Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A new brand of floral entrepreneur, Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery (Episode 149)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

CC_Logo_final.ai-page-001 Today’s guest is Bess Wyrick, founder and creative director of Celadon & Celery, a floral design and events studio based in New York City and Los Angeles. 

I first learned of Bess when researching florists to possibly feature in The 50 Mile Bouquet – I wanted to document the emerging business model of floral designers who actively promoted green practices, such as using seasonal and local flowers, embracing earth-friendly products and promoting anti-mass market style. 

I later learned that this category is called “eco-couture,” and it’s quite possible that Bess coined the phrase herself.

 

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick's floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick’s floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

In 2009, Bess’s Celadon & Celery was featured in a New York Times blog post about “organic flower” sourcing. The writer cited Bess’s policy of sourcing flowers within a 200-mile radius of NYC and also noted that when seasonal flowers aren’t available, she purchased Fair Trade, Veriflora and USDA organic flowers from certified vendors. 

The following year, in 2010, BizBash, a web site devoted to event planning, published a piece about Celadon & Celery that stated: “. . . sustainability is important to Wyrick. She composts, grows many of her own plants in her Chelsea studio, sources flowers from local growers or certified organic suppliers, and scavenges for materials to repurpose.” 

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

To read about that philosophy today – in 2015 – doesn’t seem all that unusual. But five years ago, it was rare. Believe me, I counted on one hand the number of designers proactively taking the green approach. I saved that article in my folder of inspiring designers. 

So how cool was it that when Celadon & Celery brought its floral design workshop series to Los Angeles, Bess’s publicist pitched me to write the story. 

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery 

I was definitely intrigued. Intimate hands-on floral design workshops had hit the East Coast, and the New York Times had run a piece in 2010 about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn (and owners Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen, two recent guests of this podcast). I’d even led a few seasonal floral workshops for Ravenna Gardens in Seattle in 2010, but I hadn’t seen much like this happening elsewhere on the West Coast. 

My editor at the Los Angeles Times agreed, and I did a short Q&A interview with Bess about the workshop series in fall 2011. At the time, Celadon & Celery was charging $300 for its two-hour sustainable-design workshops at Bess’s loft-studio in New York’s Chelsea Flower District. For the Los Angeles expansion, she dropped the tuition to $125 and used social media channels to promote the classes. 

Overwhelmed by the positive response, Bess rented a photography studio in downtown Los Angeles and turned it into a classroom. She hired a few local freelancers to help and ran three classes a day for three weeks. “In that time we taught floral design to more than 800 people,” Bess marvels.

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

50MileBouquet_book I was able to witness the excitement in person and cover it for a chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet. In the book’s pages, you can read about the explosion of DIY interest in floral design.

In that piece, Bess offered this observation: “The word ‘eco’ has a bad reputation implying something weedy,” Bess says. “But we’re creating flowers that are sophisticated, chic and tailored. ” You can read the entire chapter by clicking this link.

I’ve connected with Bess many times since the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet, in both New York and Los Angeles, depending on where our travels intersect. She is a generous supporter of the new Slowflowers.com and you can find Celadon & Celery featured in the online directory under studio florists and weddings/events.

I’ve been wanting to have her on as a guest and I’m delighted to include our conversation here today. Please enjoy our discussion about how floral design – and this designer in particular – has evolved to encompass event production, conceptual storytelling and artistic installations.

a singular bouquet.

a singular bouquet.

You’ll learn that floral design can be as multidisciplinary and multidimensional as you choose it to be. And, according to Bess, florists who advocate for their vendors, the family flower farm in particular, have an edge. She says: “I like to sell the fact that I’m a luxury brand and luxury brands work with really small artisans and that’s really important because you want to make sure that your flower farm vendors keep doing what they’re doing and creating unique and unusual flowers that the higher luxury market will pay for.”

(c) Jana WIlliams

(c) Jana WIlliams

I love how generous and frank she is and a few more of her interview comments really resonated:

For one thing, volunteering on flower farms has educated Bess to understand that “it’s not okay for clients to negotiate the cost of flowers because it is back-breaking work and there aren’t enough people who know how to grow flowers.”

And second: This quote is powerful and I hope it more than a few people in the floral industry to rethink their practices: “I don’t think that any florist in California should be importing flowers at all. That’s just being lazy.”

(c) Jana Williams

(c) Jana Williams

Ahem. Thank you, Bess, for stating the obvious. You’ve lent a lot of credibility to the Slow Flowers Movement with that proclamation!

Here are links to all of Bess’s social outlets:

Life with Bess Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Flickr

Instagram

And Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times.

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

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

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

A July 4th Homegrown Bouquet, from an American flower farm

Friday, July 4th, 2014
Just picked, from the cutting garden and fields at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA

Just picked, from the cutting garden and fields at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA

Composing this arrangement for the July 4th holiday is my reward for 48 hours of hard work.

