Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

Today’s LA Times: SoCal entwined in holiday swags with Blossom Alliance’s Lori Eschler Frystak

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

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Digging Deep for Flower Lovers: A cyber book party, complete with gardening giveaways

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Let's Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in "Digging Deep."

Let’s Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in “Digging Deep.”

I’m one of those accidental bloggers who breaks most of the rules when it comes to what supposedly makes a garden blog successful.

For one thing, I write posts that are probably far longer than the experts advise.

Another thing: I am completely oblivious to key words, SEO, tags, metadata, etc. – all those tricks to get Google and other search engines to pay attention.

And finally, I write for my own pleasure rather than to merely sell or persuade. If I like something, I’m usually compelled to share it with the universe; and even if no one comments or clicks through, well, that’s no big deal. It makes me happy and that’s what stimulates me to create a post.

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” Read on to find out how you can enter to win!

So today, I am thrilled that the stars have aligned to accomplish two things at once — to share something that inspires me (and, I hope, you, too!) and to celebrate the publication of Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary Edition Digging Deep, a personally engaging book that gets to the heart, soul and “why” that lures us into a meaningful connection with nature, plants and gardening.

Today’s post is part of a “virtual book party” involving seven veteran garden bloggers, writers far more experienced than I am in the art and science of this craft. I was touched that Fran invited me to be part of the Cyber Book Party, all the more because I am smitten with this book.

I received no compensation or products for participating, although Fran sent me a review copy of Digging Deep (which is now a little used, because I’ve turned down page corners and underlined some of my favorite passages).

In honor of Digging Deep’s Cyber Book Party, Fran has priced the e-book at .99 while the giveaway is live. Yes, you read that correctly: 99-cents!

Here’s a little more about this book:

Observe a peony - this flower is one of Fran's first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

Observe a peony – this flower is one of Fran’s first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

If you’re yearning to get out of the rut you’re in and cultivate more meaning and connection in life, Digging Deep offers the encouragement and tools to make it happen. Overflowing with tips, exercises, and resources, this instructive and inspirational guide is even more vital in today’s technology obsessed culture than when first published 10 years ago.

From Fran, you’ll learn how to bloom right along with your garden and use gardening as a conduit for beginning to experience creativity as a rich and dynamic lifetime journey.

The 7 Stages of Creative Awakening will take you through the steps of removing self-doubt and replacing it with strategies that will help you trust your instincts, let your imagination run wild, take risks, envision and design the garden of your dreams, reclaim your playfulness, and live the life you’re meant to— one filled with joy, well-being, and creativity.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former  Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

And here’s one of the book’s “exercise” assignments that charmed me (I’ll tell you why later).

p. 35-37

“This is probably the most loved exercise we do in my workshops – I call it Playing With Flowers. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market, supermarket, street vendor, or florist. If you can possibly buy locally grown, sustainable flowers, please make the effort to do so [THANKS FRAN!]. Pick out as many different flowers as your budget allows. Just let your eye go to what it likes and add them to your bunch. Ideally, you want at last three different varieties of flowers in a range of colors as well as some greenery and other fillers like berries or branches.

smclippersIMG_3807 When you get home, remove any excess leaves and trim the bottom of the stalks on the diagonal. It’s easiest and most efficient to use a pruner, which you can find moderately priced at any gardening center. Place the flowers in a sink filled with cool water with the bottom of the stems submerged.

Go through your cabinets and take out any kind of vases or containers you have that could hold flowers. Think outside the vase – you can use teakettles, jars, glasses, cachepots, or pitchers. And don’t limit yourself in terms of size – even the smallest tumbler or toothpick holder can look lovely holding the top of one blooming rose.

Now comes the fun part. Put on some music you love, turn off your phone, and just let yourself play with different variations of arrangements. Experiment with a variety of combinations and see what you like and dislike. Notice how colors, shapes, and textures of leaves and flower petals work together. If you start one arrangement and don’t like it, take it apart and start again. There are no rules here – no boundaries, no goals you need to strive toward. I know there are countless books and articles out there about how to create lovely flower arrangements, but that’s not what this is about. You don’t have to be a professional florist here. In fact, striving for any kind of perfection negates the whole point. This is about letting yourself go and playing, trusting your eye, and noticing all the interesting things you come up with.

You may find that the critical voices in your head are quick to sabotage -

“I can’t do this.”

“This is too hard for me. I’m not good at things like this.”

“This is stupid. Why am I bothering?”

This is all the product of the ego, rising up to make sure your spirit stays buried – right where the ego likes it, thank you very much. Notice how much you question and censor yourself. Let your kinder inner voice (it’s in there somewhere!) lead you through and nudge you into letting go and being in the moment. Remember, you don’t have to do this brilliantly. You don’t even need to do it well. You only need to do it for the sake of the childlike soul within.

This exercise has so many benefits. It shows you how to start trusting your instincts, allows you to develop an awareness of color, texture, shape, and form (which you’ll need later on), forces you to slow down and be in the moment, and opens you up to experimenting and exploring – all essential elements in the process of creating and gardening.

When you’re finished with your arrangements, place them in various spots in your home where you’ll see them often. Change the water and trim the bottom of the stems every day to continue your interaction with them and keep them fresh. Living with these flower combinations will give you a taste of their beauty in the micro so you can begin to cultivate your aesthetic appreciation for them in the bigger picture later on.”

Fran’s lovely exercise is one I’ve personally used many, many times. I just didn’t know to call it “Playing With Flowers”! My experience with flowers has been so similar to the one Fran suggests to her readers.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub - and inhaling the fragrance.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub – and inhaling the fragrance.

In the introduction to my book Slow Flowers. I wrote about my year-long, weekly ritual of clipping and gathering stems, arranging them in just-the-right vase, and photographing the finished bouquet:

. . . Slow Flowers reflects life lived in the slower lane. My family, friends and professional colleagues know that it’s almost impossible for me to do anything slowly. I’m the queen of multitasking; I just can’t help myself. There are too many exciting opportunities (or bright, shiny objects) that command my interest. But this “year in flowers” was altogether different. I can only compare it to the practice of praying or meditating. I didn’t realize that those few hours I spent each week, gathering and choosing petals and stems, arranging them in a special vessel, and then figuring out where and how to capture the finished design through my camera lens, would be so personally enriching.

    I used all my senses. Unplugged, away from electronic distractions, I studied the form, line, texture, subtle color and utter uniqueness of each stem. What a gift to slow down and experience the moment. I don’t know much about ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, but I understand that silence and contemplation of nature are part of its practice. I experienced something similar. Slow Flowers forced me to work at a decidedly different pace as I embraced creativity, fearlessly.

