Debra Prinzing

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2016 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast (Episode 227)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

page-0 As I was preparing to record this week’s episode I had a flashback to January 2014 and it reminded me of just how young Slow Flowers really was only two years ago.

Leading up to the launch of Slowflowers.com, I’d spent six months working with my designers to create the site’s framework. Having invested more than $10,000 of my own money to get the platform off the ground, I decided to turn to crowd-funding to raise another $12,000 in order to pay the web developer’s bill.

My original sketch for how this website could look! Yes, I wanted to call it "Locaflor"!

My original sketch for how this website could look! Yes, I wanted to call it “Locaflor”!

I spent considerable time and effort to set up my Kickstarter campaign, including hiring my friend Hannah Holtgeerts and her then-teenage brothers to create the Slow Flowers campaign video. For those of you who’ve been involved in these crowd funding sites, you know about all the up-front investment of time and resources that’s required prior to ever submitting your project for review.

Why Slow Flowers? from debra prinzing on Vimeo.

On December 24th 2013, less than 24 hours after I had submitted the Slow Flowers campaign to Kickstarter, I received this generic email response:

Unfortunately, this project does not meet our guidelines — resources of this nature do fall outside our scope. This isn’t a judgment on the quality of this project, just a reflection of our focus.

Not only was I devastated, I felt that Kickstarter was wrong and didn’t understand the creative nature of Slowflowers.com. If I had wanted to publish the directory of American flower farmers and florists as a tangible book rather than an easy-to-update web-based directory, I’m sure they would have accepted my proposal. It’s not like I was launching an e-commerce site either. I think it was just a matter of a lazy reviewer who didn’t take the time to thoughtfully read my proposal, but instead made the wrong conclusion and sent me their rejection.

I brushed myself off and turned to Indiegogo, where I should have started in the first place. I resubmitted the exact same campaign that Kickstarter had rejected and within 24 hours – on January 5, 2014, I received this email:

Congrats, ‘Slow Flowers: A Directory of American Flowers, Florists, Designers & Farmers’ is now live! 

Indiegogo_home_pg My chunk of coal in the Christmas stocking turned into a beautiful diamond, thanks to Indiegogo’s acceptance of the project. What followed was nothing short of amazing, with a 45-day campaign generating more than $18,000 from 229-plus contributors— we exceeded the original funding goal by 54 percent! Look how far we’ve come in just two years!

Slowflowers.com launched in early May of 2014 with 250 listings.

Today, our membership has climbed to 640 in 48 states!

It’s always good to look in the rear-view mirror and see the distance covered. The road was bumpy, narrow and had limited visibility – but our wheels are still on the flower cart and it is my dream to help Slowflowers.com membership climb to 1,000 in 2016.

That is my New Year’s resolution – and you can help me reach that goal by referring fellow flower farmers, floral designers and wholesalers to join the site!

NEWS ITEM

Laura (left) and Jacha (right), of Butterbee Farm outside Baltimore.

Laura (left) and Jascha (right), of Butterbee Farm outside Baltimore.

Laura embodies at least three of this year's Floral Insights: She's female; she is an urban flower farmer; and she builds community through collaboration!

Laura embodies at least three of this year’s Floral Insights: She’s female; she is an urban flower farmer; and she builds community through collaboration!

I recently checked in with Slowflowers.com member Laura Beth Resnick of Baltimore-based Butterbee Farm to learn more about the Maryland Cut Flower Growers Association’s winter meetings. Laura is the current president of the Association, which will hold the second of its three winter meetings on January 12th from 10 am to 1 pm (the third meeting is scheduled for February 9th at the same time).

The Maryland Cut Flower Growers Association is a regional group that has met each winter to share information for almost twenty years. The group convenes in Annapolis and the meeting is open to flower farmers in the Chesapeake Region, which includes Maryland, northern Virginia, southern Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Before you hear her voice, I’ll share a little bit more about Laura Beth. She is a Baltimore native who launched Butterbee Farm in 2013 after a few years apprenticing on East Coast organic farms. The farm’s first seeds were sown on a 13th of an acre in the Reservoir Hill area outside Baltimore. Midway through the summer, artist and California transplant Jascha Owens volunteered on the farm, and the two have been farming together ever since, now farming on nearly two acres thanks to increasing demand for their beautiful flowers.

The Maryland Cut Flower Growers Association meeting will be held at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building (50 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis). For more information, you can contact Laura: butterbeefarm@gmail.com. I hope you are able to attend if you’re in the area.

OUR 2016 FORECAST

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As promised, Let’s kick off 2016 with my Floral Insights and Industry Forecast. I’ve been tracking shifts and concepts that are taking hold in the American floral world.  I know some of you have already experienced these developments. In fact, my conversations with guests on the Slow Flowers Podcast have greatly influenced this list.

READ MORE…

2015 Slow Flowers Highlights (Episode 226)

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
Heather_Saunders_Slow_Flowers

Slow Flowers at The Flower House (c) Heather Saunders

Welcome to the final Slow Flowers Podcast episode of 2015.

