Debra Prinzing

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Slow Flowers, Montana Style

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Our lovely gathering of Slow Flowers aficionados, pictured at Hart’s Garden & Nursery in Missoula.

Earlier this month, I flew to Missoula, a Western Montana, college town where there is quite a bit happening on the local flower farming scene. t was on my way to speak at the Rocky Mountain Gardening Live conference held on September 11-12 at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana, just 30 minutes outside the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Kathy Sherba, Carly Jenkins and Kristen Tack — all cohorts in Missoula’s Westside Flower Market

Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm, with me (right)

A giant sunflower puts a smile on my face, snapped during my tour of Mighty Fine Farm.

The reason for this Seattle-to-Missoula leg of my trip was to meet up with Carly Jenkins and Jamie Rogers of Killing Frost Farm, Kathy and Adam Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm and George and Marcia Hart of Hart’s Garden & Nursery — all in the Missoula flower farming and Slow Flowers community.

Carly and I met in person earlier this year when she attended Tobey Nelson’s Whidbey Island Flower Workshop, which featured Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events and Kaleb Willis of Kaleb Norman James Design. Carly, or CJ, as she’s often called, gave me the big news about the second-season launch of Westside Flower Market, a wholesale farmer-to-florist venture that she and Kathy incubated beginning last summer in Missoula garage owned by Carly and Jamie. You can hear our Slow Flowers Podcast interview from that visit here.

Great recent coverage on local & slow flowers in The Missoula Independent.

This year, six additional flower farmers have joined the momentum and they are doing some really awesome things. Read more about the Slow Flowers Missoula story in this excellent piece that just ran in The Missoula Independent.

George and Marcia graciously hosted a barbecue, farm tour and meet-up at their property.

And while I didn’t count totals, I bet we had about 30 folks in attendance,  including some who drove up to 4 hours from places like Kalispell to join us!

From left: Special guest Rep. Willis Curdy, George Hart & Marcia Hart, flower farmers and hosts.

I was delighted to introduce the Slow Flowers Movement to all those who attended, including Montana Rep. Willis Curdy, member of the agriculture committee for the state legislature, who just wanted to learn more about flower farming in his district — very cool!

A quartet of fabulous flower farmers: Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm, Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and Kathy Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm. Photographed at Mighty Fine Farm in Missoula.

We also had some very special guests in attendance — Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho! Jeriann and Ralph are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast, which we recorded last year upon the publication of their fabulous book, Deadhead: The Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers.

A last-minute flower farmers’ vaycay (thanks to an invitation from Carly), their 350-mile road trip . . .  and we were blessed with Jeriann and Ralph’s generous souls, playful personalities and amazing wisdom. People soaked up every word they had to say. Southeastern Idaho’s growing conditions are similar enough to those of Western Montana’s that our crowed wanted to hear every word — and wanted to buy signed copies of Deadhead!

Ralph and Jeriann shared their story and their flower farming wisdom at our Meet Up. Photographed at the beautiful grounds of Hart’s Garden & Nursery, Missoula

High tunnels filled with late summer dahlias at Hart’s Garden & Nursery.

An unnamed dahlia at Hart’s Garden & Nursery. The brilliance offset the smoky skies caused by Western Montana’s forest fires.

That night, Carly, Kathy, Ralph, Jeriann  and I stayed up late, talking and visiting under the Montana moon. It has been a rough few months there, with the rampant wildfires, so we all were delighted that the breezes cleared the skies for one beautiful evening. A very special thank you to Adam Sherba’s parents for lending us use of their fabulous Missoula home. Jeriann, Ralph and I stayed there in great Montana luxury. In the morning, I watched deer and wild turkeys roaming through the hillside below the home.

Chico Hot Springs, a favorite of everyone in Montana.

I drove from Missoula to Pray (about 250 miles east) on Sunday, September 10th, arriving before dinnertime to check into Chico Hot Springs. CHS is a very special place — historic for its dude ranch vibe, its restorative 104-degree soaking pools fed by the springs and its adjacency to Yellowstone. The original lodge, where I stayed, dates to 1900, but the first recorded reference to the Hot Springs goes back to 1865. This is a place for kicking back and relaxing, which I did lots of. But now that there is a Conference Center to host corporate events, people come for multiple reasons.

All local flowers from Bozeman floral designer Remy Greco-Brault, owner of Labellum. Remy taught a pin-on floral workshop after my lecture.

Rocky Mountain Gardening LIVE, with dahlias grown by #kangaroohousegardens in Hamilton, Montana

I was there as guest of Dan and Andra Spurr, editor and publisher of Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine.

This wonderful quarterly magazine is for gardeners throughout the Rocky Mountains, encompassing stories and subscribers from the Canadian-US border down to Colorado and includes Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

I was delighted to speak about Slow Flowers and share the story of what’s happening in Montana and beyond to an audience of more than 80 attendees.

Several flower farmers and florists were there, which made me feel welcome and allowed me to brag about their achievements — including Cindy Hanson of The Herb And Garden in Helena, a Slow Flowers member who I recently featured in Florists’ Review/Slow Flowers Journal.

After my time at Chico Hot Springs, I left knowing that even more folks are supportive of our movement, our cause, and our purpose. I met florists who promised to join and list their businesses on Slowflowers.com and I made lifelong friends with Dan and Andra, who couldn’t have been more generous in their hospitality.

A final bonus — spending two days with my siblings, Scott Prinzing and his wife Kristen Rickels Prinzing. They live in Billings and have both contributed to Rocky Mountain Gardening in the past, with articles (Kris) and photography (Scott). As a very special treat, they agreed to record the upcoming holiday special music episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — listen for that Episode 328 on December 20th. I have no musical talent, but it’s nice to have siblings who do!

Episode 313: Rachel Lord of Alaska Stems pursues a different floral path

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Rachel Lord of Alaska Stems, photographed at her Homer farm with her two daughters, Sadie and Linnea.

