Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Slow Flowers Field Trip to Whidbey Island (Episode 223)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
The wonderful Slow Flowers people of Whidbey Island. Front row, from left: Pam Uhlig, Kelly Uhlig, Melissa Brown, Tobey Nelson. Back row: Benjamin Corteau, David Brown and Molly Brown.

The wonderful Slow Flowers people of Whidbey Island. Front row, from left: Pam Uhlig, Kelly Uhlig, Melissa Brown, Tobey Nelson. Back row: Benjamin Courteau, David Brown and Molly Brown.

Here's a map of Whidbey Island to orient you! Notice the town of Langley on the southeast portion of the map and you can picture where today's guests live, farm and flower!

Here’s a map of Whidbey Island to orient you! Notice the town of Langley on the southeast portion of the map and you can picture where today’s guests live, farm and flower!

This week we’re introducing a new ongoing feature that I hope to bring to you once a month: the “Slow Flowers Field Trip.”

As you know, I love interviewing flower farmers and florists for this Podcast, but what I love even more is visiting them in person to see them in their element — whether that’s out in the shed starting seeds, in the fields harvesting, or in the studio creating something breathtaking.

As often as possible, I’ll hit the road and visit Slow Flowers members to share a snapshot of a community, highlighting what’s grown in that region, and introducing you to the people who grow and design with those flowers.

For 2016, we’ve already booked a field trip to feature the North Bay Flower Collectivenorth of San Francisco, and several other destinations are in the works.

If you’re interested in bringing the podcast to your corner of the U.S., get in touch and we’ll see what might come together.

While it’s located only 30 miles north of Seattle, visiting Whidbey Island takes a little planning because it is reached via ferry from the mainland. The island is notable as one of the longest islands in the country, at 55-miles long, and it lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington. Whidbey Island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound.

Picked on November 12th - pre-frost! Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm grew and designed this lovely arrangement for my visit.

Picked on November 12th – pre-frost! Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm grew and designed this lovely arrangement for my visit.

In my earlier years as a garden writer, Whidbey was a magnet for fantastic specialty plant nurseries and private garden tours, so I have spent quite a bit of time there. Now, thanks to the efforts of today’s guests, there is a nascent cut flower farming community, which is essential to Whidbey’s destination wedding scene.

A few weeks ago, I took a day trip to Whidbey, driving north to the waterfront community of Mukilteo, where I caught the 20-minute ferry ride across Puget Sound to Clinton, on the southern tip of the island. My three stops were concentrated on the southern half of the island, in and around the town of Langley, where there’s a mix of tourism, businesses serving vacationers and owners of second homes, as well as small agriculture.

Let me introduce you to the guests you’ll hear in this extended one-hour episode:

A bird's eye view of Sonshine Farm

A bird’s eye view of Sonshine Farm, photographed by a tree-trimmer who was working there

Kelly Uhlig (left) and mom Pam Uhlig (right)

Kelly Uhlig (left) and mom Pam Uhlig (right)

On my first stop, I visited Pam Uhlig and her daughter Kelly Uhlig, flower farmers who own Sonshine Farm, a specialty cut flower farm that packs more stems into a small homestead than you can imagine.

While pursuing a horticulture degree at a local community college Pam apprenticed with Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers (a past guest of this podcast) – and that’s where I saw her in action. Kelly, a 4-H superstar who’s herself now a college student, is just as committed to flower farming as her mom. Together the two make a dynamic team; they are now members of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, where the local floral community snaps up their gorgeous flowers.

Kelly, with one of her bouquet creations, grown & designed

Kelly, with one of her summer bouquet creations, which she grew & designed

Pam poses with 'Vincent Fresh' ~ a favorite sunflower she grew last summer.

Pam poses with ‘Vincent Fresh’ ~ a favorite sunflower she grew last summer.

Melissa Brown (c) Jenna Bechtholt Photography

Melissa Brown (c) Jenna Bechtholt Photography

After interviewing Pam and Kelly and taking a tour of their farm, I went to meet Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm. Melissa is a farmer-florist interested in growing flowers for her own floral design business.

We met up first on a parcel that a friend has invited Melissa to plant with flowers, which is where we recorded our podcast interview.

And then . . . Melissa took me to the Flying Bear Farm headquarters, just outside Langley. That’s where she and her husband Benjamin Courteau have just moved, along with Melissa’s parents Molly & David Brown, into a fabulous compound complete with a barn, two residences, an art studio, and lots of terra firma for growing flowers.

Melissa’s folks treated all of us to a delicious luncheon where the conversation only got better with more creative voices around the table.

Benjamin Courteau, field harvesting for Flying Bear Farm.

Benjamin Courteau, field harvesting Flying Bear Farm’s snapdragons

Here's the land that a friend has lent Melissa and Benjamin to grow flowers on Whidbey Island.

Here’s the land that a friend has lent Melissa and Benjamin to grow flowers on Whidbey Island.

A floral creation from Flying Bear Farm

A floral creation from Flying Bear Farm

A Flying Bear Farm tabletop design ~ lovely!

A Flying Bear Farm tabletop design ~ lovely!

Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild

Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild

After lunch, I grabbed some time with our final guest, Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild.

Tobey and I have been talking about this emerging Whidbey Island flower farming-floral design community for a couple of years so I credit her with pulling together my field trip.

She has an extensive background in landscape design, fine gardening and wedding & event florals, which makes Tobey particularly passionate about sourcing from local flower farms on Whidbey Island.

That said, it’s not unusual for her to jump on an early-morning ferry to come into Seattle where she shops for flowers grown by the farms of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Floral necklace by Vases Wild's Tobey Nelson (c) Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

Floral necklace by Vases Wild’s Tobey Nelson (c) Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

Wedding arbor by Vases Wild's (c) image by Scott O'Malley

Wedding arbor by Vases Wild’s (c) image by Scott O’Malley

Bridal bouquet by Vases Wild's Tobey Nelson (c) Mazagran Photography

Bridal bouquet by Vases Wild’s Tobey Nelson (c) Mazagran Photography

Please enjoy each guests’ unique perspective on growing flowers, island style. They are building a creative interdependence that is a small-scale model of what can and should happen in every community where flower farmers and florists come together.

Here’s how you can find & follow the Whidbey Island creatives:

Sonshine Farm, Pam Uhlig and Kelly Uhlig on Instagram

Flying Bear Farm, Melissa Brown and Benjamin Courteau on Facebook

Flying Bear Farm on Twitter

Flying Bear Farm on Pinterest

Flying Bear Farm on Instagram

Vases Wild, Tobey Nelson on Facebook

Vases Wild on Pinterest

Vases Wild on Instagram

Thank you so much for joining me today. Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded more than 74,000 times and I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Orchids for floral design with Joan Bateman of Orchidaceae (Episode 222)

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
White phalaenopsis from Orchidaceae paired with red ilex from Charles Little & Co., designed by Chad Burnworth of Seattle-based Blue Hummingbird Botanical Studio.

White phalaenopsis from Orchidaceae paired with red ilex from Charles Little & Co., designed by Chad Burnworth of Seattle-based Blue Hummingbird Botanical Studio.

Joan Bateman of Orchidaceae

Joan Bateman of Orchidaceae

It’s not yet officially winter, but orchid season is upon us. And today’s guest will tell us all about growing orchids for floral design.