(c) Linda Blue Photography

(c) Linda Blue Photography

Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for 2-1/2 years, I’ve had the immense privilege of hosting dynamic and inspiring dialogues with a leading voice in the American floral industry.

You’ve heard from flower farmers and floral designers who are changing the marketplace and how we view and consume the flowers in our lives.

As 2015 comes to a close, I would like to dedicate today’s episode to the Slow Flowers Highlights we’ve witnessed this year.

Next week, on January 6th, I will share my Floral Insights and Forecast for 2016 with you.

The past twelve months have built on the successes and shifts that began in previous years. Each time we turn the pages of the calendar to a New Year, we can applaud the strides made in the Slow Flowers movement.

I can date my own awareness to the American grown floral landscape to 2006 — that’s nearly a decade ago — when I met a very young mom named Erin Benzakein while I was scouting gardens in Mount Vernon, Washington.  She was growing sweet peas and had big ambitions.

Something about our conversation resonated with me. I was an established features writer with a huge home and garden portfolio. I’d written countless floral design stories for regional and national publications and yet it had never occurred to me that there was a great imbalance in the way flowers are grown and sourced in this country.

cover_flower_confidential At the same time, my writer-pal Amy Stewart was working on a book about the global floral industry’s dark side, which was published the following year called Flower Confidential. She delved deep into the stories behind the status quo, and opened mine and countless others’ eyes to the extraordinary reasons nearly 80 percent of cut flowers sold in the U.S. were being imported.

Curious to learn more, I subscribed to Growing for Market, Lynn Byczynski’s newsletter for market farmers. I joined the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and attended my first regional meeting in 2010, held at Charles Little & Co. in Eugene, Oregon, and later that year I went to the national meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I began connecting with flower farmers wherever I could, both in California where I was living at the time, and in Oregon and Washington. I met people virtually, as well, thanks to the ASCFG list-serves where I learned much about the issues facing small farms and American growers.

READ MORE…

Week 50 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Thursday, December 17th, 2015
Poinsettias as a holiday "cut" -- don't they look dramatic?

Poinsettias as a holiday “cut” — don’t they look dramatic?

The prosaic poinsettia has a new, sexy reputation, especially at a time when floral designers are desperate for beautiful focal flowers to go with all the greenery in our lives.

Begonia + Poinsettia!

Begonia + Poinsettia!

For the past decade the gardening world has watched an explosion of breeding in the poinsettia world. I remember attending a press event in the early 2000s when Molbak’s Nursery in the Seattle area hosted all of us at a breakfast to unveil the new poinsettia colors and varieties (streaked and flecked; and a palette ranging from cream to wine). I wrote that story for The Daily Herald about 15 years ago, so no doubt the news hit the gardening world quite a while ago!

Slowly, floral designers are discovering — and embracing — poinsettias. The flowers are tricky to source as cut options, although I’ve heard from some designers who are able to find poinsettia cuts. We just don’t see them here in Seattle.

A low silver bowl, tarnished, of course, is the ideal vessel for this holiday centerpiece of poinsettias, spray roses, agonis foliage, rex begonia foliage and Korean fir

A low silver bowl, tarnished, of course, is the ideal vessel for this holiday centerpiece of poinsettias, spray roses, agonis foliage, rex begonia foliage and Korean fir

What’s my other option? I went to Lowe’s this week to find locally-grown poinsettias from Smith Gardens in Bellingham, Washington. I was in search of a soft peachy tone and wasn’t disappointed. The flower I found wasn’t labeled (although I did learn that Noche Buena is the Mexican name for poinsettia).

I found three pots with this beautiful type of poinsettia, $6.98 each. Two of the three had broken stems, with unusable blooms, so Lowe’s sold them to me for $2 each. In all, that netted me 7 huge flowers for $11, which seems like a great price.

So nice to see these poinsettias as lush cut focal flowers

So nice to see these poinsettias as lush cut focal flowers

Since coming home from the home center, I looked up peach poinsettias online and have decided it’s possible this one is called ‘Visions of Grandeur’, described as a luxuriously rich, yet soft peach/pink/cream plant. But I could be way off because the colors seem to vary as widely as the petals of ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias. Either way, it’s lovely, feminine and romantic.

I began my arrangement with a Goodwill purchase from last in August, a silver-plated Gorham fruit bowl. I think I paid $6.99 for it; just found the same bowl on eBay for $35. I’m in bargain heaven with this great-priced bowl and discount poinsettias!

I placed a dome-shaped vintage metal flower frog in the base and added a second “level” of structure with chicken wire, domed at the top of the 9-inch container.

Foliage and branches:

  • Dark purple Agonis flexuosa, California grown, valued for its sultry color and feathery texture
  • A silvery-green fir known in the landscape trade as Korean fir (Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’), from Leo’s Trees, a Southwest Washington vendor who sells at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. Danielle Bennett, assistant manager at the Market, told me that Leo only brought in two bunches. I understand why because Korean fir is very slow growing so he probably didn’t want to trim so many boughs from the tree! I planted one of these ornamental conifers in a prior garden and I loved its wonderful winter sheen when hit with the afternoon light!
  • Rex begonia foliage, clipped from my houseplant. I love how the raspberry-wine foliage plays off of the Agonis foliage and the scale of each leaf holds its own against the poinsettia blooms.

