Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Studio Choo’s Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis on The Wreath Recipe Book (Episode 166)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
Jill Rizzo (left) and Alethea Harampolis (right).

Jill Rizzo (left) and Alethea Harampolis (right).

I’m so pleased to welcome Slow Flowers Members Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis. Floral designers and founders of SF-based Studio Choo, they have a carefree, nature-inspired design philosophy that touches everything they create.

As a floral design shop, studio and boutique, Studio Choo focuses as much as possible on locally-sourced flowers and plants, styled with a nod to the wild and untamed.

You have a chance to win a free copy of their newest project, The Wreath Recipe Book, courtesy of publisher Artisan. To enter, please post a comment below about YOUR FAVORITE wreath ingredient from nature, the woodland, the garden or flower fields.

You must post a comment in order to enter a drawing to win a free copy of this lovely new book. The drawing will take place at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday, November 8th and I’ll announce the winner on the Nov. 12th episode of The Slow Flowers Podcast.

COVER.The_Wreath_Recipe_Book._HIGH_RES

Alethea and Jill originally met and worked together at an esteemed flower shop in San Francisco. Their shared passion led them to found Studio Choo in 2009.

After many weddings, deliveries and penning their first book, The Flower Recipe Book, Studio Choo expanded into a new studio space in South San Francisco last year. The Flower Recipe Book took them across the nation, teaching design classes in massive markets, quaint shops and beautiful farms. When they returned home, they worked tirelessly to turn their studio into a unique expanse devoted to design classes, an apothecary, a workspace for weddings and events, a well-curated shop and a place to honor the love of flowers that started it all.

Late winter-early spring: A camellia branch with a swag made of 65 little hyacinth blooms.

Late winter-early spring: A camellia branch with a swag made of 65 little hyacinth blooms.

I’ve gotten to know Jill and Alethea over the past few years, reviewing The Flower Recipe Book for Sunset magazine, hosting their book-signing presentation for florists at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, and inviting them to the stage when I produced the floral design workshops at the SF Flower & Garden Show last March. But due to the fact that we live and work in different cities, I simply had not been able to record a Studio Choo interview.

Welcome to the Studio Choo shop.

Welcome to the Studio Choo shop.

Last month, I took a last minute trip to SF and while there, I invited myself to visit the new Studio Choo space. *Thanks Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers for the lift – I’m so glad you got to stop by, too.

Even though it was a Friday and flowers for a few weddings were in production, Jill and Alethea were so sweet to take a half an hour and talk about their latest project — JUST OUT — “The Wreath Recipe Book: Year-Round Wreaths, Swags, and Other Decorations to Make with Seasonal Branches”

A wistful spring wreath uses flowering dogwood branches, sheet moss and earthy mushrooms.

A wistful spring wreath uses flowering dogwood branches, sheet moss and earthy mushrooms.

Using the same recipe-like approach to seasonal branches that they presented with cut flower arrangements in the Flower Recipe Book, this time Jill and Alethea employ the same clear format in explaining how to make wreaths, table settings, napkin rings, package toppers, wall hangings, and other branch-based decorations.

A gorgeous garland with cotoneaster branches, pomegranates, purple sage and strawflowers.

A gorgeous garland with cotoneaster branches, pomegranates, purple sage and strawflowers.

Divided into Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and based on when the main plant “ingredients” are available. Ingredient lists and step-by-step photographs give readers a starting point for trying these recipes and adapting each to one’s own aesthetic and style.

Here's that amazing Tahoe wreath Alethea just made, using foraged material from her recent vacation.

Here’s that amazing Tahoe wreath Alethea just made, using foraged material from her recent vacation.

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation about Studio Choo, and how Jill and Alethea blend their unique point of view as designers with a dynamic business model that takes them in some very unexpected places. Alethea has just launched her own scent collection called Snake Face and together the two are cooking up workshops and other creative endeavors for the year to come.

Bittersweet wreath with fall chrysanthemums, marigolds and safflowers.

Bittersweet wreath with fall chrysanthemums, marigolds and safflowers.

And here’s some background on this dynamic duo:

Studio Choo BFFs.

Studio Choo BFFs.

Alethea spent her time before Studio Choo as an estate gardener in Seattle where she managed the wet and wild rolling hills of the city’s rich and famous. After working in other boutique flower shops perfecting her art, she returned to her native Bay Area to settle back in.

Jill grew up with her mother, aunt, and uncle all running their own flower shops, so it now seems only natural that she would do the same. After spending her childhood in Rhode Island learning the difference between roses and ranunculus, she graduated with a degree in illustration from Parsons School of Design and moved to San Francisco to try life out west.

Studio Choo started with a sneeze. Jill’s tiny sneeze, to be exact. It was so small Alethea remarked upon this tiny sneeze and thus “Choo” became a shared nickname between the two. They remained friends when Alethea left the Bay Area, and they dreamed of starting a business together one day. Upon Alethea’s return a few years later (early 2009), they finally took the plunge to open their floral studio and the eponymous Studio Choo was born.

Studio Choo's Friday deliveries, ready to go.

