Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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.

SlowFlowersChallengeCover.jpg (2)

 

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

Today’s LA Times: SoCal entwined in holiday swags with Blossom Alliance’s Lori Eschler Frystak

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

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Flirty Fleurs: Meet the Farmer-Florist

Friday, December 12th, 2014
Feast your eyes on "Flirty Fleurs," a new magazine celebrating the love of flowers.

Feast your eyes on “Flirty Fleurs,” a new magazine celebrating the love of flowers.

Alicia Schwede

Alicia Schwede

My friend Alicia Schwede of the Flirty Fleurs blog recently set for herself a huge new creative challenge: To design and produce her own floral magazine. The result is simply beautiful and last night, I finally got my hands on the brand new issue of Flirty Fleurs: For the Love of Flowers, Edition One.

Alicia asked me to pen a story for her inaugural issue and she gave me the assignment of interviewing two of her favorite design studios: Botanique, owned by Kelly Sullivan of Seattle and Verbena: Flowers & Trimmings, owned by Karin Plarisan and Karly Sahr of Roseville, California.

Of course, since all three are involved in the Slow Flowers Movement and members of Slowflowers.com, it was an easy “yes” on my part.

I’m sharing a little preview of my involvement in the Flirty Fleurs magazine here. Click to order a digital or printed copy so you can read every word.

For $19.95, the printed copy is worth every penny. You’ll love the luscious look, the pearly-matte paper stock, the elegant graphic design and pages bursting with flowers. Alicia and her team pulled off something that many people dream of doing, but few can ever take from idea to reality.

The story I wrote: “Meet the Farmer-Florist,” begins this way:

Kelly Sullivan of Botanique, photographed in her Seattle cutting garden.

Kelly Sullivan of Botanique, photographed in her Seattle cutting garden.

Karen and Karly of Verbena, photographed at their Roseville, California flower farm.

Karin and Karly of Verbena, photographed at their Roseville, California flower farm.

Meet the farmer-florist

Marrying science and art, a new crop of floral designers are growing their own botanical ingredients

By Debra Prinzing

I first wrote about a “farmer-florist” in 2012, with the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet (St. Lynn’s Press). In a chapter titled “The Accidental Flower Farmer,” which profiled San Francisco floral designer Baylor Chapman, owner of Lila B. Design, I documented Baylor’s decision to start growing many of her own flowers, vines, ornamental shrubs, succulents and herbs, in order to diversify the palette with which she designed.

Even two years ago, I didn’t know that the “farmer-florist” category was going to be the phenomenon it has since become. In that chapter, I wrote: “Increasingly, there are designers who, by necessity, harvest floral ingredients from their own gardens. As well, there are growers who assume the role of floral designer, satisfying a bridal customer’s request for unique, straight-from-the-farm bouquets. That these two world are happily intersecting is due to curiosity, innovation and experimentation on the part of designer and grower alike.”

Today, more than two years later, all you have to do is search the hashtag #farmerflorist and dozens of self-references appear on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Designers and flower farmers alike are describing themselves as farmer florists, including two of the most recognizable names in the industry, Erin Benzakein of floret and Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers. No longer considered something outside the accepted scope of what a flower farmer is supposed to do (grow flowers) or what a floral designer is supposed to do (create beautiful bouquets using flowers that someone else cultivated and harvested), there is a lovely blurring of the lines between those formerly  conventional roles.

But to give credit where it is due, an entire generation of specialty cut flower farmers has been designing bridal bouquets and farmers’ market bunches for a long time. Lynn Byczynski first wrote about the business opportunities for flower farmers to design and sell their bouquets back in 1997 when her book The Flower Farmer was first published (the second, updated edition came out in 2008). But long before then, British designer-to-the-royals Constance Spry (the first celebrity florist) cut blooms, branches and foliage from her family’s land to sell in her London flower shop as early as the 1930s.

Thanks to a newfound passion for local and seasonal floral ingredients, more floral designers are putting on their gardening gloves and cultivating small and large patches of earth for cutting gardens, rose borders, raised beds and hedgerows – anywhere a few extra flowers can be planted and cared for. So we asked three Farmer-Florists to share their motivations for doing just that.

Here’s hoping that Alicia will continue her project to plan her 2nd edition of Flirty Fleurs. And here’s to farmer-florists everywhere, for bringing beauty to our lives!

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A Quiet Sunday Morning

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

A Seattle Sunday Morning: 43 degrees F. Foggy and damp. It’s supposed to get up to 53 degrees F this afternoon, so who am I to complain about a little morning fog?