Flowers:

  • Poinsettias. Following instructions mentioned in my recent blog post about International Poinsettia Day (Dec. 12th), the best way to prepare stems for floral design is as follows: Cut, then dip into hot water 140˚ F for 20 seconds; then plunge into cold water for 10 seconds.
  • ‘Snowflake’ white spray roses, grown by Green Valley Floral in Salinas, California
A small bouquet made with "leftovers," including a gorgeous amaryllis!

A small bouquet made with “leftovers,” including a gorgeous amaryllis!

A bonus: I used my leftover pieces to create a couple of small arrangements, which also included the final blooms from two raspberry-hued amaryllis grown by Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers. I enjoyed these in a larger arrangement last week and the final buds just opened this week.

Slow Flowers Field Trip to Whidbey Island (Episode 223)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
The wonderful Slow Flowers people of Whidbey Island. Front row, from left: Pam Uhlig, Kelly Uhlig, Melissa Brown, Tobey Nelson. Back row: Benjamin Corteau, David Brown and Molly Brown.

The wonderful Slow Flowers people of Whidbey Island. Front row, from left: Pam Uhlig, Kelly Uhlig, Melissa Brown, Tobey Nelson. Back row: Benjamin Courteau, David Brown and Molly Brown.

Here's a map of Whidbey Island to orient you! Notice the town of Langley on the southeast portion of the map and you can picture where today's guests live, farm and flower!

Here’s a map of Whidbey Island to orient you! Notice the town of Langley on the southeast portion of the map and you can picture where today’s guests live, farm and flower!

This week we’re introducing a new ongoing feature that I hope to bring to you once a month: the “Slow Flowers Field Trip.”

As you know, I love interviewing flower farmers and florists for this Podcast, but what I love even more is visiting them in person to see them in their element — whether that’s out in the shed starting seeds, in the fields harvesting, or in the studio creating something breathtaking.

As often as possible, I’ll hit the road and visit Slow Flowers members to share a snapshot of a community, highlighting what’s grown in that region, and introducing you to the people who grow and design with those flowers.

For 2016, we’ve already booked a field trip to feature the North Bay Flower Collectivenorth of San Francisco, and several other destinations are in the works.

If you’re interested in bringing the podcast to your corner of the U.S., get in touch and we’ll see what might come together.

While it’s located only 30 miles north of Seattle, visiting Whidbey Island takes a little planning because it is reached via ferry from the mainland. The island is notable as one of the longest islands in the country, at 55-miles long, and it lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington. Whidbey Island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound.

Picked on November 12th - pre-frost! Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm grew and designed this lovely arrangement for my visit.

Picked on November 12th – pre-frost! Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm grew and designed this lovely arrangement for my visit.

In my earlier years as a garden writer, Whidbey was a magnet for fantastic specialty plant nurseries and private garden tours, so I have spent quite a bit of time there. Now, thanks to the efforts of today’s guests, there is a nascent cut flower farming community, which is essential to Whidbey’s destination wedding scene.

A few weeks ago, I took a day trip to Whidbey, driving north to the waterfront community of Mukilteo, where I caught the 20-minute ferry ride across Puget Sound to Clinton, on the southern tip of the island. My three stops were concentrated on the southern half of the island, in and around the town of Langley, where there’s a mix of tourism, businesses serving vacationers and owners of second homes, as well as small agriculture.

Let me introduce you to the guests you’ll hear in this extended one-hour episode:

A bird's eye view of Sonshine Farm

A bird’s eye view of Sonshine Farm, photographed by a tree-trimmer who was working there

Kelly Uhlig (left) and mom Pam Uhlig (right)

Kelly Uhlig (left) and mom Pam Uhlig (right)

On my first stop, I visited Pam Uhlig and her daughter Kelly Uhlig, flower farmers who own Sonshine Farm, a specialty cut flower farm that packs more stems into a small homestead than you can imagine.

While pursuing a horticulture degree at a local community college Pam apprenticed with Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers (a past guest of this podcast) – and that’s where I saw her in action. Kelly, a 4-H superstar who’s herself now a college student, is just as committed to flower farming as her mom. Together the two make a dynamic team; they are now members of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, where the local floral community snaps up their gorgeous flowers.

Kelly, with one of her bouquet creations, grown & designed

Kelly, with one of her summer bouquet creations, which she grew & designed

Pam poses with 'Vincent Fresh' ~ a favorite sunflower she grew last summer.

Pam poses with ‘Vincent Fresh’ ~ a favorite sunflower she grew last summer.

Melissa Brown (c) Jenna Bechtholt Photography

Melissa Brown (c) Jenna Bechtholt Photography

After interviewing Pam and Kelly and taking a tour of their farm, I went to meet Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm. Melissa is a farmer-florist interested in growing flowers for her own floral design business.

We met up first on a parcel that a friend has invited Melissa to plant with flowers, which is where we recorded our podcast interview.

And then . . . Melissa took me to the Flying Bear Farm headquarters, just outside Langley. That’s where she and her husband Benjamin Courteau have just moved, along with Melissa’s parents Molly & David Brown, into a fabulous compound complete with a barn, two residences, an art studio, and lots of terra firma for growing flowers.

