Debra Prinzing

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Episode 323: What’s New with the Certified American Grown Program and the Field to Vase Dinner Tour?

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

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

Does this look like a man who loves flower? Kasey Cronquist, Administrator of Certified American Grown labeling program.

Today we catch up with past guest of this Podcast, Kasey Cronquist of the Certified American Grown Program, which also produces the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its third year.

Full disclosure, as you heard at the top of this show, Certified American Grown is a Slow Flowers sponsor and in the past I’ve participated as both an unpaid industry volunteer and a paid communications consultant on various projects . . . dating back to the initial launch of Certified American Grown in 2014.

The updates I asked Kasey to share with us today are timely and newsworthy and I hope will bring you up to speed on this emerging program for labeling millions of stems of flowers and foliage grown in the U.S.

SAFs Floral Management magazine put the Field to Vase Dinner Tour on its cover as part of the Marketer of the Year Award announcement.

And there’s some exciting news about a recent major award that the Field to Vase Dinner Tour just received. The Society of American Florists named the Field to Vase Dinner Tour “Marketer of the Year” for 2017.

Kasey and I sat down to record this interview when we were both in attendance at the October 8th Field to Vase Dinner Tour held at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, the farm owned by farmer-florist Holly Chapple and her husband Evan Chapple. It was a beautiful event and you can read more here about her farm, the beautiful decor and the historic barn where we all gathered at trestle tables underneath three magnificent floral chandeliers.

Here are links to past interviews I have conducted with Kasey:

Episode 107 (Septmeber 18, 2013)

Epsiode 151 (July 23, 2014)

Episode 203 (July 22, 2015)

Episode 255 (July 20, 2016)

Episode 291 (April 5, 2017)

Click here to learn more about the Certified American Grown labeling program — including details on how your flower farm can get involved.

Thanks so much for joining us today! As Kasey and I discuss, the final Field to Vase Dinner of 2017 takes place this weekend, on November 18th at Fern Trust in Seville, Florida.

And soon, the lineup of venues will be announced for 2018. You can sign up here to receive announcements and more details about next year’s tour.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 253,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

 

Thank you to family of sponsors

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Episode 322: Garden Media Group’s annual Garden Trends Report with Suzi McCoy and Katie Dubow

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Suzi McCoy (left) and Katie Dubow (right) of the Garden Media Group, which releases the Garden Trends Report on an annual basis.

As many of you know, my journalistic background includes working as a home and garden writer for the past two decades.

During that journey, I invested many years — the past 15 in fact — in the Garden Writers Association, including two years serving as its president. Many of my closest professional and personal friendships come from time spent serving on committees, as regional and national director and then, as an officer and member of GWA’s leadership.

And even though writing about flower farming and floral design has occupied my professional energy during the past nearly 10 years, I still consider myself a Garden Writer. After all, flowers are certainly an extension of the garden, right?

Today I am delighted to introduce two longtime professional friends who I originally met through GWA. They are Suzi McCoy and Katie Dubow of Garden Media Group.

Based outside Philadelphia, Garden Media Group was one of the very first marketing and communications firms to position itself in the “green” category. For many years, Garden Media Group has released an annual Garden Trends Report, which has become a must-have reference for writers, practitioners and companies in the gardening industry.

A snapshot of the 2018 Trends recently released by Garden Media Group

I love reading this report and to be honest, it has served as a template for my much younger Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecast, which I started compiling annually four years ago.

Suzie and Katie agreed to talk with me about the Garden Trends Report for 2018 and share their graphics. Click the link to download your own PDF copy of the report.

Here are a few slides of the “trends” we discuss on today’s episode:

Find Garden Media Group on Facebook

Follow Garden Media Group on Twitter

See Garden Media Group on Pinterest

Watch Garden Media Group on Instagram

READ MORE…

Episode 321: My lovely conversation with Robbie Honey + Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock recap and Syndicate Sales’ product launch

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Robbie Honey at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

We all have our flower crushes and those we admire from afar, never expecting to actually meet. So the chance to not only meet and spend time with Robbie Honey, world floral traveler, proud son of Zimbabwe, curious accidental botanist and amazing designer . . . well, it was a certainly a highlight of 2017!

The artist at work ~

Robbie and I met at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock, the two-day design and creativity fest held for the second year at Hope Flower Farm, the historic compound she owns with husband Evan Chapple – in Waterford, Virginia, not to far from the nation’s capitol.

Holly and Robbie have collaborated on many occasions as instructors, but this was my first experience seeing Robbie up close and personal. Prior to this, my knowledge of him has been mostly by watching his Instagram feed.

Robbie is the creative director at the design company bearing his name Robbie Honey, based in London.

Now and Then, Robbie Honey today and as a young boy in the flower fields of Zimbabwe

Robbie Honey has been immersed in botanical pursuits since he was a young boy roaming the wild grasslands of Zimbabwe. These adventures developed his already keen visual and olfactory senses and instilled in him a lifelong fascination with flowers and their scents.

By the age of seventeen, he was studying horticulture and went on to work in the floriculture trade in Holland and Kenya. Honing his creative sensibilities further, he studied interior design and photography at art school in Cape Town. Moving to London he trained with floral designer Ming Veevers Carter and gained a thorough grounding in event floristry. Incidentally, we posted a story about Ming’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Gold Medal design for New Covent Garden Flower Market earlier this year. Check it out here.

