A Softer Side of Green
10 stems red peonies, grown by Ojeda Farms
7 stems each ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Cowanii’ ornamental alliums, grown by Choice Bulb Farms
12 stems lady’s mantle foliage (Alchemilla mollis), harvested from my garden
9-inch tall x 5-inch diameter hand-blown glass vase
Create a collar: You can use flowers or foliage to ring the base of a bouquet or arrangement as a finishing detail. This technique is usually done as the bouquet’s last step. For this arrangement, I pre-cut the greenery and then added it beneath the peonies, slightly overlapping each stem as I worked around the circumference of the bouquet. Here, the lady’s mantle visually separates the dark red peonies from the wine-red vase.
Lots of news to share, including this very timely interview that Seattle’s NPR station KPLU-FM aired today. Environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp contacted me to discuss “sustainable flowers for Mother’s Day,” and thanks to her incredible interviewing and editing talents, a 25-minute conversation turned into a 4-1/2 minute segment. You can listen to it here.
The interview gave me a chance to talk about the excitement at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market – a just-launched supermarket bouquet program called “By the Bunch.” The beauty of this program is that it produces a sizeable income stream for every farmer-member at the SWGM Cooperative. Together they are so much more than the sum of their parts (or their flower fields, for that matter).
Today, the Thursday before Mother’s Day, was perhaps the most insane work day ever experienced by the Bouquet team, including managers Kristen Parris and Nicole Cordier, along with their new design team members, Carly and Michelle.
But in order to produce a staggering number of bouquets today – something like 700 bunches – flower farmers Diane Szukovathy and Vivian Larson had to show up and volunteer their time as bouquet-makers. I stopped by at around 9:30 a.m. to catch the activity.
Oh, bouquet-making sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? But by 7 p.m., when I had to bring by supplies for a special event tomorrow morning, Kristen and Nicole were still there, finishing up the final 100 bunches. Ever-positive, but clearly exhausted, these women believe so much in getting sustainable and locally-grown blooms into the hands of Seattle area consumers that they are willing to go without food and breaks just to achieve the goal. As I told them: If you can get through Mother’s Day, you can do anything. (They probably didn’t need to hear it from me!)
Read more about the By the Bunch program here. The brand development, graphic design and packaging is supported by a USDA Multi-State Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
My photos from today’s visit will wow you. If you haven’t figured out what to give Mom for her special day on Sunday, May 12th, stop by these outlets for LOCAL, SEASONAL Bouquets – straight from Northwest fields: PCC Natural Markets, Town & Country Markets and Madison Market.
My camera snatched some of today’s delicious springtime beauty to share:
For every mother out there, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ~ and may you enjoy your garden, your flowers and your families.
10 stems lilac (Syringa vulgaris), grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers
12 stems Ranunculus asiaticus, including ‘La Belle’ and ‘Super Green’ varieties, grown by Everyday Flowers
5-inch tall x 5-inch wide x 3-inch deep vase (overall height is 5½ inches)
From the Farmer
Extending the vase life: For decades, it’s been the conventional wisdom of florists that woody shrubs, such as lilacs and hydrangeas, benefit from a second cut, a vertical slice up the center of the stem, to increase the surface area that can absorb water. But according to professors Lane Greer and John M. Dole, authors of Woody Cut Stems for Growers and Florists, a research-based reference, the practice “has never been proven to extend vase life.” The best thing you can do is to use clean, sharp pruners and refresh the vase water every day or so.
12 stems fuchsia anemones (Anemone coronaria ‘Galilee Pink), grown by Everyday Flowers
8 stems pearl bush (Exochorda x macrantha), 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
8-inch tall x 6-inch diameter round vase with 5-inch opening
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.
