Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle and Los Angeles-based Outdoor Living Expert. As a writer and lecturer, she specializes in interiors, architecture and landscapes. Debra is author of seven books, including Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm (St. Lynn's Press, 2013); The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers (St. Lynn's Press, 2012) and Stylish Sheds And Elegant Hideaways (Random House/Clarkson Potter, 2008). Her articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Country Gardens, Garden Design, Metropolitan Home, Sunset, Better Homes & Gardens and many other fine publications. Here's what others say about her:

“The local flower movement's champion . . ."

--Ken Druse, REAL DIRT Podcast

“. . . an impassioned advocate for a more sustainable flower industry."

--Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU-FM (NPR affiliate)

“The mother of the ‘Slow Flower’ movement, Prinzing is making a personal crusade to encourage people to think about floral purchases the same way they may approach what they eat: Buy locally grown flowers or grow them yourself.”

--Debbie Arrington, The Sacramento Bee

“Debra Prinzing . . . has done more to celebrate and explain ethical + eco-friendly flowers than I could ever hope to.”

--Grace Bonney, founder of Design*Sponge

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Marigold & Mint’s Katherine Anderson – a leading eco-floral entrepreneur (Episode 134)

March 26th, 2014

Katherine Anderson, leading a tour at her flower farm.

Katherine Anderson, leading a tour at her flower farm.

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Katherine Anderson, a flower farmer who’s also an innovative floral designer. 

Katherine is the creator and owner of Marigold and Mint, a flower shop and studio in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill district that takes its influences from Europe, Asia and America’s maker/handcrafter movement. 

Marigold and Mint (the shop) is filled with flowers that Katherine grows on land her family has owned for three generations, ever since the 1950′s.

Although she didn’t start flower farming as a career until she was in her thirties, Katherine has been connected to soil, plants and cultivation ever since she gardened with her father as a child.

In 2008, she stepped off the corporate track as a Harvard-trained landscape architect to raise her children and return to the land as a flower farmer. 

marigold_logoKatherine began by planting rows of annual flowers and herbs. She started with the idea of selling locally grown flowers to florists and chefs. 

Katherine, surrounded by marigolds - at her growing fields, a part of Oxbow Farm, east of Seattle.

Katherine, surrounded by marigolds – at her growing fields, a part of Oxbow Farm, east of Seattle.

Much of the land her family owns is leased to Oxbow Organic Farm & Education Center, which among other programs, operates a food CSA that supplies households and restaurants. There was plenty of acreage for Katherine’s annuals, herbs, perennials, garden roses and ornamental shrubs. 

Four years ago, she opened a small shop. Marigold and Mint is located next to a popular farm-to-table Seattle restaurant, which she regularly supplies with herbs and culinary ingredients (a few summers ago, when I visited the farm, Katherine was harvesting nasturtium seeds for the chef to pickle and use in dishes, like capers). 

She has a special affinity for marigolds – she grows 15 or so varieties each season, including ‘Frances’ Choice’, ‘French Brocade’, ‘African’, the Signet series, ‘Durango Outback’, ‘Queen Sophia’, ‘Vanilla’ and ‘Tangerine Gem’ – and many more. 

flowershop_IMG_8356

A glimpse inside Marigold & Mint.

Earlier this year, Katherine and restaurateur Matthew Dillon, the same chef she’s been supplying for years, joined together to open a new venture called The London Plane. Located in historic Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, The London Plane is a shop, cafe, bakery, wine bar, and events space.  

Occupying two corners of Pioneer Square’s Occidental Mall, The London Plane’s larger space is home to a cafe, bakery, flower counter, grocery and larder shop.

Customers can be seen frequently stopping by for something to eat or drink, or shop our grocery and larder selection to prepare a meal at home.

The smaller space, called, The Little London Plane, is a wine shop, wine bar and event space. There, you can grab a glass of wine and graze on a simple selection of bar foods, or shop for wines to takeaway. 

If you’re in the Seattle area, sign up for one of the new floral design series, beginning in early April at The London Plane.  

The floral department at The London Plane - in Seattle's Pioneer Square.

