Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

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

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Call it a shadowbox or a curio cabinet, this charming display cupboard was custom made by Andy Chapman of Stumpdust.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This sketch is a little more  refined!

This sketch is a little more refined!

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

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

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

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

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

topRow

Top Row, from Left:

  • Little Shirley vases by Material Good / material-good.com (Seattle) with California sweet peas
  • Aqua bud vase by Heath Ceramics / heathceramics.com (San Francisco) with California anemones and Dusty Miller foliage from my Seattle garden.
  • ‘Imagine’ lime green votive by Glassy Baby / glassybaby.com (Seattle) with California-grown privet berries and cream spray roses (Green Valley Floral)

MiddleRow Middle Row, from Left:

  • Teal glass Ball Jars (USA made) with California grown ‘Gerrondo’ gerberas and Daphne odora foliage from my Seattle garden.
  • Vintage aqua flower-pot by McCoy Pottery (USA made) with California wax flowers and proteas.
  • Aqua Madagascar bud vase by Bauer Pottery / bauerpottery.com (Los Angeles) with Washington hyacinths and flowering plum branches

bottomRow.jpb Bottom Row, from Left:

  • Blue/teal Bubble Vase by Vit Ceramics / vitceramics.com (Seattle) with Asiatic lilies from Oregon Flowers and Pieris japonica from my Seattle garden.
  • Aqua recycled wine bottle vase by Wine Punts / winepunts.com (Colorado) with California variegated pittosporum foliage and parrot tulips from Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, Washington.

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

Turning vacant land into flourishing flower farms in Baltimore, with Kristin Dawson and Walker Marsh (Episode 180)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
The Baltimore Sun article from Nov. 13, 2014

The Baltimore Sun article from Nov. 13, 2014

Today’s episode invites you to explore one city’s efforts to grow flowers, a tiny parcel at a time.

Many of you may have seen links to an article that ran in The Baltimore Sun newspaper last November called “Advocates hope flower farms will take root in Baltimore.”

Past podcast guest Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers was quoted in the article as saying “flowers are a good option for people who are interested in farming but want to try something different or have a niche that sets them apart from food growers.”

Cool idea, right?
So when Kristin Dawson reached out to talk with me about the research she was undertaking on behalf of Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, I was eager to learn more. Kristin opened my eyes to the fact that there are more than 10,000 vacant lots in the city, which is perhaps more prevalent across the country that you would think.

Kristin formerly worked for the City of Baltimore on vacant property issues (co-authoring a Land Banking plan), as well as food policy/urban agriculture, and other projects.

Her research on behalf of Baltimore had three goals: (a) blight elimination; (b) green jobs and (c) a way to support entrepreneurship in the city. She pointed out: “We’ve learned that cut flowers are one of the most lucrative things to grow.”

After I answered her questions, I turned my microphone to Kristin. I am thrilled to share our conversation with you. She’s hoping to hear from listeners of the Slow Flowers Podcast who are growing flowers on city land, public land or urban space. So here’s Kristin’s contact information: kad525@gmail.com.

Here's the award-winning site plan for The Flower Factory.

Here’s the award-winning site plan for The Flower Factory.

Meet Walker Marsh, emerging Baltimore flower farmer.

Meet Walker Marsh, emerging Baltimore flower farmer.

At Kristin’s suggestion, I have a bonus interview to share. She urged me to reach out to Walker Marsh of Tha Flower Factory.

He’s the first flower farmer who will raise cut flowers on a Baltimore-owned parcel land this year, facilitated by winning the Growing Green Design Competition. Walker’s background is as a field manager for Baltimore’s Real Food Farm.

In The Baltimore Sun article, he describes how he got involved with flower farming: “It is deeper than flowers for me. Once I was into it, I found I could calm myself. You have to have patience and be gentle, all the things that come with farming and gardening.”

Such truth! I know you’ll enjoy hearing his story and meeting this engaging new face of flower farming in the U.S.

ThaFlowerFactoryLogo Check out Tha Flower Factory’s web site here. 

Follow and LIKE! Tha Flower Factory on Facebook here.

Follow Walker Marsh on Instagram here.

If you have any doubt about the rising excitement for growing domestic flowers, I sure hope that you’re as encouraged as I am by today’s guests.

We’ll have more stories about what’s happening on the Urban, Suburban and Rural landscape for American grown flowers in the coming months. Please send me your suggestions for future episodes.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

There are so many worthy crowd-funding projects going on right now and I urge you to check them out. This week I want to highlight two:

First, BLOOMTOWN.TV is a new reality web series about the mud, sweat and tears of the U.S. horticulture industry. The show’s creators, Eric Light and Stephanie Winslow, are based in St. Louis, Missouri, and have close ties to the floral and horticultural worlds there.

“Not only is there an abundance of rich, entertaining content, but we firmly believe that Bloomtown will encourage more people to buy plants and flowers, which means better sales across the industry!,” they say.

Bloomtown is in the midst of an ambitious Kickstarter campaign that runs through February 28th so there’s still time to check it out and contribute. And whether you can contribute or not, you’ll want to watch Bloomtown.tv’s fun trailer.

Slowflowers.com members Miranda Duschack and “Mimo” Davis of Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers are featured in the clip and the flowers grown by Slowflowers.com members Steve and Cheryl DuBois of Mossy Creek Farm appear, as Steve puts it: “in non speaking parts of the trailer.” Love the energy of this creative endeavor – so please check it out.

Next, not so long ago I featured Sid Anna Sherwood of Annie’s Flower Farm in Sequim, Washington, who had applied for a KIVA loan to purchase the assets of a farm she had been leasing.

Prior to interviewing her, I had not know about KIVA, an innovative “crowd-lending” program. All the funds donated are paid back by the recipient.

Yay! Triple Wren Farms hit the goal of $4,800 funding to expand their flower farm.

Yay! Triple Wren Farms hit the goal of $4,800 funding to expand their flower farm.

Other friends of Slowflowers.com, and past guests of this podcast, Steve and Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms in the Bellingham, Washington, area, recently applied for a KIVA loan to help get their small flower farm to the next level this coming season.

They’ve raised three-quarters of their $4800 goal with more than a month to go – so it’s easy to help get Triple Wren to their ultimate loan amount, with a long as small as $5.

NOTE: Between the time this episode was recorded and its broadcast on February 11th, Triple Wren Farms achieved 100% funding of its KIVA loan! Whooo Hoo! Congrats Steve and Sarah!

Oh, and one follow-up. Several weeks ago we heard from Jonathan Webber who with his  partner Jimmy Lohr own Pittsburgh’s greenSinner, an urban flower farm and floral design studio.

