Debra Prinzing

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Lessons from a Historic “Picking Garden” with Quill Teal-Sullivan of Meadowburn Farm (Episode 228)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan of Meadowburn Farm, this week's Podcast Guest.

Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan of Meadowburn Farm, this week’s Podcast Guest. Photo: (c) Eric Hsu

Well, we’ve made it through the first week of 2016 and I wonder if you’ve been seeing those social media promises like one that read: “78 days ’til spring,” or whatever the number happens to be at that countdown point.

The New Year causes us to take a deep breath and consider what is essential for our life, our purpose, our creative endeavors. At least that’s how it’s always been for me!

Whether that means taking a baby step or making a radical change, we tend to measure our future choices on or around the first of the New Year. It’s universal. Setting goals and striving to achieve them is what makes us human. I’m excited for 2016 and what it promises in our community, with so many exciting Slow Flowers-inspired gatherings, events, stories and connections on the horizon.

Before I introduce you to this week’s featured guest, I have some newsy items to share.

 

Yay! Check it out!!!

Yay! Check it out!!!

First off: the HUGE news that Martha Stewart Living is featuring Slow Flowers and the slowflowers.com directory in the February 2016 issue – aka the Valentine’s Day issue!

Here’s the text:

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

There you have it! Short and VERY sweet!

Individually, none of us could have earned this type of media attention from a magazine with paid circulation of more than 2 million subscribers, monthly newsstand sales of 115,000 issues and total audience reach of more than 9 million. The demographics of the Martha Stewart reader are in close alignment with your own floral business. You can find the reader statistics on my show notes at Debraprinzing.com, so check them out and feel proud of what we’ve accomplished!

MSL_Media_Kit

And here’s another mindboggling fact: If we tried to purchase a 1/6-th page advertisement for Slowflowers.com in this issue, it would cost approximately $45,000.

Simply put: those 82 words mean so much to our Slow Flowers community and also represent the incredible value to you as a member of Slowflowers.com.

We can only pursue this type of media coverage if you join the site and support it financially – so keep that in mind as you plan your own business marketing budget in the coming year. For just $200 a year, you can have a significant impact in the success of the Slow Flowers Movement.

When I hear from editors who ask for flower farming and floral design images I often send a call for submissions to members of Slowflowers.com. Recently that paid off in an article by an Associated Press features writer Sarah Wolfe, who wrote about succulents in bridal bouquets.

The work of several Slow Flowers members was featured in her AP wire story that ran in countless daily newspapers across the U.S., including Holly Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Floral Design, Kelly Sullivan of Botanique and Erika Knowles of Botany 101.

When it came to illustrating the Slowflowers.com piece, Martha Stewart Living‘s art directors reviewed our gallery of choices, including floral images submitted by several Slow Flowers members who responded to my call for artwork.

Kathleen Barber of Erika's Fresh Flowers grew, arranged and photographed these lovely Oregon-grown flowers.

Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers grew, arranged and photographed these lovely Oregon-grown flowers.

Flower farmer, floral designer, floral photographer, Kathleen Barber

Flower farmer, floral designer, floral photographer, Kathleen Barber

The art directors were drawn to a beautiful, early spring bouquet from Erika’s Fresh Flowers in Warrenton, Oregon.

Erika’s is owned by Kathleen Barber, a gifted flower farmer, floral designer and photographer – all her talents came together for the image you see here.

Our podcast today features a mini-interview I recorded with Kathleen last weekend when I called to congratulate her.

Check out Kathleen’s work at these social places:

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Facebook

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Instagram

Kathleen Barber Fine Photography

Enjoy this lovely profile of Kathleen Barber that ran in a local publication last summer. I so appreciate her including the Slow Flowers movement in the story!

And if the image you submitted for consideration for the Martha story wasn’t chosen don’t feel disappointed. I have been asked to share images with another prominent publication for a pre-Valentine’s Day web gallery coming up soon — and you can be sure your floral submissions will be included — I’ll share details once they’re published.

10628400_887376461342199_5702140127668746605_n Next, Amy McGee of the blog Botanical Brouhaha hosted a guest post from me last week in which I shared the Slow Flowers story.

I am so appreciative that Amy dedicated her time (and valuable online space on her popular floral blog) to share the Slowflowers.com story with her readers.

One lucky reader won our giveaway of a one-year Premium Listing to promote her floral business.

Congratulations to Eden Frei of The Garden of Eden Floral Design. I’m so pleased that visitors to Slowflowers.com will soon discover This Idaho-based floral design business that also serves the Spokane, Washington area.

Okay, it’s time to introduce you to Quill Teal-Sullivan, horticulturist, flower farmer and floral designer.

MB_mast3 Quill is the garden manager of Meadowburn Farm, a historic garden and working farm located in the Warwick and Vernon Valley, just 90 minutes from NYC.

There, she is leading preservation efforts and saving the century-old “picking garden” and heirloom floral varieties once grown by the original owner, Helena Rutherfurd Ely (1858-1920), a pioneering figure in American horticulture at the turn of the 20th century and founding member of the Garden Club of America.

Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan, today's inspiring guest.

Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan, today’s inspiring guest.

Quill has worked with the owners of Meadowburn Farm for the past six years to preserve their significant historic gardens, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sit at the center of Meadowburn’s 590 acre preserved farm.

As a graduate student in the Longwood Graduate Program, she spent two years researching the garden’s history and possibilities for their preservation, which served as the topic of her master’s thesis.

Today she acts as Meadowburn’s Garden Manager, working day in and day out to bring the 130 year old gardens back to life.

An aerial view of Meadowburn Farm today.

An aerial view of Meadowburn Farm today.

Helena Rutherford Ely

Helena Rutherford Ely

Here’s a bit more about Meadowburn from the beautiful web site:

Helena Rutherfurd Ely built her gardens surrounding her country home Meadowburn over the course of a forty-year period with the help of her loyal gardener, Albert Furman.

Through trial and error she developed the practical hands-on horticultural knowledge that informed and inspired  her three widely influential books on hardy gardening.

In her day, Helena was considered one of the premier garden experts in America and her gardens at Meadowburn were recognized as among the finest in the country.

The process of rehabilitating Helena Ely’s gardens—interpreting her vision and philosophy and tending the landscape day-to-day—is a deeply rewarding and very personal journey for Quill, who has been gardening since she was a girl helping in her mother’s garden in the Pacific Northwest.

The three influential books written by Helena Rutherfurd Ely in the early 1900s.

The three influential books written by Helena Rutherfurd Ely in the early 1900s.

In bringing Helena’s story and the important historic gardens at Meadowburn back to life, Quill has begun to find her own voice as a horticulturalist.

The feature on Meadowburn Farm appeared in Martha Stewart Living September 2015

The feature on Meadowburn Farm appeared in Martha Stewart Living September 2015

Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, on my friend Ken Druse’s podcast Real Dirt, and on Green Wedding Shoes.