Welcome to the first week of September! Summer isn’t quite over but we’re all well aware of Fall’s pending arrival. As someone who manages to turn every trip into a working vacation, I’m excited to bring you my last interview recorded when I spent several days at the magnificent Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska, in late July.

Rachel, left, during a wedding design install, and a peek at her Homer Farmers’ Market stall (right)

Today’s guest, Rachel Lord of Alaska Stems, is one of the many volunteers who came alongside peony farmer (and my lovely host) Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies and floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore.

I first met Rachel in 2014 when I spent several beautiful days in Homer, principally as the keynote speaker for Homer Gardeners’ Weekend. Rachel donated flowers to be used in the design workshop I taught for the Homer Garden Club and she also invited me over for a tour of her flower farm.

Alaska Stems’ land overlooks the beautiful Kachemak Bay and all the Glaciers that create Homer’s exquisite views.

It turns out that Rachel is unlike most other flower growers in Homer. She has decided that while she loves growing peonies for her design work, there is an opportunity in the market to grow a diverse mix of everything else that a full-service floral designer needs — annuals, perennials, woody shrubs for foliages, herbs, bulbs and much, much, more.

Rachel shared her talents with Beth and Kelly and others involved in decorating Scenic Place Peonies for the Field to Vase Dinner held on July 29th. If you need any encouragement that you can grown beautiful, organic cut flowers and serve a marketplace that perhaps isn’t as large as you’d like it to be, then listen up. You’ll gain insights and inspiration from Rachel’s story.

Alaska Stems specalizes in early-spring tulips, which feed the floral hunger of the Homer marketplace – and beyond!

Left: Ben and Rachel, from my 2014 visit; Right: Zinnia production in the high tunnel from that summer.

Here’s a little more about Alaska Stems, excerpted from the web site.

Alaska Stems is a locally-owned flower farm and design studio located in Homer, Alaska. Rachel and her husband Ben Gibson grow over 40 varieties of cut flowers for sale at local markets and for use in Rachel’s natural and elegant designs for weddings and events. Their flowers can be seen at businesses around town, at the Homer Farmers’ Market, at weddings and special events, and always on our table – and we hope on yours as well!

An Alaska Stems bouquet, with peonies and lots of other gorgeous, truly local, elements. (c) Joshua Veldstra Photography

Rachel and Ben started selling flowers, vegetables, and herbs in 2011, after adding a large high tunnel to their garden. Their love of flowers was solidified that year when delivering the farm’s first bouquets. As they write: “There is no denying that fresh, local flowers light up not only a room, but the people in that room. This is soul food, and it is brilliant to witness and foster in our community! Since then, we have focused exclusively on growing flowers and floral design work.”

Alaska Stems is truly a small farm with less than a half-acre in production, three high tunnels and approximately 6,000 square feet of outside raised beds. The gardens support the Lord-Gibson family, as well as their flowers, and it’s not unusual to find veggies in Rachel’s floral arrangements! The couple believes strongly in local food and flowers, sustainable growing practices that nurture plants and soil for the long term, and connecting with the community to promote and encourage these things.

When Rachel isn’t working at Stems, she can be found filling in at Cook Inletkeeper – a regional non-profit organization that works to protect the Cook Inlet and the life it sustains, valuing clean water and healthy salmon for everyone. Rachel also sits on the Board of Directors for the Homer Farmers Market.

Ben and his family own and operate Small Potatoes – a local sawmill that produces rough cut lumber and beautiful tongue and groove boards. He sawmills, carpenters, advises, and generally is a (fairly reluctant) man-about-town.

Eldest daughter Sadie arrived in August 2013, and her sister Linnea came on the scene in November 2015. Farming with two little ones is an exercise in patience, joy, love and commitment.

One more look at the farm, the high tunnels — and that VIEW!!!

From the archives: My 2014 visit to Alaska Stems where Rachel Lord and Ben Gibson grow flowers, veggies, children and community.

Please enjoy this conversation and here’s how to find Alaska Stems at the farm’s social places:

Find Alaska Stems on Facebook

Follow Alaska Stems on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 230,000 times by listeners like you. The month of August was our second highest ever in the history of the Slow Flowers Podcast for listener downloads with 11,470, just 48 downloads shy of March 2017, our highest month to date. 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

And 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.

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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:

Wingspan; 
Inessential
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 312: Growing a Start-Up Floral Business with Melanie Harrington of Ontario’s Dahlia May Flower Farm

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Today’s guest: Melanie Harrington of Dahlia May Flower Farm, based in Trenton, Ontario, Canada. This portrait of Melanie and all photography featured (c) Ashley Slessor Photography

At the very beginning of this month, after spending several days in Buffalo at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium, I picked up a rental car and drove to Ontario, crossing the vast Niagara River on the beautiful Peace Bridge.

My destination was the Niagara region where the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ regional meeting was taking place on a number of flower farms in the area.

It was well worth the extra travel and time, because the wonderful community of flower farmers and farmer-florists there put together a fantastic series of farm tours, presentations and floral demos, giving us an in-depth understanding of the vibrant local floral scene there.

Of course, I had my digital recorder along with me on the trip. A few weeks ago, you heard my bonus interview with Gillian Hodgson of Flowers from the Farm, our UK kindred spirit, who shared her update on the British Grown flowers scene.

There were others to interview, including today’s fabulous guest. I briefly met Melanie Harrington of Dahlia May Flower Farm in person last November at the ASCFG annual meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but had never really spent the time with her that I wanted. She agreed to break away from the schedule so we could sit down in a field, under a tree, in order to share her story.

Here’s a little more about Melanie and her farm. Founded in 2014, Dahlia May Flower Farm is a small family operation specializing in growing romantic and fragrant, often heirloom, varieties of flowers. Nestled in the beautiful rolling Murray Hills of southeastern Ontario, Dahlia May supplies fresh seasonal cut flowers and distinctive bouquets to farmers’ markets in the greater Quinte area, and also offers both rustic and elegant floral design services, inspired by nature and changing with the seasons.

