Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Kelly Sullivan of Seattle’s Botanique, an urban floral designer with a backyard cutting garden (Episode 121)

Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Kelly Sullivan, floral designer, flower farmer, and owner of Botanique in Seattle.

Kelly Sullivan, floral designer, flower farmer, and owner of Botanique in Seattle.

Today’s guest is my friend and fellow Local Flowers Advocate Kelly Sullivan.

Based in Seattle, in fact, just a few blocks from where I live, Kelly is an up-and-coming studio floral designer, small-scale flower farmer and owner of Botanique. 

We met a few years ago at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, just as Kelly was developing her business model for Botanique. I have to tell you, her venture has really taken off — and Kelly has lived up to her tag-line: Overwhelmingly Beautiful Flowers

Kelly brought me this spring arrangement using all spring garden elements with a few juicy anemones from a local farmer. So enchanting!

Kelly brought me this spring arrangement using all spring garden elements with a few juicy anemones from a local farmer. So enchanting!

There are so many things that impress me about this young woman. She brings a garden design and landscaping background to her floral creations; her horticultural knowledge has greatly influenced the plantings in The Botanique Cutting Garden – the backyard “urban flower farm” where Kelly grows many of the flowers she uses in her designs. 

While she’s still young, Kelly is actually already on her second career. She trained and performed as a modern dancer after college. Dance plays a special role in her designs. “When people ask what defines my style, I’ve realized recently that it’s ‘movement,’” she says. “Movement is like choreography. When I compose a bouquet, it always has movement – and you see it in everything from the vines to the stems.”

One of Kelly's beautiful arrangements shows her dancer's sensibility in designing with botanicals.

One of Kelly’s beautiful arrangements shows her dancer’s sensibility in designing with botanicals.

Movement adds energy to her otherwise lush design style. Kelly isn’t interested in producing perfect, symmetrical arrangements. “When I design, that’s when the gardener in me shows up,” she says. “I love foliage, berries, wild elements. I love interlocking stems, unusual edibles and even seed pods.” What you see in her vases looks and feels alive (I guess that’s the dancer showing up, right?).

A peek inside Kelly's new floral design studio in her Seattle garden.

A peek inside Kelly’s new floral design studio in her Seattle garden.

Our conversation took place in Kelly’s brand new studio, a converted one-car garage that will soon be a bustling center of creativity and design. “I’m obsessed with flowers,” she confides. To Kelly, when you grow your own ingredients you can’t help but notice the seasonality of each flower. “If it’s growing right there in your garden, it’s impossible not to want to pick it and arrange it,” she points out.

Of course, I feel the same way. And as more floral designers follow Kelly’s example – either by growing some of their own botanical elements or connecting with local flower farmers – the floral community will only improve. Designs that are seasonal and local have a special character, a vibrancy and authenticity not found in distantly grown or out-of-season choices. Here are some more flowers, gathered together by this gifted and inspired designer. 

 Botanique6 Botanique5 Botanique4 Botanique1 Botanique2 Kelly2_7958

So happy holidays to the flower-obsessed. And thank you  for joining me in this episode of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with Debra Prinzing.

Because of your support as a listener, we have had nearly 4,500 downloads in 2013 – and I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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 Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about her work at hhcreates.net

SLOW FLOWERS: Week 50

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

ILEX BERRIES AND PAPER WHITES

One must maintain a little bit of summer,
even in the middle of winter.
–Henry David Thoreau

Welcome to the Holiday Season, when flowers are less likely to originate - at least in my garden. This festive combination is a great option.

Welcome to the Holiday Season, when flowers are less likely to originate – at least in my garden. This festive combination is a great option.

Ingredients:
5 paper white bulbs (Narcissus papyraceus), available at many garden centers beginning in autumn. I like to plant pots of these bulbs indoors around Thanksgiving so that their blooms (and scent) fill the house by the December holidays.
20 stems scented geranium foliage (Pelargonium citrosum), grown by Charles Little & Co.
10 stems winter berry (Ilex verticillata), grown by Charles Little & Co.
 
This is how all three ingredients appear together in a low tray.

This is how all three ingredients appear together in a low tray.

Vase:

2½-inch deep x 6 inch diameter ceramic dish used as a bulb planter (this one has no drainage, so I watered sparingly)
2½-inch deep x 13-inch long x 9½-inch wide oval tray (wicker with a metal lining)
 
Eco-technique
Divided arrangements: When the ingredients in your bouquet have different requirements, you can devise a two-sectioned vessel. Here, the bulbs needed a small amount of soil, but the cut foliage and branches needed only fresh water.
 