I asked Jonathan to share details of green Sinner’s Indiegogo campaign for infrastructure funds needed to prepare new land they had just purchased in the city limits of Pittsburgh.

xde2jibx2dhkrxyn2g5t Their campaign has ended, and greenSinner’s Midsummer Hill Farm raised $4,701 toward their goal.

And I guess I’m going to get on my soapbox right now.  You see, greenSinner didn’t meet their original goal of $10k, but they’re more than happy that the funds that were pledged, nearly one half of that goal, will support their project.

However, if they had launched that campaign on Kickstarter and missed the ultimate goal by even $1, they would not have access to any of those funds.

If you’re considering a crowdfunding campaign for your own floral project, please choose Indiegogo. I’m a huge fan of this platform for reasons too numerous to list here. Contact me offline if you wish to discuss further. And congratulations Jimmy and Jonathan! I know you didn’t reach your goal, but I also know how incredibly resourceful you will be with the funds you did raise! Now go get those seeds in the ground!

Thank you for downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast!

Each week I share with you our “download” count and we have hit 34,000 downloads to date. I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, I urge you to Show your Love with a gesture of Local flowers.  We have such a great community and people really seem to want each other to succeed. I take encouragement from the stories I hear – and from the stories I’m able to share with you.

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

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

Week 5 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, February 7th, 2015
Washington branches with California blooms.

Washington branches with California blooms.

It’s been a busy week as we watched January transition into February.

A few days of unseasonably warm 50-degree temperatures combined with plenty of rainfall has jolted awake many of the bulbs in my garden and in my Seattle neighborhood.

I have been eyeing a beautiful shrub in my neighbor Kim’s garden that I pass by each day, realizing the rare moment each year when its inherent beauty peaks.

In the photo above, you can’t miss the lovely “dangles” of what is commonly called the silktassel tree (Garrya elliptica), a coastal NW native shrub with silvery flower chains that appear in winter. I wasn’t sure how it would perform as a cut flower, but here we are, three days after I snipped some of Kim’s branches, and boy does it hold up. Gorgeous and so evocative, right?

Fowering plum blossom (Prunus sp.)

Flowering plum blossom (Prunus sp.)

For Week 5 of 2015, I combined branches of the purloined-with-permission silktassel tree with the just-about-to-flower plum branches. Then I added some of the California-grown flowers brought in by my favorite go-to flower outlet, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

If you spent any time reading the Slow Flowers book, you’ll already know that I regularly turned to the flower farmers involved in this innovative cooperative to procure ingredients for my bouquets and arrangements, month after month.

In the Pacific Northwest, as in so many of the areas where members of the Slow Flowers Tribe live, winter is our quiet season.

Our gardens are relatively (or seriously!) dormant. I have to ration what is in bloom in order to have weekly diversity for my own Challenge designs.

Gorgeous anemones with dark centers. Lush ranunculus in romantic shades.

Gorgeous anemones with dark centers. Lush ranunculus in romantic shades.

So this week, please enjoy the beautiful fuchsia-petaled anemones from California, along with pale pink and creamy white ranunculus, also from California. 

Molly Sadowsky of the SWGMC orders in California florals in a very thoughtful and conscious way. She endeavors to work with farms that use sustainable or Veriflora practices.

Oh, and are you wondering about this beautiful aqua-glazed vase that holds my bouquet? It is – of course – American made!

The Madagascar vase, made in California by Bauer Pottery.

The Madagascar vase, made in California by Bauer Pottery.

Called the Madagascar vase, it comes from Bauer Pottery California, and you can read more about how Janek Boniecki saved the vintage molds for this early and iconic California ceramics factory here.

I love this vase shape so much, I used it in a photo shoot a few years ago for  Better Homes & Gardens. 

It was our holiday centerpiece story featuring nature-inspired cuttings from various regions around the country. I used all those yummy proteas, banksias, eucalyptus, leucodendron and leucospermum. Thought you’d enjoy seeing how appropriate these Australian natives look with the Cali vase. Here’s what I wrote:

California Cool 

The turquoise glaze of a made-in-California Bauer Pottery vase enhances a blue-green and yellow bouquet. The floral ingredients, all native to Australia and South African but grown in California, are thoroughly adapted to Southwest gardens and bloom from October through May. Seeded eucalyptus and velvety sprays of silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum) serve as foliage, while the arrangement’s drama comes from Banksia and pincushion flowers (Leucospermum sp.).

Here are a few designs that others have created recently – they are so inspiring!

Winter Slow Flowers Challenge from Katherine Tracey of Avant Gardens: a Succulent Cutting Arrangement.

Winter Slow Flowers Challenge from Katherine Tracey of Avant Gardens: a Succulent Cutting Arrangement.

From Grace Hensley of eTilth, local tulips, euonymous and acanthus foliage  (plus some bupleurum).

From Grace Hensley of eTilth, local tulips, euonymous and acanthus foliage
(plus some bupleurum).

TIP: Design 101

               Jewel Tones for springtime.

Color wheel lesson: The flowers and vase combination illustrate an analogous color palette. Analogous colors are adjacent to one another on the color wheel. Fuchsia, purple and indigo are pleasing when viewed together because they each share varying quantities of the primary color blue.
White floral accents offset the black centers of the anemones, adding a graphic punch to this composition.
This arrangement, from later in the spring (April), features:

  • 12 stems fuchsia anemones (Anemone coronaria‘Galilee Pink’), grown by Everyday Flowers
  • 8 stems pearlbrush (Exochorda racemosa), grown by J. Foss Garden Flowers
  • 6 stems bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus), harvested from my garden
  • 7 stems white tulips, grown by Alm Hill Gardens

Vase:
8-inch tall x 6-inch diameter round vase with 5-inch opening 

(c) Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers, by Debra Prinzing

Re-Wilding with The Floracultural Society (Episode 179)

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Stephanie Huges and Anna Campbell of The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA.

Stephanie Hughes and Anna Campbell of The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA.

rewild Today I am delighted to introduce the women behind an innovative flower farm/floral design business in Oakland, California called The FloraCultural Society.

Anna Campbell, who owns the venture with her mother Linda Davis, has an extensive career in horticulture, agriculture, floral design, editorial and retail.

She freely admits during our conversation how no matter what she pursued professionally, flowers have continued to draw her like a bee to nectar. Many of you will understand this “flower fever,” which makes Anna’s story so compelling.

After previous forays into floral retail, Anna developed and launched the current format for The FloraCultural Society — part micro urban flower farm / part flower shop and studio space. She describes the business as “a cut flower farm and retail shop providing plant-based goods, classes and events.”

