon, in late June 2015.

Elizabeth Artis with some of her favorite summer flowers, photographed in Portland, Oregon, in late June 2015.

Before I introduce you to Elizabeth Artis of Espe Floral + Foliage of Portland, I want to share a few words of gratitude that came my way this week.

Christine Hoffman of Foxglove Market + Studio in St. Paul, Minnesota's design for a restaurant in her community.

Christine Hoffman of Foxglove Market + Studio in St. Paul, Minnesota’s design for a restaurant in her community.

One of the special benefits enjoyed when you or your businesss is part of the Slow Flowers community is the sense of sharing and support among like-minded folks all over the country.

Case in point, a florist in the Midwest recently emailed to ask me for help with a bid she was developing for a restaurant in her town that wanted locally-inspired floral arrangements. She felt she couldn’t ask another florist in her market, but she suspected that a Slow Flowers designer outside her market might have the answer.

As it turns out, when she reached out to me, I had just talked about restaurant “weeklies” with a local Seattle florist. Both of these women have their businesses listed on Slowflowers.com.

It was a cinch to connect them by email and they later chatted by phone. Florist two shared her strategies with Florist one. And I love that they both experienced instant camaraderie!

 

The email came recently from the Midwest florist. Subject line: “It worked! Thank You!”

Thank you, Debra, for connecting me with Tess to chat about restaurant floral work…and Tess, thank you for generously offering your time and insight. After a bit of back and forth (this was new on my end and theirs!), we have come to an agreement, and I’ll be starting next week!​ I love having the support and expertise of the whole slow flowers “family.”

That’s so cool to hear, right?! And you do not have to go through me to get this information. You should feel free to connect any fellow Slow Flowers member for help. It’s part of that “paying it forward” philosophy, conducted with mutual respect for people’s time, talents and ideas.

I don’t always know who’s listening to these weekly podcasts but every now and then I get a glimpse of how these interviews may connect with a listener. then this past weekend, a small note appeared in my Instagram feed, from a gifted flower farmer. She wrote: “Your podcast pulled me through a tough week. Thank you for all your efforts and hard work!” I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to hear these words from an American flower farmer.

The design work of Elizabeth Artis, Espe Flowers + Foliage

The design work of Elizabeth Artis, Espe Floral + Foliage

EspeLogoFullColorCROP_small As I mentioned, today’s episode features Portland-based floral designer Elizabeth Artis.

I met Elizabeth in a totally spontaneous way back in 2010 while working on The 5o Mile Bouquet. It was in December and with photographer David Perry I was scouting in Portland for possible subjects for the book. We knew we wanted to stop at the Oregon Flower Growers market but the rest of the trip was relatively unscheduled.

A fun, truly Portland-inspired image from Elizabeth's blog.

A fun, truly Portland-inspired image from Elizabeth’s blog.

And then we ran into Elizabeth, who was there with another florist for whom she was freelancing.

The invitation was extended and soon David and I found ourselves at Jennie Greene’s flower shop to document the winter-themed arrangements she and Elizabeth were designing, of course with a decidedly local provenance.

Our friendship began there after Elizabeth and I realized we had a few mutual San Francisco florist frienesand it has been a joy to watch Elizabeth’s design journey move on from there.

Elizabeth branched out on her own a few years ago and she runs Espe Floral + Foliage from Northwest Portland with two different channels:

Elizabeth, photographed by (c) Christine Taylor

Elizabeth in her studio, recently photographed by (c) Christine Taylor

More bouquets by Elizabeth!

More bouquets by Elizabeth! (c) Bianca-Jade.com

First, she manages the floral department at Food Front Co-Op Grocery on NW Thurman St. in Portland, a shop-within-a-shop with everything from single stems and bunches to voluptuous bouquets, available seven days-a-week during store hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.).

Second, she operates a design studio just around the corner, an approximately 500-square-foot space ideal for meeting with wedding clients and for producing lush, wild and amazing creations.

We recorded our interview there when I visited in late June.

Gorgeous!!!

Seasonal. Local. Gorgeous!!!

Espe is committed to using local and sustainably grown flowers from small farms in the Pacific Northwest and down the coast into California.

As Elizabeth writes on her web site: “Our many friendships with these small operations guarantee quality from season to season. The selection, like the weather, changes from week to week so watch closely and see the next season on its way.”

Elizabeth is one to watch – and I love how articulate she shares her philosophy and her love of flowers.