10 stems purple lilacs (Syringa vulgaris), grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers
10 stems garden hellebores (Helleborus orientalis), grown by Jello Mold Farm
10 stems Fritillaria assyriaca, a spring-flowering bulb, grown by Choice Bulb Farms
17-inch tall x 7-inch diameter cream urn
From the Farmer
Hellebore how-to: Anyone who grows hellebores in their garden knows how frustrating it is to cut a few blooms and bring them inside, only to watch them wilt in a vase of water. Now I enjoy success when I use hellebores in my bouquets, thanks to an important lesson shared by Diane Szukovathy, co-owner of Jello Mold Farm. “Harvest hellebores after they have matured past the flower stage and the seed pods are beginning to form,” she advises. “By then, the petals have started to leather up and those hellebores will be rock solid in an arrangement for ten days.”
10 stems garden hellebores (Helleborus orientalis), grown by Jello Mold Farm
12 stems summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), harvested from my garden
1 stem curly willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’), harvested by Oregon Coastal Flowers
9-inch tall x 6-inch wide, teardrop-shaped wall vase (4-inch diameter opening)
Just add white: There are some floral designers who abide by the “rule of white,” which calls for adding white flowers to every design. Take a look at this arrangement and you’ll notice that a few white blooms go a long way. The bell-shaped snowflakes are smaller than the plum-colored hellebores, but they add a lot of cheer to the design. Especially when viewed from a distance, white flowers are impactful, making any arrangement young and fresh-looking.
Leaving tonight for a crazy, 8-day trip to Southern California (see sidebar with all my lectures & events~).
I should definitely be packing, feeding the fish, watering my plants, writing out my husband’s oft-requested to-do list (he likes my “What To Do While I’m Away” Memos!).
Instead, I had these wonderful, locally-grown flowers to distract me. Photos capture a moment in today’s busy-ness.
Had to post them.
NOW. . . I can get back to the chores!
Now here’s the full bouquet, in a vase you will recognize from SLOW FLOWERS, cuz I used it so often!
And one more cheery spring bouquet, in a farm jug gifted to me by Jean Zaputil:
8-11 Viburnum tinus blooms, harvested from Charlotte Behnke’s Seattle garden
6 stems Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, grown by Jello Mold Farm
6 stems bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea cantoniensis ‘Flore Pleno’), grown by Charles Little & Co.
3 stems green dogwood (Cornus sp.), harvested by Oregon Coastal Flowers
6-inch square x 3-inch deep white ceramic nut dish (overall height is 8 inches)
NOTE: Each Sunday of this year, I post my photographs, a how-to “recipe” and tip for that week’s floral arrangement, created for my new book, Slow Flowers.
Enjoy the floral journey through 52 weeks of the year~
With the arrival of spring here in Seattle, we flower lovers have lots to celebrate! That’s because the wistful beauty coming from our local flower fields, meadows and farms are simply sublime.
When I stepped inside the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market two days ago, I was stopped in my tracks. The botanical abundance in each stall made me catch my breath with happiness~ A new season is upon us – hurrah!!!
I brought home arm-loads of goodies, enough to make three lovely arrangements of three different sizes. The common threads are these blooms, including some clipped from my own garden. and the style of vase. I cannot resist a footed urn!
As noted above, my vase(s) of choice are footed urns or bowls. All three used here are vintage and quite dear to me.
I hope that seeing how I used them inspires you to snatch up a footed vase or bowl, an urn or anything with a pedestal base – they are indeed the superior vessels for showcasing flowers. If you frequent vintage sites online, flea markets or garage sales . . . maybe you’ll be just as lucky as I have been. I’ve used vintage metal flower frogs inside each. The frogs are like half-dome cages and because they are metal, they’re heavy enough to just sink to the bottom of the vessel (no tape or stickum required).
Constance Spry wrote about one of her favorite vases – a footed marble bowl – in her 1933 book Flower Decoration. I can only imagine how pricey one of these vases would be today! Here’s what she had to say:
“This vase is beautiful to look at whether empty or filled with flowers. It is so heavy that it is not disturbed by the heaviest branches of fruit or blossom, and its soft, pale-brown colour enhances whatever one chooses to put in it.”
Here are the designs that gave me so much pleasure:
After I created and photographed this arrangement, I decided to see how it looked WITHOUT those spikey branches. So here’s version 2 of the same bouquet:
© Debra Prinzing, all written and photographic content. Website design/development by Willo Bellwood/Metric Media