Studio Choo’s Friday deliveries, ready to go.

Jill and Alethea encourage their readers and customers alike to bring the outdoors into our homes and celebrate the special qualities of each season.To find inspiration in plants that are in season wherever you to live — I wholeheartedly endorse this philosophy because it’s at the heart of what the Slow Flowers Movement is all about.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast nearly 25,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

A visit to Flower School New York and a lesson with Emily Thompson

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

“So much of design is done in selection of materials. I want a flower arrangement to feel like you’ve dug through the wilderness to find a treasure.”

Last month at Flower School New York, the Emily Thompson workshop was abuzz with beauty and creativity.

Last month at Flower School New York, the Emily Thompson workshop was abuzz with beauty and creativity.

flower-school-ny-logo I spent a few days in NYC earlier this month and today I want to share one of the highlights of that visit.

Lots of amazing goodness came from my 55 plus-or-minus hours in New York, but one of the BEST experiences was my visit to meet the folks at Flower School New York.

As pretty as a flower shop, the Flower School New York is located on West 14th Street in NYC.

As pretty as a flower shop, the Flower School New York is located on West 14th Street in NYC.

Look what I found in the front window display!

Look what I found in the front window display!

If you have a trip to NYC planned at any time in the future, I recommend checking the class schedule at Flower School New York. I did just that about two months ago, as I began to plan a series of meetings with editors and Slowflowers.com members in the city. Turns out, on Oct. 23rd, the amazing Emily Thompson was scheduled to teach a workshop on sculptural floral design.

I signed up immediately. And lucky for me, I grabbed one of the 25 or so spaces in the 2-hour class.

Emily Thompson (left), Flower School founder Eileen Johnson (right). In the background you'll notice the rest of the leadership team.

Emily Thompson (left), Flower School founder Eileen Johnson (right). In the background you’ll notice the rest of the leadership team — Calvert Crary, Beth Was Horta and Brittany Bosch.

The staff at Flower School New York knew I was going to be there that night and they created a surprise window display featuring my book Slow Flowers.

They also had copies on display in the charming retail area just inside the storefront that faces West 14th Street. A huge bouquet of thanks to Founder Eileen Johnson, as well as Executive Director Calvert Crary, Operations Manager Brittany Bosch and Instructor Beth Was Horta for making me feel incredibly welcome.

And then, there was Emily.

What a great workshop - and great instruction from Emily Thompson!

What a great workshop – and great instruction from Emily Thompson!

You know how you are dying to meet someone you admire and THEN, miraculously, they kinda want to meet you, too? That delightful scenario happened to me years ago with a writer I idolize, Scott Calhoun.

The same thing took place when Emily and I were introduced. What? I couldn’t believe it! We were destined to meet sooner or later, but Flower School New York facilitated it.

Emily at work, using bittersweet to create a matrix for her design (NO Foam!). Note, she's wearing one of Janna Lufkin's "Raw Materials" aprons, which I love!

Emily at work, using bittersweet to create a matrix for her design (NO Foam!). Note, she’s wearing one of Janna Lufkin’s “Raw Materials” aprons, which I love!

I loved studying with Emily. Every single word out that comes out of her mouth is inspiring. It made me feel as if I was taking a Master Class in a MFA program. Emilyisms:

“I want to make things that are impractical. That are surprising to me.”

“The proportions I design with are more akin to the natural garden or landscape. I’m looking for powerful contrast, for things that resist one another. That draw the eye in and push it away.”

I’ve got some great news: Emily invited me to visit her brand new shop on Beekman Street, so the following morning we squeezed in a shared cup of tea/coffee and a tour of the new digs. I asked permission to turn on the recorder (natch) and Emily agreed. So stay tuned for an Emily Thompson podcast episode later this year! And Flower School New York’s Eileen Johnson has promised to let me interview her in the coming year, too!

For now, just enjoy my photos from that magical evening.

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Here’s how to stay in touch witn Flower School NY

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A sweet Slow Flowers vignette.

Here's my arrangement, what fun!

Here’s my arrangement, what fun!

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Made-in-USA work aprons from Janna Lufkin’s “Raw Materials” are ready for purchase at Flower School New York.

The secret garden at Flower School New York.

The secret garden at Flower School New York.

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A beautiful fall urn.

“I love to work with seasonal flowers, with things of our landscape. And then I’ll add bits of the exotic.”

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Bonus Interview with Sid Anna Sherwood of Annie’s Flower Farm

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Sid Anna Sherwood of Annie's Flower Farm in Sequim, Washington

Sid Anna Sherwood of Annie’s Flower Farm in Sequim, Washington

I wanted to quickly post this audio interview with Sid Anna Sherwood, of Annie’s Flower Farm in Sequim, Washington.

Why?

Because she’s in the middle of an innovative crowd-sourcing campaign to save thousands of perennial plants and purchase the equipment and infrastructure that she’s been leasing from a now-closed flower farm in her area.

This isn’t a “crowd-funding” campaign, but a “crowd-lending” campaign. Money that you “lend” will be paid back!

