Debra Prinzing

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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

Episode 280: Floral Diplomacy with former Chief White House Florist Laura Dowling

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
2UP

Today’s lovely guest, Laura Dowling, former Chief Floral Designer under President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, from 2009-2015

I’m so pleased this week to feature my conversation with Laura Dowling, who served as the White House florist for six years during the Obama Administration. The timing for her appearance here is no coincidence. I’m determined to celebrate beauty, art, culture and human kindness today. It’s a tough week for me and for many of you, I’m sure. By focusing on flowers and on Laura’s unique perspective, not to mention the role she played designing florals for our outgoing POTUS and FLOTUS, their homes and offices, and America’s people, I might just get through the events of this week.

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“Flowers as a tool for innovation and change,” a spread depicting Laura Dowling with First Lady Michelle Obama

Laura’s brand new book, Floral Diplomacy at the White House, is published by Stichting Kunstboek, a major European imprint, the 144-page hardcover book has more than 100 photographs, many of which are from the official White House photography taken to document the activities of the Obama Administration — and illustrate how and where Laura’s flowers played a role in our nation’s history. Floral Diplomacy is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be in retail bookstores by early February. Order your copy here.

Students at FlowerSchool New York were enthralled by the chance to work directly with Laura Dowling at an early February 2016 workshop.

Students at FlowerSchool New York were enthralled by the chance to work directly with Laura Dowling at an early February 2016 workshop.

To introduce Laura, I’d like to share an excerpt from a post I wrote about one year ago. The occasion was inspired by my taking a fabulous 2-hour workshop at FlowerSchool New York in early February 2016, which hosted one of Laura’s first major industry appearances since she left her White House position in March 2015.

I had been eager to meet Laura Dowling ever since I first read about her appointment as White House Florist in 2009. I remember being so enthralled with the New York Times story about Laura’s choices for decorating her first State Dinner (it was the Obama’s first State Dinner, too), for India’s Prime Minister in November of that year.

American Grown Flowers at the White House - as reported on by the New York Times this week.

American Grown Flowers at the White House – as reported on by the New York Times.

whiteHouseStateDinner2009 Here’s an excerpt of that report:

New York Times (November 25, 2009): “Old Standards with Modern Flourishes as Obamas Host First State Dinner,” by Rachel L. Swarns

” . . . at their first state dinner on Tuesday night, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches.

“They hired a new florist, Laura Dowling, who bedecked the tented outdoor dining room with locally grown, sustainably harvested magnolias and ivy.”

Of course, I seized on the language: “locally grown, sustainably harvested,” and ever since I watched closely for signs of Ms. Dowling’s preferences toward the flowers grown near her in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and those that may be further away but still from domestic U.S. Farms.

The floral ceiling chandelier -- using all American grown floral ingredients -- from the White House State Dinner (photo: Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse)

The floral ceiling chandelier — using all American grown floral ingredients — from the White House State Dinner (photo: Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse)

The Slow Flowers Movement enjoyed a subsequent “win” for the cause in February 2014, when the State Dinner for French President Francois Holland yielded the White House’s most public acknowledgement to date about using all-American blooms. There was so much enthusiasm for that public support of American grown flowers that when USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden blogged about the news, it generated more than 150 comments.

After a heady, six-year run as the current administration’s Chief Florist, Laura Dowling returned to civilian life in early 2015 — and she is connecting with the floral design community and American flower farmers more than ever.

In her position as Chief Florist, Laura Dowling planned and implemented decorations for major events at the White House, including the White House Christmas, state dinners, the presidential family quarters, the public tour route displays, and Camp David.