A native of the Quinte area and a lover of nature, Melanie brings to her work a background in art and horticulture as well as a passion for growing beautiful flowers. Melanie completed studies in horticulture and floral design at Loyalist College, and has taken a course in flower farming and design with Erin Benzakein of Floret.

Melanie wrote a personal essay on her web site, as well. You’ll want to read the entire piece here. But to give you a small glimpse of this amazing young woman, I’ll share this small excerpt, in her words:

Years ago my parents farmed the very land I now cultivate. Their first wish was to grow their own food; before long they were supplying our local farmers’ market with fresh produce. Between rows of tomatoes and beans were the inevitable patches of cut flowers, my fathers favourites and my personal joy. Already as a young child, I helped my father plant the seeds. There were bold sunflowers which would tower over me. Vibrant zinnias to surround me with colour. Cheerful asters…. Together we nurtured them and watched them grow. Later we worked side by side to pick them. I remember standing on a milk crate arranging this colourful harvest in tins cans lined up on the tailgate of our truck. I was hooked. . . 

When my father passed away in 2012, my husband and I returned to the family farm. With my perennial awareness of how short life can be, I left my job as a floral designer to rediscover what flowers truly meant to me. I didn’t know where this path would lead me; I was, however, certain that the best way to honour my father’s memory was to find my true passion and live it.

 This journey, full of bumps and hurdles and unexpected turns, culminated in the founding of Dahlia May Flower Farm. I am back where it all began, farming lush and romantic cut flowers on our beautiful homestead, working out of our 1885 farmhouse. Many of these blooms are sold at the same Quinte West farmers’ market where my parents sold their garden bounty all those years ago. Others may be found at farm markets and speciality stores throughout the area. 

We strive to grow high quality, long-lasting, and distinctive blooms. Our flowers connect people, create memories, and bring joy. As one of my customers shared with me: “Flowers make my heart happy, it’s as simple as that.” At Dahlia May Flower Farm we are committed to cultivating happy hearts, and making the world more beautiful.

Melanie and her new Farm Stand where customers can shop for locally grown flowers several days each week during the high season

Please enjoy this highly personal conversation with Melanie and be sure to check out the photos she’s shared – of her flowers and farm and her charming farm stand. And, if you haven’t yet discovered Dahlia May Flower Farm on social media, here’s how to follow along:

Dahlia May Flower Farm on Instagram

Dahlia May Flower Farm on Facebook

Dahlia May Flower Farm on Pinterest

Thanks again for joining me today. My take-way from this conversation with Melanie is to have a clear vision of what you do best, while also being open and experimental when new doors open. Hard work and long hours are a given, yet Melanie still takes time to revel in the awe-inspiring presence of nature that surrounds her natural world day in and day out. And she is willing to be vulnerable as a way to keep it all real and honest, despite the allure of social media and its promise of fame and fortune for those who chase those things.

I learned volumes from Melanie during her presentation at the ASCFG meeting earlier this month. In her presentation: “Make Your Social Media Accounts Bloom!” she offered a simple tip about the “grid” of the 9 most recent images that appear in your feed. ALWAYS post a self-portrait or an image of you on your farm, or in your studio, or engaging with flowers in that 9-square-grid. It’s a reminder to followers that there is a human flower lover behind the stats and metrics. Love this tip!

On her instagram bio for Dahlia May Flower Farm, she includes this: Flower farmer. Florist. Forager. Lover of dirty hands. Finder of magic in nature. Practicing graditude.

Those are terms that many of us embrace. So I know you share my appreciation for Melanie’s story. Thanks for listening.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 227,500 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.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

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.
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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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:

Simple Melody; Turning on the Lights
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Got Rocks? Here’s a savvy design solution for all those nuggets you’re digging up

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Love this tall console-style table made from hog fencing, rocks and a stone top — Design by Greg Graves and Gary Waller of Old Goat Farm.

If your garden is like ours, well, rocks are in abundance.

Our six-month-old garden occupies the 20-foot-by-60-foot backyard of a suburban home completed just months ago, right before we moved in on February 11th.

By the time we started working on the garden, no surprise! We realized what everyone who moves into a new-construction house learns. Landscaping crews simply move a lot of dirt and rocks around (usually destroying topsoil in the process). Then, they push any excess mixture of native soil, debris, the random screw or nail, and rocks up against the perimeter of one’s “new” yard and toss some bark dust on top. Not exactly “prepared soil,” right?

Rocks of all shapes and sizes have been piling up. We’ve had to muscle them out of newly dug planting holes for shrubs, perennials and trees. Said rocks range in size from a pingpong or tennis ball to something the size of a large dinosaur egg.

Case in point:

Yes, this is from the ground in our backyard. It was definitely a “two-person” rock, as they say.

Clearly, the rocks are winning. And it’s not like you can toss them into the compost bin and let the city deal with the mess.

Right now, along the side of our house next to the foundation, a long row of rocks is on display. There are mostly 6- to 12-inch diameter nuggets; some are surprisingly smooth; others more shard-like. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I returned to Old Goat Farm this past weekend. And I was reminded that it’s possible to turn unwanted rocks into very-much-wanted garden furniture and art.

Old Goat Farm is owned my my friends Greg Graves and Gary Waller. Old Goat Farm is out in the country, as one might expect, in the town of Graham, about 45 minutes south of where we live in Des Moines. It is a combination display garden, specialty nursery and animal sanctuary, all of which surround a charming Victorian farmhouse where Gary serves his famous holiday teas (there’s usually a waiting list, so check it out ASAP if you’re interested). I have written about Old Goat Farm’s holiday teas a few times, and you can read those posts here from 2010 and 2012.

Both men say they themselves are “old goats,” but the only reason you would believe that is their combined gardening and horticulture wisdom. Together, Greg and Gary know more than many of us will ever learn in one lifetime, not to mention two. Old Goat Farm is always open to the public the second weekend of the month, April through October. You can learn more about other special sales and events by checking out the Facebook page here.

Bruce and I spent a lovely evening last weekend at Old Goat Farm, where the guys hosted their first ever farm-to-table dinner in the garden. The food was out of this world – all vegetarian, of course – and presented in such a visually appealing manner by local chef Meghan Brannon of Conceptual Catering.