You can connect with and follow Elizabeth at these social places:

Espe Floral + Foliage on Facebook

Espe Floral + Foliage on Instagram

Love this bodacious Espe bouquet of local roses.

Love this billowing Espe bouquet of local Northwest roses.

Thanks for joining me today. Everything we care about in the Slow Flowers community begins when a seed is planted into the soil. When the elements of water and sunshine enrich it and stimulate roots and stem. When the flower farmer nurtures a tiny plant into a stunning, fragrant bloom. If we remember the amazing origins of the flowers we love, we can’t go wrong.

zady_screen I tried to convey this sentiment in an essay that I was asked to write for the “slow fashion” company called Zady.com. Published earlier this week, I entitled the piece “Honest Flowers.”

Here are a few of the sentences that I wrote. I’m so pleased that the team at Zady understands how essential it is to think about the ethical choices we make as both consumers of fashion and flowers:

What I wrote may sound familiar to those in our community, but I will share one excerpt nonetheless:

One of the mottos of the Slow Flowers Movement is “origin matters.” Having a consciousness about the source of our flowers is just as important to me as knowing the provenance of a menu ingredient is to a locavore. Yet flowers are so rarely “labeled” and the face of the flower farmer is invisible to most consumers.

Knowing who grows the flowers we buy, where those flowers were harvested and what farming practices were employed to transform a handful of seeds into a flourishing bouquet is increasingly important, especially at this time when 80 percent of the cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. The result of having low-cost flower imports has lead to a 58% decline in U.S. flower farms since 1992.

Getting to share the cause for American grown flowers offered me a chance to reach 100,000 Zady customers, people who may never have considered the way a flower travels from its origins to their vase. So I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Listeners like you have downloaded this podcast nearly 60,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Week 31 // Slow Flowers Challenge (what happened to Week 30?)

Monday, August 10th, 2015
My Edwardian-inspired summer bouquet, clipped from local farms and gardens.

My Edwardian-inspired summer bouquet, clipped from local farms and gardens.

True confessions: I’m overwhelmed these days. The epic move last month from a huge house to a small condo (what to do with all that stuff?), combined with an intense travel schedule and a few overly voracious consulting projects . . . and I am scrambling to catch up. I can’t quite see the end of this tunnel until 2016.

The good news, however, is that flowers keep blooming and defining each season whether I clip and arrange them – or not!

This was my "practice" bouquet, using many of the same ingredients (only the sambucus foliage is missing).

This was my “practice” bouquet, using many of the same ingredients (only the sambucus foliage is missing).

Please accept this entry in the Slow Flowers Challenge, Week 31. We’ll just have to write off Week 30 as a lost cause (maybe I’ll double-up sometime soon to redeem myself)!

Melissa Feveyear (left) and Grace Hensley (right), at Dunnton Abbey.

Melissa Feveyear (left) and Grace Hensley (right), at Dunnton Abbey.

This past weekend I participated along with four other talented plantswomen and designers in an event called Dunnton Abbey Garden Party.

The play on words with the popular PBS series “Downton Abbey” was intentional, as the folks at one of Seattle’s most lovely private estate gardens, The E. B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust, held a lawn party inspired by the gentile fetes we’ve watched on Downton Abbey over the years.

It was all quite fitting, as Dunn Gardens date back to 1915, a contemporary period from Downtown Abbey’s first episodes.

Croquet, musicians, a vintage car show, people in period garb, a cake walk and many more activities were on hand. It was lovely and I especially enjoyed seeing everyone unplugged from modernity (although many did have their cell phones out to snap photographs, I’ll give you that).

Lacey Leinbaugh in her charming floral-bedecked hat!

Lacey Leinbaugh in her charming floral-bedecked hat!

Grace Hensley of eTilth, a Slow Flowers friend here in Seattle, coordinated the floral design demonstrations. She invited Lacey Leinbaugh of Blue Lace DesignMelissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers; Jennifer Carlson of Haven Illustrated and me to present “Edwardian Floral Design.”

We each were given a generous budget to shop for locally-grown flowers at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. A few weeks prior, we did a walk-through of the grounds at Dunn Gardens with co-curator Charles Price, pointing out stems, leaves and flowers that caught out eyes.

Charles judiciously cut those elements for us, too, so when I arrived with my own “bucket” of items from the Growers Market, there were dozens of other buckets overflowing with the truly local, of-the-moment, garden harvest. That added hydrangeas, phlox, ninebark, sambucus, rodgersia, ferns, hostas, fuchsias, monarda, meadow rue (Thalictrum sp.), crocosmia and more to the mix!

