Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Week 10 // Hellebores!!! (and More)

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Week10 Oh joy! The hellebores are blooming quite early this year.

Up close, the detail is so lovely and intricate

Up close, the detail is so lovely and intricate

For better or worse, Seattle’s uber-mild winter means that many of our early flowers are emerging weeks ahead of schedule.

I’m worried that our gardens and fields will need a lot more water this summer, but we can only say that Mother Nature decided to give us warmer temperatures and extra sunshine this year – more than previous winters in recent memory.

Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm grew the hellebores you see here – and let me tell you, their luscious blooms were flying out of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market when they arrived.

I snagged the *last* bunch of the plum hellebores and grabbed only 4 stems of the beautiful pale speckled ones.

Gorgeous specialty tulips also caught my eye – so much more substantial and visually arresting than the hothouse ones coming out of Canada. These were lovingly grown by Gonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms, a member of the SWGMC who farms in Ethel, Washington. One bunch of 10 stems, while short, provided plenty of tulips to add dazzle to two vases.

Plum and berry hues with pale green & butter yellow in a vintage white vase.

Plum and berry hues with pale green & butter yellow in a vintage white vase.

Jasmine isn’t winter-hardy here in Seattle, but boy do I remember it clambering over the stucco retaining wall in our former garden in California’s Ventura County. On the first Thanksgiving we lived there – after moving from Seattle in 2006 – my friend Nancy, visiting from Seattle, created our entire Thanksgiving tablescape from the bounty of our new backyard – including that lacy jasmine.

Molly Sadowsky, the SWGM’s manager and principal buyer, has a secret California source for evergreen Jasmine – and the designers here in Seattle absolutely love it! Me, too! I love that the jasmine foliage is also a gorgeous aspect of this arrangement, a bonus to the fragrant flowers and buds.

Oh, and there is one element from my Seattle garden: the delicate pale yellow flowers from Epimedium, a beautiful groundcover. I only had a few stems to add, but their petals echo the Hellebores’ centers, adding a delicate texture.

scroll

Hellebores for the People
Designed by Mick & Olivia Payment,
owners of 
Flowers for the People 

Hellebores with orchids, roses, pincushion protea, jasmine and more - designed by Olivia and Mick Payment

Hellebores with orchids, roses, pincushion protea, jasmine and more – designed by Olivia and Mick Payment

Earlier this week, the SWGM hosted its first Orchid Spectacular to showcase a wide array of Local and American-grown potted and cut orchids. The Market staff invited Mick and Olivia, a brother-and-sister design team, to demonstrate how they design with orchids in arrangements and interior planters.

You’ll be wowed by one of their designs pictured here. I wanted to share it because of the diversity of flowers they incorporated, including Lady Slipper orchids from Orchidaceae  of Walla Walla, Washington, and hellebores from Jello Mold Farm (the “leftovers” ended up in my design above).
The yellow-green-pink palette is such a breath of fresh air! Mick and Olivia also used CA-grown roses and pincushion proteas to masterfully express their inspiration to use domestic flowers.
  scroll

Slow Food meets Slow Flowers at the first Field to Vase Dinner with designer Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals (Episode 184)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

00401_AY_AGF_F2V_Pstr&PC_v3-page-002

A great spread about the Field to Vase Dinner appeared recently in the local Santa Barbara News-Press.

A great spread about the Field to Vase Dinner appeared recently in the local Santa Barbara News-Press.

I spent a few days last week in Carpinteria, California, working with the team that’s producing the 2015 Field to Vase Dinner Tour, a program that’s designed to put local flowers at the center of the table when local food and wine are also served.

You could call it Slow Food meets Slow Flowers.

For the past several years, my involvement with the California Cut Flower Commission has been as an informal, pro-bono advisor.

This year, I’ve assumed the role as a part-time paid communications consultant, editor and writer, lending my energy to the Field to Vase Tour and other important projects on the regional and national stage.

This opportunity allows Slow Flowers to cross-promote with many other programs, and, I hope, ensures that a wider audience hears the message of America’s flowers.

The Field to Vase Dinner Tour fits perfectly with the Slow Flowers agenda – drawing attention to the farmers who grow our flowers and the designers who create beauty with them.

Margaret Lloyd, owner of Margaret Joan Florals - the guest designer for the first Field to Vase Dinner.

Margaret Lloyd, owner of Margaret Joan Florals – the guest designer for the first Field to Vase Dinner.