The floral department at The London Plane – in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

Follow this link to learn more about Katherine’s upcoming floral design workshops at The London Plane. Workshop fees range from $150-$200 and topics include:

Hand-tied bouquets, Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014; 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Spring Arrangements, Wednesday, April 16th, 2014; 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Mother’s Day Flower Arranging, Saturday, May 3rd, 2014; 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Katherine's arms are filled with vivid orange marigolds, just harvested at the height of the season.

Katherine’s arms are filled with vivid orange marigolds, just harvested at the height of the season. 

It all began with Marigolds: Katherine’s love for the timeless appeal of this vintage annual.

“We love to be surprised by the stunning complexity of a flower or a branch, and to that end we are always trying out new types of flowers and other plants with ornamental value,” Katherine writes on her web site. 

Rows and rows of marigolds.

Rows and rows of marigolds.

And here’s Katherine’s explanation of why she stocks only locally grown and whenever possible, organic, ingredients:

Flowers are living things and they are a commodity shipped around the world. Considering the fuel cost and chemicals used to keep lovely, fragile flowers protected and alive en route from, say, Tanzania to Tennessee, we prefer to grown and buy local. At Marigold and Mint, we strive through our organic and sustainable agricultural practices to do no harm to the environment and all the people and animals that live in it, and to balance any harm (such as some reliance on fossil fuels) with a healthy serving of good: by growing and selling natural fragrant flowers and herbs within the Northwest. We work hard to build soil fertility, create habitat, and protect genetic diversity by growing countless varieties of flowers and herbs. 

more marigolds . . .

more marigolds . . .

 

another fascinating variety . . .

another fascinating variety . . .

Now I know you’ll never look at a marigold as a flower that’s too humble or common for your floral arrangements.

Thank you, Katherine Anderson, for your inspiration today! 

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 8,500  times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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

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

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: The gifted and inspirational Ariella Chezar (Episode 133)

March 19th, 2014

 

Meet Ariella Chezar of Ariella Chezar Design. I captured this lovely portrait of the floral genius on a recent March morning. She's standing insider Ariella Chezar New York, her new flower shop, holding a vase of her absolutely favorite grape hyacinths (Muscari).

Meet Ariella Chezar of Ariella Chezar Design. I captured this lovely portrait of the floral genius on a recent March morning. She’s standing insider Ariella Chezar New York, her new flower shop, holding a vase of her absolutely favorite grape hyacinths (Muscari).

ariella_logo Today’s guest is a floral rock star – someone whose work has appeared in every hot style magazine around – from Martha Stewart Weddings and Modern Bride to O Magazine and Town & Country and countless others.

Please meet New York & the Berkshires-based Ariella Chezar. For 20 years, this gifted daughter of nature has expressed her love of flowers, both cultivated & wild as both a floral designer and an inspiring and generous teacher.

Known for her lush, whimsical, garden style, Ariella has influenced the floral industry coast-to-coast. In her early days, she worked magic in Berkeley, responding to the untamed, native beauty of the Bay Area and Northern California, Chronicle Books tapped her to create “Flowers for the Table,” a lovely, evocative book that helped propel Ariella into the world of editorial floral design.

Later when she returned to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, Ariella settled into her childhood homestead where in the past decade she has produced weddings, events and editorial projects from her studio there.

Inside her new shop, I catch a glimpse of Ariella behind the orchids.

Inside her new shop, I catch a glimpse of Ariella behind the orchids.

Last summer, Ariella made many people happy when she opened her first retail project – Ariella Chezar New York, a floral outpost in Tudor City, one of Manhattan’s most charming secret neighborhoods, located just a stone’s throw from the United Nations.

Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our podcast interview, recorded on March 11th, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic.

She was mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her – and in response, her design style was and has continued to be unique and iconic.

One bride put it this way: I believed that Ariella knows what heaven looks like, and she brought it down to Earth just for our special occasion.”

For more about Ariella, I turned to her web site for biographical information. Here it is:

Ariella began creating at a young age. She grew up in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where the outdoors played an integral part of her daily life. Her mother, an artist and avid gardener, inspired seasonal art projects that combined nature and creativity.

Today, her designs evoke nature with their seasonal relevance. Her lush blend of flowers and branches, fruits and vegetables as well as gorgeous silk textiles and ribbons combine for a final product which is both sensual and evocative.