I can’t think of a better way to invest in domestic, local, organic and seasonal cut flowers! Here’s her post about “Moving Annie’s Flower Farm.”

Sid Anna sent me this email earlier in the week to share more about her efforts:

“I have followed your work and books since I took over an established flower farm her in Sequim, Washington, two years ago. They have all been very helpful to me.

I took over the established one acre flower farm (at The Cutting Garden in Sequim) when the Mixes wanted to close it. I leased it from them.

Now they are turning it back to pasture but they are selling the hoop house, greenhouse, irrigation and perennials to me. I am moving everything four miles further west to more leased farmland.

A beautiful, local and seasonal bridal bouquet grown and designed by Sid Anna Sherwood of Annie's Flower Farm.

A beautiful, local and seasonal bridal bouquet grown and designed by Sid Anna Sherwood of Annie’s Flower Farm.

To raise the money to do this I am micro financing a crowd-lended loan through Kiva.Net.org. Kiva is a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs with zero interest loans.

I was endorsed for the loan by The Greenhorns, an outfit in upstate NY that supports new farmers.

I currently have 110 “lenders” and I have raised about $3000 with $7000 to go.

I need a lot more lenders and only have fifteen days to finish funding the loan. (Like Kickstarter, it has to be completely funded–unlike Kickstarter, it is a loan so it gets paid back).

I found out about this loan opportunity through the Washington Agricultural Extension local newsletter.

My invitation link is here.

It has all of the information about the loan and what it is for.

I sell to florists, have a CSA, do floral design for weddings, DIY weddings, sell bouquets at grocery stores, dothe floral arrangements for a local restaurant that promotes locally grown food, sell seeds, participate in the Clallam County Farm Tour and have a u-pick/u-cut which is on the honor system. My wedding business is growing and this summer I had twenty-two weddings.

I am an organic gardener. Last September my flower farm was mentioned in Sunset Magazine.

Can you think of any ways I could get more people involved in my Kiva Loan?

I was hoping you might post something to let more people who are interested in the local flower movement know about the support I need.”

Thanks so much,

All the best,

Sid Anna Sherwood
Annie’s Flower Farm
Sequim, WA 98382
360 809 3959

PLEASE help if you are able! A $5 loan up to a $500 loan will help Sid Anna as she continues to grow flowers for her community!

As of today, she’s 33 percent to her goal, but there are only 8 days left to raise about $6,500. Check it out and join the effort if you can help a flower farmer!

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: ASCFG #1 Getting Florists Onboard with Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 165)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2015 conference theme: "Growing GROWERS"

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2015 conference theme: “Growing GROWERS”

Last week, more than 300 American and Canadian flower farmers and floral designers gathered at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers national conference in Wilmington, Delaware. “Growing GROWERS” was a fabulous event and a privilege to attend.

Slow Flowers (that would be me) attended as a media sponsor. In the coming weeks, you will hear several episodes from expert panels and presentations recorded during the conference. I know you’ll be inspired and informed to hear them — it will be almost as good as having been there!

I want to congratulate the ASCFG conference committee and program co-chairs, Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers and Becky Devlin of Roots Flowers and Designs, who developed an extensive lineup of workshops and speakers – making this the best ASCFG Conference ever! 

Kudos also goes to ASCFG staff Judy Lauschman and Linda Twining, as well as committee members Lynn Rapp of Cultivating Joy and Marsha Swezey of Suburban Blooms for all your efforts to make the event a huge success.

The Gardener's Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler and her family and crew.

The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler (front left) and her family and crew.

Gardeners_Workshop_Logo It was only a few weeks ago that I hosted flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm to talk about her new book Cool Flowers.

But today you’ll have a chance to hear her excellent presentation: “Getting Florists Onboard and Keeping Their Business.” Lisa is nothing but 100 percent forthcoming about how she developed close ties with florists in the Newport News, Virginia, marketplace. Perhaps her story and business insights will prompt you to adopt some of her savvy marketing and sales practices.

Here is the outline for her presentation:

Getting Florist Onboard and Keeping their Business! 

The beautiful bounty, just picked, local and fresh - from The Gardener's Workshop Cut Flower Farm.

The beautiful bounty, just picked, local and fresh – from The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm.

  1. Break the image of farmers gone by! Be professional from the get go.
    1. Consistence pays.
    2. Drop-off generous samples and a business information packet.
    3. Packet contents: your contact information, website, what you plan to grow, how they order, delivery schedule, how they will pay you.
    4. Follow-up, again and again.
    5. Words about social media—keep it all professional.

      Babs, the farm dog, is Lisa's secret weapon on social media.

      Babs, the farm dog, is Lisa’s secret weapon on her farm’s social media pages.

  2. Grow for standing orders.
    1. What is a standing order?
    2. Build trust with consistence high quality supplies of staple flowers.
    3. Make your flowers their staple flowers, example: zinnias in place of gerberas for summer.
    4. Sunflowers each week will not only float a bouquet business but your florist will love them.
    5. Then one day it will happen—you realize that your flowers are filling their daily orders.