The 10-city national Field to Vase Dinner Tour was developed to highlight flower farms and floral designers who source local and domestic flowers. It’s intended to make a stronger connection between the sources of both flowers and food, reminding people that flowers are an equally important facet of our agricultural landscape.

I also am thrilled that Slow Flowers’ partnership with the Field to Vase Dinner Tour means members of Slow Flowers are being asked to showcase their design work, alongside the chefs who are cooking up a delicious, locally-sourced menu.

Today’s guest is Slow Flowers member Margaret Lloyd, owner and creative director of Margaret Joan Florals – the designer for the first Field to Vase Dinner, held on March 5th at Westland Orchids in Carpinteria.

She started Margaret Joan Florals from her home-based studio in Montecito, to provide unique, nature-inspired floral arrangements, for weddings and events. Margaret is a Certified California Florist with 15 years retail experience in floral and event design.

Here’s a clip from Margaret’s television appearance last week – as she used Carpinteria-grown flowers (including greenery from her own backyard) to teach two newscasters how to arrange:

In addition to her involvement with Slowflowers.com, Margaret is a Chapel Designer, a member of Las Floralias, which is a Santa Barbara-based Western Style Flower Club, as well as being a student of Ikebana and an avid gardener.

She explained to me that her aha moment in floral design came from an article in Victoria magazine some twenty-plus years ago. She said:

The article showcased an English country estate garden in winter, and on the next page was a floral arrangement all harvested from their bleak winter cutting garden. It was dramatic and stunning with moody colors, bold shapes,lines and interesting textures.

This led me to be captivated by each season’s bounty, and a love of  locally-sourced, seasonal botanicals. This old-world design is presently having a resurgence in appeal, so I stepped away from my wire service formula design job, and stepped out on my own in January of 2014. My approach is to utilize locally-sourced flowers however I can.

I witnessed this philosophy first hand at the Field to Vase Dinner last week. Because the event took place inside an orchid greenhouse, you can only imagine what Margaret had to work with!

The table was set for a flower- and food-centric evening with an emphasis on local agriculture. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

The table was set for a flower- and food-centric evening with an emphasis on local agriculture. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

She took inspiration from the forest of cymbidium orchids grown by Jerry Van Wingerden and his son David Van Wingerden. Here are some tempting images that illustrate Margaret’s creative use of Westland’s beautiful orchids.

The Flower Power Design Team, from left: Laura Cogan, JIll Redman, CCFC Event Planner and Florist Kathleen Williford, Margaret Lloyd and Rebecca Raymond. All that talent in one place!

The Flower Power Design Team, from left: Laura Cogan, JIll Redman, CCFC Event Planner and Florist Kathleen Williford, Margaret Lloyd and Rebecca Raymond. All that talent in one place!

The signature design using cymbidiums grown byWestland Orchids and roses grown by Myriad Farms, two local flower farms.

The signature design using cymbidiums grown byWestland Orchids and roses grown by Myriad Farms, two local flower farms. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

Designing more than 100 vases for the centerpieces and takeaway gifts wasn’t easy, given the short production timeline. Margaret had some help, thanks to friends and fellow designers.

Rebecca Raymond of Sunnybrooks Florals of Vashon Island, Washington, along with Jill Redman of Forage Florals in Solvang, California, and Laura Cogan of Passion Flowers Design in Buellton, California, joined the design team — all as volunteers.

Together, they wanted to make a dramatic statement for arriving guests.

The top of the entry arbor towered above the doorway to the orchid greenhouse. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

The top of the entry arbor towered above the doorway to the orchid greenhouse. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

The four constructed a 10-foot-tall-by-12-foot wide birch-tree arbor to grace the doorway to the orchid greenhouse.  Acacia foliage, green cymbidium orchids, yellow gerberas and white snapdragons draped from the branches and created a magical moment for everyone who entered.

This photo gives you a sense of scale that the floral arch achieved. With Laura Cogan, Margaret Lloyd and Rebecca Raymond.

This photo gives you a sense of scale that the floral arch achieved. With (from left): floral designers Laura Cogan, Margaret Lloyd and Rebecca Raymond.

I applaud these talented women for what they achieved. The floral environment they created will set a high standard for future Field to Vase Dinners.

