Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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

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

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

Welcome to Week 7 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

I am honored and happy to think that people across the USA are using my work when they gather in friendship to share a meal and good times.   
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More from Slow Flowers
Design 101: A very special vase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slowflowers.com is growing with our 500th member!

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

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

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

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

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The Flower House logo, designed by Lily Stotz

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

Here’s the scoop:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flower House on Facebook

The Flower House Inspiration on Pinterest

The Flower House on Twitter

The Flower House on Instagram

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

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

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

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

So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

Week 5 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, February 7th, 2015
Washington branches with California blooms.

Washington branches with California blooms.

It’s been a busy week as we watched January transition into February.

A few days of unseasonably warm 50-degree temperatures combined with plenty of rainfall has jolted awake many of the bulbs in my garden and in my Seattle neighborhood.

I have been eyeing a beautiful shrub in my neighbor Kim’s garden that I pass by each day, realizing the rare moment each year when its inherent beauty peaks.

In the photo above, you can’t miss the lovely “dangles” of what is commonly called the silktassel tree (Garrya elliptica), a coastal NW native shrub with silvery flower chains that appear in winter. I wasn’t sure how it would perform as a cut flower, but here we are, three days after I snipped some of Kim’s branches, and boy does it hold up. Gorgeous and so evocative, right?

Fowering plum blossom (Prunus sp.)

Flowering plum blossom (Prunus sp.)

For Week 5 of 2015, I combined branches of the purloined-with-permission silktassel tree with the just-about-to-flower plum branches. Then I added some of the California-grown flowers brought in by my favorite go-to flower outlet, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

If you spent any time reading the Slow Flowers book, you’ll already know that I regularly turned to the flower farmers involved in this innovative cooperative to procure ingredients for my bouquets and arrangements, month after month.

In the Pacific Northwest, as in so many of the areas where members of the Slow Flowers Tribe live, winter is our quiet season.

Our gardens are relatively (or seriously!) dormant. I have to ration what is in bloom in order to have weekly diversity for my own Challenge designs.

Gorgeous anemones with dark centers. Lush ranunculus in romantic shades.

Gorgeous anemones with dark centers. Lush ranunculus in romantic shades.

So this week, please enjoy the beautiful fuchsia-petaled anemones from California, along with pale pink and creamy white ranunculus, also from California. 

Molly Sadowsky of the SWGMC orders in California florals in a very thoughtful and conscious way. She endeavors to work with farms that use sustainable or Veriflora practices.

Oh, and are you wondering about this beautiful aqua-glazed vase that holds my bouquet? It is – of course – American made!

The Madagascar vase, made in California by Bauer Pottery.

The Madagascar vase, made in California by Bauer Pottery.

Called the Madagascar vase, it comes from Bauer Pottery California, and you can read more about how Janek Boniecki saved the vintage molds for this early and iconic California ceramics factory here.

I love this vase shape so much, I used it in a photo shoot a few years ago for  Better Homes & Gardens. 

It was our holiday centerpiece story featuring nature-inspired cuttings from various regions around the country. I used all those yummy proteas, banksias, eucalyptus, leucodendron and leucospermum. Thought you’d enjoy seeing how appropriate these Australian natives look with the Cali vase. Here’s what I wrote:

California Cool 

The turquoise glaze of a made-in-California Bauer Pottery vase enhances a blue-green and yellow bouquet. The floral ingredients, all native to Australia and South African but grown in California, are thoroughly adapted to Southwest gardens and bloom from October through May. Seeded eucalyptus and velvety sprays of silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum) serve as foliage, while the arrangement’s drama comes from Banksia and pincushion flowers (Leucospermum sp.).

Here are a few designs that others have created recently – they are so inspiring!

Winter Slow Flowers Challenge from Katherine Tracey of Avant Gardens: a Succulent Cutting Arrangement.

Winter Slow Flowers Challenge from Katherine Tracey of Avant Gardens: a Succulent Cutting Arrangement.

From Grace Hensley of eTilth, local tulips, euonymous and acanthus foliage  (plus some bupleurum).

From Grace Hensley of eTilth, local tulips, euonymous and acanthus foliage
(plus some bupleurum).

TIP: Design 101

               Jewel Tones for springtime.

