Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

Earth Day with Updates from Peterkort Roses and Floral Soil (Episode 190)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Earth-Day-Logo-2015 This week’s episode coincides with Earth Day, fittingly symbolic for the Slow Flowers Movement and flower farmers, floral designers and product innovators who are working to change our industry and push for progress to alter the status quo.

So I’d like to share a few news items as well as two follow-up interviews featuring guests of past Slow Flowers Podcast episodes.

Listen closely to find out how you can win prize packages from each of our guests – you’ll want to get in on the good stuff!

First off, if you enjoyed last week’s interview with Jenny Elliott and Luke Franco of Tiny Hearts Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley and Rachel Gordon of Taproot Flowers of Brooklyn, please check out more photos that I’ve added to the show notes. They’re onto something really special and I encourage you to listen if you missed that episode – and enjoy the beautiful flowers the three of them grow and arrange in their worlds.

FRD_posters_2015_photography_loweres2 Second, I want to share details about this week’s Fashion Revolution Day, which takes place on April 24th.

If you believe in Slow Flowers, you should also embrace and support Slow Fashion, which has so many parallels in terms of labor practices, environmental concern and trade policy.

Slow Fashion asks questions about the origins of the clothing we wear that are virtually identical to the questions Slow Flowers asks about the bouquets we bring into our homes.

Fashrev2015 Fashion Revolution Day 2015 marks the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,133, and injured over 2,500 people.

According to Fashion Revolution’s data, one in six people work in the global fashion supply chain. It is the most labor-dependent industry on the planet, yet the people who make our clothing are hidden from us, often at their own expense, a symptom of the broken links across the fashion industry.

Wow, doesn’t that sound identical to the floriculture industry? On April 24th, coordinated teams around the world will challenge global fashion brands to demonstrate commitment to transparency across the length of the value chain, from farmers to factory workers, brands to buyers and consumers.

Zady.com, an innovative online fashion brand based in New York City, is serving as U.S. chair of Fashion Revolution Day. Slow Flowers has been invited to help promote the cause. Check out this Slow Fashion/Fashion Revolution event taking place in Brooklyn. Slow Flowers hopes to have ongoing involvement with Slow Fashion in the future.

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I am inspired by what the fashion industry has done in just two years to mobilize conscious consumers to care about the origins of their clothing — and in the future, I hope the floral industry will be just as vocal. I don’t wish for a fatal disaster to occur at an unregulated flower farm in a distant land to make us all wake up and start asking about the origins of our flowers.

What you can do on April 24th is to use your own social channels to get active. Take a photo of yourself wearing an item of clothing inside out. Tag the brand, share the photo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags: #whomademyclothes and #fashrev.

Not to take away from this important endeavor, but perhaps you’ll be inspired to ALSO take a photo of yourself holding flowers that came from a US mega-retailer, big box store or supermarket and tag that retailer on your social sites with the hashtags: #whogrewmyflowers and #slowflowers. Just a thought.

Thanks for caring!

READ MORE…

Week 15 // Spring Awakening

Sunday, April 19th, 2015
The pods and buds are waking up. They're shouting, "we're here!"

The pods and buds are waking up. They’re shouting, “we’re here!”

It’s been a crazy week here in Slow Flowers Land, but after 8 days of travel, I’m so delighted to be home in Seattle for a week. Seattle has been good to us, with mid-60s to 70-degree weather.
 
Today was no exception. I clipped a bit of this and that – all from my awakening garden. It truly is a Spring Awakening here!
Just unfurled: a vivid yellow poppy

Just unfurled: a vivid yellow poppy

The delicate leaves and flowers that are pushing up through the April soil are each special in their own way. Here’s what I included in my spontaneous spring arrangement:

Variegated hosta leaves
Acid yellow smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’)
The young tips of deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
Green-and-rust-variegated Epimedium leaves and a few flowering stems
Yellow poppies, flowers & buds

The final arrangement - all from April 18th in the garden

The final arrangement – all from April 18th in the garden

Love how all the season's new foliage works together.

Love how all the season’s new foliage works together.

A word about the vase. Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers turned me onto“Wine Punts,” 100% recycled, made in USA, these beautiful vessels are wine bottles that have been repurposed into drinking glasses. Or, small vases. Available in sets of 4 in many colors. Love the size and the pale green hue.