I woke up grateful for many things, including the sense that my life has slowed down for this 30-day holiday period. I’ve purposely limited my social commitments so as to save my energy for the creative projects that are tugging at me. This afternoon, I might get the sewing machine out and see what I can fashion from my collection of pretty scraps and remnants.

One lovely suprise happened last night, just as I was about to turn off the back episode of “Madame Secretary” I was watching and crawl under the flannel sheets.

Fran Sorin, yes that Fran Sorin – of Digging Deep and Gardening Gone Wild fame, sent me a note to say she devoted her latest CBS Radio gardening segment to “Slow Flowers.”

I’m hoping to get the audio posted, but right now, let me just say THANK YOU so much to Fran! What a generous gift of support from one serious flower lover to another. She gave me the transcript, which I’ll share here:

CBSradio CBS RADIO SPOT

December 5, 2014-4- Slow Flowers

If you’re thinking about sending flowers to someone for the holidays, I’ve got a suggestion for you.

This is Fran Sorin for DIGGING DEEP.
A gardening colleague, Debra Prinzing, has singlehandedly created and committed her life to developing a nationwide online directory of florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers. It’s call Slow Flowers.
In the U.S., we spend close to $28 billion a year on floriculture. Around 80% of the cut flowers bought in the U.S. are imported.
The Slow Flower Movement is following the sustainable values of the Slow Food Movement—which is to buy local, lower the carbon footprint, enrich the local economy, and preserve local farmland.
To learn more and buy magnificent flowers from local American growers, click on slowflowers.com

This is Fran Sorin for CBS Radio News.

GLOBAL CHORUS

A lot like Fran’s unepected gift of a 1-minute endorsement heard on radios around the country, this next item also gets filed under the “out of the blue-gift from the universe” category.

In April 2013, I received an email from a stranger. Someone named Todd E. MacLean who just reached out with an invitation to get involved with a new book of essays entitled “Global Chorus.” Here’s what he wrote:

Global Chorus, edited by Todd E. MacLean

Global Chorus, edited by Todd E. MacLean

My name is Todd E. MacLean and I’m the Editor-in-Chief for an international fundraiser anthology that is currently being compiled called Global Chorus: A 365-Person Anthology of Worldwide Concern and Enduring Hope.

With collected words from Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, David Suzuki, Stephen Hawking, Bill McKibben, R.K. Pachauri – Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Ashish Ramgobin – great granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, Frances Moore Lappé, Paul Hawken, Trudie Styler, Gloria Flora, Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, Kenny Ausubel, Joel Salatin, Alexandra Cousteau, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama, and many, many more, Global Chorus is growing into a powerful anthology for a world in crisis; and through this letter, I am now extending to you an invitation to write a brief response for inclusion in the Global Chorus anthology.

Global Chorus is a 365-day compendium, bringing together 365 contemporary voices and sharing in the experience and wisdom of many of humanity’s most concerned citizens. Contributors are asked to express their thoughts on the future of the planet, and the anthology will present a different contributor’s response for each day of the year. Proceeds from the sales of Global Chorus will go toward World Wildlife Fund, The Jane Goodall Institute, The David Suzuki Foundation and The International Committee of the Red Cross.

Contributors to Global Chorus have one page (suggested length of up to 250 words, to a maximum of 350 words) to answer the anthology’s question:

“Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet? What would these conditions look like? In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?”

Something resonated with me about this project and I decided to say “YES.”

I used Todd’s invitation to bring flower farming and flowers into the dialogue about global environmental issues and the individual choices we make to respect the planet.

Todd helped me with a few edits and here is what ended up in the book, one of 365 essays (you can find mine on the page for October 19th). Learn more about Global Chorus and find a bookstore near you to purchase a copy. I’ll be giving these books as gifts this holiday season.

Debra Prinzing

It feels daunting to think one person can change

things in this world. That is when I turn from the

macro to the micro and focus on individual action.

A single gesture takes on meaning far greater than

me, my family, my block, my neighbourhood, my

city. When that gesture is frequently repeated, its

impact is exponential.

I have always turned to flowers, those growing

in my garden and in the fields of my flower farmer

friends.

The symbolic gesture of giving flowers has

been practised for generations. Flowers appear in

history, in literature, in every culture and in every

land. Gathering flowers as a show of affection or a

celebratory display is no small thing. It is a timeless,

universal practice.

Flowers connect humans with Nature and

heighten our awareness of the seasons. They root

us to our place on the planet. Our senses see, smell,

touch (and even hear and taste) botanical beauty.

This is a truth understood by all humans.

I do believe that flowers parallel food. We don’t

often eat petals and buds, but they feed us nonetheless.

