Debra Prinzing

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Episode 284: Wedding Coordinator Aimée Newlander and the new Slow Weddings Network

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
Slow Flowers designed by Bonny Doon Garden Co. for Aimée's Slow Weddings clients

Slow Flowers designed by Bonny Doon Garden Co. for Aimée Newlander’s Slow Weddings clients

Valentine’s Day is over — are you ready to relax and celebrate your success?!

I hope so! If you’re looking  for a great way to invest in yourself and feed your creativity in a new way, please join Anne Bradfield and Jason Miller and me at the upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. It will take place in Seattle on March 6th and 7th and you can find a link to more details here. This intimate 2-day event is designed for creatives to boost their powers of language, narrative and storytelling — on the page and on video. We’re excite to share our expertise and help you develop your business and your brand – so check it out.

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Before we get started with today’s interview featuring a fantastic guest, I want to share a big announcement with you.

Please put Sunday, July 2nd on your calendar and save the date to join me in Seattle at the first SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT, a one-day conference that I’m calling a “TED talk for flower lovers.”

For years, I’ve been talking with a few of you about producing a “slow flowers summit,” essentially devoting time and space to gather thought leaders and change agents to discuss the momentum of the Slow Flowers Movement.

Now, the timing is right to hold such a forum. The 2017 Slow Flowers Summit achieves and recognizes many things.

00581_DP_AFW_Badge_2017 First, it coincides with American Flowers Week, our third annual campaign to promote domestic flowers, farms and florists, scheduled again to take place June 28 through July 4th. Holding the Summit during American Flowers Week allows us to celebrate and recognize the mission of Slow Flowers.

Second, it allows people attending AIFD, the American Institute of Floral Designers annual conference in Seattle that week, to access high-quality, substantial American-grown educational programming that they will not obtain at their conference.

And third, this year’s timing allows us to bring in keynote speaker Amy Stewart to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her influential book, Flower Confidential. So many of you were inspired to change your own relationship with flowers after Amy published Flower Confidential in 2007 and we’re thrilled to bring her to the Summit.

Our other speakers are pretty amazing, too. We have Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., a past guest of this podcast and the florist originally profiled by Amy in her book. We’re honored to welcome award-winning garden blogger and author Chantal Aida Gordon of The Horticult blog, who will moderate a panel on Diversity in the Floral and Horticulture industries. She’ll be joined by some great friends of Slowflowers.com, Leslie Bennett, principal of Pine House Edible Gardens in Oakland, Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture in Seattle, also a past guest of this podcast, and floral artist Nicole Cordier Wahlquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle’s Lola Creative will speak about “reinvention,” sharing her transition from landscape architect to floral and event designer, and our favorite flower rebel Lisa Waud of pot & box will bring the insights from her experience with The Flower House and Detroit Flower Week to lead a conversation on nurturing creativity. Emily and Lisa are both past guests of this podast.

All of these important voices will be shepherded through the day by our very charming and charismatic master of ceremonies, James Baggett. He’s a top editor at Country Gardens and Better Homes & Gardens and is one of the most devoted to publishing my stories about flower farming across the U.S. We’re delighted he’ll be joining us as emcee and media sponsor.

In the coming weeks we’ll host many of these speakers as guests, so expect to hear more as we build momentum for American Flowers Week and the Summit. Tickets are $175 for the day and we have a special rate for Slow Flowers members, so check it out.

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Aimée Newlander, wedding coordinator and creator of the Slow Weddings Network

Aimée Newlander, wedding coordinator and creator of the Slow Weddings Network

SlowWeddingsLogo2 Okay, let’s turn to the inspiring Aimée Newlander.

I first met Aimée in March 2015 while visiting Santa Cruz to spend time with Teresa Sabankaya. Teresa put together a little brunch and invited some of the area’s kindred spirits, people involved in the Slow Coast sustainable business community located along the fifty mile stretch of mountains & ocean in the midst of California’s famed coastline.

One of those attending was Aimée, a wedding coordinator with whom Teresa collaborates, when couples who work with Weddings by Aimée order locally-grown flowers for their ceremonies.

Aimée told me she was using “the mindful planner” as a hash-tag and that she planned to soon launch a Slow Weddings forum.

The two of us stayed in touch and continued to exchange ideas as her project took off and last August. When we held a Slow Flowers meet-up in Santa Cruz, Aimee joined us to share more details about the coming launch of the Slow Weddings Network.

Fast forward to last fall and what began as a Facebook Group with 100 members has evolved into the nonprofit Slow Weddings Network.

a SLOW WEDDING, Santa Cruz-style

a SLOW WEDDING, Santa Cruz-style

Here is the description — I think the mission will resonate with many of you in the Slow Flowers community.