It was "work" - I promise you! I enjoyed working with the event time, including Adrienne Young, CCFC's social media and branding expert. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

It was “work” – I promise you! I enjoyed working with the event time, including Adrienne Young, CCFC’s social media and branding expert. (Linda Blue/CCFC)

You might have missed the first Field to Vase Dinner but there are nine more venues on the calendar for 2015. Please check out the full schedule here – and secure your seat at one or more of these very special settings on America’s flower farms, coast to coast.

scroll

I also want to alert you to an opportunity for flower farmers and floral designers in the New York area:

Farmdale

On Wednesday, March 25th, the department of Urban Horticulture & Design at Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale, New York (on Long Island) is hosting its 5th Annual Sustainable Garden Conference. This year’s theme is Flower Power: Growing and Designing With Flowers for All Seasons.

Speakers and workshops will focus on commercial cut flower farming and floral design, with a special presentation by SlowFlowers.com member Lynn Mehl, owner of Good Old Days Ecoflorist in New Windsor, New York, who will speak on “Working with Local Cut Flowers – a Designer’s Perspective.”

There is even a presentation scheduled about the Slow Flowers Movement, although I won’t be able to give it in person. For anyone in the tri-state area, or even from farther away, this will be an exciting opportunity to meet with area cut flower farmers, educators, advocates and florists who care about sourcing their flowers locally. The cost for students is $35 and $65 for the general public and you’ll find links to registration here.

scroll

Thanks for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 38,000 times. 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. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com

Week 9 // Heady Hyacinth for the Slow Flowers Challenge

Sunday, March 8th, 2015
A trio of bud vases displays the season's first hyacinths from my garden, paired with striking black pussy willow twigs grown in Washington by Jello Mold Farm.

A trio of bud vases displays the season’s first hyacinths from my garden, paired with striking black pussy willow twigs grown in Washington by Jello Mold Farm.

It has been a busy few weeks so my floral design time has been limited. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to create an epic arrangement or centerpiece — and of course, we know that those expectations take the joy out of the total experience.

So this week’s little moment is a reminder that a few stems are often all we need to bring nature indoors and provide a glimpse of beauty when life is crazy!

These vases are widely featured in a charming book released last year by  Nancy Ross Hugo called Windowsill Art: Creating one-of-a-kind natural arrangements to celebrate the seasons (St. Lynn’s Press). Nancy describes this small vase as “the little black dress of windowsill arranging . . . the perfect foundation for whatever else you might add.”

After interviewing her for the Slow Flowers Podcast (click here to find the interview) and spending time reading this lovely book, I had to order my own set of these four bud vases. They are available fromThe Arranger’s Market, an online shop that specializes in hard-to-find, easy-to-use vases and other arranging equipment.

You can order a set of 4 “glass pyramid” bud vases for $24 plus shipping. I believe they are made from recycled glass bottles. Dimensions: Height = 4-1/4″; Width = 2.3/8″; Opening = 7/8″.

scroll

 

More from Slow Flowers
Seasonal choices

A sweet bunch of spring hyacinths, from Slow Flowers.

A sweet bunch of spring hyacinths, from Slow Flowers.

About the long stems you see here:  The typical garden hyacinth blooms on a relatively short stem – maybe 4-5 inches at the most. This limits the way hyacinths can be used in floral arrangements. According to flower farmer Gretchen Hoyt, of Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, Washington, the way to stretch those stems is to trick them into wanting more light.

“The longer you can deny them light, the more they stretch,” she explains. At the commercial flower farm, this process begins in dark coolers where bulbs are pre-chilled. When they are transferred to the greenhouse, the hyacinth crates are placed (in the shadows) beneath tables where tulips grow. If Gretchen wants to elongate those stems even further, “I’ll throw newspaper over them,” she says. Leaving bulbs on the stems is optional, but some designers do so to give the arrangement a rustic appearance.
To arrange these lovely, farm-fresh hyacinths, I opted for a simple European-style bouquet. I wrapped linen twine around the gathered stems and foliage, tied a bow, and placed the spiraled bunch in a glass vase. Seeing the twine through the glass adds a touch of whimsy to this effortless bouquet.

Flower Farming in the nation’s Capitol with Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens (Episode 183)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
16085799074_1b531a8830_k

I’m so pleased that Slowflowers.com members Rachel Bridgwood and Lauren Anderson of Sweet Root Village (left) and flower farmer Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens (center) joined Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers (right) and me at a D.C. reception celebrating American Grown Flowers. (CCFC photograph, used with permission)

Today's guest is Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, which serves  florists, grocery stores, farmers markets and brides around the nation's capitol.

Today’s guest is Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, which serves florists, grocery stores, farmers markets and brides around the nation’s capitol.