I’ve been here in Southern California on assignment for Country Gardens magazine and Deck, Patio & Outdoor Rooms magazine.

I worked with Michael Garland, an LA-based photographer, to capture two wonderful garden stories that you’ll see in the pages of these publications next year (summer 2015). 

Today, after wrapping up at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, which has been the subject of past blogs and a podcast interview with founder Danielle Hahn, I got to play with the extra flowers from our photo shoot.

Everything that grows here is lush, and organic, and seasonal and simply devine! Here’s what my flower playtime yielded. Only in Santa Barbara area do the dahlias, roses, hydrangaes and succulents look at their peak on the same day.

If you have to work on a holiday, let it be July 4th and let it be at a American flower farm, right?

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt, two dynamic flower farmers and owners of Chicago’s Field and Florist (Episode 148)

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
Molly Kobelt and Heidi Joynt of Field & Florist, pictured at their flower farm outside Chicago.

Molly Kobelt and Heidi Joynt of Field & Florist, pictured at their flower farm outside Chicago.

Before introducing you to this week’s guests, I want to share some of the highlights that have recently come my way, thanks to friends and members of the Slowflowers.com site.

These incidents may seem small, but when gathered together, they encourage me that the message of this podcast and the usefulness of Slowflowers.com are increasingly important.

Web First, we recently added “Floral Workshops & Classes” as a listing category. Maryann Nardo, owner of 7 Petals Floral Design in San Rafael, California, just let me know she booked her first student through a Slowflowers.com customer who was searching for floral design classes. That’s awesome news!

Second, Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, a recent guest of this podcast, shared news that a floral designer in her Bellingham, Washington, area – someone who’s taken a workshop of mine — found Triple Wren on the Slowflowers.com site and has since subscribed to the farm’s flower CSA for the rest of this summer. Sarah wrote: “I thought you might like to know both that it helped our farm and that she is super inspired to continue in what you taught her.”

And finally, Kate Richards of the Farmhouse 38 blog, sent this awesome piece of news.

“One of my guests at my blogger dinner this weekend is getting married in Rhode Island in September. She’s incredibly ecologically minded, and had opted to not do any flowers at the wedding because she is pretty much ‘over’ the current floral industry. Between my recent blog post about the Slow Flowers movement and my blogger dinner featuring all local, CA-grown flowers (and food), my friend had her eyes opened to the idea of slow flowers (she called it ‘life-changing’, lol). She hadn’t even considered that there could be a proximate flower farm where she could get local, responsibly raised flowers. So she went on slowflowers.com and sure enough, she discovered Robin Hollow Farm, not too far from where she’s getting married—and they are officially doing her wedding flowers now! Huzzah!!!”

These stories are simply fantastic – just what I had hoped for when I created Slowflowers.com. If you want to make my day, I’d love to hear how this movement, this podcast and the online directory is helping you as a flower farmer, retailer or florist.

fieldandflorist

It’s no surprise to learn that today’s guests are also part of the Slowflowers.com directory. Pictured above, Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt of Field & Florist, are based in the Chicago area. A few weeks ago, I was able to visit their idyllic growing grounds in Barrington, IL, about 30 minutes northwest of the city. After touring the fields to see what flowers are emerging from those lovely long rows, we sat down for a fun interview.

Field & Florist Farm. Photo by Jaclyn Simpson Photography

Field & Florist Farm. Photo by Jaclyn Simpson Photography

I first met Heidi when she attended the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ conference that was held in Tacoma during the fall of 2012.

We ended up sharing a car ride back to Seattle from a farm dinner in Skagit Valley, along with several other awesome young farmer-florists. For me, it was a memorable 90 minutes: ideas and energy bounced around the inside of my Subaru. Each person had something vital to share and we were all eager to learn about how our fellow passengers were developing their own floral businesses – from Seattle to Chicago to Columbus, Ohio — similar things are happening to connect local flowers with eager floral customers.

In the two subsequent years, Heidi and I have stayed in touch and corresponded about her business. She’s a model farmer-florist who has done so many exciting things to educate and inspire her customer base — from holding fun “work parties” on the farm that gets city folks out to the country and leaves a little dirt under their nails; to producing pop-up shops at hip Chicago venues, to designing beautiful seasonal wedding flowers for many happy couples.

Engagement photo bouquet. Photo by Ashley Bosnick Photography

Engagement photo bouquet. Photo by Ashley Bosnick Photography

Heidi is no longer a solo farmer and in this interview you will meet her new business partner Molly Kobelt. The two women have known one another for a couple years, through Dose Market – an innovative Chicago hub for all things local. Molly worked for Dose Market handling promotions and marketing; Heidi brought her flowers to sell. They recognized in each other a kindred spirit in their philosophy that being passionate about one’s work is important. Earlier this year, they joined forces when Molly came onboard as a partner in Field and Florist.