Color wheel lesson: The flowers and vase combination illustrate an analogous color palette. Analogous colors are adjacent to one another on the color wheel. Fuchsia, purple and indigo are pleasing when viewed together because they each share varying quantities of the primary color blue.
White floral accents offset the black centers of the anemones, adding a graphic punch to this composition.
This arrangement, from later in the spring (April), features:

  • 12 stems fuchsia anemones (Anemone coronaria‘Galilee Pink’), grown by Everyday Flowers
  • 8 stems pearlbrush (Exochorda racemosa), grown by J. Foss Garden Flowers
  • 6 stems bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus), harvested from my garden
  • 7 stems white tulips, grown by Alm Hill Gardens

Vase:
8-inch tall x 6-inch diameter round vase with 5-inch opening 

(c) Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers, by Debra Prinzing

Re-Wilding with The Floracultural Society (Episode 179)

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Stephanie Huges and Anna Campbell of The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA.

Stephanie Hughes and Anna Campbell of The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA.

rewild Today I am delighted to introduce the women behind an innovative flower farm/floral design business in Oakland, California called The FloraCultural Society.

Anna Campbell, who owns the venture with her mother Linda Davis, has an extensive career in horticulture, agriculture, floral design, editorial and retail.

She freely admits during our conversation how no matter what she pursued professionally, flowers have continued to draw her like a bee to nectar. Many of you will understand this “flower fever,” which makes Anna’s story so compelling.

After previous forays into floral retail, Anna developed and launched the current format for The FloraCultural Society — part micro urban flower farm / part flower shop and studio space. She describes the business as “a cut flower farm and retail shop providing plant-based goods, classes and events.”

Anna, Linda and Stephanie in the new retail shop on College Ave. in Oakland's Rockridge Neighborhood.

Anna, Linda and Stephanie in the new retail shop on College Ave. in Oakland’s Rockridge Neighborhood.

flora+circle+logo Anna connected with Stephanie Hughes through the local flower farming community in the Bay Area and last year Stephanie joined The FloraCultural Society as Director of Flora and Farm Operations.

I’m so pleased that Stephanie’s voice is included in the interview because she’s the one who introduced Anna and me last October, when I was invited to visit the new FloraCultural Society shop in downtown Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood on College Ave., a stone’s throw from Berkeley.

Stephanie and I originally met last May when we were both part of a bearded iris design workshop taught by Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen of The Little Flower School.

At the time, Stephanie was still shadowing and apprenticing with flower farmers and floral designers, hoping to find a new career in the Bay Area after escaping from a corporate retail job. And now, she’s working closely with Anna to bring locally-grown flowers to their community!

Here's the artwork for The FloraCultural Society's upcoming Kickstarter Campaign.

Here’s the artwork for The FloraCultural Society’s upcoming Kickstarter Campaign, a watercolor that depicts the parcel of land they plan to farm that’s super close to a freeway overpass.

I know you’ll enjoy the conversation, so click on the PLAY BUTTON above to listen or download this episode. And I do want to encourage you to check out the new Kickstarter Campaign that Anna and Stephanie and their team will launch on February 7th.

The campaign seeks to raise funds to so the new 2-acre flower farm is off to a good start. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by between 11 and 3 for light refreshments, sneak previews of the campaign’s rewards and view a screening of the new “Help us Grow” video.

A peek inside the new flower shop in Oakland.

A peek inside the new flower shop in Oakland.

A bouquet called "Flowers to Dye For," which includes flowers and floral dye. After you purchase the $95 bouquet, you are invited to return to The FloraCultural Society to participate in a post-Valentine's Day workshop with Sasha Duerr, author of "The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

A bouquet called “Flowers to Dye For,” which includes flowers and floral dye. After you purchase the $95 bouquet, you are invited to return to The FloraCultural Society to participate in a post-Valentine’s Day workshop with Sasha Duerr, author of “The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

A medium sized bouquet of beautiful floral cuttings in the signature quiver.  Twenty percent of the proceeds of this bouquet purchase go towards seed, soil, and supplies for the petite urban farm.

A medium sized bouquet of beautiful floral cuttings in the signature quiver. Twenty percent of the proceeds of this bouquet purchase go towards seed, soil, and supplies for the petite urban farm.

For a brief engagement this Valentine's Day - A medium sized bouquet of blush garden roses and beautiful, fragrant winter blooms in our signature quiver.

For a brief engagement this Valentine’s Day – A medium sized bouquet of blush garden roses and beautiful, fragrant winter blooms in our signature quiver.

As I mentioned in the talk, Anna wowed me with a gift of a letterpress print that she commissioned for the opening of the new shop on College Avenue. It reads “Rewild Your Life . . . Give in to Floral Mutiny.”

The mini flower farm, located in Oakland on less than 2,500 square feet. It's ready to be joined by a new 2-acre parcel nearby.

The mini flower farm, located in Oakland on less than 2,500 square feet. It’s ready to be joined by a new 2-acre parcel nearby.