The solution was to place a dish with the planted bulbs in the center of the wicker tray. Then, I arranged the ingredients needing water around its edges, making sure to keep the water level lower than the rim of the center dish.

 

 

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: All about Protea – a South African native that flourishes on California Flower Farms (Episode 119)

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Protea is a dazzling native South African flower that has adapted to California's benign growing climate - thus, perfect for the American-grown cut flower industry.

Protea is a dazzling native South African flower that has adapted to California’s benign growing climate – thus, perfect for the American-grown cut flower industry.

Today’s guests are two of the most influential US growers of Protea.

Mel Resendiz, an expert grower of Protea and other South African and Australian ornamental plants.

Mel Resendiz, an expert grower of Protea and other South African and Australian ornamental plants.

Owner of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, based in Fallbrook, California (in northern San Diego County), Mel Resendiz has been growing protea for 35 years. He’s joined by colleague Diana Roy, an equally passionate protea fan who handles marketing and promotion for Resendiz Proteas. 

You’ll hear us refer to this lovely flower a few ways. It’s spelled P-R-O-T-E-A, but pronounced:

Pro-tee-ay-AH . . . Pro-tee-Ah . . . or . . . pro-Tay_AH 

Whichever way you pronounce it, Protea is a luscious native South African flower, said to have been named after the Greek God Proteus, who was able to change into many different forms.

The Proteaceae family of plants is comprised of more than 1,400 species. Ranging from 2 to 12 inches in size, Proteas typically blooms in fall, winter and spring, although the folks at Resendiz are able to harvest and ship the flower year-round to customers in the U.S., Canada & Japan, due to their growing practices and attention to detail. 

Diana Roy, a board member of the California Cut Flower Industry and active protea promoter.

Diana Roy, a board member of the California Cut Flower Commission and active protea promoter. She was captured here at an industry event in a gerbera greenhouse.

 

A Resendiz bouquet in which Protea is paired with Pincushion flower (Leucospermum).

A Resendiz bouquet in which Protea is paired with Pincushion flower (Leucospermum).

Why are these South African plants now considered a valuable California flower crop? It’s because coastal California is one of five Mediterranean regions of the globe, similar to South Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Chile and Greece. Full sun, well-drained soil, good air circulation, mild winters and acid soil ensure that proteas thrive as if they were in their native environment.  

Established in 1999 and today one of California’s largest supplier of South African and Australian floral products and plants, Resendiz produces more than 200 varieties of these unique native plants.  Known for their exceptional value and long vase life, the protea and other blooms like PincushionsBanksiaKangaroo Paws and  Leucadendroncreate dramatic impact when incorporated in arrangements and bouquets. Many varieties are hybrids – grown only by Resendiz Brothers.

A wedding bouquet pairing protea with roses!~

A wedding bouquet pairing protea with roses!~

Rich in color, texture and form, the protea is both dramatic and exotic. The spectrum ranges from warm to cool colored blooms — Rich reds, deep pinks, and fresh greens. Together, these blooms make stunning arrangements – and they are long-lasting – a huge bonus for the florist and DIY designer alike.

If  you want an American-grown flower that will dazzle in the bouquet or the vase, look no further than the Protea.

Thank you  for joining me in this episode of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with Debra Prinzing. Because of your support as a listener, there have been nearly 4,000 downloads since July – and I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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 Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about her work at hhcreates.net

A Creative Weekend at the Holiday Arrangement & Centerpiece Bar

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
Here's my creation, featuring a medley of white, red and various shades of green.

Here’s my creation, featuring a medley of white, red and various shades of green.

It was a merry ol’ time at the first Holiday Arrangement & Centerpiece Bar, which I hosted along with Whitney R. White and Erica Knowles (of Botany 101 Floral), a talented pair of floral designer friends here in Seattle. We teamed up to create two fun, hands-on design workshops for the busy holiday hostess. 

The classes took places this past Friday evening and Saturday morning, with 18 students who joined us for festive refreshments, old friendships and new connections, as well as an introduction to eco-friendly techniques and a dose of the Slow Flowers philosophy. Everyone went home with a gorgeous floral arrangement that will grace their homes now through the holidays.

Erica Knowles, Debra Prinzing & Whitney White.