Then and Now, the "Picking Garden" at Meadowburn Farm.

Then and Now, the “Picking Garden” at Meadowburn Farm.

I first met Quill two years ago. We started an email correspondence after Quill made a contribution to the Slowflowers.com Indiegogo campaign and she replied to my thank-you email with this note:

I just saw that you are based in Seattle, which is where I will be for another week and a half before making the trek back East to wake up the gardens at Meadowburn Farm.  If you have any free time in the next week, I would love to take you out to coffee and talk about my project at Meadowburn and perhaps get your advice.  

In a nut shell, I am managing the restoration of a 6 acre historic garden outside of NYC, and working with the family to set up a business which hopefully will incorporate cut flowers. For 100 years the garden had a 1 acre ‘picking garden’ which filled the house with fresh cut flowers from may until frost. We still have over 500 linear feet of heirloom peonies, and hundreds of heirloom dahlias.  I have done quite a bit of research on the possibility of selling our cuts, and have spoken with several other growers such as the folks at Jello Mold. Would you be willing to meet with me?  I would be so grateful.

That turned out to be a lovely moment in the midst of my busy Indiegogo campaign when Quill and I met at my neighborhood bakery.

The beautiful and timeless bearded irises at Meadowburn Farm.

The beautiful and timeless bearded irises at Meadowburn Farm.

She shared the fascinating story of her own journey into horticulture and tempted me with tales of a once famed but nearly forgotten American garden writer whose historic gardens were coming back to life in Quill’s hands. In retrospect, I realize what an opportunity I missed to share her story with the larger community, mainly because that was months before we launched this Podcast.

Meadowburn's famous dahlia garden.

Meadowburn’s famous dahlia garden.

So now I’m making up for that oversight and while Quill was back in the Seattle area over the holidays we sat down to record this interview. Consider this our delayed-by-2-years “do-over” and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

peonies-960

Thank you for joining me today. I hope you’re inspired to check out the Meadowburn Farm web site to learn more about this important living artifact in America’s gardening narrative.

Dahlia 'Jane Cowl'

Dahlia ‘Jane Cowl’

Home gardeners and florists alike are now able to order heirloom dahlia tubers that are the offspring of ones grown by Helena Rutherfurd Ely at Meadowburn Farm in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Meadowburn Farm’s Sustainably grown, fresh cut flowers from the 130-year-old picking garden are available wholesale to florists and markets.

Peonies are available starting in May until July; Dahlias are available July until mid October.

Other flowers often available include: foxglove, lily of the valley, iris, cornflower, ammi, phlox, nicotiana, nigella, and an assortment of other unusual, rare, and unlikely cut flowers and foliage from the gardens, meadows, and woodlands.

Please contact Quill directly for bulk and wholesale orders and to join her weekly wholesale availability list. You can incorporate a bit of American gardening history into your arrangements and support the restoration of an amazing garden while you are at it!.  Send your name and e-mail address confirming your interest in cut flower availability to quill@meadowburnfarm.com.

NYC florists can often find our flowers at 28th St Wholesale Flowers in Manhattan.

Follow Meadowburn Farm on Facebook

Follow Meadowburn Farm on Instagram

If you are in the NYC area, you are invited to hear from Quill next Wednesday evening in a lecture she’s giving entitled “Finding my Way.” It takes place from 6 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, January 20th.

This is the first in Wave Hill’s 2016 Horticultural Lectures, a winter series hosted by the Friends of Horticulture Committee and devoted to the subject of garden making and garden design and the meaning of our interactions with plants and the natural world.

The series of three lectures continues February 17 with  garden writer Marta McDowell; and on March 16th with Katherine Tracey, co-owner of Avant Gardens, a nationally known mail-order nursery and garden design/build firm in Massachusetts (and as you all may remember, the instigator of the Slow Flowers Challenge).

All three talks are  held at the New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan. and you can purchase the series ticket for $60/$50 Wave Hill Member or student. Individual lecture tickets are: $25/$20 Wave Hill Member or student. Seating is limited, and advanced reservations are recommended, online or by calling 718.549.3200 x216.

download (1) And one more piece of last-minute news: If you haven’t yet heard, next week on January 18th, Ohio flower farmers are gathering in Cinncinati for their second annual “Meet Up.”

You can find all the details on Buckeye Blooms’ event page, where Susan Studer King and others have created a info-packed and inspiring program.

The meeting will take place at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm outside Columbus, thanks to hosts Steve and Gretel Adams. I’ll be there in spirit, via a Slow Flowers surprise package we’re donating for a door prize. When I checked in with Susan earlier this week, she said that the registration is nearing capacity – but if you’re interested in attending, they may be able to squeeze in a couple late entrants.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 78,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

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

2015 Slow Flowers Highlights (Episode 226)

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
Heather_Saunders_Slow_Flowers

Slow Flowers at The Flower House (c) Heather Saunders

Welcome to the final Slow Flowers Podcast episode of 2015.

(c) Linda Blue Photography

(c) Linda Blue Photography

Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for 2-1/2 years, I’ve had the immense privilege of hosting dynamic and inspiring dialogues with a leading voice in the American floral industry.

You’ve heard from flower farmers and floral designers who are changing the marketplace and how we view and consume the flowers in our lives.

As 2015 comes to a close, I would like to dedicate today’s episode to the Slow Flowers Highlights we’ve witnessed this year.

Next week, on January 6th, I will share my Floral Insights and Forecast for 2016 with you.

The past twelve months have built on the successes and shifts that began in previous years. Each time we turn the pages of the calendar to a New Year, we can applaud the strides made in the Slow Flowers movement.

I can date my own awareness to the American grown floral landscape to 2006 — that’s nearly a decade ago — when I met a very young mom named Erin Benzakein while I was scouting gardens in Mount Vernon, Washington.  She was growing sweet peas and had big ambitions.

Something about our conversation resonated with me. I was an established features writer with a huge home and garden portfolio. I’d written countless floral design stories for regional and national publications and yet it had never occurred to me that there was a great imbalance in the way flowers are grown and sourced in this country.

cover_flower_confidential At the same time, my writer-pal Amy Stewart was working on a book about the global floral industry’s dark side, which was published the following year called Flower Confidential. She delved deep into the stories behind the status quo, and opened mine and countless others’ eyes to the extraordinary reasons nearly 80 percent of cut flowers sold in the U.S. were being imported.

Curious to learn more, I subscribed to Growing for Market, Lynn Byczynski’s newsletter for market farmers. I joined the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and attended my first regional meeting in 2010, held at Charles Little & Co. in Eugene, Oregon, and later that year I went to the national meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I began connecting with flower farmers wherever I could, both in California where I was living at the time, and in Oregon and Washington. I met people virtually, as well, thanks to the ASCFG list-serves where I learned much about the issues facing small farms and American growers.