Week 14 // A Visit to Laguna Beach to Play with Local Flowers & New Friends

Sunday, April 12th, 2015
A golden and green floral palette - with a beautiful echeveria as a focal element

A golden and green floral palette – with a beautiful echeveria as a focal element. (c) Perry Stampfel

 

Welcome to Week 14 of the Slow Flowers Challenge! 

Greetings from Southern California, where I have been teaching this week! It’s a great excuse to show off some of the flowers grown in Encinitas, California – by Dramm & Echter, an established farm that grows beautiful blooms.

At the invitation of Lynn Stampfel of Laguna Beach Garden Club, I traveled to Southern California earlier this week. This established and active group of gardeners graciously welcomed me to lecture about American Grown Flowers and the Slow Flowers Movement. We had 125 in attendance and it was a whirlwind. Why? Well, for some crazy reason, I had agreed to give a 30-minute slide lecture, followed by a 30-minute eco-design demonstration.

Above is the arrangement I created for the demo. I used a vintage brass planter – low and wide – in order to show how to use chicken wire as the internal mechanics of the container.

 

The floral elements were all grown locally – well, the next county over – at Dramm & Echter, an American grown flower farm with 40 acres of field-grown crops and 950,000 square feet of greenhouses. Dramm & Echter’s primary floral crops are gerberas, lilies, spray roses and protea varieties. Then there’s so much awesome foliage and textural varieties, including solidago, leucadendron, ruscus, eucalyptus and more.

Demonstrating with the flowers from Dramm & Echter

Demonstrating with the flowers from Dramm & Echter. (c) Perry Stampfel

Working with the Dramm and Echter sales team, I ordered $800 of their flowers and foliage varieties for Laguna Beach Garden Club’s afternoon event: A hands-on design workshop.

Twenty-five participants gathered in the courtyard of the local church that hosted our workshop under the lovely canopy of a melaleuca tree, we spent two hours arranging with those blooms. Everyone was encouraged to try using chicken wire or fluffy foliage or curly willow as the stabilizing matrix — all great alternatives to conventional chemical-base flower foam. I’m pleased to have been able to demonstrate the brand new Floral Soil plant-based product in one of my designs, shown below.

This vintage footed glass bowl contains Dramm & Echter florals, including gerberas, spray roses, wax flower, and two types of eucalyptus branches.

This vintage footed glass bowl contains Dramm & Echter florals, including gerberas, spray roses, wax flower, and two types of eucalyptus branches. (c) Perry Stampfel

Twenty-five Slow Flowers designers, all members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, at work on their personal projects.

Twenty-five Slow Flowers designers, all members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, at work on their personal projects. (c) Perry Stampfel

Floral Friendship: The Florist (Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral) and The Farmer (Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farms) (Episode 188)

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Betany Coffland (left) and Lennie Larkin (right). This photograph captured the friends holding flowers they grew for Chica Bloom Farm (Betany) and Petaluma Bounty (Lennie).

Betany Coffland (left) and Lennie Larkin (right). This photograph captures the friends holding flowers they grew for Chica Bloom Farm (Betany) and Petaluma Bounty (Lennie).

Bsidelogo Chloris Floral logo Attention emerging flower farmers and #farmerflorists!

A B Side boutonniere.

A B-Side boutonniere.

I know you’ll appreciate this week’s guests because they are both in the early phases of launching their floral businesses.

Either you’ve already been there so parts of their stories will sound familiar or you’re in the thick of building a floral enterprise – farming and/or design – and will draw inspiration from their candor about the challenges, opportunities and decisions about the direction to take.

With planting and harvesting season and months of weddings upon us, I can assure you that our episode is timely. Like all of my guests on the Slow Flowers Podcast, there is much to learn from what they have to share.

Please welcome Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm. Together, they embody a unique collaboration for people who are growing and designing American flowers. Be wowed by the collective beauty of their work.

Betany, performing "Carmen" - Photo by Pat Kirk

Betany, performing “Carmen,” photo by Pat Kirk

This episode was recorded in the San Jose hotel lobby after the conclusion of ASCFG’s “Growers’ Intensive” last month.

Betany Coffland has always possessed an artistic soul. Her first career lies in singing opera where she trained at the Juilliard School of Music.

Often gifted with an armload of bouquets on opening night, Betany frequently imagined herself in a Jane Austen novel.

The quintessential professional, Betany has given us permission to include snippets of her operatic performances, including the French art song, “A Chloris.” Check out her professional opera site here. 