Between courses, we were encouraged to stroll the display gardens, and they are magnificent. I hadn’t been to Old Goat during the summer months for several years, and so I’d missed how much these borders, paths, islands and vignettes have matured over the dozen-plus years that Gary and Greg have tended to this land.

With rocks (and what to do with them) on my mind, what jumped out at me during this visit was how masterfully the guys handle their rock containment. Let’s review a few of these special pieces:

Twin gabion towers that serve as pedestals for beautiful urns to mark the entry into Linda’s Garden, a special destination honoring our late friend Linda Plato.

A small garden bench (right) and a square side table (left). Both utilize stone slabs for the “top.”

Another view of the fantastic gabion fern table. This is a stunner!

A detail of the planted surface of the table.

Another beautiful view.

You’ll want to read Greg’s blog post  from a few years’ back, in which he discusses his wire-cage designs and his personal relationship with the rocks in his garden. I found it inspiring!

Simply defying gravity, Greg and Gary make stone-filled metal orbs, too.

What a lovely way to punctuate a turn in the pathway.

 

Episode 311: The Bloom Project’s Heidi Berkman and the healing influence of flowers

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Through flower donations from farms and wholesalers, and through tens of thousands of volunteer hours, The Bloom Project brings flowers into the lives of people in hospice and end-of-life care.

The phrase “flowers feed the soul” is one you often hear, on greeting cards, on hand-painted signs, in all sorts of sentiments.

And in the opinion of today’s guest, flowers not only feed the soul and spirit, they play an important nurturing role in health care. My guest today, Heidi Berkman, is the founder and president of The Bloom Project. Based in Portland, Oregon, The Bloom Project has been giving the gift of fresh floral bouquets to hospice and palliative care patients since 2007. 

I’m posing with Heidi Berkman (left), who runs The Bloom Project, driven by the mission to harness the healing power of flowers. We gathered earlier this week for a  “Seattle Whirlwind” auction package to which Slow Flowers donated a workshop at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Heidi reached out to me to introduce herself several years ago, and then, through our mutual friend Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers, I really got to spend time with Heidi, both talking about the floral business, but also doing fun things like when all three of us traveled to Detroit last October at Lisa Waud’s invitation to speak at Detroit Flower Week.

Volunteers make hundreds of bouquets each week for delivery to hospice caregivers. (c) Byron Roe Photography

The first time Heidi and I actually met in person was April of 2016, when I was in Portland to speak at the Portland Garden Club’s annual flower show. Heidi put together a tour and reception for me to learn more about The Bloom Project, and to meet key board members and volunteers, as well as to see the beautiful workshop and studio headquartered at Teufel Holly Farm, just west of Portland. Donated by Larry Teufel, flower farmer and nurseryman, the space is akin to what you’d see at any large production facility, with tall work tables, great light, and plenty of cooler space for the flowers. Pretty impressive to see where The Bloom Project’s volunteers receive and processes donated stems of flowers and foliage, as well as where the gift bouquets are created, packaged and prepared for delivery to the ultimate recipient.

Heidi and I have been talking about when would be an ideal time to feature The Bloom Project on the Slow Flowers Podcast and with our mutual travel schedules, we waited until now. This week, I’ll be hosting a fun event as a Slow Flowers donation to The Bloom Project. At the annual Bouquets of the Heart auction that benefits the organization, I joined Larry Teufel in donating a “Seattle Whirlwind” day-of-flowers package for five guests.

Larry Teufel (left, with me) flew the auction package winners and their guests to Seattle (from Portland), on his beautifully-restored classic aircraft.

This week, Larry, who pilots his own plane, flew the winning bidder and a few of her friends to Seattle . . . I hosted them on a tour of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, which gave me a chance to talk about the mission of Slow Flowers and the importance of supporting local, seasonal and sustainable flowers, and the people who grow and design with them.

Debbi, Susan, Debra (me), Leianne and Susan — showing off our bouquets in Seattle as part of the auction package benefitting The Bloom Project.

We had a short design session and everyone left holding a bouquet with a story. I think that story — the story of showing compassion through flowers — is what The Bloom Project is all about — and Heidi is a powerful communicator for her cause and mission.

Before we get started, let me tell you a little more about The Bloom Project.

The project started in Heidi’s Central Oregon garage, beginning with a few flowers and a few volunteers who wanted to create something special — bringing beauty and joy to those in end-of-life care. Many, including Heidi, had experienced the loss of a loved one in hospice care, and recognized that they could make use of resources (flowers) that would otherwise be tossed out.

Photos (c) Byron Roe Photography

Over the last decade, The Bloom Project has continued to grow and support hospice and palliative care agencies across the state of Oregon, with the Portland Metro area as its base. Volunteer teams have flourished, supporting the organization’s goal of serving additional patients and families.

Donated workspaces, supplies and equipment, provide a wonderful place for volunteers to come together to create hundreds of beautiful bouquets each week. The Bloom Project relies on a committed group of floral and community partners who support its efforts and mission.

Heidi has twenty-five years of meeting and event planning experience with a strong background in retail marketing and extensive nonprofit experience. Her deep appreciation for the work of hospice comes from the personal experience of watching a loved one being cared for.

She has always enjoyed working with flowers and says she is grateful to be able to create bouquets with donated flowers that can provide encouragement to others instead of being discarded. Heidi’s passion for The Bloom Project has motivated her to share the story and spread the word about the power of flowers.

The Bloom Project’s Bouqets of the Heart event takes place on October 27, 2018, in Portland.

Her vision for the organization is to continue to network people and resources in communities where hospice and palliative care organizations are serving patients and their families during end-of-life care. This simple act of kindness can be given by gathering a team of committed volunteers, sourcing flowers and supplies, establishing a workspace and obtaining the support of the surrounding community to provide in-kind products and services along with financial contributions to support the growth and impact of the organization.