We seek to shake up the status quo of the wedding industry, to reclaim the sacred space for couples who are seeking authentic and “present” weddings. But, more than that we are the nexus for a movement that is long overdue. It’s about educating from the inside out.  Own what you are passionate about.  We are about having high standards, education and building and bringing awareness to the masses.  You don’t have to have a fast wedding…. you can be well, enjoy the process and end with a wedding celebration you are present for, participate in, enjoy and will remember for the rest of your life.

“Slow Weddings Network” is a not-for-profit membership organization made up of wedding vendors around the world. Its directory of vendors includes wedding professionals, artisans, musicians and Mom & Pop shops and other small businesses.  Wellness, adventure and other ‘experience’ vendors that will enhance destination weddings are also included.

Artisan sweets, from Slow Weddings Network bakeries and pastry makers.

Artisan sweets, from Slow Weddings Network bakeries and pastry makers.

As founder and executive director of the Slow Weddings Network, Aimée Newlander wears many hats. Here is a bit more about Aimée:

She left a very successful career in and around the health and wellness corporate world to pursue a long-standing passion for organizing and managing events. That led to the founding of Weddings by Aimée in 2009 and her ‘mindful planning’ approach.  She knows that educating couples on how to feel prepared and organized for their ceremony and how to prioritize choices is so important.  Her business quickly grew, thanks to creativity and possessing a true artistic flair that has helped organize all types of individualized weddings — from intimate and organic affairs to glamorous and opulent occasions.

Aimée’s professionalism, warm personality and superb eye for detail means that couples and their families are able to truly relax and enjoy the planning process without having to worry about a thing on wedding day. Aimée considers herself a “Destination wedding planner”, specializing in areas such as Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Carmel, California coastline as well as International locations (Italy, France, Mexico).

“Team” is a big part of who Aimée is, from her time playing international Soccer, to her passion for collaborating with other vendors at her events. She has managed budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, cultivated stakeholder relationships for large scale events, and offers expertise in venue sourcing and procurement.

One of Aimée’s passions is developing venues from a raw space, molding a larger vision from scratch. She’s applied her passion, vision, and skills to founding the Slow Weddings Network, and hopes to see the global movement grow into a well known organization.

Dreamy venues and beautiful attire for Slow Weddings ceremonies.

Dreamy venues and beautiful attire for Slow Weddings ceremonies.

Follow and find Weddings by Aimée and the Slow Weddings Network at these social places:

Slow Weddings on Facebook

Slow Weddings on Instagram

Weddings by Aimee on Facebook

Weddings by Aimee on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 158,500 times by listeners like you.
THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

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Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at shellandtree.com.

Music credits:
Harpoon by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
Not Drunk by The Joy Drops
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Joy_Drops/Not_Drunk_EP
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Slow Flowers Creative Workshop Comes to Seattle!

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

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Anne Bradfield, Floressence

Anne Bradfield, Floressence

I want to invite you to join Anne Bradfield of Floressence and me for a special two-day Slow Flowers Creative Workshop on Monday, March 5 and Tuesday, March 6 at Floressence Studio in Seattle.

This workshop draws from my florist-focused curriculum, which combines “floral memoir,” storytelling for web and digital media (including on camera). In 2016, I partnered with experienced design educators to lead the workshop in Santa Cruz, Sonoma County and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Many of our Seattle Slow Flowers members have asked when I’ll lead the workshop here. Now’s the time to sign up, folks!

The format’s success allows non-writers to unlock your voices as we use new techniques and exercises to communicate our values, mission, brand and aesthetic. The workshop is designed to give floral creatives more tools for everything from blogging and newsletter-writing to handling media interviews.

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Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers

One of the very special elements of our workshop is the addition of video and audio interviews. We’ve asked Jason Miller, who has a background in film and documentary production, to partner with us.

You will leave our workshop having filmed a 1- to 2- minute autobiographical interview that depicts your floral design aesthetic/style, as well as you telling your story as a creative individual.

I’m so excited for you to have a short clip that you can use on your web site, on social media, and to share with potential clients. It will be a marketing tool designed just for you, with you as the star!

All the details are listed below, as well as the schedule.

On Day One, we’ll get down and dirty with our powers of observation, description, memoir- and narrative-writing with me.

On Day Two, Anne will lead our floral design exercise, sharing her story and creative philosophy to help everyone embark on designing an arrangement that expresses individual style.

During both days, Jason will be on hand and behind-the-scenes, capturing lovely footage that will ultimately be edited into his final video for your use.