    I learned about my own preferences, design style and ability to look at the world of floral ingredients in an unconventional way. I learned that I really am a floral designer. Like me, you don’t have to earn a certificate from the London School of Floral Design to create seasonally-inspired bouquets. You can find local blooms in your or your friend’s garden, or from the fields, meadows and farm stands of local flower growers. Each bouquet tells a story about one moment in time, about Grandmother’s cherished flower vase or the fleeting memory that returns with a whiff of lavender or lilac. That’s one of the intangible gifts of bringing flowers into our lives.

. . . Gardeners are especially qualified in the art of floral design. After all, we have an intimate relationship with our plants, their bloom cycle, their natural form and character – and their seasonality. We also know what colors and textures we like when combined in the landscape. A vase can be a little garden, its contents gathered and arranged to please the eye.

       So give it a try. Design a bouquet. Channel your inner floral designer and begin your own year with slow flowers.

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Playing With Flowers can cost little or nothing to try, especially if you step outdoors and gather seasonal gifts from your own backyard.

Here are some more goodies that might make your day.

Thanks to the support of others fans of  Fran Sorin’s “Digging Deep,” we have several giveaways for you to try and win.

In addition to entering here, you actually have seven chances to win by visiting all the participating bloggers:

1. Dee Nash – www.reddirtramblings.com

2. Helen Yoest- www.gardeningwithconfidence.com

3. Jenny Peterson- www.jpetersongardendesign.com

4. Rebecca Sweet- www.harmonyinthegarden.com

5. Brenda Haas- www.bggarden.com

6. Fran Sorin- www.gardeninggonewild.com

The “Digging Deep” giveaway ends on Monday, December 8th at midnight Eastern Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 9th. Here are the rules:

1. Post a comment here on my blog, sharing an enduring, personal flower memory. For me, that “dig deep” flower memory is the color, soft texture and intense perfume of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, which reminds me so vividly of a Connecticut garden of my childhood. Share yours in the comment section below and you will be entered into the drawing, which takes places next week.

2. By making a comment here on debraprinzing.com, you will be entered into each of two drawings:

Blog_Seed_Giveaway_000_4239.jpg_-_Baker_Creek_Seeds-_Cyber_Giveaway-_19_hand_picked_selections_of_veggies_and_flowers 10818534_10205168719757714_1314615647_n.jpg-_Authentic_Haven_Brand_Soil_Conditioner

Prize #1Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — 19 handpicked varieties of veggies and flowers- valued at over $50. PLUS, a 3-pack selection of Authentic Haven Brand Tea, a premium soil conditioner  that’s safe for all garden, indoor plants and soil types. Makes an excellent foliage spray.

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Prize #2 – Nature Innovations- www.natureinnovations.com — a new product line for indoor and outdoor gardening that provides plants with the most realistic look of nature with out chopping down a tree.

Molded from live trees Nature Innovations planters are made from a high density polyurethane, lightweight, UV resistant, and incredibly durable.  All Nature Innovations planters are individually had painted and are 100% made in the USA. The prize includes four planters/containers  (retail $149).

Thanks for your participation! And no matter what level of a gardener or a floral designer you I challenge you to try “Playing With Flowers” as you Dig Deep into your relationship with the earth.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: ASCFG #1 Getting Florists Onboard with Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 165)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2015 conference theme: "Growing GROWERS"

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2015 conference theme: “Growing GROWERS”

Last week, more than 300 American and Canadian flower farmers and floral designers gathered at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers national conference in Wilmington, Delaware. “Growing GROWERS” was a fabulous event and a privilege to attend.

Slow Flowers (that would be me) attended as a media sponsor. In the coming weeks, you will hear several episodes from expert panels and presentations recorded during the conference. I know you’ll be inspired and informed to hear them — it will be almost as good as having been there!

I want to congratulate the ASCFG conference committee and program co-chairs, Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers and Becky Devlin of Roots Flowers and Designs, who developed an extensive lineup of workshops and speakers – making this the best ASCFG Conference ever! 

Kudos also goes to ASCFG staff Judy Lauschman and Linda Twining, as well as committee members Lynn Rapp of Cultivating Joy and Marsha Swezey of Suburban Blooms for all your efforts to make the event a huge success.

The Gardener's Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler and her family and crew.

The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler (front left) and her family and crew.

Gardeners_Workshop_Logo It was only a few weeks ago that I hosted flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm to talk about her new book Cool Flowers.

But today you’ll have a chance to hear her excellent presentation: “Getting Florists Onboard and Keeping Their Business.” Lisa is nothing but 100 percent forthcoming about how she developed close ties with florists in the Newport News, Virginia, marketplace. Perhaps her story and business insights will prompt you to adopt some of her savvy marketing and sales practices.

Here is the outline for her presentation:

Getting Florist Onboard and Keeping their Business! 

The beautiful bounty, just picked, local and fresh - from The Gardener's Workshop Cut Flower Farm.

The beautiful bounty, just picked, local and fresh – from The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm.

  1. Break the image of farmers gone by! Be professional from the get go.
    1. Consistence pays.
    2. Drop-off generous samples and a business information packet.
    3. Packet contents: your contact information, website, what you plan to grow, how they order, delivery schedule, how they will pay you.
    4. Follow-up, again and again.
    5. Words about social media—keep it all professional.

      Babs, the farm dog, is Lisa's secret weapon on social media.

      Babs, the farm dog, is Lisa’s secret weapon on her farm’s social media pages.

  2. Grow for standing orders.
    1. What is a standing order?
    2. Build trust with consistence high quality supplies of staple flowers.
    3. Make your flowers their staple flowers, example: zinnias in place of gerberas for summer.
    4. Sunflowers each week will not only float a bouquet business but your florist will love them.
    5. Then one day it will happen—you realize that your flowers are filling their daily orders.

      When florists see and smell these tuberoses -- they want a standing order during harvest time.

      When florists see and smell these tuberoses — they want a standing order during harvest time.

  3. Sell on the phone once customers established.
    1. Email / fax list and follow-up with a call
    2. This allows the customer to see exactly what you have, how many bunches and the price.
    3. Early morning contact works well for busy shops.
    4. I send lists one at a time: first customer sees all, then after their order, I update list, and send to next customer until all sold—about 2 hours of phone work.
    5. This allows us to pack the truck in the order of deliveries for speedier deliveries.
    6. Swap plastic flower boxes for the easiest deliveries. Pick up empty boxes on each deliver for the next week. This also allows us to wash their grimy boxes and fill with conditioned water (#2 holding tea bags.)
      Gorgeous rudbeckia = sales at the flower shop.

      Gorgeous rudbeckia = sales at the flower shop.

      Quantity and Quality is expressed in these snapdragons!

      Quantity and Quality is expressed in these snapdragons!

  4. Getting paid
    1. In your initial drop-off business information you should make it clear about payment.
    2. C.O.D. always for the first year.
    3. Then consider 30 day terms if they ask for those customers buying weekly with increasing orders.
    4. Attend to late payments immediately—its business not personal—don’t avoid it.
    5. If you take credit cards remember you are paying a fee—some folks have a cc handling fee which is complete fair.
      Stocked for deliveries.