READ MORE…

Wedding & Event Designer Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events (Episode 218)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events.

Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events.

It is a pleasure today to share my recent conversation with Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events, recorded at her studio in East Palo Alto, California on October 22nd.

Susan is a member of Slowflowers.com.

I featured this gifted floral artist in a short interview a few weeks ago to discuss her installation at The Flower House in Detroit, as part of a round-up podcast conversation with several of the designers involved in The Flower House a few weeks ago.

You can listen to that interview here.

When I realized that I would be in her area the following week, for a lecture and workshop I was scheduled to give at Filoli, the historic estate, I invited myself to Three Sisters Flowers for a tour and interview to share with you.

 

 

Here’s more about Susan:

As owner, lead floral designer and certified wedding coordinator, Susan really knows her flowers and celebrates abundance and natural beauty through her designs. She is constantly doing research to find the newest trends but she also enjoys creating classics.

A Susan Kelly garden-inspired bouquet.

A Susan Kelly garden-inspired bouquet.

And a lovely floral crown by Susan Kelly.

And a lovely floral crown by Susan Kelly.

Susan’s signature design style is simple, natural and elegant, mirroring nature’s effortless beauty.

Susan’s passion for floral design began when she was young. She was immersed in the world of floral design through her first job in high school at the local florist and went on to major in Ornamental Horticulture in college.

It later led her to work as a floral designer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, (one of the busiest florists in the world) and, more recently, as a freelance designer for nationally acclaimed Mark’s Garden in Los Angeles.

Susan has also worked a wedding coordinator for the gorgeous and very busy Stanford Memorial Church on the Stanford University campus.

I caught this image of Susan consulting with a bridal client who stopped by to see a sneak preview of her bouquets and centerpieices.

I caught this image of Susan consulting with a bridal client who stopped by to see a sneak preview of her bouquets and centerpieices.

During a hectic wedding season a few years ago, mothers of her bridal clients discovered that Susan was willing and able to step up to more than just delivering the flowers.

As a result, Three Sisters add wedding planning, coordination and consulting to their services.

Susan became certified as a Wedding and Event Consultant through WPI.

She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events and is very active in the event and wedding industry.

 

Breathtaking chandelier!

Breathtaking chandelier!

Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events cares about the environment and Susan considers herself a “green florist,” employing the following practices:

  • Composting all our plant and organic waste

  • Recycling all packaging materials

  • Organic flowers by request

  • Locally grown flowers when possible

  • Re-using containers and supplies

    Apples! Seasonal and local!

    Apples! Seasonal and local!

Leo in a floral collar.

Leo in a floral collar.

Follow Susan and Three Sisters:

Three Sisters on Facebook

Three Sisters on Pinterest

Three Sisters on Instagram

Here are details about next week’s three-day Chapel Designers California conference, which Susan will host at the studio of Three Sisters Custom Floral & Events on November 9, 10 and 11.

After spending 30 minutes with Susan, I hope you feel her incredible passion for what she does.

To me, her passion is inspiring and contagious.

Susan puts her whole heart into each event and it’s no surprise that she’s has formed lasting friendships with many of the clients and professionals she has worked with.

That’s the epitome of a leader in the Slow Flowers community.

The famous moss armchair is a popular feature of many Three Sisters' weddings, designed by Susan Kelly.

The famous moss armchair is a popular feature of many Three Sisters’ weddings, designed by Susan Kelly.

Just for fun . . .

Just for fun . . .

More beautiful and local flowers.

More beautiful and local flowers, artfully arranged by Susan Kelly.

Thanks to the Slow Flowers Tribe, this podcast has been downloaded more than 70,000 times.

Whether you’ve just discovered this Podcast or whether you’re a longtime listener, don’t forget that we’ve archived all of the past episodes at Debraprinzing.com – more than two years of conversations with American flower farmers and floral designers – leading voices in the progressive, American-grown community.

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.

Shade Plants for Floral Design with Author Ken Druse (Episode 204)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
While recording our conversation for this podcast episode I asked Ken if he would design a shade-lover's floral arrangement and share a photo. Here's what he harvested from his garden earlier this week. Beautiful!

While recording our conversation for this podcast episode I asked Ken if he would design a shade-lover’s floral arrangement and share a photo. Here’s what he harvested from his garden earlier this week. Beautiful! See footnotes for ingredient list.

Hear from Ken Druse, who shares his love of shade gardening and all its joys.

Hear from Ken Druse, who shares his love of shade gardening and all its joys.

Author/photographer, lecturer and radio host Ken Druse has contributed to nearly every garden and home design magazine in America.

He is probably best known for his books, which the New York Times called “bibles for serious gardeners.”

The American Horticultural Society chose his book, The Passion for Gardening, as best book of the year; and the Wall Street Journal recommended it as one of the “five garden books to own.”

Ken has authored 20 gardening books, including recent titles PLANTHROPOLGY: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites and Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Companions, which features both Ken’s photography and that of digital artist Ellen Hoverkamp.

Solomon's seal (Polygonatum hybridum), a popular spring "cut" for floral design.

Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum hybridum), a popular spring “cut” for floral design.

In 2004, the Garden Club of America awarded Ken the Sarah Chapman Francis medal for lifetime literary achievement. In 2013 Garden Writers Association awarded Ken the gold medal for photography and the silver medal for writing. In 2013, the Smithsonian Institute announced the acquisition of the Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photography, comprising 100,000 images of American gardens and plants.

Digitalis purpurea 'Alba' from p. 179.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’ from p. 179.

I have interviewed Ken for stories about his work that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, so it is with great pleasure that I welcome him to the Slow Flowers Podcast. Ken is a pioneer of gardening podcasts, having been on the air for a decade with his national podcast and public radio show “Ken Druse Real Dirt,” which listeners can hear through their computers and iPods.

web_cover New Shade copy 3 - Copy We’re here today to discuss Ken’s timely new book, The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change, published in May by Stewart Tabori & Chang.

Ken reveals the low-stress environment of shade (cooler temperatures; fewer water demands) and how shade is extremely beneficial for our plants, our planet and us.

The thriving garden of the future might just exist in the understory!

I come to floral design from the residential garden and a love of plants. And the floral designers in my world are always on the lookout for uncommon, ephemeral lovelies.

Guess what? Many of those special fronds, flowers, leaves and branches can be found in the shade garden. Learning from a master like Ken Druse is a huge treat — I hope you found what he shared as inspiring as I did.