The two-day workshop including everything outlined here is $1,150. Members of the Greater Seattle Floral Association and Slowflowers.com are invited to enjoy a Member Discount of $995. This is an incredible value — as you know, it’s hard to find a videographer who can work within that budget for an original, professionally-produced clip with music and graphics. We are also happy to arrange a three-part payment plan for budgeting purposes.

For more details, you can contact me at 206-769-8211 or debraprinzing@gmail.com

Stretching our floral vocabulary with a writing exercise!

Stretching our floral vocabulary with a writing exercise!

What is the Creative Workshop?

This valuable experience is designed to help you clarify, document and communicate your personal artistic messaging as a floral/creative professional. In a safe, supportive and intimate setting, our small group will spend 48 hours focusing on YOU! We’ll go deep into Slow Flowers “brand building” as each participant finds his or her own voice as a floral storyteller. Here is what we will cover:

  • Evoke and express your personal story as a creative individual
  • Play with words to describe the natural world’s color, texture and form
  • Tell your Flower Memoir as Metaphor for your Brand
  • Flex your Sensory Muscles
  • Enhance your brand with key distinctives in words and images that define you
  • Storytelling on camera for unique online content
  • Storytelling in a media pitch — learn how to be a resource for targeted media
  • Storytelling on the Slow Flowers Podcast

Read more about past workshops here and here.

More details and your registration here.

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

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
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Today’s lovely guest, Laura Dowling, former Chief Floral Designer under President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, from 2009-2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

whiteHouseStateDinner2009 Here’s an excerpt of that report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The Garden Style,” a spread from Floral Diplomacy

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

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

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

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

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

Find Laura Dowling on Facebook

Follow Laura Dowling on Instagram

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

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

smFloral Diplomacy_p60-61 PodcastLogo

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 148,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much. If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com
More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.
And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at shellandtree.com.

Music credits:

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

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

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few of the specific comments to elaborate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE…

Episode 276: Slow Flowers’ Holiday Special with Ellen Zachos — from Broadway Stage to Backyard Foraging

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

First of all, Happy Winter Solstice! You may be celebrating tonight with a Garden Walk, a concept proposed by Sue Nevler, a Seattle friend of mine who is active in the American Public Garden community.

The idea she has is that we light a candle and take a nighttime walk in a garden with others as a peaceful gathering of community — by extension, I’m suggesting we celebrate Solstice in cutting gardens and on flower farms. If today is the first you’ve heard of her suggestion, follow this link for more details about Solstice Garden Gatherings.

I’m delighted to share a very special Holiday episode — and I hope it feeds your spirit as much as has mine. Last year’s Holiday episode featured musician-songwriter-flower farmer Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington. In case you missed that spirited program in which Dennis played some of his original songs and sang for us, here’s the link to that episode.

Today's uber-talented guest foraging expert and amazing vocalist Ellen Zachos.

Today’s uber-talented guest foraging expert and amazing vocalist Ellen Zachos.

I worried for a while that Dennis and his music would be a hard act to follow, but then my friend Ellen Zachos agreed to join me, sharing her lovely vocals and the story of her love affair with plants. I’m so pleased she said YES when I asked.

I first learned about Ellen in the pages of Harvard Magazine, which my husband Bruce receives each month as an alumni.

It was probably a dozen years ago when Harvard profiled one of its alums, a New Hampshire native who had moved to New York City after graduation and joined the stage.

She also studied horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.

Ellen Zachos as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, Jacksonville, Florida

Ellen Zachos as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, Jacksonville, Florida

 

Ellen is possibly the only cast member of Les Miserable who has also run a planting design business that served Manhattan’s elite owners of rooftop greenhouses. What a wonderful story and I couldn’t wait to meet her.

Since the garden writing world is as intimate and interconnected as the slow flowers world, it didn’t take long for Ellen and me to meet in person. I’m not sure when we actually connected, but I’m guessing it was more than a decade ago at a Garden Writers symposium.

Today you will hear more of her amazing story — and enjoy her music, my holiday gift to you.

Ellen Zachos, longtime Broadway cast member of Les Miserables.

Ellen Zachos, longtime Broadway cast member of Les Miserables.

Ellen’s journey from theatre to horticulture to her current platform — as the top backyard foraging expert — will wow you.

Here’s a little more about my friend. On her web site, Ellen writes: “I moved to NYC sometime in the last century to be an actor. I know, I know, it’s an age-old story, small town girl moves to NYC, lands a role on Broadway, decides she’d rather be a horticulturist, and starts her own garden design, installation, and maintenance business. You’ve heard it many times before.

“But seriously, after leaving the cast of Les Miz on Broadway, I went back to school at the New York Botanical Garden and earned certificates in both ornamental horticulture and ethnobotany. For many years I taught at the NYBG on a wide range of subjects and ran my roof top gardening business: Acme Plant Stuff.