Here’s a little more about the company, from The FloraCultural Society’s web site:

The FloraCultural Society was established in hopes of uniting a network of people interested in the beauty of sustainably grown flowers and plant-based goods.  In 2012, we dug into a 2,600 foot plot of land in Old Oakland and began to grow heirloom varieties in the midst of the city.  The contrast between the wild organic flowers and the industrialized structure of the city inspired  the FloraCultural Society’s tagline… ReWild Your Life.

We are now sourcing from local farms in the Bay Area and have plans of expanding our own farm to 2 acres, giving us the ability to provide you with distinct, heirloom varieties.

In joining our society, it is our hope that you may become connected with your wild side, simplifying the way you indulge.  We invite you to take a class with us, Join our CSF (our Community Supported Flowers), try out our plant based skin care lines, and rewild your home with a locally grown arrangement.

The idea of ReWilding is a lovely sentiment that we can all embrace!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

If you want to get started in or further your knowledge of specialty cut flower farming, or if you’re a designer who wants to strengthen your connections with local flowers, I want to share details of two opportunities coming up. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is hosting two regional Growers’ Intensives in March.

On March 2nd and 3rd, in Athens, Georgia, attendees will meet and learn from experienced flower farmers including Rita Anders from Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas whose topic is: From Seed to Market: A Few of My Most Profitable Flowers.”

Arrive early and attend the informal meet-and-greet on Sunday evening March 1st, hosted by Tanis Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm in Dennis, Mississippi, and Mimo Davis of Urban Buds in St. Louis, Missouri.

You’ll also get a chance to visit Three Porch Farm, owned by Steve and Mandy O’Shea in Comer, Georgia, and participate in a bouquet-making session co-led by Mandy (known for her beautiful Moonflower design studio) and Jennie Love of Love ‘n’ Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia — both of whom have been featured in the New York Times. And not to miss, also at Three Porch, a demonstration of veggie oil-powered vehicles and other equipment.

On March 23rd and 24th, a west coast Growers’ Intensive will take place in San Jose, California - and I’ll be there to meet you! You’ll hear from expert presenters, including several past guests of this podcast, including Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony, Joan Thorndike of Le Mera Gardens in Ashland, Oregon and Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, and others. I’ll be there with my recording equipment and I hope to capture some new voices to share on future Slow Flowers episodes.

There are a few upcoming deadlines to take note of, including the Georgia hotel room block and the San Jose bus tour of local flower farms, both of which expires this Friday, February 6th, so register soon.

Thanks for joining me today.  My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

Increasingly, there are passionate people like you who are joining the Slow Flowers movement, the Floral Mutiny as Anna Campbell calls it. You are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before!

We have exceeded 33,000 downloads to date and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

I don’t know exactly how to credit our growth, but get this: The Slow Flowers Podcast ended the month of January with more than 4,000 downloads, nearly 1500 individual downloads more than any month prior.

There’s something very good going. More people are entering the flower farming profession in the U.S.; more florists are seeking fresh, seasonal and sustainable sources of American grown flowers with which to create their beautiful designs; and more flower lovers are asking: “where are my flowers grown” and expect transparent labeling of those blooms. Origin does matter when it comes to your flowers.

So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Week 4 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, January 31st, 2015
Created on Jan. 30th, Seattle, Washington. I clipped all the botanical elements from my garden and I purchased the beautiful tulips from Alm Hill Gardens (Pike Place Market vendor of WA-grown tulips)

Created on Jan. 30th, Seattle, Washington. I clipped all the botanical elements from my garden and used beautiful tulips from Alm Hill Gardens (Pike Place Market vendor of WA-grown tulips)

Welcome to Week 4 of the Slow Flowers Challenge as we wrap up the first month of 2015! 

The year is off to a great start, and I thank you for joining me in this celebration of locally-grown flowers, from our gardens, meadows and farms. Seattleites are of course wrapped up in Super Bowl preparations, but I’ve been anticipating the return of homegrown tulips from Alm Hill Gardens, an organic food and flower farm in Everson, Washington, just two miles from the Washington-British Columbia border.
Owned by Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft, Alm Hill is known for raising luscious cut tulips. At Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the sign in their stall reads, “Alm Hill Gardens: A Small Sustainable Family Farm Since 1974.”
I greeted flower-seller Max Clement, who I’m always happy to see, and selected 20 apricot-hued and melon-orange tulip for $20. He wrapped them up in white paper and sent me off to play with the floral gifts that my own backyard offered as companion elements to the first tulips of 2015.
Here’s what I arranged yesterday:
My vintage cream McCoy vase is filled with magnolia foliage, pieris, hellebore flowers and foliage, witch hazel and local tulips.