Please meet Joan Bateman, who with her husband Mark Srull own Orchidaceae.

Joan and I have served together on the board of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market for two years, and we work closely together on the market’s marketing committee.

I’ve wanted to feature an orchid episode for quite some time!

Joan and I finally sat down a few weeks ago, surrounded by the beautiful plants she and Mark grow, to record this conversation and share it with you.

Here’s a little more about Orchidacead:

Inside the greenhouses at Orchidaceae in Walla Walla, (eastern) Washington

Inside the greenhouses at Orchidaceae in Walla Walla, (eastern) Washington

A gorgeous Cattleya

A gorgeous Cattleya

Based in Walla Walla, Washington, Orchidaceae is an award-winning Northwest grower exclusively dedicated to quality orchids.

With over 30 years of experience, Mark and Joan grow and supply orchids for weddings, special events, interior plantscaping, floral arrangements and to collectors around the country in search of esoteric orchid varieties.

In 2002, the couple moved their nursery from Seattle to Walla Walla and embarked on a rural, flower farming lifestyle.

They brought with them extensive experience in graphic design and marketing, and Mark’s enthusiasm for growing orchids, originally as a hobby that’s earned him numerous awards from the American Orchid Society.

Orchidaceae has a reputation for having the most interesting new orchid hybrids. Its breeding program that includes Paphiopedilums, Zygopetalums, Angraecums, Cattleyas and a variety of unique species. The Phalaenopsis are selected to give floral stylists a distinct design edge with stunning color, interesting patterns and unique styles.

Why Walla Walla? “Even though our major markets are in Seattle and Portland, the growing conditions are very positive here, because of the light,” Joan says.  “We’re excited to be a part of the market and have such a broad variety of our orchids available to Seattle buyers.”

Here is the rare, 1940s-era lady slipper 'Clare de Lune', that Joan and I discussed.

Here is the rare 1940s-era lady slipper ‘Clare de Lune’, that Joan and I discussed.

If you want to learn more about orchid growing and how to have success with orchids, check out the link to Orchidaceae’s answers to the most common questions for orchid care. In the Pacific Northwest you can find Joan and Mark’s beautiful plants at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and at the Portland Flower Market.

 

Listeners of the Slow Flowers Podcast have downloaded episodes more than 73,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Objects of Desire: Best Gifts for Florists and Flower Lovers (Episode 221)

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Gifts for flower lovers Welcome to the first edition of the Slow Flowers’ “Best Gifts for Florists and Flower Lovers.”

The holiday season is upon us and today’s episode will accomplish several things. I created this special gift-themed segment to highlight some of my favorite artisan-made products that I’ve become familiar with in the past year or longer.

Second, I wanted to share the voices of “makers” with you. All are women this year, but that is just a happy coincidence (I’m sure we’ll find many male makers to highlight in the future). I recorded short conversations with each of these select artisans. Each is driven to create beautiful and high-quality products inspired by flowers, botany and nature.

Please enjoy these conversations and check out these artist-makers, their work, and – most importantly, links to their online stores so you can see their collections of American-made goods for gift-giving. Have an unforgettable Floral Holiday and moreover, be inspired by the creative entrepreneurs you’ll hear from today.

PHOTOGRAPHIC TAPESTRIES

American artist-maker Ellen Hoverkamp

American artist-maker Ellen Hoverkamp

First up, meet botanical photographer Ellen Hoverkamp of My Neighbor’s Garden.

I’ve written about Ellen’s work for the Los Angeles Times and for Garden Design Magazine, so over the past few years, we’ve become friends.

It was especially rewarding to have Ellen attend an all-day workshop I taught at Blithewold Mansion in Rhode Island last fall – and to see how readily this gifted artist moves from one medium to another.

A Connecticut-based artist and former art teacher, Ellen Hoverkamp first started composing images from nature using an early model flatbed photo scanner in 1997, she didn’t even own a camera. Nor did she know the names of most of the plants she used. “It was all about form and color for me.”

jennifers_peonies

Peonies, a fine art image by Ellen Hoverkamp

tlf_farmstand

From the farmstand, a fine art image by Ellen Hoverkamp

Fast-forward to 2005 and Hoverkamp’s evocative and artful assemblages of botanicals and edibles were profiled in The New York Times; they’ve since been exhibited in museums and graced covers of books and periodicals.

 

 

 

 

An herb garden, printed on silk as a lovely scarf.

An herb garden, printed on silk as a lovely scarf.

Here's that gorgeous Queen Red Lime Zinnia + Celosia image, printed on silk

Here’s that gorgeous Queen Red Lime Zinnia + Celosia image, printed on silk

A summer kitchen garden on silk

A summer kitchen garden on silk

 

 

Ellen arranges flowers, pods, branches, vines, gourds and roots as vivid still-lifes against striking black backdrops.

Dahlias printed on black canvas tote bags.

Cafe au lait dahlias, with gourds, printed on black canvas tote bags.

I like to imagine that if Ellen had been born three or four centuries ago, she would have been a Dutch master painter. “I love the hyper-real details of my images,” she says.

Ellen relies on cuttings from public gardens, nurseries and private landscapes to create her pieces. She says that the mission of her work is to bring attention to the efforts of gardeners and to the beauty of nature.

At Ellen’s web site you can find a beautiful online store with her photographic products, including signed prints, note cards and my favorite– photographically printed scarves.

Ellen is a renaissance woman. Her 12-by-58-inch scarves feature seasonal floral and botanical compositions printed on silk charmeuse. The reverse side is hand-died contrasting fabric and Ellen custom sews each one.

In addition to drooling over Ellen’s botanical scarves, I know you’ll want to peruse the fine art work on her web site. You can order prints of most of the floral and veggie compositions there – and there are hundreds to choose from. Ellen posts new work each week on her Facebook page, so check out my link to find and follower her there.

Finally, you can now order her beautiful black canvas tote bags featuring a cornucopia of edibles or a just-picked-from-the-garden floral array. Click here to order.

SEATTLE MADE TO CONTAIN YOUR STEMS

Kristin Nelson, American maker and ceramicist, poses with some of her beautiful vases.

Kristin Nelson, American maker and ceramicist, poses with some of her beautiful vases.

Next up, please meet Kristin Nelson of Kri Kri Studio, a Seattle-based ceramic artist whose vases are popular favorites of the local floral design community here and far beyond, including Barney’s stores in Japan.

I’ve selected Kristin’s vessels to present my All-American floral entries at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show for the past two years. Learn more about her story here.

It seems so fitting to combine locally-grown flowers gathered in vases of equal quality and beauty, made by a talented artisan who touches every single product that leaves her studio.

Eve, the lovely, sensual vase by Kristin Nelson, shown in coral glaze

Eve, the lovely, sensual vase by Kristin Nelson, shown in coral glaze

The VIT bubble vase, one of my favorites!

The VIT bubble vase, one of my favorites!

Kristin’s new VIT Collection is modern and clean, inspired by Scandinavian design and a perfect complement to any flower in any season.

I love Kristin’s color sensibility in the glazes she selects — everything from calming neutrals to joy-inducing brights.

If you’re in Seattle, you may want to check out Kristin’s upcoming studio sale in early December where you’ll meet the artist and get to choose the perfectly-imperfect hand-made vase just for yourself or perhaps as a gift for a special recipient. Kri Kri Studio’s Facebook Page will have more details – so check it out here.

