Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Meet Mickey Blake, inventor of Floral Soil (TM), the new alternative to floral foam (Episode 160)

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Take the Pledge!!!

Take the Pledge!!!

One of my mentors reminded me recently that it’s inevitable others will disagree with my convictions and portray me as having an “all or nothing” point of view when it comes to helping consumers and florists embrace, design with and purchase American grown flowers — as a way to save the grassroots community of American flower farms.

I truly believe there is an American-grown flower solution for any design challenge – it boils down to desire, innovation and creativity.

I “get” that some in the floral community disagree with this position. A few weeks ago, Holly Chapple and I discussed the idea of hashtagging percentages to indicate the portion of American grown flowers used in a design.

That is a compromise to some, but at least it is a move in the right direction, the “least best” option, but better than not using American grown flowers at all, right?

Hopefully this interim step will nudge even more designers toward using local, seasonal and domestic flowers. And if you choose to promote yourself as having this philosophy, I believe it can be a huge advantage. If you have personally experienced success by taking this path, I want to hear about it because you and your story may be featured on a future episode of this podcast.

Foam_sample Another one of my no-compromise stances is about the use of floral foam, the ubiquitous floral design industry “tool” that is actually formaldehyde-based, toxic, does not break down in landfills and has led to a number of health problems for florists who regularly handle it.

This podcast has featured leaders like Pilar Zuniga, owner of Gorgeous and Green in Berkeley, an early advocate for non-foam design, and I’m constantly intrigued with designers who have a similar philosophy.

But there are so many who have not been able to wean themselves from using this harmful product – harmful to themselves, their customers and the earth.

Sooooo . . . we keep hearing that the conventional floral products industry is working on a solution. But hey people, it’s been 60 years since floral foam has been the so-called industry option for stabilizing stems in vases. Where is the innovation? Where is the corporate social responsibility to do the right thing? What about the lack of transparency about its unsafe attributes and failure to inform those who do use this product?

Enter today’s guests, eco-inventor Mickey Blake and flower shop owner Rebecca Wiswell.

This pleasantly-spongy, soil-colored block of foam is 100% natural and compostable - and it functions exactly like the chemical-based products on the marketplace.....but it's safe and unharmful to  you, your clients, and to the environment.

This pleasantly-spongy, soil-colored block of foam is 100% natural and compostable – and it functions exactly like the chemical-based products on the marketplace…..but it’s safe and unharmful to you, your clients, and to the environment.

Mickey Blake, inventor of Floral Soil.

Mickey Blake, inventor of Floral Soil.

Mickey Blake is a sheer genius, a floral industry outsider who was presented with the challenge of finding a nontoxic, 100 percent plant-based foam for florists to arrange cut flowers and foliage.

In just one year’s time, Mickey has developed, trademarked and has a patent pending innovation called Floral Soil. She explains on her brand new web site:

“We had seven major goals when designing Floral Soil ™ – Support cut flowers, be non-toxic, plant derived, biodegradable, hold water, grow seeds and be safe enough to eat.”

Mickey worked with a select group of beta testers, including Rebecca Wisell, owner of Bellingham, Washington-based Rebecca’s Flower Shoppe. Rebecca’s Flower Shoppe is listed on the Slowflowers.com directory, but she and I don’t know one another personally. My friends Steve and Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms sell their flowers to Rebecca’s – through them, I’ve heard about her support for locally-grown flowers.

Rebecca's Flower Shoppe in Bellingham, Washington, is one of the first "beta" testers of Floral Soil.

Rebecca’s Flower Shoppe in Bellingham, Washington, is one of the first “beta” testers of Floral Soil.

I learned about Floral Soil a few weeks ago, when out of the blue Rebecca reached out to me on Facebook with this note:

“Good morning, Sarah and Steve Pabody are suppliers/friends of our here at Rebecca’s Flower Shoppe in Bellingham. We are a ‘green’ shoppe and were introduced to a new product about a year ago that I thought you might be interested in. It is called Floral Soil and is a replacement for the green foam. It is completely bio-friendly and compostable. We have been trialing it since last fall and think its qualities to retain water and its durability are impressive. I am not selling this product. I just want to get the word out to our floral community that there is a better product that we can all be using to protect us and our environment.”

The day Rebecca emailed me I was on location, working on a photo shoot. So I responded quickly and asked if I could call her later in the week. When I called, Rebecca surprised me by saying, “Oh, the inventor of Floral Soil is here in my shop – do you want to speak with her?”

One of Rebecca Wiswell's samples showing how well flowers of all sizes can be stabilized in Floral Soil (she purposely used a clear glass vase to show the product)

One of Rebecca Wiswell’s samples showing how well flowers of all sizes can be stabilized in Floral Soil (she purposely used a clear glass vase to show the product)

Talk about serendipity! So, I met Mickey Blake by phone and since she is also based in Bellingham, about 90 minutes north of Seattle, it took us a few weeks to get together.

There is so much to wrap your mind around here, so I’m just going to let you listen to my conversation with Mickey, recorded last Friday, September 19th.

Mickey is CEO of Mt. Baker Bio, a life sciences company with this mission: “Using modern science to secure a sustainable future.”

Mt. Baker Bio is a certified woman-owned small business that is focused on creating environmentally sustainable solutions for biomedical laboratories. Through its Green Lab Program the company environmentally friendly alternatives for scientific laboratories, as well as a collapsible silicone lunch box. The innovative company is now turning its attention toward the floral and nursery industries with Floral Soil and other products currently in development.

Look closely and you can see the cocoa fiber textures in the Floral Soil

Look closely and you can see the cocoa fiber textures in the Floral Soil

It’s pretty amazing to watch this dynamo’s eyes light up as she speaks so passionately about changing an ancient business model – from top-down product development where florists have been told they need something (we’re talking about the 1954 invention of floral foam here) to a holistic partnership between inventor and end user – a collaborative approach that has a triple bottom line motivation.

Having spent a few hours with Mickey, and getting my hands on the samples of Floral Soil that she shared with me, I have to say that this product is a major game-changer. It is going to alter forever the practice of using conventional, chemical-based floral foam. [Note, two days after I recorded our podcast interview, one of my floral designer friends was over and I showed her the product samples Mickey gave me. This is a woman whose very successful wedding & event studio has NEVER used conventional floral foam. She was so excited to use the bricks for an upcoming wedding alter design that I gave her three large pieces to use. Photos of that project to come!]

My second guest is Rebecca Wiswell, one of the florists who has been most intimately involved with a year of R&D for Floral Soil. With a 30 year background in the floral industry, Rebecca has the credibility Mickey needed to trial the product day in and day out. I reached out to Rebecca by phone after interviewing Mickey – and recorded our conversation to share with you here.

