Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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.

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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.

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: A new brand of floral entrepreneur, Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery (Episode 149)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

CC_Logo_final.ai-page-001 Today’s guest is Bess Wyrick, founder and creative director of Celadon & Celery, a floral design and events studio based in New York City and Los Angeles. 

I first learned of Bess when researching florists to possibly feature in The 50 Mile Bouquet – I wanted to document the emerging business model of floral designers who actively promoted green practices, such as using seasonal and local flowers, embracing earth-friendly products and promoting anti-mass market style. 

I later learned that this category is called “eco-couture,” and it’s quite possible that Bess coined the phrase herself.

 

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick's floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick’s floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

In 2009, Bess’s Celadon & Celery was featured in a New York Times blog post about “organic flower” sourcing. The writer cited Bess’s policy of sourcing flowers within a 200-mile radius of NYC and also noted that when seasonal flowers aren’t available, she purchased Fair Trade, Veriflora and USDA organic flowers from certified vendors. 

The following year, in 2010, BizBash, a web site devoted to event planning, published a piece about Celadon & Celery that stated: “. . . sustainability is important to Wyrick. She composts, grows many of her own plants in her Chelsea studio, sources flowers from local growers or certified organic suppliers, and scavenges for materials to repurpose.” 

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

To read about that philosophy today – in 2015 – doesn’t seem all that unusual. But five years ago, it was rare. Believe me, I counted on one hand the number of designers proactively taking the green approach. I saved that article in my folder of inspiring designers. 

So how cool was it that when Celadon & Celery brought its floral design workshop series to Los Angeles, Bess’s publicist pitched me to write the story. 

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery 

I was definitely intrigued. Intimate hands-on floral design workshops had hit the East Coast, and the New York Times had run a piece in 2010 about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn (and owners Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen, two recent guests of this podcast). I’d even led a few seasonal floral workshops for Ravenna Gardens in Seattle in 2010, but I hadn’t seen much like this happening elsewhere on the West Coast. 

My editor at the Los Angeles Times agreed, and I did a short Q&A interview with Bess about the workshop series in fall 2011. At the time, Celadon & Celery was charging $300 for its two-hour sustainable-design workshops at Bess’s loft-studio in New York’s Chelsea Flower District. For the Los Angeles expansion, she dropped the tuition to $125 and used social media channels to promote the classes. 

Overwhelmed by the positive response, Bess rented a photography studio in downtown Los Angeles and turned it into a classroom. She hired a few local freelancers to help and ran three classes a day for three weeks. “In that time we taught floral design to more than 800 people,” Bess marvels.

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

50MileBouquet_book I was able to witness the excitement in person and cover it for a chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet. In the book’s pages, you can read about the explosion of DIY interest in floral design.

In that piece, Bess offered this observation: “The word ‘eco’ has a bad reputation implying something weedy,” Bess says. “But we’re creating flowers that are sophisticated, chic and tailored. ” You can read the entire chapter by clicking this link.

I’ve connected with Bess many times since the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet, in both New York and Los Angeles, depending on where our travels intersect. She is a generous supporter of the new Slowflowers.com and you can find Celadon & Celery featured in the online directory under studio florists and weddings/events.

I’ve been wanting to have her on as a guest and I’m delighted to include our conversation here today. Please enjoy our discussion about how floral design – and this designer in particular – has evolved to encompass event production, conceptual storytelling and artistic installations.

a singular bouquet.

a singular bouquet.

You’ll learn that floral design can be as multidisciplinary and multidimensional as you choose it to be. And, according to Bess, florists who advocate for their vendors, the family flower farm in particular, have an edge. She says: “I like to sell the fact that I’m a luxury brand and luxury brands work with really small artisans and that’s really important because you want to make sure that your flower farm vendors keep doing what they’re doing and creating unique and unusual flowers that the higher luxury market will pay for.”

(c) Jana WIlliams

(c) Jana WIlliams

I love how generous and frank she is and a few more of her interview comments really resonated:

For one thing, volunteering on flower farms has educated Bess to understand that “it’s not okay for clients to negotiate the cost of flowers because it is back-breaking work and there aren’t enough people who know how to grow flowers.”

And second: This quote is powerful and I hope it more than a few people in the floral industry to rethink their practices: “I don’t think that any florist in California should be importing flowers at all. That’s just being lazy.”

