Debra Prinzing

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Archive for the ‘Flower Farming’ Category

Episode 297: The Flower Power Network: Florists Coming Together to Learn and Lend Support

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Above, I’m seated on the sofa with fellow Flower Power speaker, Aimee Newlander of the Slow Weddings Network. Flower Power’s members often meet in one another’s homes, gardens and studios. These photos were taken by Sarah Gonia, an Olympia-based photographer (c) Sarah Gonia.

Sarah captured this hellebore (from Maura’s garden) in a centerpiece that welcomed us to Maura’s home. (c) Sarah Gonia

Another lovely moment from Maura’s floral arrangement (c) Sarah Gonia

We’ve been talking about networking, collaboration and community quite a bit lately and this week’s topic continues that thread with Seattle’s Flower Power.

This intentional cohort of floral designers and farmer-florists formed in early 2016 with a core group of new friends, many of whom met while taking a large-scale installation workshop with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box when she came to town.

Flower Powers’ monthly gatherings rotate among different member’s homes or studios and focus on business topics and face-to-face social networking . . . today, only 18 months after forming, the list of Flower Power members has grown organically to more than 35 participants.

Maura Whalen of Seattle’s Casablanca Floral shared this portait from her collection. She’s seen in front of her beautiful design studio.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, based on Seattle’s Eastside, at work in her home-based design studio (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Many Flower Power members are also involved in Slow Flowers and so somehow I was added to the mailing list . . . every time their monthly meeting notice lands in my in-box, I open it curious to discover the topic and host. I have felt very included but never had a chance to attend until May 1st. Maura Whalen invited me to speak about Slow Flowers when she hosted the group in her beautiful home and garden in Seattle.

Before our evening’s program began, I sat down with Maura and another early Flower Power member Tammy Myers to talk about the reasons why they started the group and how it has served their evolving floral careers.

Maura Whalen of Flower Power

Maura Whalen owns Casablanca Floral and Tammy Myers owns First & Bloom. Let me introduce a little more about them:

Maura’s Casablanca Floral began in 2014 when she hauled a wreath-making machine into her children’s tree fort and filed for a license to pursue her lifelong dream of a floral business.

 In truth, a passion for flowers and the natural world has been with Maura her entire life, beginning with time spent with her Italian grandmother Flora who had a glorious garden in which Maura loved to play.  At home as a child, her mother made her a deal:  if she weeded the garden, she could create an arrangement for the family table.   Later, Maura worked in a floral shop to pay her way through grad school. Casablanca Floral is the culmination of one woman’s lifelong love for expressing creativity through flowers.

The word Casablanca denotes Maura’s favorite flower and her favorite classic film and to her, Casablanca has always signified ultimate elegance.

Casablanca Floral has bloomed into a thriving business serving the Seattle metropolitan area. Operating out of a beautiful backyard studio rather than a storefront allows Maura to keep her work personal, close to home, and close to the heart.  It’s no surprise that being a mother to two fabulous teenagers entwines and overlaps with Maura’s life as a florist.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom

And here’s more about Tammy Myers. She writes this on First & Bloom’s web site:

If you had asked me 10+ years ago about owning a florist business, I might have laughed!  Who knew I would be here today.  Like most young twenty-something’s, I was headed to the big city and wasn’t ever going back to the country!  Growing up in a small town outside the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington, I was drawn to the city like most-  the fast pace, the glitz, the glam, and the opportunity.  And it’s all true.  Those years were fun and still are when I get a chance to sneak away.  But there’s nothing better than the sheer glimmer in my son’s eyes when he discovers something new out in the country.  As parents, we’ve all been there.  We start to live again- better, through our children.  

What I’ve learned over the years is to love what you do.  Surround yourself with passion, integrity, perseverance, and ignore anyone who says otherwise.   

​What I’ve learned in the past couple years is that I’m not really selling flowers.  I’m selling feelings.  The emotion of one person passed to the other as a feeling through the tangible package of flowers.  That’s why it’s so important I get it right.  Getting it right means everything to me and most importantly it means everything to my customers.  It means I played a tiny little part in someone feeling comfort about the life jolting news they received from the doctor or the feeling of celebration for the ass-kicking mountain they conquered called cancer.  It also means I get to see a glimpse into some of the most important days a couple experiences like walking down the aisle or welcoming another amazing person into this world.  And the best part is, someone chose me to help convey those priceless thoughts and feelings.  What a gift that touches me right to the core!

Flower Power member Katie Clary Githens of Clary Sage Studio (c) Sarah Gonia

Guest book (c) Sarah Gonia

Slow honey, shared by some guests (c) Sarah Gonia

Maura Whalen’s “of the moment” bouquet featuring elements clipped from her garden and foraged in her Seattle neighborhood. (c) Sarah Gonia

As we mentioned during the episode, I have two past episodes to share with you that relate to today’s guests:
I hosted Tammy as my guest on Episode 201 as she discussed her all-American/all-local sourcing philosophy; and I featured Tammy, Maura and several other designers who are now involved in Flower Power on Episode 230 during the workshop with Lisa Waud when the seed of an idea seemed to be forming for this group.

Flower Power doesn’t officially have a web site or Facebook group but you can get to know Maura and Tammy at their social places:

Casablanca Floral on Facebook

Casablanca Floral on Instagram

Casablanca Floral on Pinterest

First & Bloom on Facebook

First & Bloom on Instagram

First & Bloom on Pinterest

As special thank you to Sarah Gonia of Olympia-based Sarah Gonia Photography. She attended Flower Power as a guest and generously shared these photos with permission.

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 189,000 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 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.

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:

Around Plastic Card Tables
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 296: The Farm-to-Florist Wholesale Story Continues in Montana and North Carolina

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Local flowers grown and designed by Kelly Morrison, co-founder of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers. (c) Kissick Weddings

Many of you feel that pull — the desire to come together with like-minded Slow Flowers folks and create community, cooperation — and commerce — around local flowers. It’s a powerful urge, and I’ve been fortunate to observe and come alongside individuals all around N. American who are making something happen as a response to that pull.

Some of the ideas I’ve been tracking in my annual Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecasts, since our first report in 2015, embody these themes. I just shared my thoughts about this with a group of Michigan flower farmers who are exploring a new wholesale model, so the timing is ideal given today’s podcast topic.

Fresh, local, and seasonal flowers at Piedmont Wholesale Flowers © Ali Donnelly

If you haven’t noticed, I’m here to tell you: New, Farmer-Driven Wholesale Hubs are meeting the growing demand for local, seasonal and sustainable flowers coast to coast.