Ampersand Pop-Up Dinner Arrangement. Photo by Michael Litchfield

Ampersand Pop-Up Dinner Arrangement. Photo by Michael Litchfield

Check out “A Taste of a Floral Arrangement,” an awesome video produced by Rabbit Hole Magazine at Kinmont Restaurant in Chicago with Field and Florist. In the “small world” category of our intersecting lives, my son Ben works at this restaurant – and he originally shared the clip with me before he knew Heidi and I were friends. That connection makes me very happy.

Field and Florist grows and harvests a wide array of beautiful blooms from April to October – that’s about the maximum amount of time you can source locally in Chicago’s climate. In the winter months, Field and Florist sources from certified sustainable sources within the U.S.

I hope you enjoy hearing from these two talented farmer-florists, as we talk about all the successes and challenges of their venture.

Recent bridal + bridesmaid bouquets. Photo by Averyhouse

Recent bridal + bridesmaid bouquets. Photo by Averyhouse

Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Heidi and Molly.

Here are links to sign up for the Field and Florist newsletter

Consider subscribing to their floral CSA - they’re taking orders for September right now.

Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times.

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

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

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

Make a Bouquet: Step-by-Step

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
June Bouquet with ornamentals and edibles.

June Bouquet with ornamentals and edibles.

Last weekend I was involved with the Hardy Plant Study Weekend as a speaker and a participant. This is an annual event, held every June. I rotates between Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, and this year was hosted and produced by the Northwest Perennial Alliance.

I was asked to present a floral design demonstration at Saturday night’s gala, held at Wells Medina Nursery. What could be better than attending a fun dress-up party with the theme “50 Shades of Green” (get it?). Surrounded by horticulture friends old and new, many of them who wore awesome green outfits, I demonstrated “The Marriage of Ornamentals and Edibles in the Vase.”

Here is a recreation of that arrangement, using most of the same flowers that I included in the first arrangement. I used a sizeable cast-iron urn (7 inches wide x 9 inches high) and filled it with a 5-inch vintage flower frog (cage style). NO FOAM, people! It’s not necessary and it actually shortens the vase life of flowers like these.

Step One: Choose an awesome container. This image gives you a good idea of the vessel's shape and scale.

Step One: Choose an awesome container. This image gives you a good idea of the vessel’s shape and scale.

 

Gather together your foliage. Start with something large and dramatic.  Artichoke/Cardoon foliage is a great summer element- straight from the veggie garden.

Gather together your foliage. Start with something large and dramatic. Artichoke/Cardoon foliage is a great summer element- straight from the veggie garden.

 

Step Two: Add the largest foliage first. I placed three leaves asymmetrically.

Step Two: Add the largest foliage first. I placed three leaves asymmetrically.

 

Step Three: Add the larger textural elements, like hydrangeas - straight from my garden.

Step Three: Add the larger textural elements, like hydrangeas – straight from my garden.

 

Step Four: Add more texture for contrast. Here, I added ladies mantle - lime green and super fluffy. Also straight from my garden.

Step Four: Add more texture for contrast. Here, I added ladies mantle – lime green and super fluffy. Also straight from my garden.

 

Step Five: Add smaller, darker, glossier foliage. Like sprigs of mint. They smell fantastic!

Step Five: Add smaller, darker, glossier foliage. Like sprigs of mint. They smell fantastic!

 

Step Six: Now, the diva flowers. Like these locally-grown garden roses.

Step Six: Now, the diva flowers. Like these locally-grown garden roses.

 

Step Seven: The final "viney" elements! Love the nasturtium. It lasts surprisingly long in the vase. PS, one vivid yellow poppy!

Step Seven: The final “viney” elements! Love the nasturtium. It lasts surprisingly long in the vase. PS, one vivid yellow poppy!

How do you keep this looking fresh for an entire week? Place this urn down inside the sink and run water inside (using the nozzle on the sink faucet). Give this vase a drink for 2-3 minutes and let the excess water spill over the edge. You’ll basically replace old, clouded water with fresh, clean water!

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Kathleen Williford, passionate “locaflor” and American-grown floral advocate (Episode 146)

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

One of Kathleen's arrangements for a CCFC Field to Vase dinner earlier this year - in her coveted McCoy  vase!

One of Kathleen’s arrangements for a CCFC Field to Vase dinner earlier this year – in her coveted McCoy vase!  


Kathleen Williford

Kathleen Williford

Today’s guest is my friend Kathleen Williford of the lifestyle blog Bloemster, the California Cut Flower Commission, the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House & Tour, and Staff of Life Natural Foods in Santa Cruz, California.

 Yes, Kathleen is involved in all these endeavors, thanks to her talents, her tendency to say “yes” to all sorts of opportunities, and her genuine love for all-things local when it comes to flowers. In fact, it seems as if everything Kathleen does professionally and personally intertwines like flowers, stems and tendrils in a lovely bouquet.