      When florists see and smell these tuberoses -- they want a standing order during harvest time.

      When florists see and smell these tuberoses — they want a standing order during harvest time.

  3. Sell on the phone once customers established.
    1. Email / fax list and follow-up with a call
    2. This allows the customer to see exactly what you have, how many bunches and the price.
    3. Early morning contact works well for busy shops.
    4. I send lists one at a time: first customer sees all, then after their order, I update list, and send to next customer until all sold—about 2 hours of phone work.
    5. This allows us to pack the truck in the order of deliveries for speedier deliveries.
    6. Swap plastic flower boxes for the easiest deliveries. Pick up empty boxes on each deliver for the next week. This also allows us to wash their grimy boxes and fill with conditioned water (#2 holding tea bags.)
      Gorgeous rudbeckia = sales at the flower shop.

      Gorgeous rudbeckia = sales at the flower shop.

      Quantity and Quality is expressed in these snapdragons!

      Quantity and Quality is expressed in these snapdragons!

  4. Getting paid
    1. In your initial drop-off business information you should make it clear about payment.
    2. C.O.D. always for the first year.
    3. Then consider 30 day terms if they ask for those customers buying weekly with increasing orders.
    4. Attend to late payments immediately—its business not personal—don’t avoid it.
    5. If you take credit cards remember you are paying a fee—some folks have a cc handling fee which is complete fair.
      Stocked for deliveries.

      Stocked for weekly deliveries.

      The Gardener's Workshop Supermarket Bunches.

      The Gardener’s Workshop Supermarket Bunches.

      Premium flowers: Hellebores that florists gobble up!

      Premium flowers: Hellebores that florists gobble up!

  5. Grow your business
    1. Invite your commercial customers over once a year in season. Have a little food and listen. I normally learn about some flower or shrub or a stage of growth of something here on the farm that I have undervalued. You will learn something and they will appreciate you!
    2. Other customers: cruise lines, resorts, government agencies, event planners, garden share program, subscription drop-offs. Think outside the box.

HERE’S THE AWESOME VIDEO LISA REFERS TO: The Bed Layer attachment 

I hope you gained as much value from Lisa’s incredibly detailed presentation as I did. And be sure to follow her adventures by liking  the Cool Flowers Facebook page.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast nearly 25,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

All photos provided, courtesy (c) The Gardener’s Workshop/Lisa Mason Ziegler

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Nature as inspiration for your floral designs with Nancy Ross Hugo (Episode 164)

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Paperwhite foliage (left) and a fatsia leaf (right) provide a study in contrasts. Design and photo by Nancy Ross Hugo.

Paperwhite foliage (left) and a fatsia leaf (right) provide a study in contrasts. Design and photo by Nancy Ross Hugo.

Before I introduce you to today’s guest, I wanted to reach into the letter bag and share some of the notes that arrived this week.

Emily Watson, a farmer-florist who owns Stems Cut Flowers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a member of Slowflowers.com, writes:

“I have been listening to your podcasts and after every single one I think I should write you a thank you but neither of us has time for that! So here it is one big thank you for all of them. Some weeks I hear pieces of my own story, some weeks inspiration for where I want to go, some weeks I just feel grateful that there are people like you and Kasey Cronquist and the Field to Vase  project making good things happen. At the ASCFG conference that I went to in DC a a few years ago I remember an ice breaker session where you were supposed to tell the people at your table where you though your business would be next year. And at that time I was not even sure that my business was going to be around the following year. I was tired, emotionally, financially, and physically exhausted. After four long growing seasons I started to feel like maybe I should just cut my losses and return to the “normal” workforce. But then I saw things starting to happen on the bigger scale, people bringing awareness to the issues that mattered to me and my business, people connecting the dots for all the small businesses like mine.”

Since then my business has evolved a bit and I am on the verge of another transformation. One that I feel like I will have support for and a community which I can draw on for ideas and information. And you have been a big part of making this happen so thank you very much.”

And here’s one from Tobey Nelson, a floral, wedding & event designer who owns Vases Wild in Langley, Washington, on beautiful Whidbey Island – a wedding destination:

“I have been listening to your podcasts in an OCD fashion lately – love them!  And I really appreciate all the work you are doing for Slow Flowers and (the) American grown (movement). So great. Do you know that just this year we have had three professional flower growers sprout up on Whidbey Island? It makes me happy!”

Thank YOU, Tobey and Emily ~ your encouragement for this endeavor means a lot. It’s easier to promote American grown flowers when I have such talented farmers and florists as my partners!

ST LYNN'S WINDOWSILL ART CVR Anyone listening today knows that flowers can be a huge source of comfort, encouragement, celebration and serenity – depending on the time and place and occasion.

Today’s guest, Nancy Ross Hugo, brings the macro world of nature, landscape, the garden or the flower farm down to the micro world of the windowsill. And in doing so, she offers us a simple ritual, a moment, a meditation on the botanical beauty around us

The author of a new book called “Windowsill Art: Create One-of-a-kind Natural Arrangements to Celebrate the Season,” Nancy writes about gardening, trees, and floral design from her home in Ashland, Virginia and her family’s small farm in Howardsville, Virginia.

