Debra Prinzing

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Episode 298: Slow Flowers Summit Preview #1 — meet James Baggett of BH&G and Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

The countdown for American Flowers Week and the Slow Flowers Summit has begun — we’re only five weeks away from the June 28th kickoff of American Flowers Week 2017 and just shy of six weeks from the Slow Flowers Summit, which will take place on Sunday, July 2nd in Seattle.

You’re invited to participate in both — and you can find all the details and links here in this post.

I’ll be previewing as many of our Slow Flowers Summit speakers as possible over the coming weeks. First of all, please meet James Baggett, science and horticulture writer, garden editor at Better Homes & Gardens and a true pioneer in garden media.

I captured this photo of James Baggett in his “happy place” — in a garden. It was the White House Kitchen Garden, which made the moment all the more special! Our colleague, photographer Bob Stefko, can be seen working in the background.

On the road with JAB

James Baggett, showing off the many titles he creates with coworker Nick Crow, his art director. It simply mind-boggling to grasp their huge productivity – and it’s an honor to be one of their writer-producers.

I’ve written and produced stories for this incredibly generous and talented man for years and I count him as a friend. In fact, as I mention often, if given a choice, I’d rather be his friend for life than ever write a single story for him in the future.

James is definitely demonstrating his friendship and support for my passion by agreeing to be our master of ceremonies during the Slow Flowers Summit.

He’s flying to Seattle from his home town, Des Moines, Iowa, where BH&G and its parent company Meredith Corp. are based. As luck would have it, my travels took me to Des Moines last month when Meredith sponsored my lecture at the Wonder of Words festival on Earth Day. While there, I grabbed a short interview with James to share with you.

James A. Baggett has been a garden editor and writer for more than 20 years. In addition to his new role as BH&G’s garden editor, he shaped content at Country Gardens® magazine as its editor in chief for nine years after serving previously as editor of PerennialsTM and as the founding editor of Nature’s GardenTM magazines, both Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications.

Early in his writing career, James wrote Martha Stewart’s “Arranging Flowers” book, which was released in 1999.

James also is the former executive editor of Country Living Gardener and Rebecca’s Garden magazines. He is the author of Flower Arranging, a Best of Martha Stewart Living Book (Oxmoor House) and the former garden editor of American Homestyle & Gardening.

James formerly gardened in New York City — where he tended a 10-x-20-foot garden behind an 1850 brownstone — and he now gardens in Des Moines, where all the available land surrounding his Arts & Crafts bungalow has been given over to flowerbeds, specimen trees and shrubs, and containers.

James has a Bachelor of Journalism degree, from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s famed School of Journalism. In 2015, the American Horticultural Society honored James with the B. Y. Morrison Communication Award, which recognizes effective and inspirational communication – through print, radio, television, and/or online media — advancing public interest and participation in horticulture.

“Garden writing is science writing with Jazz Hands” — James Baggett

Click here to download the James Baggett Profile, “Charming, Disarming and Engaging,” written by Maryann Newcomer for to the GWA Association of Garden Communicators newsletter. His curiosity and passion about everything in the natural world comes through in all aspects of his work and his life, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be joining us as the emcee for the Summit.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle’s Lola Creative.

Next up, past guest of this podcast, Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle-based Lola Creative. If you missed my interview with Emily (episode 168) you’ll want to go back and hear her entire journey of arriving at a floral career drawing from a background in landscape architecture.

It’s inspiring and it’s one of the reasons I asked Emily to speak at the Slow Flowers Summit on the topic of “Reinvention: Professionally, Artistically + Sustainably.” She will share her story and talk about how creatives are morphing with the changing cultural scene, changing aesthetic tastes and changing values.

And a huge bonus of having Emily involved in the Summit will be her “live” demonstration of building a foam-free floral wall.

It was during our recent walk-through of the Surf Incubator Event Space where our Summit will be held, that I recorded our short audio conversation. Our mutual friend Liz Browning of Laughing Girl Flowers was with us and we were all so excited to see the environment that will house the Summit gathering. We also discussed logistics of building a mini version of the massive floral wall that Emily and her team created for the 2016 Seattle Art Fair.

Her business, Lola Creative, is comprised of a team of art-minded, world-wandering, endlessly curious event and visual art professionals and ready to get obsessed with their clients’ projects. They specialize in design and production of bold events with a focus on brand enhancement and generating a meaningful connection between guests and a host organization, styled photoshoots and creative direction for online content and marketing campaigns, exceptional weddings for excellent couples. Lola Creative includes craftspeople, architects, project managers, marketers, writers, painters, organizational master-minds, and bold thinkers. Lola operates out of a light- filled studio in Edmonds, Washington, serving the entire state and Northwest region.

Lola promotes sustainable flower growing, low waste events, and low-impact practices of all kinds, including composting plant waste, reusing materials, and sourcing locally and responsibly. Lola Creative has ceased the use of floral foam for its toxicity and non-biodegradability. A portion of profits benefit scientific research, creatures, and kids’ education in entrepreneurship, art, and technology.

Check out Curious Lola, Emily’s blog where she shares tips, stories and videos about building, running and designing an event design and floral business.

Find/follow Emily at these social places:

Lola Creative on Facebook

Lola Creative on Instagram

Lola Creative on Pinterest

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 191,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

It’s time to sign up for the Summit and you can find the registration link and more details right here.

The information you will gain in a single day at the Summit is an incredible value for just $175 — and members of Slow Flowers receive a great thank-you rate  of $135/ Your registration includes all lectures and coffee/light breakfast, lunch and a cocktail reception with speakers — plus a flower lovers’ swag bag and chance to network with the doers and thinkers in our botanical universe.

I can’t wait for you to join us in Seattle on July 2 in the heart of American Flowers Week!

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
The Zeppelin; Dirtbike Lovers
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 297: The Flower Power Network: Florists Coming Together to Learn and Lend Support

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Above, I’m seated on the sofa with fellow Flower Power speaker, Aimee Newlander of the Slow Weddings Network. Flower Power’s members often meet in one another’s homes, gardens and studios. These photos were taken by Sarah Gonia, an Olympia-based photographer (c) Sarah Gonia.

Sarah captured this hellebore (from Maura’s garden) in a centerpiece that welcomed us to Maura’s home. (c) Sarah Gonia

Another lovely moment from Maura’s floral arrangement (c) Sarah Gonia

We’ve been talking about networking, collaboration and community quite a bit lately and this week’s topic continues that thread with Seattle’s Flower Power.

This intentional cohort of floral designers and farmer-florists formed in early 2016 with a core group of new friends, many of whom met while taking a large-scale installation workshop with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box when she came to town.

Flower Powers’ monthly gatherings rotate among different member’s homes or studios and focus on business topics and face-to-face social networking . . . today, only 18 months after forming, the list of Flower Power members has grown organically to more than 35 participants.

Maura Whalen of Seattle’s Casablanca Floral shared this portait from her collection. She’s seen in front of her beautiful design studio.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, based on Seattle’s Eastside, at work in her home-based design studio (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Many Flower Power members are also involved in Slow Flowers and so somehow I was added to the mailing list . . . every time their monthly meeting notice lands in my in-box, I open it curious to discover the topic and host. I have felt very included but never had a chance to attend until May 1st. Maura Whalen invited me to speak about Slow Flowers when she hosted the group in her beautiful home and garden in Seattle.

Before our evening’s program began, I sat down with Maura and another early Flower Power member Tammy Myers to talk about the reasons why they started the group and how it has served their evolving floral careers.

Maura Whalen of Flower Power

Maura Whalen owns Casablanca Floral and Tammy Myers owns First & Bloom. Let me introduce a little more about them:

Maura’s Casablanca Floral began in 2014 when she hauled a wreath-making machine into her children’s tree fort and filed for a license to pursue her lifelong dream of a floral business.

 In truth, a passion for flowers and the natural world has been with Maura her entire life, beginning with time spent with her Italian grandmother Flora who had a glorious garden in which Maura loved to play.  At home as a child, her mother made her a deal:  if she weeded the garden, she could create an arrangement for the family table.   Later, Maura worked in a floral shop to pay her way through grad school. Casablanca Floral is the culmination of one woman’s lifelong love for expressing creativity through flowers.

The word Casablanca denotes Maura’s favorite flower and her favorite classic film and to her, Casablanca has always signified ultimate elegance.