Guest of the garden party were invited to bid on our floral arrangements to take home with them.

Guests of the garden party were invited to bid on our floral arrangements to take home with them.

What is Edwardian floral design, anyway?

I honestly didn’t have time to do research in advance, but by the time I started my bouquet, I had a few thoughts to share.

I told the audience that the Edwardians were the original “Slow Flowers” florists because they only used local and in-season flowers, probably clipped from their own gardens.

Whether you were a member of the “upstairs” class relying on gardeners and hothouse blooms or a member of the “downstairs” class cutting from the edge of a meadow or woodland, the flowers reflected what nature had to offer.

The other idea I shared had to do with palette, and this was inspired by my textiles background. At the time, chemical textile dyes were not yet as popular or widespread as natural, plant-based dyes. And to me, that notion reflects a softer, muted, less vivid color scheme in textiles for apparel and interiors.

That yummy palette! Note the almost-pink lisianthus, as beautiful as a rose.

That yummy palette! Note the almost-pink lisianthus, as beautiful as a rose.

The tea-stained, sepia-toned palette of my imagined Edwardian bouquet was reflected in the flowers and foliage. I began with a blush-and-faded mix of ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas taking on a slightly pink tinge; not-quite-pink lisianthus blooms; pale terracotta draping amaranthus, and strawberry-colored gomphrena.

The darker accents lent a moodiness to the arrangement: Deep maroon dahlias; dark purple sedum heads; purple sambucus foliage; and berry-black Rex Begonia foliage, variety ‘Shadow King Rothko’.

Rex begonias carry the day, accenting the pale and dark blooms.

Rex begonias carry the day, accenting the pale and dark blooms.

Whether it’s truly Edwardian or not, the bouquet felt like a period piece in the black-and-silver Goodwill vase!

Here is a list of the ingredients, with my thanks to each farmer who grew them:

From Diane & Dennis at Jello Mold Farm, Mt. Vernon, Washington:

  • ‘Limelight’ hydrangea blooms
  • Amaranthus
  • Dark purple sedum

From Vivian at Everyday Flowers, Stanwood, Washington:

  • Gomphrena
  • Lisianthus
  • Maroon dahlias

From the Dunn Garden Borders: Sambucus foliage

From Seattle Wholesale Growers Market: Rex Begonia, variety ‘Shadow King Rothko’

Enjoy these photos from my fellow designers, each of whom did a magnificent job!

Grace thoroughly embraced the Edwardian spirit and she made these adorable paper-cone poseys to sell from her basket as she strolled the lawn in her period attire.

Grace thoroughly embraced the Edwardian spirit and she made these adorable paper-cone poseys to sell from her basket as she strolled the lawn in her period attire.

Melissa Feveyear's bouquet wowed everyone! She chose a pearly pink and coral palette with a few characteristic surprises.

Melissa Feveyear’s bouquet wowed everyone! She chose a pearly pink and coral palette with a few characteristic surprises.

Lacey Leinbaugh's beautiful summer bouquet used periwinkle accents to play off the vase color. Love this!

Lacey Leinbaugh’s beautiful summer bouquet used periwinkle accents to play off the vase color. Love this!

Jennifer Carlson went all in for the dramatic raspberry amaranth to wow the audiences.

Jennifer Carlson went all in for the dramatic raspberry amaranth to wow the audiences.

Rooster Ridge and its two generations of women flower farmers in Aptos, California (Episode 205)

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Nancy Abramson (left) and her daugher/partner Haley Wall.

Nancy Abramson (left) and her daugher/partner Haley Wall.

The charming rooster of Rooster Ridge. If you look closely, you'll see Nancy's signature on this original watercolor.

The charming rooster of Rooster Ridge. If you look closely, you’ll see Nancy’s signature on this original watercolor.

Last month we visited Santa Cruz, California, to hear from Christof Berneau of the UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

On that same trip I met up with mom & daughter flower farmers Nancy Abramson and Haley Wall of Rooster Ridge Farm, a USDA Certified Organic and California Certified Organic farm located in nearby Aptos.

I briefly met Nancy and Haley in 2012 when they attended the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers annual conference in Tacoma, where I had been invited to speak about The 50 Mile Bouquet. I remember their unbridled enthusiasm and at the time I recall thinking what a great “story” they would be.