(c) Jana Williams

(c) Jana Williams

Ahem. Thank you, Bess, for stating the obvious. You’ve lent a lot of credibility to the Slow Flowers Movement with that proclamation!

Here are links to all of Bess’s social outlets:

Life with Bess Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Flickr

Instagram

And Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 15,000 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 Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

A July 4th Homegrown Bouquet, from an American flower farm

Friday, July 4th, 2014
Just picked, from the cutting garden and fields at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA

Just picked, from the cutting garden and fields at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA

Composing this arrangement for the July 4th holiday is my reward for 48 hours of hard work.

I’ve been here in Southern California on assignment for Country Gardens magazine and Deck, Patio & Outdoor Rooms magazine.

I worked with Michael Garland, an LA-based photographer, to capture two wonderful garden stories that you’ll see in the pages of these publications next year (summer 2015). 

Today, after wrapping up at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, which has been the subject of past blogs and a podcast interview with founder Danielle Hahn, I got to play with the extra flowers from our photo shoot.

Everything that grows here is lush, and organic, and seasonal and simply devine! Here’s what my flower playtime yielded. Only in Santa Barbara area do the dahlias, roses, hydrangaes and succulents look at their peak on the same day.

If you have to work on a holiday, let it be July 4th and let it be at a American flower farm, right?

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Media entrepreneur Margot Shaw, creator of flower magazine (Episode 147)

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Before we get started with today’s awesome guest, I’ve got a little self-promotion to share. The Slow Flowers “brand” is a lovely bouquet with several unique blooms in the vase.

PodcastLogo There is this podcast, of course, and we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary on July 23rd (we’ll have an exciting announcement from a special guest to celebrate our 52nd episode!).

  Web

And there is the Slowflowers.com online directory, which is growing every day – up to 325 vendors on the site as of this week.

600_600_SLOWFLOWERSFrtCvrrev But it all started with the book: Slow Flowers, four seasons of locally-grown bouquets, from the garden, meadow and farm. St. Lynn’s Press published this little gem in early 2013 and it has been the creative inspiration to launch the Slow Flowers Movement.

14-silver-logo We just got word that Garden Writers Association has awarded Slow Flowers with one of two Silver Medals of Achievement for Overall Book product this year. I couldn’t be happier and I’m so pleased to receive the recognition because it reflects what together our American grown floral community has achieved in changing the dialogue and changing the relationship consumers have with their flowers. Congratulations to the entire St. Lynn’s Press creative team for making my words and images into such a beautiful little book: Paul Kelly (Publisher), Catherine Dees (Editor) and Holly Rosborough (Art Director). They are the dream team! 

TODAY’S GUEST: MARGOT SHAW, flower magazine

Margot Shaw, "flower magazine" founder and editor-in-chief

Margot Shaw, “flower magazine” founder and editor-in-chief  


"To Flower" ~ the definition embodies the spirit of this magazine.

“To Flower” ~ the definition embodies the spirit of this magazine.

Now, it is entirely fitting that I introduce you to Margot Shaw of flower magazine, my interview subject today. Margot has coined the phrase “a floral lifestyle,” a term I thoroughly embrace – and I know you will, too.

 

Margot calls herself a “late bloomer” when it comes to the art of floral design. A self-proclaimed “call-and-order-flowers girl,” Margot’s “a ha moment,” her view of flowers, changed when planning her daughter’s at-home wedding.

Working alongside the floral and event designer, she recognized the artistry and inspiration involved in “flowering” and soon began apprenticing with that same designer.

After a few years, enamored with all things floral but unable to locate a publication that spoke to her passion, she set about creating one. 

With a clear vision, a deep appreciation for beauty, a facility with words, a hometown uniquely geared towards publishing, and the advice and counsel of generous industry professionals, Margot launched flower in March of 2007. 

I snapped this photo of the flower magazine staff back in January 2011 when I visited Birmingham, Alabama, for a get-to-know meeting. That's Margot, second from the left.

I snapped this photo of the flower magazine staff back in January 2011 when I visited Birmingham, Alabama, for a get-to-know meeting. That’s Margot, second from the left.

Originally filled with floral, garden, and event design, the niche publication has gradually broadened to include content that trumpets a floral lifestyle—interiors, art, travel, fashion, jewelry, and entertaining.