Casablanca Floral has bloomed into a thriving business serving the Seattle metropolitan area. Operating out of a beautiful backyard studio rather than a storefront allows Maura to keep her work personal, close to home, and close to the heart.  It’s no surprise that being a mother to two fabulous teenagers entwines and overlaps with Maura’s life as a florist.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom

And here’s more about Tammy Myers. She writes this on First & Bloom’s web site:

If you had asked me 10+ years ago about owning a florist business, I might have laughed!  Who knew I would be here today.  Like most young twenty-something’s, I was headed to the big city and wasn’t ever going back to the country!  Growing up in a small town outside the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington, I was drawn to the city like most-  the fast pace, the glitz, the glam, and the opportunity.  And it’s all true.  Those years were fun and still are when I get a chance to sneak away.  But there’s nothing better than the sheer glimmer in my son’s eyes when he discovers something new out in the country.  As parents, we’ve all been there.  We start to live again- better, through our children.  

What I’ve learned over the years is to love what you do.  Surround yourself with passion, integrity, perseverance, and ignore anyone who says otherwise.   

​What I’ve learned in the past couple years is that I’m not really selling flowers.  I’m selling feelings.  The emotion of one person passed to the other as a feeling through the tangible package of flowers.  That’s why it’s so important I get it right.  Getting it right means everything to me and most importantly it means everything to my customers.  It means I played a tiny little part in someone feeling comfort about the life jolting news they received from the doctor or the feeling of celebration for the ass-kicking mountain they conquered called cancer.  It also means I get to see a glimpse into some of the most important days a couple experiences like walking down the aisle or welcoming another amazing person into this world.  And the best part is, someone chose me to help convey those priceless thoughts and feelings.  What a gift that touches me right to the core!

Flower Power member Katie Clary Githens of Clary Sage Studio (c) Sarah Gonia

Guest book (c) Sarah Gonia

Slow honey, shared by some guests (c) Sarah Gonia

Maura Whalen’s “of the moment” bouquet featuring elements clipped from her garden and foraged in her Seattle neighborhood. (c) Sarah Gonia

As we mentioned during the episode, I have two past episodes to share with you that relate to today’s guests:
I hosted Tammy as my guest on Episode 201 as she discussed her all-American/all-local sourcing philosophy; and I featured Tammy, Maura and several other designers who are now involved in Flower Power on Episode 230 during the workshop with Lisa Waud when the seed of an idea seemed to be forming for this group.

Flower Power doesn’t officially have a web site or Facebook group but you can get to know Maura and Tammy at their social places:

Casablanca Floral on Facebook

Casablanca Floral on Instagram

Casablanca Floral on Pinterest

First & Bloom on Facebook

First & Bloom on Instagram

First & Bloom on Pinterest

As special thank you to Sarah Gonia of Olympia-based Sarah Gonia Photography. She attended Flower Power as a guest and generously shared these photos with permission.

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 189,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Around Plastic Card Tables
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 293: A Walking Tour of Alm Hill Gardens, where my favorite local tulips grow

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Happy Spring!

I’m holding my breath, but I am hopeful that spring is truly here, aren’t you?

Before we get started, I want to share some very important news — especially for all the U.S. flower farmers listening. Every five years the USDA – that’s the US Department of Agriculture – conducts a Census, a complete count of farms and ranches, and the people who operate them, all across the country.

This year, 2017, is an Ag Census year. A lot has happened in flower farming since 2012 and I strongly believe that the Census metrics will reveal that.

For instance, we know from the 2007 and 2012 Census reports that U.S. farms representing flowers grew 16% as a crop category. To be specific, that’s a boost from 5,085 farms to 5,903 farms.

I am excited to see what the new 2017 Census reveals, but here’s where you come in. The folks at USDA work very hard to get the Census questionnaire to everyone in farming, but as you know, it’s easy for smaller or super busy farms to fall through the cracks. We cannot afford to have that happen, folks. The data reported will influence policy and funding for U.S. Agriculture and I believe that flower farms need to have a much larger piece of that pie, whether it’s through specialty crop block grants, value added producer grants or other programs that help support our industry.

Producers who are new to farming or who did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. USDA defines a farm as any place from which at least $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year — and that means unless you’re a hobby grower like me, you should be counted!

As I mentioned, the sign-up period ends June 30, 2017 — and all you have to do is follow the link and just sign up. By the end of the year, you will receive your questionnaire, which you can leisurely complete in the middle of winter! The new Census will be published in 2019 and of course, I will be here to share the highlights, hopefully with a guest from USDA  to interpret it for us. THANKS so much for checking this out.

Stunning tulips. This variety is called ‘Alladin’, a lily-flowered tulip grown by Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, WA

Crates filled with tulips on bulbs

This week, I’m sharing some audio that I recorded on a visit to Alm Hill Gardens. As I say in the title of this episode, Alm Hill is my favorite source for local tulips. I first met flower farmers Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet and there is an interview with Gretchen in that book’s section called “Grower Wisdom,” with photographs by my collaborator David Perry.

If you have bought tulips at Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, it’s probable that you purchased the vibrant, fresh and lovely sustainably-grown tulips from Alm Hill Gardens’ stalls. They are my go-to stop for when I need armloads of tulips for a workshop or demonstration. It just makes me so happy to support a local flower farm that brings its harvest direct to consumers. Established in 1974, Alm Hill Gardens is a small family farm specializing in quality. You can also find their flowers in Seattle at the University District Farmers Market, West Seattle Farmers Market and Ballard Farmers Market — all in Seattle.

‘Temple’, a lovely slender tulip.

Here’s a little of what I wrote in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

If you follow Gretchen Hoyt and her husband Ben Craft around for a season, you’ll gain a profound admiration for how their values, sustainable farming practices and sheer hard work produce something so ephemeral and delicate as a lilac, tulip, lily, anemone or peony.

The couple overcame many obstacles to reach this moment: When they planted their first field of raspberries in rural Everson, Washington, just 2 miles from the Washington-British Columbia border, Gretchen was a single parent of two young children who had escaped from the city. Ben was a veteran of the war in Vietnam who wanted to unplug from society.

“Ben’s parents were dairy farmers. I never grew anything until I was 26 years old,” Gretchen says. “We had Ben’s dad’s tractor, no running water and no power, so we started with very little at the beginning.” Their efforts grew into one of the first year-round, direct-selling farms in Western Washington. Today, the 47-acre property contains six 30-by-100 foot greenhouses, countless high tunnels (hoop houses that can raise temperatures by 10 degrees), and fields of edible crops and, of course, flowers.

Even the spent heads are stunning!

Alm Hill Gardens is known for its luscious cut tulips, which account for 80 percent of their floral production. At Seattle’s Pike Place Market the sign reads: “Alm Hill Gardens: A Small Sustainable Family Farm Since 1974” and the stall overflows with irresistible blooms in a vibrant spectrum of hues to the delight of locals and tourist alike.

The longer-than-usual production season — from mid-Thanksgiving to May — is possible, thanks to many growing techniques perfected by the farm. These include planting already-chilled bulbs so they bloom by Christmas. It means sheltering thousands of hybrid tulips in greenhouses that elevate air and soil temperatures and protect stems from Pacific Northwest rainfall. The volume of flowers required to satisfy a bulb-crazed market is mind-boggling, requiring an intensive planting system. Bulbs are planted in 12-inch-high crates and stacked for weeks like building blocks in a large walk-in cooler before being moved to the greenhouses for early spring harvesting. “We have tulip crates stacked floor to ceiling,” Gretchen laughs.

Alm Hill sends an employee with carloads of tulips to Seattle’s Pike Place Market every week and also sells at several neighborhood farmers’ markets including the Bellingham Saturday market, which is closer to home.  Depending on the season, these brilliant gems on plump green stems can sell from $20 to $30 for a bunch of 30. You can find the classic ovoid-shaped tulip, like the orange-and-purple streaked ‘Princess Irene’, or more unusual varieties, such as the parrot and French tulips.

Gretchen told me: “I knew I wanted to be a farmer when I finally grew a garden,. This is what I was supposed to do.”

Gretchen Hoyt of Alm Hill Gardens (left) a veteran flower farmer. Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine, right.

Joshua Craft led us through the high tunnels.