      Stocked for weekly deliveries.

      The Gardener's Workshop Supermarket Bunches.

      The Gardener’s Workshop Supermarket Bunches.

      Premium flowers: Hellebores that florists gobble up!

      Premium flowers: Hellebores that florists gobble up!

  5. Grow your business
    1. Invite your commercial customers over once a year in season. Have a little food and listen. I normally learn about some flower or shrub or a stage of growth of something here on the farm that I have undervalued. You will learn something and they will appreciate you!
    2. Other customers: cruise lines, resorts, government agencies, event planners, garden share program, subscription drop-offs. Think outside the box.

HERE’S THE AWESOME VIDEO LISA REFERS TO: The Bed Layer attachment 

I hope you gained as much value from Lisa’s incredibly detailed presentation as I did. And be sure to follow her adventures by liking  the Cool Flowers Facebook page.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast nearly 25,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

All photos provided, courtesy (c) The Gardener’s Workshop/Lisa Mason Ziegler

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Nature as inspiration for your floral designs with Nancy Ross Hugo (Episode 164)

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Paperwhite foliage (left) and a fatsia leaf (right) provide a study in contrasts. Design and photo by Nancy Ross Hugo.

Paperwhite foliage (left) and a fatsia leaf (right) provide a study in contrasts. Design and photo by Nancy Ross Hugo.

Before I introduce you to today’s guest, I wanted to reach into the letter bag and share some of the notes that arrived this week.

Emily Watson, a farmer-florist who owns Stems Cut Flowers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a member of Slowflowers.com, writes:

“I have been listening to your podcasts and after every single one I think I should write you a thank you but neither of us has time for that! So here it is one big thank you for all of them. Some weeks I hear pieces of my own story, some weeks inspiration for where I want to go, some weeks I just feel grateful that there are people like you and Kasey Cronquist and the Field to Vase  project making good things happen. At the ASCFG conference that I went to in DC a a few years ago I remember an ice breaker session where you were supposed to tell the people at your table where you though your business would be next year. And at that time I was not even sure that my business was going to be around the following year. I was tired, emotionally, financially, and physically exhausted. After four long growing seasons I started to feel like maybe I should just cut my losses and return to the “normal” workforce. But then I saw things starting to happen on the bigger scale, people bringing awareness to the issues that mattered to me and my business, people connecting the dots for all the small businesses like mine.”

Since then my business has evolved a bit and I am on the verge of another transformation. One that I feel like I will have support for and a community which I can draw on for ideas and information. And you have been a big part of making this happen so thank you very much.”

And here’s one from Tobey Nelson, a floral, wedding & event designer who owns Vases Wild in Langley, Washington, on beautiful Whidbey Island – a wedding destination:

“I have been listening to your podcasts in an OCD fashion lately – love them!  And I really appreciate all the work you are doing for Slow Flowers and (the) American grown (movement). So great. Do you know that just this year we have had three professional flower growers sprout up on Whidbey Island? It makes me happy!”

Thank YOU, Tobey and Emily ~ your encouragement for this endeavor means a lot. It’s easier to promote American grown flowers when I have such talented farmers and florists as my partners!

ST LYNN'S WINDOWSILL ART CVR Anyone listening today knows that flowers can be a huge source of comfort, encouragement, celebration and serenity – depending on the time and place and occasion.

Today’s guest, Nancy Ross Hugo, brings the macro world of nature, landscape, the garden or the flower farm down to the micro world of the windowsill. And in doing so, she offers us a simple ritual, a moment, a meditation on the botanical beauty around us

The author of a new book called “Windowsill Art: Create One-of-a-kind Natural Arrangements to Celebrate the Season,” Nancy writes about gardening, trees, and floral design from her home in Ashland, Virginia and her family’s small farm in Howardsville, Virginia.

Her love of trees has led her to tree habitats all over the world, but her real passion is celebrating the common wildflowers, weeds, trees, and everyday plants that are often overlooked in ordinary backyards.

Naturalist, designer, artist, educator and author Nancy Hugo Ross. Photo (c) Robert Llewellyn

Naturalist, designer, artist, educator and author Nancy Hugo Ross. Photo (c) Robert Llewellyn

Nancy loves reading old natural history books, writing new ones, and exploring the creative process through flower arranging and nature journaling.

Through nature journaling and blogging about the “windowsill arrangements” she creates every day, she says she keeps her creative muscles exercised, her thoughts straight, and her eyes open to all things wild and wonderful.

Nancy has authored five books and hundreds of articles about nature and the outdoors, She is the former garden columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and education manager at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She travels the country speaking on the two topics closest to her heart: observing trees carefully and celebrating the seasons through daily, simple flower arranging.

Rustic boxes filled with an immature sunflower head (left) and stacked marigold blossoms (right). Nancy writes: "Marigolds will last longer than you think out of water."

Rustic boxes filled with an immature sunflower head (left) and stacked marigold blossoms (right). Nancy writes: “Marigolds will last longer than you think out of water.”

I met Nancy through St. Lynn’s Press, our shared publisher. It seems that at the same time I was working on Slow Flowers – a book about creating a local and seasonal floral arrangement every week of the year with only what I cut from my own garden or sourced from local flower farmers, Nancy was working on Windowsill Art, engaging in a similar method of marking the seasons in nature with floral arranging.

Violas in stone cube with "gumball."

Violas in stone cube with “gumball.”

The difference is that of simplicity and spontaneity. Nancy’s practice is so “of the moment” and I greatly admire her artistry and approach. You might think a windowsill would constrain the creativity – but that’s anything but the case.

A beet displayed beside a jug of coleus. "I realized I could turn (the beet) upside down and support it on its leaf stems . . . showcasing the part of the beet I like best - its tapering root."

A beet displayed beside a jug of coleus. “I realized I could turn (the beet) upside down and support it on its leaf stems . . . showcasing the part of the beet I like best – its tapering root.”

In May 2011, Nancy began a blog on which she posted a photo of a small flower arrangement (or just a conglomeration of natural materials) every day. Assembled on the windowsill, these simple displays celebrate the seasons and chronicle Nancy’s love affair with local wildflowers, weeds, and garden flowers as well as her discovery of new and exciting ways to display them. They also demonstrate why practicing this easy art form is so valuable as a form of nature journaling and rewarding as a personal creative practice. You can see more than 800 arrangements at windowsillarranging.blogspot.com.

Sweet William, wild mustard, and Chinese temple bell (Moricandia avensis) flowers.

Sweet William, wild mustard, and Chinese temple bell (Moricandia avensis) flowers — in Nancy’s favorite bud vases.

As Nancy points out, almost everyone does it – puts a little something on the windowsill to watch it ripen, root, or just sit there looking pretty. To this gifted woman, the windowsill can serve as a stage for more intentional arranging – a personal, freewheeling kind of art. A catalyst for creativity.