On the heels of recent podcast episodes featuring an update about the Sonoma Flower Market’s second year and the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange’s launch (featured in Episode 290) and the episode celebrating the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s successful 6th Anniversary (featured in Episode 294), today I am delighted to introduce you to two emerging wholesale flower hubs, run by flower farmers and tailored to their floral customers. Both flower farmers are Slow Flowers members and I’m delighted to share their stories with you.

Kelly Morrison, co-founder of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers

First, meet Kelly Morrison of Color Fields Farm and the new Piedmont Wholesale Flower Market, based in Durham, N.C. Our interview is followed by my recent conversation with Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and the Westside Flower Market in Missoula, Montanta.

These conversations really underscore the following themes I’ve been tracking in my annual forecasts:

  1. Cooperation and community – this idea needs no explanation other than to say, when flower farmers and floral designers convene, something explosive takes place – a harmonic convergence of nature and art, creativity and ingenuity. Wholesale hubs for local flowers foster that convergence.
  2. Micro regionalism – across North America, as farmers and florists form unique alliances for commerce, marketing and promotion, the net benefit means more local flowers available to more consumers.
  3. More farms selling direct – Flower farmers are increasingly taking power into their own hands to market their crops rather than abdicate to a wholesaler who may or may not represent their brands as they like.

And if you have any doubt about this cultural shift spreading far and wide, these two women’s stories will give you something exciting to consider, perhaps about your own marketplace.

I met Kelly Morrison in person when I traveled to the Triangle NC area last September as a guest of Jonathan and Megan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm and Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers, where we held a mini version of the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop and had a blast designing with gorgeous locally-grown flowers.

So it has been wonderful to correspond with Kelly about what’s happened since — and that is the debut of a local wholesale flower cooperative instigated by Kelly and two other flower farmers, Jillian Mickens of Open Door Farm and Katy Thelen of Happy as a Coneflower Farm.

Here is a little more about Kelly: A first generation farmer, Kelly comes from a long line of southern gardeners going back as far as anyone can remember.  Plants and their stories are passed down in her family like heirloom jewelry or antique furniture. They are something to be shared. They have a history and a story to tell. They are intimately tied to their season. This connection to time and place drives Kelly’s work as both a farmer and a designer. Her goal is to bring the story and seasonality of flowers to her clients’ special event and also to their lives.

READ MORE…

Episode 295: Farmer-to-Farmer – ASCFG’s Flower Farmer Mentorship Program

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

This week’s guests include, from left: Linda Doan (Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers), Sarah Ervin (Southerly Flower Farm) and Tanis Clifton (Happy Trails Flower Farm)

It’s the first week of May and we have just announced details about the third annual campaign called American Flowers Week.

Set for June 28 through July 4, American Flowers Week started in 2015 as a grass-roots endeavor inviting flower farmers and florists to post images of their red-white-and-blue bouquets on Instagram, Twitter or other social media channels.

In that first year, the campaign stimulated 400,000 social media impressions. Last year, with more time to plan, we added beautiful collateral material, a free USA floral coloring map that participating florists and flower farmers could download and share with customers, and even red-white-and-blue stickers used by florists, flower farmers and retailers to label their AFW bouquets. Impressions on social media hit 1.3 million last year.

For 2017, I’m more ambitious than ever about American Flowers Week — and you’re invited to join in!
We’ve just released the press announcement and the gorgeous campaign graphic (shown above), featuring the most beautiful wearable sunflower gown you’ve ever seen!

These and other images are included in our free collateral material that you can download and use from americanflowersweek.com. At that site, you’ll also find inspiration about what creative activities Slow Flowers members are cooking up to promote local flowers in their communities — all ideas that you can borrow and personalize for your marketplace.

At the heart of American Flowers Week we are staging the first ever Slow Flowers Summit, a one-day forum for thinkers and doers in the progressive, sustainable floral world.

Taking place on July 2nd in Seattle, the Summit will feature pioneering voices and compelling topics to perhaps push you to a new level in your own relationship with American grown flowers.

Tickets are on sale now and you’re invited to join me, along with floral luminaries like Amy Stewart, author of the groundbreaking book Flower Confidential, Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., James Baggett, garden editor for Better Homes & Gardens who is our master of ceremonies for the day, Chantal Aida Gordon from the award-winning blog, The Horticult, who will moderate our diversity panel with florist Nicole Cordier Wahquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii, landscape designer Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens, and horticulture-floriculture whiz Riz Reyes; Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative on the foam-free flower wall and professional reinvention, and floral innovator Lisa Waud of pot & box and Flower House Detroit — who will lead a conversation on the creative process.

All this for just $175 with a deep discount offered to Slow Flowers Members. We’ll have swag bags, giveaways and delicious local lunch and cocktail reception with speakers, all with a view of the Seattle waterfront from our venue, Surf Incubator Event Space in downtown Seattle. Please join us!

After the success of its inaugural two-year session, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower GrowersMentor Program is ready for another round of matching new growers with veteran farmers.

The main goals of the program are to help fast-track younger or inexperienced growers through the learning phase of beginning flower farming; build more successful growers and engage older or more experienced growers.

ASCFG has just opened up the application process at its web site for those interested in finding a mentor for the 2018-2019 class, with a May 31st deadline. Click here for the requirements and application details.

To learn more about program, I’m hosting several guests today.

Tanis and Rick Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm

Tanis Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm in Dennis, Mississippi. Tanis is the past southeast regional director for ASCFG who worked on the initial development of the organization’s Mentorship program. She provides the “big picture” thinking behind the formation of this farmer-to-farmer program.

Tanis Clifton, Happy Trails Flower Farm

Happy Trails Flower Farm

Follow Tanis/Happy Trails at these social places:

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Facebook

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Instagram

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Twitter

In 2010, Tanis and Rick established  Happy Trails Flower Farm at their homestead in the scenic hill country of Northeast Mississippi.

The couple grows hundreds of different flowers as well as greenery, vines, pods, cotton and other unusual vegetation, which they sell to discriminating florists, event designers, grocery stores, flower lovers and customers at Pepper Place Farmers Market in Birmingham, Alabama.

As Tanis writes on her web site, “Happy Trails Flower Farm is part of a growing movement to provide slow flowers all  over the USA.  We are committed and compassionate about supporting local flower farmers, like ourselves, thereby providing seasonal and local  blooms to designers, florists, grocers and lovers of flowers.”

READ MORE…

Episode 294: A Floral Collective of Greater Good: Celebrating and Selling Local Flowers with the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s Sixth Anniversary

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Six years ago this week, a band of intrepid Pacific Northwest flower farmers opened the doors at a cold, nearly empty warehouse in Seattle’s Georgetown District, and the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market was launched.