I highly recommend this comprehensive guide to “all things shade.” For gardeners and floral designers alike, “The New Shade Garden” is packed with inspiration and with ideas for having a lush, textural and fragrant garden where many colors exist!

logo KDRD plain And just for fun, to get a flavor of Ken’s wonderful and welcoming interview style (and to hear his radio-perfect voice!) here are links to the two Ken Druse Real Dirt episodes where I appeared as his guest:

May 11, 2012, “Field to Vase”

March 22, 2013, “The Local Flower Movement’s Champion”

From page 223 of The New Shade Garden: Ken repurposed an outdoor fireplace as a staging platform for his summering houseplants.

From page 223 of The New Shade Garden: Ken repurposed an outdoor fireplace as a staging platform for his summering houseplants.

On his web site, Ken writes:  Spending time in nature, especially nurturing plants, strengthens our connection with the natural rhythms of life. In the garden, we often experience a kind of “meditation therapy”–weeding actually becomes a time to sort through the other parts of our busy lives. 

Hosta clausa in all of its glory brightens up any dark spot in the garden. From page 80.

Hosta clausa in all of its glory brightens up any dark spot in the garden. From page 80.

I couldn’t agree more, and like Ken, I see the garden as a metaphor for life.

On August 15th, if you are in the Northeast, you have a chance to hear Ken Druse lecture on shade; take his hands-on garden-photography workshop; shop a rare-plant sale; and tour the garden of fellow garden writer, editor and podcaster Margaret Roach in Copake Falls, New York as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Day in her area. Here are details for purchasing tickets and to find the full day’s schedule.

Follow Ken Druse on Facebook here.

Find Ken Druse on Great Garden Speakers here.

A pale-colored wall illuminates the garden where a Magnolia grandiflora tree is espaliered.

A pale-colored wall illuminates the garden where a Magnolia grandiflora tree is espaliered.

Ken Druse’s “The New Shade Garden” floral arrangement includes:

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Foliage from three different hostas

Flowers from two hosta varieties

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (slightly faded to green)

Pachysandra terminalis ‘Variegata’

And “whips” (actually flower spikes) from Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’

Listeners like you have downloaded this podcast nearly 58,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

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

An Artist’s Relationship with Floral Design, Abbie Zabar: Ten Years of Flowers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Episode 196)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
In this pencil study, Abbie Zabar captures an exuberant floral arrangement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Great Hall.

In this pencil study, Abbie Zabar captures an exuberant floral arrangement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Great Hall.

50kdownloads This week we’re celebrating the 50,000th download of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

As of today, we’ve produced 97 episodes bringing you the leading voices in the American Grown floral community – from flower farmers to floral designers, the inspiring people working to save flowers as part of our nation’s agricultural heritage and keep our flowers local, seasonal, sustainable — and American grown.

I am grateful to my past guests, each of whom has shared his or her story with listeners. And I’m so thankful to listeners who regularly tune in, comment, share and like this endeavor.

Students at Sarah Pabody's floral design workshop learn about the origin of the flowers in their lives. (c) Elena Slesarchuk, courtesy of Triple Wren Farm.

Students at Sarah Pabody’s floral design workshop learn about the origin of the flowers in their lives. (c) Elena Slesarchuk, courtesy of Triple Wren Farm.

Before we meet Abbie Zabar, this week’s guest, I wanted to share a text that I received this week from my friend Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms located just north of Bellingham, Washington.

Sarah and her husband Steve Pabody are big promoters of the Slow Flowers Movement. When Sarah leads design workshops at Triple Wren she does something for which I’m so grateful.

Each student is handed one of the Slow Flowers infographics that reads “Where do your flowers come from?”

Then Sarah leads a short discussion about the frightening statistics revealing the small percentage of domestic flowers in the marketplace versus imported flowers, as well as the cost of those imported flowers, both environmentally but also economically, to local communities.

She texted me photos of last weekend’s workshop, which I have permission to share with you.

Even the youngest floral design student learns about the Slow Flowers Movement at Triple Wren Farms! (c) Elena Slesarchuk.

Even the youngest floral design student is introduced to the Slow Flowers Movement at Triple Wren Farms! (c) Elena Slesarchuk.

 

 

Said Sarah: “I thought you’d like to see your Infographics in action – at every workshop, I issue a challenge to each person to casually ask another person in their lives (grocery florist, family member, however they can work it into their daily conversation),”Do you know where these flowers were grown?”

If anyone listening to this story feels moved to do the same with their own customers, please follow this link to our graphics, which you are welcome to download and copy. Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah!

SFlowersInfoGraphic_Page1_Web

Abbie Zabar, captured in a familar pose by Rod Marton. She's sketching in a garden, with paper on her lap.

Abbie Zabar, captured in a familar pose at Rodmarton Manor in the UK. She’s sketching in a garden, with paper on her lap. (c) Sylvia Martin

Okay, today’s guest is thoroughly inspiring in a completely different way. When I first read the news that the work of Abbie Zabar, a New York-based artist and longtime virtual friend in the garden-writing world, was going to be celebrated this coming weekend with the opening of an exhibit of her floral drawings, I had to share her story with you.

As you will hear in our conversation, Abbie is a close observer of nature and of flowers, especially. She captures what she observes with colored pencils on sheets of rather ordinary paper or cardboard.

from June 23, 2002

from June 23, 2002

For one decade of her life, from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, Abbie walked from her apartment in New York City’s upper east side to the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue. She entered the impressive Great Hall during the early hours, found a place to sit, and proceeded to sketch the grand floral arrangements on display there each week. (I feel quite an affinity for someone who honored such a creative ritual week after week; after all, I managed to make a bouquet each week for one year and ritualized that practice, but Abbie’s ten-year observance is hugely impressive).

Abbie Zabar. December 6 1994. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. December 6 1994. Collection of the artist

Abbie was enthralled by the five enormous flower-filled urns that stood in the Met’s Great Hall. At the time, the pieces were created by Chris Giftos, the Met’s former Master Floral Designer and Director of Special Events. For more than 30 years, Mr. Giftos was responsible for the beautiful arrangement in the Great Hall. And, as Abbie describes, the flowers occupied four large niches carved from the central piers, as well as the centrally located Information Desk. The weekly arrangements of fresh flowers appear, thanks to an endowment provided by the late Lila Acheson Wallace, who was one of the Museum’s largest single benefactors.

Abbie Zabar. February 4 2002. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. February 4 2002. Collection of the artist

It’s no surprise to learn that Abbie and Chris became good friends. The fondness she had for this floral artist are reflected in each drawing she made in response to his work. Incredibly alluring, her diminutive floral portraits are breathtaking in both their simplicity and their complexity. Abbie’s own experience as a gardener and her innate knowledge of the flowers, fronds and leaves before her allowed her to capture the splendid bouquets with a sure and deft hand, well before the Museum opened its doors for the day.

Abbie Zabar. October 16 1999. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. October 16 1999. Collection of the artist

Working in situ and in pencil—the only implement allowed in the space —her drawings showcase the vibrancy, variety and vitality of the displays, as captured in one quick sitting.