You will hear several voices on this episode, Gretchen Hoyt, her son-in-law and farming partner Joshua Craft, an experienced vegetable, grain and livestock farmer who is now deeply involved in Alm Hill Gardens, and of course, me. The fourth voice is my dear friend Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture, a fabulous quarterly journal that covers people and plants on the West Coast. Our day trip to Everson was so special.

Super healthy, fragrant hyacinths grown in crates.

Here’s how to find Alm Hill at their social places:

Follow Alm Hill on Instagram

Find Alm Hill on Facebook

Lorene designed this on the spot to showcase irises, hyacinths and tulips, just-picked from Alm Hill Gardens.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 180,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors!

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m so excited to announce that Syndicate Sales has returned as a 2017 Slow Flowers sponsor! Syndicate Sales is an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

And drumroll, please, let’s welcome Johnny’s Selected Seeds as our newest sponsor. I can’t tell you how jazzed I am to partner with this employee-owned company that brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Bending the Reed; Fudge 
by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 292: From trial lawyer to floral artist and entrepreneur — Meet Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Gather Design Co.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Gather Design Co. (c) Heather Payne Photography

I’m so pleased to introduce Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Seattle-based Gather Design Co. as this week’s Slow Flowers Podcast guest.

Before our main interview, I want to quickly share a conversation I recorded earlier this week with Alicia Schwede of the Flirty Fleurs Blog.

Like me, Alicia is a fellow marketing committee member at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. We also collaborate with Longfield Gardens on education and promotion of gardening with the bulbs and flowers in their catalog. I was so impressed with the Flirty Fleurs tulip collection that Alicia “curated” for Longfield last year and I asked her about her process.

Be sure to check out images of Longfield’s spring-flowering bulbs, including Alicia’s collection — I’ve posted links at today’s show notes. Longfield has just opened up the online ordering for spring-flowering bulbs. Of course, that seems a little counterintuitive because you’ll be planting them in the fall, right? But some of the hottest varieties will go quickly, so it’s smart to shop now. Note: Longfield’s Tulip Shop will “open” in mid-April.

Alicia Schwede grew and designed with this alluring medly of red-and-white tulips (and companions like bleeding heart). The tulips are part of the Flirty Fleurs collection from Longfield Gardens.

Amy and I met in January 2016 when she participated in a master class with Lisa Waud of pot & box and Flower House Detroit. Lisa was hosted by the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market to teach a large-format installation course and I spent the day interviewing the participants and photographing the process. You can read about that workshop here and listen to the interviews.

Amy impressed me for many reasons, including her enthusiasm for collaboration and her story– she told me she was working full-time as a practicing attorney. And by coincidence, she was at a law firm I knew quite well, having been quite involved as the spouse of a law partner at that firm years ago.

We continued our conversation last summer when Amy volunteered to work with Alicia Schwede to produce her annual “dahlia wall” at SWGMC. Amy jumped in to help her produce it. I was there to film a time-lapse video of the installation and so, we had hours and hours to chat while working.

Sneak Peek: I took liberties of cropping just a detail of Anna Peters’ beautiful photograph of Amy Kunkel-Patterson at work on her Americana-themed sunflower gown.

I had just finished up American Flowers Week 2016 and was already scheming what I hoped to achieve for American Flowers Week 2017.

I mentioned wanting to produce several floral-inspired fashion shoots with iconic American flowers like sunflowers, roses, peonies, dahlias and other flowers. Amy spontaneously said: “I’ll make one for you!”

That simple response led to what turned out to be the most amazing design — a high-fashion gown created with a host of flowers supplied by Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Amy created something truly beautiful for American Flowers Week 2017 and it has been so hard for all of us involved to sit tight and keep the photography under wraps until we kick off the American Flowers Week campaign.

So you’ll hear us talk about this project a bit — and I promise you will be blown away when we begin to unveil the images, and floral fashions I’ve commissioned from other teams around the country — leading up to June 28 to July 4th.

Here’s the Berkeley wedding we discussed, in which Amy used pampas grass to create a ceremony circle. All photos, courtesy Gather Design Co.

More lovely details from the same wedding.

So, let’s meet Amy. Here is her introduction from the Gather Design Co. web site:

I’m Amy; welcome.  My love for flowers runs deep and true.  I grew up ‘helping’ in my mom’s, grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s gardens, learning how to grow flowers, and more importantly, how to pick and arrange them.  

Charming and playful!

This is where the name Gather comes from – I’ve always been good at what my family broadly terms “hunting and gathering.”  I was the kid who couldn’t ever pull myself out of the blackberry patch where I wanted to pick just one more berry, or away from the beach where I spent hours collecting the tiniest, wave-polished pebbles which I called jewels.  

On a trip through Europe, I managed to gather upwards of 40 pounds of rocks, each special in my mind, from beaches my husband and I walked.

I take the same tireless care in gathering vintage vases for my collection and seeking out the most luscious seasonal blooms for my clients.  

Beautiful spring wedding flowers.

Tiny details for sweet boutonnieres.

Gathering also sparked the event design side of Gather, as I love to start with an idea – color, texture, an heirloom treasure – and spin it into an entire experience, gathering context and detail along the way.

I believe in letting flowers shine as they do in nature.  I let each stem dance and delight in their own loveliness, highlighted and supported by every other bit of foliage and flowers in an arrangement.  My designs are at once unique and timeless, romantic and whimsical, pensive and wild.  I strive to learn about and befriend each of my couples, noting the blooms that bring them joy and the colors that inspire them, so that their flowers embody the essence of who they are.

The alluring floral palette uses touches of blue to add depth and dimension.

I purchase from local farmers whenever possible and source safely and sustainably-grown flowers.   I seek out rare and interesting blooms, foliage, berries, seedpods, and other elements to incorporate the season, the place, and the people into each bouquet or arrangement.

Always hungry for the next adventure, I’ve also started hand-dying cotton and silks for table runners, ribbons, and styling pieces.

Romantic, soft, wild — and gathered bouquets, by Amy Kunkel-Patterson

Find Amy at these social places and follow along on her creative journey:

Gather Design Co. on Facebook

Gather Design Co. on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 177,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our garden of Slow Flowers Sponsors

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Episode 289: Redefining “Harvest” with designers and authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Alethea Harampolis (L), Stefani Bittner (R) – photo by David Fenton

One of the best things about being a veteran garden writer are the friendships I’ve forged over the years with my peers.

Today’s guests are definitely in that category of favorite professional friends who have become so much more than mere acquantances.

I really value my time with them, although sadly, it’s rare. Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis are partners in Homestead Design Collective, a Bay Area-based landscape design firm.

Stefani is the coauthor with Leslie Bennett of The Beautiful Edible Garden and Alethea is cofounder of Studio Choo, with Jill Rizzo, her coauthor for The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book. Alethea and Jill are past guests of this podcast, and you can find that episode here.

Since these creatives teamed up to form Homestead Design Collective, they have focused their business on landscapes that are useful and most important, can be harvested year round.

The title of their new book, HARVEST, says it all. I’m so honored that they asked me to write the foreword. In those few hundred words that appear in the opening pages of Harvest, I wrote this:

I once believed that clipping branches and blooms to bring indoors was akin to denuding my garden. But about ten years ago, I began to interview America’s flower farmers and their customers: floral designers devoted to and creatively fueled by domestic and local botanicals.  Mesmerized by their uncommon floral crops, I began to regard the incredible beauty of my own backyard for all of its potential. That meant enjoying not just the small quantity of food (berries, herbs and vegetables) that my kitchen garden produced, but appreciating its abundance by displaying garden greenery and flowers in my vases.

This new-old philosophy of living with my garden’s generous harvest is best learned from true practitioners, such as Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective. These women are also proponents of good design, and they adhere to the guiding philosophy of choosing plants at once both ornamental and useful. Although not farms by any means, our urban and suburban backyards should be used in their entirety, say Stefani and Alethea. The culinary world has its own “nose to tail” way of eating; HARVEST, the book you hold in your hands, introduces the gardener’s version of that idea: call it a “fruit-to-root” way of growing, with an appreciation for all parts of the plant, from the first tender shoots in spring to the pods and hips of late fall.