My vintage cream McCoy vase is filled with magnolia foliage, pieris, hellebore flowers and foliage, witch hazel and local tulips.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'). This otherworldly flower excites the winter garden - and one must cut judiciously to preserve the shrub's beauty in the landscape. I used 5 stems with copper-orange flowers for my arrangement.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’). This otherworldly flower excites the winter garden – and one must cut judiciously to preserve the shrub’s beauty in the landscape. I used 5 stems with copper-orange flowers for my arrangement.

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TIP: Magnolia grandiflora foliage

Magnolia foliage with spring tulips

Magnolia foliage with spring tulips

The arrangement I created above took its inspiration from a winter bouquet that I included in my book Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers.

 
With this design, I raved about the fact that my neighbors Kim and Jake have a stunning Magnolia grandiflora that I view from my sitting room.
They are always so generous to allow me to walk across our shared driveway and clip a few glossy evergreen stems for my arrangements. The leaves measure up to 9 inches and the underside of each is slightly fuzzy and rusty-brown, which looks especially enticing with orange and apricot companion flowers like early spring tulips.
Anyone who thinks the winter garden is limited need only to consider broadleaf evergreen shrubs and trees – they are long-lasting and reflect the light when we desperately need it!
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GET INVOLVED AND SHARE YOUR SLOW FLOWERS ARRANGEMENTS!

A beautiful January bouquet submitted by Winnie Pitrone, a flower grower and arranger in Mendocino, Ca who uses only seasonal, local flora from her garden or nearby gardens.

A beautiful January bouquet submitted by Winnie Pitrone, a flower grower and arranger in Mendocino, Ca who uses only seasonal, local flora from her garden or nearby gardens.

Amaryllis, camellia, quince, peiris in urn from Erika's Fresh Flowers, a locally owned flower farm and design studio in Warrenton, Or., with a garden style that's inspired by the wild, unique botanicals nearby.

Amaryllis, camellia, quince, peiris in urn from Erika’s Fresh Flowers, a locally owned flower farm and design studio in Warrenton, Or., with a garden style that’s inspired by the wild, unique botanicals nearby.

Here’s a link to our January 2015 Slow Flowers Pinterest Board. Please share your arrangements with me and I’ll add them – or, like many of you, create your own Slow Flowers Pinterest board and invite me to join. I’ll be starting our February 2015 board this coming week!

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Flowers on Your Head with L.A.’s Mud Baron (Episode 178)

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
Some of the beautiful faces who've allowed Mud Baron to photograph them with flowers on their heads.

Some of the beautiful faces who’ve allowed Mud Baron to photograph them with flowers on their heads.

Mr. Baron, bouquet-maker

Mr. Baron, bouquet-maker

This past week took Slow Flowers to Southern California, where I combined business, pleasure, flowers and friends, in a whirlwind five days. I successfully cornered Mud Baron, one who rarely slows down himself, to record today’s interview. I’ve wanted to have Mud on the podcast for more than a year, ever since I visited Muir Ranch, the school garden he manages at John Muir High School in Pasadena.

You may not know him as Mud Baron. Yes, his nickname is Mud! But if you’re a follower of beautiful flower images on Instagram, you may know him by Co-Co-Zoe-Chee, or @cocoxochitl, his alias there, with 4,500 followers and thousands of posts. And many contain the hashtag #flowersonyourhead – one of Mud’s gleefully subversive campaigns to place photos on one’s head and snap a photograph, Frida Kahlo-like, for Instagram and other places.

As we discuss in the interview, I have succumbed to Mud’s flowers on your head shenanigans and also witnessed Mud at work, getting complete strangers to comply with his outrageous (and quite poignant ) requests. Check out his gallery of portraits by searching #flowersonyourhead.

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Mud, photographed by me in Seattle (March 2014) with flowers on his head.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in August 2013, after a visit to Muir Ranch. I hope it round out this introduction of Mud.

In 2011, a dedicated team of volunteer teachers and students began converting 1.5 acres of Pasadena, California’s John Muir High School campus into a school-based farm.

Today, Muir Ranch grows a variety of flowers, vegetables and fruits that are included in weekly CSA boxes as well as school cafeteria lunches. Students can complete community service or internship graduation requirements by enrolling in classes at the Ranch. Muir Ranch also provides paid internships to students, which are funded by private donations, special events, farmer’s market sales, and subscriptions to the produce box program (CSA).  

Edibles and flowers grow together.

Edibles and flowers grow together at Muir Ranch.

Every week, Muir Ranch CSA subscribers get a box or bag of about 7-10 different types of fruit and vegetables grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Customers pick their shares up at central distribution sites throughout Pasadena. Muir Ranch CSA partners with several local farms for seasonal fruit and vegetables to supplement what they can produce, providing tax-deductible weekly boxes to over 100 subscribers. It is the CSA program that generates much of the income that keeps this place operating.