Ariella began her career in the Berkshires working with Pamela Hardcastle and Barbara Bockbrader. These brilliant floral and garden designers inspired Ariella to combine her love of art and the dramatic with her passion for the natural world. “Pamela and Barbara showed me that art and life can be intertwined.” Ariella spent a season selling wreaths to New York flower shops and to shoppers along the streets of SOHO and Greenwich Village. Then she worked with Robert Isabell before moving to the West Coast in 1998.

In 2002, Chronicle Books published Flowers for the Table, a guide to choosing seasonal flowers and a lesson in designing with the bud’s natural form. The book revolves around several seasonal occasions, from a summer wedding in the country to hot colored poppies on a cold winter’s night. Beautiful photographs bring Ariella’s ideas to life. Her personal style and enthusiasm makes Flowers for the Table an inspiration for us all.

As of December, 2003, Ariella moved back to the East Coast. 

It was a delight to visit with this inspirational and truly generous talent! My podcast interview with Ariella will update you on all her wonderful projects.

It was a delight to visit with this inspirational and truly generous talent! My podcast interview with Ariella will update you on all her wonderful projects.

I suspect you are as in love with Ariella Chezar – and her giving spirit – as I am. She has mentored and encouraged so many in our industry, not treating other designers as potential competition, but instead, viewing each as a kindred spirit, a fellow promoter of beauty and sustainability in floral design.

You can follow links on my website to Ariella’s work on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – and sign up for her newsletters that will keep you posted on her workshops and her forthcoming new book.

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 8,000  times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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

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

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: American Flowers (and Flower Farmers) Go to Washington (Episode 132)

March 12th, 2014

  

Debra goes to Washington to promote American Grown Flowers!

Debra goes to Washington to promote American Grown Flowers! 

 

A view of the Capitol dome. Never ceases to enthrall!

A view of the Capitol dome. Never ceases to enthrall!

Two weeks ago, I joined 17 of America’s flower farmers in the fifth annual delegation to bring the story of our farmers and flowers to our elected officials in Washington, D.C. Last year, the delegation of California flower farmers who started this event reached out to their fellow farmers in other states to join them. That gesture was repeated this year – and it was my honor to be part of the delegation of flower farmers from California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Maryland and Virginia. 

Such an honor to meet former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan. She is a leader in supporting and advocating for organic agriculture and an important voice for U.S. flower farmers.

Such an honor to meet former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan. She is a leader in supporting and advocating for organic agriculture and an important voice for U.S. flower farmers.

We took D.C. by storm, propelled by the monumental news that the White House featured American grown flowers at the Feb. 11th State Dinner with the President of France. That show of support from the Administration, which elevated American flowers to their rightful place alongside American food and American wine in an important public ceremony for our nation, was super encouraging.

One highlight was meeting and hearing from former USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, who has been a huge champion for American grown flowers and flower farmers. She is moving on to do some other exciting things in the world of sustainable agriculture, but I hope to feature a Podcast interview with her in the future, so you can hear her story. 

The good news just continued on February 27th, when California Congresswoman Lois Capps and California Congressman Duncan Hunter joined together to announce the formation of the bipartisan Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

Along with Lane DeVries, a commissioner and immediate past chair of the CCFC, and a flower farmer based in Arcata, Calif., and Diane Szukovathy, president of the SWGMC and co-owner of Jello Mold Farm in Mt Vernon, Wash., I was asked to speak at the Press Conference. Our panel was moderated by Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the CCFC and the instigator of the DC Fly-ins that allow American flower farmers to tell their stories to their elected representatives.


I was given permission to record the press conference, which you will hear in this Podcast. Below, I have transcribed some of the key “sound bites” from this event so you can get a flavor for what was said:

“What makes me really, really happy to do this is one major thing that I’ve pushed for along with a few of my Republican colleagues and actually more of my Democrat colleagues and that’s simply ‘Made in America.’ It’s like food, and clothes and the hammer you buy at Home Depot. If you buy American made, then you’re not just helping out the economy, you’re employing your neighbor, your family, friends (and the) people you go to church with.

“[The Caucus message:] Don’t buy the South American flowers; buy the American flowers. I think once people see that then they will.”

–Congressman Duncan Hunter 

From left, Debra Prinzing, Diane Szukovathy, Congresswoman Lois Capps, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Kasey Cronquist (with Lane DeVries slightly visible behind him).

