Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Week 14 // A Visit to Laguna Beach to Play with Local Flowers & New Friends

Sunday, April 12th, 2015
A golden and green floral palette - with a beautiful echeveria as a focal element

A golden and green floral palette – with a beautiful echeveria as a focal element. (c) Perry Stampfel

 

Welcome to Week 14 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

Greetings from Southern California, where I have been teaching this week! It’s a great excuse to show off some of the flowers grown in Encinitas, California – by Dramm & Echter, an established farm that grows beautiful blooms.

At the invitation of Lynn Stampfel of Laguna Beach Garden Club, I traveled to Southern California earlier this week. This established and active group of gardeners graciously welcomed me to lecture about American Grown Flowers and the Slow Flowers Movement. We had 125 in attendance and it was a whirlwind. Why? Well, for some crazy reason, I had agreed to give a 30-minute slide lecture, followed by a 30-minute eco-design demonstration.

Above is the arrangement I created for the demo. I used a vintage brass planter – low and wide – in order to show how to use chicken wire as the internal mechanics of the container.

 

The floral elements were all grown locally – well, the next county over – at Dramm & Echter, an American grown flower farm with 40 acres of field-grown crops and 950,000 square feet of greenhouses. Dramm & Echter’s primary floral crops are gerberas, lilies, spray roses and protea varieties. Then there’s so much awesome foliage and textural varieties, including solidago, leucadendron, ruscus, eucalyptus and more.

Demonstrating with the flowers from Dramm & Echter

Demonstrating with the flowers from Dramm & Echter. (c) Perry Stampfel

Working with the Dramm and Echter sales team, I ordered $800 of their flowers and foliage varieties for Laguna Beach Garden Club’s afternoon event: A hands-on design workshop.

Twenty-five participants gathered in the courtyard of the local church that hosted our workshop under the lovely canopy of a melaleuca tree, we spent two hours arranging with those blooms. Everyone was encouraged to try using chicken wire or fluffy foliage or curly willow as the stabilizing matrix — all great alternatives to conventional chemical-base flower foam. I’m pleased to have been able to demonstrate the brand new Floral Soil plant-based product in one of my designs, shown below.

This vintage footed glass bowl contains Dramm & Echter florals, including gerberas, spray roses, wax flower, and two types of eucalyptus branches.

This vintage footed glass bowl contains Dramm & Echter florals, including gerberas, spray roses, wax flower, and two types of eucalyptus branches. (c) Perry Stampfel

Twenty-five Slow Flowers designers, all members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, at work on their personal projects.

Twenty-five Slow Flowers designers, all members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, at work on their personal projects. (c) Perry Stampfel

Week 13 // It started with the apricot hyacinths

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Here is the full view, photographed today on my back porch. So wonderful that the Japanese maple in the background is leafing out, too.

Here is the full view, photographed today on my back porch. So wonderful that the Japanese maple in the background is leafing out, too.

Welcome to Week 13 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!
To be perfectly honest, it started with those yummy apricot-hued hyacinth and the very first fragrant lilacs of the season – both from Northwest fields.
I love  the soft, billowy generosity of spring's early blooms - weed that right now after a winter of stiff conifers.

I love the soft, billowy generosity of spring’s early blooms – weed that right now after a winter of stiff conifers.

And then I couldn’t take my eyes off of the most luscious of tulips, a two-toned pink and green variety called ‘Renown Unique’, grown by my friends Pam and Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farms on Whidbey Island, Washington. (You can find incredible fancy tulips and bulbs grown by them and other local farms at the  Seattle Wholesale Growers Market right now).

In addition, I came home with a bunch of the dark-centered white anemones, also grown by Pam and Kelly. All are quite lovely but I wanted to add some goodies from my own garden to enhance this week’s arrangement.

You can see that the cotton-candy-pink flowering cherry branches and the pale blush-apricot rhododendron clusters — and the just leafing out apricot foliage of an old azalea add their seasonal sparkle to the farmers’ flowers. Combining gifts from the garden with gifts from flower fields is a good thing!