Erica Knowles, Debra Prinzing & Whitney White.

The basic premise of our two workshops:

1. Get inspired by the abundance of natural beauty around us here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere on the West Coast – all American Grown, of course!

2. Gain new skills in floral design, those you can employ throughout the coming seasons, as well.

3. Unleash your inner florist using an almost limitless supply of branches, boughs, berries and buds. 

The tables were laden with floral and foliage choices, including branches, berries, boughs and stems.

The tables were laden with floral and foliage choices, including branches, berries, boughs and stems.

Once we set up the “Bar,” Erica, Whitney and I stepped back in total amazement. We wanted our students to be blown away by the incredible variety of garden foraged ingredients — all in season. We also wanted to add some juicy blooming treats from local Northwest and California farms and nurseries. And thanks to our friends at The Sun Valley Group in Northern California, we had the perfect bit of sparkle – Ilex verticillata branches with red berries — so much to share with everyone in the class!

READ MORE…

SLOW FLOWERS: Week 49

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Conifers, Cones and Lilies

Deep raspberry-pink lilies (Oregon grown) paired with evergreens from my yard.

Deep raspberry-pink lilies (Oregon grown) paired with evergreens from my yard.

Ingredients:
5 stems dark pink ‘Rio Negro’ hybrid Oriental lilies, greenhouse grown by Peterkort Roses
5 stems Norway spruce (Picea abies), gleaned from my driveway
7 short branches Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), clipped from my garden
3 stems Camellia (Camellia japonica), clipped from my garden
5 lengths variegated ivy (Hedera helix), trimmed from a neighbor’s fence


Lovely cones contrast organically with the teal vase and blue-green needles.

Lovely cones contrast organically with the teal vase and blue-green needles.

Vase:

12-inch tall x 9-inch diameter with 6-inch opening vintage McCoy urn

Design 101
Lilies for longevity: When you design with Oriental lilies, more than a week of enjoyment will ensue. One or two blooms at a time open and share their loveliness almost in succession, ensuring that something is always in flower. Don’t forget to clip the pollen-laden stamen and pistils from the center of each bloom as it opens. Otherwise, as those pieces fall, they can stain table linens.

 

 

 

 

 

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: All About Growing Lavender with Susan Harrington (Episode 117)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Think about seeing a vivid purple-tinged field of lavender. Now imagine yourself walking through it, brushing your fingertips on the scented flowers dancing tall on their wand-like stems. Don’t you wish you could be transported to that place right now?

Fresh cut bunches of lavender from Labyrinth Hill Lavender (photo courtesy Susan Harrington)

Fresh cut bunches of lavender from Labyrinth Hill Lavender (photo courtesy Susan Harrington)

 

There is something so evocative about Lavandula, the plant that is the basis for all of Susan Harrington’s growing, writing and teaching activities. The owner with her husband Jack Harrington of Labyrinth Hill Lavender, Susan is today’s guest on the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Susan connects people with lavender, whether at the farmers' market, in workshops and through her web-based educational programs.

Susan connects people with lavender, whether at the farmers’ market, in workshops and through her web-based educational programs.

We met up recently after I attended one of Susan’s inspiring (and intoxicatingly fragrant) workshops at a local garden center. Susan and I discussed her decade-long adventure growing lavender on her “backyard farm” and how that led to a vibrant cottage industry selling fresh-cut lavender and dried lavender buds, first at the farmers’ market and later via mail order. Susan has expanded Labyrinth Hill Lavender into online training for others who want to get into the lavender-growing business and now, a regional conference for lavender farming.

Here is her famous lavender labyrinth, planted with 150 Lavandula x intermedia ‘Fred Boutin’ plants. The labyrinth measures 40-feet in diameter and produces about 700 fresh-cut bundles of lavender per season. 

The lavender labyrinth at peak of season. Photo, courtesy Susan Harrington

The lavender labyrinth at peak of season. Photo, courtesy Susan Harrington

Susan mentioned her YouTube video in which she demonstrates her Lavender Bud De-Nuding Process. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but clearly a huge success as a method for anyone harvesting lavender buds for aromatherapy or crafting:


More details discussed in our conversation:

Information about Susan’s online lavender growing course, and her FREE mini-course on growing lavender

Information about the October 2014 Northwest Regional Lavender Conference, which Susan and Jack are producing with the Oregon Lavender Association. 