From left, Debra Prinzing, Diane Szukovathy, Congresswoman Lois Capps, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Kasey Cronquist (with Lane DeVries slightly visible behind him).

“It’s very clear to me that (American flower farmers) don’t want a handout. They just want a fair chance to compete. It’s a very compelling story that has inspired me to create this Caucus because we want to make sure that American grown stays alive and well. We’re going to organize educational briefings, publicity events, other activities for members of Congress and staff. And of course, we’ll be surrounded by flowers wherever we do this so there will be a visual impact — olfactory, as well. The benefits of a vibrant American flower industry reach and touch every corner of our nation. It’s the core message of the Cut Flower Caucus and we’re excited to get to work.”

–Congresswoman Lois Capps 

The 2014 Flower Farmer Delegation to Washington, D.C.

The 2014 Flower Farmer Delegation to Washington, D.C.

” . . . increasing demand for local flowers has reinvigorated our industry and it provides hope and future for the sustainability of the family farms in our industry. Just two weeks ago, the White House actually featured domestically grown flowers for the first time during a State Dinner. And it is our hope, with the help of the Flower Caucus, that going forward we can  make this a commonplace (practice).”

–Lane DeVries, The Sun Valley Group/California Cut Flower Commission 

With the "Washington State" Delegation, from left: Diane Szukovathy, Vivian Larson & Deb Prinzing. The Washington-grown flowers were delivered to the Congressional representatives who we met with.

With the “Washington State” Delegation, from left: Diane Szukovathy, Vivian Larson & Deb Prinzing. The Washington-grown flowers were delivered to the Congressional representatives who we met with.

“I’m not interested in being a farmer if I can’t do it ethically and sustainably, so I was very inspired early on by an essay that Wendell Berry had written on agronomy and ecology suggesting that you cannot have humans taking care of the land unless they can make a living off of the land. We grow without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We’re extremely aware of the fact that we share our land with many critters, so everything that we do is influenced by that. It’s not just a marketing gimmick for us. It’s the core of what we do. And I know that I speak for many growers all across this country who feel the same way. It’s a heart-driven industry.”

–Diane Szukovathy, Jello Mold Farm/Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative 

Here's our leave-behind brochure with beautiful profiles of America's flower farmers.

Here’s our leave-behind brochure with beautiful profiles of America’s flower farmers.

“What we’re seeing in today’s marketplace is a change. More consumers are caring about where more things are coming from in the marketplace, in grocery stores and in everyday purchasing, so why not flowers? Our farms really take great pride in the flowers that they grow. It’s our job as American Flower Farmers to ensure that the flowers we grow are part of the tablescape of the American home – and that (consumers know) their flowers are as fresh and sustainably grown as the food on their plate.”

–Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador California Cut Flower Commission 

I am still floating on air because if this transformative occasion – one that underscores for me the power of story, the strength in shared voices and the significance of taking a stand for what I believe in. Visiting Washington, D.C., celebrating American flowers and the farmers who grow them, and lending my voice to the conversation — it all adds up to a life-changing experience.

I predict that someday soon, when every room of the White House is filled with American Grown Flowers and every single event staged by the Administration in power is decorated and signified by flowers grown here at home, we’ll look back on Feb. 27, 2014 as the single “tipping point” – the event that shifted our nation’s attitude and understanding about the flowers in our lives. Soon these actions — to choose seasonal and domestic flowers – will be a natural practice.

If you are interested in being part of this movement – and especially if you are interested in reaching out to your own Congressional representative to urge her or him to join the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, please contact me at debra@debraprinzing.com or on twitter @myslowflowers. I will get you the simple details you need to extend the invitation to your Representative.

It has been my pleasure to share with you today’s podcast conversations.

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast nearly 8,000  times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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

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

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A Visit with Gigi Meyer of Windflower Farm in Bend, Oregon (Episode 131)

March 5th, 2014

Gigi Meyer, on a November walk through her farm, with a few of her goats, Justyn, Daphne, and Ziggy-Zag.

Gigi Meyer, on a November walk through her farm, with a few of her goats, Justyn, Daphne, and Ziggy-Zag.

A few weeks ago, my friend Sarah Meyer invited me to have breakfast in our Seattle neighborhood with her visiting cousin Gigi Meyer.