We recorded this interview on June 1st while working together at the Sunset Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, California. Kathleen had just pulled off her largest floral design commission ever the night before – she designed the tabletop flowers for a VIP dinner hosted by Sunset’s editor in chief Peggy Northrop. The setting was gorgeous and everyone raved about the all-California-grown centerpieces, which were an important reminder of the weekend’s local and seasonal theme. 

Kathleen teaming up with Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.

Kathleen teaming up with Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.

I’ve worked with Kathleen off and on for a couple of years, thanks to our mutual association with the California Cut Flowers Commission. Kathleen has helped me source flowers from the Monterey Bay area farms for my demonstrations at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show and for a Garden Conservancy workshop I taught in the East Bay Area two years ago.  She is a social media whiz, prompting all of us involved in the American Grown movement to hustle to catch up with her.

Kathleen created the new ALL LOCAL floral department at Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.

Kathleen created the new ALL LOCAL floral department at Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.

Kathleen is the first one to notice a trending topic, a new voice on twitter, a new source of gorgeous local flowers on instagram. I can count on her to always bring me up to speed. Case in point, when a group of us wanted to cheer on the only all-California-grown float in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, it was Kathleen who compiled an exhaustive list of the twitter addresses for every single broadcast personality on the various local, national and cable networks . . . just so we could be strategic with our messaging. She was one step ahead of the rest of us.

Social media has been a tool for her promotional work as the special events planner for CCFC’s Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour, which will take place this coming Saturday, June 21st.

One of the lovely California grown bouquets Kathleen designed for the Sunset Celebration Weekend VIP dinner earlier this month.

Here’s one of the lovely California grown bouquets Kathleen designed for the Sunset Celebration Weekend VIP dinner earlier this month.

I was invited to participate last year as a speaker and as the guest designer for a delightful field-to-vase dinner that Kathleen organized with her colleague Janice Wills Curtis of CCFC.  We had a total blast and I’m truly disappointed that I have to miss the fun this year due to another lecture commitment.

It was through social media that Kathleen also connected with Holly Chapple of The Chapel Designers, a previous guest on this podcast. Kathleen found her way to the Chapel Designers’ conference that was part of Florabundance Design Days in Santa Barbara this past winter. (Actually, it was Kathleen’s husband Paul who gifted her the two-day design intensive as a surprise Christmas present).

One of many arrangements that graced Sunset Celebration Weekend.

One of many arrangements that graced Sunset Celebration Weekend.

Since that experience earlier this year, Kathleen has been on a floral fast-track, adding special event floral design to her plate, launching a website to support her personal design work – called Bloemster – and further, taking on the floral department management for Staff of Life, where she also handles marketing and special events.

I think she needs to clone herself, because there never seems to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all these to-do’s, but Kathleen knows how to pull it off.

 I thought you’d enjoy hearing about the many ways one person can live out the values of supporting local and seasonal agriculture – from design, to retail, to communications and more. One person can make a difference, and Kathleen demonstrates that every single day.

If you are in the Bay Area this weekend, take a drive to Santa Cruz County for a free tour of several flower farms, nurseries and greenhouses where you can meet a flower farmer, buy cut flowers and plants, and enjoy a slice of the true California floral experience. I’ll add all the details on my web site so you can check out the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour. You might just run into Kathleen. She’ll probably be wearing a large-brimmed hat and carrying a clipboard, an armload of flowers, a phone, a tote bag, a camera, or all of the above!

Follow Kathleen at these places:

Twitter

Facebook

Bloemster Blog

More McCoy + CA Grown Blooms.

More McCoy + CA Grown Blooms.

 

Love this hot orange and dark teal combo of Kathleen's.

Love this hot orange and dark teal combo of Kathleen’s.

 

Locally grown flowers made the Field-to-Vase Dinner a huge success.

Locally grown flowers made the Field-to-Vase Dinner a huge success.

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: The Emerging Family Flower Farm, with Sarah & Steve Pabody of Triple Wren Farms (Episode 145)

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Steve and Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, Ferndale,Washington

Steve and Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, Ferndale,Washington

Earlier this week I headed north from the city and drove to Bellingham, Washington, close to the US-Canadian Border.

There, in lovely Whatcom County, I met Sarah Pabody for lunch at a charming cafe serving organic and locally-grown food. That seemed apropos because we were ready to talk about putting more flowers – edible and non-edible alike – into the agricultural conversation. 

I’ve known Sarah and her husband Steve Pabody since their flower-growing operation Triple Wren Farms joined the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market two years ago. Sarah and I served together on the co-op’s board for a while and she has impressed me with her level-headed approach to our discussions and the thoughtful and inclusive way she makes decisions as a leader at the market. 

Harvesting with Sarah.

Harvesting with Sarah.