Anna, Linda and Stephanie in the new retail shop on College Ave. in Oakland's Rockridge Neighborhood.

Anna, Linda and Stephanie in the new retail shop on College Ave. in Oakland’s Rockridge Neighborhood.

flora+circle+logo Anna connected with Stephanie Hughes through the local flower farming community in the Bay Area and last year Stephanie joined The FloraCultural Society as Director of Flora and Farm Operations.

I’m so pleased that Stephanie’s voice is included in the interview because she’s the one who introduced Anna and me last October, when I was invited to visit the new FloraCultural Society shop in downtown Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood on College Ave., a stone’s throw from Berkeley.

Stephanie and I originally met last May when we were both part of a bearded iris design workshop taught by Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen of The Little Flower School.

At the time, Stephanie was still shadowing and apprenticing with flower farmers and floral designers, hoping to find a new career in the Bay Area after escaping from a corporate retail job. And now, she’s working closely with Anna to bring locally-grown flowers to their community!

Here's the artwork for The FloraCultural Society's upcoming Kickstarter Campaign.

Here’s the artwork for The FloraCultural Society’s upcoming Kickstarter Campaign, a watercolor that depicts the parcel of land they plan to farm that’s super close to a freeway overpass.

I know you’ll enjoy the conversation, so click on the PLAY BUTTON above to listen or download this episode. And I do want to encourage you to check out the new Kickstarter Campaign that Anna and Stephanie and their team will launch on February 7th.

The campaign seeks to raise funds to so the new 2-acre flower farm is off to a good start. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by between 11 and 3 for light refreshments, sneak previews of the campaign’s rewards and view a screening of the new “Help us Grow” video.

A peek inside the new flower shop in Oakland.

A peek inside the new flower shop in Oakland.

A bouquet called "Flowers to Dye For," which includes flowers and floral dye. After you purchase the $95 bouquet, you are invited to return to The FloraCultural Society to participate in a post-Valentine's Day workshop with Sasha Duerr, author of "The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

A bouquet called “Flowers to Dye For,” which includes flowers and floral dye. After you purchase the $95 bouquet, you are invited to return to The FloraCultural Society to participate in a post-Valentine’s Day workshop with Sasha Duerr, author of “The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

A medium sized bouquet of beautiful floral cuttings in the signature quiver.  Twenty percent of the proceeds of this bouquet purchase go towards seed, soil, and supplies for the petite urban farm.

A medium sized bouquet of beautiful floral cuttings in the signature quiver. Twenty percent of the proceeds of this bouquet purchase go towards seed, soil, and supplies for the petite urban farm.

For a brief engagement this Valentine's Day - A medium sized bouquet of blush garden roses and beautiful, fragrant winter blooms in our signature quiver.

For a brief engagement this Valentine’s Day – A medium sized bouquet of blush garden roses and beautiful, fragrant winter blooms in our signature quiver.

As I mentioned in the talk, Anna wowed me with a gift of a letterpress print that she commissioned for the opening of the new shop on College Avenue. It reads “Rewild Your Life . . . Give in to Floral Mutiny.”

The mini flower farm, located in Oakland on less than 2,500 square feet. It's ready to be joined by a new 2-acre parcel nearby.

The mini flower farm, located in Oakland on less than 2,500 square feet. It’s ready to be joined by a new 2-acre parcel nearby.

Here’s a little more about the company, from The FloraCultural Society’s web site:

The FloraCultural Society was established in hopes of uniting a network of people interested in the beauty of sustainably grown flowers and plant-based goods.  In 2012, we dug into a 2,600 foot plot of land in Old Oakland and began to grow heirloom varieties in the midst of the city.  The contrast between the wild organic flowers and the industrialized structure of the city inspired  the FloraCultural Society’s tagline… ReWild Your Life.

We are now sourcing from local farms in the Bay Area and have plans of expanding our own farm to 2 acres, giving us the ability to provide you with distinct, heirloom varieties.

In joining our society, it is our hope that you may become connected with your wild side, simplifying the way you indulge.  We invite you to take a class with us, Join our CSF (our Community Supported Flowers), try out our plant based skin care lines, and rewild your home with a locally grown arrangement.

The idea of ReWilding is a lovely sentiment that we can all embrace!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

If you want to get started in or further your knowledge of specialty cut flower farming, or if you’re a designer who wants to strengthen your connections with local flowers, I want to share details of two opportunities coming up. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is hosting two regional Growers’ Intensives in March.

On March 2nd and 3rd, in Athens, Georgia, attendees will meet and learn from experienced flower farmers including Rita Anders from Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas whose topic is: From Seed to Market: A Few of My Most Profitable Flowers.”

Arrive early and attend the informal meet-and-greet on Sunday evening March 1st, hosted by Tanis Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm in Dennis, Mississippi, and Mimo Davis of Urban Buds in St. Louis, Missouri.

You’ll also get a chance to visit Three Porch Farm, owned by Steve and Mandy O’Shea in Comer, Georgia, and participate in a bouquet-making session co-led by Mandy (known for her beautiful Moonflower design studio) and Jennie Love of Love ‘n’ Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia — both of whom have been featured in the New York Times. And not to miss, also at Three Porch, a demonstration of veggie oil-powered vehicles and other equipment.

On March 23rd and 24th, a west coast Growers’ Intensive will take place in San Jose, California - and I’ll be there to meet you! You’ll hear from expert presenters, including several past guests of this podcast, including Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony, Joan Thorndike of Le Mera Gardens in Ashland, Oregon and Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, and others. I’ll be there with my recording equipment and I hope to capture some new voices to share on future Slow Flowers episodes.

There are a few upcoming deadlines to take note of, including the Georgia hotel room block and the San Jose bus tour of local flower farms, both of which expires this Friday, February 6th, so register soon.

Thanks for joining me today.  My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

Increasingly, there are passionate people like you who are joining the Slow Flowers movement, the Floral Mutiny as Anna Campbell calls it. You are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before!

We have exceeded 33,000 downloads to date and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

I don’t know exactly how to credit our growth, but get this: The Slow Flowers Podcast ended the month of January with more than 4,000 downloads, nearly 1500 individual downloads more than any month prior.

There’s something very good going. More people are entering the flower farming profession in the U.S.; more florists are seeking fresh, seasonal and sustainable sources of American grown flowers with which to create their beautiful designs; and more flower lovers are asking: “where are my flowers grown” and expect transparent labeling of those blooms. Origin does matter when it comes to your flowers.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Week 4 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, January 31st, 2015
Created on Jan. 30th, Seattle, Washington. I clipped all the botanical elements from my garden and I purchased the beautiful tulips from Alm Hill Gardens (Pike Place Market vendor of WA-grown tulips)

Created on Jan. 30th, Seattle, Washington. I clipped all the botanical elements from my garden and used beautiful tulips from Alm Hill Gardens (Pike Place Market vendor of WA-grown tulips)

Welcome to Week 4 of the Slow Flowers Challenge as we wrap up the first month of 2015! 