Now, Laura is focusing her creativity on sharing the “Floral Diplomacy” message on both the global and local stage. Her Alexandria, Virginia, studio is a hub of design commissions, several upcoming book projects, and floral styling for photo shoots and more. Her world seems to no longer be dominated by carefully-worded statements and all sorts of other persons’ political agendas, so we’re having a chance to get to know this lovely, gifted and generous floral artist, educator and yes, floral diplomat.

smFloral Diplomacy_p38-39

“The Garden Style,” a spread from Floral Diplomacy

Laura is a Washington State native who grew up in the rural area outside Chehalis, which is halfway between Seattle and Portland in Western Washington. She writes about her connection to this place in, Floral Diplomacy, noting her childhood dominated by the shadow of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier and the rolling farm country of the Pacific Northwest, saying, “I have no doubt that growing up in such close proximity to the landscape, surrounded by the epic splendor of the Pacific Northwest, gave me a lifelong appreciation of nature, a sensitivity to composition and colors, flowers and the aspiration to create beauty.”

It is that connection to the PNW that brought us together as friends, since Laura and her husband Bob Weinhagen often return to the Pacific Northwest from Washington, D.C., to visit family, including Laura’s mother who still lives in the area where she was raised.

We agreed to meet right before Christmas in the lobby of a downtown Seattle hotel, to speak about Laura’s amazing career and the new book, Floral Diplomacy.

smFloral Diplomacy_p76-77

smFloral Diplomacy_p98-99

smFloral Dipomacy_p142-143 It is an exquisite document of how flowers and floral design played a role in the Obama Administration. In her acknowledgements, Laura writes: “I want to express my deep gratitude to the President and First Lady for giving me the honor and privilege of serving as Chief Floral Designer at the White House and for inspiring me to reach higher in all my work.”

Please enjoy our conversation and learn more about the creative individual who flowered the “People’s House” for six beautiful years.

Find Laura Dowling on Facebook

Follow Laura Dowling on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you are as inspired as I am about the powerful role flowers can play. Laura broke new ground with the idea that flowers could be more than just decorative placements; she views floral designs as an important strategic tool that can communicate specific diplomatic, symbolic and policy messages.

Returning to the private sector, Laura’s expanded platform now includes event design and consulting, writing and speaking about floral design, and presenting workshops and demonstrations throughout the world. Her goal is to share her unique vision for creating flowers designs in the garden style and to inspire others with her personal story.

smFloral Diplomacy_p60-61 PodcastLogo

Pursuing our passion is what the Slow Flowers Podcast is all about.

It is my hope that when you hear from pioneering voices, thought leaders and creative innovators, not to mention environmental activists and advocates for the Slow Flowers Movement that I feature week in and week out, you, too will be inspired to reach higher in all of your work.

You are not alone. You are part of this community, and as one of our most active members recently reminded me, the way forward is “community over competition” — how true that is. I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 148,000 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.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 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
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:

Jupiter the Blue; Traveling Made-Up Continents; 
Instrumental #2 Revisited
by Gillicuddy
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/gillicuddy/
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
 
Vinyl Couch
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Episode 279: The Boutique Flower Shop with Portland’s Hilary Horvath

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
Hilary Horvath designs an impromptu bouquet for a customer at her eponymously-named shop inside Portland's Alder + Co.

Hilary Horvath designs an impromptu bouquet for a customer at her eponymously-named shop inside Portland’s Alder + Co.

hh_10_img_5048 We’ve had some amazing extended episodes in the past month and now it’s time to return to our familiar format of single conversations with singular individuals.

This week’s guest is Hilary Horvath of Portland’s Hilary Horvath Flowers.

Airing today’s conversation with Hilary is a timely follow-up to last week’s episode when we released our 2017 Floral Insights and Industry Forecast.

If you missed that episode, take a moment to download and hear the many things happening as the Slow Flowers Movement disrupts and shifts the way flowers are grown, marketed and used by designers. You can find a link to a PDF of the Report here.

In that report, I cited a renaissance taking place among with brick-and-mortar flower shops in markets across the country where main street mom-and-pop florists are closing their doors. Hilary Horvath Flowers embodies the new flower shop model — and I’m delighted to share her story with you today.

hilary_horvath_flowers_3

I’m not sure how we first met, but recently, I was looking through photos from a Little Flower School of Brooklyn workshop that came to Schreiner’s Iris Farm in Oregon a few years ago and there was Hilary in my gallery of images. I had forgotten that we met taking that lovely design workshop together.

