Debra Prinzing

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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Arizona-Grown Flowers & Bouquets are Flourishing

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Linda MacConnell’s arrangement close up (and above) . . . love how it pairs perfectly with the gold cylinder vase by Syndicate Sales!

Earlier this week I had the immense pleasure of collaborating with three Slow Flowers members to present a 2-part workshop at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

“Artisanal Flowers” invited gardeners, florists and flower enthusiasts to spend two evenings with Morgan Anderson of TheFlori.Culture, Anne J. of Anne ES Garden Fresh and Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm.

Arizona Grown, folks!

The four of us reunited after our fantastic meet-up earlier this year when a number of Slow Flowers members visited Shanti and Corey Rade’s farm in Paulden, Arizona. You can read more about that event here and listen to my past Slow Flowers Podcast episodes with Shanti and Morgan.

Our dream for this workshop was to introduce the Slow Flowers, Arizona-grown message to students at the state’s largest public garden.

And early November is actually a good time to talk about local flowers and floral design because (as Anne explained during her portion of the presentation) fall in Arizona is basically a “second spring.”

Oh, my! I loved creating with these lovely ingredients!

We started off on Monday evening with a Slow Flowers overview in which I shared the story of our movement as well as my personal experience growing and arranging with flowers and foliage in all four seasons.

Learning from Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm, a diversified operation of food and flowers.

Shanti followed with an engaging presentation about Whipstone Farm and her journey from growing food to growing flowers for many outlets. It was exciting to watch the expressions on all nine students’ faces as it slowly dawned on them that there’s a new paradigm for what’s considered “desert florals.” From ranunculus to sweet peas to peonies and dahlias, well, Shanti not only blew people away, she raised their expectations for what is possible here in Arizona.

Morgan Anderson, PhD, of The Flori.Culture, introduced floral design as a fine art medium

The following night, we returned ready to design! Morgan took the lead as design coach and instructor, discussing the art principles of floral design and sharing tips on both contemporary and garden-inspired styles. She taught everyone how to cut and use cacti as well as how to correctly wire succulents for arranging.

Tracey Locke’s beautiful bouquet

Roni Costa’s verdant arrangement showcases a lush succulent

Mary Mayfield was drawn to the tawny apricot palette.

Anne introduced the botanicals from her farm and from two other local growers – herbs, edible flowers, purple hyacinth bean pods and other lovelies from Emily Heller at Et Tu Frute Garden and seasonal millet and lavish scarlet hibiscus pods from Anne Kerr at Black Kerr Farm.

Focused on our design portion of the “Artisanal Flowers” workshop!

Someone provided vibrant zinnias and no one was shortchanged on their design elements. Because Shanti had to leave for Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ board meeting duties back east, I jumped in and introduced her crazy-beautiful palette of vintage-looking mums, as well as a generous array of lisianthus, scented geranium foliage and more!

Designing was a blast, aided by the chance to use American-made glass vases supplied by Syndicate Sales – and the gold and rose-gold cylinders struck a perfect seasonal note for the tawny floral palette. You can see more of the students’ and instructors arrangements here:

Karen LeDonne’s yummy design.

Julie

Fran Janis was drawn to the deeper botanical hues in this wild bouquet

Debbie Mittelman of MiViva Floral Design produced this gorgeous composition.

Tish Dunshie created this textural arrangement.

READ MORE…

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

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Garden Media Group on Facebook

Follow Garden Media Group on Twitter

See Garden Media Group on Pinterest

Watch Garden Media Group on Instagram

READ MORE…

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

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

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

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

The artist at work ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robbie’s floral installation for Christian Dior Parfum, London

One of Robbie’s installtions for Hermes, London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE…

Episode 320: Washington flower farmer Janet Foss of J. Foss Garden Flowers reflects on her 30-year-plus career

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Janet Foss, veteran specialty cut flower farmer and lifelong plantswoman.

I visited Janet in September on harvest day. Here she is with an armload of beautiful garden roses!

I’m so happy today to feature my recent interview with Janet Foss of J. Foss Garden Flowers, based in Onalaska, Washington, a community located halfway between Seattle and Portland.

Janet Foss has spent more than 30 years in flower farming, but her passion began when she was 10 years old. “I remember asking for my own flower bed,” Janet recalls. “My grandmother was a cut flower grower and florist – it’s a big thing in our family.”