“As I learned more about plants I noticed that many traditional ornamental plants had edible and medicinal histories. I wondered why we didn’t eat hostas any more, and people planted hopniss for its flowers rather than its delicious, potato-like tubers.

 

Ellen holds foraged wild garlic.

Ellen holds foraged wild garlic.

unnamed-3 “Gradually, my emphasis shifted from plants that were merely ornamental to plants that fed both body and soul, the eyes and the stomach.

I started out foraging in the garden, because that’s where I could identify the plants and I knew they were safe from potentially dangerous insecticides and herbicides.

Soon I ventured out into the wilds of Central Park, the woods of Pennsylvania, the deserts of New Mexico, the islands of Scotland, and the gorges of Greece. In other words, I’m always looking for delicious, free food!”

As the Foraging Expert at About.com,
(foraging.about.com) Ellen shares seasonal recipes and tips on foraging every month. She also works with Remy Martin USA, teaching foraging mixology workshops across the US, and she is currently working on a book about foraged cocktails, due out in 2017.

I love this line from her blog at backyardforager.com:

I want to get you hooked on wild edibles so maybe next time you’ll be sitting in that car with me when I pull over to harvest burdock flower stems. Because so much of the joy of foraging is sharing it with someone who also appreciates the flavors and the adventure.

Green Up Time, Ellen Zachos sings Botanical Broadway

Green Up Time, Ellen Zachos sings Botanical Broadway

The author of six books previous books, including Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, Orchid Growing for Wimps, and Growing Healthy Houseplants,  Ellen also writes a monthly column for the National Gardening Association and she is the Senior Advisor for New England for Garden Compass (the # 1 rated iTunes gardening app).

She loves to teach and is a frequent lecturer at botanic gardens, flower shows, and for garden clubs around the world. Ellen’s show business background taught her how to engage an audience, and she combines this natural skill with years of practical experience and plenty of book learning.

A long-time instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, Ellen recently moved to Santa Fe, NM, which means she splits time between the desert southwest and the lush northeast. It’s quite a contrast, botanically-speaking, and one that keeps her learning new plants as well as new ways to eat them.

Ellen's new book will be released in May 2017.

Ellen’s new book will be released in May 2017.

Today’s episode will feature a conversation between two professional colleagues who greatly admire one another — and you’ll hear the warmth of friendship in our voices.

Here is a peek at the cover of Ellen’s new book, at right.

Seattle fans can hear Ellen speak at the upcoming Northwest Flower & Garden Show in February, where she’ll be speaking twice:

Sat, Feb. 25 at 5:30 pm / Hood Room, Backyard Foraging: Gathering from the Garden

Sun, Feb. 26 at 10:00 am / Hood Room, The Blended Garden: Discover Plants that Do Double Duty

Follow Ellen on Facebook

Follow Ellen on Twitter

Find Ellen on Instagram

Ellen is a foraging-mixology expert for The Botanist, a luxury gin

Ellen is a foraging-mixology expert for The Botanist, a luxury gin

Here’s more about Ellen’s foraging-mixology work for The Botanist, from the company’s blog.

She shared this lovely winter cocktail recipe for you to try:

Ingredients: 2 ounces bourbon, 1/2 ounce crabapple syrup, seltzer

Combine the bourbon and syrup in a shaker full of ice and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe and add seltzer to taste. I add 1/2 ounce but some people like more.

To make the syrup: Put your crabapples (2 cups is a good, minimum amount to start with) in a saucepan and barely cover with water. Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for five minutes, mashing occasionally with a potato masher to release the juices. Pour the fruit through a jelly bag and let it hang until all the juice has been extracted. Resist the temptation to squeeze the jelly bag or the liquid may turn cloudy. Measure the juice and return it to your saucepan. Add an equal amount of sugar and whisk to combine. You want the sugar to be fully dissolved; rub a little liquid between your fingers, it should feel smooth.

Ellen shared these lyrics from “Misalliance,” with her edits to Americanize the English:

Misalliance by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann*

The fragrant Honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun

and many other creepers do the same.

But some climb counter-clockwise,

the Bindweed does for one,

Convolvulus to give her proper name.

Rooted on either side of the door,

one of each species grew,

and raced up to the window ledge above.

Each corkscrewed to the lintel in the only way it knew,

where they stopped, touched tendrils, smiled,

and fell in love.

Said the right-handed Honeysuckle to the left-handed Bindweed,

“Oh let us get married if our parents don’t mind, we’d

be loving and inseparable, inextricably entwined, we’d

live happily ever after,”

said the Honeysuckle to the Bindweed.