We’ve been talking about me visiting Triple Wren, and now that it’s flower-growing season, the time was right to make the trip. I warned Steve and Sarah in advance that I wanted to record our conversation for the Slow Flowers Podcast – and fortunately for you, they were game! 

After lunch and a whirlwind chat, I followed Sarah even further north up the highway to the town of Ferndale. What beautiful countryside, where only a few miles off the interstate you can find apple orchards and flower fields surrounding a charming farmhouse with a deep, covered, wraparound porch, perfect for sitting down with Sarah and Steve, and a jug of their cold, refreshing, home-pressed apple cider. Steve poured and we forgot about the recorder and you can join in vicariously.  

Gentleman orchardist, Steve Pabody.

Gentleman orchardist, Steve Pabody.

I wanted you to meet Sarah and Steve because they are a young flower farming couple who are nearly 100-percent self-taught. Trial and error doesn’t seem daunting to them, though. Steve, a former Baptist pastor, has an incredibly gregarious personality, a can-do attitude and the willingness to poke fun at himself while tackling challenges like raising chickens, pruning thousands of apple trees and installing irrigation lines. He’s sort of a city boy who has taken to farming with a passion. [And PS, as the daughter of a Baptist pastor and pastor's wife, I have a soft spot for Steve and Sarah - and their personal journey,]

Trey Pabody, inspiration for "Triple," as he is named Steve Pabody, the third.

Trey Pabody, inspiration for “Triple,” as he is named Steve Pabody, the third.

 Like Steve, Sarah has an infectious smile and the type of optimism you hope rubs off on you. This is not an easy path, but it’s one they are committed to walking together. And without owning the land on which they farm, Sarah and Steve are mindful of the steps they need to take to sustain Triple Wren for their future.

I know you’ll be inspired by their story, whether you’re a young farmer, too, or if you’re more established.

And by the way, their farm name celebrates the two reasons Sarah and Steve are so devoted to creating a family enterprise. First, their son Trey (Triple) and their daughter Chloe Wren (Wren). The children are a huge part of the farm’s energy and joy – as you can see in the family photos Sarah shared here.  

Chloe Wren, little sister and inspiration for "Wren" in the farm's name.

Chloe Wren, little sister and inspiration for “Wren” in the farm’s name.

Triple Wren Farms is located in the heart of Sm’Apple’s U-Pick Apple Orchard, which Steve manages for the Smith family, owners of the farm. During the fall U-Pick visitors are also able to harvest dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers and pumpkins to purchase.

Sarah, with Steve’s help, has developed two acres surrounding the orchard where she grows cut flowers and seasonal produce.

As you’ll hear in our interview, they got started with sunflowers just three seasons ago — and the mix of annuals, perennials, edibles, bulbs and woody floral ingredients they now grow for the floral marketplace has exploded. Since joining Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, Triple Wren has achieved Salmon Safe designation. The farm uses sustainable and non-certified organic practices.

In addition to being part of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Coop, Triple Wren sells to local florists and groceries in Bellingham, Ferndale and Lynden – and this year launched a very successful DIY Wedding Flowers program.

More farm photos, shared by Sarah and Steve:

 

Columbine and poppies, inside the hoophouse.

Columbine and poppies, inside the hoophouse.

 

Sarah, flower mama extraordinare (and a cool farmer, too!)

Sarah, flower mama extraordinare (and a cool farmer, too!)

 

Cosmosssssss!!!! Simple and so perfect!

Cosmosssssss!!!! Simple and so perfect!

 

Sarah snapped this lovely rose portrait at dawn. Sigh.

Sarah snapped this lovely rose portrait at dawn. Sigh.

 

Perfect foliage: Pea vines.

Perfect foliage: Pea vines.

 

Apples . . . everywhere! To eat, to press into cider . . . and to show up in bouquets (especially the flowering branches of spring and the tiny fruited branches of crabapples).

Apples . . . everywhere! To eat, to press into cider . . . and to show up in bouquets (especially the flowering branches of spring and the tiny fruited branches of crabapples).

The message to take from today’s episode is one that both Sarah and Steve emphasized: Mentorship is important. Perhaps it’s essential.

I encourage all you veteran flower farmers to reach out and share your expertise, experience, years of knowledge with someone just getting started. Pay it forward. . . and soon, those young flower farmers will, in turn, follow your example and share with the next generation that comes after them. It’s key to saving our American-grown floral industry!

Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Triple Wren’s Sarah and Steve Pabody. Please enjoy this fabulous Q&A that Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs conducted with Sarah last fall.

Here’s how to follow Triple Wren’s activities, day by day:

Triple Wren on Facebook.

Triple Wren on Instagram

Triple Wren on Pinterest

Please join me next week for another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 13,000 times.