Kristin also shared details and links to these upcoming Seattle events, where you can meet the artist and purchase her lovely pieces:

Clementine PoP uP, Nov- Jan

Praxis Arts, Sat. Nov 28th  

Multi Studio Event, Dec 12th & 13th

To be on Kristin’s mailing list for her annual sale, email her at krikristudio@aol.com

Bud vases look great grouped together!

Bud vases look great grouped together!

VIT Torso Vases

VIT Torso Vases

HAND-LETTERED AND HAND-MADE

Karen Plarisan (left) and Karly Sahr (right) of Vebena Flowers + Trimmings

Karen Plarisan (left) and Karly Sahr (right) of Vebena Flowers + Trimmings

Next up, please meet Karen Plarisan and Karly Sahr of Verbena Flowers & Trimmings based in Roseville, California.

The mother-daughter team lives and breathes flowers. Karly Sahr has a graphic design and art degree from U.C. Davis, while mom Karen Plarisan has a landscape design and horticulture background.

They gather inspiration from being surrounded by nature, so it is only fitting that Verbena has developed into a pesticide-free farm and flower design studio.

In addition to floral design work, the two have added an online store that features Karly’s creative product designs.

I want to highlight the “Earth Laughs With Flowers” t-shirt featuring Karly’s exquisite hand-lettering.  She and Karen gifted me a very special tote bag with that same screen print last year and I can’t tell you how many people stop and ask me how they can purchase that tote. The totes aren’t available right now, but the t-shirts are. I know the design will resonate with flower farmers and florists alike.

"Earth Laughs in Flowers," a soft, flattering, American-made T-shirt with a charming hand-lettered message.

“Earth Laughs in Flowers,” a soft, flattering, American-made T-shirt with a charming hand-lettered message.

Downloadable 2016 calendar featuring florals by Verbena's mom-daughter farmer-florists

Downloadable 2016 calendar featuring florals by Verbena’s mom-daughter farmer-florists

Karly's walnut cutting board designs are modern and make a special gift.

Karly’s walnut cutting board designs are modern and make a special gift.

This week you’ll find a sale going on 30 percent off t-shirts, stickers and all graphic downloadsthrough November 29th. And Karen and Karly are offering a free “Life in Color” download with every purchase. It’s just the thing to add to your own inspiration board or to print and give a friend who needs a creative lift.

LUXURIATE WITH HANDMADE SOAPS & BODY PRODUCTS

Holly and Justin Rutt of the Little Flower Soap Co.

Holly and Justin Rutt of the Little Flower Soap Co.

download Next up, please meet Holly Rutt of the Little Flower Soap Co., based in Michigan. Holly spends most of her time during the warmer months running Sweet Pea Floral Design, serving wedding clients, but when the temperatures drop, she turns her focus to a joint maker-project with her husband Justin Rutt.

The Little Flower Soap Co. is a small batch, body care company established in 2010.

Holly and Justin’s mission is to design products that become must-have, can’t live without favorites. They have developed completely natural, healing recipes that smell amazing, really work and are cutely packaged.

All Natural Chapstick made in small batches with lots of care loaded up with generous portions of the greatest ingredients especially shea butter, jojoba, vitamin E oil & hemp oil

All Natural Chapstick made in small batches with lots of care loaded up with generous portions of the greatest ingredients especially shea butter, jojoba, vitamin E oil & hemp oil

The complete spa gift package - a great gift to give and receive

The complete spa gift package – a great gift to give and receive

Please enjoy this short interview with Holly.

It’s too bad you can’t smell all these wonderful fragrances we’re talking about, but her prices are so affordable that you can easily order a few products to give as gifts, but save one yourself.

Holly’s enthusiasm for her products are contagious. There’s something for everyone cooking up in the kitchen at Little Flower Soap Co.

Check out all of the products here.

And a quick note – you’ll meet Holly wearing her floral designer hat in an upcoming segment of The Slow Flowers Podcast when I interview her about the flower-filled bathroom she designed for The Flower House in Detroit. so stay tuned.

SUSTAINABLE FLORA FASHION

Floral wraps by American Flora ~ made from recycled water bottles!

Floral wraps by American Flora ~ made from recycled water bottles!

Mary Brewster, president and founder of American Flora, a sustainable fashion company and all-American maker.

Mary Brewster, president and founder of American Flora, a sustainable fashion company and all-American maker.

My final gift selection introduces you to Mary Brewster of American Flora, a sustainable fashion company based in Connecticut. I hope you’ll enjoy the story of how we met and about Mary’s goal of sourcing textiles and manufacturing women’s fashion here in the U.S.

I’m so pleased to feature this All-American maker who’s charting new territory in women’s fitness and lifestyle apparel.

Mary’s inspiration for starting American Flora came largely from being a ballet dancer and teacher. She wanted to create pieces that would provide a comfortable feel and feminine look in the studio, and would also pair well with lifestyle wear. She was particularly focused on finding a sustainable fabric.

Mary happened upon a book with a painting she had studied while spending a semester of college in Florence. She says that “Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring had always moved me, but I realized that it also depicted so much of what I wanted for my company. Beautiful Flora, the goddess of flowers is shown scattering her seeds over the world. A symbol of renewal.”

Here's one of the many beautiful Amerian Flora wraps, "Lucky Man"

Here’s one of the many beautiful Amerian Flora wraps, “Lucky Man”

"Cherry Blossom" wrap

“Cherry Blossom” wrap

Her collection uses a fabric called Repreve. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles. Another kind of renewal and positive look to the future.

Flora seemed to roll off my tongue, and was so fitting for the other passion in my life, gardening. After many hours of working on a name for my company, it came to me. American manufacturing was a must in the equation. There it was. American Flora,” she says.

I’m so pleased to feature American Flora and Mary Brewster’s innovative designs. You can shop for American Flora products here.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Thank You for Listening!

Thank You for Listening!

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you!

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you!

And thanks for joining me today, the day before Thanksgiving. As you enter this holiday season, I wish you moments of rest and creative contemplation.

We all have been racing through a year of flower farming, floral design, events and professional commitments that are equally wonderful and exhausting. Now it’s time to pause and hopefully reflect and recharge to prepare for a new year.

It is with a spirit of gratitude that I thank each of you in the Slow Flowers community for your support. To me, it’s a confirmation that we are on this creative journey together, changing the way Americans view and value the flowers grown on our domestic farms.

Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded more than 72,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Music credits: audionautix.com

The Flower House Virtual Tour Part 2 (Episode 220)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015
The alluring, feminine and wild interior wall of The Living Room at The Flower House, designed by today's first three Podcast guests.

The alluring, feminine and wild interior wall of The Living Room at The Flower House, designed by today’s first three Podcast guests.

The Living Room design team, from left: Jody Costello, Kelli Galloway and Lia Colapietro

The Living Room design team, from left: Jody Costello, Kelli Galloway and Lia Colapietro

In the past few weeks I’ve shared with you a few interviews from floral designers involved with The Flower House in Detroit, the magical, celebrated, 3-day floral-art installation that was the brainchild of my friend Lisa Waud.

Today, we continue this miniseries with more conversations recorded with designers and flower farmers who came together just a month ago for this visionary project.

Please meet a trio of designers from three different states who came together to create the “living room” of The Flower House, the impactful first room that thousands of visitors were able to experience upon entering through the front door.