 

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Meet Berkeley’s Eco-Floral Maven, Pilar Zuniga of Gorgeous and Green (Episode 116)

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Pilar Zuniga is a Berkeley-based, eco-Green floral designer and outspoken advocate for locally-grown, sustainable flowers and design practices.

Pilar Zuniga is a Berkeley-based, eco-Green floral designer and outspoken advocate for locally-grown, sustainable flowers and design practices.

Meet Pilar Zuniga, owner of Gorgeous and Green, a Berkeley-based boutique and eco-floral design studio. She’s my guest in this week’s Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing.

Pilar started Gorgeous and Green nearly six years ago after she discovered how hard it was to plan her own sustainably-minded wedding. Since then, her venture has expanded from a floral studio designing for weddings and special events to a charming storefront on College Avenue in Berkeley.

One of Gorgeous and Green's bridal bouquets in a sultry green and dark purple color scheme.

One of Gorgeous and Green’s bridal bouquets in a sultry green and dark purple color scheme.

There, you can find a full-service floral and gift shop that carries uncommon goods, curated by Pilar, including vintage jewelry, locally-made goods, recycled-paper stationary,  organic bath and beauty products — and of course, local and sustainably-grown flowers. Gorgeous and Green recently won the Best of Berkeley 2013 award in the florist category.

For anyone interested in learning how a brick-and-mortar retail flower shop can make it in today’s era of mass merchandising and big boxes, you’ll want to join my conversation with Pilar.

She is blazing a new trail and is the TRUE definition of a LOCAL FLORIST….a hometown, Main Street flower shop that goes the full distance to source from local flower farms in her own backyard. 

Succulents grace the wedding table for a Gorgeous and Green client.

Succulents grace the wedding table for a Gorgeous and Green client.

483274_10151503701057210_305906289_n Here’s her answer to the “Why Sustainable”? question:

A Native American proverb suggests that all that we do today must be done with the next 7 generations in mind.

The mainstream floral and gift industries have many byproducts like pesticide pollution, dependence on plastics, underpaid labor, hazardous working conditions and excessive CO2 Emissions. Additionally, events are the producers of more waste and CO2 emissions. The average wedding emits 12-14 tons of CO2, more than a person emits in a full year.  

We can minimize these negative effects by amending our practices to become sustainable ones.  For Gorgeous and Green, sustainability means using methods that we can afford to duplicate without negatively affecting the environment and people around us. With a lot of creativity and research, we have been able to develop floral practices and offer gift products that allow us to do just that.

Gorgeous and Green wants to be mindful of not just how we leave our world for the next generation, but how we touch those people and places that were involved in the beauty we created today. 

Take a look at our Services section or visit our On-Line Boutique page to see just what we have come up with so far. We’re always creating new ways to save the earth and stay gorgeous.

Another yummy seasonal floral arrangement, using California-Grown flowers from farmers Pilar knows and supports.

Another yummy seasonal floral arrangement, using California-Grown flowers from farmers Pilar knows and supports.

In the second half of our interview, Pilar and I scratched the surface on a MAJOR topic that’s going on right now in the floral world. It regards the concern she and I — and so many others — have about that green florists’ foam, the crumbly, brick-shaped chunk that you often find stuck inside a vase delivered from a floral wire-service. It is a conventional product that has been around since the Postwar 1950s, developed, so it seems, to make arrangements look fuller using fewer stems of flowers and foliage.

The simple economics have (sadly) led many florists down the rabbit hole of same-old, same-old, unimaginative designs based around the foam. I believe it’s a crutch that limits creativity and certainly hurts the people and environment who encounter it. 

Every single week I hear from florists and designers who tell me they are weaning themselves off the product, which is made by a small group of manufacturers in the US and abroad. Those designers are eager to find alternative ways to stabilize stems, such as some that Pilar and I discussed. I will devote a future episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast to more extensive information on this topic. 

The bounty of local farms makes its way into Gorgeous and Green's designs.

The bounty of local farms makes its way into Gorgeous and Green’s designs.

Pilar was one of the first to speak out and warn florists about the risks of using chemically-based foam. As I mentioned in our interview, every time I did a web search about this topic, her blog posts popped up, as early as 2009. Here are some links you’ll want to read: 

(March 4, 2009) Floral Foam: Not so Green 

(September 5, 2009) Biodegradable Floral Foam, Where Are You?