Hilary Horvath Flowers inside Alder + Co.

Hilary Horvath Flowers inside Alder + Co.

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Since then, I’ve visited her beautiful flower shop, which resides just inside the entry of Alder + Co., a perfectly curated emporium for clothing, accessory, home, jewelry, paper and textiles — and Hilary’s flowers.

Located on 10th & Alder, on the hip and happening edge of downtown Portland, Hilary Horvath’s flowers spill out onto the sidewalk and seemingly lure in people moved by the beautiful scene.

hilary_horvath_2

Hilary is dedicated to sourcing the most beautiful flowers to feature in her shop. One of her favorite and distinguished customers has said “not even in Paris are the flowers this beautiful”, and she can believe it as she herself is constantly amazed and inspired by the offerings of the many flower growers with whom she is fortunate to know in the Pacific Northwest.

hilary_horvath_flowers_shop

Hilary started working with Welch Wholesale Florist in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1994. She continued to expand her skills in floral arrangement and styling in retail shops in Indiana and Chicago. Hilary has found inspiration in the landscape of the Pacific Northwest and bounty of local growers for nearly a decade. Her flowers range from wild, natural arrangements to romantic, elegant bouquets.

hilary_horvath_flowers_1 Hilary arranges flowers for weddings, events, photo shoots and individual and business clients throughout the Portland area. She is also happy to travel to accommodate those living outside of Portland who would like her beautiful and unique arrangements.

You’ll hear in our conversation, recorded a few months ago while we shared a cup of tea at a cafe across from Alder + Co., our discussion of Welch Wholesale Florist in Indianapolis.

hilary_horvath_flowers_peony In another small-world chapter of the life I live in flowers, I met the sisters who run Welch Wholesale in 2015 when I was a guest of the Indianapolis Art Museum. I was there to speak at the Museum’s flower festival and to also teach a design workshop.

It was April – a little early for local flowers in Indiana – but the Museum worked with Welch Wholesale to source as many as they could find for our workshop. I remember how much fun it was to discover how resourceful and caring sisters Nora (Welch) Steinmetz and Annie (Welch) Horvath — they ordered local tulips, ranunculus and anemones — straight from flower farmers nearby!

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Come to find out, this is where Hilary’s roots in floriculture and horticulture began. I love knowing that this 55-year-old family business is part of her foundation in bringing flowers to her Portland customers.

Please enjoy our conversation and these images of Hilary’s beautiful design work. Be inspired by the way seasonal beauty makes its way into her hand-tied bouquets and elegant arrangements.

hilary_horvath_flowers_bouquet Follow Hilary Horvath at these social places:

Hilary on Facebook

Hilary on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 145,000 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.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016
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

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 notes:
Vittoro; Lahaina; Manele
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Episode 278: Slow Flowers’ 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

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Happy New Year and Welcome to the third annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast.

Unlike most TREND reports, this compilation tracks changing shifts, emerging ideas and new concepts that are taking hold in the American floral world.  Think of it as your Next, New and Now Report. These topics are gleaned from my conversations and interviews that took place with many of you during 2016– Slow Flowers members, including farmers, florists and creatives.  I know some of you have already experienced these emerging developments and your influence has inspired this list.

If you would like a copy of this report, please click here: 2017-floral-insights [PDF download]

I look forward to your reaction, thoughts, and input on the Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast, including the ideas and themes I may have overlooked! I invite you to share yours in the comment section below.

Let’s get started:

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#1 WHOLESALERS ARE DISCOVERING AMERICA
. In the midst of global floriculture, with trade in cut flowers estimated at more than $100 billion per year, $13 billion of which takes place in the U.S., we’ve been seduced by the notion that the world is our oyster (or flower field).