Robbie’s floral installation for Christian Dior Parfum, London

One of Robbie’s installtions for Hermes, London

17,000 Carnations in an ombre pattern for Mary Katrantzou’s London Fashion Week runway show, designed by Robbie Honey

Setting out on his own at twenty-five, Hermès was his first fashion client, followed by Dior and Armani, establishing Robbie Honey as an in-demand florist within the fashion industry.

With this rare combination of expertise: in botany, floristry and the visual arts, he started lecturing around the world on floristry and writing for the Wall Street Journal.

I love this tablescape with all four of the Robbie Honey candles and the fragrant white flowers that evoke their scents.

Candle fragrances in the Robbie Honey candle collection — lily of the valley, Casablanca lily, jasmine and tuberose.

Robbie Honey’s first range of scented candles is inspired by individual white flowers, the scents of which have long beguiled him.

Robbie at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

It was a delight to not only learn more about what inspires and motivates this talented human as an artist, but a joy to watch him design with American-grown flowers, including many grown at Hope Farm and donated by others, including Harmony Harvest Farm, both Slowflowers.com members — as well as to play with branches and blooms that Robbie foraged with fellow instructors Ariella Chezar and Holly herself.

READ MORE…

Episode 319: Connecticut artist-florist Michael Russo of Trout Lily Farm

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Several current and prospective Slow Flowers members in Connecticut joined me at Trout Lily Farm in early October — what a wonderful Meet-Up at an inspiring place!

Slow Flowers comes to Trout Lily Farm (floral arrangement by Michael Russo)

A charming roadside sign hangs from Trout Lily Farm’s vintage boathouse-turned-farmstand.

Whenever I travel, even for pleasure, I’m likely to add three things to my itinerary:

First, I visit Slow Flowers’ members to see their places of business — flower farms, floral studios and retail florists locations.

Next, I team up with one or more of those generous folks to schedule a Slow Flowers meet-up.

And third, I turn on the digital recorder to interview at least one of these folks for a Slow Flowers Podcast episode.

Yes, I do travel quite a bit, the “non-slowness” of which is a bit ironic, as my friends and family have pointed out.

But I’m so passionate about getting out “on-location,” so to speak, to capture your stories.

Sharing the stories of American flowers and the people who grow and design with them is at the heart of the Slow Flowers mission.

Last month, you benefitted from my interviews in Montana. This month, it’s Connecticut and Virginia. Next month, it will be Massachusetts and Arizona. And then, maybe I’ll stay home for the holidays!

Michael Russo and Raymond Lennox, owners of Trout Lily Farm, led a walking tour for our autumn Slow Flowers Meet-Up

Michael leads us through the gourd tunnel, where heirloom and decorative varieties are trained along a metal structure.

What a beautiful spot!

So enough of that. Let me introduce you to Michael Russo, a farmer-florist and gifted artist who co-owns Trout Lily Farm in Guilford, Connecticut. He and his husband, Raymond Lennox, who works in the health care industry when he’s not co-farming, purchased Trout Lily about 13 years ago. The farm is located on picturesque Lake Quonnipaug in North Guilford, where Michael and Raymond grow and sell organic edibles and seasonal cut flowers for the table, weddings and events.

Sunset behind the hill, which created a beautiful back-lit moment.

I’ve been wanting to visit Trout Lily Farm ever since I first met Michael in the fall of 2014 at a floral design workshop I taught in Rhode Island at the wonderful estate home and garden called Blithewold Mansion.

Ellen Hoverkamp, lifelong artist-friend of Michael’s, facilitated our transportation and I’m so happy to have reconnected with her!

My friend Ellen Hoverkamp of My Neighbor’s Garden, an botanical artist and photographer who is a previous guest of this podcast, came from her home in New Haven, Connecticut and brought Michael along. I was so enchanted with their long friendship dating back to high school and college, as artists and former public school art teachers, both of whom both took early retirements to pursue new creative ventures.

READ MORE…

Episode 317: Flower farmers shift into retail floristry – update from Floriography Flowers in Albuquerque, NM

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Farmer-Florist-Retailer Emily Calhoun of Floriography Flowers in Albuquerque

Today you will hear from Emily Calhoun of Floriography Floral based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an early Slow Flowers member whose news we’re sharing with you today.

In my 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, released at the beginning of this year, I noted Shift #3 — “Return of Brick and Mortar.” I wrote: “There’s a lot of flower power going on as independent and progressive florists are signing leases and opening retail spaces in the same markets that have witnessed mainstream mom-and-pop floral storefronts being shuttered.”

A few inside views of the Floriography Flowers space — note the “Luxe Floristry” tagline — all images from Spur Line’s Instagram feed.

This insight continues to play out with reports of flower shops around the country hitting my radar.

The newest twist on this story isn’t just florists setting up retail spaces, but also FLOWER FARMERS adding brick and mortar to the mix.

This is intriguing and recently, when I learned that the owners of flower farms that featured on the Slow Flowers Podcast in the past are opening their retail ventures in their markets, I wanted to hear more.

This is a continuing story. Since we recorded this show, I’ve learned of others who fall into the flower farmer-turned-floral retailer narrative.

I’ll be reporting on this shift in our 2018 Floral Insights report, which will be released in Episode 330 on January 3, 2018. Not to get ahead of myself, but please reach out if you have any suggestions to share on that front!

I’m eager to bring you my recent conversation with Emily Calhoun of Floriography, NM. Nearly three years ago, I traveled to New Mexico to meet my friend Paula Panich for a writing retreat in Santa Fe. I knew I would have to fly into Albuquerque so I reached out to our lone New Mexico Slow Flowers member, and asked her if we could have dinner together and record a report for this podcast while I was “passing through.”  It all worked according to plan and you’ll want to go back and listen to that conversation, Episode 176, aired in January 2015.