The year is off to a great start, and I thank you for joining me in this celebration of locally-grown flowers, from our gardens, meadows and farms. Seattleites are of course wrapped up in Super Bowl preparations, but I’ve been anticipating the return of homegrown tulips from Alm Hill Gardens, an organic food and flower farm in Everson, Washington, just two miles from the Washington-British Columbia border.
Owned by Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft, Alm Hill is known for raising luscious cut tulips. At Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the sign in their stall reads, “Alm Hill Gardens: A Small Sustainable Family Farm Since 1974.”
I greeted flower-seller Max Clement, who I’m always happy to see, and selected 20 apricot-hued and melon-orange tulip for $20. He wrapped them up in white paper and sent me off to play with the floral gifts that my own backyard offered as companion elements to the first tulips of 2015.
Here’s what I arranged yesterday:
My vintage cream McCoy vase is filled with magnolia foliage, pieris, hellebore flowers and foliage, witch hazel and local tulips.

My vintage cream McCoy vase is filled with magnolia foliage, pieris, hellebore flowers and foliage, witch hazel and local tulips.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'). This otherworldly flower excites the winter garden - and one must cut judiciously to preserve the shrub's beauty in the landscape. I used 5 stems with copper-orange flowers for my arrangement.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’). This otherworldly flower excites the winter garden – and one must cut judiciously to preserve the shrub’s beauty in the landscape. I used 5 stems with copper-orange flowers for my arrangement.

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TIP: Magnolia grandiflora foliage

Magnolia foliage with spring tulips

Magnolia foliage with spring tulips

The arrangement I created above took its inspiration from a winter bouquet that I included in my book Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers.

 
With this design, I raved about the fact that my neighbors Kim and Jake have a stunning Magnolia grandiflora that I view from my sitting room.
They are always so generous to allow me to walk across our shared driveway and clip a few glossy evergreen stems for my arrangements. The leaves measure up to 9 inches and the underside of each is slightly fuzzy and rusty-brown, which looks especially enticing with orange and apricot companion flowers like early spring tulips.
Anyone who thinks the winter garden is limited need only to consider broadleaf evergreen shrubs and trees – they are long-lasting and reflect the light when we desperately need it!
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GET INVOLVED AND SHARE YOUR SLOW FLOWERS ARRANGEMENTS!

A beautiful January bouquet submitted by Winnie Pitrone, a flower grower and arranger in Mendocino, Ca who uses only seasonal, local flora from her garden or nearby gardens.

A beautiful January bouquet submitted by Winnie Pitrone, a flower grower and arranger in Mendocino, Ca who uses only seasonal, local flora from her garden or nearby gardens.

Amaryllis, camellia, quince, peiris in urn from Erika's Fresh Flowers, a locally owned flower farm and design studio in Warrenton, Or., with a garden style that's inspired by the wild, unique botanicals nearby.

Amaryllis, camellia, quince, peiris in urn from Erika’s Fresh Flowers, a locally owned flower farm and design studio in Warrenton, Or., with a garden style that’s inspired by the wild, unique botanicals nearby.

Here’s a link to our January 2015 Slow Flowers Pinterest Board. Please share your arrangements with me and I’ll add them – or, like many of you, create your own Slow Flowers Pinterest board and invite me to join. I’ll be starting our February 2015 board this coming week!

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Flowers on Your Head with L.A.’s Mud Baron (Episode 178)

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
Some of the beautiful faces who've allowed Mud Baron to photograph them with flowers on their heads.

Some of the beautiful faces who’ve allowed Mud Baron to photograph them with flowers on their heads.

Mr. Baron, bouquet-maker

Mr. Baron, bouquet-maker

This past week took Slow Flowers to Southern California, where I combined business, pleasure, flowers and friends, in a whirlwind five days. I successfully cornered Mud Baron, one who rarely slows down himself, to record today’s interview. I’ve wanted to have Mud on the podcast for more than a year, ever since I visited Muir Ranch, the school garden he manages at John Muir High School in Pasadena.

You may not know him as Mud Baron. Yes, his nickname is Mud! But if you’re a follower of beautiful flower images on Instagram, you may know him by Co-Co-Zoe-Chee, or @cocoxochitl, his alias there, with 4,500 followers and thousands of posts. And many contain the hashtag #flowersonyourhead – one of Mud’s gleefully subversive campaigns to place photos on one’s head and snap a photograph, Frida Kahlo-like, for Instagram and other places.

As we discuss in the interview, I have succumbed to Mud’s flowers on your head shenanigans and also witnessed Mud at work, getting complete strangers to comply with his outrageous (and quite poignant ) requests. Check out his gallery of portraits by searching #flowersonyourhead.

Mud_1_IMG_9324

Mud, photographed by me in Seattle (March 2014) with flowers on his head.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in August 2013, after a visit to Muir Ranch. I hope it round out this introduction of Mud.

In 2011, a dedicated team of volunteer teachers and students began converting 1.5 acres of Pasadena, California’s John Muir High School campus into a school-based farm.

Today, Muir Ranch grows a variety of flowers, vegetables and fruits that are included in weekly CSA boxes as well as school cafeteria lunches. Students can complete community service or internship graduation requirements by enrolling in classes at the Ranch. Muir Ranch also provides paid internships to students, which are funded by private donations, special events, farmer’s market sales, and subscriptions to the produce box program (CSA).  

Edibles and flowers grow together.

Edibles and flowers grow together at Muir Ranch.

Every week, Muir Ranch CSA subscribers get a box or bag of about 7-10 different types of fruit and vegetables grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Customers pick their shares up at central distribution sites throughout Pasadena. Muir Ranch CSA partners with several local farms for seasonal fruit and vegetables to supplement what they can produce, providing tax-deductible weekly boxes to over 100 subscribers. It is the CSA program that generates much of the income that keeps this place operating.

Mud Baron, a passionate school garden advocate who serves as the Executive Director of Muir Ranch, is one of the people at the hub of this endeavor. That sounds like a high-falutin’ title, but in all reality, he is true to his nickname. Mud gets down and dirty – and REAL – with his kids, teenagers whose horizons are much brighter after they’ve learned to grow and sell food and flowers to local customers.

How did this former design-build contractor end up teaching gardening and farming skills to urban youth? I’m still trying to figure out the exact path of Mud’s career, but suffice it to say he’s in his element growing food and flowers.