And you will hear from a floral designer-flower farmer duo about how their relationship has flourished this past season, culminating in the bountiful downstairs kitchen of The Flower House.

First off, please step into “The Living Room,” designed by Jody Costello of J. Costello Designs, Lia Colapietro of Lia Colapietro Floral Design and Kelli Galloway of Hops Petunia.

Jody Costello

Jody Costello

Based in Royal Oaks, Michigan, outside Detroit, Jody Costello shares this statement on The Flower House web site:

detroit is my city. my parents were born and raised here, i was born and raised here. my great grandmother had a flower shop for decades in detroit. it’s been hard to witness detroit crumble.  over the last few years, there’s been a change, an energy that gives us all hope that our hometown is making a comeback. 

flower  house to me is about recognizing detroit’s history and creating an ephemeral honor with flowers.  and, i just can’t pass up the opportunity to work with such an inspiring group of very talented, supportive designers.  for my space in flower house, i want the flowers to feel as if they just started growing; taking over.

A Jody Costello-designed bouquet.

A Jody Costello-designed bouquet.

when i was 18, i lived in west virginia and i used to hike along the new river which once was filled with mining towns.  they’ve all since disappeared but i loved the way nature began its takeover of the abandoned buildings. wildflowers and fern grew through the cracks of foundations and moss carpeted the roof.

 i love finding just the perfect thing to put into an arrangement; gorgeous fruit from the local market, hunting down some sweet little blossom in my yard or finding a lilac bush blooming by the roadside.  it’s all in the discovery and details for me.

Liaportrait

Lia Colapietro of Lia Colapietro Floral

Lia Colapietro is based in Perrysburg, Ohio, not too far from Toledo.

Here’s her statement:

what inspired me to get involved with flower house? to be honest, i just love what’s going on in detroit these days. flower house is a perfect opportunity to get involved, stretch my creativity, and work alongside gobs of talented, like minded folk.

as a hint of what i’m designing for my part, i would love play with a look that is overgrown, dreamy, and a little magical…

hands down, my favorite floral task is tromping around outside and hunting for the perfect hunk of moss, lichen-y branch, or snipping the most perfect bloom in the garden.

adding a foraged or home grown element to a project always makes a piece feel extra special. sharing that really makes my day.

Lia Floral Arrangement2

A seasonal still-life by Lia Colapietro

 

Kelli Galloway of Hops Petunia

Kelli Galloway of Hops Petunia

A beautiful arrangement by Kelli Galloway

A beautiful arrangement by Kelli Galloway

Kelli Galloway of Hops Petunia Floral is based in Kingston, New York, about 1-1/2 hours north of New York City. Here are her observations:

i don’t exactly remember how i found out about the flower house project but i do remember the second i read of  it i knew i needed to be a part of it. i grew up near detroit and went to college there, i spent a lot of my younger years running around that city, it holds a special place in my memories.

after i left, i was always drawn to it, i have such immense pride for it, it’s the hardest working city i know. watching it grow and change over the years and finally get the recognition it deserves, makes my heart so warm. that being said, i’ve been trying to figure out a way i could be a part of it again, both to give back and create something beautiful there. This project is the most perfect way for me to do so. i’m so honored to be a part of it.

my style is very layered and organic, like the way some of houses in detroit have become, i want to build into the house, as it would want me to, to add more layers and more shape, i plan on creating a floral room that engulfs you and hugs you, from the walls to your heart.

what do i love most as a florist? color, and the way nature can shake you when you least expect it. i love finding those special gems in a bunch of roses or anemones that is just perfectly different, the petals have fallen just so or the color isn’t quite the same, i love building drama with color, makes me giddy

Rose details from The Living Room, created by Kelli, Jody and Lia

Rose details from The Living Room, created by Kelli, Jody and Lia

I recorded my  interview with Lia, Kelli and Jody on October 15th, the final installation day at The Flower House. Please enjoy this short clip!

Here’s how you can follow each of the creatives you meet here today:

Follow Jody Costello on Facebook

Follow Jody Costello on Instagram

Follow Lia Colapietro on Instagram

Follow Kelli Galloway/Hops Petunia on Facebook

Follow Kelli on Instagram

Follow Kelli on Pinterest

Susan McLeary (left) and Amanda Maurmann (right), photographed at The Flower House

Susan McLeary (left) and Amanda Maurmann (right), photographed at The Flower House

I captured this second interview on the same day with Susan McLeary of Passionflower Design and flower farmer Amanda Maurmann of Cornman Farms.

Amanda’s Michigan-grown flowers and produce were featured in “Fruits of Labor,” the downstairs kitchen designed by Susan, Francoise Weeks and several other talented designers. Hear my recent podcast interview with Susan and Francoise here.

This interview introduces Amanda’s story and reinforces the interdependence between floral designers and flower farmers. Susan and Amanda discuss this during our conversation.

I found it especially fun because we were all seated on the ground as Sue and Amanda stripped foliage to prep stems for the beautiful Michigan-grown floral centerpieces that would decorate the Field to Vase Dinner tables that evening.

 

A bountiful moment appears on the wall of the downstairs kitchen, where Susan McLeary and Francoise Weeks incorporated vegetables grown by Cornman Farms.

A bountiful moment appears on the wall of the downstairs kitchen, where Susan McLeary and Francoise Weeks incorporated vegetables grown by Cornman Farms.

web_Kelly-258

Dahlias from Summer Dreams Farm and other botanicals from Cornman Farms, in a Susan McLeary / Passionflower design (c) Chelsea Brown Photography

A Susan McLeary/Passionflower-designed tablescape for a recent wedding at Cornman Farms (c) Chelsea Brown Photography

A Susan McLeary/Passionflower-designed tablescape for a recent wedding at Cornman Farms (c) Chelsea Brown Photography

Susan and Jody both mentioned their excitement about a new dahlia farmer named Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Flower Farm in Oxford, Michigan.

Michael Genovese, Michigan's new dahlia farmer who shared his talents and his flowers at The Flower House.

Michael Genovese, Michigan’s new dahlia farmer who shared his talents and his flowers at The Flower House.

Like Amanda of Cornman Farms, Michael and his beautiful Michigan blooms adorned The Flower House and the Field to Vase Dinner that amazing evening.

Dahlias from Summer Dreams Farm adorned the chain link fence in front of The Flower House

Dahlias from Summer Dreams Farm adorned the chain link fence in front of The Flower House

I want to give a special shout-out to Michael, who jumped in and helped the F2V staff and volunteers far beyond the call of duty. He lent muscle and equipment to prepare the yard where the giant dinner tent was erected – and boy do I have a ton of respect for this young man.

I hope to return to Michigan next growing season to visit Cornman Farm and Summer Dreams and share more about these flower farms with you.  You can follow Michael and Summer Dreams here.

Michigan-grown flowers, from Cornman Farms and Summer Dreams Farms, adorned the Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower House, designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower. Heather Saunders Photography for F2V

Michigan-grown flowers, from Cornman Farms and Summer Dreams Farms, adorned the Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower House, designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower. Heather Saunders Photography for F2V

A charming pepper-dahlia detail at the place settings. Heather Saunders Photography for F2V

A charming pepper-dahlia detail at the place settings. Heather Saunders Photography for F2V

Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded more than 71,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Gatherings in Bloom with Andrea K. Grist, Kansas City area floral artist (Episode 219)

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
Andrea K. Grist of Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, a Kansas City, Missouri-area floral designer.