Flowers from an autumn 2016 Floriography wedding.

A lot has happened since then and as Floriography has evolved and changed, Emily has been at the center of a mini-explosion in cut flower farming in the state of New Mexico. We now have four Slowflowers members in the state and I’ve promised them I’ll visit sometime in the coming year to document more of what’s happening there. Let’s learn more from Emily and the new Floriography retail space at Spur Line Supply Co. in Albuquerque, which she calls her “shopette.”

As Emily mentions, she loves adding edibles to her floral designs.

And here’s an introduction from the “about” page at the Floriography Floral web site:

We began this beautiful journey in 2011 with some canning jars and a tiny piece of dirt in between pecan orchards. From this tiny parcel and with cuttings from the yards of friends and neighbors, Floriography began selling flower bouquets at small farmer’s markets and through weekly seasonal subscriptions to businesses in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM. Customers and subscribers loved Emily’s (Floriography’s founder) designs so much that wedding inquiries started rolling in.  

What started out as a dream to make local flowers accessible to our little community has since blossomed into a thriving event design business that reaches across state lines.

Floriography’s designs and farm flowers have been internationally published in wedding and style bogs and in print via Martha Stewart Weddings and Rocky Mountain Bride. Our team travels across the country designing for high-end weddings and events. We are based in Albuquerque, New Mexico but seriously delight in travel!  

Coming up, By the time you hear this, I’ll be heading to the east coast where you can find me first at the October 7th Slow Flowers Connecticut Meet-up hosted by Michael Russo of Trout Lily Farm in Guilford. There’s still time to join us, so check out debraprinzing.com in the Events calendar for details — or find them in today’s show notes.

I’m continuing on immediately after my time in New England to Holly and Evan Chapple’s Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia,  where I’ll be a guest at the Field to Vase Dinner they’re hosting on Sunday, and then I’ll join Holly and several amazing instructors at the second FLOWERSTOCK, taking place Monday, October 9th and Tuesday, October 10th. I can’t wait to lead a series of creative writing exercises for the participants — and it’s not too late to register.

Holly is offering a special $200 discount for the Slow Flowers community. Use this promocode for a discount off of the one-day or two-day registration: FSSLOWFLOWER. This discount can also be used for Flowerstock’s “#treattheteam” offer to buy 2 tickets get the 3rd for free. Get in touch with me or write flowers@hollychappleflowers.com to request the promo code for the free ticket if you bring a third member of your staff or team.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 239,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:
Betty Dear; On Our Own Again
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Slow Flowers, Montana Style

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Our lovely gathering of Slow Flowers aficionados, pictured at Hart’s Garden & Nursery in Missoula.

Earlier this month, I flew to Missoula, a Western Montana, college town where there is quite a bit happening on the local flower farming scene. t was on my way to speak at the Rocky Mountain Gardening Live conference held on September 11-12 at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana, just 30 minutes outside the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Kathy Sherba, Carly Jenkins and Kristen Tack — all cohorts in Missoula’s Westside Flower Market

Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm, with me (right)

A giant sunflower puts a smile on my face, snapped during my tour of Mighty Fine Farm.

The reason for this Seattle-to-Missoula leg of my trip was to meet up with Carly Jenkins and Jamie Rogers of Killing Frost Farm, Kathy and Adam Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm and George and Marcia Hart of Hart’s Garden & Nursery — all in the Missoula flower farming and Slow Flowers community.

Carly and I met in person earlier this year when she attended Tobey Nelson’s Whidbey Island Flower Workshop, which featured Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events and Kaleb Willis of Kaleb Norman James Design. Carly, or CJ, as she’s often called, gave me the big news about the second-season launch of Westside Flower Market, a wholesale farmer-to-florist venture that she and Kathy incubated beginning last summer in Missoula garage owned by Carly and Jamie. You can hear our Slow Flowers Podcast interview from that visit here.

Great recent coverage on local & slow flowers in The Missoula Independent.

This year, six additional flower farmers have joined the momentum and they are doing some really awesome things. Read more about the Slow Flowers Missoula story in this excellent piece that just ran in The Missoula Independent.

George and Marcia graciously hosted a barbecue, farm tour and meet-up at their property.

And while I didn’t count totals, I bet we had about 30 folks in attendance,  including some who drove up to 4 hours from places like Kalispell to join us!

From left: Special guest Rep. Willis Curdy, George Hart & Marcia Hart, flower farmers and hosts.

I was delighted to introduce the Slow Flowers Movement to all those who attended, including Montana Rep. Willis Curdy, member of the agriculture committee for the state legislature, who just wanted to learn more about flower farming in his district — very cool!

A quartet of fabulous flower farmers: Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm, Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and Kathy Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm. Photographed at Mighty Fine Farm in Missoula.

We also had some very special guests in attendance — Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho! Jeriann and Ralph are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast, which we recorded last year upon the publication of their fabulous book, Deadhead: The Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers.

A last-minute flower farmers’ vaycay (thanks to an invitation from Carly), their 350-mile road trip . . .  and we were blessed with Jeriann and Ralph’s generous souls, playful personalities and amazing wisdom. People soaked up every word they had to say. Southeastern Idaho’s growing conditions are similar enough to those of Western Montana’s that our crowed wanted to hear every word — and wanted to buy signed copies of Deadhead!