Melissa’s folks treated all of us to a delicious luncheon where the conversation only got better with more creative voices around the table.

Benjamin Courteau, field harvesting for Flying Bear Farm.

Benjamin Courteau, field harvesting Flying Bear Farm’s snapdragons

Here's the land that a friend has lent Melissa and Benjamin to grow flowers on Whidbey Island.

Here’s the land that a friend has lent Melissa and Benjamin to grow flowers on Whidbey Island.

A floral creation from Flying Bear Farm

A floral creation from Flying Bear Farm

A Flying Bear Farm tabletop design ~ lovely!

A Flying Bear Farm tabletop design ~ lovely!

Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild

Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild

After lunch, I grabbed some time with our final guest, Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild.

Tobey and I have been talking about this emerging Whidbey Island flower farming-floral design community for a couple of years so I credit her with pulling together my field trip.

She has an extensive background in landscape design, fine gardening and wedding & event florals, which makes Tobey particularly passionate about sourcing from local flower farms on Whidbey Island.

That said, it’s not unusual for her to jump on an early-morning ferry to come into Seattle where she shops for flowers grown by the farms of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Floral necklace by Vases Wild's Tobey Nelson (c) Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

Floral necklace by Vases Wild’s Tobey Nelson (c) Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

Wedding arbor by Vases Wild's (c) image by Scott O'Malley

Wedding arbor by Vases Wild’s (c) image by Scott O’Malley

Bridal bouquet by Vases Wild's Tobey Nelson (c) Mazagran Photography

Bridal bouquet by Vases Wild’s Tobey Nelson (c) Mazagran Photography

Please enjoy each guests’ unique perspective on growing flowers, island style. They are building a creative interdependence that is a small-scale model of what can and should happen in every community where flower farmers and florists come together.

Here’s how you can find & follow the Whidbey Island creatives:

Sonshine Farm, Pam Uhlig and Kelly Uhlig on Instagram

Flying Bear Farm, Melissa Brown and Benjamin Courteau on Facebook

Flying Bear Farm on Twitter

Flying Bear Farm on Pinterest

Flying Bear Farm on Instagram

Vases Wild, Tobey Nelson on Facebook

Vases Wild on Pinterest

Vases Wild on Instagram

Thank you so much for joining me today. Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded more than 74,000 times and I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Riz Reyes on Floriculture as the Gateway to Horticulture (Episode 214)

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
The hands of my friend Riz Reyes, clipping dahlias recently at the University of Washington Farm in Seattle.

The hands of my friend Riz Reyes, clipping dahlias recently at the University of Washington Farm in Seattle.

Riz shares the floral bounty from the UW Farm.

Riz shares the floral bounty from the UW Farm.

Please meet Riz Reyes, horticultural wunderkind, floral designer extraordinaire and all-around positive influence in the gardening and botanical community here in Seattle and beyond – across North America and internationally thanks to his active presence on social media.

Riz credits an early curiosity about fruits and flowers for turning a young boy from the Philippines into an award-winning garden and floral designer in the Pacific Northwest.

His true interest in gardening began as a seven-year-old watching public television to learn English and gaining an appreciation for the natural world where the art and science of growing plants captivated him.

Riz turned a childhood hobby into a career by earning a BS in environmental horticulture and urban forestry from the University of Washington. Riz gardens in an environment that unveils an overwhelming diversity of plants each season, thanks to the Pacific Northwest typically moderate climate and cultural conditions.

Riz with one of his highly detailed, textured, botanically-inspired bouquet

Riz with one of his highly detailed, textured, botanically-inspired bouquet

After graduation, Riz logged several years working for the University of Washington Botanic Garden’s Center for Urban Horticulture, as well as running RHR Horticulture, his own horticultural enterprise, where he designs, consults, and maintains gardens he helped create.

A Riz-designed wedding bouquet.

A Riz-designed wedding bouquet.

Just a few months ago, Riz joined the McMenamin’s Hospitality group as the Gardens Manager at the about-to-open McMenamin’s Anderson School, a hotel, brewery and pub in Bothell, north of Seattle, where I predict the gardens will wow guests and those plants to which Riz tends will very soon make their way into vases of his own creation.

A sublime bouquet by Riz, using garden flowers, locally-grown farm flowers and a few surprises.

A sublime bouquet by Riz, using garden flowers, locally-grown farm flowers and a few surprises.

Riz supports and collaborates with local cut flower growers and designers to create unique floral installations for venues and special events. He is a regular speaker and writer for various local and national organizations and publications.

Colorful, textural horticultural explosion, in a bouquet by Riz

Colorful, textural horticultural explosion, in a bouquet by Riz

In 2013, Riz was highlighted in Ken Druse’s Organic Gardening article “The New Generation,”  which captured the stories of six notable young horticulturists. Ken described Riz as:  a rising star in the firmament of plant explorers and innovative nurserymen.”

If that wasn’t enough, Michael Tortorello last year interviewed Riz for a New York Times’ story about plant selection, not bad, huh?