I’ve learned so much from these two pioneers. Stefani is a role model for landscape designers, inspiring her harvest-minded clients to turn their once-unproductive yards into prolific (and lovely) sources of edible bounty. Alethea is a role model among the farmer-florist crowd, blending edibles with ornamentals; aromatics with the wild-foraged; house plants with weeds — all to create dramatic, moody, seasonal florals for everyday decor and magnificent occasions.

In HARVEST, they celebrate the Slow Food movement on a highly personal scale, integrated with a Slow Flowers ethos. When edibles meet botanicals, we live intentionally with plants throughout the seasons. And when you embrace this practice, you will be richly reward by your garden.

Lilac Flower Cream

LILAC FLOWER CREAM

An ancient French technique, enfleurage is the process of extracting a flower’s perfume into odorless animal or vegetable fat. The process used here is a simple method that will capture the fragrance of spring in a jar. The cream can be used directly on your skin or to flavor favorite sweet dishes. It is best to use the lilac’s tiny blooms straight from the shrub, picking them in the morning when they are the most fragrant.

MAKES TWO 16-OUNCE JARS

32 ounces extra-virgin coconut oil

10 cups lilac blooms picked from the heads in 2 cup increments as needed

Pick 2 cups of lilac blooms. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat until it is completely liquefied. Pour the liquid into a 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish and allow it to harden. After the oil has hardened, score it with a butter knife. This will help the scent of the flowers penetrate it more deeply. Layer the tiny lilac blooms onto the oil, covering it with 2 inches (5 cm) of blooms. Place a second 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish upside down atop of the first one. Use electrical tape to seal the two dish edges tightly, and place the dishes in a dark area.

After 48 hours, remove the tape seal and discard the spent blooms. Pick another 2 cups of lilacs, add another 2 inches (5 cm) of flower blooms to the oil, and seal again for another 48 hours. Repeat this process three more times, for a total of five cycles with fresh blooms each time.

Scrape up the oil from the casserole dish, place it into two 16-ounce jars, and seal the lids. Store in a cool, dark place; the flower cream will keep for up to 3 years.

Midseason Herb Salad, from HARVEST

Stef and Alethea maintain that every garden—not just vegetable plots—can produce a bountiful harvest. In their beautifully photographed guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected plants, readers will discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit.

Learn how to turn tumeric root into a natural dye and calamintha into lip balm.

Make anise hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn apricots into a facial mask.

Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible chrysanthemum to liven up a salad.

This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects–organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, cocktails, beauty products, and more–using unexpected and often common garden plants, some of which may already be growing in the backyard.

With the remarkable, multi-purpose plants in Harvest, there is always something for gardeners to harvest from one growing season to the next.

Please enjoy this conversation with my two friends as we discuss their design philosophy and their collaboration on Harvest.

Stefani and Aleathea were recently featured speakers at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle and I was able to corner them in a hotel lobby to record this interview.

You can also enter to win the book — thanks to the generosity of Ten Speed Press, publisher of Harvest, we have two copies to give away in a drawing.

To enter, you must post a comment about your most useful garden plant in the comment section below. We’ll draw the winners on March 29th and announce them the following week.

Artichoke arrangement from Harvest

Instructions for the Artichoke Arrangement:

Artichokes are a favorite edible, but few know that their layers of prickly leaves can also be used to create a beautiful focal point in a mixed garden bouquet. Bring inside in a few cuttings from the garden to make a stylish and simple composition.

2 large artichoke heads, stems and leaves attached

1 or 2 stems with several small artichokes attached

5 to 8 stems wild carrot flowers (Daucus carota), 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

2 nasturtium vines with flowers, each 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

Fill a large crock or vase with clean, cold water. Remove any damaged leaves from the stems or leaves that would fall below the water line. Add the large artichoke heads in the front of the crock, with one head resting slightly higher than the other. This creates a focal point and showcases the gorgeous multilayered leaves.

Add in the smaller artichoke stems to the back and left sides of the crock. These heads should sit taller than the larger heads. They add height to the arrangement and create an asymmetrical look. Add in some of the wild carrot stems to fill in the space between the larger and smaller artichokes. These stems should be slightly taller than the small artichoke stems. Place the remaining carrot stems on the back right side of the crock to complement the wild carrot on the left and provide an airy backdrop to the arrangement.

Add the longest nasturtium vine to the front side of the crock, to the left of the large artichokes, so that it drapes over the side of the crock. This creates movement and softens the edge of the vessel. Use the other nasturtium vine to fill any gaps. Make sure that the flower heads are turned to be visible from the front of the arrangement.

Lemongrass Salt Scrub

Instructions for LEMONGRASS SALT SCRUB

Lemongrass has antibacterial, antioxidant, and other therapeutic properties. After a hard day working in the garden, we appreciate lemongrass as a remedy for our aches and pains. Use this salt scrub on your hands daily or on sore muscles once a week while taking a deep soak in the tub. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to use the salt scrub only on your hands or substitute brown sugar for the salt as a milder alternative.

MAKES ABOUT 1½ CUPS

1 or 2 fresh stalks lemongrass

1 cup sea salt

½ cup almond or olive oil

Finely chop the lemongrass by hand or in a food processor. Combine the chopped lemongrass, salt, and oil in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon—or even better, use your hands. The texture should be moist enough to hold together but not overly oily. (If it does get too oily, add a pinch more salt.) Scoop the scrub into a 12-to 16-ounce jar and seal with a lid. Use within 2 weeks.

To use, simply spoon a small amount into your hands, gently rub it in, and then rinse your hands with warm water.

Marigold Bitters

Instructions for Marigold Bitters (AMARO)

Amaro is an Italian herb-infused bitter liqueur, originally used as an after-dinner digestif, chilled or over ice. Recently, however, there’s been a bitters revival, with cocktail enthusiasts mixing the bittersweet digestif into beverages beyond just classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the old fashioned.

Gem marigolds are a perfect component because of their distinct bitter flavor and for the lovely amber hue that results. For amaro’s signature tartness, we’ve added some chinotto orange rind, the key ingredient in Campari, the popular Italian herbal aperitif.

MAKES 1 QUART

Enough herbs and edible flowers to fill a 1-quart jar, for example:

  • 1 cup gem marigold flowers and leaves
  • 1 to 3 sage leaves
  • 2 to 6 anise hyssop flowers and leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 to 6 lavender blooms
  • Small bunch of thyme (such as French, English, or lemon)
  • 1 to 6 calendula flowers
  • 1 to 6 bee balm flowers and leaves
  • Small handful of rose petals
  • 1 to 8 viola petals

5 to 10 alpine strawberries or other berries

Rind of 2 chinotto oranges

2 (750-ml) bottles Hangar One Vodka or a similar good-quality, unflavored vodka

SIMPLE SYRUP

MAKES ABOUT 1-1⁄4 CUPS

1 cup water

1 cup organic sugar

Gently rinse the herbs and flowers, leaving the blooms intact to capture the bitter attributes of their centers. Add them all, along with the berries and citrus rind, to a 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vodka to just below the rim (you might not need it all) and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Store it in a cool, dark place.

Check the amaro daily or every couple of days, and give it a good shake to ensure that there are no floating leaves or flowers. After 4 weeks, taste the amaro. If you prefer it stronger, allow it to infuse for another week or so. Once you’ve achieved the flavor you like, strain out the herbs, edible flowers, berries, and rind.

Next, make the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a nonreactive pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking. Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes), remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the strained amaro liquid and let infuse for an additional 2 weeks, then taste. If you find the amaro more bitter than you’d like, add more simple syrup but remember the sweetener is meant to take the edge off of the bitter taste rather than mask it. Once the bitters are to your liking, store indefinitely.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 170,000 times by listeners like you.

THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column.

Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Blue Jay; Cottonwoods
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 288: Slow Flowers Visits Arizona’s Whipstone Farm with Shanti Rade

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Arizona Grown, folks! From left (front row): Anne, Cory, Shanti, Terri, Debra, Dani & Morgan; (back row): Melissa, Les & Lindsay. We’re posing in front of the Self-Serve farm stand at Whipstone.

UPDATE: If you want to learn more about the once-vibrant history of Arizona’s cut flower farming community, read this January 2016 article by Kathy Nakagawa that appeared in the Arizona Republic, “When Phoenix Bloomed.”