One of the talented student farmers designed a gorgeous bouquet for me on the spot

One of the talented student farmers designed a gorgeous bouquet for me on the spot

Many programs besides the CSA are supported under the umbrella of Muir Ranch, such as partnerships CSAs run by with other local schools and learning gardens. Muir Ranch also and hosts monthly “Plug Mobs” to help other groups in the community plant their own gardens.

In Mud’s mind, no Southern California-based teacher should go wanting for school garden supplies. “The Plug Mob program means that finding seeds and plants is no longer a factor for 2,000 schools,” he says. Muir Ranch operates like a plant nursery, helping source and distribute seeds, bulbs and flats of plant starts. Like modern-day Johnny Appleseeds, Mud and his supporters share what they have and spread around the love.

As more young people “connect the dots,” they become involved in how food is grown, distributed, and finally cooked into healthy meals. Besides being a center for education, Muir Ranch hosts a variety of ongoing and special events. The program is known for its floral arrangements, and I love that Mud has taught his interns and student workers how to harvest and assemble bouquets.

Word is getting out about Muir Ranch’s flowers. One of Mud’s interns just earned $400 selling wedding flowers to a market customer. According to Mud, that experience opened her eyes to possibilities for a bright future.

Here's a beautiful student-crafted bouquet, an impromptu gift that I cherished.

Here’s a beautiful student-crafted bouquet, an impromptu gift that I cherished.

Things are ever-changing at this school garden, with new crops of kids getting involved and older ones graduating and enrolling in college. And Mud continues his radical outreach on behalf of school gardening, food justice and the importance of flowers in our lives.

I promise you our conversation is all over the place, bouncing between sentimental and serious to hilariously irreverent, a lot like Mud himself.

Deb_-_flowers_on_head_1

My photographer friend Jean Zaputil, of Studio Z Photography and Design, took this portrait of me after Mud plunked a huge bunch of flowers on my head, March 2014.

I will devote the next two weeks to Valentine’s Day, turning the focus to American grown flowers for this top floral holiday.  If we can’t show our love with local flowers, what’s the point?

I’ll introduce you to some of the people who are doing exciting things to innovate at Valentine’s Day, getting their clients out of the gift-giving rut that involves thinking a generic bunch of a dozen red roses equates true affection and gestures of love. Please return to gain new ideas – and let me know what you’re doing this Valentine’s Day – I’d love to share your own efforts with our listeners.

Thanks to the Slow Flowers Tribe, this podcast has been downloaded more than 32,000 times. In fact, the month of January hit an all-time high as our most popular month to date, with more than 3,000 downloads of current and archived interviews – and I’m encouraged to know that more listeners are discovering this flower-powered podcast every day.

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

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

The Slow Flowers podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Week 3 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Sunday, January 25th, 2015
Miniature cymbidiums in all their glory, offset with calla lily foliage from Danielle Hahn's private landscape at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA.

Miniature cymbidiums in all their glory, offset with calla lily foliage from Danielle Hahn’s private landscape at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA.

On the road with the Slow Flowers Challenge, I’m in Southern California this week to do some story scouting, podcast interviews and to attend the winter board meeting of the Garden Writers Association in Pasadena.

So naturally, I wasn’t able to create my own seasonal and local bouquet!

For Week 3 of 2015, I want to showcase this exquisite arrangement designed by Danielle Hahn at Rose Story Farm. I visited her in Carpinteria, CA, this week (USDA Zone 10) and was delighted to see a vase of miniature cymbidium orchids and calla foliage on the kitchen island at the Hahn family farmhouse.
Rose Story is an American flower farm, specializing in organically-grown old garden roses, David Austin’s and heirloom varieties for the floral industry. That means their field-grown roses bloom mostly in May, June, July and August! Since it’s winter now, the farm’s rose production is limited.
Orchids are a wonderful winter-blooming option for every climate.

Orchids are a wonderful winter-blooming option for every climate.

A few years ago, Dani’s father brought her a wide array of winter flowers that would bloom in her garden when the roses were dormant. She wrote this on her Instagram post of these orchids: “It’s cymbidium time . . . these are a teensy variety and first to bloom. A gift from my late father who decided we needed something during our rose dormancy. One thousand plants and some are fragrant!”
There’s something quite powerful and lovely about associating our floral choices with memories and the people we love – and Dani, how beautiful that your own remembrances of your father are connected to these orchids.
Love this glossy calla lily foliage, another seasonal option from Dani's garden.

Love this glossy calla lily foliage, another seasonal option from Dani’s garden.

Okay, I know not everyone lives in Carpinteria (just a stone’s throw from Santa Barbara), so what’s going on in other parts of the country?
Here are a few designs from Slowflowers.com Members in colder corners of the U.S.
I share these to illustrate how much beauty each region has to offer – if only you look!
From Ann Sensenbrenner, owner of Farm to Vase in Madison, Wisconsin. This was her New Year's arrangement featuring conifers and evergreens, ilex berries, dried grasses, dried seed heads and dried flowers.

From Ann Sensenbrenner, owner of Farm to Vase in Madison, Wisconsin. This was her New Year’s arrangement featuring conifers and evergreens, ilex berries, dried grasses, dried seed heads and dried flowers.

From Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. Kate posted this arrangement on Jan. 16th as part of her "Friday Night Romance" series, a peek at the bouquets she creates each week. I love how this arrangement features late-season Dusty Miller, as well as gorgeous juniper berries, dried hydrangea flowers, dried grasses. I actually think I see a few succulents in this bouquet, too!

From Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania.
Kate posted this arrangement on Jan. 16th as part of her “Friday Night Romance” series, a peek at the bouquets she creates each week.
I love how this arrangement features late-season Dusty Miller, as well as gorgeous juniper berries, dried hydrangea flowers, dried grasses.
I actually think I see a few succulents in this bouquet, too!

TIP: From the Flower Farmer

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium 'Sleeping Dream Castle'.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium ‘Sleeping Dream Castle’.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium 'Sleeping Dream Castle'.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium ‘Sleeping Dream Castle’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchids make great cut flowers!

According to Sandra Peterkort Laubenthal, whose family grows roses, lilies and orchids in greenhouses outside of Portland, Oregon, cymbidiums can be displayed as a flower-studded stem or cut individually off the stem for floating or inserting in floral tubes.
 
It’s hard to know, however, how fresh the flower is. “What makes the most difference is if they are cut right after blooming,” Sandra says.
 
“Look at the lip to see if it has turned pink or is otherwise discolored. This is an indication that the flower has been pollinated by an insect – and that dramatically shortens the cymbidium’s lifespan.”
 