Details on The Bloom Project’s Bouquets of the Heart event, October 27th, in Portland. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Thanks again for joining me today. My take-way from this conversation with Heidi is that we shouldn’t ever discount the impact that flowers have in the lives of our community, team members, customers, and clients. These are more than luxury goods, more than perishable indulgences. A flower contains the expression of life and beauty — and can touch the heart and the senses where words may not be adequate.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 225,000 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:

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.

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:

LaBranche
by Blue Dot Sessions
 
Wholesome 5
by Dave Depper
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 307: Slow Flowers Podcast Celebrates our 4th Anniversary with Travis Rigby of Florists’ Review

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

I’m celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Slow Flowers Podcast with a special guest and big announcement!

On July 23, 2014, I said this at the top of the Slow Flowers Podcast:

During the past year, I produced and hosted weekly episodes of this podcast — with news and insights of the American Grown flower movement.

The people who have been guests on this series have generously and passionately  shared their time and knowledge.

Our inspiring and straight-forward dialogue has prompted thousands of listeners to return, week after week, downloading the audio files to their various devices, to listen in the design studio, in the flower fields and wherever else they spend their days.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is now a must-hear medium connecting  listeners across our country with creative and influential voices and exciting points of view.

Thank you for joining me and please get ready for the next 52 weeks of great conversations.

We’re in full bloom, so to speak, and there’s an abundance of great information I’m eager to bring you!

That’s how I pronounced the news of this Podcast’s one-year anniversary, with 15,000 downloads and, as I said, 52 episodes to show for it.

Here we are, today, celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Slow Flowers Podcast, and by numbers alone, we’ve made some amazing strides. We have enjoyed 215,000 listener downloads, and have produced 208 episodes.

Behind the numbers are authentic relationships that have been formed, a community of like-minded kindred spirits who are truly trying to improve our floral landscape.

We are making empowered decisions about how flowers are grown, brought to market and incorporated into our designs, decisions that affect our branding and businesses in a positive way.

Your participation in and support of all Slow Flowers projects is at an all-time high. With more than 715 members of Slowflowers.com, with ever-increasing support and collaboration with many of our sponsors, with the explosion of involvement in American Flowers Week — at more than 5 million impressions on social media during this year’s campaign, with the media attention not just about our program but about flower farmers across the country creating wholesale supply hubs and elevating the discussion about local flowers, and with this year’s amazing Slow Flowers Summit just occurring . . . well, we have so much to celebrate.

Let’s pop the cork and congratulate one another. Like a true community, your success equals my success; when the light is shined on one member, it benefits all members; when together we value interdependence over competition . . . that’s what inspires me and I hope it inspires you.

Four years ago, I started this tiny podcast wondering how I would ever “fill” the lineup with enough guests and stories to tell, imagining that eventually, I would be scrambling to find people to interview week after week. Well, that has proven NOT to be the case and it is pretty beautiful to acknowledge this accomplishment. My instinct for news tells me that the pool of voices to bring to you — as we inquire, inform, include, inspire and instigate new thinking — will not disappear. That’s a promise.

Travis Rigby, president and publisher of Florists’ Review

There’s one more big accomplishment to share and it is happening thanks to today’s special guest.

Please meet Travis Rigby, president and publisher of Wildflower Media, the parent company of Florists’ Review, Super Floral and an extensive bookstore and publishing operation.

Travis also is president of two companies both based in Portland — PosterGarden.com, a portable display company founded in 1995, and FlowerBox (formerly Blumebox), an innovative flower vase company specializing in recyclable vases.

Travis purchased Florists’ Review Enterprises and its suite of businesses in early 2016, with the sale closing on April 1 last year, so he has less than 18 months as a magazine publisher under his belt.

He acquired the Topeka, Kansas-based business from Frances Dudley, the previous owner of 29 years, but I was amazed to learn that Florists’ Review is a venerable, 120-year-old trade magazine.

Florists’ Review has been serving the floral industry for nearly 120 years. Established by Gilbert Leonard Grant in 1897 as The Weekly Florists’ Review, it was the first floral magazine to use photography rather than sketches, giving florists a true picture of what was happening in their industry.

Even during his short period of ownership, Travis has made some exciting changes, including redesigning Florists’ Review, with a larger-size format, higher quality paper and fresh graphics. With David Coake as editor and Kathleen Dillinger as new art director, together the cover and inside content of Florists’ Review are catching people’s attention.

“Four Seasons of Floral Design” featured designs from Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore in Olney, Maryland, and flowers from Plant Masters flower farm.

I began contributing articles to the magazine this past January, auspicious timing for me because it coincided with the magazine’s beautiful new format. As you’ll hear in our conversation, Travis and I met through a mutual friend, the uber networker Heidi Berkman of The Bloom Project in Portland (who incidentally you’ll hear on this podcast in the not-so-distant future).

Being the magazine junkie that I am, I was immediately fascinated to meet Travis and talk about the future of print media. The magazine world has undergone a huge shakeup in the past decade, as has all print, especially newspapers, but Travis and I found ourselves agreeing that there is a sweet spot for micro-niche publications that really drill down on a focused topic or serve a distinct audience — and that Florists’ Review had the potential to become the publication of choice for the mainstream floral industry. Of course, I’m not really in the mainstream, preaching local and seasonal flowers, but Travis saw something of relevance in the Slow Flowers platform, and he continued to say “yes” when I brought story ideas to the table.

Here’s a sneak peek of our opening pages of the Slow Flowers Journal — launching inside the August issue of Florists’ Review.


Now, thanks to a new partnership, more than 13k subscribers of Florists Review will read regular coverage about the Slow Flowers Movement and the people who grow and design with local, seasonal and domestic flowers. Beginning in August, next week, I am joining Florists’ Review as a Contributing Editor and, you will find our dedicated editorial section called Slow Flowers Journal inside the pages of Florists’ Review magazine, the highest-circulation floral industry trade magazine on the market.