The spiritual sustenance of flowers has caused

me to think more intentionally about how I consume

them. I have been inspired to start the Slow

Flowers movement, a conscious practice of sourcing

flowers grown close to me rather than ones shipped

to me from afar. When I choose local flowers, I am

preserving farmland, ensuring economic development

in rural areas and keeping farm jobs viable.

As an advocate for those who grow flowers

enjoyed by so many, I believe it’s important to remember

the human toil required to plant, cultivate

and harvest those blooms. I find hope in honouring

the flower farmer, hearing his or her story and

acknowledging the farmer’s role in bringing beauty

into our lives. By making a simple connection between

flower and farmer we humanize an entire

industry, one that has previously been so disconnected

from us. It is perhaps more indirectly rather

than directly world changing, and yet, it is the act

I know makes a difference far beyond the vase on

my dining table.

— Debra Prinzing, author, speaker, designer,

founder of Slowflowers.com

Gorgeous field-grown tulips, from Gonzalo Ojeda of Washington's Ojeda Farms.

Gorgeous field-grown tulips, from Gonzalo Ojeda of Washington’s Ojeda Farms.

 

Lavender News from the Northwest Regional Lavender Conference (Episode 170)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Lavender-web-small-150x150 Today’s episode was recorded in late October at the Northwest Regional Lavender Conference outside Portland, Oregon.

Susan and Jack Harrington of Labyrinth Hill Lavender, the conference producers, invited me as the luncheon speaker to talk about – what else – the American grown cut flower industry!

My talk was titled “From ‘Buy Local’ to ‘American Grown’ – How you can Join the Slow Flowers Movement.” I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with more than 200 lavender growers from around the country; in fact, the sold-out conference attracted participants from at least 22 states and several Canadian provinces, according to Susan’s tally.

One might ask: What does Lavender have to do with the Cut Flower Industry?

A gorgeous scene from Sarah Richards's Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island in Washington State.

A gorgeous scene from Sarah Richards’s Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island in Washington State.

Well, that’s what I was there to explore, along with my two guests today. By the end of today’s episode — All about Lavender – I believe you’ll conclude, as I have, that there is huge potential for integrating American Grown Lavender into the American Grown Cut Flower Community.

The flower- and lavender-growing communities are closely aligned in so many ways: In both worlds, you’ll meet family-owned farms, people who desire to make a living from their land, people who use sustainable practices, people who want to preserve farmland, people who create livelihoods for others in their community and people who believe in creativity and hard work.

NE_field_notecard

Mike Neustrom of Prarie Lavender Farm in Kansas.

Mike Neustrom of Prarie Lavender Farm in Kansas.

Mike Neustrom owns Prairie Lavender in Bennington, Kansas, and is a founding board member of the U.S. Lavender Growers Association.

Mike has been growing lavender since 2002.

His 4,000+ plants reside on two acres at the cusp of the tallgrass and shortgrass prairies of North-central Kansas.

Not only will Mike  share his experience with the challenges of growing lavender under harsh conditions, he will enlighten us with tales of manufacturing and marketing 90 lavender products on his farm.

Sarah Richards of Lavender Wind Farm.

Sarah Richards of Lavender Wind Farm.

Sarah Richards owns Lavender Wind Farm in Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island, a little closer to me. She is a founding and current board member of the U.S. Lavender Growers Association board. At Lavender Wind Farm, Sarah grows 14,000 plants on six acres. After 12 years of growing lavender and welcoming visitors to her farm, she started planning for an expansion beyond her farm’s borders. In 2012, she opened a manufacturing and retail facility in a charming 1916 bungalow, attracting both locals and tourists.

“I knew that one of my crops was tourists,”

– Sarah Richards, Lavender Wind Farm

Lavender Wind Farm's glorious fields.

Lavender Wind Farm’s glorious fields.

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation and perhaps it will inspire you to explore lavender as a new crop – or to think about ways to use your farm as an “agro-tourism destination” or for new product development.

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

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 26,000 times. 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.

Digging Deep for Flower Lovers: A cyber book party, complete with gardening giveaways

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Let's Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in "Digging Deep."

Let’s Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in “Digging Deep.”

I’m one of those accidental bloggers who breaks most of the rules when it comes to what supposedly makes a garden blog successful.

For one thing, I write posts that are probably far longer than the experts advise.

Another thing: I am completely oblivious to key words, SEO, tags, metadata, etc. – all those tricks to get Google and other search engines to pay attention.

And finally, I write for my own pleasure rather than to merely sell or persuade. If I like something, I’m usually compelled to share it with the universe; and even if no one comments or clicks through, well, that’s no big deal. It makes me happy and that’s what stimulates me to create a post.