Here's how the cube of Floral Soil looks from its side, with stems inserted

Here’s how the cube of Floral Soil looks from its side, with stems inserted

Get ready to be wowed and to stop feeling guilty about using a product that you know is damaging to the environment. You may have been dependent on floral foam for some or all of your design work, but no more excuses. Mickey has offered to send a sample to anyone who listens to this podcast

More samples, showing how Floral Soil can be cut into various sizes.

More samples, showing how Floral Soil can be cut into various sizes.

And here are the various ways you can connect with Floral Soil’s via social media.

Floral Soil on Facebook

Mickey Blake on Twitter

I would love to know how you use the product and invite you to send me photos after you’ve played with it.

As she said, Mickey’s goal is to get into full-scale production by the holidays.  I want to close with one of her comments that resonated with me: It is up to each individual to make daily choices and personally responsibility to make our planet better. If you agree with this, I am convinced you will adjust your practices and stop using chemically-based floral foam, especially now that we have an earth-friendly alternative on the marketplace.

Thanks for joining me today to talk about all things American Grown — and American Made.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 21,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Art as Inspiration for Floral Design

Saturday, September 20th, 2014
'Dianthus', by Jean Bradbury.

‘Dianthus’, by Jean Bradbury.

I think all artists and designers love to experiment with new media because it challenges us to think more creatively and with inventiveness.

'Zinnias', by Jean Bradbury

‘Zinnias’, by Jean Bradbury

And that’s what makes me so excited about the upcoming class I’ll be teaching on Saturday, October 4th (1-3 p.m.). “From Art to Vase” is a hands-on floral workshop that takes inspiration from the Inflorescence exhibition at Kirkland Art Center, just across Lake Washington, east of Seattle.

Inflorescence_IMG_1362

Friday night's opening of INFLORESCENCE at Kirkland Arts Center.

Friday night’s opening of INFLORESCENCE at Kirkland Arts Center.

Inflorescence is a terrific new show that opened on September 19th at KAC, curated by Seattle artist Susan Melrath.You can see the show now through November 25th. Click here for gallery hours and address and please note that KAC is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Three of Susan Melrath's pieces, arranged in a verdant triptych.

Three of Susan Melrath’s pieces, arranged in a verdant triptych.

'Green Theory', by Susan Melrath.

‘Green Theory’, by Susan Melrath.

An incredibly gifted artist (and the daughter of a florist) who loves to play with color, texture and scale, Susan dreamed up this show and invited six other Northwest artists to exhibit their works in response to the show’s title. Inflorescence features the work of Jean Bradbury, Lisa Conway, Patty Haller, Stephanie Hargrave, Fred Lisaius and Liz Tran, in addition to Susan Melrath.

So what is “Inflorescence”?

Liz Tran's exuberant still-life's of flowers in their vase.

Liz Tran’s exuberant still-life’s of flowers in their vase.

Think back to your high school botany or college hort science class. Many of you know of the term as it describes a blooming part of a plant. For the purposes of the KAC show Susan uses this definition: “A group or cluster of flowers growing from a common stem in a characteristic arrangement.”

A lovely piece by landscape artist Patty Haller.

A lovely piece by landscape artist Patty Haller.

I love the idea that each work of art in this beautifully curated show is a part of the whole, just like the cluster of flowers that may emerge from a single stem.

Patty Haller's painting  'Whidbey Yarrow' (left); Fred Lisaius painting 'Mossy Log' (right).

Patty Haller’s painting
‘Whidbey Yarrow’ (left); Fred Lisaius painting ‘Mossy Log’ (right).

Each artist is collectively of like mind while also incredibly individual. They use what is seen and experienced through nature as well as the botanical beauty of plants (real or imagined) to express themselves creatively.

When I say the show is beautifully curated, I’m referring to the harmonious way Susan has grouped and hung or placed pieces throughout KAC’s gallery. The works speak to one another with a pleasing rhythm — through various palettes, forms and canvas sizes. Please consider a day trip to Kirkland to observe and admire these works.

Lisa Conway ceramic piece (left) Stephanie Hargrave paintings (right).

Lisa Conway ceramic piece (left) Stephanie Hargrave encaustics (right).

So where do I come in? More than a year ago, Susan sent me a note asking if I would be willing to teach a floral arranging workshop in conjunction with the show she was pulling together.

Inflorescence Postcard Front 1 When I said “sure,” she wrote back:  

I spoke with the Exhibitions Coordinator today and she loved the idea of an education component that wasn’t just another painting class. Floral arranging will bring a new crowd into the arts center. 

And here I have to take a little commercial break for the way social media can bring people together. I met Susan briefly in 2012 when my friend Lorene Edwards Forkner brought me with her to see a prior exhibit featuring Susan’s paintings (and I’m not even sure I know how the two of them originally connected).

We had a brief conversation with the artist, exchanged cards and then began to follow each other on Facebook. I loved seeing Susan’s work via her period newsletters and I suspect she was the recipient of my newsletters. Funny how that works. And I’m so thrilled to be a small part of this amazing show that she dreamed up in her fabulous imagination.

Now it is a reality. I hope you can see how perfect these pieces are for a starting point to create arrangements that express one’s response to the pigments, inks, glazes and washes of color.

More gorgeous forms by ceramic artist Lisa Conway.

More gorgeous forms by ceramic artist Lisa Conway.

There’s still room in the workshop. I’m going to provide all the flowers and instruction. All you have to do is bring a vase, clippers, and an open mind.

Each participant will select a specific work of art as a starting point for their creative arranging. You’ll find just the right piece to inform your floral palette, structure/scale and proportion/form. It’s Art for the Vase!

Cost: $50 Pre-registration required here.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Growing Hardy Annuals with “Cool Flowers” author & flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 159)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Lisa Mason Ziegler's new book "Cool Flowers," introduces the concept of planting hardier annuals in the fall - for super-early spring harvest!

Lisa Mason Ziegler’s new book “Cool Flowers,” introduces the concept of planting hardier annuals in the fall – for super-early spring harvest!

I’m so pleased to share today’s conversation with you, recorded in August at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Pittsburgh.

Lisa is a American cut flower farmer, a writer, speaker and garden entrepreneur.

Lisa is a American cut flower farmer, a writer, speaker and garden entrepreneur.

My guest is Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop.

Lisa’s organic flower farm is located in the midst of Newport News, in southeastern Virginia, on a little less than 3 acres. What began as a small cut flower farm in 1998 has grown into a vibrant operation:  The Gardener’s Workshop produces over 10,000 stems a week in season (mid-April to mid-November) and sells to upscale florists, to nearby Colonial Williamsburg, to area supermarkets and direct-to-consumers with a Garden Share program.