In the opening days of Seattle Wholesale Growers Market things were a little bare. Here is a photo I snapped on April 26, 2011

I have been along for the wild ride of this pioneering Market that has stimulated an entirely new way of connecting locally-grown flowers with buyers who value seasonal and sustainable botanicals grown with care and respect for the land.

“Brimming with Blooms” documents the origins of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Of that beginning, I wrote this in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

A seed germinates when it comes in contact with light, warmth and the nourishment of healthy soil. Similarly, good ideas sprout and take root when they are sown in ideal conditions. That was how the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative came into being – a new farm-to-market enterprise that connects cut flower farmers with florists and their customers.

Illustrated by David Perry’s documentary-style photography, the chapter “Brimming with Blooms” tells the story of the origins of SWGMC in June 2010 and the ideas, people and circumstances that led to its actual debut by April 2011.

Today, the SWGMC is anything but an empty warehouse with just a few twigs and flowering branches.

The Market has come into its own as a vibrant, viable economic engine for sustainable agriculture, for offering high quality local products and excellent customer service to the floral community in the greater Seattle area. Beyond this, the Market has continued to instigate, influence and inspire others who have studied its model, adapting lessons for their own regional hubs for selling flowers.

So in honor of the sixth anniversary of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, I’ve invited two past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast to sit down with me and reflect on all that has transpired and all that the Market still aspires to achieve.

Left: Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall; Right: Vivian Larsen (c) Mary Grace Long Photography

Please welcome Diane Szukovathy, co-owner with her husband Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm, based in Mt. Vernon, WA; and Vivian Larsen of Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, WA. Together they have been part of the core group that founded the SWGMC and they serve as co-chairs of the Market board.

Follow and find Seattle Wholesale Growers Market at these social places:

SWGMC on Facebook

SWGMC on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 182,000 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.

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.

Syndicate Sales is 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 brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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:
Heliotrope; Vittoro
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 293: A Walking Tour of Alm Hill Gardens, where my favorite local tulips grow

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Happy Spring!

I’m holding my breath, but I am hopeful that spring is truly here, aren’t you?

Before we get started, I want to share some very important news — especially for all the U.S. flower farmers listening. Every five years the USDA – that’s the US Department of Agriculture – conducts a Census, a complete count of farms and ranches, and the people who operate them, all across the country.

This year, 2017, is an Ag Census year. A lot has happened in flower farming since 2012 and I strongly believe that the Census metrics will reveal that.

For instance, we know from the 2007 and 2012 Census reports that U.S. farms representing flowers grew 16% as a crop category. To be specific, that’s a boost from 5,085 farms to 5,903 farms.

I am excited to see what the new 2017 Census reveals, but here’s where you come in. The folks at USDA work very hard to get the Census questionnaire to everyone in farming, but as you know, it’s easy for smaller or super busy farms to fall through the cracks. We cannot afford to have that happen, folks. The data reported will influence policy and funding for U.S. Agriculture and I believe that flower farms need to have a much larger piece of that pie, whether it’s through specialty crop block grants, value added producer grants or other programs that help support our industry.

Producers who are new to farming or who did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. USDA defines a farm as any place from which at least $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year — and that means unless you’re a hobby grower like me, you should be counted!

As I mentioned, the sign-up period ends June 30, 2017 — and all you have to do is follow the link and just sign up. By the end of the year, you will receive your questionnaire, which you can leisurely complete in the middle of winter! The new Census will be published in 2019 and of course, I will be here to share the highlights, hopefully with a guest from USDA  to interpret it for us. THANKS so much for checking this out.

Stunning tulips. This variety is called ‘Alladin’, a lily-flowered tulip grown by Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, WA

Crates filled with tulips on bulbs

This week, I’m sharing some audio that I recorded on a visit to Alm Hill Gardens. As I say in the title of this episode, Alm Hill is my favorite source for local tulips. I first met flower farmers Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet and there is an interview with Gretchen in that book’s section called “Grower Wisdom,” with photographs by my collaborator David Perry.

If you have bought tulips at Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, it’s probable that you purchased the vibrant, fresh and lovely sustainably-grown tulips from Alm Hill Gardens’ stalls. They are my go-to stop for when I need armloads of tulips for a workshop or demonstration. It just makes me so happy to support a local flower farm that brings its harvest direct to consumers. Established in 1974, Alm Hill Gardens is a small family farm specializing in quality. You can also find their flowers in Seattle at the University District Farmers Market, West Seattle Farmers Market and Ballard Farmers Market — all in Seattle.

‘Temple’, a lovely slender tulip.

Here’s a little of what I wrote in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

If you follow Gretchen Hoyt and her husband Ben Craft around for a season, you’ll gain a profound admiration for how their values, sustainable farming practices and sheer hard work produce something so ephemeral and delicate as a lilac, tulip, lily, anemone or peony.

The couple overcame many obstacles to reach this moment: When they planted their first field of raspberries in rural Everson, Washington, just 2 miles from the Washington-British Columbia border, Gretchen was a single parent of two young children who had escaped from the city. Ben was a veteran of the war in Vietnam who wanted to unplug from society.

“Ben’s parents were dairy farmers. I never grew anything until I was 26 years old,” Gretchen says. “We had Ben’s dad’s tractor, no running water and no power, so we started with very little at the beginning.” Their efforts grew into one of the first year-round, direct-selling farms in Western Washington. Today, the 47-acre property contains six 30-by-100 foot greenhouses, countless high tunnels (hoop houses that can raise temperatures by 10 degrees), and fields of edible crops and, of course, flowers.

Even the spent heads are stunning!

Alm Hill Gardens is known for its luscious cut tulips, which account for 80 percent of their floral production. At Seattle’s Pike Place Market the sign reads: “Alm Hill Gardens: A Small Sustainable Family Farm Since 1974” and the stall overflows with irresistible blooms in a vibrant spectrum of hues to the delight of locals and tourist alike.

The longer-than-usual production season — from mid-Thanksgiving to May — is possible, thanks to many growing techniques perfected by the farm. These include planting already-chilled bulbs so they bloom by Christmas. It means sheltering thousands of hybrid tulips in greenhouses that elevate air and soil temperatures and protect stems from Pacific Northwest rainfall. The volume of flowers required to satisfy a bulb-crazed market is mind-boggling, requiring an intensive planting system. Bulbs are planted in 12-inch-high crates and stacked for weeks like building blocks in a large walk-in cooler before being moved to the greenhouses for early spring harvesting. “We have tulip crates stacked floor to ceiling,” Gretchen laughs.