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

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

The slow flowers podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

How to create a gorgeous pedestal or cakestand floral arrangement without foam

Sunday, June 8th, 2014
Grandma's (or maybe great-grandma's) pedestal fruit bowl is a perfect vessel for a NO FOAM summer arrangement.

Grandma’s (or maybe great-grandma’s) pedestal fruit bowl is a perfect vessel for a NO FOAM summer arrangement.

You can definitely create a lush, overflowing floral arrangement that’s perched on a cakestand or pedestal-style bowl without resorting to a foam base.

I promise you, if I can do it – it’s not that hard. And when you’re finished with the design, guess what? You can toss all the spent flowers, vines, stems and pods into your compost bin and recycle the flower frog or chicken wire that originally held that arrangement together. 

It seems as if my mother displayed this beautiful jade green glass pedestal bowl on the dining table for my entire childhood. It never really held anything but a few pieces of fruit because it’s pretty shallow. Turns out, it was my grandmother Helen’s before mom inherited it (and I think it was Helen’s mother’s before her). A few years ago, I asked Mom if I could borrow the piece to try arranging flowers in it. Her response, “oh honey, you can have it.” 

I wish I had asked to borrow it years ago!

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

Step One:

There are 2 options, and both are equally smart approaches:

1. Anchor a vintage flower frog in the base of the bowl using adhesive waterproof clay. [If you're working with a cakestand, you will need to use a plastic tray or shallow bowl to hold the frog or chicken wire form and attach it to the flat base using tape or clay.]

Apply waterproof adhesive clay to the bottom of a vintage metal flower frog (I prefer the domed, cage style shown here).

Apply waterproof adhesive clay to the bottom of a vintage metal flower frog (I prefer the domed, cage style shown here).

 

Then insert the frog in the shallow base of the bowl or stand and add water.

Then insert the frog in the shallow base of the bowl or stand and add water.

OR . . . 

2. Create a domed form with chicken wire (I call it a “mushroom cap” shape) and rest it inside the bowl, anchoring the wire with a criss-cross of waterproof floral tape (the plastic-coated fabric type).

Criss-crossed tape holds the chickenwire form in place. Don't worry, your arrangement elements will soon hide the tape and the wire from view.

Criss-crossed tape holds the chicken wire form in place. Don’t worry, your arrangement elements will soon hide the tape and the wire from view.

Step Two:

Begin designing. Here, I first added several stems of pale blue mophead hydrangeas. Soon, they completely disguise the chicken wire.

Step 2: Add your first floral element. It could be foliage or flowers. Here, I used hydrangeas in abundance.

Step 2: Add your first floral element. It could be foliage or flowers. Here, I used hydrangeas in abundance.

Step Three:

Continue designing. The hydrangea worked in concert with the wire to anchor all the subsequent stems I added, including these stems of sedum. 

Step three: add  your next pieces, such as the sedum shown here.

Step Three: add your next pieces, such as the sedum shown here.

Step Four:

Add more elements, making sure the stems reach into the water as they poke through the wire or frog. 

Next, I incorporated small pink dahlias and Scabiosa stellata (the pingpong style scabiosa).

Next, I incorporated small pink dahlias and Scabiosa stellata (the pingpong-style scabiosa).

Step Five:

Wrap it up with your final stems and step back to admire your eco-friendly arrangement! You don’t need foam. Seriously! The planet will thank you for it.

The finishing touch is created with stems 'Black Knight' scabiosa.

The finishing touch is created with stems ‘Black Knight’ scabiosa.

Care and handling ~ Because the water source is very shallow here, I added fresh water every single day by placing my pedestal into the kitchen sink and pouring in fresh water with a tiny, houseplant-style watering can (you know, the type with a long, slender spout?).

Usually, the excess water spilled over the vase’s edge – it really can’t be helped. So then I placed the bottom of the pedestal on a towel to soak up the excess water before returning the arrangement to the table in my entry hall. I used a clear glass salad plate under the pedestal to protect my tabletop from accidental drips or a ring of water on the wood.

Please share your tips and ideas – and post photos of your foam-free designs to share with everyone! 

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A Conversation with Flower Farmer Robert Kitayama (Episode 144)

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Before introducing you to this week’s guest, I must share with you a heartwarming letter I received recently from Emily Calhoun, a farmer-florist who owns Floriography in Corrales, New Mexico. She gave me permission to read her letter to you:  

Here's a glimpse of Emily (right) and the New Mexico floral landscape (left)

Here’s a charming glimpse of Emily (right) and the New Mexico floral landscape (left)

Hi Debra, I wanted to let you know what a HUGE difference your podcast has made in my life and my businesses.  

In January we expanded our farming and design operation to the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area. This means I am traveling that long, lonely (300 mile) desert corridor between the northern and southern part of New Mexico. This drive can be draining and depressing, especially after working huge hours at either location.