As an adult, Janet and her husband Jim first raised unusual garden flowers on a 20-acre farm in Everett; since 2003, they have farmed on 40 acres in Onalaska, alongside the Newaukum River, with 5-plus acres specifically dedicated to field-grown, green house and high tunnel production.

Her natural ability to grow things has paid off, as Janet is known in flower farming circles as an expert in heirloom chrysanthemums.

For several years, Janet popularized vintage varieties of specialty mums through a mail-order venture.

After selling that business to another grower, Janet now focuses exclusively on raising uncommon cut flowers.

“Something different” is her guiding principle when it comes to choosing which crops to grow. “We specialize in high-quality flowers that are different and unusual from the standard garden flowers normally available.”

The beautiful setting for J. Foss Garden Flowers, in southwest Washington State.

That includes 3,000 dahlias and rare pussy willows and more than 200 varieties of flowers and floral ingredients, including astrantia, calla lilies, campanula, cosmos, delphinium, garden roses, gentiana, grasses, hypericum, lady’s mantle, ninebark, ornamental wheat, pussy willow, saponaria, scabiosa, sunflowers, sweet peas and zinnias.

Janet with her famous dahlias!

Janet regularly sells at her stall inside the Oregon Flower Growers Association, which is located at the Portland Flower Market. In Seattle, you can find her seasonal offerings at Northwest Wholesale Flowers. She was a founding member of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in 2011.

Calla lilies have been in Janet’s family for more than 50 years, originating from her grandmother’s cutting garden.

Here’s more background from the “about” page of J. Foss Garden Flowers:

We started our farm in 1981, a few days after we were married. Jim was a school teacher at the time and had the summer free; I needed to go back to work. The day I went back to work, he went to town and got the business license and signed us up for the farmers market. I had been gardening all my life. Jim was a city boy, and gardening seemed like a big expense which he felt would never be recovered. I told him we could make money selling at farmers markets, he took me seriously. The first item on his agenda was to put this garden to work making money. He has never been a procrastinator, without him I would still be thinking about getting a business license. Our first farm, close to the Everett, WA city limits, was only about an acre. We sold at the farmers market, did custom picking for local customers, and had a florist who bought most of what we grew.   

We were really enjoying growing flowers, so next we bought 20 acres in the Snohomish Valley. It was all sub-irrigated, was awesome soil, and grew beautiful cut flowers. We specialized in plants that loved damp peaty soil, like the Giant White Calla.   We soon became know for the Callas, although we also grew dahlias, pussywillows, cosmos, Queen Anne’s Lace, and many other unusual cut flowers.

The circumstances of life often change, and the need for us to change occured after Jim suffered a stoke in 1998.  It became clear that life would be simpler in order to be closer to family, so we moved south back to my roots in Lewis County Washington.  We found a beautiful field near Onalaska, WA, on the Newaukum River.  We purchased this land in 2001 and started shaping it into our current farm. Giant White Calla are still our specialty, but we are also growing roses, garden flowers, and clematis.  We grow over 200 varieties of flowers, and have flowers available most of the year.

J. Foss Garden Flowers’ original booth at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market (2011-2013)

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation and listen for the tale of how Janet and I actually went to college at the same time — as Home Economics majors. I guess all roads lead to flowers, though, because horticulture has been both of our passions long after we gave up the sewing machine and that patternmaking training from college days.

Here’s how you can find Janet Foss at her social places:

J. Foss Garden Flowers on Facebook

J. Foss Garden Flowers on Instagram

I also  want to share an opportunity that might strike a chord with you, as it has with me. So many of us have watched in horror as the wildfires of Northern California, specifically in Sonoma County, have destroyed homes, businesses and agricultural land.

We have a number of Slow Flowers members who have experienced devastating loss and destruction and our hearts go out to them. There are opportunities to support these friends. I’ve seen offers of labor, studio and cooler space, housing and design support crossing the social media channels and I’m inspired to do what I can, as well.

I just learned through Mud Baron, floral activist and educator at Muir Ranch in Pasadena, California, that there is a ‘Just and Resilient Futures Fund’ in the works, as part of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, a nonprofit agency.