I returned to Washington, D.C., this past week to join a delegation of flower farmers who invested their own resources of time and money to travel to our nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress and talk about the issues facing our industry.

First of all, I congratulate the folks who do this – they are the ones putting their money where their mouths are to elevate the awareness of policymakers who are in a position to make decisions that affect America’s flower farmers. I was honored to share this experience with them for the second year in a row. And for those of you who question why this is an important step to take, we have a lot of wins to point to.

For all of us, having the bipartisan Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, formed in 2014 and co-chaired four members of Congress who have flower farms in their districts – Lois Capps and Duncan Hunter from California, Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington State and Chellie Pingree from Maine – means that there is now a tangible body of policymakers that you can ask your own elected officials to join. If you are interested in reaching out to your member of Congress, please contact me offline – and I will help you make that introduction. What is this Caucus doing? For one thing, we have them to thank for keeping the dialogue about seeing local and domestic flowers used for White House functions.

In 2015, the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus has been asked to join the Congressional Wine Caucus – one of the most popular of caucuses (right?) – to host an event where local wine and local flowers will be highlighted. I’ll keep you posted on that event because your participation will be needed to showcase your own region’s cut flowers.

Kevin Stockert (left), a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Patty Murray (Washington), has invested time and interest in listening to and visiting flower farmers in her state.

Kevin Stockert (left), a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Patty Murray (Washington), has invested time and interest in listening to and visiting flower farmers in our state.

Another important reason for these DC visits are the relationships that emerge. When you meet your elected officials, you never know what it will lead to.

For two years in a row, I’ve been privileged to meet with the agriculture policy staff of Senator Patty Murray.

Last year, after my fellow Seattle Wholesale Growers Market board members, flower farmers Diane Szukovathy and Vivian Larsen, and I made those connections, two of the Senator’s staffers took the time to visit our market, meet farmers and enjoy our local flowers. These folks want to know what their constituents are doing in areas such as sustainable agriculture, job creation, economic development and more. We’ve received offers of support for future projects, such as USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding we may seek, and I know I can speak for Diane and Vivian that we truly feel there is someone in our nation’s capital who will return a phone call or email and listen to a concern. That is priceless!

Bob Wollam brought his Virginia quince branches to Washington, D.C. -- they added a lot of local beauty to the conversation at an evening reception!

Bob Wollam brought his Virginia quince branches to Washington, D.C. — they added a lot of local beauty to the conversation at an evening reception!

While I was in DC, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to visit a local flower farm and interview a flower farmer, right? So please enjoy today’s conversation with Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, based in Jeffersonton, Virginia.

Bob joined the flower farmer Delegation to meet with his own Virginia congressman, as well as participate in meetings with other offices.

The amazing thing is that the staffers of members of Congress from many states live and work in our nation’s capitol, where Bob sells Virginia-grown flowers at the DuPont Circle Farmers’ Market (where he was a founding member).

So the dots were connected between LOCAL and AMERICAN GROWN – and why they are both so integral in saving our domestic cut flower industry. We suspect that these young legislative assistants will now come find Bob, seeking out the flowers he grows on land less than a 75-mile radius from DC. Like the other flower farmers in our group this past week, Bob is the face of the farmer; the face behind the poppies, ranunculus, anemones, tulips, sweet peas, peonies, hydrangeas, viburnum, dahlias and more. Here’s some more background on our guest today:

Bob Wollam, seated on the front porch of the historic farmhouse in Jeffersonton, Virginia where Wollam Gardens is based.

Bob Wollam, seated on the front porch of the historic farmhouse in Jeffersonton, Virginia where Wollam Gardens is based.

The beautiful green viburnum that bloom gloriously in April at Wollam Gardens.

The beautiful green viburnum that bloom gloriously in April at Wollam Gardens.

Bob Wollam has now been a flower farmer for 21 years. While he will be quick to tell you he had an exciting life before 50, he’ll be even quicker to tell you his addiction to beautiful cut flowers has been nothing but thrilling — and he intends to continue the addiction well into his nineties.

In 1987, Bob Wollam moved to Washington, D.C. This was his first step of an old dream of being a flower grower.  Two years later, he asked a realtor in Warrenton to show him land in Virginia.  He said he wanted at least 10 acres and an old house.   He purchased his historic Farm House with a pre-Revolutionary history and of course 11 acres of farmland in the hamlet of Jeffersonton.