Lisa spends her time out of harvest season teaching others about organic gardening and growing cut flowers through lecturing and writing. Her lectures have reached from Texas to New York City—far beyond any dream she ever imagined.  In 2005, Lisa added a shop to her business, offering the tools, supplies and seeds that she uses in her own garden and cut flower farm.

This little book is packed with great tips for the gardener who wishes to have a productive patch for cutting flowers.

This little book is packed with great tips for the gardener who wishes to have a productive patch for cutting flowers.

I first learned of Lisa when I stumbled upon her self-published book, “The Easy Cut-Flower Garden,” a handy 92-page guide to growing a season of fresh-cut flowers from a 3-by-10-foot garden that Lisa wrote and produced in 2011.

I ordered the book and often refer to it, especially when I’m fantasizing about tearing up some of my lawn and add more cutting garden real estate to our yard.

Not too long ago, Lisa’s name popped up again, when my publisher Paul Kelly, owner of St. Lynn’s Press, told me that she was writing a new book for their list.

That’s one reason we were able to connect in Pittsburgh, our publisher’s home base. Lisa’s new book, Cool Flowers,  is all about how to grow and enjoy hardy annuals. In it, she shares her 16-years of growing experiences and the sheer joy of this group of flowers that are often left out of gardens.

Cool Flowers is all about how and when to plant hardy annuals so that spring in the garden will be nothing short of sensational.

A field-to-market bouquet from The Gardener's Workshop.

A field-to-market bouquet from The Gardener’s Workshop.

Once their needs are met, this diverse yet easy group of flowers will change spring in the home garden forever.  The most important thing is to allow them to get established during cool weather. Plant them in the right spot at the right time, nestle their roots deep into rich organic soil, and stand back.  When happy, these hardy annuals need little intervention, other than having someone gaze on their beauty, or perhaps to cut a few for the kitchen table. Some of Lisa’s favorites include snapdragons, Bells of Ireland, sweet peas and sweet William.

Every flower gardener needs this book! Lisa Ziegler’s Cool Flowers brings to flower gardening a brand new point of view that introduced me to all sorts of possibilities for my floral palette – as a gardener and floral designer. Her valuable tips for success with hardy annuals will extend your garden’s blooming season, no matter where you live. If you want to make the most of all seasons in your garden, Cool Flowers is a must-have.

Serious production!! Lisa says her farm produces 10,000 flower stems a week!

Serious production!! Lisa and her crew harvest 10,000 flower stems a week!

Thanks to support from listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 20,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: American-grown meets Australian-grown (Jennie Love & Lindsey Myra) – plus a bonus interview with Holly Heider Chapple (Episode 158)

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Welcome to Love 'N Fresh Flowers

Welcome to Love ‘N Fresh Flowers

35_photo_343 Last month I spent 24 glorious hours at Philadelphia-based Love ‘N Fresh Flower Farm, owned by Jennie Love.

I’ve known Jennie for a few years, in fact, she was a previous guest of this podcast.

But the occasion was my first-ever visit to her beautiful farm, to work with the very talented Rob Cardillo to photograph a feature story about Jennie, her urban flower farm and her design work in a 2015 issue of Country Gardens magazine.

Jennie Love (left) hosted a wonderful field-to-table dinner for so many wonderful friends. I'm next to Jennie, followed by Lindsey Myra and Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers in Baltimore.

Jennie Love (left) hosted a wonderful field-to-table dinner for so many wonderful friends. I’m next to Jennie, followed by Lindsey Myra and Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers in Baltimore.

Lindsey_logo When we were planning the shoot, Jennie mentioned that Lindsey Myra, a flower farmer from Australia, would be spending a month at Love ‘N Fresh on a “fellowship” — and she asked whether I’d like to record a conversation with them? Umm . . .  YES – that wasn’t a hard decision to make!

Before I introduce you to Jennie and Lindsey, though, here’s a bonus update about a recent conversation I had with Holly Heider Chapple.

Holly and I met early in 2014 and since then we have had an ongoing conversation about the American Grown flower movement and how the members of Chapel Designers, her group of wedding and event florists, can get more involved in the Slow Flowers project.

As it turns out, several Chapel Designers are members of Slowflowers.com, and we just added Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, Holly and her husband Evan’s design studio, to the site.

After discussing the All-American concepts with Holly, I began to understand that some designers feel I’ve made it a black-and-white issue. Either you use 100% percent seasonal or local flowers, or you use 100% imports. However, the reality for many is somewhere between.

Holly's Instagram bouquet that started the conversation!

Holly’s Instagram bouquet that started the conversation!

The impetus behind today’s conversation began last week when Holly posted a beautiful arrangement on her instagram feed and I made a comment saying: Holly, those look American Grown. She responded that it was mostly all domestic flowers, but she didn’t want to make the #americangrown claim just in case one or two stems were not.

I love what Holly wrote in one of our text exchanges:

“If we add the percentage of how much is American grown, I think it will really get people – designers and brides – thinking and causing us all to learn. I like this (idea) because it pushes us to think about it and (to) really understand where things are coming from. It would also allow us to post designs that are barely American grown – and people will see how the looks vary, depending on how much local product there is. I also think it will be very interesting to have a documented board of images that show the differences of the designs between those that are heavily American grown flowers and those that are sourced from other countries.”

So if you follow this percentage concept, post photos of your designs and use this hashtag: #americangrown50% or #americangrown100%. Please remember to add #slowflowers and #fieldtovase and other relevant hashtags, too!

Over time, I bet this approach will engage even more floral designers in thinking about the origins of the stems they use. I love where Holly is going with this. The natural beauty and inherent character of domestic flowers will go far to demonstrate the value of staying close to home when you source. That’s exactly what Slowflowers.com is all about.

Holly on Instagram

Holly on Twitter

Holly on Facebook

NEXT, our MAIN FEATURE: A lovely story of how Jennie and Lindsey met through social media and how they cooked up an international flower farmer exchange.

Lindsey (left) and Rob Cardillo (right), hauling chairs that we planned to use in a vignette of flowers.

Lindsey (left) and Rob Cardillo (right), hauling chairs that we planned to use in a vignette of flowers.

Since it was winter at Lindsey’s flower farm in Australia, the chance to spend the month of August on a U.S. flower farm was enticing. Similarly, in the future, perhaps even this coming winter, Jennie hopes to visit Lindsey during her peak season – when Philadelphia flower fields are under snow.

These nontraditional ways of doing business fascinate me to no end. I love the way creative flower farmers and florists are circumnavigating conventional methods of commerce and proving that one plus one equals way more than two.

Meet Lindsey Myra, a Slow Flowers #farmerflorist from Australia.