Riz with Nicole Cordier Waldquist at the 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Riz with Nicole Cordier Walquist at the 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

A detail of Riz and Nicole's "People's Choice Award" winning floral design.

A detail of Riz and Nicole’s “People’s Choice Award” winning floral design.

Riz earned a Gold Medal and the popular People’s Choice award at the 2013 Northwest Flower & Garden Show with his amazing display garden and the following year, with his collaborator Nicole Cordier Wahlquist, he won People’s Choice Award for a floral display.

From complex and multilayered . . .

From complex and multilayered . . .

 . . . to quiet and singular.

. . . to quiet and singular.

Just a few weeks ago, Riz presented at the national Garden Writers’ Association symposium in Pasadena on the topic, “Floral as a Gateway to Horticulture.”

I sat in the front row of that presentation, a huge grin on my face, following along on Riz’s personal journey that has brought him — full circle — back to flowers.

A color study in a bouquet by Riz.

A color study in a bouquet by Riz.

As I say during our interview, I’ve wanted to record an episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast with Riz forever. Listening to his presentation at Garden Writers was the incentive to schedule time together to do just that after we both returned to Seattle from Pasadena.

An autumn bouquet with a tillandsia.

An autumn bouquet with a tillandsia, foliage and hips.

More places to connect with Riz:

Riz’s web site, RHR Horticulture. You can subscribe to Riz’s newsletter here.

Riz/RHR Horticulture on Facebook

Riz on Twitter

Riz on YouTube

Riz on Instagram

Details on the October 22nd Farm Dinner at University of Washington Farm

A dreamy bouquet featuring sea holly (Eryngium sp.)

A dreamy bouquet featuring sea holly (Eryngium sp.)

Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded more than 66,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

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

Garden Writers Design Bouquets with California-Grown Botanicals

Friday, September 25th, 2015

CA Grown Logo Card CertifiedAmericanGrownLogoCard

Garden Writers get to play with California Flowers at their annual symposium in Pasadena last week.

Garden Writers get to play with California Flowers at their annual symposium in Pasadena last week.

Last weekend, more than 300 members of the Garden Writers Association attended the annual symposium in Pasadena. As the past president, I was there. Two people asked whether I could involve the California Cut Flower Commission in the conference and it worked out beautifully to combine those opportunities.

Vice President and Program Chair Kirk Brown asked me to lead a floral design workshop at the Table Topics session on Saturday afternoon. That’s where hundreds of attendees move through 30 tables, speed-dating-like to engage with various experts and explore subjects of interest to the horticulture, communications, and media professions.

Local Arrangements Chair Lydia Plunk asked me to procure California-grown flowers to adorn the banquet tables at the Media Awards Ceremony Monday. Both requests were doable, made even easier because of the help of these incredibly generous companies:

Syndicate Sales donated USA-made hurricane-style vases for the centerpieces.

Syndicate Sales donated USA-made hurricane-style vases for the centerpieces.

Syndicate Sales

Eufloria donated more than 200 stems of gorgeous hybrid tea roses and spray roses.

Eufloria Roses of Nipomo, California, donated more than 200 stems of gorgeous hybrid tea roses and spray roses.

Eufloria Roses

Kitayama Brothers of Watsonville, California, donated gorgeous miniature gerberas, snapdragons and lilies.

Kitayama Brothers of Watsonville, California, donated lovely, fresh miniature gerberas, snapdragons and lilies.

Kitayama Brothers Farms

Resendiz Brothers of Fallbrook, California, donated exquisite pincushion proteas, textured grevillea foliage and mixed greenery.

Resendiz Brothers of Fallbrook, California, donated exquisite pincushion proteas, textured grevillea foliage and mixed greenery.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

Stargazer Barn of Arcata, California, donated vivid tulips, irises and cotinus foliage.

Stargazer Barn of Arcata, California, donated vivid tulips, irises and cotinus foliage.

Stargazer Barn

Chris Sabbarese of Corona Tools tweeted out this photo.

Chris Sabbarese of Corona Tools tweeted out this photo.

I loved sharing these California blooms as a tangible example of the Slow Flowers movement.

We brought to life the conversation about local, American grown flowers and engaged my fellow garden communicators (writers, photographers, bloggers and educators) by getting them up close and personal to these fresh, beautiful botanicals.

After the workshop, the flowers were used to adorn the banquet tables at the Media Awards Banquet, held at the Pasadena Convention Center this past Monday evening.

My Slow Flowers project won a Silver Award, so it was indeed fitting to have local flowers on the tables that night. As a bonus, one lucky guest at each table “won” a bouquet to take home.

These are some of the photos that showed up on social media, which gives the local, American-grown story a very long shelf life!

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter photos from the Garden Writers event.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter photos from the Garden Writers event.

As a bonus, Stargazer Barn provided guests with a 15%-off coupon on a future order. If you missed it, feel free to use this one here:

StargazerBarn_Coupon-page-001

 

 

SLOW FLOWERS Goes to Washington, D.C.

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

This was a red-letter week! For so many wonderful reasons, which all involve flowers, farming and gardening. Rather than write too much, I’m going to let the photos do the talking:

WHITE HOUSE KITCHEN GARDEN

lets_move_logo On Tuesday, four of us achieved one of those “bucket list” goals!