After moving to Sonoma County and reading the book, The Dirty Life, she was inspired to volunteer at a local flower farm to see if she would enjoy getting dirt under her nails and having the outdoors as an office.

A Chloris inspiration, photo by Paige Green

A Chloris inspiration, photo by Paige Green

Betany Coffland, portrayed in an scene inspired by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, photo by Paige Green

Betany Coffland, portrayed in an scene inspired by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, photo by Paige Green

Betany swiftly and deeply fell entranced with how stunning and heartbreakingly gorgeous locally grown flowers are.

For 18 months, she co-owned Chica Bloom Farm, acting as the lead designer and wedding coordinator.

She especially loved getting to know her community through delivering weekly flower CSA bouquets.

In the winter of 2014, Betany launched Chloris Floral. The namesake Chloris perfectly combines her two artistic endeavors, classical singing and floral design.

Not only is Chloris the Greek goddess of flowers, she is also the heroine of Betany’s favorite French art song, “A Chloris,” by Reynaldo Hahn.

This song has special meaning because it was performed by a dear friend at Betany’s wedding to her husband Joseph. Now part of Betany’s repertoire, she continues to perform A Chloris.

A Chloris Floral spring bouquet inspired by Vivaldi's Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons

A Chloris Floral spring bouquet inspired by Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons

Betany and her floral arrangement, Inspired by Debussy's symphonic work- La Mer

Betany and her floral arrangement, Inspired by Debussy’s symphonic work- La Mer

Chloris Floral is a flower design studio in Sonoma County committed to using 100% local and seasonal blooms grown using organic practices. By supporting and building upon the strength of the local farming community, Chloris ensures the availability of fresh, locally grown blooms necessary to create achingly beautiful old world designs.

A little bit country: flower farmer, Lennie Larkin

A little bit country: flower farmer, Lennie Larkin

A lush B-Side bouquet, by Lennie Larkin.

A lush B-Side bouquet, by Lennie Larkin.

In her “day job,” Lennie Larkin is the community farm manager at Petaluma Bounty, a nonprofit community farm that  works to create a healthy and sustainable food system for everyone in Petaluma, California.

At Petaluma Bounty, Lennie grows lots of vegetables and a seriously beautiful patch of flowers that are sold locally, including at farmers’ markets.

She will share her story, so I don’t want to give too much away, but let me quickly introduce Lennie’s new flower farming business, B-Side Farm.

B-Side Beauty, by Lennie Larkin

B-Side Beauty, by Lennie Larkin

She describes B-Side as a small, bustling flower farm that grew out of her obsession with fragrant blossoms.

It sits on a fertile piece of land in the rolling hills of Petaluma, in the southern pocket of Sonoma County, California. From show-stopping dahlias to rare foliages and simple herbs, B-Side specializes in favorite old-fashioned flowers, picked daily and bursting with dreamy scents.

Lennie’s flowers and arrangement supply a family of local-minded florists and specialty stores in Petaluma, San Francisco, and Oakland, and she welcomes orders of loose flowers and specialty arrangements for pickup straight from the farm. Read Lennie’s extended bio from her new web site.

NBflowercollective Lennie and Betany are founding members of the North Bay Flower Collective, a group of flower farmers and floral designers in the North SF Bay Area.

I love the motivation that led to the formation of the North Bay Flower Collective: To lean on each other for support and pull our resources together to build a flower growers’ alliance helping each farmer and florist to grow and thrive. 

Here are the links to Betany’s social sites for Chloris, to Lennie’s social sites for B-Side and to the North Bay Flower Collective.

You’ll want to follow these talented individuals and watch how their coming design season unfolds:

Find Betany here:

Chloris Floral on Facebook

Chloris Floral on Instagram

Chloris Floral Web Site

Find Lennie here:

B-Side Farm on Facebook

B-Side Farm on Instagram

B-Side Farm Web Site

Thank you so much for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Listeners like you have downloaded the podcast more than 42,000 times. Until next week please 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Week 13 // It started with the apricot hyacinths

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Here is the full view, photographed today on my back porch. So wonderful that the Japanese maple in the background is leafing out, too.

Here is the full view, photographed today on my back porch. So wonderful that the Japanese maple in the background is leafing out, too.

Welcome to Week 13 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!
To be perfectly honest, it started with those yummy apricot-hued hyacinth and the very first fragrant lilacs of the season – both from Northwest fields.
I love  the soft, billowy generosity of spring's early blooms - weed that right now after a winter of stiff conifers.