Ralph and Jeriann shared their story and their flower farming wisdom at our Meet Up. Photographed at the beautiful grounds of Hart’s Garden & Nursery, Missoula

High tunnels filled with late summer dahlias at Hart’s Garden & Nursery.

An unnamed dahlia at Hart’s Garden & Nursery. The brilliance offset the smoky skies caused by Western Montana’s forest fires.

That night, Carly, Kathy, Ralph, Jeriann  and I stayed up late, talking and visiting under the Montana moon. It has been a rough few months there, with the rampant wildfires, so we all were delighted that the breezes cleared the skies for one beautiful evening. A very special thank you to Adam Sherba’s parents for lending us use of their fabulous Missoula home. Jeriann, Ralph and I stayed there in great Montana luxury. In the morning, I watched deer and wild turkeys roaming through the hillside below the home.

Chico Hot Springs, a favorite of everyone in Montana.

I drove from Missoula to Pray (about 250 miles east) on Sunday, September 10th, arriving before dinnertime to check into Chico Hot Springs. CHS is a very special place — historic for its dude ranch vibe, its restorative 104-degree soaking pools fed by the springs and its adjacency to Yellowstone. The original lodge, where I stayed, dates to 1900, but the first recorded reference to the Hot Springs goes back to 1865. This is a place for kicking back and relaxing, which I did lots of. But now that there is a Conference Center to host corporate events, people come for multiple reasons.

All local flowers from Bozeman floral designer Remy Greco-Brault, owner of Labellum. Remy taught a pin-on floral workshop after my lecture.

Rocky Mountain Gardening LIVE, with dahlias grown by #kangaroohousegardens in Hamilton, Montana

I was there as guest of Dan and Andra Spurr, editor and publisher of Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine.

This wonderful quarterly magazine is for gardeners throughout the Rocky Mountains, encompassing stories and subscribers from the Canadian-US border down to Colorado and includes Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

I was delighted to speak about Slow Flowers and share the story of what’s happening in Montana and beyond to an audience of more than 80 attendees.

Several flower farmers and florists were there, which made me feel welcome and allowed me to brag about their achievements — including Cindy Hanson of The Herb And Garden in Helena, a Slow Flowers member who I recently featured in Florists’ Review/Slow Flowers Journal.

After my time at Chico Hot Springs, I left knowing that even more folks are supportive of our movement, our cause, and our purpose. I met florists who promised to join and list their businesses on Slowflowers.com and I made lifelong friends with Dan and Andra, who couldn’t have been more generous in their hospitality.

A final bonus — spending two days with my siblings, Scott Prinzing and his wife Kristen Rickels Prinzing. They live in Billings and have both contributed to Rocky Mountain Gardening in the past, with articles (Kris) and photography (Scott). As a very special treat, they agreed to record the upcoming holiday special music episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — listen for that Episode 328 on December 20th. I have no musical talent, but it’s nice to have siblings who do!

Episode 311: The Bloom Project’s Heidi Berkman and the healing influence of flowers

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Through flower donations from farms and wholesalers, and through tens of thousands of volunteer hours, The Bloom Project brings flowers into the lives of people in hospice and end-of-life care.

The phrase “flowers feed the soul” is one you often hear, on greeting cards, on hand-painted signs, in all sorts of sentiments.

And in the opinion of today’s guest, flowers not only feed the soul and spirit, they play an important nurturing role in health care. My guest today, Heidi Berkman, is the founder and president of The Bloom Project. Based in Portland, Oregon, The Bloom Project has been giving the gift of fresh floral bouquets to hospice and palliative care patients since 2007. 

I’m posing with Heidi Berkman (left), who runs The Bloom Project, driven by the mission to harness the healing power of flowers. We gathered earlier this week for a  “Seattle Whirlwind” auction package to which Slow Flowers donated a workshop at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Heidi reached out to me to introduce herself several years ago, and then, through our mutual friend Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers, I really got to spend time with Heidi, both talking about the floral business, but also doing fun things like when all three of us traveled to Detroit last October at Lisa Waud’s invitation to speak at Detroit Flower Week.

Volunteers make hundreds of bouquets each week for delivery to hospice caregivers. (c) Byron Roe Photography

The first time Heidi and I actually met in person was April of 2016, when I was in Portland to speak at the Portland Garden Club’s annual flower show. Heidi put together a tour and reception for me to learn more about The Bloom Project, and to meet key board members and volunteers, as well as to see the beautiful workshop and studio headquartered at Teufel Holly Farm, just west of Portland. Donated by Larry Teufel, flower farmer and nurseryman, the space is akin to what you’d see at any large production facility, with tall work tables, great light, and plenty of cooler space for the flowers. Pretty impressive to see where The Bloom Project’s volunteers receive and processes donated stems of flowers and foliage, as well as where the gift bouquets are created, packaged and prepared for delivery to the ultimate recipient.

Heidi and I have been talking about when would be an ideal time to feature The Bloom Project on the Slow Flowers Podcast and with our mutual travel schedules, we waited until now. This week, I’ll be hosting a fun event as a Slow Flowers donation to The Bloom Project. At the annual Bouquets of the Heart auction that benefits the organization, I joined Larry Teufel in donating a “Seattle Whirlwind” day-of-flowers package for five guests.

Larry Teufel (left, with me) flew the auction package winners and their guests to Seattle (from Portland), on his beautifully-restored classic aircraft.

This week, Larry, who pilots his own plane, flew the winning bidder and a few of her friends to Seattle . . . I hosted them on a tour of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, which gave me a chance to talk about the mission of Slow Flowers and the importance of supporting local, seasonal and sustainable flowers, and the people who grow and design with them.