The compound leaves of nandina emerge copper-colored in spring and are arranged here in a row of test tubes.

The compound leaves of nandina emerge copper-colored in spring and are arranged here in a row of test tubes.

She writes, “for me, windowsill arranging is almost a spiritual practice. Where I am looking for materials to display and placing them . . . I feel more like a poet placing words in a haiku than a floral designer placing stems in a vase. I love the limited space, the double connection to the outdoors (through the window and my materials), and the structure that repeating the same activity over and over provides.”

Gifts from the kitchen and herb garden compose a lovely still-life on Nancy's windowsill.

Gifts from the kitchen and herb garden compose a lovely still-life on Nancy’s windowsill.

As we enter the more dormant period of the year in our gardens and on our farms, I challenge you to pick up Nancy’s approach to observing nature’s gifts and seeing each pod, branch, stem or vine (or fruits and vegetables) as an artistic element. It may be a gift to give yourself this season.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation. Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 23,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

Note: Many of the supplies Nancy uses can be ordered from The Arranger’s Market: vases, clippers, bottle brushes, and other floral design equipment.

All photos in this post copyrighted to Nancy Ross Hugo, used by permission of St. Lynn’s Press.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Kelly Norris on the must-have bearded iris for flower farmers and floral designers (Episode 162)

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
'Jack's Pick' - a miniature tall bearded iris with gorgeous tawny petals.

‘Jack’s Pick’ – a miniature tall bearded iris with gorgeous tawny petals.

It’s not unusual to find a clump of purple-flowering bearded irises in the beds and borders surrounding many older American homes. For decades they’ve been forgotten or dismissed as a “grandmother’s garden flower,” but bearded irises are enjoying a renaissance of sorts.

Kelly Norris, plantsman, writer, horticultural visionary and iris expert.

Kelly Norris, plantsman, writer, horticultural visionary and iris expert.

It’s thanks in part to the activities of today’s guest, Kelly Norris, a 20-something horticultural rock star whose obsession with bearded irises dates back to his 12-yr-old curiosity.

The breeding and hybridizing efforts of Kelly and others has greatly broadened the palette of these unique flowers which bear a set of upright petals (called the ‘standard’) offset by an equal number of downward cascading petals (described as the ‘fall’).

According to Kelly, late summer to early fall is the best time to plant bearded iris rhizomes- so that means you have a few more weeks to add some of these beauties to your cutting garden. And if you’ve never before considered growing or designing with bearded iris, I promise that my interview with Kelly will inspire you to do so!

Kelly D. Norris is the award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the first horticulture manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized 14-acre public garden in Des Moines, Iowa.

Want to know more about bearded irises? Check out Kelly's award-winning book.

Want to know more about bearded irises? Check out Kelly’s award-winning book.

He’s popularly known for his book A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts from Timber Press, which won the 2013 American Horticultural Society Book Award. He’s at work on his next project tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants.

As a speaker, Kelly has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture.

Kelly’s unique 10 years of experience in the industry began at age 15 when he talked his parents into buying a nursery (Rainbow Iris Farm), and in that time he’s become one of the few gurus on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.

At the Botanical Garden, Kelly directs and manages a team of horticultural professionals in all aspects of design, curation, programming, and garden maintenance and has a principal leadership role in the $12 million renovation and expansion currently underway.  He is also the editorial director for the organization’s award-winning member magazine Bloom, leads several programming initiatives aimed at fulfilling the Garden’s mission of “exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants,” and is the artistic director of the newly minted Spring Garden Festival which had its debut in May 2014.

Kelly Norris

Kelly Norris

Kelly is the youngest person to receive the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award in the organization’s 150 year history, awards that exemplify service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa.

In 2011, he was also honored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Young Professional Award, recognizing early contributions to the advancement of herbaceous perennials in American horticulture.

In 2013, he won the Iowa Author Award for Special Interest Writing, the youngest Iowan to be recognized in the history of the awards program.

I caught up with Kelly at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Pittsburgh several weeks ago.

'Red Rock Princess' - another favorite Miniature Tall Bearded Iris.

‘Red Rock Princess’ – another favorite Miniature Tall Bearded Iris.

'Hot News" - love this color bloom!

‘Hot News” – love this color bloom!

Our topic: miniature tall bearded irises. That sounds like an oxymoron, but in the interview we’ll learn why Kelly believes this iris classification is ideal for cut flower farms to grow and floral designers to request.

According to the American Iris Society, the MTB classification, as this type is called, is also known as ‘table iris’ or ‘bouquet iris,’ terms that give you a clue about their suitability for floral design. With bloom stalks measuring 16 inches to 27.5 inches, the flower is far daintier and has a more slender bloom than the more prevalent tall bearded iris flower.

Love this one: 'Apricot Drops'

Love this one: ‘Apricot Drops’

'Rayos Adentro', a sultry MTB iris.

‘Rayos Adentro’, a sultry MTB iris.

Garden writer Ken Druse wrote this of Kelly in an article for Organic Gardening Magazine:

“People tend to say yes to Norris due to his confidence, positive attitude, and infectious enthusiasm . . . he is a modern-day Andy Hardy, rallying friends and admirers to get excited about his latest enterprise . . . .”

'Cedar Waxwing'

‘Cedar Waxwing’

I couldn’t agree more. I hope you’ve been inspired to check out the beautiful options of Miniature tall bearded irises, including some gorgeous ones you can find at Rainbow Iris Farm, the Norris family’s mail order company.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 22,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

Fall Dahlia Season

Sunday, September 28th, 2014
The vivid "hot" bouquet that I brought home with me today - $10 by JoAnn Mahaffey, who works for Dan's Dahlias booth.

The vivid “hot” bouquet that I brought home with me today – $10 by JoAnn Mahaffey, who works for Dan’s Dahlias booth.

Dan Pearson of Dan's Dahlias, with his 8-yr-old daughter Alyssa.

Dan Pearson of Dan’s Dahlias, with his 8-yr-old daughter Alyssa.

This morning, bright and early, we drove to the Olympia Farmers’ Market to shop for dahlias.

Yes, there are dahlias available closer to me in Seattle, but I wanted to see what dahlia farmer Dan Pearson was up to at this market. You see, he is nearly 41 years old and he has been growing and selling dahlias at this market for 31 years.

YES, you read that correctly. Dan’s Dahlias is a long-established cut flower farms that so many others emulate. The Olympian newspaper recently called him the “Dahli Lama of cut flower growers” in this story.

In the winter and spring, Dan runs his very successful online Dahlia Tuber store (and PS, I find his web to be user-friendly with easy searches by petal color, flower size, and may other variables).