I gazed upon this lovely scene while recording our podcast interview. It was taken from the deck of Nancy and Curt Abramson's home in Aptos, California

I gazed upon this lovely scene while recording our podcast interview. It was taken from the deck of Nancy and Curt Abramson’s home in Aptos, California

Haley's impromptu bouquet that features just-picked cultivars and items foraged from Rooster Ridge.

Haley’s impromptu bouquet that features just-picked cultivars and items foraged from Rooster Ridge.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we reconnected through Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., a recent podcast guest. Teresa hosted a Slow Flowers/Slow Coast gathering in the Santa Cruz area when I was there in March and Nancy and Haley attended.

They reminded me that I had an open invitation to visit them at Rooster Ridge.

That visit took place in June. Nancy and Haley welcomed me and led a wonderful walking tour of the grounds, which includes orchards, a vineyard, cutting gardens and production fields.

We enjoyed some delicious refreshments on the deck of the family home. And then we recorded this podcast.

This is a bountiful 20-acre place where flowers, herbs and fruit flourish. The farm is a labor of love for Nancy, and now, for Haley, who is also providing floral design services for brides and other local clients. You can find Rooster Ridge’s harvest at Aptos area farmers’ markets and pop-up flower stands in the community.

Landscape, wild places, and formal planting rows are all here in this beautiful place.

Landscape, wild places, and formal planting rows are all here in this beautiful place.

Haley staffs a Rooster Ridge pop-up stand in the community.

Haley staffs a Rooster Ridge pop-up stand in the community.

A Haley-designed floral arrangement using Rooster Ridge-grown organic flowers

A Haley-designed floral arrangement using Rooster Ridge-grown organic flowers

From cut flowers to citrus and avocados to an abundance of herbs, Rooster Ridge is deeply connected to its region. Florists, supermarkets, and farmers market customers are delighted with the quirky, uncommon ingredients gathered into the mixed bouquets.

Our podcast interview asks Nancy and Haley to share how they grow, market and design, and how they develop new market opportunities.

Thanks for joining me today as we toured an organic California cut flower farm where sustainable practices and growing profitable crops are guiding principles.

As Nancy so aptly said,

“Being a farmer is a lifestyle choice. “

The 2014 flower farm wedding of Haley and Bobby Wood.

The 2014 flower farm wedding of Haley and Bobby Wood.

Another adorable wedding photo with Haley's homegrown and designed bouquet - straight from her own farm.

Another adorable wedding photo with Haley’s homegrown and designed bouquet – straight from her own farm.

I’m so glad she and her family has found a way to make a living from their land, and to share their beautiful flowers with their community, offering seasonal and local alternatives to imported stems.

Listeners like you have downloaded this podcast nearly 59,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Shade Plants for Floral Design with Author Ken Druse (Episode 204)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
While recording our conversation for this podcast episode I asked Ken if he would design a shade-lover's floral arrangement and share a photo. Here's what he harvested from his garden earlier this week. Beautiful!

While recording our conversation for this podcast episode I asked Ken if he would design a shade-lover’s floral arrangement and share a photo. Here’s what he harvested from his garden earlier this week. Beautiful! See footnotes for ingredient list.

Hear from Ken Druse, who shares his love of shade gardening and all its joys.

Hear from Ken Druse, who shares his love of shade gardening and all its joys.

Author/photographer, lecturer and radio host Ken Druse has contributed to nearly every garden and home design magazine in America.

He is probably best known for his books, which the New York Times called “bibles for serious gardeners.”

The American Horticultural Society chose his book, The Passion for Gardening, as best book of the year; and the Wall Street Journal recommended it as one of the “five garden books to own.”

Ken has authored 20 gardening books, including recent titles PLANTHROPOLGY: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites and Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Companions, which features both Ken’s photography and that of digital artist Ellen Hoverkamp.

Solomon's seal (Polygonatum hybridum), a popular spring "cut" for floral design.

Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum hybridum), a popular spring “cut” for floral design.

In 2004, the Garden Club of America awarded Ken the Sarah Chapman Francis medal for lifetime literary achievement. In 2013 Garden Writers Association awarded Ken the gold medal for photography and the silver medal for writing. In 2013, the Smithsonian Institute announced the acquisition of the Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photography, comprising 100,000 images of American gardens and plants.

Digitalis purpurea 'Alba' from p. 179.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’ from p. 179.