For three years, Bob grew perennials which he sold at the Alexandria, (Virginia) Farmer’s market.  After seeing a small “cut your own” garden during a trip to Central NY, he shifted his energy into cut flowers. Bob began selling to florists in Washington DC and adding more farmers’ markets near, or in, the city. He initiated an internship program in 1994 and has hosted adventurers and flower lovers from around the world.  Many of those are still active in cut flowers, some on their own farm.

A hoophouse filled with Icelandic poppies at Wollam Gardens.

A hoophouse filled with Icelandic poppies at Wollam Gardens.

In the winter of 2006-2007 he developed a 25 year plan for his flower farm and is well on the way to implementing that plan. Bob is driven to grow unique, difficult to grow and difficult to ship cut flowers for specialized florists, designers and farmer’s market customers.

Oh, those hydrangeas!!!

Oh, those hydrangeas!!!

One of Bob's first spring crops is the fanciful and alluring anemone.

One of Bob’s first spring crops is the fanciful and alluring anemone.

With no background in agriculture except a gene handed down from both grandparents, Bob has turned Wollam Gardens into an exceptional destination for flower lovers. He learned quickly by reading everything he could find and with the guidance of other cut flower farmers who  are part of the ASCFG (the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers), an association for which Bob served as a 2-term President.

Wollam Gardens now grows over 80 varieties of cut flowers on 11 acres, plus a few acres on his neighbor’s land. In addition 4 cold frames for growing cool season plants like stock, campanula, delphinium, ranunculus, and the well-known Temptress poppies, Bob has a continuing interest in flowering shrubs as cuts (quince, hydrangea, physocarpus, and viburnum), as well as fragrant bulbs (Oriental lily, Mexican tuberose), and, of course, close to 9000 dahlias.

Ready for market: Zinnias galore.

Ready for market: Zinnias galore.

In 2009, the Washington Post featured Wollam Gardens in a big story.

In 2009, the Washington Post featured Wollam Gardens in a big story.

During the season, Wollam Gardens is open to the public for customers who wish to purchase flowers and plants, Monday through Saturday 9-5, and for wedding and event consultations. People are welcome to stroll the property and look for one of the crew or interns to help with their flower needs!

Eventually Bob hopes all sales will be from the farm. Today, he also markets flowers to 15 florists in the DC metro area as well as at 5 area farmer’s markets.

Wollam Gardens’ flowers can be found at select Whole Foods stores in Virginia, Maryland and DC during the most abundant growing months of the season.

New this season, Bob is in the process of restoring a beautiful pavilion using cedar logs harvested directly from our property! It will be an artistic, rustic, and charming venue that will add even more character to this green space.

scroll

Thanks for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

I’ve been on the lookout for good news, wishing to focus on the positive connections in my life rather than those that are less-than-positive. One of those pieces of good news fell into my in-box a few days ago and I just have to share it with you. I hope it makes you smile as much as it did me!

Here’s what my friend wrote: “Funny coincidence. Our mutual friend (let’s call her Susan) has been doing a little online dating. Yesterday for their first meeting, she had lunch with a retired lawyer who . . . is getting into gardening as a second career.  He is taking a propagation course at a Horticultural College in preparation for creating a slow flower and herb farm.  He began by telling Susan how inspired he has been by Debra Prinzing, the Godmother of the “Slow Flower” movement.  He had even brought along a printout of one of your recent online interviews. Susan really surprised him when she told him that she was friend and that you had visited our town and its gardens several times!  Boy, that really boosted his estimation of Susan.  He wants another date, this time to a public garden or arboretum.  So your work is paying off not only in better flowers, but also in better romance!

That was the best news I heard all week and I thank my dear friend who sent me that note!

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded more than 36,000 times. Last week’s downloads were more than 1,100, our highest ever since this podcast started in July of 2013.

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.

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 a special thanks to our lead sponsor for 2015, the California Cut Flower Commission, committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers. Learn more at ccfc.org and American Grown Flowers.

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

Week 8 // My Slow Flowers Birthday Bouquet

Sunday, March 1st, 2015
Springtime (almost) in a vase with flowers from my Seattle garden and pussy willow branches from a local farm.

Springtime (almost) in a vase with flowers from my Seattle garden and pussy willow branches from a local farm.

Welcome to Week 8 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!

Yesterday was my birthday and I spent a few quiet hours playing around with these elements from my garden, observing and clipping; processing and arranging — all in a favorite vintage McCoy vase.