Meet Lindsey Myra, a Slow Flowers #farmerflorist from Australia. (photo courtesy LindseyMyra.com)

Let me tell you briefly about Lindsey Myra. She is an artist, a florist, a writer and a flower grower. She writes on her web site: ” I am stumbling upon wonder every day. Enchantment and fascination in the natural world infuses my work and stimulates my enthusiasm for botanical culture.”

In 2012, motivated by a desire to provide a positive alternative in the cut flower industry, Lindsey started The Little Flower Farm, her own small-scale, organic flower farm, planting flowers on a borrowed backyard in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

A Lindsey Myra arrangement (LindseyMyra.com)

A Lindsey Myra arrangement (LindseyMyra.com)

The Little Flower Farm is the first of its kind in Victoria. According to Lindsey, the farm is motivated by three key ambitions: to offer a more environmentally sustainable product, to encourage others to embrace the living world within their own lives and lastly, a personal desire to create beauty and lots of it! The Little Flower Farm produces organic, true to type, heirloom blooms. Founded on the principles of permaculture and rooted in a true passion for flora,  she provides a positive and sustainable approach to cut flowers.

Lindsey at The Little Flower Farm (LindseyMyra.com)

Lindsey at The Little Flower Farm (LindseyMyra.com)

2014 has seen The Little Flower Farm move to a larger, rural plot in the Macedon Ranges, an hour north of the city. Last season Lindsey’s flowers were consistently retailed by Cecilia Fox and North St Botanical, floral studios in Melbourne. This year she plans to also offer a Community Share Agriculture (CSA) subscription to deliver  seasonal, farm fresh, organic flowers direct to floral customers. All flowers are grown out in the open air and as such are truly seasonal, September to June.

Jennie Love of Love 'N Fresh Flowers

Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers

Jennie Love had her first flower patch at age four in her mother’s huge kitchen garden on a 5th generation family farm in central Pennsylvania — growing straw flowers and nasturtiums. She writes: “My soul has ever since been connected to the shifting of the seasons and the nurturing of unfurling petals and leaves.”

Ironically, Jennie says she needed to run away to the big city to realize just how much farming meant to her. She couldn’t resist the pull of the land.

On Location at Love 'N Fresh Flowers - here, my colleague Rob Cardillo as he captures Jennie's portrait in the flower fields.

On Location at Love ‘N Fresh Flowers – here, my colleague Rob Cardillo as he captures Jennie’s portrait in the flower fields.

By the time Jennie could no longer deny her need to nurture nature, she had already put down serious roots in Philadelphia. And so, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers was born as one of the first and few urban flower farms located within a big city’s limits. Urban flower farming has proven to be just about the best thing she could have ever dreamed up. Jennie finds it even more gratifying to be the stewardess of two acres of dwindling urban green space than it would be to own a vast expanse in a more rural locale. It means the world to her to be able to create and sustain a healthy ecosystem within this concrete jungle.

A beautiful Love 'N Fresh team member models her equally beautiful flower crown, fashioned by Jennie Love during our podcast interview.

A beautiful Love ‘N Fresh team member models her equally beautiful flower crown, fashioned by Jennie Love during our podcast interview.

The flowers that Jennie grows inspire every single element of her little flower business. She says: “It’s an amazing gift to be able to walk the fields, cut what is at the peak of perfection, and take it into the design studio to create a piece of living art. Somehow that never gets old for me, even after thousands of bouquets. While flower farming and event design is exhausting, all-consuming work, I never ever tire of the flowers and their charms.”

Jennie is a leader in the American Grown floral community, much sought out for her flower farming knowledge and her exquisitely natural design aesthetic.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Jennie to discuss the upcoming ASCFG national conference, which takes place October 19-22, 2014 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Jennie is a co-chair of the conference, with the theme “Growing Growers.” Slow Flowers is a media sponsor of this conference and I’m very much looking forward to joining Jennie and so many other flower farmers and farmer-florists around the country at that event.

Jennie/Love ‘N Fresh on Instagram

Jennie/Love ‘N Fresh on Facebook

Jennie/Love ‘N Fresh on Pinterest

Lindsey/The Little Flower Farm on Instagram

Lindsey/The Little Flower Farm on Facebook

Finally, I’m thrilled to announce that the Slow Flowers Podcast has reached yet another milestone. This week we hit our 20,000th downloaded episode.

That’s cause for celebration and I thank listeners like you for your support. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

And speaking of this podcast, here’s a huge thanks to my engineering and editing team, Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A Lavender Farm Wedding with Local Flowers grown by Nancy & Jim Cameron of Destiny Hill Farm (Episode 157)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
A couple poses between the gently curving rows of lavender at Destiny Hill Farm.

A couple poses between the gently curving rows of lavender at Destiny Hill Farm.

In musical theatre the term “triple-threat” is used to describe super-talented individuals who can act, sing – and dance. I’ve been thinking a lot about how triple threat applies to other professions, such as in the floral world, where Destiny Hill Farm is a true triple threat.

Nancy and Jim Cameron of Destiny Hill Farm.

Nancy and Jim Cameron of Destiny Hill Farm.

Today’s podcast episode introduces you to Nancy and Jim Cameron – and the story of how they created Destiny Hill as an agro-tourism destination for growing cut flowers, designing florals and producing weddings & special events.

In the distance, you will see the stables and barn - home to some amazing wedding gatherings.

In the distance, you are the stables and barn – home to some amazing wedding gatherings.

Based in Western Pennsylvania, this 137-acre farmstead and the people who run it do three things very well:

1-flowers are grown here, including 5,000 lavender plants and hundreds of varieties of annuals, perennials, grasses and woody ornamental shrubs.

2-there’s a full-service floral design studio that incorporates those botanical elements into bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, altar pieces and more; and

3- Destiny Hill is a wedding and event destination that hosts and produces between 20 and 25 functions each year, led by event coordinator Mimi York.

I met Nancy earlier this year when Destiny Hill contributed to the Slowflowers.com campaign on Indiegogo, and then this past February when she attended a wedding bouquet workshop I co-hosted with Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs. When I made the connection that Destiny Hill was located about 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, we started planning my visit when I was scheduled to attend a Garden Writers conference there last month.

Nancy and I pose with our just-picked and arranged bouquets - all local flowers from her cutting fields.

Nancy and I pose with our just-picked and arranged bouquets – all local flowers from her cutting fields.

Jim and Nancy graciously picked me up in downtown Pittsburgh and drove me out to the farm. It was a rainy summer day – familiar weather to a Seattleite like me. By the time we arrived at the majestic landscape that’s home to the Camerons’  personal residence and business enterprise, we all agreed that the rain wouldn’t stop our fun.

Inside the barn - a beautiful setup for a wedding feast.