“It has something for everyone who likes flowers—and who doesn’t like flowers?!” Shaw proclaims.

Since its debut, flower has continued to grow at a steady pace, recently moving from quarterly to bimonthly, and available in all 50 U.S. states and 17 countries.

Here’s some more information on the publication and its influence on our floral community:

Here's what you'll find on the pages of flower magazine ~

Here’s what you’ll find on the pages of flower magazine ~

 

Here's who reads the magazine.

Here’s who reads the magazine.

 

Here's more about the circulation and geographic distribution.

Here’s more about the circulation and geographic distribution.

Want to check out the current issue of flower magazine? Margot has generously shared the “secret” log-in password with listeners of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast. Click here to read the digital edition and use TUBEROSE as the password. 

Next week’s guests are Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt, partners in Field & Florist of Chicago. You won’t want to miss it!

Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded 13,700 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 Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: The Little Flower School of Brooklyn comes to Oregon (Episode 143)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

flowerschoolheader_2012

'Who needs a prince' - seriously great iris name!

‘Who needs a prince’ – seriously great iris name!

Last week was quite amazing in so many ways. First of all, I was on assignment for Country Gardens magazine, working with the uber-talented photographer Laurie Black, my collaborator in so many great articles that we’ve created over the years for editor James Baggett and art director Nick Crow.

With her partner-husband Mark King (ever the calm one and a genius when it comes to all the technical aspects of location photography), Laurie and I were tasked with capturing the story of Schreiner’s Iris Farm, the lovely and alluring bearded iris, and the two women who are nearly single-handedly reviving interest in these old-fashioned spring flowers. 

Nicolette (left) and Sarah (right), at their happy place in the iris garden.

Nicolette (left) and Sarah (right), at their happy place in the iris garden.

Those women are my guests today – Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua and Nicolette Owen of Nicolette Camille. While they independently own their own Brooklyn-based floral studios, together the friends collaborate as teachers through The Little Flower School of Brooklyn. 

'Oh Jamaica'

‘Oh Jamaica’

Smitten by the bearded iris, especially watercolor-washed varieties in apricot-peach-pink; smoky browns; mustardy-yellow; mahogany and silvery-lavender spectrums, Nicolette and Sarah have been fans of Schreiner’s Irises for years.

They worked with the Salem, Oregon-based, third-generation family farm to create a one-day Iris-intensive and invited students to join the fun.

Here’s how the workshop was described:

In this class, students will bask in the glory of the fields at peak bloom, and in a tour of the display gardens witness first hand the incredible diversity of color and form this unique perennial offers. We’ll discuss and demonstrate the tenets of composing an arrangement in our elegantly layered Little Flower School style. Special emphasis will be placed on flower selection, color blending and the mechanics of building a low lush sprawling arrangement without the use of floral foam. Working with the very best of the Schreiner’s specimens, along with a menagerie of other locally grown Oregon flowers, students will receive in-depth. one-on-one instruction as they build their own rambling garden style arrangement.

Generous in sharing their knowledge, Sarah and Nicolette demonstrated with their favorite irises and perennials.

Generous in sharing their knowledge, Sarah and Nicolette demonstrated with their favorite irises, annuals, foliage and perennials.

The day was packed with beauty and creativity. It was an inspired, sublime experience — from the first moment when we met, toured the gallery of irises and the gorgeous display beds showcasing irises and their favorite companion perennials — to an afternoon of floral design instruction. Meeting many members of the Schreiner family was a bonus! Thanks to Steve Schreiner, Ray Schreiner and sister Liz Schmidt (plus we met sister Paula, who stopped by while leading an iris tour for Portland’s Japanese Garden).

About 18 students gathered for the workshop, from established floral designers to apprentices and those considering a career switch, and me – a floral dilettante! Together, we fixated on Sarah and Nicolette’s language of flowers. 

These two communicate with such beautiful interlocking poetry and prose. And you’ll just have to wait for the summer 2015 issue of Country Gardens to learn more, read my story and see Laurie’s awesome photography!

 

Love these colorful benches at Schreiner's Iris Farm.

Love these colorful benches at Schreiner’s Iris Farm.

After our workshop, however, the three of us sat down in the double-Adirondack benches so generously provided by the Schreiner family. We talked a lot about the farmer-florist concept, the Slow Flowers movement, and the importance of staying close to the source of your flowers.