Each trip I plug in my phone, queue up the SlowFlowers podcast and get lost in your interviews. The drive disappears and I find myself at my destination refreshed, inspired and motivated to forge ahead – -spreading the good word of local flowers to our clients and educating the state about its potential as a producer.  

In fact, last month I mentioned your books, podcast and phenomenal website in my presentations at the NM Agrifuture conference.  I was presenting on creating successful agricultural businesses in small and urban areas. Naturally, I pushed flowers. Having your resources really helped add legitimacy to what we were doing and showed that this whole flower thing for real! As a result I have been able to recruit farmers, young and old, to grow for us (a la Ellen Frost’s model). WE even piqued the interest of the NM Secretary of Agriculture! 

Right now we are the only commercial cut flower farm in the state and are working diligently on growing that number! Hopefully soon we will be covering the state and the region with locally grown flowers. 

From the bottom of my flower pickin’ heart, Thank you! Emily

Okay, pretty amazing, right? Thank you, Emily – your voice and vision will now be heard by everyone listening to this podcast and I encourage them to check out your great web site, Floriographynm.com, to see what she’s up to in promoting the Slow Flowers Movement on her corner of the planet. Send her a little floral note so she knows we applaud her tenacity in changing New Mexico’s relationship with their flowers — we’re rooting for your success, Emily.  

Janice Wills Curtis of the California Cut Flower Commission snapped this photo as I interviewed Robert Kitayama at Sunset.

Janice Wills Curtis of the California Cut Flower Commission snapped this photo as I interviewed Robert Kitayama at Sunset.

Next, my interview this week comes to you from the Garden Stage at Sunset magazine’s Celebration Weekend at the Sunset HQ in Menlo Park, CA.

I spoke twice this past weekend, sharing the Slow Flowers’ eco-conscious floral design approach – and I combined my exhibit with my friends at the California Cut Flower Commission.

We gave away thousands of lily bulbs for people to take home and plant in their own gardens and took photos of thousands of people who wanted to stand in front of a flower field.

 

Here's our photo in the CCFC-Slow Flowers booth at  Sunset's Celebration Weekend.

Here’s our photo in the CCFC-Slow Flowers booth at Sunset’s Celebration Weekend. (c) CCFC

Those photos were posted all over social media, getting the word out about supporting local flowers. It was a blast! 

I also persuaded Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers Farms in Watsonville, Calif., to sit down with me for an interview. You will be fascinated to hear his family’s story as it spans the generations, several areas in the west and numerous changes in flower crops – as this company has continued to evolve with the times.

A sea of colorful gerberas in the Kitayama Brothers' greenhouses.

A sea of colorful gerberas in the Kitayama Brothers’ greenhouses. (c) Linda Blue, CCFC

Kitayama Brothers has been growing and shipping beautiful cut flowers from Northern California since 1948. Located on majestic Monterey Bay, the company’s greenhouses in Watsonville enjoy perfect flower growing conditions.

The Monterey Bay’s cool evenings along with sunny days create an ideal environment for growing more than 20 different flowers and cut greens. Today, the farm’s top crops oriental and Asiatic lilies, lisianthus, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, mini callas, iris, gardenias and stephanotis, making their product selection a top choice for wedding and event professionals from around the country.

 

Robert Kitayama (left) and his brother Stuart Kitayama (right), pose with their mother at the 2013 Monterey Bay "Field to Vase" dinner.

Robert Kitayama (left) and his brother Stuart Kitayama (right), pose with their mother at the 2013 Monterey Bay “Field to Vase” dinner. (c) Linda Blue, CCFC

I have gotten to know Robert and his family’s floral enterprise in the past few years, including spending a weekend at the farm in Watsonville last year where I arranged centerpieces for the field-to-vase dinner held inside one of Kitayama’s greenhouses the night before the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Tour.

This year’s tour is coming up on June 21st and you can get more details here. And check out Kitayama Brothers’ free gerbera plant promotion here.

 

One of those luscious, lavish gardenias . . . so awesome!

One of those luscious, lavish gardenias . . . so awesome! (c) Linda Blue, CCFC

Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Robert Kitayama, just one of the many passionate flower farmers I encounter on my journeys through the fields and greenhouses where beautiful, fresh and local flowers are produced.

Please join me next week for another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 12,500 times.

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

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

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: The Little Flower School of Brooklyn comes to Oregon (Episode 143)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

flowerschoolheader_2012

'Who needs a prince' - seriously great iris name!

‘Who needs a prince’ – seriously great iris name!

Last week was quite amazing in so many ways. First of all, I was on assignment for Country Gardens magazine, working with the uber-talented photographer Laurie Black, my collaborator in so many great articles that we’ve created over the years for editor James Baggett and art director Nick Crow.

With her partner-husband Mark King (ever the calm one and a genius when it comes to all the technical aspects of location photography), Laurie and I were tasked with capturing the story of Schreiner’s Iris Farm, the lovely and alluring bearded iris, and the two women who are nearly single-handedly reviving interest in these old-fashioned spring flowers. 