(February 18, 2011) Let’s Change Floral Foam

(August 16, 2011) MSDS Floral Foam

If you’re looking for “green” alternatives to floral foam, check out my blog post about Eco-Friendly Design tips, excerpted from Slow Flowers.

Thank you  for joining me in this episode of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with Debra Prinzing. Because of your support as a listener, we’ve had more than 3,000 downloads since July – and I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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 Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about her work at hhcreates.net

All photographs courtesy of Gorgeous and Green. Thanks Pilar!

My Holiday Centerpieces for BH&G: Seasonal and Local Winter Greenery – and More!

Sunday, November 17th, 2013
The beautiful cover of Better Homes & Gardens' December 2013 issue. My "Winter Greens" article and designs appear on pages 58-64.

The beautiful cover of Better Homes & Gardens’ December 2013 issue. My “Winter Greens” article and designs appear on pages 58-64.

In the December 2013 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, on newsstands this week, you’ll find a Winter Greenery-inspired story that I produced with photographer Laurie Black. We created this story nearly 3 years ago, and while often there’s no rhyme or reason as to why a piece takes so long to see the light of day, I’m thrilled you can see it now!

This story features four “regionally-inspired” centerpiece designs with flowers, foliage and branches that you might find in Southern California, the Midwest, the South and the Northeast. The fifth idea, a Northwest-style centerpiece, didn’t make it to the pages – but I’ll share those images (mine, not Laurie’s) below.

I owe a huge thanks to editor-in-chief Gayle Goodson Butler for deciding to share my beautiful wintry bouquets with BH&G’s readers in time for their own holiday design projects. I’m also grateful to the magazine’s garden and outdoor living team, including deputy editor Eric Liskey (who originally commissioned the story) and senior associate editor Jane McKeon (who shephered it through the editing process). It takes a village to bring a great idea to the pages of a magazine! 

Due to space constraints, like many BH&G articles, there isn’t much real estate on those pages for text – photography rules! So here is the original article as I wrote it – and a few bonus photographs!

Filled with holiday cheer

Wintry centerpieces inspired by what grows in your own backyard

All the California-grown elements to this bouquet come from Wild Ridge Organics in Salinas, Calif. The awesome retro-vase is from Bauer Pottery in Los Angeles.

All the California-grown elements to this bouquet come from Wild Ridge Organics in Salinas, Calif. The awesome retro-vase is from Bauer Pottery in Los Angeles.

Decorating with cedar sprays and pine boughs is a cherished holiday tradition for many of us. But this year, why not branch out? Use familiar greenery that reflects your part of the country — the forests, fields, mountains or beaches — to create uniquely local and lush holiday centerpieces. Choose a regionally-inspired vessel and add seasonal foliage, branches and berries paired with blooming plants or forced bulbs. The holiday arrangement will last for a few weeks on your dining table or fireplace mantle. Naturally beautiful, of course.

California Cool

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

 

Pine boughs, yellow-berried holly and lichen-covered branches are New England-inspired, gathered into a reclaimed sap bucket.

Pine boughs, yellow-berried holly and lichen-covered branches are New England-inspired, gathered into a reclaimed sap bucket.

Northeast Accent

A painted sap bucket seems fitting for this New England-themed winter arrangement, its weathered patina contrasting with the gold berries of the English holly. Long-needled pine boughs cascade over the bucket’s rim while lichen-covered twigs, cut from a deciduous tree, lend height to the design. This elegant arrangement shows how easy it is to combine just three ingredients for impact. 

Midwest Spin

Reminiscent of winter at a woodland lodge, a woven pine needle basket is deep enough to hold a nest of fir branches. For texture and color, we chose pussy willows and huckleberry branches, plants typically found growing along streambeds in Minnesota or Montana. 

Southern Charms

A classical urn may typically be found outside in the garden, but it has come indoors for the holidays. The vessel contains a thoroughly Southern-themed arrangement. Common boxwood branches create the soft foundation for shiny magnolia boughs.

A Midwest-themed arrangement in a woven basket, with textural touches from twigs and pussywillow branches.

A Midwest-themed arrangement in a woven basket, with textural touches from twigs and pussywillow branches.

We added several lovely amaryllis stems (cut from a potted plant). The buds should look fresh and continue to open for more than a week.

Design tips:

1. Take a walk outdoors: Observe nature and your own backyard to find unexpected ingredients for holiday decorating. When removing branches from the landscape, cut from the back side of a tree or shrub, or take random cuts, so as not to denude your plants. Use sharp, clean pruners. Store branches in a bucket of tepid water until you are ready to arrange them.