Sarah had told me about Gigi in the past, her closest childhood cousin who owns Windflower Farm, situated on land near Bend, Oregon, is in the central part of the state. 

In April 2012, Sarah sent me an email after she had helped me create the flowers for the kick-off event of a Washington ballot initiative we were supporting. She wrote: 

“Earlier today,  I sent your NYT article to my cousin Gigi (farmer in Bend I mentioned) and she wrote back to say she had just received your book having ordered it from Amazon! 

“I was slightly disappointed to hear that as I had planned to buy it as a birthday present but missed my chance. She is selling cut flowers to Whole Foods and I think is increasing her flower production.”

 

image_25231 My breakfast conversation with them introduced me to Gigi’s story – and I knew I wanted to share it with listeners of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Being a farmer is a choice for Gigi. She was drawn to this practice after a career in writing and fine arts. It is a love of place, of animals, of cultivating food and flowers that connects her with earliest childhood memories of riding horses on property her parents owned in Eastern Oregon.

That profound link is evident in Gigi’s thoughtful narrative of being a farmer and more. According to Gigi, Windflower Farm is dedicated to growing gourmet-quality vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. She uses only sustainable practices, no chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. The farm is nestled amidst ranches and the Badlands, in pastoral Alfalfa, just 15 minutes east of Bend. 

Ready for market - fresh from the fields at Windflower farm.

Ready for market – fresh from the fields at Windflower farm.

In our interview, you will hear Gigi talk about selling her herbs, vegetables, greens and flowers to the chef at Brasada Ranch. Named “Oregon’s Best Destination Resort,” Brasada is a highlight for many who travel to the Bend area. Travel writer and podcaster Peter Greenberg featured Brasada and many tourism features of Central Oregon in a 2011 podcast — including a 5-minute segment with Gigi. Here is the link - and you will hear Gigi at the 1:34 mark. Greenberg describes Windflower Farm as a “boutique farm,” which is pretty cool.  

In addition to her mixed bouquets, which can be found at Bend’s Whole Foods outlet, Gigi grows and sells the following diverse and hugely impressive floral selection to area restaurants, businesses, florists and wedding customers:

Peonies Asiatic Lilies, Astrantia, Ornamental Broom, Crocosmia, Dahlia, Delphinium, Foxglove, Gladiolus, Iris, Lilac, Sunflowers, Acidanthera, Allium, Amaranth, Amsonia, Aster , Astilbe, Berberis, Campanula, Cattail, Daylily, Echinacea, Echinops, Eupatorium, Forsythia, Kniphofia, Larkspur, Domestic Mullein, Phlox, Pink French Pussy Willow, Scabiosa, Sedum w flower, Solidago, Ornamental Millet Achillea (Yarrow), Ageratum, Agrostemma, Anemone, Asclepias, Babies Breath, Calendula, Celosia, Centranthus, Chrysanthemum, Columbine, Amethyst Coral Berry, Coreopsis, Craspedia, Daffodil, Dianthus, Erigeron, Euphorbia, Filipendula, Geum, Gomphrena, Helichrysum, Lady’s Mantle, Marigold, Nigella, Rudbeckia, Sedum foliage, Shasta Daisies, Snapdragon, Statice, Sweet Pea, Zinnia, Oxe-eye Daisies, Dill, Dusty Miller, Lavender, Chamomile, Ruby Silk Grass, Frosted Explosion Grass, Lamb’s Ear and Rye Grass with seed heads. 

Windflower Farm Flowers - feast your eyes!

Windflower Farm Flowers – feast your eyes!

 

Gigi's vivid summer floral palette.

Gigi’s vivid summer floral palette.

 

And here are bridal flowers in a softer scheme.

And here are bridal flowers in a softer scheme.

 Right after we met and recorded this interview in Seattle, I learned that Gigi was recognized for her stewardship as a certified Animal Welfare Approved producer. Here is the announcement: 

“The laying hens, dairy goats, and pigs at Windflower Farm are now certified as Animal Welfare Approved. This certification and food label lets consumers know that these animals were raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S., using sustainable agriculture methods on an independent family farm. 