Alm Hill sends an employee with carloads of tulips to Seattle’s Pike Place Market every week and also sells at several neighborhood farmers’ markets including the Bellingham Saturday market, which is closer to home.  Depending on the season, these brilliant gems on plump green stems can sell from $20 to $30 for a bunch of 30. You can find the classic ovoid-shaped tulip, like the orange-and-purple streaked ‘Princess Irene’, or more unusual varieties, such as the parrot and French tulips.

Gretchen told me: “I knew I wanted to be a farmer when I finally grew a garden,. This is what I was supposed to do.”

Gretchen Hoyt of Alm Hill Gardens (left) a veteran flower farmer. Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine, right.

Joshua Craft led us through the high tunnels.

You will hear several voices on this episode, Gretchen Hoyt, her son-in-law and farming partner Joshua Craft, an experienced vegetable, grain and livestock farmer who is now deeply involved in Alm Hill Gardens, and of course, me. The fourth voice is my dear friend Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture, a fabulous quarterly journal that covers people and plants on the West Coast. Our day trip to Everson was so special.

Super healthy, fragrant hyacinths grown in crates.

Here’s how to find Alm Hill at their social places:

Follow Alm Hill on Instagram

Find Alm Hill on Facebook

Lorene designed this on the spot to showcase irises, hyacinths and tulips, just-picked from Alm Hill Gardens.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 180,000 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!

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.

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 so excited to announce that Syndicate Sales has returned as a 2017 Slow Flowers sponsor! Syndicate Sales is 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.

And drumroll, please, let’s welcome Johnny’s Selected Seeds as our newest sponsor. I can’t tell you how jazzed I am to partner with this employee-owned company that brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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:
Bending the Reed; Fudge 
by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 291: What’s Happening in Washington, D.C. and a flower farming policy update

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

I’ve asked Kasey Cronquist to update us on the current policy landscape as it relates to flower farming, with details from the recent Flower Farmer Fly-In efforts.

You’ve heard me discuss my past trips to Washington, D.C., to join a group of flower farmers on the annual “fly in” to reach out to policymakers on Capitol Hill and at agencies like the USDA. Some exciting things have taken place, including (for me), meeting one of my two senators, Senator Patty Murray.

I’ve also had the privilege to speak at briefings about cut flowers, including one at the launch of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, along with former Representative Lois Capps and Rep. Duncan Hunter.

So do those efforts really matter? Today’s guest, Kasey Cronquist, spends a lot of his energy at the vortex of this question and I know he would argue, YES, these efforts matter more than ever.

Kasey is the CEO of the California Cut Flower Commission, a position he’s held for nine years. He was in that position the first time I cold-called him back in 2010 for an organic flowers article I was reporting on for the Los Angeles Times. Since then, we’ve spent hours discussing the American grown flower landscape, both for my own articles and blog posts, but also for this podcast and Kasey’s own blog and writings.

When Kasey threw out the seed of an idea that a national effort to promote domestic and local flowers could take place, I was there. It was at a working group that met prior to the 2012 Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conference in Tacoma.

Over the following year, I participating with him and others to formulate the grassroots organization that became Certified American Grown. I remember spending an entire Sunday in 2013, sitting at Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm’s kitchen table, as we sketched out our vision for the language that would eventually be used to solicit involvement for the Certified program. The following year, in 2014, the program was launched and when the advisory council was formed, I was asked to join as the non-farmer consumer representative.

Suffice it to say that Kasey was the engine that drove this train to where it is today. Certified American Grown produces the Field to Vase Dinners, now in year three; it has supplied flowers for the past three “Dream Weddings” by The Knot; it has been instrumental in all advocacy efforts to see the past and current White House use American-grown flowers; and it has flowered the First Lady’s Luncheon with all American-grown flowers, among so many other projects.

In his role as administrator for the Certified American Grown program, Kasey led the recent “fly in” with the largest group of flower farmers to date. I missed the trip this year, but I’ve heard that some incredible strides were made with the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and more, so I asked Kasey to share an update here.

Kelly Shore, Margaret Lloyd and Christy Hulsey, the dream team of floral designers who will produce the First Lady’s Luncheon florals using all American-grown botanicals.

But I’m very excited that the next big item to celebrate will be the First Lady’s Luncheon, a bipartisan, non-taxpayer-funded annual charity event that will feature American Grown Flowers, designed by Kelly Shore, Margaret Lloyd and Christy Hulsey — all three are members of both Slow Flowers and the Chapel Designers, and I know they will do something brilliant in early May — watch their feeds to follow along. Here’s the recent announcement:

An annual tradition since 1912, the luncheon is put on by The Congressional Club and attended by nearly 1,400 people. The Congressional Club is an organization representing the spouses of members of Congress, cabinet members and the Supreme Court.
 
Last year, Certified American Grown Flowers for the 160 centerpieces at the event came from California, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Virginia.
 
This year, Certified American Grown will be working with a team of designers lead by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals and Christy Hulsey of The Colonial House of Flowers.
 
The design team is currently working with the Congressional Club’s luncheon committee on selecting the American Grown Flowers that will be used and working with farms who will be able supply those flowers in early May.
 
“We have a great team coming together to help make this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon another beautiful success,” explained Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “We appreciate the Congressional Club’s commitment to source all American Grown Flowers for this wonderful tradition.”

Here are ways you can follow and find Kasey Cronquist and his many projects:

Subscribe to announcements from Certified American Grown.

Subscribe to Kasey’s blog updates #OriginMatters

Follow American Grown Flowers on Instagram

Learn more about the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus

Listen to Episode 235, my interview with Bill Frymoyer, the key D.C. player who advocates for domestic flower issues.

Holly Heider Chapple

Next up, a quick conversation with Holly Heider Chapple. About a month ago, Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events, a past guest of this podcast, sent me an email out of the blue. It went like this:

I just had to write to tell you about something that Holly Chapple’s got going on…

She’s released a video tutorial on a chicken wire mechanic that she’s developed.

Of course, chicken wire is NOT new, and most florists are very familiar with it, but it’s the way that she’s using it that I believe is incredibly game-changing.

We all know how to make a ball of it, and stuff it into a low container. This is widely done, and results in a stable, transportable arrangement.

The game-changing bit is she’s developed a way to make elevated arrangements using wire that results in very large, stable, light, transportable arrangements that do not require foam.

In all my days, I haven’t seen any others do this, and honestly, large elevated arrangements are typically designed with large chunks of foam- even by those of us who want to eliminate it’s usage.

It just wasn’t practical to design big daddy elevated pieces on site, or in water. It was hard to achieve a large, airy result, hard to transport them, time consuming, etc….