What a lovely way to celebrate a personal new year. I apologize to friends and family members who were calling and texting. I really tried to unplug and contemplate the many gifts in my life.

Ingredients, clockwise from left:  Pussy willow, sweet pea tendrils, various daffodils, spurge (Euphorbia characias) and Pieris japonica.

Ingredients, clockwise from left: Pussy willow, sweet pea tendrils, various daffodils, spurge (Euphorbia characias) and Pieris japonica.

This design incorporates green, white and yellow ingredients. The long-lasting pussy willow branches were “leftovers” from more than a week ago. I had purchased them from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in anticipation of a demonstration at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Of course, I planned for more than I could use, so today was the ideal opportunity to pair the pussy willow with cuttings from my own garden.

Here, you can appreciate the creamy white pieris flowers and the downy pussy willow against the milky glazed pottery.

Here, you can appreciate the creamy white pieris flowers and the downy pussy willow against the milky glazed pottery.

The white vase offsets the fresh green tips of the spurge.

Many people worry about using this perennial as a cut flower – Euphorbia characiasis, after all, a relative of poinsettia, exuding milky white sap when snipped. See the info box for tips on caring for your spurge/euphorbia cuttings.

It’s not a super long-lasting cut, but anyone who has this plant in their garden probably has more than necessary.

I could easily replace any wilted stems with an abundant supply of more spurge.

The white blooms of Pieris japonica add texture and contrast, echoing the pussy willow “tails.”

 

Daffodils beneath the flowering cherry trees - on the parking strip in front of our home.

Daffodils beneath the flowering cherry trees – on the parking strip in front of our home.

I didn’t have many flowers on hand, but this mix of specialty daffodils caught my eye.

Plucked from the parking strip in front of our home, they were originally planted by a benevolent prior owner.

I looked around for something to “trail” over the rim of my vase and found some sweet pea tendrils, volunteers from a prior year’s sowing. They add just the right playfulness and carefree spirit to the arrangement.

A detail of the fresh textures and hues of the season.

A detail of the fresh textures and hues of the season.

scroll

More from Slow Flowers
From the Farmer: Working with Euphorbia

A detail from a spring arrangement featured in Slow Flowers, with donkey tail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)

A detail from a spring arrangement featured in Slow Flowers, with donkey tail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)

Most plants in the spurge family produce a milky-white substance when cut. It can be irritating to the skin, so be sure to wear gloves when handling the plant.

While harvesting, I place the stems in a bucket of water, separating them from any other cut ingredients. Then I bring them into my kitchen where I dunk the tip of each euphorbia stem into a bowl filled with boiling water from the teakettle. This seals the stems.
Some experts recommend searing the tips in a stove top flame, but that has proven too messy for my liking.
scroll

Week 7 // Winter-blooming camellias paired with a Frances Palmer vase

Saturday, February 21st, 2015
Red garden camellias (Camellia japonica) and glossy green foliage look stunning as a single variety in my Valentine's Day vase. I believe this is called the 'anemone' form, but the cultivar is unknown.

Red garden camellias (Camellia japonica) and glossy green foliage look stunning as a single variety in my Valentine’s Day vase. I believe this is called the ‘anemone’ form, but the cultivar is unknown.

Welcome to Week 7 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

My wonderful husband and our two sons gave me this beautiful vase for Valentine’s Day. It is a one-of-a-kind bud vase by Frances Palmer, a Connecticut-based ceramic artist whose work I admire greatly.

Prior to Valentine’s Day, Frances Palmer Pottery released a special limited edition collection of handmade white ceramic bud vases. There were only 36 in the series, so I knew they would go quickly. I hinted not so subtly to Bruce, asking if he would consider selecting one of the vases as my gift. When I opened it on V-Day, the card read: “Your wish is our command,” love Bruce, Benjamin and Alex.

You can really appreciate the classical form of the vase in this photograph.

You can really appreciate the classical form of the vase in this photograph.

I can’t think of a better gift for a flower-lover than an extraordinary vase in which to display favorite, seasonal stems – from the garden or the flower farm.

By now, you may realize I am obsessed with American-made vases as ideal vessels for containing American-grown flowers. When you know who the artisan or maker is behind the vase, it heightens your appreciation for that object.

We gain similar appreciation when we know the story of the flowers, including the farmer who grew those stems.

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

In this case, my camellias are straight from the landscape. I live in a community of four houses – three are only 10 years old, including mine; one is from the 1950s. The landscape here is mature and I’m guessing this camellia dates back to the era when the first home here was built. It is tree-like in scale, prolific in bloom, and provides a distinct vegetative “screen” to the southern perimeter of our property.