Yes, we received permission to photograph the White House Kitchen Garden and its champion, Deb Eschmeyer, head of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” program.

I am so grateful for the people who helped make this happen, including my friends at Certified American Grown and the First Lady’s communications and Let’s Move staff.

With James Baggett, editor of Country Gardens; Nick Crow, the magazine’s art director and photographer Bob Stefko, like me, a frequent freelance contributor to the title, I spent an amazing two hours at this very important kitchen garden. Look for my story in 2016 in the pages of Country Gardens!

Yes, here we are! Bob Stefko (photographer); Nick Crow (art director); James Baggett (editor) and me -- after our whirlwind 2-hour photo shoot at the White House Kitchen Garden!

Yes, here we are! Bob Stefko (photographer); Nick Crow (art director); James Baggett (editor) and me — after our whirlwind 2-hour photo shoot at the White House Kitchen Garden!

Here I am with Deb Eschmeyer, the new director of the First Lady's "Let's Move Program," at the Kitchen Garden which is part of the program she manages. Notice, I've just given her signed copies of The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers. Hopefully, they will inspire!

(c) Nick Crow; Here I am with Deb Eschmeyer, the new director of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move,” at the Kitchen Garden which is part of the program she manages. Notice, I’ve just given her signed copies of The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers. Hopefully, they will inspire!

IMG_0989

(c) Nick Crow. I am seriously in a dream state here. None of us could believe what we were experiencing!

A rainbow of just-harvested organic veggies from the White House Kitchen Garden, just steps from the First Family's residence!

A rainbow of just-harvested organic veggies from the White House Kitchen Garden, just steps from the First Family’s residence!

FARMER-FLORIST PHOTO SHOOT WITH ANDREA GAGNON

On Wednesday, Nick Crow and Bob Stefko joined me at LynnVale Farm + Studios, a Certified American Grown flower farm where we photographed a story with farmer-florist Andrea Gagnon.

It was such a fantastic opportunity to capture Andrea’s farming and design talents. I can’t show you the beautiful bouquets she created because we’re saving them for the print story in Country Gardens, but I can share some lovely flower and farm pics with you. This will be an inspiring and instructional story – you’ll see it in a future issue of the magazine!

With Slowflowers.com member Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Farm and Studios, on location with Country Gardens magazine (c) Nick Crow

With Slowflowers.com member Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Farm and Studios, on location with Country Gardens magazine (c) Nick Crow

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Week 34 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Please meet 'Sierra Glow' - isn't she adorable?

Please meet ‘Sierra Glow’ – isn’t she adorable?

'Sierra Glow' detail - sigh.

‘Sierra Glow’ detail – sigh.

Everybody loves the ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlia for its showy yet ephemeral beauty, right? This week, I met Miss Cafe’s richer-toned cousin, ‘Sierra Glow’.

My new love has petals that have hints of copper, coral, melon and amber, all rolled into one yummy hue. Dan Pearson of Dan’s Dahlias describes it this way on his website: “Large orange-bronze blooms on strong stems. Very impressive in the garden.”

I picked up a plump bunch of ‘Sierra Glow’ dinner-plate dahlias grown by Jello Mold Farm this week and from there, all the pieces fell into place with the moody late-summer/not-quite-fall palette.

With our recent move and purging of “stuff,” I’ve discovered that many of my wonderful vases and containers are boxed up in the storage unit. But this cool brass planter, from Goodwill, serves the purpose perfectly.

Gotta love this deep burgundy smokebush foliage!

Gotta love this deep burgundy smokebush foliage!

Here’s the recipe:

Supplies: 1 brass planter, measuring and 1 vintage cage-style flower frog

Okay, you had me at coxcomb!

Okay, you had me at coxcomb!

Botanicals:

Smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple”), grown by Jello Mold Farm

Milkweed (Asclepias sp.), grown by All My Thyme

Velvety coxcomb celosia in pale apricot, grown by Peterkort

I believe this Calendula is in the Zeolights series.

I believe this Calendula cultivar is called ‘Zeolights’.

Calendula in the most perfect milky-gold hue, grown by Ojeda Farms

Golden amaranth with such gorgeous form

Golden amaranth with such gorgeous form

Upright bunches of golden amaranth, grown by Jello Mold Farm

‘Sierra Glow’ dinnerplate dahlias, grown by Jello Mold Farm

Week 31 // Slow Flowers Challenge (what happened to Week 30?)

Monday, August 10th, 2015
My Edwardian-inspired summer bouquet, clipped from local farms and gardens.

My Edwardian-inspired summer bouquet, clipped from local farms and gardens.

True confessions: I’m overwhelmed these days. The epic move last month from a huge house to a small condo (what to do with all that stuff?), combined with an intense travel schedule and a few overly voracious consulting projects . . . and I am scrambling to catch up. I can’t quite see the end of this tunnel until 2016.

The good news, however, is that flowers keep blooming and defining each season whether I clip and arrange them – or not!

This was my "practice" bouquet, using many of the same ingredients (only the sambucus foliage is missing).