Inside the barn – a beautiful setup for a wedding feast.

READ MORE…

Floral Therapy, or what to do with six hydrangea shrubs!

Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Start with some gorgeous garden hydrangeas, at the perfect moment in late summer when you can pick them for drying.

Start with some gorgeous garden hydrangeas, at the perfect moment in late summer when you can pick them for drying.

Sixty hydrangea heads later . . . you end up with a romantic floral wreath.

Sixty hydrangea heads later . . . you end up with a romantic floral wreath.

It has been a long few months.

All good, or mostly good. But I’ve been on too many airplanes since July1st and I’m so happy to be home for a while.

Yet even though I’ve been home, way too much of my time has been commanded by the desk chair, computer screen and keyboard (oh, and the telephone). I’m definitely NOT unplugged.

Needless to say, I’ve been itching to do something to fill the creative void in my soul.

Since last week, I’ve been dreaming about making a Hydrangea wreath with the prolific mop-head flowers that line our driveway and front walk. I can’t take any credit for their beauty or the successful way they thrive here in our garden. The previous owners must have loved Hydrangea shrubs. There are no fewer than six of them. And I’ve planted one more to make it seven.

At the same time, Lola Honeybone and Marla Kramer, my publicists on Slowflowers.com, have been planning a holiday wreath PR pitch to promote the site’s flower farmers who make and sell wreaths from the crops they grow. So as I have sought wreaths made from protea, willow, lavender, greenery and other everlasting ingredients, my imagination has been fueled.

Getting started with a repurposed grapevine wreath, bind wire and snips.

Getting started with a repurposed grapevine wreath, bind wire and snips.

I kept looking at those tawny-hued, fluffy blooms on my own hydrangea shrubs. It’s still summer, but this is the time – end of August – when the pale green, vivid blue and hot pink blooms take on a lovely faded patina. And that means you can cut the flowers and they’ll air-dry beautifully.

My plan was to stop by the floral supply outlet to pick up a blank wire wreath form. . . but I hadn’t found time to make the trip.

Then, on Monday, when I was down in our crawl space grabbing props for another photo shoot, I was delighted to spy an old grapevine wreath (see above). Measuring about 20 inches in diameter and wrapped in a dusty ribbon, it was leaning against a wicker chair, forgotten for several seasons. My answer to the wreath project! No more procrastinating!

Start by wiring individual flowers to the grapevine wreath base.

Start by wiring individual flowers to the grapevine wreath base.

Hope this detail gives you a better sense of how to wire on the flowers.

Hope this detail gives you a better sense of how to wire on the flowers.

Brilliant! I spent about 2 hours today, stealing time between phone interviews (for stories with imminent deadlines, of course).

Making the wreath was the perfect distraction for writer’s block. In and out I went, from the office to the driveway. Every time I hit the wall (and let’s just say I don’t typically suffer from writer’s block, but I do sometimes suffer from boredom or fatigue, depending on the topic about which I’m writing), I would race out to the driveway and lash on a few more flowers.

Making progress . . .

Making progress . . .

It was so fun to create all the details and interest by varying the pink, blue and green flower heads. Some were large and some were small, but by alternating the colors and sizes, I basically achieved a balanced look.

More progress . . .

More progress . . .

Finally, I was done. I think I used 60 flower heads. The good news is that you can’t really even tell that I clipped from the shrubs – that’s how abundant they are.

And by hanging the wreath outside, on our covered porch, the flowers will stay cool and will “dry” slowly. This is much better than letting them dehydrate too quickly indoors where the house is still late-August stuffy.

All finished and hung!

All finished and hung!

If you want to try this project, here are some steps:

1. Begin with a wreath base in the size you prefer. Use a wire frame, a moss frame or a grapevine form. Do NOT use one of those pre-made florist foam wreaths.

2. Gather good clippers and a spool of bindwire. That’s the paper-wrapped wire that looks like twine but behaves like a twisty-tie. It’s perfect for lashing short hydrangea stems to the wreath base. I used dark green wire, but the product also comes in natural. Both colors will nicely disappear from view.

3. Clip as you go. I set up my work table in the driveway, just a few feet from the hydrangea shrubs. That proximity allowed me to play around with shape and color as I determined how to repeat large/small flower forms and to vary the colors.

4. Attach stems to wreath base in any-which-way you can manage. The good news about clipping Hydrangeas at this time of the summer is that the stems are still fleshy and pliable. They won’t snap if you have to bend them a bit and then tie them onto the wreath base with the bind wire. I found that I could actually “weave” the flower stems through the braided grapevines, letting the openings in the vine grab the hydrangea stems. Then I tied each stem into place using the “twistie-tie” method. Tight as possible without turning the bind wire into a tourniquet. Clip away excess stems and wire.

5. Continue this process around the wreath until you’re finished. As I said above, I think I used a total of 60 flowers.

6. Hang and admire. You can actually “trim” Hydrangeas like you’d clip a hedge. Some of the larger flower heads bulged awkwardly to make my wreath appear lopsided. All I had to do is snip away the excess florets to even things out. Voila!

Lovely above our outdoor fireplace. The cool evening temperatures will keep these blooms from drying out - and since the porch is covered, they won't fade.

Lovely above our outdoor fireplace. The cool evening temperatures will keep these blooms from drying out – and since the porch is covered, they won’t fade.

I’ll keep you posted on how long it takes for this wreath to dry and how long into the fall and winter months it looks nice. I suspect it will live on the stone facade of our backyard fireplace until next spring!

Lovely detail showing the diversity of bloom size and hue.

Lovely detail showing the diversity of bloom size and hue.

Now, back to those deadlines. Have a great holiday weekend!

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Pittsburgh’s Local & Seasonal Floral Designers – Jimmy Lohr & Jonathan Weber of greenSinner (Episode 155)

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Last week, this podcast came to you from Homer, Alaska.

This week, my travels brought me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Let’s just say I’m coping with a little jet lag, but summer is my busy season for lectures and photo shoots, so I’ve learned to enjoy my MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines.

Green_Sinner_IMG_1067 But the other thing I have thoroughly enjoyed has been the chance to connect with great flower farmers and floral designers – coast to coast – who are part of the Slow Flowers movement. In the coming weeks you’ll hear from several of these awesome folks who I first “met” virtually, through social media and — more importantly — because they have joined Slowflowers.com.

Pittsburgh's Floral "Who's Who" -- from left, Margie Dagnal and Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens, Jimmy Lohr and Jonathan Weber, owners of greenSinner.

Pittsburgh’s Floral “Who’s Who” — from left, Margie Dagnal and Kate Dagnal of Goose Creek Gardens, Jimmy Lohr and Jonathan Weber, owners of greenSinner.