Debbi, Susan, Debra (me), Leianne and Susan — showing off our bouquets in Seattle as part of the auction package benefitting The Bloom Project.

We had a short design session and everyone left holding a bouquet with a story. I think that story — the story of showing compassion through flowers — is what The Bloom Project is all about — and Heidi is a powerful communicator for her cause and mission.

Before we get started, let me tell you a little more about The Bloom Project.

The project started in Heidi’s Central Oregon garage, beginning with a few flowers and a few volunteers who wanted to create something special — bringing beauty and joy to those in end-of-life care. Many, including Heidi, had experienced the loss of a loved one in hospice care, and recognized that they could make use of resources (flowers) that would otherwise be tossed out.

Photos (c) Byron Roe Photography

Over the last decade, The Bloom Project has continued to grow and support hospice and palliative care agencies across the state of Oregon, with the Portland Metro area as its base. Volunteer teams have flourished, supporting the organization’s goal of serving additional patients and families.

Donated workspaces, supplies and equipment, provide a wonderful place for volunteers to come together to create hundreds of beautiful bouquets each week. The Bloom Project relies on a committed group of floral and community partners who support its efforts and mission.

Heidi has twenty-five years of meeting and event planning experience with a strong background in retail marketing and extensive nonprofit experience. Her deep appreciation for the work of hospice comes from the personal experience of watching a loved one being cared for.

She has always enjoyed working with flowers and says she is grateful to be able to create bouquets with donated flowers that can provide encouragement to others instead of being discarded. Heidi’s passion for The Bloom Project has motivated her to share the story and spread the word about the power of flowers.

The Bloom Project’s Bouqets of the Heart event takes place on October 27, 2018, in Portland.

Her vision for the organization is to continue to network people and resources in communities where hospice and palliative care organizations are serving patients and their families during end-of-life care. This simple act of kindness can be given by gathering a team of committed volunteers, sourcing flowers and supplies, establishing a workspace and obtaining the support of the surrounding community to provide in-kind products and services along with financial contributions to support the growth and impact of the organization.

Details on The Bloom Project’s Bouquets of the Heart event, October 27th, in Portland. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Thanks again for joining me today. My take-way from this conversation with Heidi is that we shouldn’t ever discount the impact that flowers have in the lives of our community, team members, customers, and clients. These are more than luxury goods, more than perishable indulgences. A flower contains the expression of life and beauty — and can touch the heart and the senses where words may not be adequate.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 225,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:

LaBranche
by Blue Dot Sessions
 
Wholesome 5
by Dave Depper
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 308: Kelly Shore’s Unforgettable Year and what happens when one floral designer embraces a local, American-grown sourcing philosophy

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Kelly Shore, framed by Alaska peonies grown by Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska

Fun times in the 49th State and the Land of Peonies, with my Slow Flowers sister, Kelly Shore

Earlier this week, I returned home from five glorious days spent in Homer, Alaska, which has become one of my favorite places in the world. It was my fourth trip to Alaska in five years and my third to Homer, where peony farmers and Slow Flowers members Beth Van Sandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies offered me the most generous hospitality and friendship.

Alaskan Grown, our hosts: Beth Van Sandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

If you haven’t met this flower farm, here are two podcast episodes from our archives worth listening to:
Episode 282: News from the Alaska Peony Growers Association, including a conversation with Beth Van Sandt
Episode 154: Debra and Christina’s Alaska Peony Adventure, including Christina Stembel and Beth Van Sandt

Peonies and Glaciers = Homer, Alaska Beauty that inspires today’s guest, Kelly Shore

I was surrounded by flowers — not just peonies, which of course, steal the show, but all sorts of naturally and cultivated beauty in their high tunnels and the gardens around their home, as well as along the fields’ edges.

That beauty also lured today’s guest to Scenic Place Peonies and I couldn’t pass up a chance to record this interview with Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore, based in Olney, Maryland.

A sneak peek at the setting where last weekend’s peony-filled F2V dinner took place

The abundant fields at Scenic Place Peonies

As the featured floral designer for last weekend’s Field to Vase Dinner, produced by the Certified American Grown program, to which Scenic Place Peonies belongs, Kelly Shore brought passion, sensitivity, respect and love to everything she touched. The tablescapes incorporated both peonies and other foraged and cultivated botanicals — all from Scenic Place Peonies. And beyond that, Kelly shared Beth’s vision that the table designs reflect a sense of place, of Homer itself, of the fishing culture there, and of the rugged beauty of the state of Alaska.

Kelly Shore, on site in Washington, D.C., this past May, as part of the lead team of designers who created the First Lady’s Luncheon florals.

Here’s a little more about Kelly. Much of this introduction is excerpted from the January 2017 article I wrote for Florists’ Review magazine, which accompanied an extensive gallery of photography, called “Four Seasons of Floral Design.”

Kelly Shore began shopping at the local farmers’ market in her community several years ago. She was enchanted by the unique, fresh, just-picked flowers on offer and struck up friendships with the vendors, becoming a regular customer at the Olney Farmers & Artists Market, located in Olney, Maryland.

Having begun her career at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus flower shop in 2000, Kelly later worked in retail and freelanced as a wedding and event floral designer, while her boyfriend (now husband, Joe Shore) was deployed in Iraq.

Kelly and Joe moved to the Washington, DC area in 2010, where she expected to put her Education M.A. to work as a teacher. But classroom positions were hard to find, so she returned to floristry, not realizing it would become her lifelong profession.