(c) Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers, by Debra Prinzing

Chet and Kristy Anderson of Colorado’s Fresh Herb Co. (Episode 177)

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
Chet and Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co. with their late-harvest scabiosas in front of the old stone schoolhouse that's now the kitchen wing of their farmhouse.

Chet and Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co. with their late-harvest scabiosas in front of the old stone schoolhouse, circa 1887, that’s now the kitchen wing of their farmhouse.

Chet, as captured by my camera in 2011.

Chet, as captured by my camera in 2011.

It is my pleasure to introduce you this week to Chet and Kristy Anderson, veteran flower farmers and owners of The Fresh Herb Co., based in Boulder, Colorado.

If you’re a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers or if you’ve read the “Rocky Mountain Flowers” chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet, you’re already familiar with the Anderson name — and their beautiful flowers.

The Fresh Herb Company is a specialty grower of culinary and ornamental greenhouse crops and fresh field-cut flowers, proudly serving the Rocky Mountain West local market for over 30 years.

Chet and Kristy grow fresh greenhouse and field-cut flowers May through October. They market field fresh bouquets, peonies, phlox, sunflowers, zinnias, delphinium, larkspur, and many more varieties to customers throughout the Rocky Mountain Region — including grocery chains, weddings and special events., as well as at the Boulder County Farmers Market,

The Fresh Herb Co. Farm, in a pre-flood photo Kristy recently shared.

The Fresh Herb Co. Farm, in a pre-flood photo Kristy recently shared.

Warm, intelligent, creative and engaging, this couple has been so generous over the years in sharing their home and time with me. I visited their farm in May 2011, after being part of a lecture series at the Denver Botanic Garden.

We reconnected in November 2012, when Kristy and Chet came to the ASCFG national conference that was held in Tacoma. And when it turned out that I was going to fly through Denver on my way to a conference for professional speakers this past November, well . . . I basically invited myself to Longmont, about 20 minutes from Boulder, where the Andersons live on the most picturesque flower farm.

Chet emailed me back almost immediately, saying “yes.” Hi Debra…..we would love to see you. Let’s count on seeing you here at the farm at 12:ish.  We’ll have a bite here and get you on the road in time to make it to the Springs by 4:00. Sound ok? Thanks, C.

The big, blue, Colorado sky, as captured on my visit last November. Wow! I know why this place is so special to the Anderson family.

The big, blue, Colorado sky, as captured on my visit last November. Wow! I know why this place is so special to the Anderson family. Note farmhouse on lower right corner of this sweeping photograph.

I was eager to see Kristy and Chet and to get an update on how things had progressed in the previous 12 months.

You see, in mid-September of 2013, we got word that an autumn storm in their area caused devastating floods from Lefthand Creek, wiping out a huge portion of The Fresh Herb Co.’s farm. Right after the disaster, Chet wrote this in an email:

” . . . pretty bad here. House is fine; greenhouse is mostly OK. Barn and coolers are still taking on water but are mostly OK. Pump house is gone. The pond is FULLY silted in (very amazing!). All roads to and from our facilities are gone and there is only one way out of here to town. Flower fields very rough….not sure what will survive, though the peonies fared the best (ya gotta love peonies, eh?). Biggest bummer may be that I have 3,000 bunches of sunflowers and nearly 500 beautiful bouquets in the cooler with no place to go! Dang! . . . “

And then he concluded with a few words that tell you volumes about Chet’s rather upbeat outlook on life:

“As we all know, things could always be worse. Very thankful that family and friends, and house are all safe. Now simply the cleanup.”

Growing fields from a prior season.

Growing fields from a prior season, with the greenhouse in the distance.

I always say that American flower farmers are tenacious and resilient. Listen to our conversation as evidence.

After a delightful lunch featuring butternut squash soup (so beautiful that I had to photograph it!), we walked the farm, saw the enlarged and repaired greenhouse, now 17,000 square feet in size, admired all the new peonies and perennials that were in the ground, ready to hunker down through winter in anticipation of spring.

Colorado peonies in the coolers at The Fresh Herb Co. (photo courtesy Chet and Kristy Anderson)

Colorado peonies in the cooler at The Fresh Herb Co. (photo courtesy Chet and Kristy Anderson)

Here's a photo I snapped in May 2011 inside the greenhouses - hanging baskets overhead and crates of lilies beneath them.

Here’s a photo I snapped in May 2011 inside the greenhouses – hanging baskets overhead and crates of lilies beneath them.

Chet (center), flanked by his lovely women -- mother Belle and wife/partner Kristy. Photogaphed by me at the Boulder Co. Farmers' Market, May 2011.

Chet (center), holding an armload of lilies and flanked by the lovely women in his life — mother Belle and wife/partner Kristy. Photogaphed by me at the Boulder Co. Farmers’ Market, May 2011.

Then Kristy, Chet and I sat outdoors on their stone patio. Yes, it was early November in Colorado, and yes, it snowed just a few days later at the conference where I was, at least, in Colorado Springs. But I felt the sunshine on my shoulders and was truly warmed by our conversation. Thanks for listening in . . .

50MileBouquet_book I’d love you to read the entire story about Chet and Kristy, as included in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Download the PDF of their chapter here: Rocky_Mountain_Flowers_The_50_Mile_Bouquet

And if you are lucky enough to make it to Boulder, Colorado, make sure to schedule a day at their famous Farmer’s Market and stop by to say hello to these intrepid and passionate folks!

Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We have exceeded 30,000 downloads and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged that more people are learning about the farmers and florists who are keeping American-grown flowers thriving.  So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Week 2: Slow Flowers Challenge

Friday, January 16th, 2015
January 15, 2015 Slow Flowers Challenge arrangement

January 15, 2015 Slow Flowers Challenge arrangement

SlowFlowersChallengeCover.jpg (2) I hope you are having a wonderful beginning to your New Year of Local Flowers!

This season and the subsequent ones throughout the year will provide us with beautiful, American Grown botanicals. As we train our eyes, plan our gardens and seek local sources for our flowers, I hope that the Slow Flowers Challenge will inspire and inform you!
Week 1: We launched the Slow Flowers Challenge on January 5th and to date, more than 250 people have downloaded the Resource Design Guide to get their own Slow Flowers Project started. Please feel free to share this project with your friends. I encourage people to begin whenever the timing is right – and continue regularly by week, month or season.

For my own arrangement, for Week 2 of 2015, I was inspired by these vivid magenta-purple snowberries,which I saw growing en masse at Jello Mold Farm  in Mt. Vernon.

This is the farm portrayed on the cover of The 50 Mile Bouquet, one of the most productive and sustainable small cut flower farms I’ve ever visited.