Today you will meet two of them: Jimmy Lohr and Jonathan Weber, owners of greenSinner, an urban role model that promotes American-grown flowers in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood (by the way, Lawrenceville is now called “new Brooklyn” for hipster, indie, design-focused vibe).

Peek through the chain link fence - from the urban parking lot into greenSinner's cutting garden.

Peek through the chain link fence – from the urban parking lot into greenSinner’s cutting garden.

Jonathan and Jimmy state their beliefs up-front-and-center on the home page of their web site:

“greenSinner brings you local, sustainable cut flowers and plants. We love fresh flowers (don’t you?), but we don’t love that they come from Ecuador drenched in chemicals (yuck). We’re trying to make the world — our world and yours — a little greener and a little more beautiful. We grow flowers right here in western PA and source as many materials and plants as we can in a 500-mile radius. Not only is it better for the environment, but you also get fresher flowers and more local and unusual varieties. Beyond flowers, we focus on vintage or re-purposed containers and event decor and sustainable practices.”

The guys at greenSinner first caught my attention when they contributed to the Slowflowers.com campaign on Indiegogo earlier this year. Not knowing anything about their business, I looked them up and sent them a note of thanks.

A littleclassical detail in the "front garden" at greenSinner's studio.

A littleclassical detail in the “front garden” at greenSinner’s studio.

Only a few weeks after the campaign ended, I found myself in early March attending Holly Heider Chapple’s NYC Chapel Designers’ conference, where I was included in the speaker lineup. Of course, I was there to encourage her members to consider joining the American Grown flower movement, to refocus their wedding and event work to include seasonal and local flowers and to introduce these designers to the notion of working closely with flower farmers.

Tidy and enchanting, the cutting garden is wedged between greenSinner's studio and the adjacent city parking lot.

Tidy and enchanting, the cutting garden is wedged between greenSinner’s studio and the adjacent city parking lot.

And there was Jimmy, a charming teddy bear of a guy, front and center, making me feel welcome. He wasn’t the only one who “got it,” but he was definitely the most enthusiastic. I learned that he and his partner Jonathan believe in designing weddings and events with locally grown flowers and plants and that they owned a postage-stamp-sized cutting garden behind their shop. We made plans for me to visit in August when I knew I’d be in Pittsburgh for the Garden Writers Association’s annual symposium.

Pedestrians love to peer through the front fence to see what's growing within.

Pedestrians love to peer through the front fence to see what’s growing within.

In the ensuing months, not only did we stay in touch, but when I worked with Kasey Cronquist on the launch announcement of the Certified American Grown brand on July 1st, we invited Jimmy to speak on behalf of floral designers.

Jimmy picked me up at my hotel in downtown Pittsburgh early one morning and we drove a short distance to greenSinner’s studio. After a walking tour to see their backyard growing operation, their greenhouse and the small cutting garden they planted behind a neighboring studio where their stained-glass artist friend works, we sat down for a short podcast interview.

A peek at the cutting garden behind the greenSinner studio.

A peek at the cutting garden behind the greenSinner studio.

Before we get started, let me introduce you to the two men you’ll hear next. This is straight from greenSinner’s web site:

Jimmy Lohr, Chief Eccentric Officer:

Jimmy, in a limerick:
There once was a boy from the sticks
Who grew up and left all the hicks.
He studied the arts
And big event parts
Then moved home to share all his tricks.

Jonathan Weber, Farmer-General
Jonathan, in a haiku:
Jonathan Weber
internet marketing dude
now he’s a farmer

These guys definitely express their values in everything they do as designers and business owners – and it was such a pleasure to spend time on their turf in Pittsburgh.

Thanks for joining this lively conversation. I’m grateful for listeners like you who have downloaded this flower-powered podcast more than 18,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Farmer-Florist News – from Gretel Adams, Elizabeth Bryant and Kailla Platt (Episode 153)

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

This iconic photo is showing up everywhere and I am so lucky it's mine! So symbolic of American Grown. Design and truck: Tara Kolla, Silver Lake Farms (Los Angeles) (c) Debra Prinzing

This iconic photo is showing up everywhere and I am so lucky it’s mine! So symbolic of American Grown. Design and truck: Tara Kolla, Silver Lake Farms (Los Angeles) (c) Debra Prinzing 

It’s summertime and the Slow Flowers Podcast is on the road. And it’s no surprise to learn there’s at least one awesome American flower farmer everywhere I seem to go.

There are passionate floral designers to be discovered right alongside and that means more beautiful Slow Flowers experiences for the nation’s consumers, coast to coast.

This week I’m sharing a fabulous conversation with a farmer-florist team from Portland, Oregon – Elizabeth Bryant, owner of Rose Hill Flower Farm, and Kailla Platt, owner of Kailla Platt Flowers.

But first, a bonus conversation that I recorded on July 16th at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio.

Owned by Steve and Gretel Adams, previous guests on this podcast, Sunny Meadows is leading the way in changing how flowers get to market in several Ohio cities. The reason for my return to Sunny Meadows was to work with James Baggett, editor-in-chief of Country Gardens magazine, and Kritsada, an uber-talented photographer, to produce a feature story about Gretel and Steve – and their farm, flowers and floral design.

 

Some might call this "flower farm porn," but who cares? Gretel and Steve were really good sports about posing in the flower fields (isn't that vintage tractor a great "prop"?)

Some might call this “flower farm porn,” but who cares? Gretel and Steve were really good sports about posing in the flower fields (isn’t that vintage tractor a great “prop”?) 

You can keep an eye out for that nothing-but-gorgeous story in the summer of 2015 – and of course, I’ll remind you here when the magazine hits the newsstands.

I recorded a short interview with Gretel and two of her summer design interns, Katie Vontz and Danica Jones. They all agreed to chat briefly about what is becoming a popular way for would-be flower farmers and new floral designers to gain training: via internships, apprenticeships or seasonal work-study-style programs. I think you’ll be intrigued and inspired to hear how Gretel filled her need via social media, too.

This is the "ad" that Sunny Meadows used on Instagram to recruit its summer design interns.

This is the “ad” that Sunny Meadows used on Instagram to recruit its summer design interns. 

 

From left: Me, design intern Katie Vontz, Gretel Adams (Sunny Meadows Flower Farm co-owner), design intern Danica Jones and Sunny Meadows floral designer   Kumiko Matsuura.

From left: Me, design intern Katie Vontz, Gretel Adams (Sunny Meadows Flower Farm co-owner), design intern Danica Jones and Sunny Meadows floral designer Kumiko Matsuura.

Next up: A dynamic conversation with collaborators Elizabeth Bryant and Kailla Platt. 

Elizabeth Bryant (left) and Kailla Platt (right), photographed in their Portland studio.