My dear friend and San Diego garden TV personality  Nan Sterman gave me this lovely pot for a birthday several years ago. I’m using it for my Easter bouquet, but I’m sending her best wishes for a blessed Passover celebration that I’m sure she’s having with her family tonight.Our worlds continue to overlap and connect, especially when we love the garden, plants and nature.

A close-up shows those tulips, anemones and the delicate azalea foliage.

A close-up shows those tulips, anemones and the delicate azalea foliage.

Here is the entire recipe:

From my garden: Flowering cherry branches, rhododendron clusters (cut when most of the flowers are in bud, to encourage a longer vase life) and branches of just-emerging azalea foliage.

From the flower farm:

  • Apricot-peach hyacinths, grown by Oregon Flowers in Aurora, OR
  • White lilacs, grown by Tosh in Snohomish, WA
  • Renown Unique pink-and-green tulips, grown by Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, WA
  • White anemones with a black center, grown by Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, WA

HappyEaster

Santa Cruz’s Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. draws inspiration from her own garden and nearby flower farms (Episode 187)

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Inspiring floral designer Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co.

Inspiring floral designer Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., captured while gathering flowers in her garden

In 2007, Amy Stewart’s Flower Confidential introduced readers to a Santa Cruz-area floral designer named Teresa Sabankya. She wrote:

Teresa Sabankaya has the kind of flower shop that you would dream about opening, if you are the kind of person who dreams of opening a flower shop. It’s in a little green metal kiosk outside Bookshop Santa Cruz in coastal California. The flowers – all interesting, unusual, old-fashioned, ephemeral, perfumy, not-your-typical-florist kind of flowers – dance and wave from buckets crowded around the stall. Her inventory is highly seasonal: in summer you’ll find larkspur and poppies, and in winter it’s all heathers and holly and berries. If you’ve been so busy that you haven’t noticed that spring has arrived, you’ll stop short at the sight of the pink cherry blossom branches bursting out of her shop in early March, and it’ll make you resolve to slow down and enjoy the season. Even if you don’t buy a flower – and Teresa would be happy to sell you a single flower – just the sight of her little stall will lift some of the weight off your shoulders. Anyone who doubts whether flowers can change a person’s emotional state has never watched the people walking by Teresa’s shop.” 

Amy continued: ” . . . The Bonny Doon Garden Company fit with my idea of how floral commerce must work – you’d grow some flowers in your garden, you’d buy some from a farmer down the road, and you’d put them in buckets and sell them to your neighbors.”

Bonny Doon's retail space inside New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz, CA.

Bonny Doon’s retail space inside New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz, CA.

Well, anyone who read all of Flower Confidential knows that it’s about the international, multibillion dollar floriculture industry – a far cry from the charm of selling flowers from one’s garden in Santa Cruz.

I was always in awe of Teresa – she was a rock star profiled by Amy Stewart, for goodness sake’s. Until last week, Teresa and I had never met in person, but we felt connected through our friendship with Amy and because we both want to advance a new normal in the floral industry: where mindful practices of local, seasonal and sustainable flowers trump designing with imported ones.

Last year, when I launched the Slowflowers.com web site, Teresa created a listing for Tessa’s Garden, her studio business, and we started an occasional email correspondence.

Oh my gosh: the dream garden! Here's where many of the flowers, branches, herbs and vines that Teresa uses originate . . . in her private garden.

Oh my gosh: the dream garden! Here’s where many of the flowers, branches, herbs and vines that Teresa uses originate . . . in her private garden.

Another view, including the veggie and herb garden in the foreground.

Another view, including the veggie and herb garden in the foreground.

An intricate detail in the Posie that Teresa created for me.

Intricate details emerge as part of the hand-tied Posie that Teresa created for me.

Teresa had taken a break from the fast pace of running a retail flower shop and sold The Bonny Doon Garden Co. in 2012.

She then pivoted toward wedding and event design work, including hosting private ceremonies under the giant redwoods at her bountiful landscape in the hamlet of Bonny Doon, a few miles up the Coastal Highway from Santa Cruz.

Earlier this year, Teresa extended an invitation for me to stay a few days in the bridal cottage on her family’s property.