I love the soft, billowy generosity of spring’s early blooms – weed that right now after a winter of stiff conifers.

And then I couldn’t take my eyes off of the most luscious of tulips, a two-toned pink and green variety called ‘Renown Unique’, grown by my friends Pam and Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farms on Whidbey Island, Washington. (You can find incredible fancy tulips and bulbs grown by them and other local farms at the  Seattle Wholesale Growers Market right now).

In addition, I came home with a bunch of the dark-centered white anemones, also grown by Pam and Kelly. All are quite lovely but I wanted to add some goodies from my own garden to enhance this week’s arrangement.

You can see that the cotton-candy-pink flowering cherry branches and the pale blush-apricot rhododendron clusters — and the just leafing out apricot foliage of an old azalea add their seasonal sparkle to the farmers’ flowers. Combining gifts from the garden with gifts from flower fields is a good thing!

My dear friend and San Diego garden TV personality  Nan Sterman gave me this lovely pot for a birthday several years ago. I’m using it for my Easter bouquet, but I’m sending her best wishes for a blessed Passover celebration that I’m sure she’s having with her family tonight.Our worlds continue to overlap and connect, especially when we love the garden, plants and nature.

A close-up shows those tulips, anemones and the delicate azalea foliage.

A close-up shows those tulips, anemones and the delicate azalea foliage.

Here is the entire recipe:

From my garden: Flowering cherry branches, rhododendron clusters (cut when most of the flowers are in bud, to encourage a longer vase life) and branches of just-emerging azalea foliage.

From the flower farm:

  • Apricot-peach hyacinths, grown by Oregon Flowers in Aurora, OR
  • White lilacs, grown by Tosh in Snohomish, WA
  • Renown Unique pink-and-green tulips, grown by Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, WA
  • White anemones with a black center, grown by Sonshine Farm on Whidbey Island, WA

HappyEaster

Santa Cruz’s Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. draws inspiration from her own garden and nearby flower farms (Episode 187)

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Inspiring floral designer Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co.

Inspiring floral designer Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., captured while gathering flowers in her garden

In 2007, Amy Stewart’s Flower Confidential introduced readers to a Santa Cruz-area floral designer named Teresa Sabankya. She wrote:

Teresa Sabankaya has the kind of flower shop that you would dream about opening, if you are the kind of person who dreams of opening a flower shop. It’s in a little green metal kiosk outside Bookshop Santa Cruz in coastal California. The flowers – all interesting, unusual, old-fashioned, ephemeral, perfumy, not-your-typical-florist kind of flowers – dance and wave from buckets crowded around the stall. Her inventory is highly seasonal: in summer you’ll find larkspur and poppies, and in winter it’s all heathers and holly and berries. If you’ve been so busy that you haven’t noticed that spring has arrived, you’ll stop short at the sight of the pink cherry blossom branches bursting out of her shop in early March, and it’ll make you resolve to slow down and enjoy the season. Even if you don’t buy a flower – and Teresa would be happy to sell you a single flower – just the sight of her little stall will lift some of the weight off your shoulders. Anyone who doubts whether flowers can change a person’s emotional state has never watched the people walking by Teresa’s shop.” 

Amy continued: ” . . . The Bonny Doon Garden Company fit with my idea of how floral commerce must work – you’d grow some flowers in your garden, you’d buy some from a farmer down the road, and you’d put them in buckets and sell them to your neighbors.”

Bonny Doon's retail space inside New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz, CA.

Bonny Doon’s retail space inside New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz, CA.

Well, anyone who read all of Flower Confidential knows that it’s about the international, multibillion dollar floriculture industry – a far cry from the charm of selling flowers from one’s garden in Santa Cruz.

I was always in awe of Teresa – she was a rock star profiled by Amy Stewart, for goodness sake’s. Until last week, Teresa and I had never met in person, but we felt connected through our friendship with Amy and because we both want to advance a new normal in the floral industry: where mindful practices of local, seasonal and sustainable flowers trump designing with imported ones.

Last year, when I launched the Slowflowers.com web site, Teresa created a listing for Tessa’s Garden, her studio business, and we started an occasional email correspondence.

Oh my gosh: the dream garden! Here's where many of the flowers, branches, herbs and vines that Teresa uses originate . . . in her private garden.