Abbie Zabar at the Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society's Plant Sale, where she was passing around saxifraga "favors." Photo courtesy of Yukie Kurashina.

Abbie Zabar at the Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society’s Plant Sale, where she was passing around saxifraga “favors.” Photo courtesy of Yukie Kurashina.

You will hear more about her process in our conversation, and please visit debraprinzing.com to see examples of the pieces that will be unveiled in this upcoming exhibition.

The show is called Abbie Zabar: Ten Years of Flowers, on view June 7 through October 4 at Wave Hill, a beautiful public garden and cultural center in The Bronx. The event is free with your admission to the grounds.

And here is a little more about Abbie’s background:

Abbie Zabar is an acclaimed artist, graphic and garden designer, and the author of five books. Her first book, The Potted Herb (1988), is now considered a gardening classic.

She has created garden and graphic designs for numerous prestigious companies and organizations, including Bergdorf Goodman, Daniel Boulud’s restaurants and PS 198.

Her landscape collages have been represented by Allan Stone and BlumHelman, and Flowers in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art series has been represented by Ursus Books & Prints and the Horticultural Society of New York.

Abbie Zabar. May 18 1995. Private collection

Abbie Zabar. May 18 1995. Private collection

Abbie’s artwork has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Parrish Museum, the International Paper Corporation, the Louvre, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and the Vigeland Museum (Oslo), and is part of the permanent collections of the Mead Paper Corporation of America, the Brooklyn Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation and the Smithsonian Museum.

Abbie Zabar. May 17 2003. Collection of the artist.

Abbie Zabar. May 17 2003. Collection of the artist.

Abbie’s illustrated articles have appeared in Garden DesignHorticultureFine GardeningGourmet and The New York Times, as well as in numerous esteemed British publications. She received the 2010 Award for Best Newspaper Writing from the Garden Writers Association for her piece “A Vine in the Sky,” published in The Forward.

Abbie Zabar. September 24 2000. Collection of the artist

Abbie Zabar. September 24 2000. Collection of the artist

In 2014, she was honored with the North American Rock Garden Society’s Carleton R. Worth Award, given to an author of distinguished writings about rock gardening and rock garden plants. Zabar is currently the Program Chairperson for the Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society and a Learning Leader at P.S. 198.

Jar with green hyacinths

Jar with green hyacinths

White roses in straight-sided jar.

White roses in straight-sided jar.

White roses, little creamer

White roses, little creamer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Abbie and I discussed, not only is the exhibition at Wave Hill available for public viewing all summer long, continuing to October 4th, she has a second show in the works, which will run September 16th to October 2nd at W.M. Brady & Co., a gallery at 22 East 80th Street, just a few steps from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This collection of drawings includes the series of small floral studies that Abbie and I discussed at the close of our interview (and she generously shares a sneak peek of a few of those pieces here).

From the grand floral arrangements at the Met to these intimate moments of singular blooms captured in small vases, Abbie’s gifts as an illustrator of flowers are evident. And I know you’ll be as enchanted as I am. By the way, many of these pieces will be available for purchase, so please follow the links to the two institutions (Wave Hill and W.M. Brady & Co.) to inquire if you’re interested in a list of available works.

Thank you, Abbie Zabar, for showing us flowers in a new way. Not everyone is an artist or has the ability to use a pencil so masterfully as my friend Abbie. But this conversation has moved me to use my innate skills of observation more acutely, whether I’m on a walk in the park, purchasing flowers from my favorite flower farmer, or tending to plants in my own backyard.

Thanks again for joining me today for another wonderful conversation about flowers. Listeners like you have downloaded the podcast more than 50,000 times. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.

Slow Flowers cited in Center for the Future of Museums’ “TrendsWatch 2015”

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
Please feel free to use this graphic to promote the Slow Flowers Movement to your own community of flower farmers, florists and customers.

Please feel free to use this graphic to promote the Slow Flowers Movement to your own community of flower farmers, florists and customers.

Out of the blue recently, an editor for the American Alliance of Museums’ annual TrendsWatch publication contacted me for permission to reprint the Slow Flowers‘ “Where do your flowers come from?” infographic in the organization’s 2015 annual report.

I really had no idea how this illustrious association of cultural institutions planned on using the infographic, but of course, I said YES.

TrendsWatch2015 features a report on "Slow Consumerism."

TrendsWatch2015 features a report on “Slow Culture.”

The publication just landed in my in-box and I have to say, it’s pretty impressive.

Each year, the TrendsWatch report highlights top trends that the Center for the Future of Museums staff and advisors believe are highly significant to museums and their communities.

The story of “Slow Flowers” appears in an article titled “Slooow: better a tortoise than a hare,” which highlights slower cultural experiences in all consumer categories.

In addition to the Slow Culture section, the TrendsWatch report cited Ethical Consumerism (which has a lot of connections to Slow Flowers, as well), Personalization, Rising Sea Levels, Wearable Technology and Open Data as subjects of importance to the Museum community.

Here’s a PDF of the article: Trendswatch 2015. You can download a PDF of the entire TrendsWatch report here after completing a short registration form.

 

The Flower Farmer’s Year with Georgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers UK (Episode 186)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
Georgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers in the UK.

Georgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers in the UK.

In the past year, in addition to this podcast’s primary focus on American flowers, farmers and designers, I’ve interviewed a handful of slow-flowers-minded farmers and designers based in the U.K. and Australia.

There are obvious parallels between these folks and our own renaissance and return to domestic flowers. Sadly, as we’ve experienced in our own native land, the floral industry in many industrialized nations has been outsourced and hurt by competition from countries with low labor costs and less stringent environmental practices.

Common Farm Flowers' "jam jar posies."

Common Farm Flowers’ “jam jar posies.”

I’m inspired by the creativity and kindred spirit of all flower farmers who want to rekindle the interest in homegrown flowers and the mindful florists who want to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by sourcing local, seasonal and domestic flowers. Today’s guest is a perfect voice to invite into this conversation.

Georgie's new book, "The Flower Farmer's Year," was recently released in the U.S.

Georgie’s new book, “The Flower Farmer’s Year,” was recently released in the U.S.

Please meet Georgie Newbery, a British farmer-florist who owns Common Farm Flowers with her husband Fabrizio Boccha.

This husband-and-wife team grow British cut flowers on a beautiful plot between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset, a few hours west of London.

The occasion for our interview is the February 15th U.S. publication of Georgie’s brand new book, “The Flower Farmer’s Year, how to grow cut flowers for pleasure and profit,” published by Green Books UK and available online at Powell’s Books and Amazon, among other places.