In the summer and fall, he sells cut dahlias to loyal customers at the Olympia Farmers’ Market and to the floral community through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

I’ve known Dan personally for the past three years, but anyone who shops at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show or the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show has been drawn into the colorful and highly organized Dan’s Dahlia booth – where you see gorgeous photos of hundreds of dahlia varieties, each one aligned with pre-bagged tubers to take home and grow yourself.

Add in a few zinnias and you have an incredibly eye-pleasing floral palette.

Add in a few zinnias and you have an incredibly eye-pleasing floral palette.

Just wanted to share these luscious photos as they represent just a small portion of the incredible variety of forms and colors available from Dan. And here’s a story I wrote about Dan for Pacific Horticulture magazine – from 2012:

Dan Pearson, dahlia expert, flower farmer, tuber marketer. Plus, he designs a pretty sweet bouquet!

Dan Pearson, dahlia expert, flower farmer, tuber marketer. Plus, he designs a pretty sweet bouquet!

BLOOM TIME FOR A CUT FLOWER FARMER
Growing dahlias began as a childhood hobby and evolved into one man’s livelihood 

You might say Dan Pearson is a poster child for the young farmers’ movement. Except that he started earlier than most of his contemporaries, growing and selling one-dollar bunches of dazzling red, pink, orange, and purple dahlias to customers who drove past the family dairy farm in Oakville, Washington, when he was just ten.

Sales of the alluring flower eventually put Dan through college and set the course of his career. 

Why are we wooed by dahlias? Perhaps it’s their amazing diversity in color, form, petal shape and size, Dan speculates, a grin spreading across his face. “They vary in size from less than two inches to ten inches. People are drawn to those dinner-plate-sized flowers for the wow factor, but soon they realize that the smaller to medium-sized flowers are useful for bouquets.”

As a boy, Dan demonstrated his affection for the flowers that his father, Clarence Pearson, planted along the edge of the vegetable garden by memorizing the names of more than 30 varieties. In 1984, when he was 11, Dan’s folks helped him open a flower stall at the Olympia Farmers Market. “My mother, Colleen, hand-painted a sign that simply read Dan’s Dahlias,” he recalls.

JoAnn Mahaffey designs flowers in Dan's Dahlias stall at the Olympia Farmers' Market.

JoAnn Mahaffey designs flowers in Dan’s Dahlias stall at the Olympia Farmers’ Market.

Today, if he’s not harvesting flowers from more than 600 varieties of luscious dahlias, you can still find Dan at the Olympia Farmers Market, Thursday through Sunday. His bunches of dahlias mixed with summer annuals go for the bargain price of $9, satisfying an endless stream of regulars and market visitors. Dan likes this market’s philosophy, which mandates that all farm products must be locally grown within a five-county area. Operating year-round, it is the state’s second-largest after Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market.

Dan Pearson' Washington-grown dahlias on display at the Seattle Wholesale Growers' Market -- from farmer to florist.

Dan Pearson’ Washington-grown dahlias on display at the Seattle Wholesale Growers’ Market — from farmer to florist.

A lot has been written about young farmers and the growth of America’s small family farm. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently began documenting this demographic, in recognition of the increasing ranks of young women and men who are leaving cities for a rural life on the land. Earlier this year, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced a nationwide drive to recruit up to 100,000 new farmers with resources including a “Start2Farm” web site, as well as farm loans and grant programs.

Dan is atypical, however, in that he’s not an urban escapee, but a fourth-generation farmer. He was raised by educators who also ran an 80-acre dairy farm in Washington’s Grays Harbor County, southwest of Olympia.

version1

This lovely mix of gold, orange and red dahlias was a gift from Dan when I was working on “Slow Flowers,” the book. I added fountain grass, crocosmia and millet to the bouquet.

Todays Dahlias

The season for dahlias is almost over, but these vivid selections are a reminder of how much we LOVE this amazing flower.

“My great-grandfather and grandfather were both loggers and dairy farmers,” Dan says. “My father was a dairy farmer and a teacher. My children are the first in our family not raised on a dairy farm. I have fond memories of the experience of growing up on a dairy farm but eventually the transition to a different livelihood had to be made. I have no regrets about transitioning my family to raising dahlia flowers and bulbs. This area is where I chose to raise my family, and I hope if there are the economic means, my children can do the same.”

Encouraged to attend college, Dan earned a landscape architecture degree from Washington State University. Then he spent seven years on the staff of a large architecture-engineering firm in Olympia.

“But I like to grow things,” Dan explains, shoving his hands in his jean pockets and gazing out across four acres of land where in late July (thanks to a wet, cold spring), the first dahlia buds were only starting to open—a few weeks behind schedule. “Even when I was working as a landscape architect, I was growing dahlias on my evenings and weekends–getting my hands in the dirt.”

In 2002, Dan’s dahlia business was so demanding he quit his landscape architecture practice. The timing coincided with marrying his wife Mieke (“a woman from the city who’s moderated my workaholism,” he contends). It also took place as the Internet began to explode, allowing www.dansdahlias.com, Dan’s nascent web site, to reach a world of customers: gardeners, flower farmers, hobby growers, and members of the American Dahlia Society. Tubers represent 85 percent of his annual sales, while seasonal cut flower sales make up the balance.

With their two young children, Dan and Mieke live one mile from their growing fields. His farming practices are partly old-fashioned and partly modern. For example, Dan does nearly everything by hand with the help of a small, seasonal farm crew. He solves problems the way farmers have done for centuries, using a cash-free barter system when possible. Dan has expanded his dahlia plantings on two acres of his neighbor’s land in exchange for allowing the neighbor to harvest hay from his acreage that’s not suitable for dahlia crops.

When his flower production began to outpace farmers’ market capacity, Dan made a timely choice to join a collective of like-minded specialty cut flower growers in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska in 2011. More than a dozen growers formed the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a year-round, farmer-to-florist wholesale market in Seattle’s hip Georgetown neighborhood. There, in a turn-of-the-century brick warehouse near artist studios, bistros, and vintage furniture stores, the region’s healthiest, just-picked blooms bypass middlemen and are eagerly snatched up by florists, event and wedding planners, restaurants, supermarket floral buyers, and other design-savvy customers who value fresh, local, and sustainably grown flowers.

“The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market came along at the perfect time because it allows me an additional sales outlet,” Dan says. “I just acquired five more acres I’ll plant for Growers Market buyers.”

I can't get enough of this gorgeous flower!

I can’t get enough of this gorgeous flower!

Plant details: Dahlia (Dahlia species and cultivars)
History: The dahlia originated in highland areas of Mexico and Central America. According to experts, centuries after cuttings were brought by plant explorers to Spain, the parentage of tens of thousands of today’s hybrids can be traced to those original plants. The dahlia is a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). Dahlia tubers, potato-like clumps with an “eye” at one end, are actually modified stems that store nutrients and water underground while producing show-stopping blooms on tall, leafy stems.
Best features: Picture-perfect, symmetrical flowers feature subtle to intense colors in a wide array of forms. Flowers are formed by many petal-like “ray florets” arranged around a center of “disk florets.”
Hardiness: Zones 9-11 “Dahlias can be grown in all fifty states,” Dan says. Dan’s Dahlias ships tubers throughout the United States, as well as to customers in several overseas markets.
Conditions: Full sun, humus-rich, well-drained soil
Bloom time: Late summer to early fall; Dahlias are cut-and-come-again flowers that respond well to frequent harvesting.