Andrea K. Grist of Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, a Kansas City, Missouri-area floral designer.

I have another great conversation to share with you this week, one that is both unique to this guest’s personal story while also thoroughly symbolic of so many who have embraced the Slow Flowers Movement.

Andrea K. Grist is a wedding and event florist and owner of Lee Summit, Missouri, based studio, Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, which serves the Kansas City metro area. Andrea and I met through a Facebook conversation, which is similar to many of our social media/floral connections.

Earlier this year, Andrea reached out and told me she had been listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast and that she also had been reading my books.

That was a flattering connection, of course, but what impressed me since then, over the course of the past six or eight months, is that Andrea shared with me links to one of her blog posts discussing her visits to Missouri flower farms and featuring her designs and styled photo shoots using locally grown and American grown flowers.

All-local Missouri flowers designed by Andrea K. Grist (c) Erin Hernandez-Reisner

All-local Missouri flowers designed by Andrea K. Grist (c) Erin Hernandez-Reisner

Andrea just published "Gatherings in Bloom" as a self-published e-book, also available as a print-on-demand book.

Andrea just published “Gatherings in Bloom” as a self-published e-book, also available as a print-on-demand book.

Eventually we set up a phone date to talk further and I asked Andrea to share her story on this podcast.

Andrea has had a successful career for more than 20 years, but in recent years, she wanted to stretch herself as a designer and as a small business owner.

She started seeking out what was going on in her profession and landed on the Slow Flowers Movement.

Even though most florists in her area weren’t asking for local flowers, Andrea began to do so.

One vase, one bouquet at a time, her work is changing the conversation in her community and for her customers.

Andrea is also a member of the Chapel Designers, and she recently self-published Gatherings in Bloom-Table Art for All Occasions with images by Freeland Photography.

The book is filled with beautiful images of table decor, floral design, and hometown stories about her inspirations and floral passions.

Missouri-grown flowers by Andrea K. Grist.

Missouri-grown flowers by Andrea K. Grist.

A floral still-life (c) Erin Hernandez-Reisner

A floral still-life with local flowers and succulents (c) Erin Hernandez-Reisner

Meet and follow Andrea K. Grist here:

Read Andrea’s Blog Here

Andrea on Facebook 

Andrea on Twitter

Preview and order Gatherings in Bloom here

Before we sign off, I have an announcement to share.

There is an abundance of holiday floral design and wreathmaking workshops going on right now, but one scheduled for next week promises to be unlike any other workshop I’ve heard about.

On November 17th, New York-based Slow Flowers member Elena Seegers of Le Fleuriste will be teaching a fall centerpiece how-to with branches fruits and berries.

Here’s the fun twist: The workshop will be held at Fluent City and include French conversation and vocabulary.

As Elena explained it to me Fluent City is a cool language start up where you learn and converse in different languages through social gatherings and workshops.

Floral Design and French Conversations!

Floral Design and French Conversations!

“Students will learn how to choose and use branches and berries for their table designs, taught in a mixture of French and English.” I don’t know about you, but I would simply love to be part of this evening, which is affordably priced. [note: in the Podcast introduction I inaccurately stated a workshop price of $65. The actual price is $80 per student]

Thanks to the Slow Flowers Tribe, this podcast has been downloaded more than 71,000 times. Whether you’ve just discovered this Podcast or whether you’re a longtime listener, don’t forget that we’ve archived all of the past episodes at Debraprinzing.com – more than two years of conversations with American flower farmers and floral designers – leading voices in the progressive, American-grown community.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Wedding & Event Designer Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events (Episode 218)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events.

Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events.

It is a pleasure today to share my recent conversation with Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events, recorded at her studio in East Palo Alto, California on October 22nd.

Susan is a member of Slowflowers.com.

I featured this gifted floral artist in a short interview a few weeks ago to discuss her installation at The Flower House in Detroit, as part of a round-up podcast conversation with several of the designers involved in The Flower House a few weeks ago.

You can listen to that interview here.

When I realized that I would be in her area the following week, for a lecture and workshop I was scheduled to give at Filoli, the historic estate, I invited myself to Three Sisters Flowers for a tour and interview to share with you.

 

 

Here’s more about Susan:

As owner, lead floral designer and certified wedding coordinator, Susan really knows her flowers and celebrates abundance and natural beauty through her designs. She is constantly doing research to find the newest trends but she also enjoys creating classics.

A Susan Kelly garden-inspired bouquet.

A Susan Kelly garden-inspired bouquet.

And a lovely floral crown by Susan Kelly.

And a lovely floral crown by Susan Kelly.

Susan’s signature design style is simple, natural and elegant, mirroring nature’s effortless beauty.

Susan’s passion for floral design began when she was young. She was immersed in the world of floral design through her first job in high school at the local florist and went on to major in Ornamental Horticulture in college.

It later led her to work as a floral designer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, (one of the busiest florists in the world) and, more recently, as a freelance designer for nationally acclaimed Mark’s Garden in Los Angeles.

Susan has also worked a wedding coordinator for the gorgeous and very busy Stanford Memorial Church on the Stanford University campus.

I caught this image of Susan consulting with a bridal client who stopped by to see a sneak preview of her bouquets and centerpieices.

I caught this image of Susan consulting with a bridal client who stopped by to see a sneak preview of her bouquets and centerpieices.

During a hectic wedding season a few years ago, mothers of her bridal clients discovered that Susan was willing and able to step up to more than just delivering the flowers.

As a result, Three Sisters add wedding planning, coordination and consulting to their services.

Susan became certified as a Wedding and Event Consultant through WPI.

She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events and is very active in the event and wedding industry.

 

Breathtaking chandelier!

Breathtaking chandelier!

Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events cares about the environment and Susan considers herself a “green florist,” employing the following practices:

  • Composting all our plant and organic waste

  • Recycling all packaging materials

  • Organic flowers by request

  • Locally grown flowers when possible

  • Re-using containers and supplies

    Apples! Seasonal and local!

    Apples! Seasonal and local!

Leo in a floral collar.

Leo in a floral collar.

Follow Susan and Three Sisters:

Three Sisters on Facebook

Three Sisters on Pinterest

Three Sisters on Instagram

Here are details about next week’s three-day Chapel Designers California conference, which Susan will host at the studio of Three Sisters Custom Floral & Events on November 9, 10 and 11.

After spending 30 minutes with Susan, I hope you feel her incredible passion for what she does.

To me, her passion is inspiring and contagious.

Susan puts her whole heart into each event and it’s no surprise that she’s has formed lasting friendships with many of the clients and professionals she has worked with.

That’s the epitome of a leader in the Slow Flowers community.

The famous moss armchair is a popular feature of many Three Sisters' weddings, designed by Susan Kelly.

The famous moss armchair is a popular feature of many Three Sisters’ weddings, designed by Susan Kelly.

Just for fun . . .

Just for fun . . .

More beautiful and local flowers.

More beautiful and local flowers, artfully arranged by Susan Kelly.

Thanks to the Slow Flowers Tribe, this podcast has been downloaded more than 70,000 times.