As you may know, camellias aren’t long-lasting cut flowers. But over the years, I have found two things about camellias:

1. When they are cut in bud or only partially open, the flowers do last longer in the vase; and

2. When you have such an abundant source of flowers, you simply replace the spent blooms whenever you wish, at least during the four-week period when camellias are at their peak.

 

Back to our artist. Here is a statement from Frances Palmer’s web site, which tells a little more about her philosophy:

I don’t make or grow things to hold onto them, but rather to send them out into the world for others to live with and enjoy. My handmade ceramics are functional art – dishware or vases that can be used on a daily basis. Each piece, no matter how large or small, is considered and individual.  

I am honored and happy to think that people across the USA are using my work when they gather in friendship to share a meal and good times.   
scroll

More from Slow Flowers
Design 101: A very special vase.

"Summer Confections," from my book, Slow Flowers. This design features local flowers with a Frances Palmer vase.

“Summer Confections,” from my book, Slow Flowers. This design features local flowers with a Frances Palmer vase.

I was first introduced to the work of Frances Palmer when Stephen Orr profiled the American potter and her Connecticut cutting garden in Tomorrow’s Gardens. Then Frances appeared on Martha Stewart’s television show, where she discussed how she creates her exquisite one-of-a-kind vessels and dinnerware, including vases for the flowers she grows. Her delightful pottery style – classical with a touch of whimsy – is a floral designer’s dream come true.

Naturally, I set my sights on acquiring one of Frances’s pieces. I chose this fluted vase because of the generous diameter of its opening (nearly 5 inches). And to me, this butter-yellow glaze is a perfect foil for all sorts of flowers, but especially the zinnias and dahlias.

If you want to learn more about Frances Palmer, I recommend listening to this fabulous interview of her by Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney on her “After the Jump” podcast.

The Flowering of Detroit, with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box (Episode 181)

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

After the crazy week of Valentine’s Day, I’m shifting my thoughts to springtime, aren’t you? That’s a little easier for me to say here in Seattle, where the thermometers climbed above 60 degrees last week and flowers are popping up everywhere. But someone reminded me today that spring is only 30 days away. Hold on, everyone!

3babc748-d1e7-406b-a891-00ab62a436c1 1b43d032-4611-42bd-b9e9-a10ae276a89b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Slow Flowers Movement and Slowflowers.com attracted major media attention last week – on wire services, television, radio, print and blogs. I am so grateful for the attention that is turning to American flowers, the passionate farmers who grow our favorite varieties and the talented designers who create magic with each local and seasonal stem they choose. Here is a sampling of some of the headlines we saw last week:

75f22c5e-82af-42fb-a9ac-caaa5955e940 0a648ac7-07d4-48c0-83a5-1e59c3a6e972

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Slow Flowers Movement Pushes Local, U.S.-Grown Cut Flowers” (that story was written by Associated Press agriculture reporter Margery Beck and it literally went viral — appearing in media outlets large and small – from the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune to ABCNews.com). Slowflowers.com member Megan Hird of Farmstead Flowers in Bruning, Nebraska was also featured in this piece.

7558fd31-720b-47bf-a676-95b386e6c44a b5d671d9-fe9d-4ea7-bdcc-d49fa03a3b25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Slow Flowers’ Movement Champions Sustainable Blooms,” by Indiana Public Radio’s Sarah Fentem. Slowflowers.com member Harvest Moon Flower Farm of Spencer, Indiana was also featured in this piece.

“About those flowers you’re buying today; Where did they come from? ask Oregon Growers” from Janet Eastman of The Oregonian. Slowflowers.com member Oregon Flowers was also featured in this story.

“Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: Introducing Farm-to-Table’s Pretty, Flowery Cousin,” by Sarah McColl on the sustainability blog TakePark.com which also featured Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers in Brooklyn, a Slowflowers.com member.

Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez wrote: “Colorado farmers, florists seek renaissance for local flower scene,” featuring Slowflowers.com member Chet Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co.

And Reuters writer P.J. Huffstutter’s piece “Exotic US Blooms Flourish amid roses in Cupid’s bouquet,” featuring the “slow flower” movement, as well as the CCFC and ASCFG.

We can’t even tally the tens of thousands of impressions that came from this great media coverage – but suffice it to say that, according to Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the CCFC, “In my tenure at the Commission, I can confidently say that this past week of media attention and interest was greater than all of the my other years of doing interviews and monitoring Valentine’s Day coverage.”