Art as Inspiration for Floral Design

Saturday, September 20th, 2014
'Dianthus', by Jean Bradbury.

‘Dianthus’, by Jean Bradbury.

I think all artists and designers love to experiment with new media because it challenges us to think more creatively and with inventiveness.

'Zinnias', by Jean Bradbury

‘Zinnias’, by Jean Bradbury

And that’s what makes me so excited about the upcoming class I’ll be teaching on Saturday, October 4th (1-3 p.m.). “From Art to Vase” is a hands-on floral workshop that takes inspiration from the Inflorescence exhibition at Kirkland Art Center, just across Lake Washington, east of Seattle.

Inflorescence_IMG_1362

Friday night's opening of INFLORESCENCE at Kirkland Arts Center.

Friday night’s opening of INFLORESCENCE at Kirkland Arts Center.

Inflorescence is a terrific new show that opened on September 19th at KAC, curated by Seattle artist Susan Melrath.You can see the show now through November 25th. Click here for gallery hours and address and please note that KAC is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Three of Susan Melrath's pieces, arranged in a verdant triptych.

Three of Susan Melrath’s pieces, arranged in a verdant triptych.

'Green Theory', by Susan Melrath.

‘Green Theory’, by Susan Melrath.

An incredibly gifted artist (and the daughter of a florist) who loves to play with color, texture and scale, Susan dreamed up this show and invited six other Northwest artists to exhibit their works in response to the show’s title. Inflorescence features the work of Jean Bradbury, Lisa Conway, Patty Haller, Stephanie Hargrave, Fred Lisaius and Liz Tran, in addition to Susan Melrath.

So what is “Inflorescence”?

Liz Tran's exuberant still-life's of flowers in their vase.

Liz Tran’s exuberant still-life’s of flowers in their vase.

Think back to your high school botany or college hort science class. Many of you know of the term as it describes a blooming part of a plant. For the purposes of the KAC show Susan uses this definition: “A group or cluster of flowers growing from a common stem in a characteristic arrangement.”

A lovely piece by landscape artist Patty Haller.

A lovely piece by landscape artist Patty Haller.

I love the idea that each work of art in this beautifully curated show is a part of the whole, just like the cluster of flowers that may emerge from a single stem.

Patty Haller's painting  'Whidbey Yarrow' (left); Fred Lisaius painting 'Mossy Log' (right).

Patty Haller’s painting
‘Whidbey Yarrow’ (left); Fred Lisaius painting ‘Mossy Log’ (right).

Each artist is collectively of like mind while also incredibly individual. They use what is seen and experienced through nature as well as the botanical beauty of plants (real or imagined) to express themselves creatively.

When I say the show is beautifully curated, I’m referring to the harmonious way Susan has grouped and hung or placed pieces throughout KAC’s gallery. The works speak to one another with a pleasing rhythm — through various palettes, forms and canvas sizes. Please consider a day trip to Kirkland to observe and admire these works.

Lisa Conway ceramic piece (left) Stephanie Hargrave paintings (right).

Lisa Conway ceramic piece (left) Stephanie Hargrave encaustics (right).

So where do I come in? More than a year ago, Susan sent me a note asking if I would be willing to teach a floral arranging workshop in conjunction with the show she was pulling together.

Inflorescence Postcard Front 1 When I said “sure,” she wrote back:  

I spoke with the Exhibitions Coordinator today and she loved the idea of an education component that wasn’t just another painting class. Floral arranging will bring a new crowd into the arts center. 

And here I have to take a little commercial break for the way social media can bring people together. I met Susan briefly in 2012 when my friend Lorene Edwards Forkner brought me with her to see a prior exhibit featuring Susan’s paintings (and I’m not even sure I know how the two of them originally connected).

We had a brief conversation with the artist, exchanged cards and then began to follow each other on Facebook. I loved seeing Susan’s work via her period newsletters and I suspect she was the recipient of my newsletters. Funny how that works. And I’m so thrilled to be a small part of this amazing show that she dreamed up in her fabulous imagination.

Now it is a reality. I hope you can see how perfect these pieces are for a starting point to create arrangements that express one’s response to the pigments, inks, glazes and washes of color.

More gorgeous forms by ceramic artist Lisa Conway.

More gorgeous forms by ceramic artist Lisa Conway.

There’s still room in the workshop. I’m going to provide all the flowers and instruction. All you have to do is bring a vase, clippers, and an open mind.

Each participant will select a specific work of art as a starting point for their creative arranging. You’ll find just the right piece to inform your floral palette, structure/scale and proportion/form. It’s Art for the Vase!

Cost: $50 Pre-registration required here.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Growing Hardy Annuals with “Cool Flowers” author & flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 159)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Lisa Mason Ziegler's new book "Cool Flowers," introduces the concept of planting hardier annuals in the fall - for super-early spring harvest!

Lisa Mason Ziegler’s new book “Cool Flowers,” introduces the concept of planting hardier annuals in the fall – for super-early spring harvest!

I’m so pleased to share today’s conversation with you, recorded in August at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Pittsburgh.

Lisa is a American cut flower farmer, a writer, speaker and garden entrepreneur.

Lisa is a American cut flower farmer, a writer, speaker and garden entrepreneur.

My guest is Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop.

Lisa’s organic flower farm is located in the midst of Newport News, in southeastern Virginia, on a little less than 3 acres. What began as a small cut flower farm in 1998 has grown into a vibrant operation:  The Gardener’s Workshop produces over 10,000 stems a week in season (mid-April to mid-November) and sells to upscale florists, to nearby Colonial Williamsburg, to area supermarkets and direct-to-consumers with a Garden Share program.

Lisa spends her time out of harvest season teaching others about organic gardening and growing cut flowers through lecturing and writing. Her lectures have reached from Texas to New York City—far beyond any dream she ever imagined.  In 2005, Lisa added a shop to her business, offering the tools, supplies and seeds that she uses in her own garden and cut flower farm.

This little book is packed with great tips for the gardener who wishes to have a productive patch for cutting flowers.

This little book is packed with great tips for the gardener who wishes to have a productive patch for cutting flowers.

I first learned of Lisa when I stumbled upon her self-published book, “The Easy Cut-Flower Garden,” a handy 92-page guide to growing a season of fresh-cut flowers from a 3-by-10-foot garden that Lisa wrote and produced in 2011.

I ordered the book and often refer to it, especially when I’m fantasizing about tearing up some of my lawn and add more cutting garden real estate to our yard.