Her love of trees has led her to tree habitats all over the world, but her real passion is celebrating the common wildflowers, weeds, trees, and everyday plants that are often overlooked in ordinary backyards.

Naturalist, designer, artist, educator and author Nancy Hugo Ross. Photo (c) Robert Llewellyn

Naturalist, designer, artist, educator and author Nancy Hugo Ross. Photo (c) Robert Llewellyn

Nancy loves reading old natural history books, writing new ones, and exploring the creative process through flower arranging and nature journaling.

Through nature journaling and blogging about the “windowsill arrangements” she creates every day, she says she keeps her creative muscles exercised, her thoughts straight, and her eyes open to all things wild and wonderful.

Nancy has authored five books and hundreds of articles about nature and the outdoors, She is the former garden columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and education manager at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She travels the country speaking on the two topics closest to her heart: observing trees carefully and celebrating the seasons through daily, simple flower arranging.

Rustic boxes filled with an immature sunflower head (left) and stacked marigold blossoms (right). Nancy writes: "Marigolds will last longer than you think out of water."

Rustic boxes filled with an immature sunflower head (left) and stacked marigold blossoms (right). Nancy writes: “Marigolds will last longer than you think out of water.”

I met Nancy through St. Lynn’s Press, our shared publisher. It seems that at the same time I was working on Slow Flowers – a book about creating a local and seasonal floral arrangement every week of the year with only what I cut from my own garden or sourced from local flower farmers, Nancy was working on Windowsill Art, engaging in a similar method of marking the seasons in nature with floral arranging.

Violas in stone cube with "gumball."

Violas in stone cube with “gumball.”

The difference is that of simplicity and spontaneity. Nancy’s practice is so “of the moment” and I greatly admire her artistry and approach. You might think a windowsill would constrain the creativity – but that’s anything but the case.

A beet displayed beside a jug of coleus. "I realized I could turn (the beet) upside down and support it on its leaf stems . . . showcasing the part of the beet I like best - its tapering root."

A beet displayed beside a jug of coleus. “I realized I could turn (the beet) upside down and support it on its leaf stems . . . showcasing the part of the beet I like best – its tapering root.”

In May 2011, Nancy began a blog on which she posted a photo of a small flower arrangement (or just a conglomeration of natural materials) every day. Assembled on the windowsill, these simple displays celebrate the seasons and chronicle Nancy’s love affair with local wildflowers, weeds, and garden flowers as well as her discovery of new and exciting ways to display them. They also demonstrate why practicing this easy art form is so valuable as a form of nature journaling and rewarding as a personal creative practice. You can see more than 800 arrangements at windowsillarranging.blogspot.com.

Sweet William, wild mustard, and Chinese temple bell (Moricandia avensis) flowers.

Sweet William, wild mustard, and Chinese temple bell (Moricandia avensis) flowers — in Nancy’s favorite bud vases.

As Nancy points out, almost everyone does it – puts a little something on the windowsill to watch it ripen, root, or just sit there looking pretty. To this gifted woman, the windowsill can serve as a stage for more intentional arranging – a personal, freewheeling kind of art. A catalyst for creativity.

The compound leaves of nandina emerge copper-colored in spring and are arranged here in a row of test tubes.

The compound leaves of nandina emerge copper-colored in spring and are arranged here in a row of test tubes.

She writes, “for me, windowsill arranging is almost a spiritual practice. Where I am looking for materials to display and placing them . . . I feel more like a poet placing words in a haiku than a floral designer placing stems in a vase. I love the limited space, the double connection to the outdoors (through the window and my materials), and the structure that repeating the same activity over and over provides.”

Gifts from the kitchen and herb garden compose a lovely still-life on Nancy's windowsill.

Gifts from the kitchen and herb garden compose a lovely still-life on Nancy’s windowsill.

As we enter the more dormant period of the year in our gardens and on our farms, I challenge you to pick up Nancy’s approach to observing nature’s gifts and seeing each pod, branch, stem or vine (or fruits and vegetables) as an artistic element. It may be a gift to give yourself this season.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation. Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 23,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

Note: Many of the supplies Nancy uses can be ordered from The Arranger’s Market: vases, clippers, bottle brushes, and other floral design equipment.

All photos in this post copyrighted to Nancy Ross Hugo, used by permission of St. Lynn’s Press.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Floral Microlending with Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers (Episode 163)

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

This episode is dedicated to a sweet little girl named Shylah who’s dealing with some scary medical challenges. Please say a quiet prayer or send your sentiments into the universe for her healing, for her parents and brothers, and for the physicians who are caring for her.

I also want to share a special announcement:

We’ve reached our 400th member to join the Slowflowers.com online directory.

Here's a peek at The FloraCultural Society's storefront on College Ave. in Oakland - our 400th Member of Slowflowers.com.

Here’s a peek at The FloraCultural Society’s storefront on College Ave. in Oakland – our 400th Member of Slowflowers.com.