Oh my gosh: the dream garden! Here’s where many of the flowers, branches, herbs and vines that Teresa uses originate . . . in her private garden.

Another view, including the veggie and herb garden in the foreground.

Another view, including the veggie and herb garden in the foreground.

An intricate detail in the Posie that Teresa created for me.

Intricate details emerge as part of the hand-tied Posie that Teresa created for me.

Teresa had taken a break from the fast pace of running a retail flower shop and sold The Bonny Doon Garden Co. in 2012.

She then pivoted toward wedding and event design work, including hosting private ceremonies under the giant redwoods at her bountiful landscape in the hamlet of Bonny Doon, a few miles up the Coastal Highway from Santa Cruz.

Earlier this year, Teresa extended an invitation for me to stay a few days in the bridal cottage on her family’s property.

We planned ahead to schedule that visit – and this podcast interview – after my gig speaking at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show on March 22nd.

READ MORE…

Week 12 // Backyard greenery and seasonal blooms

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

This was a week of flowers, beginning on March 22nd with my “Four Seasons Cutting Garden” lecture at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Here are some one of my favorite images shared in my illustrated presentation.

I call this my "dream cutting garden," painted by Claude Monet in 1873. The Garden at Argenteuil (Dahlias)

I call this my “dream cutting garden,” painted by Claude Monet in 1873. The Garden at Argenteuil (Dahlias)

Overwhelming or Inspiring? A design scheme from a vintage garden book, Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders, 1912. "Plan of a Rainbow Border"

Overwhelming or Inspiring? A design scheme from a vintage garden book, Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders, 1912. “Plan of a Rainbow Border”

I also spent time interviewing several flower farmers and floral designers, which you can hear on the Slow Flowers Podcast in coming weeks. Subscribe here for free downloads from iTunes.

This week I have two arrangements to share with you. The first was created as a demonstration ofFloral Soil, the 100% plant-based, USA-made, compostable alternative to florist’s foam. The occasion was a workshop taught by Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs, focusing on “Elevated Centerpieces.”

Floral Soil’s creator Mickey Blake and I participated in the workshop to gather photos and content for her web site. I brought along my favorite glass compote, a pedestal fruit dish that was my great-grandmother’s.

Thanks to very excellent instruction from Alicia, here’s what I created. There are three pieces that created the mechanics to hold the flowers and foliage: (1) a 3-by-4-by-5-inch piece of Floral Soil; (2) a sheet of chicken wire wrapped from rim to rim of the vase; and (3) 1/4-inch waterproof cloth tape to hold it in place.

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

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

A combination of my own garden cuttings plus West Coast flowers and foliage

A combination of my own garden cuttings plus West Coast flowers and foliage

Ingredients:

From my garden: White-blooming Pieris japonica, glossy green Sarcococca ruscifolia (also called sweet box); common boxwood; and flowering currant, a native shrub (Ribes sanguineum).

Provided by Alicia: Pink tulips and stems of lime green viburnum (most likely from British Columbia) and button-like white feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), sourced from California.

A Slow Flowers Birthday Bouquet

Vivid details of melon orange and dark plum hues.

Vivid details of melon orange and dark plum hues.

Last year, prior to the launch of Slowflowers.com, I ran a successful campaign on Indiegogo and raised nearly $18,500 from more than 200 supporters.

Each contributor had the option of selecting a thank-you gift for their donation. One of the items was a Bouquet of American Flowers.
It has been fun to make those supporters happy as they redeem this “perk.”
In some cases, my floral friends are helping me to fulfill blooms in their regions (thank you greenSinner and Goose Creek Gardens in the Pittsburgh area AND thank you California Organic Flowers in Chico, California).
For the Seattle folks, I’ve been making the bouquets and yesterday was a chance to give my friend Sue Nevler the flowers coming to her.  She wanted to surprise her husband Steve Gattis with an arrangement of flowers for his birthday. Here’s what I created and where the blooms originated:
Happy Birthday, Steve!

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Agonis foliage, grown by Mellano & Co., Carlsbad, CA

‘Mambo’ Oriental lilies, grown by Oregon Flowers, Aurora, OR

Dark purple parrot tulips, Sonshine Farms, Whidbey Island, WA

Orange double tulips, Ojeda Farms, Ethel, WA

Phalaenonpsis orchids, Orchidaceae, Walla Walla, WA

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Week 11 // Spring is here!

Saturday, March 21st, 2015
Welcome to Week 11 of the Slow Flowers Challenge!
Welcome Spring!!