To the Honeysuckle’s parents it came as a shock.

“The Bindweeds,” they cried, “Are inferior stock.

The uncultivated, of breeding bereft.

We twine to the right and they twine to the left.”

Said the counterclockwise Bindweed to the clockwise Honeysuckle,

“We’d better start saving,

our reserve mustn’t buckle.

Run away on a honeymoon and hope that our luck’ll

Take a turn for the better,”

Said the Bindweed to the Honeysuckle.

A bee who was passing remarked to them then,

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Consider your offshoots if offshoots there be.

They’ll never receive any blessing from me.

Poor little sucker, how will it learn

When it is climbing, which way to turn.

Right, left, what a disgrace.

Or it may grow straight up and fall flat on its face.”

Said the right-hand thread Honeysuckle to the left-hand thread Bindweed,

“It seems that against us all fate has combined.

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Columbine,

thou art lost and gone forever,

we shall never intertwine.”

Together they found them, the very next day.

They had pulled up their roots and just shriveled away,

deprived of that freedom for which we must fight:

to veer to the left or to veer to the right.

*Americanized by Ellen Zachos

Please enjoy our conversation and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the gardener or flower lover in your life, there’s definitely still time to order Green Up Time as a CD or downloadable Mp3 album.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 140,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens, providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Episode 275: Meet the Authors and Their Fab Floral Books: Louesa Roebuck’s Foraged Flora and Heather Saunders’ Flower House Detroit

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

twoup We’re coming in on the close of this year — and what a year for Slow Flowers it has been. The final few episodes of 2016 are coming together and I know they will inspire, inform, and instigate — focusing on the creative process as each of us tries to set aside time to recharge body, mind and spirit.

Louesa Roebuck, co-author of Foraged Flora

Louesa Roebuck, co-author of Foraged Flora

Heather Saunders, creator and photographer of the book Flower House Detroit

Heather Saunders, creator and photographer of the book Flower House Detroit

Please meet two floral instigators, book creators whose new projects will introduce you to what’s possible when art and the artistic process are respected, honored and allowed to work magic.

My first guest is Louesa Roebuck, co-creator of a new book called Foraged Flora.

My second guest is Heather Saunders, the genius photographer who just released her new book Flower House Detroit.

You are in for a big treat to hear from these two innovators, artists who document floral installations in the printed form, with results that I find incredibly moving.


Listen carefully because we’re giving away one copy of Foraged Flora and one copy of Flower House Detroit — and you may be a lucky winner.

MAY: roses | philadelphus | mint geranium

MAY: roses | philadelphus | mint geranium

First, Louesa. I met Louesa in 2013 when Sunset magazine asked me to write a short piece on her tiny, eponymous flower shop in SF. You’ll hear us recall lunching together in Marin County for that interview — and since then, we’ve occasionally stayed in touch and definitely followed each other’s separate but parallel floral journeys. I just looked up the small Sunset article I wrote about Louesa- and this will make her smile when she hears this – I titled the piece “Foraged and Gleaned”

NOVEMBER: roses | clematis gone to seed | magnolia | rose hips | hydrangea

NOVEMBER: roses | clematis gone to seed | magnolia | rose hips | hydrangea

Foraging and gleaning are the subtext to Louesa’s newest project, the book we’ll discuss. Utterly unconventional in the best way, Louesa has charted a course in her professional life that is motivated by her season and nature-first ethos and the results are gathered in a gorgeous new book called Foraged Flora, released in late October. We’ve been trying to coordinate our schedules to record an interview and here it is, just in time to add Foraged Flora to holiday gift lists – for giving and receiving. As I mentioned, listen carefully for details on how you can win a copy of the book!

READ MORE…

Episode 274: Russian River Flower School and new voices from the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

In October, I had the distinct pleasure of teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School + Events in Healdsburg, California.

Our Slow Flowers Creative Workshop provided a lovely chance to further share the Floral Storytelling and Floral Memoir curriculum I’ve developed. Our group gathered in one of the most inspiring places — Northern California’s wine country.

As creatives, I believe much of our inspiration comes from “place,” and for this workshop, there was no shortage of beautiful scenery, gorgeous botanicals and the most to-die-for studio space you’ve ever seen.

Dundee and her colleague Naomi Mcleod, along with their frequent volunteer Vicki McFadden, hosted our workshop for two days during which we exercised writing skills, stretched our perception of language, and stepped outside the comfort zones as florist-writers. It was such a wonderful experience that allowed me to talk about our Slow Flowers ethos with kindred spirits.