A diverse coalition of community-based organizations has established the campaign; resources from this fund will be provided to victims of fires, especially those suffering losses not covered by insurance or traditional relief services, and to support initiatives that build more just, healthy, and resilient communities and that better prepare us for future catastrophe.

As Mud posted on his Facebook feed, “because so many farmers lost so much in the  🔥 🔥 🔥#sonomafire, this mad farmer with pruners and an iPhone is raising funds to help the rebuilding efforts at Oak Hill Farm, Flatbed Farm and Let’s Go! Farm via @thefarmersguild”

Follow this link to make a contribution online. When you donate, @bakercreekseeds will match gifts up to $1k.

Thanks for getting the word out, Mud!

Sonoma Flower Mart’s recent Instagram Post

I also want to give a heartfelt shout-out to Nichole Skalski and Kathrin Green of the Sonoma Flower Mart, what has essentially become the heart and hub of the Slow Flowers community of farmers and florists in the North Bay region. Let’s support North Bay flower farmers by buying their flowers!

Our community is strong and resilient — and we are driven by the essential vision of supporting the vibrant domestic floral marketplace. Thanks for being part of this movement.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 247,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

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

Music credits:

Bending the Reed
by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.

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

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a beautiful spot!

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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE…

Episode 316: Nature-Inspired Floral Design with Cindy Hanson of The Herb and Garden in Helena, Montana

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Cinday Hanson trims bunches of tulips moments after they arrived from their overnight trip from Mount Vernon, Wash. Thursday afternoon in her downtown shop The Herb and Garden. Hanson says she only sources her flowers from within the United States only and adds that ninety-percent of them are Calif., Ore., and Wash. grown. (c) Thom Bridge, Helena Independent Record

A local bouquet by The Herb and Garden (courtesy Cindy Hanson)

Before I get started, I want to encourage you to listen carefully at the end today’s interview to learn about upcoming Slow Flowers events that you can participate in — especially to take advantage of a generous Slow Flowers discount code that Holly Chapple has shared for anyone who wishes to attend the upcoming FLOWERSTOCK at Hope Farm in Waterford, Virginia, October 9-10. I’ll be there teaching floral memoir writing . . . and would love to see you there!

Cindy often sources tulips from Washington Bulb (c) Thom Bridge, Helena Independent Record

This week’s guest is Cindy Hanson, owner of The Herb and Garden in Helena, Montana. She is a longtime member of Slowflowers.com and I recently profiled Cindy’s retail flower shop in the Slow Flowers Journal print edition – inside Florists’ Review. Click here to read “Keeping it Local in Montana.”

I wanted to feature Cindy and her business in the first ever “How I Do It” entry for Slow Flowers Journal because she is a role model for sourcing local botanicals whenever possible and augmenting with American Grown and flowers from other states when Helena, Montana, is covered in snow.

My thinking is this: by featuring role models like Cindy and fellow retail florists in other frost-prone markets across North America, we’re helping to debunk the assumption that the Slow Flowers approach is difficult to uphold.

If she can do it in Zone 4 or Zone 5, of all places, you can do it, too.

You’ll enjoy our conversation, as Cindy discusses the journey she has taken from a career in horticulture and landscaping to selling and designing flowers.

(c) Thom Bridge, Helena Independent Record

Here’s how to find and follow The Herb and Garden:

The Herb and Garden on Facebook

The Herb and Garden on Instagram

I hope you can take inspiration from Cindy Hanson’s business model — one that gives The Herb And Garden a brand distinction in her marketplace for specializing in Montana-designed wedding flowers and providing her customers with American-grown flowers all 12-months of the year!

And here’s our special news: Last year, Holly Heider Chapple of HOPE Flower Farm welcomed dozens of designers and flower lovers from near and far for the first annual Flowerstock.

This year, she will again open her farm on October 9th and 10th for Flowerstock. Hope Farm is located just outside of the nation’s capitol and there, professionals and members of the community will gather for two days of demonstrations and talks by renowned floral designers like Ariella Chezar, Robbie Honey, Pat Roberts and Sherry Spencer and Holly herself.

I’m excited and honored to join Holly for this second annual Flowerstock Experience where I’ll be leading creative writing exercises for attendees, guiding as everyone begins to record a personal floral narrative.

NOW, to sweeten the deal, Holly is offering a special $200 discount for the Slow Flowers community. Use this promocode for a discount off of the one-day or two-day registration: FSSLOWFLOWER. Click here to register.