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!

So today, I am thrilled that the stars have aligned to accomplish two things at once — to share something that inspires me (and, I hope, you, too!) and to celebrate the publication of Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary Edition Digging Deep, a personally engaging book that gets to the heart, soul and “why” that lures us into a meaningful connection with nature, plants and gardening.

Today’s post is part of a “virtual book party” involving seven veteran garden bloggers, writers far more experienced than I am in the art and science of this craft. I was touched that Fran invited me to be part of the Cyber Book Party, all the more because I am smitten with this book.

I received no compensation or products for participating, although Fran sent me a review copy of Digging Deep (which is now a little used, because I’ve turned down page corners and underlined some of my favorite passages).

In honor of Digging Deep’s Cyber Book Party, Fran has priced the e-book at .99 while the giveaway is live. Yes, you read that correctly: 99-cents!

Here’s a little more about this book:

Observe a peony - this flower is one of Fran's first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

Observe a peony – this flower is one of Fran’s first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

If you’re yearning to get out of the rut you’re in and cultivate more meaning and connection in life, Digging Deep offers the encouragement and tools to make it happen. Overflowing with tips, exercises, and resources, this instructive and inspirational guide is even more vital in today’s technology obsessed culture than when first published 10 years ago.

From Fran, you’ll learn how to bloom right along with your garden and use gardening as a conduit for beginning to experience creativity as a rich and dynamic lifetime journey.

The 7 Stages of Creative Awakening will take you through the steps of removing self-doubt and replacing it with strategies that will help you trust your instincts, let your imagination run wild, take risks, envision and design the garden of your dreams, reclaim your playfulness, and live the life you’re meant to— one filled with joy, well-being, and creativity.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former  Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

And here’s one of the book’s “exercise” assignments that charmed me (I’ll tell you why later).

p. 35-37

“This is probably the most loved exercise we do in my workshops – I call it Playing With Flowers. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market, supermarket, street vendor, or florist. If you can possibly buy locally grown, sustainable flowers, please make the effort to do so [THANKS FRAN!]. Pick out as many different flowers as your budget allows. Just let your eye go to what it likes and add them to your bunch. Ideally, you want at last three different varieties of flowers in a range of colors as well as some greenery and other fillers like berries or branches.

smclippersIMG_3807 When you get home, remove any excess leaves and trim the bottom of the stalks on the diagonal. It’s easiest and most efficient to use a pruner, which you can find moderately priced at any gardening center. Place the flowers in a sink filled with cool water with the bottom of the stems submerged.

Go through your cabinets and take out any kind of vases or containers you have that could hold flowers. Think outside the vase – you can use teakettles, jars, glasses, cachepots, or pitchers. And don’t limit yourself in terms of size – even the smallest tumbler or toothpick holder can look lovely holding the top of one blooming rose.

Now comes the fun part. Put on some music you love, turn off your phone, and just let yourself play with different variations of arrangements. Experiment with a variety of combinations and see what you like and dislike. Notice how colors, shapes, and textures of leaves and flower petals work together. If you start one arrangement and don’t like it, take it apart and start again. There are no rules here – no boundaries, no goals you need to strive toward. I know there are countless books and articles out there about how to create lovely flower arrangements, but that’s not what this is about. You don’t have to be a professional florist here. In fact, striving for any kind of perfection negates the whole point. This is about letting yourself go and playing, trusting your eye, and noticing all the interesting things you come up with.

You may find that the critical voices in your head are quick to sabotage -

“I can’t do this.”

“This is too hard for me. I’m not good at things like this.”

“This is stupid. Why am I bothering?”

This is all the product of the ego, rising up to make sure your spirit stays buried – right where the ego likes it, thank you very much. Notice how much you question and censor yourself. Let your kinder inner voice (it’s in there somewhere!) lead you through and nudge you into letting go and being in the moment. Remember, you don’t have to do this brilliantly. You don’t even need to do it well. You only need to do it for the sake of the childlike soul within.

This exercise has so many benefits. It shows you how to start trusting your instincts, allows you to develop an awareness of color, texture, shape, and form (which you’ll need later on), forces you to slow down and be in the moment, and opens you up to experimenting and exploring – all essential elements in the process of creating and gardening.

When you’re finished with your arrangements, place them in various spots in your home where you’ll see them often. Change the water and trim the bottom of the stems every day to continue your interaction with them and keep them fresh. Living with these flower combinations will give you a taste of their beauty in the micro so you can begin to cultivate your aesthetic appreciation for them in the bigger picture later on.”