Mellano & Co. is a Certified American Grown flower farm.

Mellano & Co. is a Certified American Grown flower farm.

In many markets around the country, the wholesale florist is the only commercial cut flowers and foliage source for floral designers, flower shops and studios to purchase product.Yet after branding themselves as the only way to access a world of floral options, some wholesale florists are returning to their roots, at least in part. They are proactively sourcing from American flower farms large and small to stock their coolers and shelves. And beyond this step, many are also using signage and labeling to inform buyers of the origin of that product.

I believe the explosion of farmer-florists and the growth of small-scale floral agriculture in markets across North America has occurred in part because of frustration with the lack of or limited local sourcing by conventional wholesalers. Let me say that again: Farmer-Florists and small-scale floral agriculture have stepped into the gaping void created when wholesalers turned their backs on local flower farmers. And now they’re waking up to the missed opportunity.

The success of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, well-documented by me and on this podcast over the past several years, as well as the continued growth of the farmer-owned Oregon Flower Growers Association market in Portland underscore that demand for local flowers is already in place.

Now we are witnessing a shift among some conventional wholesalers to align their brand with American Grown and Locally-grown flowers. Mayesh Wholesale Florist is the most active in this arena, with active support for Slowflowers.com, American Flowers Week, Lisa Waud’s Flower House Detroit, and other sponsorships.

When Mayesh opened its renovated Portland, Oregon, branch in early November, the company asked me to make a design presentation. The team there was very supportive of my request for all locally-grown product — hat’s off to Mayesh and I certainly expect that their success at the cash register will motivate other conventional wholesale florists to get onboard.

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I’ve previously singled out Santa Barbara-based Florabundance, led by Joost Bongaerts, for making the effort to label all California-grown floral and foliage offerings on his online wholesale site. It is an effective tool — one I hope others will emulate. It is certainly a step that demonstrates excellent customer service and an awareness that Florabundance shoppers want to know the origin of the flowers they purchase.

This past fall, I surveyed Slowflowers.com members for their take on a number of topics and trends. When I asked, “If you shop with Conventional Florists, are you finding more American grown and locally-grown product than in the past?” 70 percent of respondents said yes.

Here are a few of the specific comments to elaborate:

  • I request American grown from my Rep, and I think there are more boutique, seasonal items that are coming from smaller farmers
  • I have been asking my conventional wholesalers to bring in more American grown product and I think it is helping. The “American Grown” branding really helps us to know that is happening.
  • It’s definitely taking place and some people at the conventional wholesalers are proud to share that their products are American grown.

This last comment reflects that the industry still has far to go. One member noted:

  • It’s a toss up. They say they want to add more but I’m not sure if they are working really hard at. And they don’t do a very good job at advertising what is local and what is not. My Rep knows that I want American grown but still have to ask every time

slide6
#2 MORE FARMS SELLING DIRECT
. This insight is closely connected with item number one.

In general, the conventional wholesale model is changing, as traditional channels of floral distribution are disrupted. I predict that more flower farms will seek and establish new ways to bypass the conventional wholesale pipeline and market direct to florists and consumers. This is a hot topic and certainly one that’s hard to find anyone willing to go on record to discuss.
Our Slow Flowers survey revealed numerous sales channels among flower farmers. Granted, the majority of Slow Flowers farm-members are small-scale producers, but I believe they are the ones modeling how diversification and direct-to-florist commerce can succeed. When asked about their distribution channels, our respondents cited the following top three outlets:

  • Seventy percent are growing flowers for their own weddings and event clients;
  • This is followed closely by farms selling direct to other florists and wedding designers, at around 67 percent
  • With 53 percent of flower farms reporting they sell to local flower shops
    After this top tier, the percentages drop down to one third of respondents who sell flowers via farmers’ markets and CSA subscribers (basically consumer-direct) and about one-quarter who sell to local wholesalers and grocery/supermarket buyers.There is another farm-direct model, and here’s where I think the disruption is most revealing. A number of large farms are experimenting with direct-to-florist and direct-to-consumer models.