Through friendships with other florists, she networked, studied and expanded her wedding and event floral design business, Petals by the Shore.

Petals by the Shore serves wedding clients in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania, a densely-populated area where, Kelly says, “everybody seems to come back to when they get married.”

Kelly and I met briefly in 2014 when I spoke at the Chapel Designers’ New York Conference, but our friendship and mutual admiration has been cemented in 2017, thanks to the many ways our work has overlapped.

Kelly, Christy and Margaret formed the lead design team for the 2017 First Lady’s Luncheon. (c) Susie and Becky Photography

Some of the First Lady’s Luncheon florals created by Kelly and the team.

A few months after we collaborated on the Florists’ Review article, I was asked to recommend a floral designer to take the lead on the First Lady’s Luncheon, a time-honored, nonpartisan event that is presented by the Congressional Club. 2017 was to be the second time that Certified American Grown flowers were donated and designed for this luncheon and I immediately thought of Kelly as a candidate for the role. She joined the project and collaborated with Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals, and Christy Hulsey of Colonial House of Flowers, two other Slow Flowers members who’ve designed for past Certified American Grown events.

This is one of my fav pics of Kelly, snapped while she wasn’t looking — and while she was Instagramming a peony that caught her fancy at neighboring peony farm, Chilly Root

I have to say, I think Kelly felt like it couldn’t get any better than being part of the featured design team at the First Lady’s Luncheon . . . and then she was invited to take on the peony-themed decor for the Field to Vase Dinner in Homer last weekend.

What a year she’s had and I think you’ll be inspired by her story, her commitment to working with flower farmers whenever she can, and her vision for changing how wedding and event flowers are sourced and used.

Thanks again for joining me today and sharing in Kelly’s enthusiasm about American grown flowers — from Maryland to Alaska and everywhere between.

Here’s how to find and connect with Kelly Shore:

Petals by the Shore on Facebook

Petals by the Shore on Instagram

Petals by the Shore on Twitter

Petals by the Shore on Pinterest

Here’s how to find and connect with Scenic Place Peonies

Scenic Place on Facebook

Scenic Place on Instagram

I invite you to share your story, too — I’d love to hear it! You can find more stories about floral designers and farmer-florists in the inaugural issue of the Slow Flowers Journal — print edition — out now in the August issue of Florists’ Review.

Look for the August issue at Floral Supply Syndicate and your local wholesale florist, or take advantage of the special subscription offer that Florists’ Review has shared — 12 issues for $21 (which is 62% off the cover price) and I promise you that you’ll find inside each Slow Flowers Journal, our mini-magazine, the stories, news and resources important to you.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 217,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors for 2017:

Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Slow Flowers Summit Recap and Review

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

It’s hard to believe that one month ago, nearly 100 of us gathered together in Seattle for the first Slow Flowers Summit. Before too much time passes, I want to personally thank you everyone who attended and invested their time and presence in sharing this incredible experience with me and others in the Slow Flowers Movement!

Here are a few of the Raves we’ve received to date:

The Slow Flowers Summit was a great platform for discussing important issues, the most important for me being diversity and inclusivity in the business. . . a fantastic event with something for everyone that didn’t shrink from the more challenging issues facing us.

The Slow Flowers Summit was hugely inspiring to me as a grower and an entrepreneur. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded people who are successfully uniting their passion for flowers with a vision for a better world.

The Summit offered a day of inspiration and conversations. Being in the presence of other men and women who are passionate about their craft and the world behind the flowers was inspiring and uplifting. The value of the people that I met, the conversations that we united around, and the ideas that I left with made the day invaluable. I hope to be back year after year.

My participation in the Summit has sparked new ideas regarding how I grow my business. I’m inspired to think bigger and connect with a larger audience of like-minded flower people.

Thank you to our presenters for their intelligence, ideas and wisdom:

Above, from left: James Baggett, Riz Reyes, Nicole Cordier Wahlquist, Chantal Aida Gordon, Emily Ellen Anderson, Teresa Sabankaya, Amy Stewart, Debra Prinzing, Lisa Waud and Leslie Bennett

Who attended? Here’s a breakdown of how attendees identified themselves* in our post-Summit survey:
Florist/Floral Designer: 50 percent
Flower Farmer/Farmer-Florist: 27 percent
Educator: 14 percent
Media: 10 percent
Flower Gardener/Floral Enthusiast: 10 percent
Other categories: Wholesale floral managers, horticulturists, online floral retailer
*respondents were allowed to choose more than one category

We asked: “Was the Summit content relevant to you and your business?” Attendees ranked this answer 4.22 out of 5.0 
We asked: “What elements of the Summit were valuable to you? Attendees ranked these choices as follows:
1. Connecting with other Attendees
2. Connecting with Speakers
3. Learning about new Resources & Skills
4. Playing with Flowers (Flower Wall and Flowers on Your Head)

Panelists, from left: Chantal Aida Gordon of thehorticult.com blog; Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens; Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture; and Nicole Cordier Wahlquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii

Our Master of Ceremonies, James Baggett of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative

Keynote speaker Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential and many other bestselling titles.

Lisa Waud of pot & box, Flower House Detroit and Detroit Flower Week

Enjoy our PICTURES!! Summit photos are here for your enjoyment and use. Follow this link to see/download.
Please credit (c) Hannah Brenlan and Luke Holtgeerts and use these hashtags: #slowflowersummit #americanflowersweek when you use any of these images. Thank you!