Welcome Spring!!

Let’s give ourselves a huge congratulations!

Participants in the Slow Flowers Challenge have made it through the first 11 weeks of 2015 – that’s practically an entire season of winter, right?

And yesterday, March 20th, welcomed spring and all its promises of ephemeral blooms, vivid new green foliage and bud growth, fragrances, forms, textures and hues that we haven’t seen since last spring. It’s enough to make one deliriously happy.

Fresh Pick: a box filled with luscious spring flowers. This design uses 8 Mason jars inside a wooden crate.

Fresh Pick: a box filled with luscious spring flowers. This design uses 8 Mason jars inside a wooden crate.

BALL JARS AND A WOODEN BOX (2-ways)

This week’s  Slow Flowers Challenge  was given to me by my friend  Nancy Finnerty, who threw a baby shower luncheon for our mutual friends  Willo Bellwood  and  Bob Meador  to celebrate the arrival of their sweet baby, Nola.

Willo designed the beautiful  Slow Flowers logo  you see at the top of this page, as well as many of the graphics, as well as the look and feel of my web sites, going back to 2005 (!) And Bob makes it all happen on a navigational and technological front – he is the genius who makes the  Slowflowers.com website actually work smoothly. Nancy asked me to bring some yellow tulips for the centerpiece.  And, well, I took that request a little further as you see here.

This week, none of the cuttings are from my garden, but they are from the farms of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. Hey – I had to be there for a board meeting, so it was impossible to resist bringing home  yellow double tulips  grown by  Gonzalo Ojeda of  Ojeda Farms , along with some other pastel lovelies that you see here.

I know I designed with hellebores last week, so apologies for the repeat of flower choice. But the yellow variety of hellebores are quite rare, grown, of course, by  Diane Szukovathy  and  Dennis Westphall of  Jello Mold Farm  . The sweet narcissus with dark orange centers were grown by Jan Roozen of Choice Bulb Farms , located just a few miles away from Diane and Dennis. And one bunch of wispy white wax flower – from Resendiz Brothers in Fallbrook, CA, adds just the right texture to the arrangement.

Here's how the jars nest inside the Blue Pine box. Notice the detailed dovetail joinery at the corners.

Here’s how the jars nest inside the Blue Pine box. Notice the detailed dovetail joinery at the corners.

FLORAL DESIGN MADE EASY

I started with a very special Blue Pine box that was hand-crafted in Colorado from reclaimed wood. This piece was designed by Chet and Kristy Anderson’s son (“young Chet”) of The Fresh Herb Co., in Longmont, CO. The Andersons gave it to me as a sample when I visited their farm last November.

The box is exquisitely hand-crafted from distressed pine (also called “beetle kill,” which tells you why the tree was distressed), but that when milled reveals a distinctive “blue” grain pattern. The longer box was designed to hold four Mason jars, – how cool is that?

Start with four jars. Fill them with yellow-and-white blooms. Pop the arrangements into the box. Voila!

Start with four jars. Fill them with yellow-and-white blooms. Pop the arrangements into the box. Voila!

Detail showing the season's exquisite beauty.

Detail showing the season’s exquisite beauty.

ONE MORE

I had a lot of extras, so after I made this first arrangement, I thought: Don’t I have another wood box in the garage? And miraculously, I put my hands on it. This was a much wider box that originally came with a mail-order amaryllis-planting kit. It was large enough to hold 8 Mason jars (two rows of four jars). You can see that design at the top of this letter.

Here is the "flower box," gracing the luncheon table.

Here is the “flower box,” gracing the luncheon table.

I ended up taking this one to the baby shower – nothing like a larger arrangement for more impact. It is simply stunning to have all of these bloom shapes and forms at eye level when you’re enjoying a delicious meal and wonderful conversation. And it’s easy to give each guest one of the “mini” bouquets as a party favor to take home.

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#FarmerFlorist at a Crossroads – Redefining A Business with Emily Watson of Stems Cut Flowers (Episode 185)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
Emily Watson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based flower farmer, floral designer, entrepreneur -- today's podcast guest.

Emily Watson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based flower farmer, floral designer, entrepreneur — today’s podcast guest.

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Emily on the farm, with her beautiful Wisconsin-grown peonies

I first met today’s guest “virtually,” when I reached out to her asking permission to use a portion of a online discussion she had started with other flower farmers.