2. Choose plants for their design attributes. To create a balanced holiday arrangement, include at least one ingredient that cascades or drapes. Select at least one tall, upright ingredient. And choose at least one dramatic element that gives the design its focal point.

3. Convert interesting vessels a watertight vase. Line containers that have a drainage hole with a slightly smaller plastic bowl. For wood planter boxes, make a waterproof liner with a double layer of thick, plastic sheeting, secured  to the inner edge with staples. Double-check for leaks before placing on furniture or a counter.

I loved making this Southern-themed bouquet, with evergreen magnolia foliage, boxwood and amaryllis clipped from a potted potted plant.

I loved making this Southern-themed bouquet, with evergreen magnolia foliage, boxwood and amaryllis clipped from a potted potted plant.

4. Stabilize woody stems. Place a pin- or cage-style flower frog inside the container to hold branch stems. Or, form a 12-inch length of chicken wire into a loose ball. Insert it inside a container to hold stems in place as your arrangement takes shape.

5. Keep water fresh. Your arrangement will last up to three weeks if it doesn’t dry out. Refresh water every few days. An easy trick is to place the arrangement in your kitchen sink, positioning the faucet or spray nozzle inside the edge. Turn on the water and allow it to gently fill the vase. As it begins to overflow, fresh water will displace the older water. Make sure to dry off the exterior of your vase before displaying it again.

Here’s what you missed! I took these photos while we were producing this story at the home of photographer Laurie Black and her husband Mark King. My friend Nancy Finnerty styled the tabletop for us. It’s such a pretty scene that I had to share.

Here I am, all bundled up, working on Laurie & Mark's screened-in porch.

Here I am, all bundled up, working on Laurie & Mark’s screened-in porch.

 

The table is set for a Northwest style gathering.

The table is set for a Northwest style gathering.

Adorn your table with local greenery

Bring the bounty of nature indoors to create winter-themed centerpieces for your holiday table. The evergreens that decorate this Sunday brunch repeat the majestic trees seen outside, making a visual connection with the landscape.

Closeup of the tabletop with a wooden box filled with Northwest greenery.

Closeup of the tabletop with a wooden box filled with Northwest greenery.

From the Northwest

Convert a rustic wood planter box into a low, conversation-friendly centerpiece. First, arrange conifer branches, such as Western red cedar (used here), or sprays of juniper or hemlock, positioning them to drape over the box’s edge. For a creamy-white touch, we added flowers from the winter-blooming lily-of-the-valley shrub (Pieris japonica); red-twig dogwood branches, arranged in irregular clusters, provide a graphic accent. 

Another version of Northwest's natural goodness - straight from the garden, farm and forest.

Another version of Northwest’s natural goodness – straight from the garden, farm and forest.

SLOW FLOWERS: Week 46

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

A (LOVING) CUP FULL OF AUTUMN

The last flowers of summer, not to mention those like me who love them, are often reluctant to disappear come fall. That was the case with these beautiful Cafe au Lait dahlias.

The last flowers of summer, not to mention those like me who love them, are often reluctant to disappear come fall. That was the case with these beautiful Cafe au Lait dahlias.

 

Love the detail on this trophy, which my friend Kathryn Renner urged me to acquire.

Love the detail on this trophy, which my friend Kathryn Renner urged me to acquire.

Ingredients:

5 stems Rosa ‘Piano Freiland’, grown by Peterkort Roses
3 stems Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’, grown by Jello Mold Farm
9 blades green millet (Setaria italica ‘Highlander’), grown by Jello Mold Farm
3 stems scarlet oak foliage (Quercus coccinea), grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers
3 stems wild rose hips, harvested by Oregon Coastal Flowers
 
Vase:
10½ inch tall x 4-inch diameter vintage silver loving cup (look for old trophies at thrift stores or online auctions; or perhaps you’ll find one in the family that has personal meaning).
 
Design 101
A floral designer’s recipe: To create a classic floral arrangement, I need ingredients to fulfill three purposes. First, I choose the diva – an eye-catching, dramatic bloom with a symmetrical or dome-shaped form, such as a rose, peony or dahlia. Then I add taller ingredients to emerge from the main cluster of diva flowers. Flowering, fruiting or foliage-laden branches are ideal – I consider them the arrangement’s exclamation point. Finally, I add softer elements to drape over the edge of the vase, dripping like chandelier crystals.
 