In the coming issues, we’ll feature:

  • Design-driven feature articles, beautifully photographed, of course
  • Farmer-florist profiles
  • Products and resources sourced locally
  • “How I do it” (Q&As with florists on their sourcing practices)
  • Hero Worship — inspirational voices of “slow” pioneers

Isn’t that cool? Now even more readers will learn about the #slowflowersmovement and how they can adapt and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle in the floral industry.

Want to see what it’s all about?
Subscribe to Florists’ Review and read our bonus Slow Flowers Journal content at the special rate of $21 for 12 issues — 62 percent off the cover price! Take advantage of the special subscription offer from Florists’ ReviewClick on this link or call 1-800-367-4708.  I promise you that you’ll find inside each Slow Flowers Journal, our mini-magazine, the stories, news and resources important to you.

Thanks again for joining me and for helping me celebrate all the good Slow Flowers news of this Podcast’s significant fourth anniversary. If you want to get more involved, please reach out — I’d love to hear from you!

Join the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook, and share your story of this ever-changing ethos to source domestic, American grown flowers and support flower farmers, as well as adopt a more mindful, sustainable lifestyle for you and your business.

As I mentioned, the Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded nearly 215,000 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 services 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. Its 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:
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 306: All about Clematis with Linda Beutler, curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection and author of The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Linda Beutler, clematis expert, floral designer and author. (c) Loma Smith photograph

Linda is the author of The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis.

Last week, we heard from Rebecca Reed, U.S. Sales Executive for David Austin Garden Roses.

I learned so much from Rebecca about these beloved and increasingly popular roses for both the landscape and floral arranging and if you haven’t listened yet, head on over to Episode 305. It’s the perfect lead-in for today’s equally fabulous topic: Clematis.

Because so many of my friends are involved in the Pacific Northwest horticulture community and because I once was deeply embedded in it, serving as the Northwest Horticultural Society’s “Garden Notes” newsletter editor for several years, I have been vaguely aware of the existence of a rare clematis collection taking root outside Portland, Oregon. But I’d never visited the garden where it was housed.

Then last year, I met Phyllis McCanna while speaking to the Portland Garden Club, and she asked me to visit — more than once. Phyllis was gently persuasive with her warm invitations and about a month ago when I found myself driving to Portland for a series of scouting appointments, I arranged to meet Phyllis and see the clematis I’d been hearing about. As it turns out, Phyllis is the board president of the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at the historic Luscher Farm, part of Lake Oswego’s Park and Recreation system, outside Portland.

The modern clematis collection at the Rogerson Clematis Collection. I love the way it’s organized like a vineyard!

The display gardens are arranged around the historic Lescher Farmhouse and feature clematis paired with ornamental landscape plants.

Clematis with conifers and ornamental shrubs.

The Friends group was formed in 2005 to ensure that Brewster Rogerson’s amazing collection of clematis would be maintained and nurtured over time. Since then, the collection has grown from a group of beautiful plants in pots to an assemblage of beautiful plants in a delightful garden, now North America’s foremost collection of the genus Clematis.

Clematis, with lavender!

Linda led me on a tour of the modern clematis display.

Its mission is to preserve and foster the Rogerson Clematis Collection in a permanent home, observing its longtime objectives of assembling and maintaining as comprehensive a collection of the genus Clematis as possible, for the advancement of botanical and horticultural research and education and pleasure of all who visit.

I was delighted to reconnect with Phyllis and with my guest today Linda Beutler. Linda is a fifth generation Oregonian and lifelong gardener, who left floral design in 2007 when she signed on as the curator of the Rogerson Clematis Garden.

She is the author of several books, including Garden to Vase, Growing and Using your own Cut Flowers, which Timber Press published in 2007, now out of print but available used on Amazon and at Powell’s Books online. She also wrote Gardening with Clematis in 2004 and The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis, which Timber Books published last year.

Clematis with cotinus.

Clematis with barberry.

Clematis with witch hazel.

Linda’s love of gardening began with harvesting strawberries with her grandfather at the age of three, and being given her own plot for radishes and string beans at age five. Her home garden in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon reflects her garden passions, including old garden roses, herbaceous perennials and shrubs for cutting, and her 200 favorite clematis. Linda has been an adjunct instructor of horticulture at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, OR since 1996. She is the current President of the International Clematis Society and has also been known to dabble in Jane Austen fan-fiction!

Please enjoy this conversation — and stay tuned for a bonus tip from Linda at the end of the interview. Does she or doesn’t she use rubbing alcohol to extend the vase life of her cut clematis?

Enjoy my gallery of photos from my recent visit to the Rogerson Clematis Garden. Find more clematis at these social places:

Rogerson Clematis Garden on Facebook

Download the Clematis for Beginners list from International Clematis Society

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 212,000 times by listeners like you.

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:

LaBranche
by Blue Dot Sessions
 
Clap Along
by Dave Depper
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 303 The Succulent Bouquet with Marialuisa Kaprielian of Urban Succulents

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Welcome to DAY ONE of American Flowers Week, which continues through next Tuesday, July 4th, Independence Day!

The Slow Flowers Community is boldly sharing this message: Beautiful, fresh and seasonal flowers are worth celebrating! They are grown here, by real people on real U.S. flower farms!

This is our third year celebrating American grown flowers in all 50 states – coast to coast from north to south.

I’m thrilled with the incredible enthusiasm and participation from flower farmers, floral designers, retailers, grocery chains and avid gardeners who are joining in to help raise awareness about the origin of our flowers.

Your use of hashtag #americanflowersweek along with #slowflowers and your personal branding terms is an awesome way to engage with consumers and peers across the U.S.!

I’ve loved seeing the early posts as designers and florists have shared sneak-peeks of their projects on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram – flowers, signage, displays, events and special red-white-and-blue bouquets to celebrate American Flowers Week.

We’ll keep on re-tweeting and re-posting to spread the awareness and attention on social platforms – with the overall goal of getting more folks asking for and buying American grown flowers.

Get out your crayons: Our American Flowers Week Map of State Flowers!

Follow these links to the free resources available to you – as well as details about cool American Flowers Week projects our members are producing around the country (including a few that took place last week in the days leading up to American Flowers Week).