Common Farm Flowers is an artisan florist company, which means Georgie and Fabrizio grow nearly everything used in their floristry, expressing floral design as “a craft in which artistic flair is combined with imaginative use of the material at hand to make arrangements which are full of life and air, which dance.”

Georgie's color sensibility  is modern and romantic.

Georgie’s color sensibility is modern and romantic.

Launched in 2010, Common Farm Flowers has taken off in the past five years, despite its rural locale. As Georgie writes on the Common Flowers Farm web site: “There’s clearly a market for British grown/eco cut flowers and we’re delighted by the reception we’ve had for the flowers we grow here and the floristry we do.”

Common Farm Flowers sends British flower bouquets by post twelve months a year; it supplies and arranges lush wedding flowers throughout Somerset, the South West, in London and beyond and runs workshops on subjects ranging from Flower Farming for Beginners to Do Your Own Wedding Flowers.

The farm has taken its flowers to RHS Chelsea, RHS Chelsea in Bloom, and has been featured in British Country Living, The English Garden, The Telegraph and more. Georgie frequently gives talks to horticulture societies and gardening clubs on growing cut flowers for the home, planting a cut flower border, and seminars on dahlias and sweet pea cultivation.

Another lovely series of posies by Common Farm flowers.

Another lovely series of posies by Common Farm flowers.

The Flower Farmer’s Year covers how to grow your own cut flowers to fill your house with the gorgeous colors and heavenly scents of your favorite blooms, knowing that they haven’t travelled thousands of miles. Georgie combines boundless passion with down-to-earth guidance and practical advice, drawing on her own experiences as an artisan flower farmer and florist as she takes readers through:

  • how to start a cut-flower patch
  • what to grow: including annuals, biennials, perennials, bulbs & corms, shrubs, roses, dahlias, sweet peas, herbs & wildflowers
  • cutting, conditioning and presenting cut flowers
  • starting a cut flower business
  • where to sell
  • marketing and social media
  • an annual planner

Whether you want to grow for your own pleasure or start your own business, The Flower Farmer’s Year is the perfect guide to add to your library.

Here’s how to find Georgie at her social places:

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

I’ve been in San Francisco this past week, to speak at the SF Flower & Garden Show, attend the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers meeting in San Jose and to scout gardens and flower farms in the Santa Cruz region for future stories. In the coming weeks you’ll hear from some of the people I’ve met on this trip — and I know you’ll find their stories a source of inspiration for your own endeavors.

Thanks to listeners, this podcast has been downloaded more than 40,000 times. 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

 

 

Re-Wilding with The Floracultural Society (Episode 179)

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Stephanie Huges and Anna Campbell of The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA.

Stephanie Hughes and Anna Campbell of The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA.

rewild Today I am delighted to introduce the women behind an innovative flower farm/floral design business in Oakland, California called The FloraCultural Society.

Anna Campbell, who owns the venture with her mother Linda Davis, has an extensive career in horticulture, agriculture, floral design, editorial and retail.

She freely admits during our conversation how no matter what she pursued professionally, flowers have continued to draw her like a bee to nectar. Many of you will understand this “flower fever,” which makes Anna’s story so compelling.

After previous forays into floral retail, Anna developed and launched the current format for The FloraCultural Society — part micro urban flower farm / part flower shop and studio space. She describes the business as “a cut flower farm and retail shop providing plant-based goods, classes and events.”

Anna, Linda and Stephanie in the new retail shop on College Ave. in Oakland's Rockridge Neighborhood.

Anna, Linda and Stephanie in the new retail shop on College Ave. in Oakland’s Rockridge Neighborhood.

flora+circle+logo Anna connected with Stephanie Hughes through the local flower farming community in the Bay Area and last year Stephanie joined The FloraCultural Society as Director of Flora and Farm Operations.

I’m so pleased that Stephanie’s voice is included in the interview because she’s the one who introduced Anna and me last October, when I was invited to visit the new FloraCultural Society shop in downtown Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood on College Ave., a stone’s throw from Berkeley.

Stephanie and I originally met last May when we were both part of a bearded iris design workshop taught by Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen of The Little Flower School.

At the time, Stephanie was still shadowing and apprenticing with flower farmers and floral designers, hoping to find a new career in the Bay Area after escaping from a corporate retail job. And now, she’s working closely with Anna to bring locally-grown flowers to their community!

Here's the artwork for The FloraCultural Society's upcoming Kickstarter Campaign.

Here’s the artwork for The FloraCultural Society’s upcoming Kickstarter Campaign, a watercolor that depicts the parcel of land they plan to farm that’s super close to a freeway overpass.

I know you’ll enjoy the conversation, so click on the PLAY BUTTON above to listen or download this episode. And I do want to encourage you to check out the new Kickstarter Campaign that Anna and Stephanie and their team will launch on February 7th.

The campaign seeks to raise funds to so the new 2-acre flower farm is off to a good start. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by between 11 and 3 for light refreshments, sneak previews of the campaign’s rewards and view a screening of the new “Help us Grow” video.

A peek inside the new flower shop in Oakland.

A peek inside the new flower shop in Oakland.

A bouquet called "Flowers to Dye For," which includes flowers and floral dye. After you purchase the $95 bouquet, you are invited to return to The FloraCultural Society to participate in a post-Valentine's Day workshop with Sasha Duerr, author of "The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

A bouquet called “Flowers to Dye For,” which includes flowers and floral dye. After you purchase the $95 bouquet, you are invited to return to The FloraCultural Society to participate in a post-Valentine’s Day workshop with Sasha Duerr, author of “The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

A medium sized bouquet of beautiful floral cuttings in the signature quiver.  Twenty percent of the proceeds of this bouquet purchase go towards seed, soil, and supplies for the petite urban farm.

A medium sized bouquet of beautiful floral cuttings in the signature quiver. Twenty percent of the proceeds of this bouquet purchase go towards seed, soil, and supplies for the petite urban farm.

For a brief engagement this Valentine's Day - A medium sized bouquet of blush garden roses and beautiful, fragrant winter blooms in our signature quiver.

For a brief engagement this Valentine’s Day – A medium sized bouquet of blush garden roses and beautiful, fragrant winter blooms in our signature quiver.

As I mentioned in the talk, Anna wowed me with a gift of a letterpress print that she commissioned for the opening of the new shop on College Avenue. It reads “Rewild Your Life . . . Give in to Floral Mutiny.”

The mini flower farm, located in Oakland on less than 2,500 square feet. It's ready to be joined by a new 2-acre parcel nearby.

The mini flower farm, located in Oakland on less than 2,500 square feet. It’s ready to be joined by a new 2-acre parcel nearby.