 
 

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Teri Chace, Author of “Seeing Flowers,” a remarkable new book (Episode 115)

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Chace_Cover “Enter a rare world of beauty and intricacy,” promises the press release for “Seeing Flowers,”  a remarkable new book featuring the highly detailed, almost transparent flower photographs of Robert Llewellyn. Using a unique photo process that includes stitching together large macro photographs, the visual artist reveals floral details that few of us have ever noticed: The amazing architecture of stamens and pistils; the subtle shadings on a petal; the secret recesses of nectar tubes.

I learned much more about the secret life of flowers in today’s podcast interview with Teri Dunn Chace, the writer with whom Robert Llewellyn collaborated. A longtime horticultural writer and formerly on the staff of Horticulture magazine, Teri blends literary and scientific sources for her essays about 343 popular flowers.

These are blooms beloved by gardeners and floral designers alike and together Robert and Teri portray flowers as you have never before seen them. They gave me a deeper appreciation of how and why flowers have become so embedded in human culture.

In preparing for my podcast interview with Teri, I went back and spent some time with Robert’s earlier book, Seeing Trees, with writer Nancy Ross Hugo. When that book was released in 2011, I was blown away by the detailed process he goes through to capture the essence of leaves, seeds, pods and other tree parts. Each subject is photographed up to 50 times at various distances and the final work is a composite of the sharpest areas of each individual image. The resulting photographs are of stunning hyper-real clarity, as if Robert has found a way to circumvent the limitations of the human eye through his lens. When Seeing Trees was released, publisher Timber Books created a video of the process.

Please enjoy this conversation with author Teri Chace, and add Seeing Flowers to your library reference shelf. Our conversation is a whirlwind tour of flowers, literature and garden writing. You’ll enjoy the ride.

Jaunty blooms of chicory, or Cichorium intybus, open for only a few hours a day. Then the color of the ray flowers rapidly drains away, fading to white. Its dried, ground roots can be used as a coffee substitute.

Jaunty blooms of chicory, or Cichorium intybus, open for only a few hours a day. Then the color of the ray flowers rapidly drains away, fading to white. Its dried, ground roots can be used as a coffee substitute. 

During my interview with Teri, we read aloud three literary pieces from Seeing Flowers. Here they are for you to read again, interspersed with a few of Robert’s images:

“The rose is a rose,

And always was a rose.

But now the theory goes

That the apple’s a rose

And the pear is, and so’s

The plum, I suppose.

The dear only knows

What will next prove a rose.

You, of course, are a rose –

But were always a rose.”

Robert Frost, “The Rose Family,” 1928 

The cup in the center of a daffodil is called a corona. Some are short, like a shallow bowl, while others are longer, more like a trumpet. Some have frilly edges, and some are rimmed with a contrasting color.

The cup in the center of a daffodil is called a corona. Some are short, like a shallow bowl, while others are longer, more like a trumpet. Some have frilly edges, and some are rimmed with a contrasting color.

“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing?

Can one really explain this? No. Just as one can

never learn how to paint.”

Pablo Picasso, Arts de Frances, 1946 

Look past the blue petals of viper's bugloss, Echium vulgare, and you'll see that the flowers also feature red stamen filaments and blue pollen. These help them to stand out in form as well as color to pollinators - and to us.

Look past the blue petals of viper’s bugloss, Echium vulgare, and you’ll see that the flowers also feature red stamen filaments and blue pollen. These help them to stand out in form as well as color to pollinators – and to us.

“Ice cream on green cones

white hydrangeas in full bloom

cool the summer day”

Haiku by CDSinex, 2011 

Teri Dunn Chace, author of "Seeing Flowers"

Teri Dunn Chace, author of “Seeing Flowers” 

 

Robert Llewellyn, photographer of "Seeing Flowers"

Robert Llewellyn, photographer of “Seeing Flowers”

ENTER TO WIN: Timber Press is celebrating the publication of Seeing Flowers with an online promotion offering a one-of-a-kind prize. You can enter to win a fine gallery quality print of a photograph from this book. Take a peek at the gorgeous print and the contest details here.  NOTE: the Contest Entry Deadline is this Friday, November 15th.

Thanks for joining me in this episode of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with Debra Prinzing. Because of your support as a listener, we’ve had more than 2,650 downloads since July – and I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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 Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about her work at hhcreates.net