A huge stand of snowberry shrubs look gorgeous against the red barn at Jello Mold Farm

A huge stand of snowberry shrubs look gorgeous against the red barn at Jello Mold Farm

Owners Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall encouraged me to cut as many of the stems as I wished. It was already dusk and there was something quite wistful about harvesting floral elements in the waning winter light of January 10th.

I was excited to create an arrangement worthy of all that brilliant fuchsia. I filled a glass pitcher with the snowberry stems when I came home, and then . . . of course, GOT TOO BUSY to design.

Tuesday, while walking my elderly dog Zanny on what was actually a slow craw down the sidewalk of my neighborhood, I spotted my next design ingredient! Branches of blue atlas cedar covered the ground, knocked from a majestic tree during a recent storm. They looked like a graceful gesture depicted in a black-and-white sumi painting. I gathered a few and carried them home.
The teal-blue tinge of the needles seemed the perfect complement to the snowberries. Later that day, I eyed a piece of vintage turquoise pottery, something I ordered from eBay.com a few years ago, mainly because the glaze was so beautiful – darker than most of my other vintage vases.
Lots of texture, color, detail and seasonal interest!

Lots of texture, color, detail and seasonal interest!

That’s when the entire design came together in my mind’s eye. I just had to walk the rather dormant winter garden with clippers in hand to find the remaining elements to complete my design. Here’s what I clipped yesterday before getting started: 
  • Sweet box (Sarcococca ruscifolia), with glossy green foliage and tiny white fringes of super-fragrant, vanilla-scented flowers.
  • Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica), a fantastic shrub with chains of flowers emerging from the tips. I cut mine pre-bloom, so the strings of tiny buds are a pale pinkish-gold color.
  • Bishop’s hat (Epimedium sp.), a rather generic evergreen groundcover (the previous owner of our home planted way too many of them!) with wiry stems and a pointed leaves – thus, the “bishop’s hat.” Some of the varieties turn dark red-brown when temperatures drop, like the ones that I used in my bouquet.
  • Cedar branches, that echo the pottery glaze beautifully. A few of the curved stems drape downward from the rim of the container, which I love.
  • Lichen-covered bare branches from a weathered azalea. You can’t see them well in the photo, however, let me assure you that the pale green lichen also echoes the vase’s glaze.
  • Lots of snowberries, which arch quite nicely above most of the foliage, just where I wanted them in the vase.
  • Three stems of ‘Joseph’ Hellebores, clipped from a container in front of my home. Blooms are rare so I used these for impact.
  • Finally, I knew I wanted something bold, so I added three stems from a Rex Begonia houseplant. I believe this variety is called ‘Iron Cross’ and you can see why.

TIP: American Grown Flowers

Winter can be a challenge to find more conventional blooms, especially if you live in Zones 3-6, right? I was inspired by an event held last week at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market (full disclosure – I’m on the board of this farmer-to-florist cooperative).
We hosted Christina Stembel of SF-based Farmgirl Flowers, and you can see her design here. Christina discussed the huge variety and availability of California-grown flowers that she relies on, year-round. She encouraged Seattle area designers to draw a larger circle in their definition of “local” during the times when most local flower farms are dormant or experiencing lower productivity.
Look for CA-Grown labeling when you’re shopping at the supermarket. You’ll find beautiful flowers that are grown by U.S. farmers – all part of keeping it SLOW!
Christina’s design features California-grown eucalyptus, privet berries, garden roses, tulips, fancy-leaf pelargonium, ornamental cabbage & scabiosa.
Share Your SLOW FLOWERS Bouquets
About Our Pinterest Boards

When I launched the SLOW FLOWERS CHALLENGE for 2015, I asked people to create their own designs using American grown, local and seasonal botanicals, and then to “share” their designs on our Pinterest board, which I had planned to set up for each month of the year. Here is the January Board.
Easy, right?
Not so easy. I did not realize that I have to INVITE YOU to join this board. I hope you create your own boards, which is something I’ve seen lots of you do. Please invite me to post to your Slow Flowers Challenge Pinterest Board and I will reciprocate and invite you to join ours, which I have made a “Group Board.” Let’s use the #slowflowerschallenge hash-tag when possible, so we can find and enjoy each other’s beautiful and seasonal work!

Floriography’s Emily Calhoun grows and designs with local flowers in New Mexico (Episode 176)

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
Emily Calhoun of Floriography, lover of the Southwest and grower of flowers.

Emily Calhoun of Floriography, lover of the Southwest and grower of flowers.

Last week’s featured guest was Fran Sorin, gardening and creativity expert, and author of the just-released 10th Anniversary edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

“Digging Deep,” by Fran Sorin

Fran graciously contributed a copy of her book for me to give away to our listeners. The lucky recipient from our drawing is Wendy Gorton. In her comment on my web site, Wendy shared her earliest memory of flowers or nature – and I know that when Fran hears this, it will bring a huge smile to her face. Wendy wrote:

I’m adopted and lucky enough to have had an adoptive mother who loved working in the garden. She would take me out with her at a very early age, where we would plant vegetables and flowers and make mud puddles. This time with my mother was such a gift and taught me how to reconnect to what is important in life. A beautiful story in relation to this…my mother told me that one time, after one of our sessions in the garden where we both came in just covered in mud, the social worker stopped by, as was the case with adoptions. My mother was mortified and tried to explain why we were covered filthy. The social worker just smiled and said, “no worries; it looks like this little one is having a healthy childhood.” 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment and I hope you come back to win something in one of our future drawings!

The gorgeous floral designs of Emily Calhoun, Floriography NM. This is the project that reminds me of Frida Kahlo!

The gorgeous floral designs of Emily Calhoun, Floriography NM. This is the project that reminds me of Frida Kahlo!

Bringing local flowers to the weddings and celebrations of New Mexico.

Bringing local flowers to the weddings and celebrations of New Mexico.

I’m super excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Emily Calhoun. A farmer-florist who owns Floriography, Emily has established her growing fields and design studios in two locations — Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Albuquerque is in the center of the state and Las Cruces is in that little niche near El Paso, Texas where New Mexico, Texas and Mexico come together. We’re talking 235 miles apart!

Floriography blossomed in 2012 when Emily saw the need, even a thirst, for responsibly grown flowers and a fresh, new design aesthetic that was modern, yet steeped in tradition (just like her!).

She proudly produces and utilizes stunning heirloom flower varieties alongside all-time favorites like sunflowers and tulips.

Check out the arrows that indicate Albuquerque in the north/central part of the state - and Las Cruces in south/central.

Check out the arrows that indicate Albuquerque in the north/central part of the state – and Las Cruces in south/central.