READ THIS. #SlowFlowerSummit 2017 is a HIT!
I loved reading one attendee’s thoughtful response with her takeaways from the Summit. Kit Wertz of Los Angeles-based Flower Duet wrote an extensive review in her July newsletter. You’ll want to subscribe to her newsletter! Thanks, Kit!

I can’t close without thanking all of our Sponsors and Volunteers.

I especially want to thank Stephanie Downes of Vanita Floral, @vanitafloral, our Event Manager Extraordinaire, and Niesha Blancas @nieshamonay, our Social Media Maven, from Poppy Social Media.

Seriously. Could. Not. Have. Done. The. Summit. Without. Them. xoxo

Our Audio/Visual Team was the best! Thank you to Hannah and Andrew Brenlan and the Brothers Holtgeerts (Henry and Luke).

A few of the many flowered and beautiful heads, thanks to Mud Baron for Flowers on Your Head

Thanks to Mud Baron of Muir Ranch for adding a festive, Instagram-worthy “flowers on your head” element to the day!

I’ve received personal notes from so many of you — and I promise to write back as time allows. I hope to announce a save-the-date for our 2018 Summit — on the East Coast — very soon.

Until then, continue to Inquire, Inform, Include, Instigate and Inspire!

Episode 289: Redefining “Harvest” with designers and authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Alethea Harampolis (L), Stefani Bittner (R) – photo by David Fenton

One of the best things about being a veteran garden writer are the friendships I’ve forged over the years with my peers.

Today’s guests are definitely in that category of favorite professional friends who have become so much more than mere acquantances.

I really value my time with them, although sadly, it’s rare. Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis are partners in Homestead Design Collective, a Bay Area-based landscape design firm.

Stefani is the coauthor with Leslie Bennett of The Beautiful Edible Garden and Alethea is cofounder of Studio Choo, with Jill Rizzo, her coauthor for The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book. Alethea and Jill are past guests of this podcast, and you can find that episode here.

Since these creatives teamed up to form Homestead Design Collective, they have focused their business on landscapes that are useful and most important, can be harvested year round.

The title of their new book, HARVEST, says it all. I’m so honored that they asked me to write the foreword. In those few hundred words that appear in the opening pages of Harvest, I wrote this:

I once believed that clipping branches and blooms to bring indoors was akin to denuding my garden. But about ten years ago, I began to interview America’s flower farmers and their customers: floral designers devoted to and creatively fueled by domestic and local botanicals.  Mesmerized by their uncommon floral crops, I began to regard the incredible beauty of my own backyard for all of its potential. That meant enjoying not just the small quantity of food (berries, herbs and vegetables) that my kitchen garden produced, but appreciating its abundance by displaying garden greenery and flowers in my vases.

This new-old philosophy of living with my garden’s generous harvest is best learned from true practitioners, such as Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective. These women are also proponents of good design, and they adhere to the guiding philosophy of choosing plants at once both ornamental and useful. Although not farms by any means, our urban and suburban backyards should be used in their entirety, say Stefani and Alethea. The culinary world has its own “nose to tail” way of eating; HARVEST, the book you hold in your hands, introduces the gardener’s version of that idea: call it a “fruit-to-root” way of growing, with an appreciation for all parts of the plant, from the first tender shoots in spring to the pods and hips of late fall.

I’ve learned so much from these two pioneers. Stefani is a role model for landscape designers, inspiring her harvest-minded clients to turn their once-unproductive yards into prolific (and lovely) sources of edible bounty. Alethea is a role model among the farmer-florist crowd, blending edibles with ornamentals; aromatics with the wild-foraged; house plants with weeds — all to create dramatic, moody, seasonal florals for everyday decor and magnificent occasions.

In HARVEST, they celebrate the Slow Food movement on a highly personal scale, integrated with a Slow Flowers ethos. When edibles meet botanicals, we live intentionally with plants throughout the seasons. And when you embrace this practice, you will be richly reward by your garden.

Lilac Flower Cream

LILAC FLOWER CREAM

An ancient French technique, enfleurage is the process of extracting a flower’s perfume into odorless animal or vegetable fat. The process used here is a simple method that will capture the fragrance of spring in a jar. The cream can be used directly on your skin or to flavor favorite sweet dishes. It is best to use the lilac’s tiny blooms straight from the shrub, picking them in the morning when they are the most fragrant.

MAKES TWO 16-OUNCE JARS

32 ounces extra-virgin coconut oil

10 cups lilac blooms picked from the heads in 2 cup increments as needed

Pick 2 cups of lilac blooms. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat until it is completely liquefied. Pour the liquid into a 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish and allow it to harden. After the oil has hardened, score it with a butter knife. This will help the scent of the flowers penetrate it more deeply. Layer the tiny lilac blooms onto the oil, covering it with 2 inches (5 cm) of blooms. Place a second 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish upside down atop of the first one. Use electrical tape to seal the two dish edges tightly, and place the dishes in a dark area.

After 48 hours, remove the tape seal and discard the spent blooms. Pick another 2 cups of lilacs, add another 2 inches (5 cm) of flower blooms to the oil, and seal again for another 48 hours. Repeat this process three more times, for a total of five cycles with fresh blooms each time.

Scrape up the oil from the casserole dish, place it into two 16-ounce jars, and seal the lids. Store in a cool, dark place; the flower cream will keep for up to 3 years.

Midseason Herb Salad, from HARVEST

Stef and Alethea maintain that every garden—not just vegetable plots—can produce a bountiful harvest. In their beautifully photographed guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected plants, readers will discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit.

Learn how to turn tumeric root into a natural dye and calamintha into lip balm.