We planned ahead to schedule that visit – and this podcast interview – after my gig speaking at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show on March 22nd.

READ MORE…

Week 12 // Backyard greenery and seasonal blooms

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

This was a week of flowers, beginning on March 22nd with my “Four Seasons Cutting Garden” lecture at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Here are some one of my favorite images shared in my illustrated presentation.

I call this my "dream cutting garden," painted by Claude Monet in 1873. The Garden at Argenteuil (Dahlias)

I call this my “dream cutting garden,” painted by Claude Monet in 1873. The Garden at Argenteuil (Dahlias)

Overwhelming or Inspiring? A design scheme from a vintage garden book, Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders, 1912. "Plan of a Rainbow Border"

Overwhelming or Inspiring? A design scheme from a vintage garden book, Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders, 1912. “Plan of a Rainbow Border”

I also spent time interviewing several flower farmers and floral designers, which you can hear on the Slow Flowers Podcast in coming weeks. Subscribe here for free downloads from iTunes.

This week I have two arrangements to share with you. The first was created as a demonstration ofFloral Soil, the 100% plant-based, USA-made, compostable alternative to florist’s foam. The occasion was a workshop taught by Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs, focusing on “Elevated Centerpieces.”

Floral Soil’s creator Mickey Blake and I participated in the workshop to gather photos and content for her web site. I brought along my favorite glass compote, a pedestal fruit dish that was my great-grandmother’s.

Thanks to very excellent instruction from Alicia, here’s what I created. There are three pieces that created the mechanics to hold the flowers and foliage: (1) a 3-by-4-by-5-inch piece of Floral Soil; (2) a sheet of chicken wire wrapped from rim to rim of the vase; and (3) 1/4-inch waterproof cloth tape to hold it in place.

Such an elegant piece with a slender pedestal that resembles a candlestick holder. It measures 9-1/2 inches tall and the bowl is 10-inches in diameter. It is only 2-1/2 inches deep - just the challenge for NOT using foam!

Such an elegant piece with a slender pedestal that resembles a candlestick holder. It measures 9-1/2 inches tall and the bowl is 10-inches in diameter. It is only 2-1/2 inches deep – just the challenge for NOT using foam!

A combination of my own garden cuttings plus West Coast flowers and foliage

A combination of my own garden cuttings plus West Coast flowers and foliage

Ingredients:

From my garden: White-blooming Pieris japonica, glossy green Sarcococca ruscifolia (also called sweet box); common boxwood; and flowering currant, a native shrub (Ribes sanguineum).

Provided by Alicia: Pink tulips and stems of lime green viburnum (most likely from British Columbia) and button-like white feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), sourced from California.

A Slow Flowers Birthday Bouquet

Vivid details of melon orange and dark plum hues.

Vivid details of melon orange and dark plum hues.

Last year, prior to the launch of Slowflowers.com, I ran a successful campaign on Indiegogo and raised nearly $18,500 from more than 200 supporters.

Each contributor had the option of selecting a thank-you gift for their donation. One of the items was a Bouquet of American Flowers.
It has been fun to make those supporters happy as they redeem this “perk.”
In some cases, my floral friends are helping me to fulfill blooms in their regions (thank you greenSinner and Goose Creek Gardens in the Pittsburgh area AND thank you California Organic Flowers in Chico, California).
For the Seattle folks, I’ve been making the bouquets and yesterday was a chance to give my friend Sue Nevler the flowers coming to her.  She wanted to surprise her husband Steve Gattis with an arrangement of flowers for his birthday. Here’s what I created and where the blooms originated:
Happy Birthday, Steve!

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Agonis foliage, grown by Mellano & Co., Carlsbad, CA

‘Mambo’ Oriental lilies, grown by Oregon Flowers, Aurora, OR

Dark purple parrot tulips, Sonshine Farms, Whidbey Island, WA

Orange double tulips, Ojeda Farms, Ethel, WA

Phalaenonpsis orchids, Orchidaceae, Walla Walla, WA

scroll

#FarmerFlorist at a Crossroads – Redefining A Business with Emily Watson of Stems Cut Flowers (Episode 185)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
Emily Watson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based flower farmer, floral designer, entrepreneur -- today's podcast guest.