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There is another farm-direct model and here’s where I think the disruption is most revealing. A number of large farms are experimenting with direct-to-florist and direct-to-consumer models. A few successful single-crop models have been in place, such as Danielle Hahn’s Rose Story Farm, which in the past few years has shifted almost completely away from selling through wholesalers to florist-direct fulfillment, and many of the Alaska peony growers who sell direct to florists and consumers.

Now, diversified, large-scale growers are beginning to spin off consumer-focused web shops, such as Sun Valley’s Stargazer Barn or Resendiz Brothers’ Protea Store. In the scheme of things, these new ventures are moving only a small fraction of their parent farms’ floral inventory.

But I predict that as large farms bend to demand for farm-direct sourcing of flowers (by consumers and florists alike), the path from field to bouquet will speed up and perhaps take fewer detours through brokers and wholesalers. That means fresher, more seasonal and better value for all floral customers.

READ MORE…

Episode 277: A Year in Review – Slow Flowers’ Highlights for 2016

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

2016-year-in-review Welcome to the final Slow Flowers Podcast of 2016

PodcastLogo Last year at this time, I mentioned that the Slow Flowers Podcast had been downloaded 76,000 times in two-and-one-half years.

Today, I can tell you that 2016’s listenership nearly doubled that total, meanings as many people tuned into this weekly episode in 12 months than in the previous 30 months combined.

That’s the best news I could ask for as we reflect on the successes and strides of 2016.

Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for 178 weeks, it has been my privilege to feature the voices of our Slow Flowers community with you.

You’ve heard from flower farmers and floral designers, pioneers and personalities,  who together are changing the floral landscape, disrupting the status quo, and bringing flower sourcing and growing practices, not to mention eco-conscious design methods, to the center of the conversation.

Take the Pledge!!!

Take the Pledge!!!

As I have done since the beginning of 2014, I would like to dedicate today’s episode to the Slow Flowers Highlights we’ve witnessed this year.

Next week, on January 4th, I will share my 2017 floral industry forecast with you.

As the Slow Flowers Movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.


I’ll start with some ACCOLADES

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

2016 kicked off with a lovely surprise as the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market honored me with the Growers’ Choice Award for outstanding contributions to revitalizing the local floral community. The flower farmers and staff of this innovated farm-to-florist wholesale market are near and dear to my heart, and it’s so gratifying to receive their recognition. My efforts to promote and sustain domestic flowers is especially sweet because of those who gave me this award.

In September, the Garden Writers Association, my professional community, honored Slowflowers.com – the web site – with a Silver Medal in the digital media category. The organization also inducted me into the Hall of Fame, an honor given to one person each year — an unexpected and humbling acknowledgement for my work in gardening communications.

And then there’s VALENTINE’S DAY

Yay! Check it out!!!

Yay! Check it out!!!

The opportunity for engaging the media in a discussion about American grown flowers, local flowers and the origin and growing practices of flowers at Valentine’s Day is an obvious one — and we have been vocal about sharing the Slow Flowers story.

The 2016 press was major, with Martha Stewart Living’s mention of Slow Flowers and the slowflowers.com directory in its February 2016 issue –

Here’s the text:

“The benefits of choosing locally grown foods over those from all over the world extends to flowers as well. That’s why garden and features editor Melissa Ozawa likes Slowflowers.com, an online directory of more than 600 florists and flower farms across the United States. The site offers local blooms in season (for instance, winter tulips or anemones, if you’re in the Northwest). Have your heart set on classic roses? It also helps users find growers in California and Oregon that ship nationally.” 

There you have it! Short and VERY sweet!

Individually, none of us could have earned this type of media attention from a magazine with paid circulation of more than 2 million subscribers, monthly newsstand sales of 115,000 issues and total audience reach of more than 9 million. The demographics of the Martha Stewart reader are in close alignment with your own floral business.