Mud Baron, a passionate school garden advocate who serves as the Executive Director of Muir Ranch, is one of the people at the hub of this endeavor. That sounds like a high-falutin’ title, but in all reality, he is true to his nickname. Mud gets down and dirty – and REAL – with his kids, teenagers whose horizons are much brighter after they’ve learned to grow and sell food and flowers to local customers.

How did this former design-build contractor end up teaching gardening and farming skills to urban youth? I’m still trying to figure out the exact path of Mud’s career, but suffice it to say he’s in his element growing food and flowers.

One of the talented student farmers designed a gorgeous bouquet for me on the spot

One of the talented student farmers designed a gorgeous bouquet for me on the spot

Many programs besides the CSA are supported under the umbrella of Muir Ranch, such as partnerships CSAs run by with other local schools and learning gardens. Muir Ranch also and hosts monthly “Plug Mobs” to help other groups in the community plant their own gardens.

In Mud’s mind, no Southern California-based teacher should go wanting for school garden supplies. “The Plug Mob program means that finding seeds and plants is no longer a factor for 2,000 schools,” he says. Muir Ranch operates like a plant nursery, helping source and distribute seeds, bulbs and flats of plant starts. Like modern-day Johnny Appleseeds, Mud and his supporters share what they have and spread around the love.

As more young people “connect the dots,” they become involved in how food is grown, distributed, and finally cooked into healthy meals. Besides being a center for education, Muir Ranch hosts a variety of ongoing and special events. The program is known for its floral arrangements, and I love that Mud has taught his interns and student workers how to harvest and assemble bouquets.

Word is getting out about Muir Ranch’s flowers. One of Mud’s interns just earned $400 selling wedding flowers to a market customer. According to Mud, that experience opened her eyes to possibilities for a bright future.

Here's a beautiful student-crafted bouquet, an impromptu gift that I cherished.

Here’s a beautiful student-crafted bouquet, an impromptu gift that I cherished.

Things are ever-changing at this school garden, with new crops of kids getting involved and older ones graduating and enrolling in college. And Mud continues his radical outreach on behalf of school gardening, food justice and the importance of flowers in our lives.

I promise you our conversation is all over the place, bouncing between sentimental and serious to hilariously irreverent, a lot like Mud himself.

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My photographer friend Jean Zaputil, of Studio Z Photography and Design, took this portrait of me after Mud plunked a huge bunch of flowers on my head, March 2014.

I will devote the next two weeks to Valentine’s Day, turning the focus to American grown flowers for this top floral holiday.  If we can’t show our love with local flowers, what’s the point?

I’ll introduce you to some of the people who are doing exciting things to innovate at Valentine’s Day, getting their clients out of the gift-giving rut that involves thinking a generic bunch of a dozen red roses equates true affection and gestures of love. Please return to gain new ideas – and let me know what you’re doing this Valentine’s Day – I’d love to share your own efforts with our listeners.

Thanks to the Slow Flowers Tribe, this podcast has been downloaded more than 32,000 times. In fact, the month of January hit an all-time high as our most popular month to date, with more than 3,000 downloads of current and archived interviews – and I’m encouraged to know that more listeners are discovering this flower-powered podcast every day.

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

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

The Slow Flowers podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Week 3 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Sunday, January 25th, 2015
Miniature cymbidiums in all their glory, offset with calla lily foliage from Danielle Hahn's private landscape at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA.

Miniature cymbidiums in all their glory, offset with calla lily foliage from Danielle Hahn’s private landscape at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA.

On the road with the Slow Flowers Challenge, I’m in Southern California this week to do some story scouting, podcast interviews and to attend the winter board meeting of the Garden Writers Association in Pasadena.

So naturally, I wasn’t able to create my own seasonal and local bouquet!

For Week 3 of 2015, I want to showcase this exquisite arrangement designed by Danielle Hahn at Rose Story Farm. I visited her in Carpinteria, CA, this week (USDA Zone 10) and was delighted to see a vase of miniature cymbidium orchids and calla foliage on the kitchen island at the Hahn family farmhouse.
Rose Story is an American flower farm, specializing in organically-grown old garden roses, David Austin’s and heirloom varieties for the floral industry. That means their field-grown roses bloom mostly in May, June, July and August! Since it’s winter now, the farm’s rose production is limited.
Orchids are a wonderful winter-blooming option for every climate.

Orchids are a wonderful winter-blooming option for every climate.