Make anise hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn apricots into a facial mask.

Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible chrysanthemum to liven up a salad.

This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects–organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, cocktails, beauty products, and more–using unexpected and often common garden plants, some of which may already be growing in the backyard.

With the remarkable, multi-purpose plants in Harvest, there is always something for gardeners to harvest from one growing season to the next.

Please enjoy this conversation with my two friends as we discuss their design philosophy and their collaboration on Harvest.

Stefani and Aleathea were recently featured speakers at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle and I was able to corner them in a hotel lobby to record this interview.

You can also enter to win the book — thanks to the generosity of Ten Speed Press, publisher of Harvest, we have two copies to give away in a drawing.

To enter, you must post a comment about your most useful garden plant in the comment section below. We’ll draw the winners on March 29th and announce them the following week.

Artichoke arrangement from Harvest

Instructions for the Artichoke Arrangement:

Artichokes are a favorite edible, but few know that their layers of prickly leaves can also be used to create a beautiful focal point in a mixed garden bouquet. Bring inside in a few cuttings from the garden to make a stylish and simple composition.

2 large artichoke heads, stems and leaves attached

1 or 2 stems with several small artichokes attached

5 to 8 stems wild carrot flowers (Daucus carota), 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

2 nasturtium vines with flowers, each 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

Fill a large crock or vase with clean, cold water. Remove any damaged leaves from the stems or leaves that would fall below the water line. Add the large artichoke heads in the front of the crock, with one head resting slightly higher than the other. This creates a focal point and showcases the gorgeous multilayered leaves.

Add in the smaller artichoke stems to the back and left sides of the crock. These heads should sit taller than the larger heads. They add height to the arrangement and create an asymmetrical look. Add in some of the wild carrot stems to fill in the space between the larger and smaller artichokes. These stems should be slightly taller than the small artichoke stems. Place the remaining carrot stems on the back right side of the crock to complement the wild carrot on the left and provide an airy backdrop to the arrangement.

Add the longest nasturtium vine to the front side of the crock, to the left of the large artichokes, so that it drapes over the side of the crock. This creates movement and softens the edge of the vessel. Use the other nasturtium vine to fill any gaps. Make sure that the flower heads are turned to be visible from the front of the arrangement.

Lemongrass Salt Scrub

Instructions for LEMONGRASS SALT SCRUB

Lemongrass has antibacterial, antioxidant, and other therapeutic properties. After a hard day working in the garden, we appreciate lemongrass as a remedy for our aches and pains. Use this salt scrub on your hands daily or on sore muscles once a week while taking a deep soak in the tub. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to use the salt scrub only on your hands or substitute brown sugar for the salt as a milder alternative.

MAKES ABOUT 1½ CUPS

1 or 2 fresh stalks lemongrass

1 cup sea salt

½ cup almond or olive oil

Finely chop the lemongrass by hand or in a food processor. Combine the chopped lemongrass, salt, and oil in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon—or even better, use your hands. The texture should be moist enough to hold together but not overly oily. (If it does get too oily, add a pinch more salt.) Scoop the scrub into a 12-to 16-ounce jar and seal with a lid. Use within 2 weeks.

To use, simply spoon a small amount into your hands, gently rub it in, and then rinse your hands with warm water.

Marigold Bitters

Instructions for Marigold Bitters (AMARO)

Amaro is an Italian herb-infused bitter liqueur, originally used as an after-dinner digestif, chilled or over ice. Recently, however, there’s been a bitters revival, with cocktail enthusiasts mixing the bittersweet digestif into beverages beyond just classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the old fashioned.

Gem marigolds are a perfect component because of their distinct bitter flavor and for the lovely amber hue that results. For amaro’s signature tartness, we’ve added some chinotto orange rind, the key ingredient in Campari, the popular Italian herbal aperitif.

MAKES 1 QUART

Enough herbs and edible flowers to fill a 1-quart jar, for example:

  • 1 cup gem marigold flowers and leaves
  • 1 to 3 sage leaves
  • 2 to 6 anise hyssop flowers and leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 to 6 lavender blooms
  • Small bunch of thyme (such as French, English, or lemon)
  • 1 to 6 calendula flowers
  • 1 to 6 bee balm flowers and leaves
  • Small handful of rose petals
  • 1 to 8 viola petals

5 to 10 alpine strawberries or other berries

Rind of 2 chinotto oranges

2 (750-ml) bottles Hangar One Vodka or a similar good-quality, unflavored vodka

SIMPLE SYRUP

MAKES ABOUT 1-1⁄4 CUPS

1 cup water

1 cup organic sugar

Gently rinse the herbs and flowers, leaving the blooms intact to capture the bitter attributes of their centers. Add them all, along with the berries and citrus rind, to a 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vodka to just below the rim (you might not need it all) and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Store it in a cool, dark place.

Check the amaro daily or every couple of days, and give it a good shake to ensure that there are no floating leaves or flowers. After 4 weeks, taste the amaro. If you prefer it stronger, allow it to infuse for another week or so. Once you’ve achieved the flavor you like, strain out the herbs, edible flowers, berries, and rind.

Next, make the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a nonreactive pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking. Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes), remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the strained amaro liquid and let infuse for an additional 2 weeks, then taste. If you find the amaro more bitter than you’d like, add more simple syrup but remember the sweetener is meant to take the edge off of the bitter taste rather than mask it. Once the bitters are to your liking, store indefinitely.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 170,000 times by listeners like you.

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

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column.

Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Blue Jay; Cottonwoods
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com