Thanks to Anna Campbell of  The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, for listing her urban flower farm, design studio and charming retail shop with our site. I was introduced to Anna by Stephanie Hughes, who I met at a Little Flower School workshop last spring – she’s now a director with The FloraCultural Society.

Expect to hear more from this creative team. I recently visited them in Oakland and have already scheduled a future Slow Flowers podcast episode about Anna’s creative business model, which will run later in the fall.

More than a year ago I hosted Baltimore-based floral designer Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers, aka Lo-Co-Flo, as a guest of this podcast. I’ve been wanting to have Ellen back on the show due in large part to the innovative work she and her team are doing to support American flower farmers, while also promoting their mission to Local Color Flowers’ customers and the media.

Ellen and her husband Eric Moller, along with a savvy design and production team, specialize in weddings & events. They also lead hands-on workshops and classes and are vocal advocates for American grown flowers. I can’t tell you how impressed I am – continually – with all they are doing. And how often I hear from others in the Slow Flowers movement who wish to model their floral businesses on what Ellen and Eric are doing.

The Local Color Flowers design team - Ellen Frost is in the center.

The Local Color Flowers design team – Ellen Frost is in the center.

A few months back I heard from another florist friend that the duo had begun to invest in “flower futures” with some of their small grower-suppliers. The more I learned about LoCoFlo’s  micro-lending program, the more intrigued I was to hear from Ellen myself.

American Grown Floral Visionary, Ellen Frost.

American Grown Floral Visionary, Ellen Frost.

So when I had a chance to meet up with Ellen in August, at a very special field-to-vase dinner that Jennie Love hosted at Love ‘N Fresh Flower Farm in Philadelphia, I grabbed the recorder and asked Ellen for an update.

You will be inspired and her innovative thinking. If you are a florist who is in search of very special and/or hard-to-locate botanicals for your design work, this interview may prompt you to similarly invest in a flower farmer near you.

And if you’re a flower farmer, why not approach your florist-customers and invite them to brainstorm with you about what to grow for next season? Who knows? Maybe that will lead to a collaborative partnership of your own — one in which florists pre-purchase next year’s crops, giving the farmer up-front capital to buy bulbs, seeds and starts — all with the knowledge that those flowers will go for a fair price in the marketplace?

Emerging flower farmers recently attended the "Flower Power Hour," hosted by Local Color Flowers.

Emerging flower farmers recently attended the “Flower Power Hour,” hosted by Local Color Flowers.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Kelly Norris on the must-have bearded iris for flower farmers and floral designers (Episode 162)

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
'Jack's Pick' - a miniature tall bearded iris with gorgeous tawny petals.

‘Jack’s Pick’ – a miniature tall bearded iris with gorgeous tawny petals.

It’s not unusual to find a clump of purple-flowering bearded irises in the beds and borders surrounding many older American homes. For decades they’ve been forgotten or dismissed as a “grandmother’s garden flower,” but bearded irises are enjoying a renaissance of sorts.

Kelly Norris, plantsman, writer, horticultural visionary and iris expert.

Kelly Norris, plantsman, writer, horticultural visionary and iris expert.

It’s thanks in part to the activities of today’s guest, Kelly Norris, a 20-something horticultural rock star whose obsession with bearded irises dates back to his 12-yr-old curiosity.

The breeding and hybridizing efforts of Kelly and others has greatly broadened the palette of these unique flowers which bear a set of upright petals (called the ‘standard’) offset by an equal number of downward cascading petals (described as the ‘fall’).

According to Kelly, late summer to early fall is the best time to plant bearded iris rhizomes- so that means you have a few more weeks to add some of these beauties to your cutting garden. And if you’ve never before considered growing or designing with bearded iris, I promise that my interview with Kelly will inspire you to do so!

Kelly D. Norris is the award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the first horticulture manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized 14-acre public garden in Des Moines, Iowa.

Want to know more about bearded irises? Check out Kelly's award-winning book.

Want to know more about bearded irises? Check out Kelly’s award-winning book.

He’s popularly known for his book A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts from Timber Press, which won the 2013 American Horticultural Society Book Award. He’s at work on his next project tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants.

As a speaker, Kelly has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture.

Kelly’s unique 10 years of experience in the industry began at age 15 when he talked his parents into buying a nursery (Rainbow Iris Farm), and in that time he’s become one of the few gurus on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.

At the Botanical Garden, Kelly directs and manages a team of horticultural professionals in all aspects of design, curation, programming, and garden maintenance and has a principal leadership role in the $12 million renovation and expansion currently underway.  He is also the editorial director for the organization’s award-winning member magazine Bloom, leads several programming initiatives aimed at fulfilling the Garden’s mission of “exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants,” and is the artistic director of the newly minted Spring Garden Festival which had its debut in May 2014.

Kelly Norris

Kelly Norris

Kelly is the youngest person to receive the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award in the organization’s 150 year history, awards that exemplify service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa.

In 2011, he was also honored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Young Professional Award, recognizing early contributions to the advancement of herbaceous perennials in American horticulture.