I really feel that the floral community would gain so much by knowing this, but not sure how to get the word out.

I thought I’d reach out to you- in case you didn’t already know this is going on…I really believe this can change the way florists design, and dramatically reduce foam usage!

In Holly’s video course, she also shows how to make a cascade bouquet without a foam holder, and a new take on designing low pieces with wire.

Holly used to produce massive events, using tons of foam each year, and she has turned this around completely- think of the ripple this could have!! Ok!  I hope you find this helpful.  I just think it’s incredible.

I thoroughly respect Susan’s advice and so when I had a chance to speak with Holly about the new video course, I asked if she would be willing to let me preview it to share my thoughts with you.

Holly’s new video course teaches her foam-free method of designing cascading bouquets and large-scale elevated arrangements. See the sneak peek above.

In the nearly one-hour long video tutorial, called  Creating “Hollyish” Floral Designs Holly demonstrates how she creates her ‘Hollyish’ bouquets.

From wiring stems and flower placement in the signature Holly Heider Chapple Egg mechanic to finishing with the perfect ribbon wrap, you’ll learn to create a garden style bouquet that will delight your clients. Holly also shares her innovation for creating foam-free elevated and compote designs.

The course is available in English only. (Content is available online only and cannot be downloaded.) The price for the course is $189.00. Congratulations on bringing this idea to the floral world, Holly!

And thank you for joining me today. This week, we drew names for those who entered our drawing for two copies of HARVEST, the beautiful and informative book by recent Podcast guests, Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of the Homestead Design Collective.

We asked listeners to post about their most useful garden plant in the comment section at debraprinzing.com.

From those who took the time to comment, we’ve randomly selected two lucky winners:

Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard, based in Seattle; and listener Ashley Kirnan. Congratulations, Hannah and Ashley and thank you to Ten Speed Press for the donation!

Ladies, your books will be in the mail soon!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 175,000 times by listeners like you. In fact, we ended the month of March 2017 with more than 11,000 downloads — the all-time highest monthly listenership ever. 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.

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And 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.

Thank you to Arctic Alaska Peonies, for supporting Slow Flowers. Arctic Alaska Peonies is 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 at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Thank you to our wonderful friends at 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

Thank you to the passionate plantspeople at Longfield Gardens. 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 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.

Episode 290: New Models in Regional Floral Wholesale with Christine Hoffman of Twin Cities Flower Exchange and Nichole Skalski of Sonoma Flower Mart

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Christine Hoffman, of Foxglove, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Christine is launching the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange [photo by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine]

Nichole Skalski (right) of Sonoma Flower Mart, with Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Farm, one of her primary flower suppliers [photo by The Press Democrat]

Good news for farmers and florists in the Twin Cities!

I’m so happy today to focus our attention on what’s happening in the Slow Flowers world of floral wholesale.

I’ve heard from a number of you around the U.S. who are in various stages of exploration, evaluation or actual planning to create a hub around local flowers in your marketplace.

Yet it’s easier said than done and there are several models to consider. There is the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market example — a true producers’ cooperative with the straightforward motto: farm to florist.

And there are groups of farmers who join together to sell collectively, such as Fair Field Flowers in the Milwaukie-Madison, Wisconsin area, which has a farmer-fun shared sales & delivery service.

Teasing Foxglove’s Instagram followers with a promise of local flower news!

Today’s two guests and their businesses are based on a single ownership or partnership that operates for the good of the community, but these are certainly not co-ops.

You’ll hear from Christine Hoffman, founder of the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and from Nichole Skalski, partner in Sonoma Flower Mart, based in Sebastopol, California. Both are past guests of this podcast and both have updates to share.

First up, I’m excited to reintroduce you to Christine Hoffman, owner of Foxglove, a floral design studio that evolved from her successful retail store Foxglove Marketplace. Christine was a guest of this podcast about two years ago when I visited her in St. Paul after being part of Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Art in Bloom program.

Since closing her retail store, Christine has continued to design and teach. Her website sums up her philosophy beautifully. She writes:

As the Twin Cities first exclusively local and chemical-free florist, Foxglove is more than just a flower studio. I am a slow flowers advocate striving to form a strong community of sustainable flower farmers, small business owners, and folks who care about supporting these mindful endeavors. By providing a local, sustainable option to traditional flowers, putting a premium on collaboration, and reaching out to the community, I hope to foster change.

Hear from Christine about her new venture, which will bring regional flowers to Twin Cities Flower Exchange every week . . . housed at The Good Acre, a nonprofit organic food hub that incubates local food businesses — and NOW, local flowers! Watch Christine’s social feeds for images of opening day, June 7th.

Here’s how to follow along on her journey.

Find Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Facebook

Follow Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Instagram

Discover Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Pinterest

Check out Foxglove/Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Twitter

READ MORE…

Episode 288: Slow Flowers Visits Arizona’s Whipstone Farm with Shanti Rade

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Arizona Grown, folks! From left (front row): Anne, Cory, Shanti, Terri, Debra, Dani & Morgan; (back row): Melissa, Les & Lindsay. We’re posing in front of the Self-Serve farm stand at Whipstone.

UPDATE: If you want to learn more about the once-vibrant history of Arizona’s cut flower farming community, read this January 2016 article by Kathy Nakagawa that appeared in the Arizona Republic, “When Phoenix Bloomed.”

I’ve had Arizona on my mind quite a bit lately and it’s not only because Seattle, like most of the rest of the country, has been cold, wet and dreary for months. So when my travels brought me to Scottsdale, Phoenix and Mesa for family reasons, I followed through on my promise to myself to visit a flower farm.

Shanti led us on a tour of Whipstone Farm, including this pristine high tunnel where stock and ranunculus were blooming.

Lucky for me, I’ve been collecting Slow Flowers friends in Arizona. We all agreed to meet at Whipstone Farm in Paulden, where Shanti and Cory Rade and theor family grow CSA food crops AND lots of flowers. The farm is a Slowflowers.com member and I was so happy to visit there on March 1st, along with a diverse and super passionate cadre for our informal Slow Flowers Arizona meet-up.

Terry and Dani, two of Whipstone’s floral team members, pictured inside Shanti and Cory’s kitchen.

They included Terri Schuett of Happy Vine Flowers, a freelance floral designer and horticulture student-turned-flower farm intern at Whipstone Farm, and Dani Baker, Whipstone Farm’s flower manager. It was fun to reunite with all three of them having met in the past.

Dani, Terri, Lindsay and Morgan evaluate the Whipstone stems, arranged by Terri for our luncheon centerpiece

The drive from Scottsdale to Paulden takes you sort of in the northbound direction toward Flagstaff and then at some point you head west toward Chino Valley. It’s pretty remote and pretty beautiful. Who would think that agriculture lives here?