I have interviewed Ken for stories about his work that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, so it is with great pleasure that I welcome him to the Slow Flowers Podcast. Ken is a pioneer of gardening podcasts, having been on the air for a decade with his national podcast and public radio show “Ken Druse Real Dirt,” which listeners can hear through their computers and iPods.

web_cover New Shade copy 3 - Copy We’re here today to discuss Ken’s timely new book, The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change, published in May by Stewart Tabori & Chang.

Ken reveals the low-stress environment of shade (cooler temperatures; fewer water demands) and how shade is extremely beneficial for our plants, our planet and us.

The thriving garden of the future might just exist in the understory!

I come to floral design from the residential garden and a love of plants. And the floral designers in my world are always on the lookout for uncommon, ephemeral lovelies.

Guess what? Many of those special fronds, flowers, leaves and branches can be found in the shade garden. Learning from a master like Ken Druse is a huge treat — I hope you found what he shared as inspiring as I did.

I highly recommend this comprehensive guide to “all things shade.” For gardeners and floral designers alike, “The New Shade Garden” is packed with inspiration and with ideas for having a lush, textural and fragrant garden where many colors exist!

logo KDRD plain And just for fun, to get a flavor of Ken’s wonderful and welcoming interview style (and to hear his radio-perfect voice!) here are links to the two Ken Druse Real Dirt episodes where I appeared as his guest:

May 11, 2012, “Field to Vase”

March 22, 2013, “The Local Flower Movement’s Champion”

From page 223 of The New Shade Garden: Ken repurposed an outdoor fireplace as a staging platform for his summering houseplants.

From page 223 of The New Shade Garden: Ken repurposed an outdoor fireplace as a staging platform for his summering houseplants.

On his web site, Ken writes:  Spending time in nature, especially nurturing plants, strengthens our connection with the natural rhythms of life. In the garden, we often experience a kind of “meditation therapy”–weeding actually becomes a time to sort through the other parts of our busy lives. 

Hosta clausa in all of its glory brightens up any dark spot in the garden. From page 80.

Hosta clausa in all of its glory brightens up any dark spot in the garden. From page 80.

I couldn’t agree more, and like Ken, I see the garden as a metaphor for life.

On August 15th, if you are in the Northeast, you have a chance to hear Ken Druse lecture on shade; take his hands-on garden-photography workshop; shop a rare-plant sale; and tour the garden of fellow garden writer, editor and podcaster Margaret Roach in Copake Falls, New York as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Day in her area. Here are details for purchasing tickets and to find the full day’s schedule.

Follow Ken Druse on Facebook here.

Find Ken Druse on Great Garden Speakers here.

A pale-colored wall illuminates the garden where a Magnolia grandiflora tree is espaliered.

A pale-colored wall illuminates the garden where a Magnolia grandiflora tree is espaliered.

Ken Druse’s “The New Shade Garden” floral arrangement includes:

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Foliage from three different hostas

Flowers from two hosta varieties

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (slightly faded to green)

Pachysandra terminalis ‘Variegata’

And “whips” (actually flower spikes) from Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’

Listeners like you have downloaded this podcast nearly 58,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Week 29 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, July 25th, 2015
Dahlias, zinnias, scabiosa, stock, baby's breath and oakleaf hydrangea foliage

Dahlias, zinnias, scabiosa, stock, baby’s breath and oakleaf hydrangea foliage

Sweetest color; finest texture -- pink baby's breath

Sweetest color; finest texture — pink baby’s breath

It’s so hard to believe we have arrived at Week 29, but the flowers tell us it is so.

Much is blooming early here in the Pacific Northwest. The flower farmers report that their crops are exploding weeks ahead of past seasons. It’s good news for the floral designers who yearn for local dahlias to take center stage in their creations — now through the first frost.

I love the tawny palette that started with this pinky-coral dahlia grown by my friends Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon., the source of some of the most prolific offerings at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

That pink baby’s breath, which they also grow, literally took away my breath! I had to play with it and I love its blush-pink color echo of the dahlias.

The view from my new urban balcony - a ceramic stool is the ideal pedestal for my summer bouquet

The view from my new urban balcony – a ceramic stool is the ideal pedestal for my summer bouquet

Love how all these berry colors and pastels play together beautifully!

Love how all these berry colors and pastels play together beautifully!

Jello Mold also grows this terrific pale yellow zinnia, part of the Zinderella series of zinnias that produces a dense mound of double petals on top, available in many cool colors.