In 2013, he won the Iowa Author Award for Special Interest Writing, the youngest Iowan to be recognized in the history of the awards program.

I caught up with Kelly at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Pittsburgh several weeks ago.

'Red Rock Princess' - another favorite Miniature Tall Bearded Iris.

‘Red Rock Princess’ – another favorite Miniature Tall Bearded Iris.

'Hot News" - love this color bloom!

‘Hot News” – love this color bloom!

Our topic: miniature tall bearded irises. That sounds like an oxymoron, but in the interview we’ll learn why Kelly believes this iris classification is ideal for cut flower farms to grow and floral designers to request.

According to the American Iris Society, the MTB classification, as this type is called, is also known as ‘table iris’ or ‘bouquet iris,’ terms that give you a clue about their suitability for floral design. With bloom stalks measuring 16 inches to 27.5 inches, the flower is far daintier and has a more slender bloom than the more prevalent tall bearded iris flower.

Love this one: 'Apricot Drops'

Love this one: ‘Apricot Drops’

'Rayos Adentro', a sultry MTB iris.

‘Rayos Adentro’, a sultry MTB iris.

Garden writer Ken Druse wrote this of Kelly in an article for Organic Gardening Magazine:

“People tend to say yes to Norris due to his confidence, positive attitude, and infectious enthusiasm . . . he is a modern-day Andy Hardy, rallying friends and admirers to get excited about his latest enterprise . . . .”

'Cedar Waxwing'

‘Cedar Waxwing’

I couldn’t agree more. I hope you’ve been inspired to check out the beautiful options of Miniature tall bearded irises, including some gorgeous ones you can find at Rainbow Iris Farm, the Norris family’s mail order company.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 22,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

Slow Flowers on Toxic Free Talk Radio

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

It was a blast today to meet another Debra – Debra Lynn Dadd – aka “The Queen of Green,” the leading voice in toxic-free living and host of “Toxic Free Talk Radio.”

I joined her today on the air for a lively hour discussing what’s “green” and “not green” about the floral industry. You can listen to the entire interview here.

FLA-Grown - yes, it's good to know the source of your flowers and greens!

FLA-Grown – yes, it’s good to know the source of your flowers and greens!

Debra is based in Clearwater, Florida, so I wanted to send her something locally-grown for her vase. A huge thanks to Erik Hagstrom, of Albin Hagstrom & Sons,, a Florida-based foliage farm located just north of Orlando, for getting in on the act.

A member of Slowflowers.com, he offered to send some of his farm’s gorgeous and lush greenery to Debra.

Something awesome happened, and it was completely unscripted: The box from Albin Hagstrom arrived during our on-air interview and Debra went a little bonkers (in a good way) raving about the goodies she received.

That was the perfect way to demonstrate what American grown is all about.

Here’s how Debra arranged the foliage after we wrapped up the interview:

A 100% Florida-Grown Bouquet

A 100% Florida-Grown Bouquet

And here are the American-grown, Florida-grown botanicals she received – thanks Erik Hagstrom and everyone at Albin Hagstrom & Sons:

Magnolia and varietgated Leyland cypress wreath.

Magnolia and varietgated Leyland cypress wreath.

Greenery grown in Florida!

Greenery grown in Florida!

More greenery . . .

More greenery . . .

Even more . . .

Even more . . .

get-attachment

PS, Albin Hagstrom & Sons is also a charter member of the Certified American Grown labeling program – so proud to be associated with this All-American flower farm!

 

 

Local Flowers Inspired by Local Art

Sunday, October 5th, 2014
We had so many gorgeous blooms to use as the design elements for our bouquets. Photographed at Kirkland Art Center overlooking the main gallery.

We had so many gorgeous blooms to use as the design elements for our bouquets. Photographed at Kirkland Art Center overlooking the main gallery.

Here are some photos to share after yesterday’s successful workshop at the Kirkland Art Center: “From Art to Vase.”

The participants were all so talented and willing to experiment with their newfound skills, color sensibilities and approach to floral design.

Thanks so much to Susan Melrath, who curated the beautiful show, Inflorescence and invited me to teach this workshop. And a huge thanks to Anna Braden, the exhibition manager, who helped out so much yesterday! Surrounded by artwork and inspired by color, forms, patterns – and all locally-grown flowers – we were insured of a hugely successful event.

My friend Caroline Bombar-Kaplan shared many of these photos – thanks so much to her, too!

I spent some time discussing the options of local flowers available - and introducing the designers to the flower farms that grew each bloom.

I spent some time discussing the options of local flowers available – and introducing the designers to the flower farms that grew each bloom.

Flowers and art in juxtaposition. In the background, the paintings of Liz Tran.

Flowers and art in juxtaposition. In the background, the paintings of Liz Tran.

Bouquet designed by Kristin Johnsen

Bouquet designed by Kristin Johnsen

Bouquet designed by Caroline Bombar-Kaplan.

Bouquet designed by Caroline Bombar-Kaplan.