This discount can also be used for Flowerstock’s “#treattheteam” offer to buy 2 tickets get the 3rd for free. Get in touch with me or write flowers@hollychappleflowers.com to request the promo code for the free ticket if you bring a third member of your staff or team.

If you’re in the New England area, you can also meet me at two upcoming events — A Slow Flowers Meet-Up in Guilford, Connecticut at Trout Lily Farm on Saturday, October 7th and at the New England Farmer Florist Collective event hosted at Salted Root Farm near Plymouth, Massachusetts on Sunday, November 5th.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 237,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

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

Episode 315: Flower Farmer Nellie Gardner’s New Chapter in Historic Garden and Landscape Preservation

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Nellie Gardener, cut flower farmer, horticulturist and historic landscape preservation consultant.

SLOW FLOWERS IN THE NEWS

Nellie Gardner at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, where she led tours recently for attendees of the Garden Writers Association annual symposium.

Nellie, pictured on the grounds of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, NY, where she is in charge of landscape restoration.

Today’s guest is a woman who I met “virtually” nearly six years ago, but we only recently connected face-to-face. Her name is Nellie Gardner. When the two of us corresponded in late 2011, Nell was the proprietor of Flower Fields, based outside Rochester, New York.

At the time, I was wrapping up the final manuscript for The 50 Mile Bouquet, and one of the last chapters I wrote was about the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, called “From Their Fields to Your Vase.” I was a member of ASCFG, and a frequent reader of the members’ bulletin board where flower farmers posed questions and engaged in discussion on all sorts of topics.

One question caught my eye — from Emily Watson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Stems Cut Flowers. As it turns out, Emily is a past guest of this podcast; we featured her in Episode 185 a few years ago when we discussed her decision to add a new floral studio called Wood Violet to her business model.

Emily’s question about the viability and sustainability of working 80 hour weeks as a flower farmer and wanting to know that it was worth it prompted heartfelt reactions from fellow ASCFG member-growers around the country. One message came from Nellie Gardener, who wrote this:

“I have been able to make a frugal living by growing cut flowers for 20 years, with no outside income or partner with an income. I can only do it by working like a madwoman most of the year, doing weddings, developing many outlets, and extending my Zone 5 season by making Christmas wreaths (and) offering workshops and classes. To make a living with cut flowers, you not only have to grow efficiently, have quality (product), sell to florists, wedding and special event designers, and sell in both retail and wholesale channels, you also have to reinvent yourself to sell all your skills to the public who is hungry for anything real. The competition is cheap labor in South America and the use of flowers as loss leaders in stores like Sam’s Club and BJ’s. Only some consumers will buy on conscience, not price.”

Flower Field Farm in Spencerport, NY, where Nellie’s cut flower farm is located.

After reading her comments online, I contacted Nellie to ask for her permission to include them in The 50 Mile Bouquet and I promised to send her a copy of the book as my thanks. She agreed, and I believe the honest and sincere answers she wrote in reaction to Emily’s initial question gave readers an unusual peek into the life of a small-scale specialty cut flower grower.

Another view of Flower Fields Farm.

Over the years I would catch glimpses of Nellie and her flowers, including a beautiful spread in Country Gardens magazine, for which I’m a contributing editor. It was one of those lavish, romantic flower farming stories that prompted me to say, “oh, I wish I had been able to write that!”

Flower Field Farms’ array of fresh, field-grown blooms.

After all these years, Nellie and I finally met in person this past August, when she presented a roundtable topic at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium in Buffalo. I was ecstatic when I saw her name on the program. And the topic was a departure for Nellie — I thought. Rather than discussing cut flower farming, Nellie was there to share the story of gardening at the historic Graycliff Estate, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home on Lake Erie, built in 1926 for the Darwin Martin family. The grounds at Graycliff were originally designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a well-known landscape architect and contemporary of Wright’s. Once grand, like the estate, the gardens declined with age — and Nellie has assumed the role of horticulturist who is restoring the flower borders, harvest gardens and outdoor living spaces.

Well now, this was a new role for Nellie and it all makes sense now that I see this title on her web site for Flower Fields: “Cut flower grower, horticulture and gardening consultation.”