The rest of this arrangement is equally alluring, given the high-quality, seasonal blooms.

I love having the confidence that each stem was grown by a Salmon Safe-certified flower farmer using sustainable practices!

The remaining ingredients include:

Apricot cactus zinnias (Zinnia elegans ‘Pinca’), grown by Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers

Pincushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black  Knight’), grown byGonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms

Stock in an ombre range of peach hues, grown by Sarah and Steve Pabody of Triple Wren Farms

Oakleaf hydrangea foliage, clipped from a neighbor’s shrub.

Together these soft colors are feminine and romantic.

Together these soft colors are feminine and romantic.

If you love this pin-striped vase as much as I do, please check out the work of Seattle ceramic artist Kristin Nelson of Kri Kri Studios.

This vase is part of her Vit Ceramics collection and I love that it’s as local and hand-crafted as the flowers it contains! This “Eve” vase is the perfect height and proportions for floral arranging. Click here to read Kristin’s description of how she created this lovely vessel.

Kate's dahlias -- from her garden to my vase

Kate’s dahlias — from her garden to my vase

As I mentioned, Dahlias are peaking here in Seattle. I had to share this delicious bouquet of just-picked dahlias, given to me by my friend (and bookkeeper) Kate Sackett.

After our recent meeting, she invited me to see her dahlias. What a treat to bring some of them home. Aren’t the colors and forms divine?!!!

It’s the Second Anniversary for the Slow Flowers Podcast with American Flowers Booster Kasey Cronquist (Episode 203)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

second-birthday-cake-with-two-candles-214x300 Today’s episode celebrates the 2nd anniversary of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

This podcast has been downloaded more than 57,000 times during the course of two years — and that means more and more people are hearing the message of American grown flowers and the farmers and florists who bring those blooms to you.

The popularity of this podcast shouldn’t be measured in numbers alone, but here is a telling metric: On our first year anniversary, I remember being thrilled that 15,000 individual episodes had been heard.

In our second year, for the same 12-month period, 42,000 individual episodes have been downloaded — that’s nearly triple the frequency.

I’m honored and humbled that you’re listening today and that so many wonderful voices have agreed to be part of this podcast celebrating American flowers.

Kasey Cronquist, seen here celebrating American Grown Flowers at the Field to Vase Dinner in Monterey Bay, California last month.

Kasey Cronquist, seen here celebrating American Grown Flowers at the Field to Vase Dinner in Monterey Bay, California last month.

I’ve invited Kasey Cronquist to be my 2nd anniversary guest, a role he is repeating after last year’s first anniversary episode.

I joined flower farmer Mike A. Mellano (left) and Kasey Cronquist (right) to celebrate the Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif., this past April.

I joined flower farmer Mike A. Mellano (left) and Kasey Cronquist (right) to celebrate the Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif., this past April.

It’s fitting to have you hear from Kasey especially because he’s one of the most significant people in the local flower movement. He has certainly influenced my journey through America’s fields and design studios and he’s been a kindred spirit in the cause about which we care so deeply – saving and nurturing the domestic cut flower industry – from field to vase.

Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission.

Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission.

Kasey is the CEO and Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission. He’s served in this capacity since 2007. He also administers the Certified American Grown Flowers brand program.

Efforts of Kasey Cronquist and others have led to the creation of this very special national brand for domestic flowers.

Efforts of Kasey Cronquist and others have led to the creation of this very special national brand for domestic flowers.

To learn more about Kasey, listen to our previous recorded interviews:

Episode 107 (September 18, 2013) American Grown Flowers from a California Point of View

Episode 151 (July 23, 2014) An All-American Celebration for our One-Year Anniversary

Here’s where you can find and follow him:

Kasey Cronquist’s Field Position Blog

Twitter: @kaseycronquist and @cagrown

Instagram: @kaseycronquist

TAKE ACTION!!! Here’s how to support the efforts of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus by asking your own Representative to join!

I’m eager to begin Year Three, sharing more conversations with listeners like you.

THANK YOU for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing as part of the Slow Flowers Community. And a very special thanks to the flower farmers, floral designers, authors, educators and marketers whose voices have appeared on the Slow Flowers Podcast this past year.

F2Vheadergraphic I’m sharing a $35 off promotional discount for you to attend any of the remaining six Field to Vase Dinners in 2015. Reserve your seat at the flower-laden table by clicking here and use the code SLOWFLOWERS.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.