 

Nicolette at work.

Nicolette at work.

Here’s a little more about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn:

The Little Flower School is the teaching project of Nicolette Owen (Nicolette Camille) and Sarah Ryhanen (Saipua); each known for their loose, natural, garden-focused floral designs. Fueled by their reverence for flowers and penchant for travel, the two traverse the globe teaching, learning, and hunting down the most beautiful floral specimens.

Sarah and Nicolette first met over dinner in July of 2008 – a time when each of their separate floral businesses were first establishing. As distinct competitors, their friendship championed a spirit of collaboration and – they hope – has helped to foster an atmosphere of sharing and collaboration amidst a new wave of New York floral designers.

Students of The Little Flower School are men and women; novices, floral enthusiasts, designers in other medium, those looking to start their own floral business, and those with established floral businesses looking to broaden their design knowledge. Classes are seasonally oriented and often exalt a particular flower or design concept. 

Here’s more about Nicolette: 

Nicolette Owen runs her custom floral design studio, Nicolette Camille Floral, in Brooklyn NY. Her work is known for its romantic effusions, nuanced color and texture. Each arrangement is evocative of both the wild and formal garden. Nicolette’s first book collaboration, Bringing Nature Home, was released by Rizzoli in April 2012.

 

Sarah extolling the virtues of foxgloves - biannual and perennial forms.

Sarah extolling the virtues of foxgloves – biannual and perennial forms.

And more about Sarah: 

Sarah Ryhanen is a self taught flower designer, grower and  co-founder of Saipua. Her compositions have a haunting, sensual quality. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Vogue and Martha Stewart. She splits her time between the Saipua studio in Red Hook Brooklyn and Worlds End, her new flower farm in upstate NY.  And listen to my earlier podcast interview with Sarah here, in which we speak of her decision to begin growing her own flowers with her partner Eric Famisan.

Please enjoy this conversation and join in by sharing your comments below. 

Thank you for joining me this week. Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 12,200  times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts. 

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 Hannah Holtgeerts and  Andrew Wheatley. You can learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

A Personal Cutting Garden That You Can Eat, Too!

Monday, May 26th, 2014
Root veggies, purple kale and spider mums.

Radishes, rainbow chard, purple kale and spider mums.

GroundbreakingFoodGardens This just in: A New Kind  of Hors d’Oeuvre

When entertaining, Debra recommends impressing your guests by gathering edible flowers and food from her garden plan to craft a simple, but unique amuse-bouche. The guests can snack on the centerpiece before the main meal is served – but only if your garden is organic!

I owe an (edible) bouquet of thanks to fellow garden writer Niki Jabbour for including my “Edible Cutting Garden” plan in her new book Groundbreaking Food Gardens (Storey Publishing, 2014). Along with planting plans and designs contributed by 72 others, this is an inspiring reference book that will change the way home gardeners thank about growing food. 

Here’s a sneak peek of the pages featuring my project, and some ideas for how to incorporate edibles into your floral designs.

Prinzing_FINAL (1)-page-001

Debra Prinzing’s Edible Cutting Garden — a half-circle design based on an ornamental garden I created in Seattle, circa 1998-2006. 

 

Prinzing_FINAL (1)-page-002

Each section features different edible categories — from herbs to fruits/berries to veggies and more.

This garden shown above was based on a design I made and installed behind the Seattle home where we lived from 1998 to 2006. I love the feeling of a half-circle patio. This one is paved in tumbled bluestone and measures about 12 feet wide by 6 feet deep. Two paths branch out on either side, like arms reaching toward the rest of the garden. The paths divide the 6-foot-deep crescent border into three sections.

READ MORE…

A (American Grown) Flower-filled Road Trip, Part Three

Saturday, May 24th, 2014
The hot, new "ice cream" tulip - spotted in a vase on Sun Valley CEO Lane Devries's desk!

The hot, new “ice cream” tulip – spotted in a vase on Sun Valley CEO Lane DeVries’s desk!

I’ve been home for an entire month from an 11-day road trip that took me by plane to Southern California and back home again behind the wheel of a rental car. 

I have many fond memories (as well as the photographs that I collected), while stopping along U.S. Hwy. 101 on my way north to Seattle. My first post featured Rose Story Farm and the Carpinteria flower scene; my 2nd post was about visiting author-friend Sharon Lovejoy and her husband Jeff Prostovitch in San Luis Obispo. [I'm going to save the photos and stories of my stop in Healdsburg-wine country for another day.]