Here’s a little more about the company, from The FloraCultural Society’s web site:

The FloraCultural Society was established in hopes of uniting a network of people interested in the beauty of sustainably grown flowers and plant-based goods.  In 2012, we dug into a 2,600 foot plot of land in Old Oakland and began to grow heirloom varieties in the midst of the city.  The contrast between the wild organic flowers and the industrialized structure of the city inspired  the FloraCultural Society’s tagline… ReWild Your Life.

We are now sourcing from local farms in the Bay Area and have plans of expanding our own farm to 2 acres, giving us the ability to provide you with distinct, heirloom varieties.

In joining our society, it is our hope that you may become connected with your wild side, simplifying the way you indulge.  We invite you to take a class with us, Join our CSF (our Community Supported Flowers), try out our plant based skin care lines, and rewild your home with a locally grown arrangement.

The idea of ReWilding is a lovely sentiment that we can all embrace!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

If you want to get started in or further your knowledge of specialty cut flower farming, or if you’re a designer who wants to strengthen your connections with local flowers, I want to share details of two opportunities coming up. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is hosting two regional Growers’ Intensives in March.

On March 2nd and 3rd, in Athens, Georgia, attendees will meet and learn from experienced flower farmers including Rita Anders from Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas whose topic is: From Seed to Market: A Few of My Most Profitable Flowers.”

Arrive early and attend the informal meet-and-greet on Sunday evening March 1st, hosted by Tanis Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm in Dennis, Mississippi, and Mimo Davis of Urban Buds in St. Louis, Missouri.

You’ll also get a chance to visit Three Porch Farm, owned by Steve and Mandy O’Shea in Comer, Georgia, and participate in a bouquet-making session co-led by Mandy (known for her beautiful Moonflower design studio) and Jennie Love of Love ‘n’ Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia — both of whom have been featured in the New York Times. And not to miss, also at Three Porch, a demonstration of veggie oil-powered vehicles and other equipment.

On March 23rd and 24th, a west coast Growers’ Intensive will take place in San Jose, California – and I’ll be there to meet you! You’ll hear from expert presenters, including several past guests of this podcast, including Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony, Joan Thorndike of Le Mera Gardens in Ashland, Oregon and Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, and others. I’ll be there with my recording equipment and I hope to capture some new voices to share on future Slow Flowers episodes.

There are a few upcoming deadlines to take note of, including the Georgia hotel room block and the San Jose bus tour of local flower farms, both of which expires this Friday, February 6th, so register soon.

Thanks for joining me today.  My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

Increasingly, there are passionate people like you who are joining the Slow Flowers movement, the Floral Mutiny as Anna Campbell calls it. You are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before!

We have exceeded 33,000 downloads to date and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

I don’t know exactly how to credit our growth, but get this: The Slow Flowers Podcast ended the month of January with more than 4,000 downloads, nearly 1500 individual downloads more than any month prior.

There’s something very good going. More people are entering the flower farming profession in the U.S.; more florists are seeking fresh, seasonal and sustainable sources of American grown flowers with which to create their beautiful designs; and more flower lovers are asking: “where are my flowers grown” and expect transparent labeling of those blooms. Origin does matter when it comes to your flowers.

So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Chet and Kristy Anderson of Colorado’s Fresh Herb Co. (Episode 177)

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
Chet and Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co. with their late-harvest scabiosas in front of the old stone schoolhouse that's now the kitchen wing of their farmhouse.

Chet and Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co. with their late-harvest scabiosas in front of the old stone schoolhouse, circa 1887, that’s now the kitchen wing of their farmhouse.

Chet, as captured by my camera in 2011.

Chet, as captured by my camera in 2011.

It is my pleasure to introduce you this week to Chet and Kristy Anderson, veteran flower farmers and owners of The Fresh Herb Co., based in Boulder, Colorado.

If you’re a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers or if you’ve read the “Rocky Mountain Flowers” chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet, you’re already familiar with the Anderson name — and their beautiful flowers.

The Fresh Herb Company is a specialty grower of culinary and ornamental greenhouse crops and fresh field-cut flowers, proudly serving the Rocky Mountain West local market for over 30 years.

Chet and Kristy grow fresh greenhouse and field-cut flowers May through October. They market field fresh bouquets, peonies, phlox, sunflowers, zinnias, delphinium, larkspur, and many more varieties to customers throughout the Rocky Mountain Region — including grocery chains, weddings and special events., as well as at the Boulder County Farmers Market,

The Fresh Herb Co. Farm, in a pre-flood photo Kristy recently shared.

The Fresh Herb Co. Farm, in a pre-flood photo Kristy recently shared.

Warm, intelligent, creative and engaging, this couple has been so generous over the years in sharing their home and time with me. I visited their farm in May 2011, after being part of a lecture series at the Denver Botanic Garden.

We reconnected in November 2012, when Kristy and Chet came to the ASCFG national conference that was held in Tacoma. And when it turned out that I was going to fly through Denver on my way to a conference for professional speakers this past November, well . . . I basically invited myself to Longmont, about 20 minutes from Boulder, where the Andersons live on the most picturesque flower farm.

Chet emailed me back almost immediately, saying “yes.” Hi Debra…..we would love to see you. Let’s count on seeing you here at the farm at 12:ish.  We’ll have a bite here and get you on the road in time to make it to the Springs by 4:00. Sound ok? Thanks, C.

The big, blue, Colorado sky, as captured on my visit last November. Wow! I know why this place is so special to the Anderson family.

The big, blue, Colorado sky, as captured on my visit last November. Wow! I know why this place is so special to the Anderson family. Note farmhouse on lower right corner of this sweeping photograph.

I was eager to see Kristy and Chet and to get an update on how things had progressed in the previous 12 months.

You see, in mid-September of 2013, we got word that an autumn storm in their area caused devastating floods from Lefthand Creek, wiping out a huge portion of The Fresh Herb Co.’s farm. Right after the disaster, Chet wrote this in an email:

” . . . pretty bad here. House is fine; greenhouse is mostly OK. Barn and coolers are still taking on water but are mostly OK. Pump house is gone. The pond is FULLY silted in (very amazing!). All roads to and from our facilities are gone and there is only one way out of here to town. Flower fields very rough….not sure what will survive, though the peonies fared the best (ya gotta love peonies, eh?). Biggest bummer may be that I have 3,000 bunches of sunflowers and nearly 500 beautiful bouquets in the cooler with no place to go! Dang! . . . “

And then he concluded with a few words that tell you volumes about Chet’s rather upbeat outlook on life:

“As we all know, things could always be worse. Very thankful that family and friends, and house are all safe. Now simply the cleanup.”

Growing fields from a prior season.

Growing fields from a prior season, with the greenhouse in the distance.

I always say that American flower farmers are tenacious and resilient. Listen to our conversation as evidence.

After a delightful lunch featuring butternut squash soup (so beautiful that I had to photograph it!), we walked the farm, saw the enlarged and repaired greenhouse, now 17,000 square feet in size, admired all the new peonies and perennials that were in the ground, ready to hunker down through winter in anticipation of spring.