Elizabeth Bryant (left) and Kailla Platt (right), photographed in their Portland studio. 

Kailla was trained in fine art and landscape architecture and logged a decade designing gardens. But she traces her primary training in floral design to time spent in the lush green of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where she fell under the floral spell cast by her grandmother Jane K. Platt. 

Kailla's work, a seasonal and local floral bouquet.

Kailla’s work, a seasonal and local floral bouquet.

As Kailla puts it: “she filled my young heart with a love of gardens, plants and flowers.  She would generously send me out into her amazing garden with a basket and clippers, telling me I could pick anywhere.  Then, as we selected frogs and filled vases, she would tell me the names and the stories of all these beautiful flowers.  Her garden was a fairy land to me as a child and it continues to inspire me and influence my work today.”

Kailla Platt Flowers, a delightful composition.

Kailla Platt Flowers, a delightful seasonal composition.

Kailla Platt Flowers is a young floral studio inspired by Kailla’s lifelong relationship with flowers. On her website, Kailla writes: “I care about where my flowers come from. I want to know the farmer who grew them.  When possible, I want to gather and forage botanical material myself.  The flowers we give to others, wear in our hair and lift to our faces and smell, should be free of pesticides and harmful chemicals.  Farm to table, garden to vase, me to you.” 

Seasonal design by Kailla Platt Flowers.

Seasonal design by Kailla Platt Flowers. 

Kailla works collaboratively on wedding and event design with another amazing force, Elizabeth Bryant, a flower farmer, floral designer, and founder of Rose Hill Flower Farm, a small, sustainable urban flower farm and design studio in Portland. 

Elizabeth and Kailla at Prettyman's General, a neighborhood mercantile where they  sell their local bouquets.

Elizabeth and Kailla at Prettyman’s General, a neighborhood mercantile where they sell their local bouquets.

Elizabeth and her wife Jill grow flowers on three acres of family land in West Linn, Oregon, about 15 miles southeast of Portland. 

She says: “Our farming and land-care practices are organic and ecologically grounded, with the utmost care given to creating a healthy soil ecology and rich pollinator habitat.  We grow a range of both common and unique specialty cut flowers for use in weddings and events, through our CSA, and direct to florists.”  Rose Hill also provides lush, locally grown arrangements weekly for restaurants, businesses and individuals, or for any special occasion.  

Mixed bouquets by Rose Hill Flower Farm.

Mixed bouquets by Rose Hill Flower Farm.

What you’ll enjoy about this interview is hearing how two creatives – Elizabeth Bryant and Kailla Platt – have distinct points of view and floral businesses that are different from one another, but that they also are collaborative in a way that benefits both of their work – and their clients.

Spring ephemerals, grown by Rose Hill's Elizabeth Bryant.

Spring ephemerals, grown by Rose Hill’s Elizabeth Bryant.

 

Rose Hill's Elizabeth Bryant's flowers and floral design.

Rose Hill’s Elizabeth Bryant’s flowers and floral design.

Kailla and Elizabeth share studio space with Portland photographer Katie Prentiss. In a charming little cottage in Southeast Portland, the three us a combined design and meeting/event space for floral projects.  Together they enjoy great artistic synergy and often partner on projects, including weddings and large events requiring florals.

A floral collaboration.

A floral collaboration.

Thank you for joining me today to hear some of the exciting voices in American flower farming and floral design. Even after a year of producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast, I can guarantee that the list of future guests is very long and I don’t imagine running out of names we need to hear from – inspiring people who are changing the way Americans gather and enjoy flowers in all aspects of life.

Floral design by Kailla Platt.

Floral design by Kailla Platt.

Next week Slow Flowers comes to you from Homer, Alaska, where I’ve happily returned after my 2012 peony-hunting excursion. After that, the road tripping continues, and you can anticipate Slow Flowers interviews with flower farmers and floral designers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 

Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 17,000 times. In fact, the month of July was our all-time most popular month of interviews with 2500 downloads – and I’m jazzed to know that more listeners are discovering this flower-powered podcast every day.

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

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A Day in the Life of Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers (Episode 152)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Vivan Larson, of Everyday Flowers

Vivan Larson, of Everyday Flowers    

 

Vivan often takes times to educate her customers and visitors to the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Vivan often takes times to educate her customers and visitors to the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

As we launch this podcast’s second year, I’m honored to continue bringing great conversations to you each week.

Some of the most rewarding side benefits of interviewing flower farmers, floral designers and other influential voices in the field-to-vase floral industry are the “field trips” that bring me close-up and in-person to see the sources of our American flowers – the farms, the studios, and the retail spaces where such amazing beauty connects us with nature and the seasons. 

This happened again last week when I invited myself to Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Washington, for a visit.

Owned by veteran grower Vivian Larson, this established cut flower farm is a sight to behold. Viv is a precision grower, who cares deeply about her flowers – from the first seedlings emerging from trays of and trays of soil to the voluptuous bunches of blooms that are picked with great attention to detail, processed, bunched and delivered to her design customers.  

What a lovely way to wake up and view the flower fields from the guest bedroom at Viv's house.

What a lovely way to wake up and view the flower fields from the guest bedroom at Viv’s house.

Located about an hour north of Seattle, Everyday Flowers is situated on a gorgeous piece of land with a more than 180-degree view to the Puget Sound’s many islands – Camano, Whidbey, the San Juans – all the way up to Canada – and north toward Mount Vernon. Vivian and her husband Jim, a commercial fisherman, raised two children here and are now helping raise three grand-children. It is a bucolic place with a beloved horse who adds agricultural character to the scene, as well as rows and rows of field-grown annuals and perennials located next to several large and very tidy hoop-houses containing even more flowers. 

Here are the apricot-hued snapdragons we discussed - one of Viv's specialty crops.

Here are the apricot-hued snapdragons we discussed – one of Viv’s specialty crops.

Vivian is a founding member and board vice president of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, and I’ve known her for several years through that relationship. Some would say she is the glue that holds that place together, a true diplomat when it comes to synthesizing points of view and navigating the true meaning of a cooperative – one that benefits all members for the greater good. 

Poppies and other field-grown varieties thrive in neat rows at Everyday Flowers.

Poppies and other field-grown varieties thrive in neat rows at Everyday Flowers. That’s “Sassy” grazing in the background.

Vivian is the daughter of farmers who taught her those intangible skills of building good soil and caring for the land. “I always had a patch of earth where I grew flowers as a child,” she recalls. When Vivian’s own children were small, in 1990, she asked her husband to prepare a large area of ground. She began growing flowers and selling her bouquets at a nearby farm stand. “People would wait there to get my flowers or I’d have standing orders,” Vivian recalls. “Good flowers sell themselves – I’ve never had to advertise.” 