Floriography’s business model is unique in that Emily collaborates with other growers, landscapers, and home owners to harvest many local and native plants, cacti, and foliage, bringing a special touch from New Mexico’s beautiful landscape through her floral designs to table, event, or special occasion.

Sourcing botanicals locally eliminates many of the extra costs associated with the floral industry, thus making it affordable to enjoy the benefits of fresh flowers.

Floriography is the expression of Emily’s pleasure and skill in providing beautiful, unique, natural, and innovative floral design while honoring her agricultural heritage through sustainable best growing practices.

The name Floriography (while it is indeed a mouthful!) reinforces Emily’s belief that flowers carry profound meaning for the thoughtful giver and the lucky recipient.

Backlighting lends a Southwest glow to this Floriography bouquet.

Backlighting lends a Southwest glow to this Floriography bouquet.

Floriography, defined as the language and the art of communicating through flowers, gained popularity in the days of Victorian England. This interest in the language of flowers had roots in Ottoman Turkey, when during the first half of the 18th century the court in Constantinople became obsessed with tulips .

Floriography is founded on this powerful and romantic notion that flowers are such wonderful communicators.

“Our mission is to help our clients express their fondest thoughts, hopes, and feelings through our flowers and design,” she says. “I believe in flowers…”

Emily continues, and this is excerpted from the Floriography web site:

Such a sense of place here. The flowers are as vivid as the architecture, the sun and the sky.

Such a sense of place here. The flowers are as vivid as the architecture, the sun and the sky.

“I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds us in the Rio Grande valley.

I love walking through the farm land and down the drainage ditches collecting pods, grasses, and other unique vegetation. 

After living around the country, working in Latin America and Europe as a travel guide and cook, and traveling through several Asian countries, I always knew I’d return to my agricultural roots in southern New Mexico and West Texas to join my family’s farming business.

“Upon returning to New Mexico after one of my adventures, I threw a big dinner party and was  shocked to discover that while we live in a beautiful and productive valley, the closest source for buying “farm fresh” cut flowers was more than 500 miles away.

As an avid dinner party and entertaining enthusiast, I was sad and discouraged that the flowers for my events had to be sourced from such a distance (even South America), and may not have been grown in a way respectful to the environment or the workers.

So, I decided it was time that our beautiful valley should add specialty cut flowers to its agricultural repertoire. Thus began Floriography.”

Full of character and style ~ a Floriography bouquet.

Full of character and style ~ a  New Mexico-grown Floriography bouquet.

“We believe in honoring our environment and agricultural heritage in a way that delights the senses.” is one that resonates with me – and I know it will with you.”

On a sunny, but chilly morning last November, I got to play in the garden with Emily Calhoun of Floriography.

On a sunny, but chilly morning last November, I got to play in the garden with Emily Calhoun of Floriography.

I recorded this podcast in mid November when I was able to visit Emily while traveling through Albuquerque for a day. We had a lovely interlude on her homestead that included playing with all sorts of gorgeous ingredients gleaned from the farm in Las Cruces as well as from the growing fields on her land outside Albuquerque. Here are the November bouquets we designed. I think they’re simply sublime:

Quintessentially local - A gorgeous arrangement, foraged and harvested from only New Mexico-grown ingredients. Design: Emily Calhoun

Quintessentially local – A gorgeous arrangement, foraged and harvested from only New Mexico-grown ingredients. Design: Emily Calhoun

Here's my interpretation of the Floriography style.

Here’s my interpretation of the Floriography style.

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I want to conclude today’s podcast by sharing the very sad news that the Slow Flowers community lost a lovely and wise flower farmer on December 25th. Peg Moran, owner of Friends in the Country, a flower farm in Pawtucket, Connecticut, was Stonington Farmer’s Market’s flower vendor for 17 years, since the market began in 1997.

Peg Moran, Connecticut flower farmer and author of "An Acre Plus: Invitation to A Growing Life"

Peg Moran, Connecticut flower farmer and author of “An Acre Plus: Invitation to A Growing Life”

Here is what the Stonington Farmer’s Market shared on their Facebook Page:

During the growing season, she supplied the Market with a wide range of flowers, from common favorites to unique wonders that she grew on an acre of land she cultivated in Pawtucket. It was always a banner day at the Market when Peg returned for the season wearing her signature straw hat, the back of her car filled with buckets of beautiful flowers.

Her book, An Acre Plus, An Invitation to a Growing Life, describes her journey to becoming an experienced flower grower and building her business, Friends in the Country. She used sustainable farming techniques to raise cut flowers for weddings, parties and local farmers markets. She brought on teen garden apprentices from Stonington High School to learn agricultural techniques and help in her business. She grew annuals in long raised beds and fifty varieties of perennials in terraced beds that curve around her farmhouse on Mary Hall Road. Recently, responding to growing demand, she modified her business model and began growing bulbs for the holiday and early spring seasons, working with other local growers to extend and broaden her seasonal offerings.

Peg was a fervent entrepreneur, and she shared that passion with others, developing entrepreneurship courses and teaching at the University of California as well as far-flung schools in Estonia and Russia. She developed curriculum and taught peer-based programs for microloan lending agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, Willimantic and New London, Connecticut.

She was devoted to sustainable, local and small-scale agriculture. She spearheaded CLUC*K (Chicken Lovers Urge Change), the organization that promoted back-yard chicken farming and successfully worked to change planning and zoning regulations to permit such farming in Stonington.

Peg—author, entrepreneur, farmer and agricultural advocate—lived a busy, engaged life. She was a mother, grandmother and mentor to many. She worked hard, crusaded for causes in which she believed, and supported herself through her lively intellect and avid interests. She will be remembered as “the flower woman” to her customers and “quite a woman” to her friends.

I only met Peg recently – this past November at a Slow Flowers farmer/florist gathering at Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island.  It was such a lovely evening and I’m so grateful Peg drove nearly an hour to join us.  I came home to Seattle immediately and ordered An Acre Plus, Peg’s memoir that she self-published in 2009.

After reading every word I sent Peg a note only a few weeks ago telling her how much I adored her book. I didn’t hear back from her and she died six days later. But hope she read my note and that it made her smile.

My condolences to Peg’s family and her vibrant farming community. If you want to be moved by her beautiful language and honest insights about making a living as a flower farmer, I urge you to get a copy of An Acre Plus. I had hoped to have Peg on this podcast as a guest in 2015. Now, sadly, you’ll have to listen to her voice through the pages of her book.

30k Thanks for joining me today.  My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We reached 30,000 downloads this week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

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

Music credits (Creative Commons License)
Marcus Eads – Johnson Slough
Marcus Eads – Canoe Launch