I reintroduced myself to Nellie and asked if she would join the podcast to share her story. What you’ll hear today is our rather spontaneous interview, recorded in the lobby of the Buffalo Marriott Hotel.

Dahlias on display!

Here’s a short intro from Nellie’s “about” section of the Flower Fields web site:

Nellie grows cut flower on her Historic Spencerport Farm, and is also the Horticulturist at the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. Her experience growing up on a hardscrabble farm on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia gave her motivation to put herself through College to learn the science of soils and plants.

With no formal high school education and no money she earned a degree in Agriculture from Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Cornell University. Working for The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and her own private consulting business, has given her a wide range of experience she applies to her approach to horticulture.

Seeing opportunity and making use of everything she finds grew out of necessity and reuse and repurposing are instinctive. She has grown cut flowers for over 20 years and consults in horticultural problem solving and cut flower growing.

Wow — at a time when so many are seeking ways to diversify their brand and business, I love seeing how one flower farmer’s  path is taking her in a direction that is creatively challenging, professionally rewarding and thoroughly relevant to growing cut flowers.

Nellie worked hard to diversify her business model at Flower Fields Farm, including wreath-making in the fall and winter months.

Find and Follow Nellie Gardner at these social places:

Flower Fields Farm

Nellie Gardner on Facebook

Nellie Gardner on Instagram

Thanks again for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Community continues to grow, with close to 1,500 members having joined our Facebook group and increased engagement on a daily basis over our other social platforms, including Instagram. We are gaining momentum and your participation is key. The media continues to pay attention and Slow Flowers has received some great press lately, both in the trade media thanks to our new partnership with Florists’ Review, as well as in print and online places.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 235,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

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

Music credits:
Chords For David
by Pitx
Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)
Acoustic 1
by Dave Depper
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

 

 

Episode 314: The Flowering of Toronto with urban farmer-florist Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard, a Toronto-based micro urban flower farmer and floral designer.

In 2011, I traveled to Toronto to give a Slow Flowers presentation at the Garden Writers regional meeting held at Canada Blooms, the mega indoor flower and garden show. And although that was during the frigid month of March and I knew finding locally-grown flowers would be challenging, my fellow GWA members foraged from their gardens for the greenery and branches I used in my demonstration.

I spent one early morning in early August following Sarah on her neighborhood harvest route

But one of the main items on my agenda for that trip was to meet Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard, today’s guest. Her unique approach to urban flower farming first caught my attention when My Luscious Backyard’s story appeared in a feature article in one of Canada’s national newspapers.

Sarah’s business starts in her own backyard, which is certainly LUSCIOUS!

Sarah studied film-making and spent her student summers working on a certified organic farm in British Columbia called Nanoose Edibles. The daughter of flower gardeners, she learned to love the rhythmic farm rituals of weeding and harvesting, not to mention the importance of sustainable growing practices.

Flowers flourish in Toronto’s postage-stamp-sized front yards, lovingly planted by Sarah.

Armed with a B.F.A. degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Sarah moved to Toronto to create documentary films, train as a yoga instructor and plant her own first garden in the city. Little did she know that growing a cutting garden would turn her into an urban flower farmer.

“I was growing so many flowers that I started giving them away,” Sarah recalls.

The notion of starting a flower CSA took root and she launched My Luscious Backyard in 2002.

Early on, Sarah’s 30-by-50 foot patch of ground yielded annual sunflowers and zinnias, flowering shrubs and lots of perennials. She shopped seed catalogs for new varieties and gained knowledge and inspiration from The Flower FarmerLynn Byzcynski’s essential guide to small-scale cut-flower farming.

Weekly subscriptions expanded into requests for Sarah to design wedding flowers, and soon, My Luscious Backyard was at capacity. Sarah asked a few friends if she could plant cutting gardens in their yards. “Then I put an ad on Craig’s List, and now people usually approach me,” she says.

It’s certainly a fair swap: Sarah gains planting space and the homeowner gains a flower farm. “People seem to be eager to have someone else garden for them,” she points out.

With more than 50 varieties of everyday and unusual blooms, My Luscious Backyard is known for producing the freshest, most romantic flowers around. Sarah harvests, designs the bouquets and delivers them to customers on the same day. She uses organic principles, reminding customers that “no environmentally damaging pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers are used.”