A few years ago, Dani’s father brought her a wide array of winter flowers that would bloom in her garden when the roses were dormant. She wrote this on her Instagram post of these orchids: “It’s cymbidium time . . . these are a teensy variety and first to bloom. A gift from my late father who decided we needed something during our rose dormancy. One thousand plants and some are fragrant!”
There’s something quite powerful and lovely about associating our floral choices with memories and the people we love – and Dani, how beautiful that your own remembrances of your father are connected to these orchids.
Love this glossy calla lily foliage, another seasonal option from Dani's garden.

Love this glossy calla lily foliage, another seasonal option from Dani’s garden.

Okay, I know not everyone lives in Carpinteria (just a stone’s throw from Santa Barbara), so what’s going on in other parts of the country?
Here are a few designs from Slowflowers.com Members in colder corners of the U.S.
I share these to illustrate how much beauty each region has to offer – if only you look!
From Ann Sensenbrenner, owner of Farm to Vase in Madison, Wisconsin. This was her New Year's arrangement featuring conifers and evergreens, ilex berries, dried grasses, dried seed heads and dried flowers.

From Ann Sensenbrenner, owner of Farm to Vase in Madison, Wisconsin. This was her New Year’s arrangement featuring conifers and evergreens, ilex berries, dried grasses, dried seed heads and dried flowers.

From Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. Kate posted this arrangement on Jan. 16th as part of her "Friday Night Romance" series, a peek at the bouquets she creates each week. I love how this arrangement features late-season Dusty Miller, as well as gorgeous juniper berries, dried hydrangea flowers, dried grasses. I actually think I see a few succulents in this bouquet, too!

From Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens in Oakdale, Pennsylvania.
Kate posted this arrangement on Jan. 16th as part of her “Friday Night Romance” series, a peek at the bouquets she creates each week.
I love how this arrangement features late-season Dusty Miller, as well as gorgeous juniper berries, dried hydrangea flowers, dried grasses.
I actually think I see a few succulents in this bouquet, too!

TIP: From the Flower Farmer

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium 'Sleeping Dream Castle'.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium ‘Sleeping Dream Castle’.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium 'Sleeping Dream Castle'.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) with Cymbidium ‘Sleeping Dream Castle’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchids make great cut flowers!

According to Sandra Peterkort Laubenthal, whose family grows roses, lilies and orchids in greenhouses outside of Portland, Oregon, cymbidiums can be displayed as a flower-studded stem or cut individually off the stem for floating or inserting in floral tubes.
 
It’s hard to know, however, how fresh the flower is. “What makes the most difference is if they are cut right after blooming,” Sandra says.
 
“Look at the lip to see if it has turned pink or is otherwise discolored. This is an indication that the flower has been pollinated by an insect – and that dramatically shortens the cymbidium’s lifespan.”
 
(c) Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Flowers, by Debra Prinzing

Playing with Flowers and Digging Deep with Fran Sorin (Episode 175)

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we're just weeks away!

Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we’re just weeks away!

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Before we get started, I want to announce our new Slow Flowers Podcast Sponsor for 2015 – the California Cut Flower Commission.

The Commission is committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers.

I’ll be working closely with CCFC on a number of initiatives to promote domestic flowers in 2015, and I promise to keep you posted as details unfold.

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Today on the Slow Flowers Podcast we launch the Slow Flowers Challenge, share all about a new urban flower farm in Pittsburgh, and explore the meaning of flowers on a personal level with author and gardening personality Fran Sorin.

To kick off 2015, I invite you to join in the fun and creativity of the Slow Flowers Challenge. This project was inspired by Katherine Tracy, a talented plantswoman, designer and owner of Avant Gardens Nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Katherine blogged about taking the “Slow Flowers Challenge” after hearing my presentation at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Rhode Island this past fall…and she started using the hashtag #slowflowerschallenge, which in turn prompted other people to create seasonal bouquets, photograph them and share their designs on Facebook, Instagram and personal blogs.

Katherine’s artistic arrangements reveal her love of the natural world, the seasons, the plants, the gifts of the garden and wilder places. I’ve so enjoyed seeing these bouquets pop up across the web – thoroughly serendipitous and seasonal – representing pure joy for a moment in time. SO I thought, “why don’t we make the Challenge available to everyone who loves local flowers?”

I encourage you to check out these very simple rules and download a free SlowFlowersResourceGuide2015 here. Sign up to receive weekly design updates and follow a link to the Slow Flowers Pinterest Gallery, where you are welcomed and encouraged to post your seasonal arrangements.  Let’s have fun, make beauty, and change the American floral industry with new (and more seasonal) habits.

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Briefly, before getting to our main guest, I also invited Jonathan Weber to share what’s going on with greenSinner, a Pittsburgh-based floral design, wedding and event studio and urban micro flower farm that he owns and runs with partner Jimmy Lohr.