Our group celebrated the conclusion of a successful two days. We gathered for dinner and a garden tour at Dundee Butcher's wine country home (Dundee is first on the left in this shot)

Our group celebrated the conclusion of a successful two days. We gathered for dinner and a garden tour at Dundee Butcher’s wine country home. From left: Dundee, Naomi Mcleod, Julia, Susan, Kate, Debra and Emily.

This Podcast episode will introduce you to Dundee and her story, and to four of the students in our workshop: Susan Chambers from bloominCouture in San Francisco; Emily Carey from ETC Designs in Sebastopol; Julia Beckstoffer of Kiss my Chicks in St. Helena; and Kate Rowe from Aztec Dahlias in Petaluma. Follow this link to my earlier blog post about the workshop – and to see more photos of the designs that emerged that day.

Our writing exercises ranged from simple botanical descriptions (describe a rose without using the word rose, for example), to playing with new ways of naming color, to journaling about our earliest memory of nature, flowers or art. The ultimate goal? To identify our “why,” our “North Star,” our personal value system that underscores our brand.

On Day Two, Dundee led the students in a floral design exercise to think differently about how their botanical creations reflect a personal aesthetic. We had some amazing flowers to play with, both from local flower farms like Aztec Dahlias, Home Farm, and Chalk Hill Clematis, as well as cuttings from Dundee’s personal garden. Enjoy these photos of the exquisite and distinct designs.

Dundee demonstrated her inventive use of natural elements in design.

Dundee demonstrated her inventive use of natural elements in design.

Here’s more about Dundee and Russian River Flower School:

Dundee opened Russian River Flower School in 2013 after training and working with some of the top floral design houses in London for many years. As well as teaching, she was privileged to create arrangements for a variety of events and occasions, including private parties, intimate dinners, corporate functions, weddings and even a palace!

Dundee’s vision has been to teach a form of “unstructured formality” by fusing what she learned working in a more formal style of floristry in Europe with the excitement of the natural beauty and materials found in abundance in Northern California.

Russian River Flower School’s mission is to teach people to wander with their eyes open, see differently and enjoy the creative process. The flower school is located in the heart of the California wine country, in the town of Healdsburg.

Follow Russian River Flower School at these social places:

Russian River Flower School on Facebook

Russian River Flower School on Instagram

Writing about flowers . . . it's kind of like meditation.

Writing about flowers . . . it’s kind of like meditation.

Thank you to our students — you trusted me and you were open and accepting of expressing your creativity in a new way. That’s sweet and I can’t wait to see where it takes you and your creative businesses! It was pretty special to see our group come together as a cohort of peers — and to experience the value of setting aside a few days to invest in each of our personal growth. Thank you to Dundee, Naomi and Vicki for making our experience so unforgettable!

Here are the video interviews with each student, produced by Davis and Ludell Jones of Eazl.co

Kate Rowe:

Aztec Dahlias on Facebook

Aztec Dahlias on Instagram

Kate Rowe, from Aztec Dahlias. Love her simple study.

Kate Rowe, from Aztec Dahlias. Love her simple study.

Emily Carey:

ETC designs on Facebook

ETC designs on Instagram

Love the olive branches with fruit! Florals by Emily Carey of ETC designs

Love the olive branches with fruit! Florals by Emily Carey of ETC designs

Susan Chambers:

bloominCouture on Facebook

bloominCouture on Instagram

Designed by Susan Chambers

Julia Beckstoffer:

Kiss my Chicks on Instagram

Julia Beckstoffer, floral designer and Bantam Poultry farmer.

Julia Beckstoffer, floral designer and Bantam Poultry farmer.

What I found most inspiring was the willingness of our participants to suspend fear or apprehension and dive into unfamiliar exercises as they learned how to express themselves through words. I salute everyone involved for the way they encouraged and supported one another — that makes a huge difference during any creative process, right?!

What drew people to take this workshop and invest in themselves in a new way? Here’s a sampling of the reasons:

“I lost track of my connection to creativity. I could stand behind another designer and sell someone else’s work, but not my own. I want to use flowers to tell a story.”

“I became so separate from who I am, and I started thinking ‘what would I do if I could do anything I dreamed of?’”

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop, be sure to let me know. I’m planning one for the Seattle area in early March — details to come!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 136,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016
Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

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

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

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

Episode 271: The flowering of Philadelphia with designer Dan Fingerhut of Floradelphia

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Flutter Magazine's portrait of Dan Fingerhut, shared here with permission.

Flutter Magazine’s portrait of Dan Fingerhut, shared here with permission.

I’ve had Dan Fingerhut of Philadelphia on my radar for a few years and now that my youngest son is a college student in Philly, I added Dan to my wish list of people to connect with during a mom-visit. Lucky for me, that occurred in September.