So here is my third travelogue installation – all about The Sun Valley Group of Arcata, California.

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Visiting Sun Valley and touring its vast flower-growing universe has been on my bucket list for quite a while. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with CEO Lane DeVries and his staff over the past few years to promote American-grown flowers and flower farms. In fact, Lane was a podcast guest last year – you can listen to that interview here. But I had never been able to see Sun Valley up close and personal!

Still on the road last month, I routed myself through Eureka, Calif., where I first visited another writer-friend, Amy Stewart of Flower Confidential and The Drunken Botanist fame (listen to our Podcast interview here).

The following morning I continued north to the next town on the map, Arcata – home to Sun Valley’s headquarters and one of the company’s farm locations. 

Sun Valley is a leading grower of cut bulb and field flowers in the United States. According to its web site, Sun Valley chose this area as an ideal environment for growing bulb flowers, due to its mild winters, cool summers, generous humidity and coastally moderated sunlight. The fields surrounding the greenhouses also provide excellent growing conditions for spring, summer and fall iris, and summer flowers including crocosmia, hypericum, monkshood and montbretia.

Bill Prescott, the farm’s social media/communications guru, met and escorted me on a whirlwind tour. It’s a good thing that I brought my rubber-soled Merrills, cuz the ground gets muddy and wet at a flower farm – in the shade houses and in the greenhouses. These farms practice water conservation, of course, but the puddles and wet spots still exist.

We started by walking through the tulip operations. By the way, click here to see the farm’s mind-boggling array of tulip varieties – you’ll not believe it!

Bill Prescott, my host and tour guide at Sun Valley Flower Farm in Arcata, Calif.

Bill Prescott, my host and tour guide at Sun Valley Flower Farm in Arcata, Calif.

 

This is how the tulip-growing cycle begins. Bulbs planted in growing medium, shoulder to shoulder. Their tips emerge from the soil and then the crates are transferred to the greenhouse rows.

This is how the tulip-growing cycle begins. Bulbs planted in growing medium, shoulder to shoulder. Their tips emerge from the soil and then the crates are transferred to the greenhouse rows.

 

Just one of countless state-of-the-art greenhouses that produce beautiful tulips throughout the year.

Just one of countless state-of-the-art greenhouses that produce beautiful tulips throughout the year.

 

I couldn't take my eyes off of the beautiful variegated foliage on this tulip variety. It's not always about the bloom, especially when you have leaves like this!

I couldn’t take my eyes off of the beautiful variegated foliage on this tulip variety. It’s not always about the bloom, especially when you have leaves like this! 

 

Hello, tulip!

Hello, tulip! 

 

The tulip harvest - this was the week before Easter, so imagine: nonstop harvesting!

The tulip harvest – this was the week before Easter, so imagine: nonstop harvesting! 

 

. . . and this is how the flowers come out of the ground - bulbs and all - to ensure the longest stems.

. . . and this is how the flowers come out of the ground – bulbs and all – to ensure the longest stems.

Some other popular crops include irises and lilies:

Gotta love these lemony-hued irises!

Gotta love these lemony-hued irises! 

 

And the classic purple ones, too!

And the classic purple ones, too! 

 

Lilies, just picked and ready for shipment to flower shops, supermarkets and designers.

Lilies, just picked and ready for shipment to flower shops, supermarkets and designers. 

 

Having fun with the lilies - Bill is a bit of a ham!

Having fun with the lilies – Bill is a bit of a ham!

Bill sent me home with a huge bucket filled with irises and tulips – gorgeous, fresh, just-picked and more than I could ever use in a single Easter arrangement. They survived the 10-hour drive to Seattle that day and still looked awesome when I gave an arrangement of those blooms to my mother on Easter. We both enjoyed those American-grown flowers for nearly two weeks – especially the lilies, with so many plump buds that kept opening up, a few new blooms every day.

And speaking of lilies . . . did you know that “Lily,” the voice of Sun Valley’s blog, is none other than Mr. Bill Prescott? On the blog, he channels his inner florist supremely well! Check out “Flower Talk: Grow with Lily” here - and subscribe to receive notices of the frequent installments.