Past guests of this podcast, the two have made good on their dream — to buy more land and establish a working flower farm. Jonathan and Jimmy recently purchased 4 acres of long-neglected land inside the Pittsburgh city limits. It’s called Midsummer Hill Farm.

I couldn’t be more excited to see them take this major step, but so much is needed to get seedlings and bulbs into the soil in time for flowers to bloom in 2015. Here’s a recent article featuring greenSinner, Midsummer Hill Farm and Jimmy and Jonathan’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, which runs through January 27th. I encourage you to check it out and perhaps invest in the growth of local flowers in Pittsburgh.

Fran Sorin, author of "Digging Deep."

Fran Sorin, author of “Digging Deep.”

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” Read on to find out how you can enter to win!

Today’s guest Fran Sorin is an author, gardening and creativity expert, and deep ecologist. Her book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, was groundbreaking when published in 2004. It was the first book to address gardening in the context of creativity, and as a tool for well-being and personal transformation. Here is a link to my blog post about “Digging Deep for Flower Lovers,” sharing favorite excerpts from Fran’s book.

Fran recently released an updated 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep. The book is even more vital today, because our culture has become increasingly obsessed with technology and progressively more “nature deprived.”

From the moment Fran decided she wanted to share her passion for gardening with a large audience and approached the local Fox TV station in Philadelphia about the idea, she became a fixture on the TV circuit. She spent years as a gardening authority on Philadelphia’s Fox and NBC stations; she was the regular gardening contributor on NBC’s Weekend Today Show, and made several appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Lifetime, HGTV, DIY, and the Discovery Channel. She is one of the creators of the popular weekly dose of garden news at Gardening Gone Wild Blog.

Fran is celebrating her tenth year as a CBS Radio News correspondent. Her Digging Deep gardening features are heard several times a week on CBS Radio stations throughout the United States. She has also written dozens of articles about gardening and well-being for USA Weekend Magazine, Radius Magazine, and iVillage.

She has spent more than twenty-five years initiating and working on community projects that have served the diverse community of West Philadelphia, most recently initiating a community garden and learning center on the grounds of a church in an underprivileged neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

Even prior to becoming an ordained interfaith minister, Fran was ministering to folks whether she was taking on the role as a garden designer, a media trainer, a TV personality, or a radio host. Fran’s greatest strengths are in connecting to audiences and individuals and galvanizing them to take action. In these tumultuous and technologically obsessed times, when so many of us feel stuck, scared, and disconnected from ourselves and others, her optimistic, grounded values, and empowering message are needed more than ever.

Here is Fran’s video – she’s a woman on the street, sharing her inspiring “Give a Flower. Get a Smile” project:

Follow Fran here:

Facebook

Give a Flower Facebook Page

Twitter

If you want to participate in the drawing for a free copy of Digging Deep, post a comment about your earliest memory of gardening or experiencing nature. Your comment enters you into the drawing, which takes place at midnight Pacific Time, this Saturday, Jan. 10th. We’ll announce the winner next week.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more frequently than ever before.  We’re at nearly 30,000 downloads, which will be an exciting milestone to reach in the coming week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

Take the Slow Flowers Challenge in 2015

Monday, January 5th, 2015

ChallengeInvite_2015 What better New Year’s Resolution than to resolve to live locally with your flowers and floral designs for the coming year?!

This week launches the Slow Flowers Challenge, and I invite you to join in the fun and creativity.

A possible collection of stems and fruit inspired by Slow Flowers, photographed by Katherine Tracy of Avant Gardens Nursery.

A possible collection of stems and fruit inspired by Slow Flowers, photographed by Katherine Tracy of Avant Gardens Nursery.

This inclusive project was inspired by Katherine Tracy, a talented plantswoman, designer and owner of Avant Gardens Nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Katherine's Nov. 7th arrangement, created the week after we met at Blithewold in Rhode Island.

Katherine’s Nov. 7th arrangement, created the week after we met at Blithewold in Rhode Island.

Katherine wrote on her Garden Foreplay Blog about taking the “Slow Flowers Challenge” after hearing my presentation at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Rhode Island this past fall.

She started using the hashtag #slowflowerschallenge, which in turn prompted other people to create seasonal bouquets, photograph them and share their designs on Facebook, Instagram and personal blogs.

Katherine’s artistic arrangements reveal her love of the natural world, the seasons, the plants, the gifts of the garden and wilder places where she lives and gardens in New England.

I’ve so enjoyed seeing these bouquets pop up across the web – thoroughly serendipitous and seasonal – representing pure joy for a moment in time. These personal expressions resonated with me – they brought me back to the year I spent making one bouquet per week from the flowers that grow around me.