Melissa Saltzman found herself a baby lamb (named “Fern”) while Lindsay looks on; right – anemones in the high tunnel.

My fabulous driving companions included Anne Herman Jensen, a Scottsdale micro flower farmer who specializes in garden roses, herbs and citrus, among other things at Tre Soli (who I first met, by the way, when she attended a Field to Vase Dinner in Carlsbad, CA in 2015), and Morgan Anderson of the.flori.culture, based in Scottsdale, who you heard on this podcast last year when she was finishing up her PhD in Floral Design/Floriculture at Texas A&M. Morgan and I hopped into Anne’s car and the 120 miles passed quickly while we gabbed away about all things floral.

yes, yes, and YES!

You just can’t get enough of these stunning Ranunculus!

Check out the petal count!

Others who met us at Whipstone included Lindsay Statler of Green Creek Gardens in Dewey, Arizona, a Slow Flowers member whose farm is about 30 miles away from Whipstone, and Melissa & Les Saltzman, friends and flower farmers I’ve met through the Alaska Peony Growers Association because – yes – they live in Scottsdale, Arizona and own a peony farm called Alaskan Legacy Peonies, in Homer (talk about a commute!) I wanted them to meet and learn from flower farmers in their home state where the conditions are probably 180 degrees opposite from Alaska’s peony fields.

Leafy greens for the winter Farmers’ Market.

When we arrived, Shanti took us on a wonderful walking tour of Whipstone Farm before lunch. She told us the story of how the farm got started, so I’ll let you listen to the interview to hear more. With 15 acres and more than 100 varieties of vegetables and cut flowers, Shanti and Cory have made a life for themselves, their four children and countless CSA customers who buy shares each year.

The promise of spring peonies.

As they write on the Whipstone Farm web site: “We farm with our heart and health in mind.  We do not use any synthetic fertilizer or chemical pesticides.  We enjoy growing food for our community not only as a means of providing healthy sustenance, but also as a way to bring people together. We welcome you to come out and see our farm, to learn about where your food comes from and meet the folks who grow it.”

You can find their produce and flowers every week at the Prescott, Flagstaff and Chino Valley Farmers Markets. Whipstone also has an on-farm self-serve stand where friends, customers and neighbors purchase products on the honor system.  The farm stand is open year round and customers are welcome to stop in during daylight hours – no doors, so it’s always open. Quick, self-guided farm tours often occur when people come to buy veggies and flowers.

Shanti and Cory with three of their four children.

Shanti came into farming by chance through a high school internship and after working on several different farms around the country, she returned to school for a degree in Agroecology from Prescott College. At Whipstone, she oversees crop planning, seed starting and everything to do with flowers. She also handles office management and marketing, even though it’s not always her favorite part about farming.

Cory is a self-taught farmer, learned through lots of trial and error and even more determination.  What he really loves about farming is food and how it brings people together; growing the food is the first step in making that happen. The resident repair man on the farm, Cory is busy, since something seems to break on the farm almost every day.  But, he says “getting to eat the chiles I grow makes it all worth it.”

After our wonderful farm tour, we gathered around Shanti and Cory’s kitchen table, a long, wooden trestle-style table with room for everyone, which I’m sure they need when the entire family is together. Anne Jensen served us a delicious homemade meal of lentil soup, salad, veggies, breads, spreads and Arizona-made wine. Thank you, Anne, for being our wonderful caterer!

Shanti (left) and Dani (right)

I know you will enjoy this interview I recorded with Shanti, and you’ll also hear bonus audio, recorded when Terri Schuett took us on a quick tour of the horticulture and agribusiness program at Yavapai College in Chino Valley. She has definitely been smitten with the flower-growing bug, a path I see more and more florists taking as they become curious about the flowers they design with. Even though our conversation is brief, you’ll learn a thing or two about aquaculture and floriculture in the desert, of all places!

Flowers and Food — Arizona-grown!

Here’s how to find and follow these intrepid Arizona Slow Flowers Folks!

Find Whipstone Farm on Facebook

Follow Whipstone Farm on Instagram

See Whipstone Farm on Pinterest

Discover Whipstone Farm on Twitter

Find Terri Schuett/Happy Vine Flowers on Instagram

Find Dani Baker on Instagram

Find Anne Jensen on Instagram

Find Morgan Anderson on Instagram

Find Lindsay Statler on Instagram

Terri led us on a second tour of the ag program at Yavapai College in Chico Valley, not far from Whipstone. She’s studying horticulture there.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 168,000 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.

Episode 287: Putting succulents on the floral map, with nurseryman and author Robin Stockwell, The Succulent Guy

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Today’s guest Robin Stockwell is the author of SUCCULENTS (left), which features the design work (right) of Slow Flowers member Marialuisa Kaprielian of Urban Succulents in San Diego.

Windmill Floral Studio recently launched as the in-house, full-service florist inside a popular independent garden center — with a Slow Flowers philosophy.

Before I share my interview with succulent expert Robin Stockwell, I want to share a quick introduction of Windmill Gardens, an independent garden center based in Sumner, Washington.

Windmill founders John and Ansje DeGoede began their farm in 1968 by raising fresh cut flower crops such as iris, tulips, and daffodils. In the early 1970s, their product line was expanded to include fuchsia baskets, primroses, and more.

Today, nearly 50 years later, their son Ben DeGoede continues the growing tradition at Windmill Gardens, with seasonal assortments and baskets, as well as poinsettias.

The Floral Studio team (left, with Wendy Pedersen in the middle) and the shop’s welcome sign.

Windmill recently brought floral design in-house for the first time since 2001, taking over space previously occupied by a tenant, redesigning it into a beautiful, full-service shop, and making a commitment to provide only locally-grown and American-grown flowers to their everyday and wedding clients.

The grand opening took place this week and I grabbed some time with owner Ben DeGoede and general manager Wendy Pedersen to hear more.

As you recall, I cited “return of brick and mortar flower shops” as an emerging 2017 floral industry theme. The launch of Windmill Floral Studio reflects this insight, but also hints at a possible shift for traditional garden centers adding floral as a facet of their business.

Find Windmill Gardens/Floral Studio on Facebook

Follow Windmill Gardens/Floral Studio on Twitter

Follow Windmill Floral Studio on Instagram

The Succulent Guy, Robin Stockwell, author of a beautiful new title: “Succulents.”

Here a photo of the presentation Robin and I gave nearly five years ago — fun memories!

A detail from a design I made for the Garden Conservancy workshop with Robin Stockwell.