You can feel especially proud of what we’ve accomplished knowing that the value of this earned media mention is $45,000, something that none of us could have ever afforded if we purchased advertising space in the magazine.

view from airplane As for travel, in 2016, well, I retained my MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines, which means I spent more than 40,000 miles in the air in 2016.

Perhaps not an accomplishment when it comes to burning jet fuel, but to me, the amount of travel I was able to make on behalf of floral promotion, including connecting with many of you, was significant — and to compensate for that travel footprint, I tried to engage with as many flower farmers and florists at every destination!

I attended seven lovely and inspiring FIELD TO VASE DINNERS, serving as co-host and sponsor.

Slow Flowers partnered with the Certified American Grown campaign’s Field to Vase Dinner Tour, which took me to flower farms in California, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Washington State.

The Certified American Grown Program produces the Field to Vase Dinner Tour -- and is a sponsor of this Podcast. Shown from left: Bill Prescott of Sun Valley Flower Farm, NYT Bestselling author Amy Stewart of "Flower Confidential", Kasey and me.

The Certified American Grown Program produces the Field to Vase Dinner Tour — and is a sponsor of this Podcast. Shown from left: Bill Prescott of Sun Valley Flower Farm, NYT Bestselling author Amy Stewart of “Flower Confidential”, Kasey and me.

I teamed up with Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown brand, to welcome more hundreds of dinner guests who enjoyed local food AND local flowers, who heard the Slow Flowers message and met and learned from Slow Flowers member farms and designers.

It has been a huge honor to be part of the Field to Vase Dinner tour for the past two years — and I am confident that the dinners helped to change attitudes, assumptions and understanding about the origin of flowers at the center of the table. And a footnote, the Field to Vase Dinner Tour dates for 2017 should be announced soon. 

00571_DP_SlowFlowers_Meetup (2) At many of my travel destinations, I was able to meet Slow Flowers members and even take part in Slow Flowers Meet-Ups.

I can’t tell you how meaningful it has been to put faces and voices to names I perhaps only before knew via social media.It was thrilling to visit cities and towns where I was welcomed into beautiful shops and studios, as well as onto prolific farms where domestic flowers flourished.

Many of those events only took place because so many of you stepped up to host me and I want to thank the following folks for making connections possible when I was in their towns:

With my friend Gloria Battista Collins of GBC Style, we posed happily with our finished arrangements.

With my friend Gloria Battista Collins of GBC Style, we posed happily with our finished arrangements.

In early February, Gloria Collins, GBC Style, hosted me at her Manhattan apartment when I visited NYC.  We recorded a podcast episode and took Laura Dowling’s design workshop together at Flower School New York — what a fabulous experience.

Later that month, for the third consecutive year, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet up with a motivated group of American Flower Farmers for the annual “Fly In” sponsored by California Cut Flower Commission and Certified American Grown.

Tony Ortiz of Joseph and Sons in Santa Paula, Calif., past Slow Flowers Podcast guest, and I were happy to deliver American grown flowers to decorate the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus hearings. Farmer-florist Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios designed the bouquet.

Tony Ortiz of Joseph and Sons in Santa Paula, Calif., past Slow Flowers Podcast guest, and I were happy to deliver American grown flowers to decorate the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus hearings. Farmer-florist Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios designed the bouquet.

I participated in the day-long advisory board meeting for Certified American Grown, where I fill the Consumer Advocate seat. And I joined farmers on visits to meet staff in congressional and senate offices, as we shared the message of domestic and local flowers. A highlight for Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm, and me was meeting our own amazing Senator Patty Murray, and thanking her for support she and her staff have given Washington state’s local flower farmers.

During my time in D.C., I also hosted a Slow Flowers Meet-Up at Tabard Inn, a beautiful historic venue in the nation’s capitol. There was a crazy storm that caused some of our members in the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., area to miss the event, but we had about two dozen together for cocktails and conversation — and I was inspired by our conversations and connections made.

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