Whether you’ve just discovered this Podcast or whether you’re a longtime listener, don’t forget that we’ve archived all of the past episodes at Debraprinzing.com – more than two years of conversations with American flower farmers and floral designers – leading voices in the progressive, American-grown community.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Floral Artists Françoise Weeks and Susan McLeary (Episode 217)

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Inspiring florist and floral educator Francoise Weeks (c) Jamie Bosworth photograph

Inspiring florist and floral educator Françoise Weeks (c) Jamie Bosworth photograph

Susan McLearly of Passionflower Events, based in Ann Arbor (c) Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

Susan McLearly of Passionflower Events, based in Ann Arbor (c) Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

I’ve had today’s first guest on my “wish list” for a couple years and due to both of our travel schedules, it has taken nearly two years for us to connect in the same time and place with a quiet moment to record today’s interview.

Our paths finally crossed when Françoise Weeks and I were in Detroit at the same time for The Flower House festivities. Françoise traveled to Detroit earlier in the week to teach a two-day workshop hosted by our second podcast guest Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events.  And I was in town to co-host the final Field to Vase Dinner of 2015.

The Flower House, subject of last week’s podcast, prompted Susan to ask Françoise to collaborate with her on the first floor kitchen, called “Fruits of Labor.”

The three of us sat down for this recording on the morning after the hugely successful Field to Vase Dinner.

They were staying in a restored loft apartment in an historic Detroit neighborhood and suggested I come over to record the interview.

When I arrived, Susan and Françoise were concentrating on assembling a bridal bouquet, boutonniere and floral crown for a last-minute elopement that was to occur at The Flower House the following day. It was a lovely moment to talk with both Françoise and Susan as their hands shaped and formed tiny botanical elements into the most delicate, textural creations.

A woodland-inspired design from Françoise Weeks

A woodland-inspired design from Françoise Weeks (c) Joni Shimabukuro photography.

Françoise's botanical couture headpiece  (c) Ted Mishima photography

Françoise’s botanical couture headpiece (c) Ted Mishima photography

Françoise hails from Belgium, and you can hear the gentle traces of her Flemish accent when she speaks. She has been living in Portland for many years, which is where she developed her studio design business, created flowers for hundreds of weddings and shaped her distinct brand of European-inspired floral design.

Françoise and I have known one another for several years as residents of neighboring states; in fact I first met her in 2010 while on a scouting trip to Portland for The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Since that time, it has been so inspiring to watch Françoise’s career explode as an in-demand floral educator whose workshop series and classes are often sold-out with waiting lists.

Here’s a little more about Françoise:

Françoise was born in Belgium in an area romanticized by the flower arrangements of the Dutch and Flemish painters of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Honing her talents through training with the florists of Antwerp, Françoise discovered her signature—a unique lush and textural style, heavily imprinted by her love of nature and art. Since 1996 she has translated her passion into creations of flowers, herbs, fruits, vegetables and foliage in a way that the masters could only paint.

Her portfolio runs the gamut from elegant natural simplicity to the abundant and bountiful; she consistently delivers the unexpected. Françoise’s first priority is to realize the ideas and needs of her clients and bring to the process her attention to detail and unique creativity.

Recently her work has emerged into two distinctive styles: URBAN WOODLANDS—contemporary stylings of mosses, lichens, bark and forest floor gatherings and FLORAL FORWARD—exquisite botanical haute couture creations of purses, headpieces and shoes.

She shares her knowledge of floral design and mechanics with professionals and students from around the world in intimate studio classes and workshop settings. Françoise has been the subject of numerous magazine articles throughout the United States and Europe.

Susan McLeary designing a fabulous floral 'fro (c) Amanda Dumouchelle photography

Susan McLeary designing a fabulous floral ‘fro (c) Amanda Dumouchelle photography

Wearable flowers by Susan McLeary (c) Amanda DuMouchelle photography

Wearable flowers by Susan McLeary (c) Amanda DuMouchelle photography

My conversation with Françoise naturally transitioned to Susan McLeary, once her student; now a good friend and fellow floral educator.

Susan and I met in 2014 when I spoke to the Chapel Designers in New York City at the invitation of Holly Chapple.

She later joined the Slowflowers.com web site (as has Françoise), which is fitting because both designers are known for working with local and seasonal blooms as a preference.

I’ve recently spent more time with Susan who was the featured designer for the Field to Vase Dinner Tour at The Flower House.

I credit Susan for nudging me to schedule this interview with Françoise.

Susan couldn’t avoid me asking her to be part of this episode, as well.

 

Here’s more about Susan McLeary:

MSAMFbadge Like most of the florists in our Slow Flowers community, Susan is such a collaborative individual as an artist, designer and educator.  Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she is known for her unusual, boundary-pushing floral art including elaborate headpieces, flower crowns, and her signature succulent jewelry. Her soulful, seasonally-inspired creations and floral wearables have been described as exquisite living artwork.  

Susan has trained with some of the country’s leading floral designers, including Françoise Weeks, Holly Chapple and Erin Benzakein of floret. Yet, she has developed her own distinctive style of floral design.

An amazing headpiece designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower.

An amazing headpiece designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower.

Succulent jewelry by Susan McLeary.

Succulent jewelry by Susan McLeary.

Considered one of the country’s top designers of floral wearables and living jewelry, Susan received one gold and three silver medals and placed second overall in the 2014 Fusion Flowers International Designer of the Year competition. 

Her studio Passionflower was the only finalist in the floral category of Martha Stewart’s 2015 American Made contest! 

A passionate teacher, Susan offers private design instruction for new and professional florists in her studio and through destination workshops.

Her teaching experience also includes a sold-out two-day workshop on living jewelry design in Scotland; numerous other creative collaborations workshops are planned for the coming year.  

Susan’s work has been featured on the cover of Fusion Flowers Magazine and in leading industry publications and websites including Modern Wedding Flowers, Style Me Pretty and The Knot. Susan is a member of Chapel Designers, Slow Flowers and Style Me Pretty’s “Little Black Book.”  A frequent featured designer on Etsy, her designs and living jewelry has been praised for its originality, sustainability and style.  

Susan calls Françoise a kindred spirit, which is such a lovely way to view how the Slow Flowers Movement is bringing together many like-minded flower farmers and florists. We are kindred spirits and the more we share and give, the more we can stimulate a new normal in this profession. I’m so grateful that these two women shared their stories with you today.

The finished succulent collar-style necklace (c) Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

The finished succulent collar-style necklace (c) Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

Here’s how to follow Françoise Weeks:

Françoise on Facebook

Françoise on Instagram

Françoise on Twitter

Françoise on Pinterest

Susan on Facebook

Susan on Instagram

Susan on Twitter

Susan on Pinterest

Susan on Vimeo

Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded nearly 69,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Week 42 // Slow Flowers Challenge & a Day of Flowers at Filoli

Monday, October 26th, 2015
A detail of my arrangement demonstrated after my Slow Flowers lecture at Filoli.

A detail of my arrangement demonstrated after my Slow Flowers lecture at Filoli. Note the lovely flowering passionvine tendrils dripping from the base.

Filoli, the iconic early 20th Century estate in Woodside, California, is listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is a cultural institution where people come to learn, explore and be inspired by nature just minutes away from the city.

Filoli is also known for its Floral Design Certificate program and that’s what brought me there last Friday to lecture and teach, thanks to the invitation of Cathy Rampley, head of education, and Katherine Glazier, one of the instructors in the floral design program.