Arrangement designed by Marjorie Bombar

Arrangement designed by Marjorie Bombar

Another piece by Marjorie Bombar

Another piece by Marjorie Bombar

A beautiful centerpiece designed by Keita Horn

A beautiful centerpiece designed by Keita Horn

Caroline snapped this shot of my demo bouquet . . . which I brought home to finish last night. So check out the next photo to see how I completed the bouquet.

Caroline snapped this shot of my demo bouquet . . . which I brought home to finish last night. So check out the next photo to see how I completed the bouquet.

It’s always hard to know when a floral arrangement is actually completed, but I knew the piece you see above needed some more elements. After I returned home last night, I used some of the leftover flowers to add those finishing touches:

An early October celebration of local flowers - dahlias, zinnias, lilies, ornamental cabbage, snowberry, ornamental peppers and scented geranium

An early October celebration of local flowers – dahlias, zinnias, lilies, ornamental cabbage, snowberry, ornamental peppers and scented geranium

 

 

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Flowers as Food for the Soul — Transitioning from food-farming to flower-farming, with Goose Creek Gardens (Episode 161)

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

a visit to Goose Creek I’m so pleased to share this week’s interview with you, a conversation with mother and daughter duo — Margie Dagnal and Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, a boutique specialty cut flower farm just outside Pittsburgh.

Margie led us on a tour through the farm, including a stop at the Limelight Hydrangeas.

Margie led us on a tour through the farm, including a stop at the Limelight Hydrangeas.

I first met Margie virtually, when she contributed to the Slow Flowers campaign on Indiegogo earlier this year.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, she gave me an incredible gift by contributing flowers that two other Slowflowers.com friends Jimmy Lohr and Jonathan Weber of Green Sinner incorporated into a lovely floral arrangement for my Pittsburgh-based publisher St. Lynn’s Press. PS, Jimmy, Jonathan and Margie refused to take a penny from me either. These people are all so generous!

When I visited Pittsburgh in August, I had arranged to spend a morning at Green Sinner, touring the very cool urban cutting garden and floral studio that Jonathan and Jimmy own (you can hear our podcast interview here).

Here's that lovely Green Sinner arrangement featuring Goose Creek Gardens flowers, an Indiegogo "perk" for St. Lynn's Press offices in Pittsburgh.

Here’s that lovely Green Sinner arrangement featuring Goose Creek Gardens flowers, an Indiegogo “perk” for St. Lynn’s Press offices in Pittsburgh.

Those two cooked up a delightful surprise and arranged for Kate and Margie to make their Goose Creek Gardens “delivery” during my visit. It was a Thursday morning and while I knew I was about to be part of a weekend conference, a little voice in my head was saying: “You can’t leave Pittsburgh without making a visit to Goose Creek Gardens.”

And lo and behold, Jonathan and Sam Rose, who tends to the Green Sinner cutting garden, offered to pick me up and drive me out to Goose Creek Gardens for a weekend visit. We toured the farm, wandered down to the bottom of the property, along the paths, into the high tunnels and more, all the while chatting constantly about this beautiful bloom and that one.

Katie and Margie are super passionate about growing flowers. Flowers were once a secondary crop to Goose Creek’s main endeavor – growing veggies and herbs. For years, while Margie and her husband Mark, a landscaper, produced salad greens and other delicacies for Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, young Katie grew flowers.

The flower fields at Goose Creek Gardens.

The flower fields at Goose Creek Gardens.

The Geese of Goose Creek Gardens...livin' the good life!

The Geese of Goose Creek Gardens…livin’ the good life!

This year, things have changed, thanks to several issues: From pressure on farmers’ market food prices to seasonal flooding that affected some of Goose Creek’s fields, not to mention Kate’s lifelong obsession with growing cut flowers . . . all these incidents gave them several signs to move into flowers 100 percent of the time.

Katie is now a grownup – a young mom who works side-by-side with her parents running Goose Creek Gardens as a cut flower farm.

Katie and Margie shared photographs of some of their “Friday Night Romance” bouquets for you to enjoy. These are part of an ongoing series of bouquets that Katie creates at the end of each week, to share with her followers and other #farmerflorist friends on Facebook and Instagram. I think they are pretty darned romantic – and beautiful!

 

Friday Night Romance from September 26th

Friday Night Romance from September 26th

Friday Night Romance on denim.

Springtime Friday Night Romance on denim.

Friday Night Romance from July 25th

Friday Night Romance from July 25th

A lovely dahlia takes center stage.

A lovely dahlia takes center stage.

Intense hues add up to a gorgeous Friday Night Romance bouquet.

Intense hues add up to a gorgeous Friday Night Romance bouquet.

I hope you learn as much as I did by hearing this interview. And here’s how you can follow Goose Creek on other social platforms:

Goose Creek Gardens on Facebook

Goose Creek Gardens on Instagram

Up next week: a conversation with the inimitable Kelly Norris, who shares his passion – and genius – about a lesser-known category of his favorite flower: The miniature tall bearded iris. Kelly is the award-winning author of A Guide to Bearded Irises and I’m so excited to introduce him to you in a very lively conversation.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 21,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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