“Why don’t we make the Challenge available to everyone who loves local flowers?”

It’s official and you’re invited to join The Slow Flowers Challenge 2015.

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The Rules: Live in the season. Source locally. Use earth-friendly materials and supplies. The more frequently you arrange flowers, the more familiar you’ll become with each of these aspects.

What: The Slow Flowers Challenge is an ongoing practice of creating seasonal arrangements and sharing your designs with the Slow Flowers Tribe.

Why:  The practice is timeless. The gesture is universal. Inspired by the exquisite beauty of a garden or by the sentiment of a special occasion, we gather flowers and foliage and place them in a vessel to display in our homes or give to another. Floral design is a three-dimensional art form that blends horticulture and nature with sculptural composition. At its best, bouquet making is a personal expression unique to the designer’s tastes and point of view.

When: This is the 2015 Challenge. It will run from January 2015 through December 31, 2015. You can join at any time during the year.

How Often: The Challenge format allows you to participate at whatever frequency works for your schedule. We like to suggest these options: 365 Days, 52 Weeks, 12 Months or 4 Seasons.

When I created the Slow Flowers book, I designed one bouquet per week for 52 weeks. But you might decide to create a monthly bouquet, or a seasonal arrangement – or, if you’re really dedicated – a daily design! The main thing is that you decide what works for you and get started.

Share! Post a photo of your arrangement to our Slow Flowers Challenge Pinterest Page. And if you share it elsewhere, please use #slowflowerschallenge or tag @myslowflowers link on Twitter so others can see what you’ve created.

Resources to Help & Inspire You:

  • Sign up here to Join and Receive a weekly email with season-perfect Slow Flowers Tips for your cutting garden and personal floral design studio. Each will include what to plant now, what to harvest now, how to find key resources like seeds, plants or cut ingredients, and essential tools/supplies for the Slow Flowers Challenge
  • Submit photographs of your arrangements to our Monthly Slow Flowers Challenge Pinterest Page.
  • Share your designs on Social Media. Please use #slowflowerschallenge or tag @myslowflowers link on Twitter so others can see what you’ve created.
  • Win prizes and the admiration of your fellow Slow Flowers Tribe members
  • Achieve Certified Slow Flowers Designer status.

Let’s have fun, make beauty, and change the American floral industry with new (and more seasonal) habits.

‘Tis the Season for SLOW FLOWERS

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Seattle, Washington!

I was gifted a flat of paperwhites in bloom this week – one lonely bulb per pot – crying out for some equally lovely companions in a holiday arrangement. So yesterday, I clipped from here and there in the garden and created this trio of vases to adorn our Christmas dining table tonight.

Three vases filled with festive and LOCAL vines, leaves, branches, blooms, buds and JOY!

Three vases filled with festive and LOCAL vines, leaves, branches, blooms, buds and JOY!

The paper whites started it all - and I sought pretty plants with winter interest to accompany them.

The paper whites started it all – and I sought pretty plants with winter interest to accompany them.

In addition to the paperwhites, here’s what the vases contain:

  • Pieris japonica (Lily-of-the-valley shrub)
  • Camellia in bud
  • Bay tree stems
  • Daphne odora in bud
  • Dusty Miller
  • Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’
  • Variegated Ivy
  • Evergreen fern fronds
  • Narcissus (Paperwhites)

 

As I prowled through my mostly dormant landscape, each one of these plants reminded me how much I have to value in the winter garden. If you plant for four seasons, with intentionality, those woody ornamental shrubs really deliver! I found myself thinking: “Make more room for Pieris!” as I only have three and they’re relatively young shrubs. But those chains of blooms, deep pink and delicate, are simply sublime dangling out of the vases.

Close up, the tangle of stems reflects a perfect moment in time - in my garden and in the season.

Close up, the tangle of stems reflects a perfect moment in time – in my garden and in the season.

The Daphne – only planted two years ago next to the backyard patio where I will smell its fragrance in winter – well, I gingerly snipped three stems, each with a bud – and each from a lower/back part of the shrub. I still want to enjoy Daphne outdoors, as well as indoors!

I gaze at the Viburnum ‘Dawn’ every day – it’s just outside my office window and such a welcome a note of color – intense pink! – in December and January. Even the Dusty Miller, marginally winter hardy here in Seattle, had hung on long enough to give me a silvery cluster of soft leaves for each vase.

I’m launching a new project next week, appropriately called “The Slow Flowers Challenge” – and so making this holiday trio of arrangements has been my warm-up exercise.

If you’re ready to join me, start collecting your vases, eyeing botanicals in your landscape or neighborhood, and dreaming about a year of flowers in your life.

Happy Day, dear friends.

merrychristmas2014