Between shopping visits to Target and Ikea for apartment supplies, I snuck away from the campus scene to spend a morning with this inventive floral designer.

Dan Fingerhut is the creator of a busy little floral studio called Floradelphia. Every bouquet he creates dazzles the senses with scent and soul. As you will hear in our conversation, recorded at his postage stamp of a studio that he sublets from a hip art gallery just outside the Center City district, Dan got his start in flowers by wandering Philadelphia’s farmers markets. He was able to source gorgeous flowers but found it challenging to find foliage he liked, so he improvised with scented herbs and became hooked.

As a child, Dan could be found in bright sneakers and a paper crown, smelling the flowers, and imagining everyone living joyfully in a more flowered world.

Floradelphia, the name says it all. Flowers for Philadelphia!

Floradelphia, the name says it all. Flowers for Philadelphia!

Dan poses with a dahlia at the peak of season.

Dan poses with a dahlia at the peak of season.

One of the larger bouquets designed by Dan for local delivery. The vase is locally made by potter Brian Giniewski, whose work Dan promotes and sells.

One of the larger bouquets designed by Dan for local delivery. The vase is locally made by potter Brian Giniewski, whose work Dan promotes and sells.

Today that’s what he’s driven to create for all of his clients. Floradelphia is for everyone who loves fragrance and color; wants a fresh, organic and happy aesthetic; desires local and seasonal ingredients; and values thoughtful, personal service. The studio also teaches floral design and takes a limited number of weddings and events each year, booking up quickly.

A lovely, seasonal Floradelphia centerpiece

A lovely, seasonal Floradelphia centerpiece

According to Dan, Floradelphia is the first in Philadelphia to offer online delivery of local flowers. His flowers, herbs and vase arrangements provide an energizing, joyful, and fully sensory experience for the aesthetically oriented and eco-minded Philadelphia customer, including flower lovers, gardeners, nature enthusiasts, foodies, chefs, design lovers, aromatherapy and fragrance connoisseurs, and everyone who seeks wonderful flowers.

I snapped these photos in September when I spent a morning with Dan Fingerhut and followed him to one of the urban farms that supply his bouquets.

I snapped these photos in September when I spent a morning with Dan Fingerhut and followed him to one of the urban farms that supplies his bouquets.

Dan often gathers his arrangements in a locally-made vessel by potter Brian Giniewski. The artist’s Drip Pots are handmade in Philadelphia. The glossy glazes contrast with the grainy, matte finish of each vessel’s body. The glaze has been developed to melt in a particular way so that the drips can be ‘frozen’ at the perfect time during the firing process.

Floradelphia bouquet, by Dan Fingerhut

Floradelphia bouquet, by Dan Fingerhut

Flowers, herbs, and succulents are sourced locally, grown sustainably, and change with the seasons. Martha Stewart Living named Floradelphia one of the top floral designers to book for your wedding, BuzzFeed called its arrangement “basically works of art”, and Design Sponge recommended Floradelphia as a florist to follow on Instagram.

Ready for delivery!

Ready for delivery!

A whimsical arrangement featuring Brian Giniewski pottery and local ornamental cabbage.

A whimsical arrangement featuring Brian Giniewski pottery and local ornamental cabbage.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation! Be sure to view our show notes to meet Dan Fingerhut, see photos of his work, and follow along at his social places.

Floradelphia on Facebook

Floradelphia on Instgram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 130,500 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

PodcastLogo I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Episode 270: Meet Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party Florist, a New Jersey-based floral design, events and workshop studio

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

2up I’ve been wanting to visit Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party Florist ever since we first met at a Chapel Designers conference in 2014. The sisters are based in Elmer, New Jersey, which is in the southern, rural area of the “Garden State.”

a-garden-party-tami-melissa-photography-0204

Dawn Clark (left) and Mary Coombs (right) are a sister duo with so much love and passion behind their combined creative efforts.

I had an instant connection with Mary and Dawn when we met, because I sensed their passion for horticulture and floriculture, and appreciated their desire to weave local flowers into their business. As it turned out, what I sensed was incredibly accurate. These former 4-H’ers combine a cutting garden, floral design for weddings and events, and now design workshops and private gatherings at their new event space called A Milkhouse Party.

sm_danielle-jeff-farm-to-table-wedding-photography-love-story-studios-0048

Ready for the party! at A Milkhouse Party, the new event space.