Here’s a fun video clip produced by a local newscast, which introduces you to Sarah’s passion for seasonal, organic and locally-grown flowers:

On her web site, Sarah emphasizes the value-added of buying local:

“Many varieties available through us are impossible to find at a conventional florist due to the arduous travel requirements (of imported flowers). And because they are grown locally they haven’t used a lot of fuel to reach you, unlike most commercially available flowers which travelled thousands of miles before arriving in Toronto.”

Photo by Andréa de Keijzer

Her wildflower- and nature-inspired bouquets satisfy weekly subscribers between the months of May and October to customers who pay $45 to $85 per arrangement with a 4-bouquet minimum. Sarah also supplies bouquets to restaurants, offices and area grocery stores.

And picture this: Sarah often utilizes a low-carbon-footprint bicycle, complete with a trailer. ”It holds six flower buckets,” she points out.

I hope you are as inspired as I am by Sarah’s “intentional” story. She lives with integrity – and beauty. And I hope more of us can do the same – even in our own backyards.

Here’s how you can find and follow Sarah:

Follow My Luscious Backyard on Instagram

See My Luscious Backyard on Pinterest

Find My Luscious Backyard on Facebook

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 233,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Red City Theme
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

 

Got Rocks? Here’s a savvy design solution for all those nuggets you’re digging up

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Love this tall console-style table made from hog fencing, rocks and a stone top — Design by Greg Graves and Gary Waller of Old Goat Farm.

If your garden is like ours, well, rocks are in abundance.

Our six-month-old garden occupies the 20-foot-by-60-foot backyard of a suburban home completed just months ago, right before we moved in on February 11th.

By the time we started working on the garden, no surprise! We realized what everyone who moves into a new-construction house learns. Landscaping crews simply move a lot of dirt and rocks around (usually destroying topsoil in the process). Then, they push any excess mixture of native soil, debris, the random screw or nail, and rocks up against the perimeter of one’s “new” yard and toss some bark dust on top. Not exactly “prepared soil,” right?

Rocks of all shapes and sizes have been piling up. We’ve had to muscle them out of newly dug planting holes for shrubs, perennials and trees. Said rocks range in size from a pingpong or tennis ball to something the size of a large dinosaur egg.

Case in point:

Yes, this is from the ground in our backyard. It was definitely a “two-person” rock, as they say.

Clearly, the rocks are winning. And it’s not like you can toss them into the compost bin and let the city deal with the mess.

Right now, along the side of our house next to the foundation, a long row of rocks is on display. There are mostly 6- to 12-inch diameter nuggets; some are surprisingly smooth; others more shard-like. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I returned to Old Goat Farm this past weekend. And I was reminded that it’s possible to turn unwanted rocks into very-much-wanted garden furniture and art.

Old Goat Farm is owned my my friends Greg Graves and Gary Waller. Old Goat Farm is out in the country, as one might expect, in the town of Graham, about 45 minutes south of where we live in Des Moines. It is a combination display garden, specialty nursery and animal sanctuary, all of which surround a charming Victorian farmhouse where Gary serves his famous holiday teas (there’s usually a waiting list, so check it out ASAP if you’re interested). I have written about Old Goat Farm’s holiday teas a few times, and you can read those posts here from 2010 and 2012.

Both men say they themselves are “old goats,” but the only reason you would believe that is their combined gardening and horticulture wisdom. Together, Greg and Gary know more than many of us will ever learn in one lifetime, not to mention two. Old Goat Farm is always open to the public the second weekend of the month, April through October. You can learn more about other special sales and events by checking out the Facebook page here.

Bruce and I spent a lovely evening last weekend at Old Goat Farm, where the guys hosted their first ever farm-to-table dinner in the garden. The food was out of this world – all vegetarian, of course – and presented in such a visually appealing manner by local chef Meghan Brannon of Conceptual Catering.

Between courses, we were encouraged to stroll the display gardens, and they are magnificent. I hadn’t been to Old Goat during the summer months for several years, and so I’d missed how much these borders, paths, islands and vignettes have matured over the dozen-plus years that Gary and Greg have tended to this land.

With rocks (and what to do with them) on my mind, what jumped out at me during this visit was how masterfully the guys handle their rock containment. Let’s review a few of these special pieces:

Twin gabion towers that serve as pedestals for beautiful urns to mark the entry into Linda’s Garden, a special destination honoring our late friend Linda Plato.