Emily Watson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based flower farmer, floral designer, entrepreneur — today’s podcast guest.

50

Emily on the farm, with her beautiful Wisconsin-grown peonies

I first met today’s guest “virtually,” when I reached out to her asking permission to use a portion of a online discussion she had started with other flower farmers.

Emily Watson is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and since 2008 she has owned Stems Cut Flowers, a specialty cut flower business based on her grandparents’ farm about 45 minutes west of Milwaukee. She is a founding member of Slowflowers.com, having supported our launch by contributing to the initial Indiegogo campaign.

Emily and I finally met in person last October at the ASCFG national meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, and that was when we spoke further about the possible “course-correction” she was considering as she juggled flower farming and a successful floral design aspect to her business. Recently we connected over Skype for a conversation that I believe you’ll find quite honest and forthcoming.

And ironically, it harkens to that bulletin board comment Emily made in 2011, the one I included in The 50 Mile Bouquet. She posed this question:

“I’ve been growing for less than five years, on a small plot, and I’m wondering if this is a good idea. I’m not looking to get rich overnight, or even at all. But I need to pay the bills, maybe support a family and retire some day (before I’m 90). I do not have a
problem working a few 80-hour weeks but I do not want that to be the norm. Am I crazy for thinking this? The bottom line is I need to know if this is possible before I sink any more money into it?”

The responses Emily received were encouraging and honest; no one tried to sugarcoat the truth about the backbreaking reality of running a small farm. They also revealed that people do not grow and market flowers because it’s lucrative, but at least in part for a love of the land and a passion for the independent lifestyle it brings.

Emily with her husband

Emily with her husband Nich Love

Here’s more about Emily:

Emily's tagline for Wood Violet, her new design studio, is "floral design inspired by nature." How fitting!

Emily’s tagline for Wood Violet, her new design studio, is “floral design inspired by nature.” How fitting!

A May wedding bouquet grown and designed by Emily Watson.

A May wedding bouquet grown and designed by Emily Watson.

She grew up in a small agricultural town not terribly far from Milwaukee with three brothers and lots of cousins nearby, playing outside all the time.

After high school, Emily attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison where that love for the natural world led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation.

She worked as a landscaper, which led to work in a flower shop, which somehow led to managing a Chinese restaurant. As she puts it: “I learned a lot about business at that Chinese restaurant and made a lot of friends, but the call of the outdoors was too strong.

By 2008, Emily had started Stems Cut Flowers at her grandparents farm in East Troy, the town in which she grew up. As a small farming business, Stems flourished into a floral design business.

Emily considers herself lucky enough to live in the city and spend a few days every week at the farm, the best of both worlds.

Spring flowers in a romantic nature-inspired bouquet.

Spring flowers in a romantic nature-inspired bouquet.

Her intention has always been to run a thriving flower farm that sells its crops to florists and to the public at farmer’s markets, picking up occasional wedding design work. The reality, however, is that the idea of “occasional” wedding design has turned into a nearly every weekend occurrence. It soon became evident to Emily that she was running two separate businesses. Last year she decided to create a separate identity for the design portion of her business.

The timing is perfect for today’s interview because Emily is in the midst of launching a floral design studio in Milwaukee. She’s named it Wood Violet, an eco-friendly studio that focuses on locally grown flowers as much as possible, offering wedding flowers and daily deliveries.

As we discussed in the interview, Emily hopes to offer gardening classes and floral design workshops at Wood Violet, inspiring people with the beauty of each season. I admire the way she’s playing to her strengths as both a flower farmer and a floral designer, and I admire that her new hybrid business model includes supporting other local flower farmers in her community while still keeping her fingers in the soil.

Emily Watson-designed wedding flowers.

Emily Watson-designed wedding flowers.

You know, I think Emily has answered the question she posed back in 2011 better than anyone else could have done – and I wish her great success.