I’ve had Arizona on my mind quite a bit lately and it’s not only because Seattle, like most of the rest of the country, has been cold, wet and dreary for months. So when my travels brought me to Scottsdale, Phoenix and Mesa for family reasons, I followed through on my promise to myself to visit a flower farm.

Shanti led us on a tour of Whipstone Farm, including this pristine high tunnel where stock and ranunculus were blooming.

Lucky for me, I’ve been collecting Slow Flowers friends in Arizona. We all agreed to meet at Whipstone Farm in Paulden, where Shanti and Cory Rade and theor family grow CSA food crops AND lots of flowers. The farm is a Slowflowers.com member and I was so happy to visit there on March 1st, along with a diverse and super passionate cadre for our informal Slow Flowers Arizona meet-up.

Terry and Dani, two of Whipstone’s floral team members, pictured inside Shanti and Cory’s kitchen.

They included Terri Schuett of Happy Vine Flowers, a freelance floral designer and horticulture student-turned-flower farm intern at Whipstone Farm, and Dani Baker, Whipstone Farm’s flower manager. It was fun to reunite with all three of them having met in the past.

Dani, Terri, Lindsay and Morgan evaluate the Whipstone stems, arranged by Terri for our luncheon centerpiece

The drive from Scottsdale to Paulden takes you sort of in the northbound direction toward Flagstaff and then at some point you head west toward Chino Valley. It’s pretty remote and pretty beautiful. Who would think that agriculture lives here?

Melissa Saltzman found herself a baby lamb (named “Fern”) while Lindsay looks on; right – anemones in the high tunnel.

My fabulous driving companions included Anne Herman Jensen, a Scottsdale micro flower farmer who specializes in garden roses, herbs and citrus, among other things at Tre Soli (who I first met, by the way, when she attended a Field to Vase Dinner in Carlsbad, CA in 2015), and Morgan Anderson of the.flori.culture, based in Scottsdale, who you heard on this podcast last year when she was finishing up her PhD in Floral Design/Floriculture at Texas A&M. Morgan and I hopped into Anne’s car and the 120 miles passed quickly while we gabbed away about all things floral.

yes, yes, and YES!

You just can’t get enough of these stunning Ranunculus!

Check out the petal count!

Others who met us at Whipstone included Lindsay Statler of Green Creek Gardens in Dewey, Arizona, a Slow Flowers member whose farm is about 30 miles away from Whipstone, and Melissa & Les Saltzman, friends and flower farmers I’ve met through the Alaska Peony Growers Association because – yes – they live in Scottsdale, Arizona and own a peony farm called Alaskan Legacy Peonies, in Homer (talk about a commute!) I wanted them to meet and learn from flower farmers in their home state where the conditions are probably 180 degrees opposite from Alaska’s peony fields.

Leafy greens for the winter Farmers’ Market.

When we arrived, Shanti took us on a wonderful walking tour of Whipstone Farm before lunch. She told us the story of how the farm got started, so I’ll let you listen to the interview to hear more. With 15 acres and more than 100 varieties of vegetables and cut flowers, Shanti and Cory have made a life for themselves, their four children and countless CSA customers who buy shares each year.

The promise of spring peonies.

As they write on the Whipstone Farm web site: “We farm with our heart and health in mind.  We do not use any synthetic fertilizer or chemical pesticides.  We enjoy growing food for our community not only as a means of providing healthy sustenance, but also as a way to bring people together. We welcome you to come out and see our farm, to learn about where your food comes from and meet the folks who grow it.”

You can find their produce and flowers every week at the Prescott, Flagstaff and Chino Valley Farmers Markets. Whipstone also has an on-farm self-serve stand where friends, customers and neighbors purchase products on the honor system.  The farm stand is open year round and customers are welcome to stop in during daylight hours – no doors, so it’s always open. Quick, self-guided farm tours often occur when people come to buy veggies and flowers.

Shanti and Cory with three of their four children.

Shanti came into farming by chance through a high school internship and after working on several different farms around the country, she returned to school for a degree in Agroecology from Prescott College. At Whipstone, she oversees crop planning, seed starting and everything to do with flowers. She also handles office management and marketing, even though it’s not always her favorite part about farming.

Cory is a self-taught farmer, learned through lots of trial and error and even more determination.  What he really loves about farming is food and how it brings people together; growing the food is the first step in making that happen. The resident repair man on the farm, Cory is busy, since something seems to break on the farm almost every day.  But, he says “getting to eat the chiles I grow makes it all worth it.”

After our wonderful farm tour, we gathered around Shanti and Cory’s kitchen table, a long, wooden trestle-style table with room for everyone, which I’m sure they need when the entire family is together. Anne Jensen served us a delicious homemade meal of lentil soup, salad, veggies, breads, spreads and Arizona-made wine. Thank you, Anne, for being our wonderful caterer!

Shanti (left) and Dani (right)

I know you will enjoy this interview I recorded with Shanti, and you’ll also hear bonus audio, recorded when Terri Schuett took us on a quick tour of the horticulture and agribusiness program at Yavapai College in Chino Valley. She has definitely been smitten with the flower-growing bug, a path I see more and more florists taking as they become curious about the flowers they design with. Even though our conversation is brief, you’ll learn a thing or two about aquaculture and floriculture in the desert, of all places!

Flowers and Food — Arizona-grown!

Here’s how to find and follow these intrepid Arizona Slow Flowers Folks!

Find Whipstone Farm on Facebook

Follow Whipstone Farm on Instagram

See Whipstone Farm on Pinterest

Discover Whipstone Farm on Twitter

Find Terri Schuett/Happy Vine Flowers on Instagram

Find Dani Baker on Instagram

Find Anne Jensen on Instagram

Find Morgan Anderson on Instagram

Find Lindsay Statler on Instagram

Terri led us on a second tour of the ag program at Yavapai College in Chico Valley, not far from Whipstone. She’s studying horticulture there.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 168,000 times by listeners like you.

THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column.

Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Episode 287: Putting succulents on the floral map, with nurseryman and author Robin Stockwell, The Succulent Guy

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Today’s guest Robin Stockwell is the author of SUCCULENTS (left), which features the design work (right) of Slow Flowers member Marialuisa Kaprielian of Urban Succulents in San Diego.

Windmill Floral Studio recently launched as the in-house, full-service florist inside a popular independent garden center — with a Slow Flowers philosophy.

Before I share my interview with succulent expert Robin Stockwell, I want to share a quick introduction of Windmill Gardens, an independent garden center based in Sumner, Washington.

Windmill founders John and Ansje DeGoede began their farm in 1968 by raising fresh cut flower crops such as iris, tulips, and daffodils. In the early 1970s, their product line was expanded to include fuchsia baskets, primroses, and more.

Today, nearly 50 years later, their son Ben DeGoede continues the growing tradition at Windmill Gardens, with seasonal assortments and baskets, as well as poinsettias.

The Floral Studio team (left, with Wendy Pedersen in the middle) and the shop’s welcome sign.

Windmill recently brought floral design in-house for the first time since 2001, taking over space previously occupied by a tenant, redesigning it into a beautiful, full-service shop, and making a commitment to provide only locally-grown and American-grown flowers to their everyday and wedding clients.

The grand opening took place this week and I grabbed some time with owner Ben DeGoede and general manager Wendy Pedersen to hear more.

As you recall, I cited “return of brick and mortar flower shops” as an emerging 2017 floral industry theme. The launch of Windmill Floral Studio reflects this insight, but also hints at a possible shift for traditional garden centers adding floral as a facet of their business.

Find Windmill Gardens/Floral Studio on Facebook

Follow Windmill Gardens/Floral Studio on Twitter

Follow Windmill Floral Studio on Instagram

The Succulent Guy, Robin Stockwell, author of a beautiful new title: “Succulents.”

Here a photo of the presentation Robin and I gave nearly five years ago — fun memories!

A detail from a design I made for the Garden Conservancy workshop with Robin Stockwell.

Now let’s talk succulents. In July 2012, I co-presented a lecture and floral design workshop with Robin Stockwell, (now former) owner of Succulent Gardens Nursery in Castroville, California (Monterey Bay).

We were part of “All in Good Time,” a Garden Conservancy program hosted by the Ruth Bancroft Garden at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, California.

I didn’t know Robin well, but I did know his amazing reputation for growing and popularizing succulents. My takeaway from time spent with Robin is that when you think about a succulent plant as a floral design ingredient, it’s important to use both its “leaves” and its “flowers.” Robin and I focused our presentation  on using wonderful, versatile, irresistible succulents from our gardens and pots in floral design.