Check out Americanflowersweek.com to download graphics, logos, photography and social media badges that you can use in your own branding or social feeds.

And don’t forget to download our awesome USA Map of state flowers, including individual state coloring sheets. Add your logo and print copies to share and hand out to your community and customers.

I have one more important event to remind you about – the Slow Flowers Summit, which is happening this coming Sunday, July 2nd in Seattle at the Surf Incubator event space.

You’ve heard from some of our awesome speakers, and this Podcast has shared previews what’s on the agenda for an inspiring day of design innovation, personal inspiration and a bit of radical thinking to send you off with new ideas.

It’s not too late to sign up – we’re expecting and planning for a few last-minute registrants. If your schedule allows, I encourage you to join us!

Marialuisa Kaprielian of Urban Succulents puts her own brilliant twist on floral design with sedums, echeverias, kalanchoes and more!

Succulents + fresh flowers in a bouquet designed by MariaLuisa Kaprielian.

I’m so happy to bring you some succulent joy today, with a conversation I recorded in late May when I traveled to San Diego to teach.

I have loved seeing the designs, creativity and color sense in the succulent florals of Marialuisa Kaprielian. Marialuisa is the owner of Urban Succulents, based in San Diego. She’s a Slowflowers.com member whose company is uniquely suited for a thriving mail order floral business.

If you recall my podcast episode with Robin Stockwell, author of the new book SUCCULENTS, he mentioned commissioning Marialuisa to design the succulent floral arrangements that appear in his book. You can listen to that episode and see images of her designs in the show notes here.

Because San Diego has ideal weather for growing and producing succulent plants, it’s the perfect headquarters for Urban Succulents.

Marialuisa’s mission is to create living arrangements using only the finest locally sourced succulent plants.

All her succulent arrangements, wreaths, gift boxes, bouquets and other items are made to order so they are fresh when the recipient receives them.  Urban Succulents’ living arrangements and bouquets can be replanted, bringing more enjoyment — a gift that keeps giving, or growing in this case.

Succulent bridal bouquets aren’t always only green!

Thoroughly feminine!

Urban Succulents creates living florals for corporate events and galas, weddings and other festive occasions. For holidays and other gifting, the studio offers wreaths and succulent plant assortments.

Individual succulents, wired and ready to be used for floral design.

I know you’ll find our conversation inspiring – and I hope it gives you some new ideas for using succulents in your design work. Or, contact Urban Succulents to special order wired succulents to add to your designs (as shown, left).

I had serious succulent envy spending time with Marialuisa in her home, studio and vast garden filled with plants we never see up in the chilly corner of the Pacific Northwest.

You can find and follow MariaLuisa at these social places:

Urban Succulents on Facebook

Urban Succulents on Instagram

Urban Succulents on Pinterest

 

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 204,000 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 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.

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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

British Flowers Week 2017 — Day One with florist Mary Jane Vaughan

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Five floral designers whose work will be higlighted during British Flowers Week: Mary Jane Vaughan, Jennifer Pinder, Urban Flower Company, Petal & Stalk and Carly Rogers.

I’m thoroughly inspired by my friends at New Covent Garden Flower Market in London, the brains behind British Flowers Week, now in its fifth year!

In fact, I recently wrote this homage to Helen Evans and her colleagues for the American Flowers Week feature in the current June 2017 issue of Florists’ Review magazine.

Here’s a portion of my report:

In 2015, while in London for the Chelsea Flower Show, I met with Helen Evans, one of the geniuses behind New Covent Garden Market’s successful British Flowers Week (BFW) campaign (June 19-25, 2017). 

The U.K.’s most important wholesale floral hub launched BFW in 2013 as a low-budget social media-driven “annual celebration of seasonal locally grown flowers and foliage that united the U.K. cut-flower industry, and sparked public and media interest in where our flowers come from.”

It has become a popular and successful campaign to promote British flowers and floral designers. By the time we had finished sipping from our steaming mugs of tea in the Market’s employee breakroom, I thought, “I should start an American Flowers Week.”

In late May of 2015, I returned to the U.S. inspired by the BFW model and equipped with Helen’s suggestions and resources, and introduced American Flowers Week (AFW) one month later.

Today marks the Day One of British Flowers Week and I’m so in love with the work of Mary Jane Vaughan, the first featured designer, and with her floral choices, including British-grown stock, sweet peas and other beautiful botanicals.

Mary Jane Vaughan shopping for locally-grown British Flowers at New Covent Market.

British floral designer Mary Jane Vaughan

Please enjoy and follow along, as we’ll be sharing all five days to inspire you — AND to get you excited about your own plans for American Flowers Week, coming up with the June 28th-July 4th unveiling of more flowery goodness!

Floral Designer: Mary Jane Vaughan

Known for the simplicity and understated elegance of her designs, Mary Jane Vaughan has gone from running a shop in Fulham, London to becoming an award-winning luxury weddings, events and contracts florist some thirty years later.

Read more about Mary Jane’s approach to designing with locally-grown British flowers.

There are three entries to Mary Jane Vaughan’s designs for British Flowers Week:

A curved floral chandelier by Mary Jane Vaughan features 500 stems of British-grown stock, moss and camellia foliage.

Close up of Mary Jane Vaughan’s curved floral chandelier for British Flowers Week

The Showstopper (above): A curved canopy of white stocks and laurel leaves.

Close-up of Mary Jane Vaughan’s sculptural necklace for British Flowers Week 2017

Hadid’s designs were often inspired by the movement of water. So Mary Jane chose to make a fluid-shaped asymmetrical necklace. An intricate wired design, it features lilac sweet peas, blue cornflowers, white stocks, pale pink antirrhinums, alchemilla mollis, ferns and a single peony.

Technical (above): The inspiration for Mary Jane’s three exquisite British Flowers Week creations was found in the work of her favourite British architect, Dame Zaha Hadid OBE. Hadid’s bold, undulating designs combine geometry with femininity and nature, which is what Mary Jane also strives to do in her work.