Like other AWA farmers across the country, Gigi Meyer recognizes the growing consumer interest in how animals are being raised. Raising animals outdoors on pasture or range has known benefits for animals, consumers and the environment. Meyer applied for AWA certification to help distinguish Windflower Farm products from other products in the market. “As I got into livestock, I felt that what separated my operation from others was my relationship with my animals. In my studies I have learned a lot about what my animals need and I can confidently say that they are happy and that I do my best to understand and provide for their needs,” says Meyer.

Windflower Farm spans 20 acres about 15 miles east of Bend, Ore. Meyer started with a few goats to manage pastures, which turned into a small-scale dairy. Meyer added a small herd of hogs to remove invasive grasses, followed by a flock of laying hens. “I just kept adding elements,” says Meyer. “I realized I wanted to grow a microcosm of nature and manage in a way that it would be a self-affirming circle.”

In the future, Meyer hopes to make the farm an educational space. “I want the farm to be a classroom that can set an example for people who visit of the potential for sustainable farming and local food in our community,” she says.

Pastured eggs from Windflower Farm’s AWA-certified laying hens are available direct from the farm and through a CSA program. Pastured pork and goat’s milk are available through a herdshare program. Contact Meyer for more information at gigimeyer@me.com or 541-318-1417.”

 

Gigi with her summer 2012 crew:  clockwise Cora (who is my main hand and still with me) and Maria, 2012 intern, and Jake, my nephew.

Gigi  (upper left) with her summer 2012 crew and to her right is Cora, her “main hand.” In front, Gigi’s nephew Jake and Maria, the 2012 intern.

It has been my pleasure to share with you today’s podcast conversations.

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 7,500 times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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

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

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

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: News from Texas’s Flower Farmers (Episode 130)

February 26th, 2014

Welcome back to the Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing.

To start off this week’s episode, I have a personal announcement to make. Last week, on February 19th, I concluded a 45-day funding campaign to generate financial contributions for my new Slowflowers.com project.

With just 32 hours left of the campaign, we'd already reached $18,000!

With just 32 hours left of the campaign, we’d already reached $18,000!

For listeners unfamiliar with it, Slowflowers.com will be a free online directory to florists, studios, designers and farmers who supply American-grown flowers to the consumer. Thanks to the fantastic crowd-sourcing site Indiegogo, which was the perfect environment to share my passion, more than 220 Slowflowers.com “believers” contributed $18,450 to fund the launch. I owe a special thanks to the California Cut Flower Commission (Premiere Sponsor), the San Franciso Flower Mart (Presenting Sponsor) and Mellano & Co. (Presenting Sponsor), for their major support! 

In the next several weeks, we’ll be finishing up the necessary database and web development, populating the site with details about member florists, designers and farms, and planning the pre-Mother’s Day marketing & promotions launch. Stay tuned for more details!

An interviewer recently asked me: “What do you hope to accomplish with this site?”

My answer? “That every time someone wants to give or send or purchase flowers, they stop and ask: Can I buy American Grown? And the Slowflowers.com site will help them navigate that search.” 

The Arnoskys have always labeled their flowers to promote their Texas origins.

The Arnoskys have always labeled their flowers to promote their Texas origins.

Now, let’s talk about Texas. I have three guests today and you’ll love their larger-than-life personalities.

First, please meet Frank and Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.

Frank is the new board president of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, but these two are longtime leaders in the organization. Both Pamela and Frank have served in ASCFG board positions in the past.

I first learned about them in Lynn Byczynski’s wonderul reference book The Flower Farmer, originally published in 1997 and reissued with new bonus content in 2008.  Lynn profiled the Arnosky family’s beginnings as growers of bedding plants and poinsettias in Blanco, Texas, before they added cut flowers in the early 1990s.

The flowers were intended for a farmers’ market that never materialized, so Pam and Frank filled their truck with blooms; drove it to Austin and started knocking on the doors of flower retailers. “People were falling all over when they saw the stuff,” Frank said in the interview with Lynn. “That took us by surprise; we really hadn’t known what to expect.”

Pamela and Frank Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.

Pamela and Frank Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.

Here we are, nearly 25 years later, and the Arnoskys are still viewed by many in the specialty cut flower world as the model family farm. You will enjoy hearing from them both in our conversation today, which touches on how to manage so many acres with little or no additional labor – and how to plan for the future by diversifying. 