By way of background, in 2010, while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet, I was introduced to the succulents-as-cut-ingredients technique. Several of the designers we featured in that book use echeverias, aeoniums, kalanchoes and other succulent cuttings as deftly as they use dahlias and roses.

“Lush and Leafy,” a succulent wreath designed by Slow Flowers member Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design — for Robin’s book SUCCULENTS

Susie Nadler created a scrumptious local bouquet using ingredients from her own backyard, from local flower growers and – of course – from succulents at Flora Grubb Gardens.

Susie Nadler and Flora Grubb, of The Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb Nursery, and Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Flowers, are rock stars when it comes to pairing succulents from the garden with flowers from the farm. Together these women inspired Sunset’s former senior garden editor Julie Chai to use her succulent cuttings for the bridal party bouquets and centerpieces at her July 2011 wedding, also featured in our the pages of The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Robin, though, was way ahead of all of us! A true pioneer, he was making bouquets of succulent flowers back in the 1980s. He sent me a black-and-white photo from a 1981 Sunset magazine article in which his then-young son was pictured with a vase of tall echeveria blooms. Let’s just call Robin an early-early-adopter of the succulent craze. He was so far ahead of his time that it has taken the rest of us 30-plus years to catch up!

“Succulents are the conservationists of the plant world” — Robin Stockwell

A photograph from a 1981 Sunset magazine article about Robin Stockwell’s use of succulents in floral design.

At the Garden Conservancy workshop, Robin wowed the audience with insights about how to harvest and work with a variety of succulents. He explained that the rosette-looking succulents are actually leaves; many of the plants do produce long, slender stems bearing tiny flowers that dangle from them — also quite enticing.

The San Francisco Chronicle featured Robin’s amazing succulent globe when he created it for the SF Flower & Garden Show a few years ago. A-MAZ-ING!!! Click here to read more about this project and watch a video of its construction!

I came prepared to carefully wire the rosettes and wrap their “faux stems” with green florist tape, but Robin demonstrated how you can cut the stem long enough to practically eliminate the wire. Play around with it and you’ll see what I mean. If the stem of the echeveria is 3-4 inches long, that might be enough to anchor it into a flower arrangement;  it certainly doesn’t need water to look dazzling (in fact, it will last far longer than any of the perennials or annuals in that vase).

Marialuisa designed this charming “cake garland” for Robin Stockwell’s book, SUCCULENTS

We had a great day, all around. What struck me later was a gracious note Robin sent by email:

I’ve not thought a lot about the floral side of what I do over the past few years and even when I have, it was in bits and pieces. the presentation with you brought back a much more comprehensive memory of my past experiences and gave me quite a few new insights as well.

A table setting designed by Caitlin Atkinson, featured in SUCCULENTS

Reuniting with Robin was such a delight because it allowed us to have an extended conversation about his favorite topic AND the topic of his beautiful, brand new book called SUCCULENTS: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING, DESIGNING AND GROWING 200 EASY CARE PLANTS.

Published by Oxmoor House, a Time Inc Book imprint, Succulents was shepherded by Kathy Brenzel, who edited and closely collaborated with Robin.

As the former longtime garden editor for Sunset Magazine, Kathy is the ideal partner for Robin. She wrote a wonderful intro to the book titled “Sunset, the Surfer and Succulents,” looking back to the magazine’s long relationship with Robin Stockwell and his early influence on the gardening world’s love affair with succulents. Robin’s new website The Succulent Guy, tells us that

Robin Stockwell has been growing succulents professionally since 1972 and through the years developed an expertise in their functional use. When the waves were good he took advantage of their waterwise, low maintenance qualities, knowing they would not miss him as he dropped everything to surf. He has dedicated his life to encouraging the use of these plants and worked with plant professionals and the general public to better understand them. As a grower he created small “living pictures” in the early 1970’s and later huge vertical gardens. He is famous for his succulent Globe, using upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 plants. As an innovator, writer, and speaker, he has inspired audiences in the joy of gardening with succulent plants.

Find Robin Stockwell, The Succulent Guy, on Facebook

Follow Robin Stockwell, The Succulent Guy, on Instagram

To enter our drawing for a giveaway of Robin’s new book — SUCCULENTS — you are invited to post a photo of one of your succulent arrangements at the Slow Flowers Community page on Facebook. We’ll draw the winner on March 15th.

A Hanging Cone project from SUCCULENTS, designed by Jodi Shaw of Flourish. The design incorporates moss cones.

Robin Stockwell’s Succulent Tips for Floral Designers

  1. Cut the “heads” off of plants using a clean, sharp florist’s knife or clippers. Robin sterilizes his tools in Lysol.
  2. While succulents do not need much water, the aeoniums benefit from being in a little water when cut. Other succulent rosettes will be okay on a wire stem out of water. Obviously, after seven days or so in a vase, the succulent will be the last attractive element left. You’ll be able to re-use it in the next arrangement or let it produce some roots and replant it in a pot or the garden.
  3. Soil mix. When replanting your succulent, use a soil mix formulated for cactus and succulent plants. Succulents appreciate soil that is well aerated and drains well. Coarse bark or crushed lava work well for this, sand does not.

Here’s some fun bonus content featuring my how-to for the floral arrangements I created using Robin’s succulent plants when we taught together nearly five years ago.

My go-to vase for stunning arrangements is a 7-inch tall white ceramic pedestal dish. It’s square and probably originally intended for serving some kind of yummy dessert. It’s also the type of vessel that a conventional florist would fill with Oasis by shoving a cube of the toxic green foam into the base and then poking in stems to create a “full” arrangement. But instead, I used a mound of chicken wire, anchored with a reusable floral clay. Here are the steps:

  1. Level one of the arrangement is to fill the entire surface of chicken wire with foliage, allowing it to drape over the edge of the vase and also create a soft dome of texture. I had brought some foliage along with me on the plane from Seattle to Oakland ~Jello Mold Farm’s Physocarpus, called ‘Coppertina’ – which has a tawny hue that plays off the brighter dahlias and succulents.
  2. Level two: Add dahlias in a grid of one at the center and five surrounding flowers. I cut the dahlia stems relatively short so that the flowers nestled low into the foliage. Thank you to Kevin Larkin of Corralitos Dahlias for supplying the gorgeous blooms!
  3. Next, add 4-5 medium-sized aeoniums or echeverias between the dahlia blooms. The ones Robin gave me had 6-inch stems, but I still inserted a short piece of 12-gauge wire into the base of each to “extend” it for anchoring into the chicken wire. Susie Nadler cuts her succulent stems pretty short – about 1/2-inch – and then inserts wire and wraps the entire “stem” with floral tape, but I skipped this step here.
  4. Final step: We needed some height! Imagine my reaction when Robin showed up with dozens of cut flowering stems from his hybrid echeverias. Dusky pink, dark coral, pale turquoise. . . the palette was dreamy! Robin’s hybrid echeverias produce mega-rosettes measuring up to 12-inches across, so no surprise that their flowers are also overly robust. The ones he brought me were 10-12 inches long. I inserted several into the bouquet, through the top and down between the other ingredients to be supported by the hidden chicken wire. The hover above the rest of the flowers to finish off the design with a wow-factor!

Thanks so much for listening today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 165,000 times by listeners like you. We ended the month of February with 9,647 downloads — an all-time high, which is pretty cool for the shortest month of the year! THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Dirtbike Lovers
by Blue Dot Sessions
 
Happiness
by Bensound
http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/track/happiness
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 285 Dandelion House Farm’s Debbie Bosworth and the New England Farmer-Florist Connection

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
Today's guest is Debbie Bosworth, owner of Dandelion House Flower Farm in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Today’s guest is Debbie Bosworth, owner of Dandelion House Flower Farm in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She worked with a graphic designer to create her logo, inspired by vintage flower seed packet art.

slide15 When I compiled the Floral Industry Insights for 2017, a forecast of the most exciting shifts taking place in the progressive Slow Flowers Movement, I highlighted micro-regionalism as a continuing occurrence gaining more momentum.

As I record today’s introduction, I’m getting ready to drive to Corvallis, Oregon, to join the Pacific Northwest Cut Flower Growers’ 3rd annual meet-up.