When planning ahead to order flowers for a couple large-scale floral designs and a hands-on workshop for 20 students, I always tell the organizers that I want local, American grown flowers. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Sometimes, like last week, it’s impossible to do otherwise. After all, we shopped at the San Francisco Flower Mart, which is where the best flowers available are California Grown.

The scale of this vessel allowed me to go very wide with the branches and stems.

The scale of this vessel allowed me to go very wide with the branches and stems.

I had so much fun digging through the storage closets at the Filoli estate house to select vessels for my designs. The ceramic piece you see above is measures approximately 14 inches in diameter, a turquoise-glazed dish mounted in a brass stand. Its shallowness challenged me and despite the 7-inch pin frog attached to the inside base, I mounded a large piece of chicken wire to dome over the opening.

Detail of autumn colors and textures, including the Cotinus, the peachy-orange dahlias, antique hydrangeas and the yellow-orange Ilex.

Detail of autumn colors and textures, including the Cotinus, the peachy-orange dahlias, antique hydrangeas and the yellow-orange Ilex.

This arrangement proves my theory that when a vase is shallow, you can build the bouquet 2- to 3-times the width of the opening. Using smoke tree (Cotinus) clipped from Filoli by the gardening staff and inserted so it soars off to one side allowed me to exaggerate the horizontal. Several antique hydrangea blooms, sourced from Half Moon Bay nearby, rest on the rim of the bowl and anchor it visually. I needed quite a bit of greenery to fill the volume and hide the mounded chicken wire (seriously, this piece was larger than a basketball cut in half!). Lots of the foliage was sourced from Filoli, including a type of large-leaf ivy and coffee berry branches.

READ MORE…

Take a Virtual Tour of Four Rooms and their Designers at The Flower House (Episode 216)

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015
Upstairs and downstairs, the open-air porches of The Flower House were designed by Lisa Waud

Upstairs and downstairs, the open-air porches of The Flower House were designed by Lisa Waud

This week’s episode is dedicated to my friend Lisa Waud and to the flower farmers and florists who created The Flower House. Here’s a recap, by the numbers:

(c) Heather Saunders the official photogapher of The Flower House, captured this opening day image from Oct. 16th

(c) Heather Saunders the official photogapher of The Flower House, captured this opening day image from Oct. 16th

theflowerhouse_graphic 1 Elderly home, circa early 1900s

15 rooms, closets, hallways and porches

30-plus floral designers

3 days

2,000-plus visitors

25,000 to 40,000 individual stems of flowers and foliage; the count keeps climbing and changing!

hundred of potted plants

dozens of American flower farms and farmers

180 Field to Vase Dinner Guests

And now that the Flower House event is over? There will be one glorious Detroit flower farm called Flower House Farm.

image

(c) Heather Saunders. The doors to The Flower House opened on October 16th.

(c) Heather Saunders. The doors to The Flower House opened on October 16th.

Last week I had the honor and privilege of returning to The Flower House, a project I visited the first weekend in May when creator Lisa Waud and her fellow designers decorated two rooms of an adjacent building, now called “the little house,” for a press preview to introduce the ultimate exhibition to come in October.

That event took place last weekend, a three-day, flower-themed wonderland that has garnered international attention, including a huge story last Thursday in the New York Times.

This podcast has the distinction of being the first media outlet to share the story of The Flower House when we aired the original interview with Lisa Waud this past February.

I now feel like the fairy godmother who granted a tiny wish to help Lisa get the word out — and look what a fantastic and beautiful dream it blossomed into!

Officially, I was at The Flower House in Hamtramck, Michigan, a hamlet just outside downtown Detroit, to co-host the final of 10 Field to Vase Dinners for 2015.

What a perfect way to go out with a huge bang — a floral fireworks show that sold out days in advance (for tour tickets and dinner tickets), making this the most successful Field to Vase Dinner of all.

"Nature Takes Back," the upstairs kitchen of The Flower House, created by Sally Vander Wyst and Courtney Stemberg of Wisconsin Flower Co.

“Nature Takes Back,” the upstairs kitchen of The Flower House, created by Sally Vander Wyst and Courtney Stemberg of Wisconsin Flower Co.

Look at this charming cupboard, which Sally and Courtney styled with vintage goods.

Look at this charming cupboard, which Sally and Courtney styled with vintage goods.

I arrived at The Flower House late last Wednesday, having grabbed a lift from the airport with my Seattle flower gal-pal Bev Burrows. Bev is a Detroit native who works in the floral, events and visual display world here in Seattle and she simply could not stay away from the lure of The Flower House in her hometown.

We jumped out of her brother’s car and started hyperventilating as we saw florist friends new and old (a few of our friends from the PNW had flown in just to volunteer for a few days, Slow Flowers members Adria Sparkhawk of Thicket in Portland and Erica Knowles of Botany 101 in Seattle). Then I found Lisa and greeted her with hugs, smiles and a few tears of happiness.

There was much going on with the opening less than 36 hours away. Lisa was busily installing her 2-story display on the home’s upstairs and downstairs porches (see that portion above).

And 14 other spaces were in various stages of installation, too. Buckets of American grown flowers were stacked everywhere and the orderly chaos promised something huge was about to be unveiled.

A tiny, wild moment in Sally and Courtney's kitchen. "If Mother Nature was a Florist . . . "

A tiny, wild moment in Sally and Courtney’s kitchen. “If Mother Nature was a Florist . . . “

Over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing clips from interviews with as many of the Flower House designers as have been able to record.

Today you will hear from designers of four of the rooms; I grabbed these conversations as the designers introduced me to the specific space they embellished with flowers, and as they described the inspiration, vision and design process.

There is one unifying thread that weaves together these stories. Each designer cares deeply about sourcing American grown botanical ingredients from local flower farms and from farms in other parts of the U.S.

They want to showcase the bounty and beauty of the season and help tell the floral industry and the floral consumer that it’s important to make a conscious choice when buying flowers.

Susan Studer King and Caroline Waller, Ohio designers, in the child's bedroom they designed.

Susan Studer King and Caroline Waller, Ohio designers, in the child’s bedroom they designed.

First up, you will meet SALLY VANDER WYST of the MILWAUKEE FLOWER CO., a Slowflowers.com member who created a Wisconsin-filled kitchen called “Nature Takes Back.”

Then you’ll hear from SUSAN STUDER KING of BUCKEYE BLOOMS, Slowflowers.com member and a past guest of this podcast, and her collaborator, fellow Ohioan CAROLINE WALKER of PASSIFLORA STUDIO as they introduce us to the child’s bedroom entitled “Foraged Foliage.”

The third space I visited was entitled “Sweet Mossy Dreams,” a closet and tiny hallway decorated in a most fantastical way by Slowflowers.com member SUSAN KELLY of THREE SISTERS FLOWERS, based in East Palo Alto, California.

And finally, you’ll meet past podcast guests and Slowflowers.com members JENNIFER HAF and LARISSA FLYNN of BLOOM FLORAL DESIGN, based in Petosky, Michigan, as they describe the vivid and electrifying upstairs bedroom, “Wild, Floral Graffiti.”

The walls of Susan and Caroline's "Foraged Floral"-themed bedroom are banded with wooshes of floral color.

The walls of Susan and Caroline’s “Foraged Floral”-themed bedroom are banded with wooshes of floral color.

A wider view of the bedroom, sunshine pouring through the windows.