Here is a link to their book, Local Color: Growing Specialty Cut Flowers. It’s a compilation of 10 years of their columns for Growing for Market, a periodical published by Lynn Byczynski. 

Pam and Frank will be featured speakers at the upcoming Cut Flower Growers’ School, hosted by the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers in Ft. Worth, Texas, on March 3-4, 2014.

Rita Anders of Cuts of Color, in Weimar, Texas.

Rita Anders of Cuts of Color, in Weimar, Texas.

Rita Anders of Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas, is another fabulous Texas flower farmer who will be presenting at the upcoming Growers’ School.

In January 2013, I visited Rita and spent a wonderful day at her farm – which is located halfway between Austin and Houston. Later, I wrote a story about that visit, which you can read here on Cuts of Color’s web site.

When I was in Austin, Rita joined me in the studio of Central Texas Gardener, a wonderful, long-running show on KLRU, the Austin PBS station.

Producer Linda Lehmusvirta and host Tom Spencer couldn’t have been more welcoming – and our TV segment on locally grown flowers appeared last summer, after the filming crew visited and shot footage at Cuts of Color’s fields and greenhouses.

Rita is the regional VP for ASCFG and is planning next week’s Growers’ School along with cohorts Cynthia Alexander of The Quarry Flower Farm (Frisco, Texas) and Paula Rice of BeeHaven Farm (Bonners Ferry, Idaho).

After I chatted with Frank and Pam Arnosky, I tracked down Rita for more details about the Growers’ School, just in case I could entice any listeners to attend at the last minute. From our conversation, it sounds like walk-ins and last minute registrants are welcome. So consider participating!

In addition to the Arnoskys and Rita Anders, you can hear past Slow Flowers Podcast interviews with several other speakers, including Cynthia Alexander and Gretel and Steve Adams. Anyone who has yet to appear on this show is slated for a future episode — I promise!

texasimageThe Growers’ School promises to be a fantastic educational experience where flower farmers both new and established will hear from some very gifted folks. Here is the schedule and topics:

Monday, March 3

Marketing Session One

1:00 p.m. 
Selling to Florists
Cynthia Alexander, Quarry Flower Farm, Celina, Texas
Cynthia will explain her process of preparing flowers for her florist route, and how to best develop relationships with, and sell to florists.
Floral demonstration: flowers bunched for florist delivery.

1:30 p.m. 
Selling at Farmers’ Markets
Rita Anders, Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas
Stand out at your farmers’ market! Increase sales with tips from a longtime grower.
Floral demonstration: farmers’ market wrapped bouquet.

2:00 p.m. 
Selling to Supermarkets
Pamela Arnosky, Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, Blanco, Texas
Learn how to streamline your bouquet-making process while increasing productivity.
Floral demonstration: sleeved bouquets for supermarket sales.

2:30 p.m.
Workshop One
Create your own wrapped or sleeved bouquet for farmers’ market or grocery outlet.   
Experienced grower/designers will provide personal assistance.

Marketing Session Two

3:00 p.m.
Increase Your Bottom Line with Top Wedding Sales
Rita Anders, Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas
Rita will share her methods of contacting and engaging brides.
Floral demonstration: hand-tied wedding bouquet.

3:30 p.m. 
Tapping into Wedding Sales
Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
Sunny Meadows’ wedding business has grown exponentially in the last few years. 
How does this fit into the rest of their farm business?
Floral demonstration: hand-tied wedding bouquet.

4:00 p.m. 
Workshop Two
Reassemble your original bouquet into a hand-tied bridal bouquet. 
Experienced grower/designers will provide personal assistance.

4:30 p.m. 
Closing
      
6:30 p.m. 
Join the speakers and other attendees for dinner at Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, a Fort Worth tradition since 1935. 
Not included in registration.

Tuesday, March 4 

8:00 a.m. 

Office to Field Business Planning and Record Keeping    
Paula Rice, Beehaven Flower Farm, Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Plan for an organized and smooth growing year with useful record-keeping strategies. Learn to set up an efficient flower grower’s office using QuickBooks to create charts of accounts. Use Paula’s groundworks to plan seeding and field planting schedules, while keeping track of basic cost accounting.

9:00 a.m. 
What to Grow and Why       
Steve and Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
How do you choose which perennials to grow? Which annual varieties are the best producers? Steve and Gretel grow a wide variety of both, as well as woodies and bulbs, and will explain their selection process.