Here’s how to find Emily on all her platforms:

Wood Violet on Facebook

Wood Violet on Instagram

Wood Violet on Pinterest

Before we close, I want to give you the news of the week.

Bloom Instagram Slowflowers.com has partnered with the Ethical Writers Coalition to present Bloom: A Sustainable Workshop, that will take place on Sunday, March 29th at the Mode Marteau Studio in Brooklyn.

Participants can sign up for one or more intimate classes for a hands-on and creative experience in sustainability, and of course, locally-grown flowers.

Learn to make your own fresh flower crown, create a perfect bouquet, or plant a DIY a reclaimed vase at three different workshops.

Three members of Slowflowers.com will join together for the 3rd workshop: Local Flowers 101 with Taproot & Molly Oliver Flowers

Rachel Gordon of Taproot Flowers and Molly Culver and Deborah Greig of Molly Oliver Flowers will teach flower arranging tips & tricks, discuss the importance and sourcing of sustainable flowers, and how to best care for your arrangement. All materials included with the $65 workshop fee.

603730_1735877586638566_7397650793020746231_n

I want to thank the Ethical Writers Coalition for producing this awesome event and for inviting Slowflowers.com to participate. The Ethical Writers Coalition is a very cool group of journalists, writers, and bloggers who seek to support and further ethical and sustainable living online and in print. Through my publicists, I met co-founder Alden Wicker of the EcoCult Blog when I was in New York last October – and she attended a SlowFlowers.com gathering where this event idea germinated.

After we connected, Alder wrote an insightful post about Slow Flowers, which you can read here. Elizabeth Stilwell, who blogs at TheNotePasser.com, has taken the lead on creating Bloom and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her on this project – sadly, I can’t attend. But I’m so pleased that Slowflowers.com will be well represented, getting the word out about American flowers and the people who grow and design with them.

I love how the roots of sustainable living intertwine so perfectly with the American Grown Flower movement. It’s exciting to see the idea of local, seasonal and sustainable flowers move from the alternative/fringe world closer to the mainstream.

donate-grist-logo Last week Grist.org fellow Ana Sofia Knauf published an interview with me and titled it “There’s a Local Flower Movement Blooming,” and I’d love for you to read it. Check out the link to her piece here.

Thanks for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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.

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded more than 39,000 times. 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. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Week 10 // Hellebores!!! (and More)

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Week10 Oh joy! The hellebores are blooming quite early this year.

Up close, the detail is so lovely and intricate

Up close, the detail is so lovely and intricate

For better or worse, Seattle’s uber-mild winter means that many of our early flowers are emerging weeks ahead of schedule.

I’m worried that our gardens and fields will need a lot more water this summer, but we can only say that Mother Nature decided to give us warmer temperatures and extra sunshine this year – more than previous winters in recent memory.

Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm grew the hellebores you see here – and let me tell you, their luscious blooms were flying out of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market when they arrived.

I snagged the *last* bunch of the plum hellebores and grabbed only 4 stems of the beautiful pale speckled ones.

Gorgeous specialty tulips also caught my eye – so much more substantial and visually arresting than the hothouse ones coming out of Canada. These were lovingly grown by Gonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms, a member of the SWGMC who farms in Ethel, Washington. One bunch of 10 stems, while short, provided plenty of tulips to add dazzle to two vases.

Plum and berry hues with pale green & butter yellow in a vintage white vase.

Plum and berry hues with pale green & butter yellow in a vintage white vase.

Jasmine isn’t winter-hardy here in Seattle, but boy do I remember it clambering over the stucco retaining wall in our former garden in California’s Ventura County. On the first Thanksgiving we lived there – after moving from Seattle in 2006 – my friend Nancy, visiting from Seattle, created our entire Thanksgiving tablescape from the bounty of our new backyard – including that lacy jasmine.

Molly Sadowsky, the SWGM’s manager and principal buyer, has a secret California source for evergreen Jasmine – and the designers here in Seattle absolutely love it! Me, too! I love that the jasmine foliage is also a gorgeous aspect of this arrangement, a bonus to the fragrant flowers and buds.