This was my “practice” bouquet, using many of the same ingredients (only the sambucus foliage is missing).

Please accept this entry in the Slow Flowers Challenge, Week 31. We’ll just have to write off Week 30 as a lost cause (maybe I’ll double-up sometime soon to redeem myself)!

Melissa Feveyear (left) and Grace Hensley (right), at Dunnton Abbey.

Melissa Feveyear (left) and Grace Hensley (right), at Dunnton Abbey.

This past weekend I participated along with four other talented plantswomen and designers in an event called Dunnton Abbey Garden Party.

The play on words with the popular PBS series “Downton Abbey” was intentional, as the folks at one of Seattle’s most lovely private estate gardens, The E. B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust, held a lawn party inspired by the gentile fetes we’ve watched on Downton Abbey over the years.

It was all quite fitting, as Dunn Gardens date back to 1915, a contemporary period from Downtown Abbey’s first episodes.

Croquet, musicians, a vintage car show, people in period garb, a cake walk and many more activities were on hand. It was lovely and I especially enjoyed seeing everyone unplugged from modernity (although many did have their cell phones out to snap photographs, I’ll give you that).

Lacey Leinbaugh in her charming floral-bedecked hat!

Lacey Leinbaugh in her charming floral-bedecked hat!

Grace Hensley of eTilth, a Slow Flowers friend here in Seattle, coordinated the floral design demonstrations. She invited Lacey Leinbaugh of Blue Lace DesignMelissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers; Jennifer Carlson of Haven Illustrated and me to present “Edwardian Floral Design.”

We each were given a generous budget to shop for locally-grown flowers at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. A few weeks prior, we did a walk-through of the grounds at Dunn Gardens with co-curator Charles Price, pointing out stems, leaves and flowers that caught out eyes.

Charles judiciously cut those elements for us, too, so when I arrived with my own “bucket” of items from the Growers Market, there were dozens of other buckets overflowing with the truly local, of-the-moment, garden harvest. That added hydrangeas, phlox, ninebark, sambucus, rodgersia, ferns, hostas, fuchsias, monarda, meadow rue (Thalictrum sp.), crocosmia and more to the mix!

Guest of the garden party were invited to bid on our floral arrangements to take home with them.

Guests of the garden party were invited to bid on our floral arrangements to take home with them.

What is Edwardian floral design, anyway?

I honestly didn’t have time to do research in advance, but by the time I started my bouquet, I had a few thoughts to share.

I told the audience that the Edwardians were the original “Slow Flowers” florists because they only used local and in-season flowers, probably clipped from their own gardens.

Whether you were a member of the “upstairs” class relying on gardeners and hothouse blooms or a member of the “downstairs” class cutting from the edge of a meadow or woodland, the flowers reflected what nature had to offer.

The other idea I shared had to do with palette, and this was inspired by my textiles background. At the time, chemical textile dyes were not yet as popular or widespread as natural, plant-based dyes. And to me, that notion reflects a softer, muted, less vivid color scheme in textiles for apparel and interiors.

That yummy palette! Note the almost-pink lisianthus, as beautiful as a rose.

That yummy palette! Note the almost-pink lisianthus, as beautiful as a rose.

The tea-stained, sepia-toned palette of my imagined Edwardian bouquet was reflected in the flowers and foliage. I began with a blush-and-faded mix of ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas taking on a slightly pink tinge; not-quite-pink lisianthus blooms; pale terracotta draping amaranthus, and strawberry-colored gomphrena.

The darker accents lent a moodiness to the arrangement: Deep maroon dahlias; dark purple sedum heads; purple sambucus foliage; and berry-black Rex Begonia foliage, variety ‘Shadow King Rothko’.

Rex begonias carry the day, accenting the pale and dark blooms.

Rex begonias carry the day, accenting the pale and dark blooms.

Whether it’s truly Edwardian or not, the bouquet felt like a period piece in the black-and-silver Goodwill vase!

Here is a list of the ingredients, with my thanks to each farmer who grew them:

From Diane & Dennis at Jello Mold Farm, Mt. Vernon, Washington:

  • ‘Limelight’ hydrangea blooms
  • Amaranthus
  • Dark purple sedum

From Vivian at Everyday Flowers, Stanwood, Washington:

  • Gomphrena
  • Lisianthus
  • Maroon dahlias

From the Dunn Garden Borders: Sambucus foliage

From Seattle Wholesale Growers Market: Rex Begonia, variety ‘Shadow King Rothko’

Enjoy these photos from my fellow designers, each of whom did a magnificent job!

Grace thoroughly embraced the Edwardian spirit and she made these adorable paper-cone poseys to sell from her basket as she strolled the lawn in her period attire.

Grace thoroughly embraced the Edwardian spirit and she made these adorable paper-cone poseys to sell from her basket as she strolled the lawn in her period attire.

Melissa Feveyear's bouquet wowed everyone! She chose a pearly pink and coral palette with a few characteristic surprises.

Melissa Feveyear’s bouquet wowed everyone! She chose a pearly pink and coral palette with a few characteristic surprises.