A current obsession: specialty echinaceae varieties.

A current obsession: specialty echinaceae varieties.

Experience has taught Vivian to know which varieties are successful as cut ingredients, which colors are reliable over time and which flowers produce the longest stems. “I’ve always known there were certain types of flowers that lasted better than others, especially if cut at the right time, and treated properly post-harvest,” she explains. “The fact is, I have a choice of what to grow and I choose to grow plants that are going to be happy at my farm and hold well in the vase.” 

This shot is a little silly, but viv humored me when  I asked her to reach for the top of the sweet pea trellises!

This shot is a little silly, but Viv humored me when I asked her to reach for the top of the sweet pea trellises!

For example, Vivian grows larger quantities of white, pink and yellow lilies because they are more popular with buyers. Similarly, the Karma dahlias have been bred for 18-20 inch-long stems and longer vase life, so she focuses on those. 

Vivian working with and teaching one of her seasonal workers, Kelly Uhlig. Kelly's mom Pam Uhlig was a horticulture intern at Everyday Flowers this past spring.

Vivian working with and teaching one of her seasonal workers, Kelly Uhlig. Kelly’s mom Pam Uhlig was a horticulture intern at Everyday Flowers this past spring.

Vivian has a good idea of what wedding designers and their clients are looking for and how they use each flower. While she has in the past done some of her own design work, the bottom line is that Vivian is first of all a flower farmer. “Honestly, I just enjoy growing more than anything else!”  

Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs, going a little bloom-crazy during our early morning harvest.

Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs, going a little bloom-crazy during our early morning harvest.

 

Alicia's gorgeous bouquet using all local and seasonal ingredients from Everyday Flowers.

Alicia’s gorgeous bouquet using all local and seasonal ingredients from Everyday Flowers.

We were lucky to have another guest along for my flower adventure – Alicia Schwede, a floral designer and owner of the Flirty Fleurs blog, joined Vivian and me for dinner and then returned early the following morning, clippers and urn in hand – for a floral designers’ whirlwind session. We loved creating arrangements and bouquets with Vivian’s flowers.

I made this hand-tied bouquet from yummy elements, including a cluster of unripe grapes.

I made this hand-tied bouquet from yummy elements, including dahlias, budleia, golden dill, calendula, Shasta daisies, leonitis, gooseneck loosestrife, and a cluster of unripe grapes and grape tendrils.

 

Kelly indulged to hold my bouquet for a different perspective.

Kelly indulged to hold my bouquet for a different perspective.

Everyday Flowers uses sustainable growing practices and the farm is Salmon Safe certified. No herbicides are used on the farm and on the rare instance when insecticides are used, they are OMRI-approved (Organic Materials Review Institute) products, Vivian explains. 

“I have a good beneficial insect population, including bees and ladybugs and I grow cover crops to suppress weeds and add more organic matter back in the soil,” Vivian explains. “I also have ‘Sassy’ my horse who does her share by producing great compost.” 

Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 16,000 times. I truly appreciate the guests, listeners and sponsors who have supported the Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing! Together, we’re changing the broken floral industry for the better!!

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 and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Floral and Event designer McKenzie Powell (Episode 150)

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
A McKenzie Powell floral bouquet, photographed by Jasmine Star.

A McKenzie Powell floral bouquet, photographed by Jasmine Star.

I’ve experienced real joy in producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast this past year.

You could say it’s purely selfish to have a personal, 30-minute conversation with an influential and interesting leader in the American floral industry, right?

Yet I am so happy to invite you to share in our dialogue; doing so has allowed flower farmers, floral designers and flower sellers to reach so many others by simply sharing their personal stories. And I sincerely hope that listeners who care about the source, seasonality and growing methods of the flowers they enjoy in their lives are inspired by the guests I’ve been able to feature this past year.  

MPD-logo-new Today’s delightful guest is McKenzie Powell, a young floral artist and event producer based in Seattle. I’ve been wanting to interview McKenzie for a couple of years. And too often, when we run into one another at the flower market, we promise, “let’s get together for coffee, okay?”  

This past week, we finally made that happen. McKenzie’s star is on the ascent. In just four years since she launched her studio, the work of this talented designer has been showcased twice in Martha Stewart Weddings, as well as in local bridal publications in our area like Seattle Bride and Seattle Met Bride & Groom. After recording our interview, she also sent me this link to a 2013 project of hers that landed on Martha Stewart’s Real Weddings’ blog. 

McKenzie Powell with one of her beautiful arrangements (c) Belathee Photography.

McKenzie Powell with one of her beautiful arrangements (c) Belathee Photography.

She’s also been showcased on a gazillion websites, including but not limited to: Junebug, 100 Layer Cake, Coco & Kelly, Elizabeth Ann Designs, Style me Pretty, Once Wed, Apartment Therapy, Wedding Wire, and others.

McKenzie says this about her business: We are a boutique and floral event design studio located in Seattle, Washington, and available for travel. We bring flair, elegance, and creativity to each and every event – from an intimate dinner party to a grand affair. Our goal is to learn your story, your style, your vision – then design an event unique to you and incredibly beautiful. 

A wedding tablescape, all-white and lovely.

A wedding tablescape, all-white and lovely. (c) Bryce Covey

McKenzie was raised among gardens and trained as a graphic designer. She brings a broad appreciation and knowledge of design to the floral and event industry, a niche that combines so much of what she enjoys and finds inspiring. Interiors, flowers, fashion, food, travel – they all seem to play an important part in a well-crafted and thoughtful event. 

A Summer Bouquet from McKenzie's Seattle Garden.

A Summer Bouquet from McKenzie’s Seattle Garden.

After two years working for an angel investment firm, planning large-scale corporate events, she launched McKenzie Powell Floral & Event Design, quickly earning a reputation for her lush, romantic designs. While her floral work may be what she is most notably known for, she encourages her clients to think beyond the centerpiece. Using an approach that considers the entire table, the entire environment, McKenzie creates truly beautiful events. 

Her perfect lazy day is spent lakeside at her family’s cabin, in the company of a good book, a fresh grapefruit cocktail, and her handsome husband. 

You can find and follow McKenzie at these places:

McKenzie on Facebook

McKenzie on Instagram

McKenzie on Twitter

McKenzie on Pinterest

We are coming up on a one year anniversary next week. I have a very special guest who is going to share a big announcement about American Grown Flowers, so be sure to tune in.

Last week, thanks to listeners like you, this podcast hit the 15,000 download mark and I couldn’t be more grateful. I truly appreciate the guests, listeners and sponsors who have supported the Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing!!! Together, we’re changing the broken floral industry for the better!!

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 and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.