And the Ohio Flower Farmers are meeting this weekend, too — I should know because Susan Studer King of Buckeye Blooms asked me to donate books and send material to share with the attendees.

 

Debbie's brand and labeling come together to communicate local flowers.

Debbie’s brand and labeling come together to communicate local flowers.

Designer-backyard flower farm, Debbie Bosworth

Designer-backyard flower farm, Debbie Bosworth

Increasingly, flower farmers, farmer-florists and floral designers eager to make local and regional connections are finding each other.

Debbie Bosworth, today's guest, is a backyard flower farmer based in New England.

Debbie Bosworth, today’s guest, is a backyard flower farmer based in New England.

And today’s guest is behind this taking place in New England. Please meet Debbie Bosworth of Dandelion House Flower Farm, based in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Like many of us, she and I met through social media. We corresponded and even planned a phone call last year, as Debbie was pursuing her business brand, “Backyard Flower Farming.”

Debbie grew up in Northern Nevada and Texas, and she migrated to New England 10 years ago with her Yankee husband of 20 years.

She went from career gal to being a creative homeschooling mom of two. She and her family are now firmly planted in the historic coastal town of Plymouth and they spend part of each summer in a tiny, off–grid beach cottage named “The Sea Horse.”

Debbie says her passions include growing and designing with seasonal flowers cut flowers, WRITING, ORGANIC  gardening, PAINTING and repurposing VINTAGE  furniture,
PHOTOGRAPHY, wholesome COOKING and tending to her flock of backyard CHICKENS.

She is an active blogger, and regular contributing writer for: the print edition of MaryJanesFarm Magazine; MaryJanesFarm Beach farmgirl blog, Community Chickens, a blog for Mother Earth News and Grit, and edible South Shore and South Coast Magazine, online and print editions. And she has contributed in the past to the Field to Vase blog.

01-header header-beach_farmgirl

communitychickens essHeaderWP2

She says: “I’m passionate about the domestic Slow Flowers Movement.  In March of 2012 we removed a large area of sod in our backyard and planted 600 square feet of classic heirloom cut flowers, herbs and fillers. We are dedicated to using fresh, local sustainably grown flowers from our farm or nearby farms for design work. We sells flowers at the Plymouth Farmers Market in July, August and September and we provide flowers for small local weddings and events.”

Untitled
As you will hear, last year, Debbie created the New England Farmer-Florist Connection, which now has 240-plus members across the entire region.

On March 25th she and others will host the first regional “meet and greet” at Salted Root Farm in Marshfield, Massachusetts. I know you’ll be warmly welcomed if you’re in the area and want to connect with like-minded Slow Flowers folks. Jill Landry of Beach Plum Flora, Monica O’Malley-Tavares of Prince Snow Farm are co-hosts and Anna Jane Kocon of Little State Flower Co. will be the special guest speaker. Debbie reports that there will be donations from Slow Flowers, Neptune’s Harvest, Floret, Kraft Paper Company and other supporters. I hope you can check it out if you’re in the area.

A gallery of images from Dandelion House Flower Farm.

A gallery of images from Dandelion House Flower Farm.

After our interview concluded, Debbie sent me a lovely email and she asked me to share it in our show notes here. She wrote:

“One of the things I wanted to say was how your books, The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers have ( and continue to ) inspire me. The first Flower Farming book I read before I ever planted my first seed was The Flower Farmer, by Lynn Byczynski, directly followed by your two books. I loved Lynn’s book but your books really spoke to the sustainable gardener/farmer in me and really helped to solidify me on my new path as a farmer/florist and the larger commitment to being a part of the slow flowers movement!”

Follow Debbie Bosworth at these social places:

Dandelion House Flower Farm on Facebook

Dandelion House Flower Farm on Pinterest

Dandelion House Flower Farm on Instagram

Thanks, Debbie! So much of what I am compelled to do as a storyteller is driven by passion, not by financial compensation. It’s gratifying to have that feedback from you. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 160,000 times by listeners like you.

THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

2017SponsorBlock
Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
That Old Harpoon; Bending the Reed by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 282: Got Peonies? News from the Alaska Peony Growers Association Conference

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
A bridal bouquet featuring flowers from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

A bridal bouquet featuring flowers from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

Interior (Fairbanks), Central (Mat-Su Valley) and Homer (Kenai Peninsula)

Interior (Fairbanks), Central (Mat-Su Valley) and Homer (Kenai Peninsula)

If you’re as smitten with peonies as I am, this episode is just for you.

I’m delighted to share five short conversations with people involved in Alaska’s cut peony industry — all who attended the end-of-January Alaska Peony Growers Association winter conference in Fairbanks.

The conference invited me to speak to the 125-plus attendees about the Slow Flowers Movement and to share my insights and forecast about the American grown floral landscape. It was a great conference with so many passionate and motivated flower farmers, suppliers, educators and research experts.

This will be a longish episode, so to keep things moving along, I’ll introduce all seven guests to you now; and then each interview will flow from one to the next with a brief introduction.

In this order, you’ll meet:

Rita Jo Shoultz, a past Growers' Cup Winner from the Alaska Peony Growers Association, with some of her beauties.

Rita Jo Shoultz, a past Alaska Peony Growers Association “Growers’ Cup Winner,” with some of her field-grown varieties.

Rita Jo Schoultz, of Alaska Perfect Peony in Fritz Creek, Alaska, and the Alaska Peony Marketing Group in the Homer area. Alaska Perfect Peonies is a Slow Flowers member and Rita Jo and I serve together as members of the American Grown Counsel for Certified American Grown Brand.

gallery

Chris Beks, left, with his wife Elizabeth, and her parents Ron and Marji Illingworth, partners in North Pole Peonies + a view of their fields and a beautiful peony.

aapeonies_logo Chris Beks, of North Pole Peonies in North Pole, Alaska, and Arctic Alaska Peonies Cooperative, a major sponsor for Slow Flowers, including this podcast. The photos above are from my 2012 visit to North Pole Peonies when I first met Chris and his family.

That experience included a fabulous farm tour and dinner at the home of his in-law’s, Marji and Ron Illingworth, early Alaska peony farmers.

(Left), Camden on peony planting day; (Right, from top), Kellly and Camden; winter at Wasilla Lights Farm

(Left), Camden on peony planting day; (Right, from top), Kelly and Camden; winter at Wasilla Lights Farm

Kelly Dellan of Wasilla Lights Farm, with her sunflower crop

Kelly Deller of Wasilla Lights Farm, with her sunflower crop

Mother-and-son team Kelly Deller and Camden Deller from Wasilla Lights Farm in Wasilla, Alaska, which is located in the Matanuska Valley in Central Alaska.

When I met them and found out that 15-year-old Camden was the force behind the farm’s peony venture, and that this was the third annual Alaska Peony Growers winter conference he’s attended, I knew I wanted to share his story with you.

There are a lot of inspiring young farmers, but not that many who started their career while still in middle school! Mom Kelly is to be congratulated for nurturing Camden’s passion. She wrote this on the farm’s web site: Our teenage son thought growing peonies was a must-do idea and never let go of the thought. It didn’t take too much convincing from him to start making plans for our own peony farm. Who knew I’d eventually be growing a field of these beauties?!

Lush pink buds from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

Lush pink buds from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

Farm views: left, top, bottom

Views from Alaska Peony Co-op member farms: left, Far North Peonies; top, Mt. McKinley Peonies; bottom, Giggly Roots Gardens

smAPC Logo 2 Martha Lojewski and Maureen Horne-Brine of Alaska Peony Cooperative which includes farms in Matanuska, Susitna and Eagle River Valleys in Central Alaska.

Martha is the sales manager and also owns Mt. McKinley Peonies in Willow. Maureen handles social media for the co-op and owns Far North Peonies in Sunshine, Alaska.

Beth Van Sandt in her upper peony field at Scenic Place Peonies.

Beth Van Sandt in her upper peony field at Scenic Place Peonies.

and finally, my good friend Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, and the Alaska Peony Marketing Group. Scenic Place Peonies has been a member of Slow Flowers since we launched in May 2014.

Beth shares quite a bit of information about the upcoming events and activities that may lure you to Alaska at the end of July 2017. She and her husband Kurt Weichand are opening up their farm, Scenic Place Peonies, will play host to the first-ever Field to Vase Dinner held in Alaska on Saturday, July 29th.