Lacey Leinbaugh's beautiful summer bouquet used periwinkle accents to play off the vase color. Love this!

Lacey Leinbaugh’s beautiful summer bouquet used periwinkle accents to play off the vase color. Love this!

Jennifer Carlson went all in for the dramatic raspberry amaranth to wow the audiences.

Jennifer Carlson went all in for the dramatic raspberry amaranth to wow the audiences.

Shade Plants for Floral Design with Author Ken Druse (Episode 204)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
While recording our conversation for this podcast episode I asked Ken if he would design a shade-lover's floral arrangement and share a photo. Here's what he harvested from his garden earlier this week. Beautiful!

While recording our conversation for this podcast episode I asked Ken if he would design a shade-lover’s floral arrangement and share a photo. Here’s what he harvested from his garden earlier this week. Beautiful! See footnotes for ingredient list.

Hear from Ken Druse, who shares his love of shade gardening and all its joys.

Hear from Ken Druse, who shares his love of shade gardening and all its joys.

Author/photographer, lecturer and radio host Ken Druse has contributed to nearly every garden and home design magazine in America.

He is probably best known for his books, which the New York Times called “bibles for serious gardeners.”

The American Horticultural Society chose his book, The Passion for Gardening, as best book of the year; and the Wall Street Journal recommended it as one of the “five garden books to own.”

Ken has authored 20 gardening books, including recent titles PLANTHROPOLGY: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites and Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Companions, which features both Ken’s photography and that of digital artist Ellen Hoverkamp.

Solomon's seal (Polygonatum hybridum), a popular spring "cut" for floral design.

Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum hybridum), a popular spring “cut” for floral design.

In 2004, the Garden Club of America awarded Ken the Sarah Chapman Francis medal for lifetime literary achievement. In 2013 Garden Writers Association awarded Ken the gold medal for photography and the silver medal for writing. In 2013, the Smithsonian Institute announced the acquisition of the Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photography, comprising 100,000 images of American gardens and plants.

Digitalis purpurea 'Alba' from p. 179.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’ from p. 179.

I have interviewed Ken for stories about his work that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, so it is with great pleasure that I welcome him to the Slow Flowers Podcast. Ken is a pioneer of gardening podcasts, having been on the air for a decade with his national podcast and public radio show “Ken Druse Real Dirt,” which listeners can hear through their computers and iPods.

web_cover New Shade copy 3 - Copy We’re here today to discuss Ken’s timely new book, The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change, published in May by Stewart Tabori & Chang.

Ken reveals the low-stress environment of shade (cooler temperatures; fewer water demands) and how shade is extremely beneficial for our plants, our planet and us.

The thriving garden of the future might just exist in the understory!

I come to floral design from the residential garden and a love of plants. And the floral designers in my world are always on the lookout for uncommon, ephemeral lovelies.

Guess what? Many of those special fronds, flowers, leaves and branches can be found in the shade garden. Learning from a master like Ken Druse is a huge treat — I hope you found what he shared as inspiring as I did.

I highly recommend this comprehensive guide to “all things shade.” For gardeners and floral designers alike, “The New Shade Garden” is packed with inspiration and with ideas for having a lush, textural and fragrant garden where many colors exist!

logo KDRD plain And just for fun, to get a flavor of Ken’s wonderful and welcoming interview style (and to hear his radio-perfect voice!) here are links to the two Ken Druse Real Dirt episodes where I appeared as his guest:

May 11, 2012, “Field to Vase”

March 22, 2013, “The Local Flower Movement’s Champion”

From page 223 of The New Shade Garden: Ken repurposed an outdoor fireplace as a staging platform for his summering houseplants.

From page 223 of The New Shade Garden: Ken repurposed an outdoor fireplace as a staging platform for his summering houseplants.

On his web site, Ken writes:  Spending time in nature, especially nurturing plants, strengthens our connection with the natural rhythms of life. In the garden, we often experience a kind of “meditation therapy”–weeding actually becomes a time to sort through the other parts of our busy lives. 

Hosta clausa in all of its glory brightens up any dark spot in the garden. From page 80.

Hosta clausa in all of its glory brightens up any dark spot in the garden. From page 80.

I couldn’t agree more, and like Ken, I see the garden as a metaphor for life.

On August 15th, if you are in the Northeast, you have a chance to hear Ken Druse lecture on shade; take his hands-on garden-photography workshop; shop a rare-plant sale; and tour the garden of fellow garden writer, editor and podcaster Margaret Roach in Copake Falls, New York as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Day in her area. Here are details for purchasing tickets and to find the full day’s schedule.

Follow Ken Druse on Facebook here.

Find Ken Druse on Great Garden Speakers here.

A pale-colored wall illuminates the garden where a Magnolia grandiflora tree is espaliered.

A pale-colored wall illuminates the garden where a Magnolia grandiflora tree is espaliered.

Ken Druse’s “The New Shade Garden” floral arrangement includes:

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Foliage from three different hostas

Flowers from two hosta varieties

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (slightly faded to green)

Pachysandra terminalis ‘Variegata’

And “whips” (actually flower spikes) from Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’

Listeners like you have downloaded this podcast nearly 58,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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