A small garden bench (right) and a square side table (left). Both utilize stone slabs for the “top.”

Another view of the fantastic gabion fern table. This is a stunner!

A detail of the planted surface of the table.

Another beautiful view.

You’ll want to read Greg’s blog post  from a few years’ back, in which he discusses his wire-cage designs and his personal relationship with the rocks in his garden. I found it inspiring!

Simply defying gravity, Greg and Gary make stone-filled metal orbs, too.

What a lovely way to punctuate a turn in the pathway.

 

Episode 306: All about Clematis with Linda Beutler, curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection and author of The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Linda Beutler, clematis expert, floral designer and author. (c) Loma Smith photograph

Linda is the author of The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis.

Last week, we heard from Rebecca Reed, U.S. Sales Executive for David Austin Garden Roses.

I learned so much from Rebecca about these beloved and increasingly popular roses for both the landscape and floral arranging and if you haven’t listened yet, head on over to Episode 305. It’s the perfect lead-in for today’s equally fabulous topic: Clematis.

Because so many of my friends are involved in the Pacific Northwest horticulture community and because I once was deeply embedded in it, serving as the Northwest Horticultural Society’s “Garden Notes” newsletter editor for several years, I have been vaguely aware of the existence of a rare clematis collection taking root outside Portland, Oregon. But I’d never visited the garden where it was housed.

Then last year, I met Phyllis McCanna while speaking to the Portland Garden Club, and she asked me to visit — more than once. Phyllis was gently persuasive with her warm invitations and about a month ago when I found myself driving to Portland for a series of scouting appointments, I arranged to meet Phyllis and see the clematis I’d been hearing about. As it turns out, Phyllis is the board president of the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at the historic Luscher Farm, part of Lake Oswego’s Park and Recreation system, outside Portland.

The modern clematis collection at the Rogerson Clematis Collection. I love the way it’s organized like a vineyard!

The display gardens are arranged around the historic Lescher Farmhouse and feature clematis paired with ornamental landscape plants.

Clematis with conifers and ornamental shrubs.

The Friends group was formed in 2005 to ensure that Brewster Rogerson’s amazing collection of clematis would be maintained and nurtured over time. Since then, the collection has grown from a group of beautiful plants in pots to an assemblage of beautiful plants in a delightful garden, now North America’s foremost collection of the genus Clematis.

Clematis, with lavender!

Linda led me on a tour of the modern clematis display.

Its mission is to preserve and foster the Rogerson Clematis Collection in a permanent home, observing its longtime objectives of assembling and maintaining as comprehensive a collection of the genus Clematis as possible, for the advancement of botanical and horticultural research and education and pleasure of all who visit.

I was delighted to reconnect with Phyllis and with my guest today Linda Beutler. Linda is a fifth generation Oregonian and lifelong gardener, who left floral design in 2007 when she signed on as the curator of the Rogerson Clematis Garden.

She is the author of several books, including Garden to Vase, Growing and Using your own Cut Flowers, which Timber Press published in 2007, now out of print but available used on Amazon and at Powell’s Books online. She also wrote Gardening with Clematis in 2004 and The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis, which Timber Books published last year.

Clematis with cotinus.

Clematis with barberry.

Clematis with witch hazel.

Linda’s love of gardening began with harvesting strawberries with her grandfather at the age of three, and being given her own plot for radishes and string beans at age five. Her home garden in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon reflects her garden passions, including old garden roses, herbaceous perennials and shrubs for cutting, and her 200 favorite clematis. Linda has been an adjunct instructor of horticulture at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, OR since 1996. She is the current President of the International Clematis Society and has also been known to dabble in Jane Austen fan-fiction!

Please enjoy this conversation — and stay tuned for a bonus tip from Linda at the end of the interview. Does she or doesn’t she use rubbing alcohol to extend the vase life of her cut clematis?

Enjoy my gallery of photos from my recent visit to the Rogerson Clematis Garden. Find more clematis at these social places:

Rogerson Clematis Garden on Facebook

Download the Clematis for Beginners list from International Clematis Society

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 212,000 times by listeners like you.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

LaBranche
by Blue Dot Sessions
 
Clap Along
by Dave Depper
Additional music from:

audionautix.com