Not too long ago, Lisa’s name popped up again, when my publisher Paul Kelly, owner of St. Lynn’s Press, told me that she was writing a new book for their list.

That’s one reason we were able to connect in Pittsburgh, our publisher’s home base. Lisa’s new book, Cool Flowers,  is all about how to grow and enjoy hardy annuals. In it, she shares her 16-years of growing experiences and the sheer joy of this group of flowers that are often left out of gardens.

Cool Flowers is all about how and when to plant hardy annuals so that spring in the garden will be nothing short of sensational.

A field-to-market bouquet from The Gardener's Workshop.

A field-to-market bouquet from The Gardener’s Workshop.

Once their needs are met, this diverse yet easy group of flowers will change spring in the home garden forever.  The most important thing is to allow them to get established during cool weather. Plant them in the right spot at the right time, nestle their roots deep into rich organic soil, and stand back.  When happy, these hardy annuals need little intervention, other than having someone gaze on their beauty, or perhaps to cut a few for the kitchen table. Some of Lisa’s favorites include snapdragons, Bells of Ireland, sweet peas and sweet William.

Every flower gardener needs this book! Lisa Ziegler’s Cool Flowers brings to flower gardening a brand new point of view that introduced me to all sorts of possibilities for my floral palette – as a gardener and floral designer. Her valuable tips for success with hardy annuals will extend your garden’s blooming season, no matter where you live. If you want to make the most of all seasons in your garden, Cool Flowers is a must-have.

Serious production!! Lisa says her farm produces 10,000 flower stems a week!

Serious production!! Lisa and her crew harvest 10,000 flower stems a week!

Thanks to support from listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 20,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: American-grown meets Australian-grown (Jennie Love & Lindsey Myra) – plus a bonus interview with Holly Heider Chapple (Episode 158)

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Welcome to Love 'N Fresh Flowers

Welcome to Love ‘N Fresh Flowers

35_photo_343 Last month I spent 24 glorious hours at Philadelphia-based Love ‘N Fresh Flower Farm, owned by Jennie Love.

I’ve known Jennie for a few years, in fact, she was a previous guest of this podcast.

But the occasion was my first-ever visit to her beautiful farm, to work with the very talented Rob Cardillo to photograph a feature story about Jennie, her urban flower farm and her design work in a 2015 issue of Country Gardens magazine.

Jennie Love (left) hosted a wonderful field-to-table dinner for so many wonderful friends. I'm next to Jennie, followed by Lindsey Myra and Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers in Baltimore.

Jennie Love (left) hosted a wonderful field-to-table dinner for so many wonderful friends. I’m next to Jennie, followed by Lindsey Myra and Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers in Baltimore.

Lindsey_logo When we were planning the shoot, Jennie mentioned that Lindsey Myra, a flower farmer from Australia, would be spending a month at Love ‘N Fresh on a “fellowship” — and she asked whether I’d like to record a conversation with them? Umm . . .  YES – that wasn’t a hard decision to make!

Before I introduce you to Jennie and Lindsey, though, here’s a bonus update about a recent conversation I had with Holly Heider Chapple.

Holly and I met early in 2014 and since then we have had an ongoing conversation about the American Grown flower movement and how the members of Chapel Designers, her group of wedding and event florists, can get more involved in the Slow Flowers project.

As it turns out, several Chapel Designers are members of Slowflowers.com, and we just added Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, Holly and her husband Evan’s design studio, to the site.

After discussing the All-American concepts with Holly, I began to understand that some designers feel I’ve made it a black-and-white issue. Either you use 100% percent seasonal or local flowers, or you use 100% imports. However, the reality for many is somewhere between.

Holly's Instagram bouquet that started the conversation!

Holly’s Instagram bouquet that started the conversation!

The impetus behind today’s conversation began last week when Holly posted a beautiful arrangement on her instagram feed and I made a comment saying: Holly, those look American Grown. She responded that it was mostly all domestic flowers, but she didn’t want to make the #americangrown claim just in case one or two stems were not.

I love what Holly wrote in one of our text exchanges:

“If we add the percentage of how much is American grown, I think it will really get people – designers and brides – thinking and causing us all to learn. I like this (idea) because it pushes us to think about it and (to) really understand where things are coming from. It would also allow us to post designs that are barely American grown – and people will see how the looks vary, depending on how much local product there is. I also think it will be very interesting to have a documented board of images that show the differences of the designs between those that are heavily American grown flowers and those that are sourced from other countries.”

So if you follow this percentage concept, post photos of your designs and use this hashtag: #americangrown50% or #americangrown100%. Please remember to add #slowflowers and #fieldtovase and other relevant hashtags, too!

Over time, I bet this approach will engage even more floral designers in thinking about the origins of the stems they use. I love where Holly is going with this. The natural beauty and inherent character of domestic flowers will go far to demonstrate the value of staying close to home when you source. That’s exactly what Slowflowers.com is all about.

Holly on Instagram

Holly on Twitter

Holly on Facebook

NEXT, our MAIN FEATURE: A lovely story of how Jennie and Lindsey met through social media and how they cooked up an international flower farmer exchange.

Lindsey (left) and Rob Cardillo (right), hauling chairs that we planned to use in a vignette of flowers.

Lindsey (left) and Rob Cardillo (right), hauling chairs that we planned to use in a vignette of flowers.

Since it was winter at Lindsey’s flower farm in Australia, the chance to spend the month of August on a U.S. flower farm was enticing. Similarly, in the future, perhaps even this coming winter, Jennie hopes to visit Lindsey during her peak season – when Philadelphia flower fields are under snow.

These nontraditional ways of doing business fascinate me to no end. I love the way creative flower farmers and florists are circumnavigating conventional methods of commerce and proving that one plus one equals way more than two.

Meet Lindsey Myra, a Slow Flowers #farmerflorist from Australia.

Meet Lindsey Myra, a Slow Flowers #farmerflorist from Australia. (photo courtesy LindseyMyra.com)

Let me tell you briefly about Lindsey Myra. She is an artist, a florist, a writer and a flower grower. She writes on her web site: ” I am stumbling upon wonder every day. Enchantment and fascination in the natural world infuses my work and stimulates my enthusiasm for botanical culture.”

In 2012, motivated by a desire to provide a positive alternative in the cut flower industry, Lindsey started The Little Flower Farm, her own small-scale, organic flower farm, planting flowers on a borrowed backyard in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

A Lindsey Myra arrangement (LindseyMyra.com)

A Lindsey Myra arrangement (LindseyMyra.com)

The Little Flower Farm is the first of its kind in Victoria. According to Lindsey, the farm is motivated by three key ambitions: to offer a more environmentally sustainable product, to encourage others to embrace the living world within their own lives and lastly, a personal desire to create beauty and lots of it! The Little Flower Farm produces organic, true to type, heirloom blooms. Founded on the principles of permaculture and rooted in a true passion for flora,  she provides a positive and sustainable approach to cut flowers.