He went on to say: “I can also quickly point to the three things that made the difference this year.

  • Debra Prinzing’s SlowFlowers.com
  • Launch of Certified American Grown
  • Increasing Awareness of Caring Consumers, Designers and Buyers”
Slowflowers.com is growing with our 500th member!

Slowflowers.com is growing with our 500th member!

On top of all of that excitement, I want to celebrate a major milestone! This week marks the addition of the 500th member to the Slowflowers.com web site. Please welcome Shelly DeJong of Home Grown Flowers in Lynden, Washington. Shelly’s tagline is “Flowers as fresh and local as possible,” and she specializes in ball-jar bouquets delivered to customers in her community, throughout the year and for special occasions. Welcome to Slowflowers.com, Shelly!

We can already feel that 2015 might be THE year when the story of American grown flowers hits an important inflection point. As we witness a critical shift in consumer mindset at the cash register, I believe we’ll also see a change — in a good way — in the behavior of wholesalers and retailers who make those important flower sourcing decisions.

00401_AY_AGF_F2V_Pstr&PC_v3-page-002

One of the things I’m most excited about this year is a series of flower farm dinners that celebrate American grown flowers, as well as the farms and florists who bring them to life. To hear more about this cool project, called the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, I’ve asked special events manager Kathleen Williford to share details.

As I mentioned, you are invited to take part as a guest at one or more of the flower farm venues. The promo code for a $25 discount is DREAM, so be sure to use it when you order your seat at the flower-laden table.

theflowerhouse_graphic

The Flower House logo, designed by Lily Stotz

Speaking of being flower-laden, our featured guest today has flowers on her brain in a big way. I am so pleased to introduce you to Lisa Waud of Pot and Box, a flower shop and floral and event studio with two Michigan locations – in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Lisa is a member of Slowflowers.com, but I think we originally met when Jill Rizzo of SF’s Studio Choo suggested to Lisa to reach out and tell me about her ambitious project called The Flower House.

Here’s the scoop:

Beginning over the first weekend of MAY, Lisa will host a preview event for an innovative art installation in Detroit.

Imagine this abandoned storefront - filled with Lisa's floral dreams. (c) Heather Saunders Photography

Imagine this abandoned storefront – filled with Lisa’s floral dreams. (c) Heather Saunders Photography

There, potential sponsors, partners, friends and volunteers will get a whiff of the “big project” on a smaller scale. In a tiny storefront, they will install a breathtaking floral display, just next door to a once-abandoned urban property where Lisa and fellow designers ultimately hope to transform an aging, 11-room duplex into The Flower House.

“We’ll generally work our future audience into a flower frenzy,” Lisa says of the kickoff event.

When October 16th-18th rolls around, cutting-edge florists from Michigan and across the country will fill the walls and ceilings of an abandoned Detroit house with American-grown fresh flowers and living plants for a weekend installation.

The project will be featured in local, national, and worldwide media for innovation in floral design and repurposing forgotten structures in the city of Detroit.  

Visitors will be welcomed to an opening reception and a weekend of exploration, and a few reserved times will be offered to couples to hold their wedding ceremonies in The Flower House.  

Re-flowering an abandoned home in Detroit - a glimpse of Lisa Waud's grand idea (c) Heather Saunders Photography.

Re-flowering an abandoned home in Detroit – a glimpse of Lisa Waud’s grand idea (c) Heather Saunders Photography.

When the installation weekend has passed, the structures on The Flower House property will be responsibly deconstructed and their materials repurposed. The land will be converted into a flower farm and design education center on a formerly neglected property. 

For more details on The Flower House, follow these links:

The Flower House on Facebook

The Flower House Inspiration on Pinterest

The Flower House on Twitter

The Flower House on Instagram

I feel like I’m saying this week after week, but today’s conversations, with Kathleen and Lisa, are so truly encouraging.

This IS the Year of the American Grown Flower. Please join efforts like the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and Detroit’s The Flower House to get in on the excitement. Both projects are community focused, with the potential for engaging huge numbers of people.

By exposing lovers of local food and floral design to the immense creativity that comes from sourcing our flowers locally, in season and from American farms, we are deepening the conversation, connecting people with their flowers in a visceral way. All the senses are stimulated, as well as our imaginations.

Thank you for downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast! Each week I share with you our “download” count and we have hit 35,000 downloads to date. I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

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 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