Colorado peonies in the coolers at The Fresh Herb Co. (photo courtesy Chet and Kristy Anderson)

Colorado peonies in the cooler at The Fresh Herb Co. (photo courtesy Chet and Kristy Anderson)

Here's a photo I snapped in May 2011 inside the greenhouses - hanging baskets overhead and crates of lilies beneath them.

Here’s a photo I snapped in May 2011 inside the greenhouses – hanging baskets overhead and crates of lilies beneath them.

Chet (center), flanked by his lovely women -- mother Belle and wife/partner Kristy. Photogaphed by me at the Boulder Co. Farmers' Market, May 2011.

Chet (center), holding an armload of lilies and flanked by the lovely women in his life — mother Belle and wife/partner Kristy. Photogaphed by me at the Boulder Co. Farmers’ Market, May 2011.

Then Kristy, Chet and I sat outdoors on their stone patio. Yes, it was early November in Colorado, and yes, it snowed just a few days later at the conference where I was, at least, in Colorado Springs. But I felt the sunshine on my shoulders and was truly warmed by our conversation. Thanks for listening in . . .

50MileBouquet_book I’d love you to read the entire story about Chet and Kristy, as included in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Download the PDF of their chapter here: Rocky_Mountain_Flowers_The_50_Mile_Bouquet

And if you are lucky enough to make it to Boulder, Colorado, make sure to schedule a day at their famous Farmer’s Market and stop by to say hello to these intrepid and passionate folks!

Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We have exceeded 30,000 downloads and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged that more people are learning about the farmers and florists who are keeping American-grown flowers thriving.  So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

Playing with Flowers and Digging Deep with Fran Sorin (Episode 175)

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we're just weeks away!

Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we’re just weeks away!

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Before we get started, I want to announce our new Slow Flowers Podcast Sponsor for 2015 – the California Cut Flower Commission.

The Commission is committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers.

I’ll be working closely with CCFC on a number of initiatives to promote domestic flowers in 2015, and I promise to keep you posted as details unfold.

SlowFlowersChallengeCover.jpg (2)

 

Today on the Slow Flowers Podcast we launch the Slow Flowers Challenge, share all about a new urban flower farm in Pittsburgh, and explore the meaning of flowers on a personal level with author and gardening personality Fran Sorin.

To kick off 2015, I invite you to join in the fun and creativity of the Slow Flowers Challenge. This project was inspired by Katherine Tracy, a talented plantswoman, designer and owner of Avant Gardens Nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Katherine blogged about taking the “Slow Flowers Challenge” after hearing my presentation at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Rhode Island this past fall…and she started using the hashtag #slowflowerschallenge, which in turn prompted other people to create seasonal bouquets, photograph them and share their designs on Facebook, Instagram and personal blogs.

Katherine’s artistic arrangements reveal her love of the natural world, the seasons, the plants, the gifts of the garden and wilder places. I’ve so enjoyed seeing these bouquets pop up across the web – thoroughly serendipitous and seasonal – representing pure joy for a moment in time. SO I thought, “why don’t we make the Challenge available to everyone who loves local flowers?”

I encourage you to check out these very simple rules and download a free SlowFlowersResourceGuide2015 here. Sign up to receive weekly design updates and follow a link to the Slow Flowers Pinterest Gallery, where you are welcomed and encouraged to post your seasonal arrangements.  Let’s have fun, make beauty, and change the American floral industry with new (and more seasonal) habits.

Green_Sinner_IMG_1067

Briefly, before getting to our main guest, I also invited Jonathan Weber to share what’s going on with greenSinner, a Pittsburgh-based floral design, wedding and event studio and urban micro flower farm that he owns and runs with partner Jimmy Lohr.

Past guests of this podcast, the two have made good on their dream — to buy more land and establish a working flower farm. Jonathan and Jimmy recently purchased 4 acres of long-neglected land inside the Pittsburgh city limits. It’s called Midsummer Hill Farm.

I couldn’t be more excited to see them take this major step, but so much is needed to get seedlings and bulbs into the soil in time for flowers to bloom in 2015. Here’s a recent article featuring greenSinner, Midsummer Hill Farm and Jimmy and Jonathan’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, which runs through January 27th. I encourage you to check it out and perhaps invest in the growth of local flowers in Pittsburgh.

Fran Sorin, author of "Digging Deep."

Fran Sorin, author of “Digging Deep.”

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

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

Today’s guest Fran Sorin is an author, gardening and creativity expert, and deep ecologist. Her book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, was groundbreaking when published in 2004. It was the first book to address gardening in the context of creativity, and as a tool for well-being and personal transformation. Here is a link to my blog post about “Digging Deep for Flower Lovers,” sharing favorite excerpts from Fran’s book.

Fran recently released an updated 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep. The book is even more vital today, because our culture has become increasingly obsessed with technology and progressively more “nature deprived.”

From the moment Fran decided she wanted to share her passion for gardening with a large audience and approached the local Fox TV station in Philadelphia about the idea, she became a fixture on the TV circuit. She spent years as a gardening authority on Philadelphia’s Fox and NBC stations; she was the regular gardening contributor on NBC’s Weekend Today Show, and made several appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Lifetime, HGTV, DIY, and the Discovery Channel. She is one of the creators of the popular weekly dose of garden news at Gardening Gone Wild Blog.

Fran is celebrating her tenth year as a CBS Radio News correspondent. Her Digging Deep gardening features are heard several times a week on CBS Radio stations throughout the United States. She has also written dozens of articles about gardening and well-being for USA Weekend Magazine, Radius Magazine, and iVillage.

She has spent more than twenty-five years initiating and working on community projects that have served the diverse community of West Philadelphia, most recently initiating a community garden and learning center on the grounds of a church in an underprivileged neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

Even prior to becoming an ordained interfaith minister, Fran was ministering to folks whether she was taking on the role as a garden designer, a media trainer, a TV personality, or a radio host. Fran’s greatest strengths are in connecting to audiences and individuals and galvanizing them to take action. In these tumultuous and technologically obsessed times, when so many of us feel stuck, scared, and disconnected from ourselves and others, her optimistic, grounded values, and empowering message are needed more than ever.

Here is Fran’s video – she’s a woman on the street, sharing her inspiring “Give a Flower. Get a Smile” project:

Follow Fran here:

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Give a Flower Facebook Page

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If you want to participate in the drawing for a free copy of Digging Deep, post a comment about your earliest memory of gardening or experiencing nature. Your comment enters you into the drawing, which takes place at midnight Pacific Time, this Saturday, Jan. 10th. We’ll announce the winner next week.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more frequently than ever before.  We’re at nearly 30,000 downloads, which will be an exciting milestone to reach in the coming week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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