Lindsey at The Little Flower Farm (LindseyMyra.com)

Lindsey at The Little Flower Farm (LindseyMyra.com)

2014 has seen The Little Flower Farm move to a larger, rural plot in the Macedon Ranges, an hour north of the city. Last season Lindsey’s flowers were consistently retailed by Cecilia Fox and North St Botanical, floral studios in Melbourne. This year she plans to also offer a Community Share Agriculture (CSA) subscription to deliver  seasonal, farm fresh, organic flowers direct to floral customers. All flowers are grown out in the open air and as such are truly seasonal, September to June.

Jennie Love of Love 'N Fresh Flowers

Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers

Jennie Love had her first flower patch at age four in her mother’s huge kitchen garden on a 5th generation family farm in central Pennsylvania — growing straw flowers and nasturtiums. She writes: “My soul has ever since been connected to the shifting of the seasons and the nurturing of unfurling petals and leaves.”

Ironically, Jennie says she needed to run away to the big city to realize just how much farming meant to her. She couldn’t resist the pull of the land.

On Location at Love 'N Fresh Flowers - here, my colleague Rob Cardillo as he captures Jennie's portrait in the flower fields.

On Location at Love ‘N Fresh Flowers – here, my colleague Rob Cardillo as he captures Jennie’s portrait in the flower fields.

By the time Jennie could no longer deny her need to nurture nature, she had already put down serious roots in Philadelphia. And so, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers was born as one of the first and few urban flower farms located within a big city’s limits. Urban flower farming has proven to be just about the best thing she could have ever dreamed up. Jennie finds it even more gratifying to be the stewardess of two acres of dwindling urban green space than it would be to own a vast expanse in a more rural locale. It means the world to her to be able to create and sustain a healthy ecosystem within this concrete jungle.

A beautiful Love 'N Fresh team member models her equally beautiful flower crown, fashioned by Jennie Love during our podcast interview.

A beautiful Love ‘N Fresh team member models her equally beautiful flower crown, fashioned by Jennie Love during our podcast interview.

The flowers that Jennie grows inspire every single element of her little flower business. She says: “It’s an amazing gift to be able to walk the fields, cut what is at the peak of perfection, and take it into the design studio to create a piece of living art. Somehow that never gets old for me, even after thousands of bouquets. While flower farming and event design is exhausting, all-consuming work, I never ever tire of the flowers and their charms.”

Jennie is a leader in the American Grown floral community, much sought out for her flower farming knowledge and her exquisitely natural design aesthetic.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Jennie to discuss the upcoming ASCFG national conference, which takes place October 19-22, 2014 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Jennie is a co-chair of the conference, with the theme “Growing Growers.” Slow Flowers is a media sponsor of this conference and I’m very much looking forward to joining Jennie and so many other flower farmers and farmer-florists around the country at that event.

Jennie/Love ‘N Fresh on Instagram

Jennie/Love ‘N Fresh on Facebook

Jennie/Love ‘N Fresh on Pinterest

Lindsey/The Little Flower Farm on Instagram

Lindsey/The Little Flower Farm on Facebook

Finally, I’m thrilled to announce that the Slow Flowers Podcast has reached yet another milestone. This week we hit our 20,000th downloaded episode.

That’s cause for celebration and I thank listeners like you for your support. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

And speaking of this podcast, here’s a huge thanks to my engineering and editing team, Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net

Garden Tribe Video: Debra’s Eco-Floral Design Tips

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Earlier this year I met the creative team of Garden Tribe, Beth LaDove and Jen Long, two Bay Area creatives who have combined their love of gardening, documentary video and education to bring hands-on horticulture to life on the small screen.

Garden Tribe has been lauded in the San Francisco Chronicle as “an online classroom that connects the world of gardeners with world-class horticultural experts and garden/floral designers.”

Sunset magazine singled out Garden Tribe as a “Best in the West” online find.

GardenTribeLogo

I first learned of Garden Tribe when they debuted a workshop about designing and building “living arrangements,” taught by Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design (and The 50 Mile Bouquet fame) at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show.

After some discussion, Jen and Beth asked me to develop some online floral content for their new site. We filmed on day in early June at the beautiful Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma, California.

Today, thanks to Garden Tribe’s generosity, I am thrilled to share a “sneak peek” video clip to whet your appetite for the full workshop.

Please enjoy “Eco-Friendly Floral Design – Quick Tips” (see above) and “Cutting Flowers” (below).

You can find details about the full curriculum of workshops at GardenTribe.com.

Beth LaDove (left) and Jen Long (right), creators of Garden Tribe.

Jen Long (left) and Beth LaDove (right), creators of Garden Tribe.

I was so impressed with their vision that I asked Beth and Jen to take part in a Q&A about their mission.

Debra: Please introduce yourselves and explain your interest/passion for gardening?

Beth & Jen: We are both lifelong gardeners and entrepreneurs. Beth comes from a long lineage of Italian food growers. Jen has never met a flower she didn’t want to grow. Between the two of us, we’ve probably been obsessed with just about every kind of garden and plant out there, at one time or another. Together, we have a shared passion for growing things. And these days, we are thrilled to be growing a business designed to give people a more joyful, meaningful experience of gardening.

Debra: How did you come up with the idea to launch online video educational programming?

Beth & Jen: We get questions all the time about how and when people should do things in their garden. The best way to answer those questions is by literally showing people what to do. We decided to create beautiful video classes that demonstrate real gardening, step-by-step. We also designed our classes to stream online, so that learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

Debra: Why GARDEN TRIBE? It’s such a cute name!

Beth & Jen: Gardening knowledge has always passed along in a tribal way–from person-to-person, out in the field. We named our company Garden Tribe because it honors how important it is to learn from each other, and cultivate our community.

Debra: Who is your target audience?

Beth & Jen: We know that all gardeners, from beginning to experienced, are looking for trustworthy information. That search often begins online, and the quality of that information greatly impacts the real world DIY experience.

We’re providing curated, high-quality content for people who want to learn from top experts, so that their projects can get started right, the first time. Because our real goal is to get people where they most want to be: out in the garden and having fun.

Debra: How many classes have you produced and what do you have cooked up in the future?

Beth & Jen: We have seven classes streaming now, with more launching in the near future. We’re also always adding new seasonal content. (The best way to stay in-the-know is to join our mailing list.)

As for future projects, we’re busy creating a new way for everyone on gardentribe.com to connect and share!

Debra: Anything else you want people to know?

Beth & Jen: We’re excited to be part of a growing movement that’s bringing the next generation into gardening. It’s so amazing to work with world-renowned experts (like you, Debra!) and share all that gardening knowledge online, around the globe. We’d love everyone to join our tribe, and share their questions, ideas and inspiration!

Thanks to you both~ and thanks for sharing your passion with my tribe!