A wider view of the bedroom, sunshine pouring through the windows.

I’ll introduce these Flower House designers individually at the beginning of each clip, so follow along and enjoy this first installment and virtual tour of the rooms within The Flower House.

Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Floral Design, tucked into her "Sweet Mossy Dreams" closet and hallway.

Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Flowers, tucked into her “Sweet Mossy Dreams” closet and hallway.

The botanical medallion on the ceiling of Susan's tiny closet space - amazing!!!

The botanical medallion on the ceiling of Susan’s tiny closet space – amazing!!! Incorporating 237 leaves and a sunflower, it was inspired by a ceiling she saw at the Museum of the Hunt in Paris.

I think it’s so exciting that you’ll be hearing from designers who hail from Wisconsin, Ohio, California and Michigan – they’re just a few of the many talents whose voices will appear here in the coming weeks.

I especially love the contagious passion and urge to create that exudes from this project. Whimsy, joy, wonderment, sentiment, poignancy, surprise — all combine in this dream of a project.

Larissa Flynn and Jennifer Haf of Bloom Floral Design in their "Wild, Floral Graffiti" space.

Larissa Flynn and Jennifer Haf of Bloom Floral Design in their “Wild, Floral Graffiti” space.

The floral-inspired graffiti underlay seen on the walls of Jennifer and Larissa's space pays homage to Detroit's street art.

The floral-inspired graffiti underlay seen on the walls of Jennifer and Larissa’s space pays homage to Detroit’s street art.

Love these giant flowers on the walls of "Wild, Floral Graffiti," that complement the all-American flowers.

Love these giant flowers on the walls of “Wild, Floral Graffiti,” that complement the all-American flowers.

My hat is off to all of the designers and especially to Lisa Waud. Once the dust settles and Lisa has transitioned from her role as Flower House creator to urban flower farmer for her successful design business Pot and Box, we’ll invite her back for a recap of the project.

In the meantime, I leave you with this impression that Jen and Larissa shared. It has stuck with me as a perfect description of their room and many of the other rooms within the four walls of The Flower House: In designing their room, the women said they experienced a WILD CRAZY FREEDOM.

Extra dahlias grown by Summer Dreams Farm, a local Michigan resource -- spontaneously woven into the chain link fence in front of The Flower House.

Extra dahlias grown by Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm, a local Michigan resource — spontaneously woven into the chain link fence in front of The Flower House.

And I wish that sentiment for you to experience as well. It can happen when you connect with nature and with flowers that have been grown by the hardworking hands of American flower farmers.

Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded 68,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Week 40 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
Mums, zinnias, dahlias, gomphrena, amaranth, scented geranium -- all from Washington. I added a few goodies from my friend Cheryl's backyard in Altadena, California (including tree fern fronds and limelight hydrangeas)

Mums, zinnias, dahlias, gomphrena, amaranth, scented geranium — all from Washington. I added a few goodies from my friend Cheryl’s backyard in Altadena, California (including tree fern fronds and limelight hydrangeas)

The flowers spoke to me. Especially that gorgeous dusky pink chrysanthemum, right?

I stopped by the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market last Wednesday to drop off some books and while there, Vivian Larson’s beautiful fall mums said, “Pick us!”

Look at those petals! They are so distinctly formed. I love that the underside of each petal is a paler version of the top of each petal.

Look at those petals! They are so distinctly formed. I love that the underside of each petal is a paler version of the top of each petal.

We’ve been swimming in dahlia season here in the Pacific Northwest, and no one lives dahlias more than I do. But the “next new thing” is always around the corner. And those of us who love everything that Vivian grows at Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Washington, have been waiting. Patiently. For. The. Mums.

Mums are having a renaissance. I asked Viv if they are any harder to grow than dahlias? No, she said. So why aren’t more people planting them? I’m not sure, but I did tell Viv she needs to up her game next year. I want to have a “Specialty Mum Festival” at the SWGMC next fall, following the late summer Dahlia Festival we’ve hosted for the past 2 years.

Then I picked some other goodies to blend and balance with the unusual pink. What pulled it all together for me were the Queen Red Lime zinnias, which Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall grow at Jello Mold Farm, not far from Viv’s place. That flower has a perfect combination of pink, reddish-maroon and lime green petals. So easy to pull together a palette of flowers and foliage when you can use something like Queen Red Lime.

Love how all the greens enliven this bouquet.

Love how all the greens enliven this bouquet.

For my greens, I added a variegated/scented pelargonium leaf, grown by Pam and Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, Washington. They are new growers whose talents are notable! And I grabbed some lime green amaranth, thanks, Jello Mold.

For my deep reddish-maroon elements, I grabbed a ball-shaped dahlia, grown by Dawn Severin of All My Thyme, in Mt. Vernon, Washington.

Dawn is a girly-girl grower. Everything I see from All My Thyme is feminine and romantic.

Reddish pops continued to catch my eye, including the charming little gomphrenas, grown by Sarah and Steve Pabody of Triple Wren Farm in Lynden, Washington.

Okay. Brought everything home. It was Wednesday afternoon.

I was scheduled to fly to Burbank on Thursday morning to give a talk at the Los Angeles Arboretum for the “Compulsive Gardeners” group, and I clearly did not save time to arrange and photograph my flowers for the (sadly, ignored) Slow Flowers Challenge.

What to do? Well, bring the flowers with me, of course.

Here’s what I did:

I shortened the stems so that everything fit into one black floral bucket and added about 3-inches of water. The bucket rests perfectly inside a vinyl grocery shopping bag. Of course, I dumped the H20 out of the bucket in order to get through security and then re-filled it minutes later. And that’s how these flowers accompanied me when I flew to Burbank on Thursday morning. I couldn’t have been  lucky since Alaska Airlines bumped me up to First Class and the crew made space for my bag of flowers in the First Class closet. They had a little bit of water and fared quite well on the trip.

Top view to show you how huge and lovely the mums appear in this bouquet.

Top view to show you how huge and lovely the mums appear in this bouquet.

Love this glass bowl - it's the perfect vessel for these late-summer beauts!

Love this glass bowl – it’s the perfect vessel for these late-summer beauts!

I arrived at the home of my host and friend Cheryl Bode on Thursday afternoon. While we were chatting in her living room, I spotted this art-glass vase on the bookcase. “Can I use that piece of glass to make you a bouquet?” I asked.

Cheryl indulged me and I set up a flower-arranging bar outside on her potting bench. Her garden is truly world class, a plant geek’s oasis.

I’ve written about Cheryl and her wife Robin Colman’s garden for the Los Angeles Times and for Horticulture magazine, so you can only imagine.

“Is it okay to clip a few of your Los Angeles plants to add to these Seattle goodies?” Again, she said, “Yes.”

So here’s what I created. The bowl is perfect in scale and shape for a low centerpiece. I didn’t want to scratch the inside of the blown glass piece so I opted not to use chicken wire. Instead, I started the arrangement by crisscrossing the scented geranium and amaranth foliage, creating a matrix to sustain the other blooms. It worked out pretty well, I think.

When I left Cheryl last Friday, this arrangement remained on her dining table. I’m so pleased that I could bring these blooms with me to her home – and use one of her own pieces to design my Slow Flowers Challenge bouquet for the week.

Here’s hoping you’re still enjoying the last flowers of summer and that Jack Frost doesn’t show up until November 1st at least!