Fran’s lovely exercise is one I’ve personally used many, many times. I just didn’t know to call it “Playing With Flowers”! My experience with flowers has been so similar to the one Fran suggests to her readers.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub - and inhaling the fragrance.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub – and inhaling the fragrance.

In the introduction to my book Slow Flowers. I wrote about my year-long, weekly ritual of clipping and gathering stems, arranging them in just-the-right vase, and photographing the finished bouquet:

. . . Slow Flowers reflects life lived in the slower lane. My family, friends and professional colleagues know that it’s almost impossible for me to do anything slowly. I’m the queen of multitasking; I just can’t help myself. There are too many exciting opportunities (or bright, shiny objects) that command my interest. But this “year in flowers” was altogether different. I can only compare it to the practice of praying or meditating. I didn’t realize that those few hours I spent each week, gathering and choosing petals and stems, arranging them in a special vessel, and then figuring out where and how to capture the finished design through my camera lens, would be so personally enriching.

    I used all my senses. Unplugged, away from electronic distractions, I studied the form, line, texture, subtle color and utter uniqueness of each stem. What a gift to slow down and experience the moment. I don’t know much about ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, but I understand that silence and contemplation of nature are part of its practice. I experienced something similar. Slow Flowers forced me to work at a decidedly different pace as I embraced creativity, fearlessly.

    I learned about my own preferences, design style and ability to look at the world of floral ingredients in an unconventional way. I learned that I really am a floral designer. Like me, you don’t have to earn a certificate from the London School of Floral Design to create seasonally-inspired bouquets. You can find local blooms in your or your friend’s garden, or from the fields, meadows and farm stands of local flower growers. Each bouquet tells a story about one moment in time, about Grandmother’s cherished flower vase or the fleeting memory that returns with a whiff of lavender or lilac. That’s one of the intangible gifts of bringing flowers into our lives.

. . . Gardeners are especially qualified in the art of floral design. After all, we have an intimate relationship with our plants, their bloom cycle, their natural form and character – and their seasonality. We also know what colors and textures we like when combined in the landscape. A vase can be a little garden, its contents gathered and arranged to please the eye.

       So give it a try. Design a bouquet. Channel your inner floral designer and begin your own year with slow flowers.

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Playing With Flowers can cost little or nothing to try, especially if you step outdoors and gather seasonal gifts from your own backyard.

Here are some more goodies that might make your day.

Thanks to the support of others fans of  Fran Sorin’s “Digging Deep,” we have several giveaways for you to try and win.

In addition to entering here, you actually have seven chances to win by visiting all the participating bloggers:

1. Dee Nash – www.reddirtramblings.com

2. Helen Yoest- www.gardeningwithconfidence.com

3. Jenny Peterson- www.jpetersongardendesign.com

4. Rebecca Sweet- www.harmonyinthegarden.com

5. Brenda Haas- www.bggarden.com

6. Fran Sorin- www.gardeninggonewild.com

The “Digging Deep” giveaway ends on Monday, December 8th at midnight Eastern Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 9th. Here are the rules:

1. Post a comment here on my blog, sharing an enduring, personal flower memory. For me, that “dig deep” flower memory is the color, soft texture and intense perfume of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, which reminds me so vividly of a Connecticut garden of my childhood. Share yours in the comment section below and you will be entered into the drawing, which takes places next week.

2. By making a comment here on debraprinzing.com, you will be entered into each of two drawings:

Blog_Seed_Giveaway_000_4239.jpg_-_Baker_Creek_Seeds-_Cyber_Giveaway-_19_hand_picked_selections_of_veggies_and_flowers 10818534_10205168719757714_1314615647_n.jpg-_Authentic_Haven_Brand_Soil_Conditioner

Prize #1Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — 19 handpicked varieties of veggies and flowers- valued at over $50. PLUS, a 3-pack selection of Authentic Haven Brand Tea, a premium soil conditioner  that’s safe for all garden, indoor plants and soil types. Makes an excellent foliage spray.

FullSizeRender[1].jpg_-_Nature_Innovations_Photo_of_Container

Prize #2 – Nature Innovations- www.natureinnovations.com — a new product line for indoor and outdoor gardening that provides plants with the most realistic look of nature with out chopping down a tree.

Molded from live trees Nature Innovations planters are made from a high density polyurethane, lightweight, UV resistant, and incredibly durable.  All Nature Innovations planters are individually had painted and are 100% made in the USA. The prize includes four planters/containers  (retail $149).

Thanks for your participation! And no matter what level of a gardener or a floral designer you I challenge you to try “Playing With Flowers” as you Dig Deep into your relationship with the earth.