Mary Jane says: “I’m a huge fan of Hadid. She designed the London Olympics Aquatic Centre. I managed to get tickets to see it and I was so excited to be under her roof. So, to be able to create something inspired by her work means a lot to me, because I think she was an amazing, incredible talent. All her shapes are so fluid, organic and asymmetrical. They’re very bold and very brave. There’s so much that I love about them.”

Hadid‘s designs were often inspired by the movement of water, and so we chose – for our technical design – to make a fluid-shaped, assymetrical necklace of lilac sweet peas, blue cornflowers, white stocks, pale pink atirrhinums, alchemilla mollie, ferns & a single peony.

Inspired by Hadid’s Visio crystal vase, Mary Jane designed two slender curved vases. Shiny laurel leaves have been attached to the papier-mâché designs, which are complemented with a profusion of delicate, pastel purple sweet peas.

CLose-up of Mary Jane Vaughan’s design with sweet peas.

Signature (above): Inspired by Hadid’s Viso Vase. Slender & curved, our vases were made with laurel leaves and filled with the beautiful British favourite – the sweetpea. An intricate wired design, it features lilac sweet peas, blue cornflowers, white stocks, pale pink antirrhinums, alchemilla mollis, ferns and a single peony.

Read more about British Flowers Week

Get involved in American Flowers Week, coming up June 28-July 4. Lots of details and resources available here!

Episode 299: Celebrating our 200th Show with Floral Artist Max Gill of Max Gill Design

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Today, we’re commemorating the 200th episode of the  Slow Flowers Podcast. It’s an amazing milestone worth celebrating!

For 200 consecutive weeks, ever since our first episode on July 23, 2013, we’ve brought you original programming about local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and the people who grow and design with them.

That means you’ve received nearly four years of meaningful and informative content — delivered through your ear-buds — my engaging conversations with flower farmers, floral designers, cut floral and plant experts, authors, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Slow Flowers Community.

And I thank YOU for joining me!

Max Gill, captured by Alicia Schwede’s camera, while teaching at the design Master Class held recently at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

I’ve scheduled a very special guest to share with you for this 200th episode: Berkeley, California-based designer Max Gill.

I first met Max during the summer of 2011 while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet. Photographer David Perry and I were in SF shooting a chapter of the book with Susie Nadler and Flora Grubb at Flora Grubb Gardens . . . and Flora asked if I knew Max. I told her no, and she immediately made a connection, introducing us by phone. It was one of those serendipitous threads I am so often given and frequently follow . . . not sure where it will lead but eager to discover that answer.

This is a dark photo, but I love it! I snapped it in July 2011 while on location with Max Gill at Chez Panisse, enjoying a pot of just-brewed tea while observing his design process.

Max invited David and me to meet him a few days later and what resulted was nothing short of beautiful. We were able to tour and ultimately photograph Max in his Berkeley studio and personal cutting garden . . . and then he invited us to follow him to Alice Waters’ famed bistro Chez Panisse Cafe & Restaurant, just blocks from Max’s home, to capture him on camera while he created the first of that week’s major floral displays for the restaurant’s interior.

After we wrapped up, David Perry (far right) and I posed for a photo with Max and his friend Wynonah (center)

It was an unforgettable experience for all of us. Later, Alice shared this quote for the story:

Max is an amazing forager – he brings a sense of aliveness and seasonality, reinforcing the principles of the restaurant.”

And his friend, design mentor and occasional collaborator Ariella Chezar told me this:

Max, with his heart of gold, is a genius at creating small, magical worlds that you cannot help but be drawn into. With tenderness and skill, he assembles his elements, resulting in the most perfect balance of haphazard wildness and clear purpose. His arrangements always look just right.”

Max spent a few days in Seattle, touring local flower farms and meeting the folks behind SWGM, including Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm (right) (c) Alicia Schwede

Lush and Seasonal: One of Max’s compote arrangements from his workshop at SWGMC. (c) Alicia Schwede. Check out the palette and diversity of just-picked botanicals!

Max recently visited Seattle to teach a very popular Master Class, followed by an unforgettable design lecture at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market – and while he was in town, I recorded this short conversation with him.

Here’s a bit more about Max, from his web site’s “about” page:

After receiving his degree in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley, Max was compelled by more creative pursuits, eventually finding floral design the perfect medium as it seemed to him to draw from all of his greatest passions: gardening, sculpture, painting and art and theater history. 

Originally from upstate New York, Max has called the Bay Area home for almost 35 years.  Perhaps best known for his work at Chez Panisse where he has done the flowers for over a decade, Max started Max Gill Design in 2005 and now offers full floral services for weddings, special events and private clients including Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Lauren McIntosh.  

Informed by natural process, Max’s work is distinguished by his reliance on specialty blooms and botanical rarities gleaned from local growers, his own formidable cut flower garden in North Berkeley, and a long list of Bay Area nurseries.  

He writes this:

My work is always botanically inspired. What I find most compelling in nature is when plants are struggling to find their place in the environment. As they fight to overcome the challenges of space and light, often surprising us with their juxtaposition, they create beauty through adaptation.

Download our PDF of the chapter, “Flowers for Chez Panisse,’ from The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Two of Max’s floral creations, from the pages of In Full Flower (c) Gemma and Andrew Ingalls

Here’s a peek at two of Max’s alluring botanical designs that appear in the just-released new book, “In Full Flower,” by photographers Gemma and Andrew Ingalls for Rizzoli Books. It’s stunning work that will leave you wanting more.

And you can find more by following along with Max on his Instagram feed.

Thanks so much for joining us today.

Back when the 100th episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast aired in June 2015, I noted that listeners had downloaded episodes 53,000 times since the start of the show.

Having reached the second-hundred-episode mark, even more fans are engaging with the show, with a total of 193,000 downloads to date — meaning today we have nearly triple the number of Slow Flowers Podcast listeners than for the first 100 episodes.

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.

It’s time to sign up for the Slow Flowers Summit and you can find the registration link 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!

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.