On their web site, they write: we share gifts from our garden and treasures from our local growers. We spend an enormous amount of time and effort sourcing (and sometimes even growing!) these bits of beauty. The farm fresh deliveries are like Christmas morning!

sm_danielle-jeff-farm-to-table-wedding-photography-love-story-studios-0061 For many reasons, we focus on designing with as much locally grown material as possible:

  1. FRESHNESS: hand-picked from our garden by our team of designers and fresh deliveries from our local flower farmers, it just doesn’t get any fresher!
  2. VARIETY: Of those rare varieties, what garden gems they are! Also, we can hand pick the exact stems and the perfect shade of pink.
  3. ECO-FRIENDLY: This is a green industry for sure! Producing little non-compostable trash, much of our work goes back to the earth, so we should take care of it. Many of our local growers grow organically. The little bugs are a bonus in my book! 
  4. ORIGIN MATTERS: The farm to table movement has expanded to include the field to vase movement! We proudly sell locally grown and domestic blooms. We will admit that we do not sell 100% domestic product, but as the demand increases for US grown flowers, the US farms are growing as well!

We hope that our studio is aiding the SLOW FLOWERS movement in some small way. See our listing on SLOW FLOWERS or find another local florist near you committed to sourcing local flowers. 

Lush and local, a bountiful wedding bouquet by A Garden Party's Mary & Dawn.

Lush and local, a bountiful wedding bouquet by A Garden Party’s Mary & Dawn.

Mary, little sister, is mom to sons Lee – 6 and Sam – 3; she is a proud farmer’s wife (insert shameless plug for Coombs Sod Farms here), a hunter of garden gems, a lover of wine & cheese (who isn’t?), a collector of friends, a mama’s girl (youngest sibling trait?), a creator of pretty things, and a believer that the simplest things bring the greatest pleasure. Mary admits to being the extrovert in the partnership

Dawn, slightly older sister, is a happy mama to two beautiful girls (Grace, 11 and Leah, 7), an obsessive organizer, an avid reader with a kindle binge every now and then, a supporter of trashy reality tv, a true beach lover (work or play!) a hermit on Mondays, a loving wife to her even more introverted husband (she says she’s the outgoing one in that relationship) and a true believer in doing what she loves: flowers!

 

I am so encouraged by their involvement in Slowflowers.com, especially when I receive emails like on Mary sent me last season. Her subject line: “It is Working.”

 “I was meeting with a client last night and I asked her how she found us. Much to my delight, she found us via Slowflowers.com! She is a perfect fit for my company and I am proud to be listed on this site. Thank you for working so hard on this!”

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Slow Flowers Creative Workshop with Russian River Flower School

Thursday, October 27th, 2016
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Our wonderful group, from left: Dundee, Naomi, Julia, Susan, Kate, Debra & Emily, photogaphed in Dundee’s private garden in Healdsburg, CA

Dundee with her sweet Lab, "Joyce Muriel," who wasn't thrilled with her floral collar.

Dundee with her sweet Lab, “Joyce Muriel,” who wasn’t thrilled with her floral collar.

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 Earlier this month I had the distinct pleasure of teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Healdsburg, California.

This was a lovely chance to share the Floral Storytelling and Floral Memoir curriculum in one of the most inspiring places for followers of our Slow Flowers ethos.

I believe our inspiration comes from “place,” and there was no shortage of beautiful scenery, gorgeous botanicals and the most to-die-for studio space you’ve ever seen.

rrfsimg_2643 Dundee and her colleague Naomi Mcleod, along with their volunteer Vicki McFadden, hosted our workshop for two days in which we exercised our writing skills, stretched our perception of language, and stepped outside the comfort zones as florist-writers.

One of the participants said this about the value of the experience:

“The topic interested me since I have been on a mission to find where I am going with my business and how to incorporate our family farm and tell our story.

“I plan to use this as I update and rebrand my business and where I am going with it.”

 

Writing about flowers . . . it's kind of like meditation.

Writing about flowers . . . it’s kind of like meditation.

This is the third Creative Workshop and what I am finding most inspiring is how willing our participants suspend fear or apprehension and dive into unfamiliar exercises to express themselves through words. I salute everyone involved for the way they encouraged and supported one another — that makes a huge difference during any creative process, right?!

I love Kate's concentration as she writes about a dahlia!

I love Kate’s concentration as she writes about a dahlia!

What drew people to take this workshop and invest in themselves in a new way? Here’s a sampling of the reasons:

“I lost track of my connection to creativity. I could stand behind another designer and sell someone else’s work, but not my own. I want to use flowers to tell a story.”

“I became so separate from who I am, and I started thinking ‘what would I do if I could do anything I dreamed of?'”

Our writing exercises ranged from simple botanical descriptions (describe a rose without using the word rose, for example), to playing with new ways of naming color, to journaling about our earliest memory of nature, flowers or art. The ultimate goal? To identify our “why,” our “North Star,” our personal value system that underscores our brand.

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