F2VScenic As you will hear us discuss, the amazing al fresco dinner will serve up delicious local seafood and all-local flowers, including peonies and you can find ticket details here.

Beth and I discuss several other bonus events taking place during the peony-filled weekend, including a private floral design workshop with Ariella Chezar, featured designer for the Field to Vase Dinner.

This will be an incredible opportunity to study in a small-group master class with one of the most inspiring and inventive floral artists of today. Ariella is a past guest of this podcast and I adore her aesthetic and ethos.

Beth personally invited Ariella to design the Field to Vase Dinner and host the workshop the day prior to the dinner. The Friday, July 28th, workshop details will be announced soon, so if you’re interested in learning more, sign up here for Ariella’s 2017 workshop announcements.

And on Sunday, July 30th, there will be a special post-dinner tour of the peony farms of Homer, Alaska. They include Alaska Perfect Peony, Chilly Root Peonies, Scenic Place Peonies, all members of Slowflowers.com, and Joslyn Peonies. I have visited all of these farms and I promise, you will be blow away by the beauty of the flowers, the breathtaking scenery, and the incredible talent of the farmers.

Seriously the most spectacular sight I've ever witnessed: Peony fields in the foreground. . . Glaciers in the distance!

Seriously the most spectacular sight I’ve ever witnessed: Peony fields in the foreground. . . Glaciers in the distance!

Close to perfection

I came home from Alaska with these luscious peonies – and it seemed as if no other flower could compete for room in the vase.

I’ve been reporting on Alaska Peonies for nearly five years and if you’re interested in some context and history, you may want to go back and listen to my prior episodes about those beautiful flowers and the people who grow them.

Episode 102 from August 2013, Peonies from America’s Last Frontier (Episode 102)

Episode 154 from August 2014,  Debra & Christina’s Alaska Peony Adventure (Episode 154)

You can also find a link to my story: America’s Last Flower Frontier in September 2012, prior to launching the Slow Flowers Podcast.

 

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 152,500 times by listeners like you.

THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

 

2017SponsorBlock Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at shellandtree.com.

Music credits:
Manele; Flagger
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Episode 281: The Pursuit of Local Flowers in Florida with Lindsey Easton and Annie Schiller

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
Annie Schiller of From left: William's Wildflowers, Lindsey Easton of L. Easton + Co., and Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers

Annie Schiller of From left: William’s Wildflowers, Lindsey Easton of L. Easton + Co., and Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers

WWLogo leaston-logo-web-16 Today’s podcast features two voices from a new chapter in Florida’s cut flower industry, Lindsey Easton of L. Easton + Co. based just north of Tampa Bay and Annie Schiller of William’s Wildflowers in Sarasota.

The three of us met and recorded this podcast episode on January 12th at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, which was centrally located — about one hour in different directions for Lindsey and Annie.

Florida is a huge state with numerous gardening zones and microclimates, but there is a common thread that resonates with anyone in Florida agriculture — which includes the reality of humidity, tropical rains and high temperatures.

And unlike most of the rest of the country where flower farmers are just thinking about planting seeds and roots, Florida cut flower farmers are in their busier season because their peak blooms thrive in the cooler winter and early springtime.

Screen grab from Lindsey's feed ~ makes me happy!

Screen grab from Annie’s feed ~ makes me happy!

My trip to Florida was at the invitation of the wonderful folks at the Boca Grande Garden Club, a vibrant, intellectually curious, engaged group of people who love the region, who care about conservation and sustaining Florida’s fragile environment. They invited me to share the Slow Flowers story with them, which I did the day prior to meeting Lindsey and Annie.

I loved my visit and I loved seeing the wilder beauty of the Florida Gulf Coastline. I toured a few cool botanical gardens while driving up and down that coastline, and I even brought home two gorgeous species bromeliads (in a carry-on tote) to satisfy my newfound passion for tropicals, along with some amazing seashells collected with permission from Boca Grande.

In a state known for agriculture, including everything from ferns and foliage galore to citruses and tropicals, it is sad to realize that the cut flower industry is proportionally very small compared to so many other states.

Yet, a dynamic collective of farms that specialize in cut greenery and ferns put Florida in the top 5 states for floriculture. There is even one amazing cut clematis farm called Roseville Farms, but small-scale flower farming a la Slow Flowers is rare.

It is rare, but returning, thanks to people like Lindsey and Annie, farmer-florists who are innovative and experimental. There’s no playbook — they are making it up as they go along through experimentation, trialing, plugging into other communities like Master Gardeners (for Lindsey) and the Native Plant community (for Annie).

Farmer-florist Lindsey Easton

Farmer-florist Lindsey Easton

Pretties from Lindsey's Instagram feed

Pretties from Lindsey’s Instagram feed

Stylish packaging and marketing reveals Lindsey's background in art and interior design

Stylish packaging and marketing reveals Lindsey’s background in art and interior design

Before we turn to the interview, here’s a bit more about Lindsey Easton:

As she writes on her web site, Lindsey’s childhood was spent amongst the farm fields of the Midwest. That instilled in her a love of wide open spaces which allowed freedom to create and dream. Originally a fine arts major turned interior design major, her passion is in the creative process. Having spent the last decade working in the design field with excellent mentors and peers, Lindsey reconnected with her agricultural roots after having two children and seeking ways to get closer to where she started.

That’s when L. Easton & Company was born. Her farm and studio are a celebration of the seasons, of cultivating beautiful blooms and creating a wonderful childhood for my children. She and her husband consider themselves lucky to raise their family on a beautiful piece of land and she is excited to share it with her clients and community. L. Easton & Co.’s brand is “grown, gathered, styled.” 

Follow Lindsey at these social places:

Lindsey/L. Easton + Co. on Facebook

Lindsey/L. Easton + Co. on Instagram

Love this sweet pic of Annie Schiller, with a couple of my books xoxo

Love this sweet pic of Annie Schiller, with a couple of my books xoxo

The "wild" design work of Annie Schiller (Florida, left) and Rachel Andre (New York, right)

The “wild” design work of Annie Schiller (Florida, left) and Rachel Andre (New York, right)

Annie Schiller is a returning guest so you may recognize her from last April when I featured a conversation about Williams Wildflowers, and the twin, sister-run design studios, one in Florida (which Annie leads) and one in upstate New York (which Rachel Andre leads). That conversation centered on their philosophy of integrating wildflowers and native plants into beautiful floral design, drawing from their respective regions.

Annie has worked at Florida Native Plants Nursery in Sarasota, Florida, for five years, a destination co-owned and operated by her mother Laurel Schiller, a wildlife biologist with an extensive background in  higher education and in the native plant world.

Annie was born in the Bronx and raised in both Chicago and in Florida. She designs butterfly gardens, grows and maintains native and Florida-friendly plants, designs and maintains social and print media (including Williams Wildflowers’ web site) and that of Florida Native Plants. She is interested in wildlife and edible gardening, permaculture, homesteading, vermicompost, sustainable practices, eco art, and floral design. Annie has a background in visual art, art history and graphic design from Florida State University and from her years spent living and working in New York City. Annie currently arranges and designs wildflower bouquets for the Florida branch of William’s Wildflowers.

Follow Annie at these social places:

William’s Wildflowers on Facebook

William’s Wildflowers on Instagram

Listen to Annie on Micro-Macro-Enviro Radio

This podcast shares an update on Annie’s work, and introduces the two young women to you and to each other. I loved being the connector to bring them together and it left me feeling a warm place in my heart for these intrepid flower farmers in Florida. I hope to return soon!

Hurrah!!! We've hit the 150,000 mark for listener downloads this week! THANKS everyone!

Hurrah!!! We’ve hit the 150,000 mark for listener downloads this week! THANKS everyone!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 150,000 times by listeners like you. How about that, folks?!

THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org. And PS, Certified American Grown is the producer of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its 3rd year. Last week saw the announcement of the 7 venue for 2017, and you can find a link to that calendar of events at Debraprinzing.com. I’m very excited that three of the seven venues are Slow Flowers members, so check it out and plan to attend!

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at shellandtree.com.

Music credits:
Parapassargada
by Zoe
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0
Brass Buttons; Cradle Rock
by Blue Dot Sessions