Nicolette (left) and Sarah (right), at their happy place in the iris garden.

Nicolette (left) and Sarah (right), at their happy place in the iris garden.

Those women are my guests today – Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua and Nicolette Owen of Nicolette Camille. While they independently own their own Brooklyn-based floral studios, together the friends collaborate as teachers through The Little Flower School of Brooklyn. 

'Oh Jamaica'

‘Oh Jamaica’

Smitten by the bearded iris, especially watercolor-washed varieties in apricot-peach-pink; smoky browns; mustardy-yellow; mahogany and silvery-lavender spectrums, Nicolette and Sarah have been fans of Schreiner’s Irises for years.

They worked with the Salem, Oregon-based, third-generation family farm to create a one-day Iris-intensive and invited students to join the fun.

Here’s how the workshop was described:

In this class, students will bask in the glory of the fields at peak bloom, and in a tour of the display gardens witness first hand the incredible diversity of color and form this unique perennial offers. We’ll discuss and demonstrate the tenets of composing an arrangement in our elegantly layered Little Flower School style. Special emphasis will be placed on flower selection, color blending and the mechanics of building a low lush sprawling arrangement without the use of floral foam. Working with the very best of the Schreiner’s specimens, along with a menagerie of other locally grown Oregon flowers, students will receive in-depth. one-on-one instruction as they build their own rambling garden style arrangement.

Generous in sharing their knowledge, Sarah and Nicolette demonstrated with their favorite irises and perennials.

Generous in sharing their knowledge, Sarah and Nicolette demonstrated with their favorite irises, annuals, foliage and perennials.

The day was packed with beauty and creativity. It was an inspired, sublime experience — from the first moment when we met, toured the gallery of irises and the gorgeous display beds showcasing irises and their favorite companion perennials — to an afternoon of floral design instruction. Meeting many members of the Schreiner family was a bonus! Thanks to Steve Schreiner, Ray Schreiner and sister Liz Schmidt (plus we met sister Paula, who stopped by while leading an iris tour for Portland’s Japanese Garden).

About 18 students gathered for the workshop, from established floral designers to apprentices and those considering a career switch, and me – a floral dilettante! Together, we fixated on Sarah and Nicolette’s language of flowers. 

These two communicate with such beautiful interlocking poetry and prose. And you’ll just have to wait for the summer 2015 issue of Country Gardens to learn more, read my story and see Laurie’s awesome photography!

 

Love these colorful benches at Schreiner's Iris Farm.

Love these colorful benches at Schreiner’s Iris Farm.

After our workshop, however, the three of us sat down in the double-Adirondack benches so generously provided by the Schreiner family. We talked a lot about the farmer-florist concept, the Slow Flowers movement, and the importance of staying close to the source of your flowers.

 

Nicolette at work.

Nicolette at work.

Here’s a little more about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn:

The Little Flower School is the teaching project of Nicolette Owen (Nicolette Camille) and Sarah Ryhanen (Saipua); each known for their loose, natural, garden-focused floral designs. Fueled by their reverence for flowers and penchant for travel, the two traverse the globe teaching, learning, and hunting down the most beautiful floral specimens.

Sarah and Nicolette first met over dinner in July of 2008 – a time when each of their separate floral businesses were first establishing. As distinct competitors, their friendship championed a spirit of collaboration and – they hope – has helped to foster an atmosphere of sharing and collaboration amidst a new wave of New York floral designers.

Students of The Little Flower School are men and women; novices, floral enthusiasts, designers in other medium, those looking to start their own floral business, and those with established floral businesses looking to broaden their design knowledge. Classes are seasonally oriented and often exalt a particular flower or design concept. 

Here’s more about Nicolette: 

Nicolette Owen runs her custom floral design studio, Nicolette Camille Floral, in Brooklyn NY. Her work is known for its romantic effusions, nuanced color and texture. Each arrangement is evocative of both the wild and formal garden. Nicolette’s first book collaboration, Bringing Nature Home, was released by Rizzoli in April 2012.

 

Sarah extolling the virtues of foxgloves - biannual and perennial forms.

Sarah extolling the virtues of foxgloves – biannual and perennial forms.

And more about Sarah: 

Sarah Ryhanen is a self taught flower designer, grower and  co-founder of Saipua. Her compositions have a haunting, sensual quality. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Vogue and Martha Stewart. She splits her time between the Saipua studio in Red Hook Brooklyn and Worlds End, her new flower farm in upstate NY.  And listen to my earlier podcast interview with Sarah here, in which we speak of her decision to begin growing her own flowers with her partner Eric Famisan.

Please enjoy this conversation and join in by sharing your comments below. 

Thank you for joining me this week. Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 12,200  times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts. 

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

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

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