Emily Watson is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and since 2008 she has owned Stems Cut Flowers, a specialty cut flower business based on her grandparents’ farm about 45 minutes west of Milwaukee. She is a founding member of Slowflowers.com, having supported our launch by contributing to the initial Indiegogo campaign.

Emily and I finally met in person last October at the ASCFG national meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, and that was when we spoke further about the possible “course-correction” she was considering as she juggled flower farming and a successful floral design aspect to her business. Recently we connected over Skype for a conversation that I believe you’ll find quite honest and forthcoming.

And ironically, it harkens to that bulletin board comment Emily made in 2011, the one I included in The 50 Mile Bouquet. She posed this question:

“I’ve been growing for less than five years, on a small plot, and I’m wondering if this is a good idea. I’m not looking to get rich overnight, or even at all. But I need to pay the bills, maybe support a family and retire some day (before I’m 90). I do not have a
problem working a few 80-hour weeks but I do not want that to be the norm. Am I crazy for thinking this? The bottom line is I need to know if this is possible before I sink any more money into it?”

The responses Emily received were encouraging and honest; no one tried to sugarcoat the truth about the backbreaking reality of running a small farm. They also revealed that people do not grow and market flowers because it’s lucrative, but at least in part for a love of the land and a passion for the independent lifestyle it brings.

Emily with her husband

Emily with her husband Nich Love

Here’s more about Emily:

Emily's tagline for Wood Violet, her new design studio, is "floral design inspired by nature." How fitting!

Emily’s tagline for Wood Violet, her new design studio, is “floral design inspired by nature.” How fitting!

A May wedding bouquet grown and designed by Emily Watson.

A May wedding bouquet grown and designed by Emily Watson.

She grew up in a small agricultural town not terribly far from Milwaukee with three brothers and lots of cousins nearby, playing outside all the time.

After high school, Emily attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison where that love for the natural world led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation.

She worked as a landscaper, which led to work in a flower shop, which somehow led to managing a Chinese restaurant. As she puts it: “I learned a lot about business at that Chinese restaurant and made a lot of friends, but the call of the outdoors was too strong.

By 2008, Emily had started Stems Cut Flowers at her grandparents farm in East Troy, the town in which she grew up. As a small farming business, Stems flourished into a floral design business.

Emily considers herself lucky enough to live in the city and spend a few days every week at the farm, the best of both worlds.

Spring flowers in a romantic nature-inspired bouquet.

Spring flowers in a romantic nature-inspired bouquet.

Her intention has always been to run a thriving flower farm that sells its crops to florists and to the public at farmer’s markets, picking up occasional wedding design work. The reality, however, is that the idea of “occasional” wedding design has turned into a nearly every weekend occurrence. It soon became evident to Emily that she was running two separate businesses. Last year she decided to create a separate identity for the design portion of her business.

The timing is perfect for today’s interview because Emily is in the midst of launching a floral design studio in Milwaukee. She’s named it Wood Violet, an eco-friendly studio that focuses on locally grown flowers as much as possible, offering wedding flowers and daily deliveries.

As we discussed in the interview, Emily hopes to offer gardening classes and floral design workshops at Wood Violet, inspiring people with the beauty of each season. I admire the way she’s playing to her strengths as both a flower farmer and a floral designer, and I admire that her new hybrid business model includes supporting other local flower farmers in her community while still keeping her fingers in the soil.

Emily Watson-designed wedding flowers.

Emily Watson-designed wedding flowers.

You know, I think Emily has answered the question she posed back in 2011 better than anyone else could have done – and I wish her great success.

Here’s how to find Emily on all her platforms:

Wood Violet on Facebook

Wood Violet on Instagram

Wood Violet on Pinterest

Before we close, I want to give you the news of the week.

Bloom Instagram Slowflowers.com has partnered with the Ethical Writers Coalition to present Bloom: A Sustainable Workshop, that will take place on Sunday, March 29th at the Mode Marteau Studio in Brooklyn.

Participants can sign up for one or more intimate classes for a hands-on and creative experience in sustainability, and of course, locally-grown flowers.

Learn to make your own fresh flower crown, create a perfect bouquet, or plant a DIY a reclaimed vase at three different workshops.

Three members of Slowflowers.com will join together for the 3rd workshop: Local Flowers 101 with Taproot & Molly Oliver Flowers

Rachel Gordon of Taproot Flowers and Molly Culver and Deborah Greig of Molly Oliver Flowers will teach flower arranging tips & tricks, discuss the importance and sourcing of sustainable flowers, and how to best care for your arrangement. All materials included with the $65 workshop fee.