Oh, and there is one element from my Seattle garden: the delicate pale yellow flowers from Epimedium, a beautiful groundcover. I only had a few stems to add, but their petals echo the Hellebores’ centers, adding a delicate texture.

scroll

Hellebores for the People
Designed by Mick & Olivia Payment,
owners of 
Flowers for the People 

Hellebores with orchids, roses, pincushion protea, jasmine and more - designed by Olivia and Mick Payment

Hellebores with orchids, roses, pincushion protea, jasmine and more – designed by Olivia and Mick Payment

Earlier this week, the SWGM hosted its first Orchid Spectacular to showcase a wide array of Local and American-grown potted and cut orchids. The Market staff invited Mick and Olivia, a brother-and-sister design team, to demonstrate how they design with orchids in arrangements and interior planters.

You’ll be wowed by one of their designs pictured here. I wanted to share it because of the diversity of flowers they incorporated, including Lady Slipper orchids from Orchidaceae  of Walla Walla, Washington, and hellebores from Jello Mold Farm (the “leftovers” ended up in my design above).
The yellow-green-pink palette is such a breath of fresh air! Mick and Olivia also used CA-grown roses and pincushion proteas to masterfully express their inspiration to use domestic flowers.
  scroll

Week 9 // Heady Hyacinth for the Slow Flowers Challenge

Sunday, March 8th, 2015
A trio of bud vases displays the season's first hyacinths from my garden, paired with striking black pussy willow twigs grown in Washington by Jello Mold Farm.

A trio of bud vases displays the season’s first hyacinths from my garden, paired with striking black pussy willow twigs grown in Washington by Jello Mold Farm.

It has been a busy few weeks so my floral design time has been limited. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to create an epic arrangement or centerpiece — and of course, we know that those expectations take the joy out of the total experience.

So this week’s little moment is a reminder that a few stems are often all we need to bring nature indoors and provide a glimpse of beauty when life is crazy!

These vases are widely featured in a charming book released last year by  Nancy Ross Hugo called Windowsill Art: Creating one-of-a-kind natural arrangements to celebrate the seasons (St. Lynn’s Press). Nancy describes this small vase as “the little black dress of windowsill arranging . . . the perfect foundation for whatever else you might add.”

After interviewing her for the Slow Flowers Podcast (click here to find the interview) and spending time reading this lovely book, I had to order my own set of these four bud vases. They are available fromThe Arranger’s Market, an online shop that specializes in hard-to-find, easy-to-use vases and other arranging equipment.

You can order a set of 4 “glass pyramid” bud vases for $24 plus shipping. I believe they are made from recycled glass bottles. Dimensions: Height = 4-1/4″; Width = 2.3/8″; Opening = 7/8″.

scroll

 

More from Slow Flowers
Seasonal choices

A sweet bunch of spring hyacinths, from Slow Flowers.

A sweet bunch of spring hyacinths, from Slow Flowers.

About the long stems you see here:  The typical garden hyacinth blooms on a relatively short stem – maybe 4-5 inches at the most. This limits the way hyacinths can be used in floral arrangements. According to flower farmer Gretchen Hoyt, of Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, Washington, the way to stretch those stems is to trick them into wanting more light.

“The longer you can deny them light, the more they stretch,” she explains. At the commercial flower farm, this process begins in dark coolers where bulbs are pre-chilled. When they are transferred to the greenhouse, the hyacinth crates are placed (in the shadows) beneath tables where tulips grow. If Gretchen wants to elongate those stems even further, “I’ll throw newspaper over them,” she says. Leaving bulbs on the stems is optional, but some designers do so to give the arrangement a rustic appearance.
To arrange these lovely, farm-fresh hyacinths, I opted for a simple European-style bouquet. I wrapped linen twine around the gathered stems and foliage, tied a bow, and placed the spiraled bunch in a glass vase. Seeing the twine through the glass adds a touch of whimsy to this effortless bouquet.

Week 8 // My Slow Flowers Birthday Bouquet

Sunday, March 1st, 2015
Springtime (almost) in a vase with flowers from my Seattle garden and pussy willow branches from a local farm.