Now let’s talk succulents. In July 2012, I co-presented a lecture and floral design workshop with Robin Stockwell, (now former) owner of Succulent Gardens Nursery in Castroville, California (Monterey Bay).

We were part of “All in Good Time,” a Garden Conservancy program hosted by the Ruth Bancroft Garden at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, California.

I didn’t know Robin well, but I did know his amazing reputation for growing and popularizing succulents. My takeaway from time spent with Robin is that when you think about a succulent plant as a floral design ingredient, it’s important to use both its “leaves” and its “flowers.” Robin and I focused our presentation  on using wonderful, versatile, irresistible succulents from our gardens and pots in floral design.

By way of background, in 2010, while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet, I was introduced to the succulents-as-cut-ingredients technique. Several of the designers we featured in that book use echeverias, aeoniums, kalanchoes and other succulent cuttings as deftly as they use dahlias and roses.

“Lush and Leafy,” a succulent wreath designed by Slow Flowers member Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design — for Robin’s book SUCCULENTS

Susie Nadler created a scrumptious local bouquet using ingredients from her own backyard, from local flower growers and – of course – from succulents at Flora Grubb Gardens.

Susie Nadler and Flora Grubb, of The Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb Nursery, and Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Flowers, are rock stars when it comes to pairing succulents from the garden with flowers from the farm. Together these women inspired Sunset’s former senior garden editor Julie Chai to use her succulent cuttings for the bridal party bouquets and centerpieces at her July 2011 wedding, also featured in our the pages of The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Robin, though, was way ahead of all of us! A true pioneer, he was making bouquets of succulent flowers back in the 1980s. He sent me a black-and-white photo from a 1981 Sunset magazine article in which his then-young son was pictured with a vase of tall echeveria blooms. Let’s just call Robin an early-early-adopter of the succulent craze. He was so far ahead of his time that it has taken the rest of us 30-plus years to catch up!

“Succulents are the conservationists of the plant world” — Robin Stockwell

A photograph from a 1981 Sunset magazine article about Robin Stockwell’s use of succulents in floral design.

At the Garden Conservancy workshop, Robin wowed the audience with insights about how to harvest and work with a variety of succulents. He explained that the rosette-looking succulents are actually leaves; many of the plants do produce long, slender stems bearing tiny flowers that dangle from them — also quite enticing.

The San Francisco Chronicle featured Robin’s amazing succulent globe when he created it for the SF Flower & Garden Show a few years ago. A-MAZ-ING!!! Click here to read more about this project and watch a video of its construction!

I came prepared to carefully wire the rosettes and wrap their “faux stems” with green florist tape, but Robin demonstrated how you can cut the stem long enough to practically eliminate the wire. Play around with it and you’ll see what I mean. If the stem of the echeveria is 3-4 inches long, that might be enough to anchor it into a flower arrangement;  it certainly doesn’t need water to look dazzling (in fact, it will last far longer than any of the perennials or annuals in that vase).

Marialuisa designed this charming “cake garland” for Robin Stockwell’s book, SUCCULENTS

We had a great day, all around. What struck me later was a gracious note Robin sent by email:

I’ve not thought a lot about the floral side of what I do over the past few years and even when I have, it was in bits and pieces. the presentation with you brought back a much more comprehensive memory of my past experiences and gave me quite a few new insights as well.

A table setting designed by Caitlin Atkinson, featured in SUCCULENTS

Reuniting with Robin was such a delight because it allowed us to have an extended conversation about his favorite topic AND the topic of his beautiful, brand new book called SUCCULENTS: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING, DESIGNING AND GROWING 200 EASY CARE PLANTS.

Published by Oxmoor House, a Time Inc Book imprint, Succulents was shepherded by Kathy Brenzel, who edited and closely collaborated with Robin.

As the former longtime garden editor for Sunset Magazine, Kathy is the ideal partner for Robin. She wrote a wonderful intro to the book titled “Sunset, the Surfer and Succulents,” looking back to the magazine’s long relationship with Robin Stockwell and his early influence on the gardening world’s love affair with succulents. Robin’s new website The Succulent Guy, tells us that

Robin Stockwell has been growing succulents professionally since 1972 and through the years developed an expertise in their functional use. When the waves were good he took advantage of their waterwise, low maintenance qualities, knowing they would not miss him as he dropped everything to surf. He has dedicated his life to encouraging the use of these plants and worked with plant professionals and the general public to better understand them. As a grower he created small “living pictures” in the early 1970’s and later huge vertical gardens. He is famous for his succulent Globe, using upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 plants. As an innovator, writer, and speaker, he has inspired audiences in the joy of gardening with succulent plants.

Find Robin Stockwell, The Succulent Guy, on Facebook

Follow Robin Stockwell, The Succulent Guy, on Instagram

To enter our drawing for a giveaway of Robin’s new book — SUCCULENTS — you are invited to post a photo of one of your succulent arrangements at the Slow Flowers Community page on Facebook. We’ll draw the winner on March 15th.

A Hanging Cone project from SUCCULENTS, designed by Jodi Shaw of Flourish. The design incorporates moss cones.

Robin Stockwell’s Succulent Tips for Floral Designers

  1. Cut the “heads” off of plants using a clean, sharp florist’s knife or clippers. Robin sterilizes his tools in Lysol.
  2. While succulents do not need much water, the aeoniums benefit from being in a little water when cut. Other succulent rosettes will be okay on a wire stem out of water. Obviously, after seven days or so in a vase, the succulent will be the last attractive element left. You’ll be able to re-use it in the next arrangement or let it produce some roots and replant it in a pot or the garden.
  3. Soil mix. When replanting your succulent, use a soil mix formulated for cactus and succulent plants. Succulents appreciate soil that is well aerated and drains well. Coarse bark or crushed lava work well for this, sand does not.

Here’s some fun bonus content featuring my how-to for the floral arrangements I created using Robin’s succulent plants when we taught together nearly five years ago.