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I want to thank the Ethical Writers Coalition for producing this awesome event and for inviting Slowflowers.com to participate. The Ethical Writers Coalition is a very cool group of journalists, writers, and bloggers who seek to support and further ethical and sustainable living online and in print. Through my publicists, I met co-founder Alden Wicker of the EcoCult Blog when I was in New York last October – and she attended a SlowFlowers.com gathering where this event idea germinated.

After we connected, Alder wrote an insightful post about Slow Flowers, which you can read here. Elizabeth Stilwell, who blogs at TheNotePasser.com, has taken the lead on creating Bloom and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her on this project – sadly, I can’t attend. But I’m so pleased that Slowflowers.com will be well represented, getting the word out about American flowers and the people who grow and design with them.

I love how the roots of sustainable living intertwine so perfectly with the American Grown Flower movement. It’s exciting to see the idea of local, seasonal and sustainable flowers move from the alternative/fringe world closer to the mainstream.

donate-grist-logo Last week Grist.org fellow Ana Sofia Knauf published an interview with me and titled it “There’s a Local Flower Movement Blooming,” and I’d love for you to read it. Check out the link to her piece here.

Thanks for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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.

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded more than 39,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Week 10 // Hellebores!!! (and More)

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Week10 Oh joy! The hellebores are blooming quite early this year.

Up close, the detail is so lovely and intricate

Up close, the detail is so lovely and intricate

For better or worse, Seattle’s uber-mild winter means that many of our early flowers are emerging weeks ahead of schedule.

I’m worried that our gardens and fields will need a lot more water this summer, but we can only say that Mother Nature decided to give us warmer temperatures and extra sunshine this year – more than previous winters in recent memory.

Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm grew the hellebores you see here – and let me tell you, their luscious blooms were flying out of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market when they arrived.

I snagged the *last* bunch of the plum hellebores and grabbed only 4 stems of the beautiful pale speckled ones.

Gorgeous specialty tulips also caught my eye – so much more substantial and visually arresting than the hothouse ones coming out of Canada. These were lovingly grown by Gonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms, a member of the SWGMC who farms in Ethel, Washington. One bunch of 10 stems, while short, provided plenty of tulips to add dazzle to two vases.

Plum and berry hues with pale green & butter yellow in a vintage white vase.

Plum and berry hues with pale green & butter yellow in a vintage white vase.

Jasmine isn’t winter-hardy here in Seattle, but boy do I remember it clambering over the stucco retaining wall in our former garden in California’s Ventura County. On the first Thanksgiving we lived there – after moving from Seattle in 2006 – my friend Nancy, visiting from Seattle, created our entire Thanksgiving tablescape from the bounty of our new backyard – including that lacy jasmine.

Molly Sadowsky, the SWGM’s manager and principal buyer, has a secret California source for evergreen Jasmine – and the designers here in Seattle absolutely love it! Me, too! I love that the jasmine foliage is also a gorgeous aspect of this arrangement, a bonus to the fragrant flowers and buds.

Oh, and there is one element from my Seattle garden: the delicate pale yellow flowers from Epimedium, a beautiful groundcover. I only had a few stems to add, but their petals echo the Hellebores’ centers, adding a delicate texture.

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Hellebores for the People
Designed by Mick & Olivia Payment,
owners of 
Flowers for the People 

Hellebores with orchids, roses, pincushion protea, jasmine and more - designed by Olivia and Mick Payment

Hellebores with orchids, roses, pincushion protea, jasmine and more – designed by Olivia and Mick Payment

Earlier this week, the SWGM hosted its first Orchid Spectacular to showcase a wide array of Local and American-grown potted and cut orchids. The Market staff invited Mick and Olivia, a brother-and-sister design team, to demonstrate how they design with orchids in arrangements and interior planters.

You’ll be wowed by one of their designs pictured here. I wanted to share it because of the diversity of flowers they incorporated, including Lady Slipper orchids from Orchidaceae  of Walla Walla, Washington, and hellebores from Jello Mold Farm (the “leftovers” ended up in my design above).
The yellow-green-pink palette is such a breath of fresh air! Mick and Olivia also used CA-grown roses and pincushion proteas to masterfully express their inspiration to use domestic flowers.
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