Springtime (almost) in a vase with flowers from my Seattle garden and pussy willow branches from a local farm.

Welcome to Week 8 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!

Yesterday was my birthday and I spent a few quiet hours playing around with these elements from my garden, observing and clipping; processing and arranging — all in a favorite vintage McCoy vase.

What a lovely way to celebrate a personal new year. I apologize to friends and family members who were calling and texting. I really tried to unplug and contemplate the many gifts in my life.

Ingredients, clockwise from left:  Pussy willow, sweet pea tendrils, various daffodils, spurge (Euphorbia characias) and Pieris japonica.

Ingredients, clockwise from left: Pussy willow, sweet pea tendrils, various daffodils, spurge (Euphorbia characias) and Pieris japonica.

This design incorporates green, white and yellow ingredients. The long-lasting pussy willow branches were “leftovers” from more than a week ago. I had purchased them from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in anticipation of a demonstration at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Of course, I planned for more than I could use, so today was the ideal opportunity to pair the pussy willow with cuttings from my own garden.

Here, you can appreciate the creamy white pieris flowers and the downy pussy willow against the milky glazed pottery.

Here, you can appreciate the creamy white pieris flowers and the downy pussy willow against the milky glazed pottery.

The white vase offsets the fresh green tips of the spurge.

Many people worry about using this perennial as a cut flower – Euphorbia characiasis, after all, a relative of poinsettia, exuding milky white sap when snipped. See the info box for tips on caring for your spurge/euphorbia cuttings.

It’s not a super long-lasting cut, but anyone who has this plant in their garden probably has more than necessary.

I could easily replace any wilted stems with an abundant supply of more spurge.

The white blooms of Pieris japonica add texture and contrast, echoing the pussy willow “tails.”

 

Daffodils beneath the flowering cherry trees - on the parking strip in front of our home.

Daffodils beneath the flowering cherry trees – on the parking strip in front of our home.

I didn’t have many flowers on hand, but this mix of specialty daffodils caught my eye.

Plucked from the parking strip in front of our home, they were originally planted by a benevolent prior owner.

I looked around for something to “trail” over the rim of my vase and found some sweet pea tendrils, volunteers from a prior year’s sowing. They add just the right playfulness and carefree spirit to the arrangement.

A detail of the fresh textures and hues of the season.

A detail of the fresh textures and hues of the season.

scroll

More from Slow Flowers
From the Farmer: Working with Euphorbia

A detail from a spring arrangement featured in Slow Flowers, with donkey tail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)

A detail from a spring arrangement featured in Slow Flowers, with donkey tail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)

Most plants in the spurge family produce a milky-white substance when cut. It can be irritating to the skin, so be sure to wear gloves when handling the plant.

While harvesting, I place the stems in a bucket of water, separating them from any other cut ingredients. Then I bring them into my kitchen where I dunk the tip of each euphorbia stem into a bowl filled with boiling water from the teakettle. This seals the stems.
Some experts recommend searing the tips in a stove top flame, but that has proven too messy for my liking.
scroll

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

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

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

Welcome to Week 7 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

Another closeup with camellias against the creamy white glaze

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

I am honored and happy to think that people across the USA are using my work when they gather in friendship to share a meal and good times.   
scroll

More from Slow Flowers
Design 101: A very special vase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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

3babc748-d1e7-406b-a891-00ab62a436c1 1b43d032-4611-42bd-b9e9-a10ae276a89b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

75f22c5e-82af-42fb-a9ac-caaa5955e940 0a648ac7-07d4-48c0-83a5-1e59c3a6e972

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

7558fd31-720b-47bf-a676-95b386e6c44a b5d671d9-fe9d-4ea7-bdcc-d49fa03a3b25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slowflowers.com is growing with our 500th member!

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

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

00401_AY_AGF_F2V_Pstr&PC_v3-page-002

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

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

theflowerhouse_graphic

The Flower House logo, designed by Lily Stotz

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

Here’s the scoop:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flower House on Facebook

The Flower House Inspiration on Pinterest

The Flower House on Twitter

The Flower House on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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