My go-to vase for stunning arrangements is a 7-inch tall white ceramic pedestal dish. It’s square and probably originally intended for serving some kind of yummy dessert. It’s also the type of vessel that a conventional florist would fill with Oasis by shoving a cube of the toxic green foam into the base and then poking in stems to create a “full” arrangement. But instead, I used a mound of chicken wire, anchored with a reusable floral clay. Here are the steps:

  1. Level one of the arrangement is to fill the entire surface of chicken wire with foliage, allowing it to drape over the edge of the vase and also create a soft dome of texture. I had brought some foliage along with me on the plane from Seattle to Oakland ~Jello Mold Farm’s Physocarpus, called ‘Coppertina’ – which has a tawny hue that plays off the brighter dahlias and succulents.
  2. Level two: Add dahlias in a grid of one at the center and five surrounding flowers. I cut the dahlia stems relatively short so that the flowers nestled low into the foliage. Thank you to Kevin Larkin of Corralitos Dahlias for supplying the gorgeous blooms!
  3. Next, add 4-5 medium-sized aeoniums or echeverias between the dahlia blooms. The ones Robin gave me had 6-inch stems, but I still inserted a short piece of 12-gauge wire into the base of each to “extend” it for anchoring into the chicken wire. Susie Nadler cuts her succulent stems pretty short – about 1/2-inch – and then inserts wire and wraps the entire “stem” with floral tape, but I skipped this step here.
  4. Final step: We needed some height! Imagine my reaction when Robin showed up with dozens of cut flowering stems from his hybrid echeverias. Dusky pink, dark coral, pale turquoise. . . the palette was dreamy! Robin’s hybrid echeverias produce mega-rosettes measuring up to 12-inches across, so no surprise that their flowers are also overly robust. The ones he brought me were 10-12 inches long. I inserted several into the bouquet, through the top and down between the other ingredients to be supported by the hidden chicken wire. The hover above the rest of the flowers to finish off the design with a wow-factor!

Thanks so much for listening today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 165,000 times by listeners like you. We ended the month of February with 9,647 downloads — an all-time high, which is pretty cool for the shortest month of the year! 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:
Dirtbike Lovers
by Blue Dot Sessions
 
Happiness
by Bensound
http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/track/happiness
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 286: Growing Growers: News from Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers President Dave Dowling and Regional Director Lennie Larkin plus a bonus interview with Elizabeth Bryant

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

As I mentioned last week, I traveled to Corvallis, Oregon, recently to join the 3rd annual Pacific Northwest Cut Flower Growers “meet-up,” and that’s where I encountered the three guests you will hear from today.

I’m going to keep the intros short, because you’ll want to hear the heart of these conversations.

Today’s guests include Dave Dowling of Ednie Flower Bulb Co. and current board president of Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, and Lennie Larkin, a farmer-florist and owner of B. Side Farm & Floral Design in Sonoma County, serving as the west and northwest regional director for ASCFG.

But first, please meet Elizabeth Bryant of Rose Hill Flower Farm, located just outside Portland. Elizabeth is a past guest of this podcast; she appeared with floral designer and friend Kailla Platt a few years ago. Here’s a link to their episode.

Elizabeth is a person with big ideas and beyond that; she’s a big idea person who acts on them. I remember when I first met her and she reached out to me with an unsolicited offer to connect me with people she knew at Slow Food USA . . . she felt they should know about Slow Flowers and hear what I was doing.

That led to an invitation from Slow Food for me to write an article for their newsletter, allowing us to reach the huge Slow Food community with the Slow Flowers message.

Later, Elizabeth instigated the first PNW Cut Flower Growers meet-up, bringing together a core team of volunteers to host the one-day session in early 2015. The vision she held is continuing on today with a dynamic cadre of fellow leaders in the Northwest region’s flower farming and farmer-florist world.

I sat down with Elizabeth during one of our short breaks and asked her to share details about her new project — called “Blooming on the Inside,” involving a flower farm and floral design workshops at Coffee Creek, Oregon’s only correctional facility for women. I know you’ll find it inspiring and I hope that you feel led to show your support by encouraging and even donating to the project.

I hope you’re moved to share your resources to support Blooming on the Inside’s campaign. Money isn’t the only way to help this project — you can follow the link to the funding page and just click on the Facebook logo to post this to your own page — making sure that more people learn about the opportunity. And as Elizabeth says, even a $5 donation makes a big difference!

Okay, next up, Dave Dowling and Lennie Larkin.

Dave Dowling, photo courtesy Butterbee Farms

Dave Dowling owned a successful cut flower farm in Maryland for several years. He placed great emphasis on introducing young people to horticulture through employment on his farm, bringing them to the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conferences, and mentoring them as they moved into their own cut flower businesses. Dave is responsible for the success of many new growers across the country. His generosity and enthusiasm for sharing are unparalleled.

Annually, ASCFG awards the Dave Dowling Scholarship, open to all undergraduate or graduate students working toward a two- or four-year degree, or a graduate degree, in horticulture or floriculture.  Dave juggles president duties with his “day job,” as sales representative and warehouse manager for Ednie Flower Bulb, based in Fredon, New Jersey.

Lennie Larkin

About Lennie Larkin & B-Side Farm

B-Side Farm sits on one colorful acre next to a small rushing creek in Sebastopol, West Sonoma County, California.
The farm uses organic methods to grow a wide variety of old-fashioned, fragrant flowers for use in our design studio and workshops.
Full-service wedding design is a specialty, and by growing most of the flowers used in Lennie’s designs, she’s invested in every aspect of the process from planting the seeds, to caring for and picking the flowers, to putting the finishing touches on the bridal bouquet before it’s carried down the aisle (a favorite moment, every time).
On-farm workshops offer chances for the public to come out to the farm and get their hands dirty. Workshops include all aspects of flower gardening and floral design – from centerpieces for the kitchen table, to elevated arrangements for special events, to crash courses in flower farming.

B-Side Farm

About Lennie Larkin

Lennie came to farming and flowers from a background in social work and adult education. Naturally, B-Side Farm has quickly become an educational farm where Lennie not only grows and designs with flowers, but teaches others how she’s doing what she’s doing. B-Side Farm workshops are designed to meet every student where they’re at and encourage them to dive a little deeper into the world of flowers – whether in the garden or design studio. The B-Side Blog is a growing resource for both of these arenas.
Before staring B-Side, Lennie spent two years at the UCSC Farm and Garden, and then moved on to run the educational farm at Petaluma Bounty where she taught the public to grow crops for the local community for three seasons. Before that (in what feels like a past life) she worked in refugee resettlement in her hometown of Boston, translated a novel in Brazil, and took advantage of her final season NOT farming by hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Lennie has now calmed the wanderlust and settled happily in Sonoma County where she runs the farm, is the West Coast Director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, and teaches flower farming and horticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. Lennie is a past guest of this podcast

Flowers and floral design by Lennie Larkin, B-Side Farm & Floral Design

Links:

Instagram: @b.side.farm.flowers
My website: www.b-sidefarm.com
Lennie’s blog post summarizing her OSU Small Farms Conference presentation: 
www.b-sidefarm.com/b-side-blog/how-to-become-a-farmer-florist
Classes and workshops:
www.b-sidefarm.com/workshops

Thanks so much for listening today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 162,000 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:
Additional music from:

audionautix.com