10:15 a.m. 
Break

10:30 a.m.
Seeds or Plugs? Both?       
Frank Arnosky, Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, Blanco
Frank will cover all factors of growing cut flowers, including variety selection, seed types, germination  for plugs, and environmental controls. He’ll discuss tricks of the trade, as well as what to grow yourself and what to buy in as plugs.

11:30 a.m. 
Lunch (included with registration)

12:30 a.m. 
Making the Most of Every Square Foot on a Small Farm  
Lisa Ziegler, Gardener’s Workshop Farm, Newport News, Virginia
Make the most of the high-demand season by providing your buyers a steady stream of flowers. Even better, learn how to get it all done by 5:00 by using the best practices and equipment.

1:30 p.m. 
Harvest and Postharvest     
Pamela Arnosky
Pamela will cover all the steps of handling cut flowers, beginning in the field and going through to the final customer. Topics will include harvest practices, preservatives and hydrators, coolers and storage, packing, shipping and extending vase life for the customer. She’ll show you the tools, sleeves, and equipment she uses, and provide sources for materials.

2:30 p.m. 
Creating and Finding Markets for Your Flowers
Steve and Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio 
Are you crazy to offer wedding flowers? What’s the best way to approach local florists? Are flower subscriptions profitable? Learn from these dynamic growers what to do – and what not to do.

3:00 p.m. 
Breaking into Business: Getting Florists and Supermarkets on Board  
Lisa Ziegler, Gardener’s Workshop Farm, Newport News, Virginia
You may not be too small! Lisa gave up her farmers’ markets to turn her attention to florists and supermarkets. Learn how to build your business to get those dreamy orders and keep happy customers.

3:30 p.m. 
Break
 
3:45 p.m. 
Season Extension       
Mimo Davis, Urban Buds, St. Louis, Missouri   
Don’t limit your production to a “typical” growing season! Hoophouses, tunnels, and succession planting can stretch your cut flower offerings on both ends of the season.

4:30 p.m. 
Closing

It has been my pleasure to share with you today’s podcast conversations. 

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 7,000 times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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

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

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

 

Flower Lessons from the Color Wheel – My Video & a Sunset Magazine Story

February 22nd, 2014

Last summer I created a fun video with my awesome AV expert Hannah Holtgeerts of HHCreates. When I found out she had planned a visit to Seattle and would be staying with us for a few days, I asked if I could commission her to film and edit a floral how-to video. Lucky for me, Hannah said “yes.” 

We came up with the idea of a Floral Color Wheel and created this fun piece below. The inspiration for this video originated with Nicole Cordier Walquist of Cordier Botanical Art, an award-winning floral designer and artist whose color-themed bouquets appear in Slow Flowers. You can see her primary- and secondary-inspired bouquets in the video’s cute animated color wheel.

So we created the video last summer and then I asked Lola Honeybone of Media Workshop Nashville (the world’s best publicist) to help me promote the video.

sunset-cover-mar14-m Lola and her colleague Marla  spread the word and many media outlets picked it up and posted it on their web sites.

One of the publications that noticed was Sunset magazine, where garden editor Kathleen Brenzel and associate garden editor Johanna Silver were inspired to pursue the floral color wheel as a potential article.

By November, Johanna emailed to say: “Flower wheel got bumped into its OWN story (rather than just a blurb) for March. I might need to interview you for some more tidbits!”

I’m so grateful that they gave me the credit for the idea and featured me as the “floral pro” in the new article – out today in Sunset’s March 2014 issue. Sunset’s garden design assistant Lauren Dunec did a great job styling the floral elements for the story you see below.

 gld0314c_Bouquets-page-001

gld0314c_Bouquets-page-002

 

ALL ABOUT THE (FLORAL) COLOR WHEEL (adapted from Slow Flowers)

 circle_sample (1)-page-001
R-O-Y-G-B-I-V. Almost everyone remembers learning about rainbows and prisms in elementary school, right? Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet: the seven bands of the rainbow; the result of rain + sun in the sky.
These hues are represented by both the artist’s color wheel and the diversity of nature’s flora. There is an endless variety of flowers and foliage available to the gardener and the floral designer alike. But sometimes, when you’re at the flower stand or even walking through the garden, those beautiful choices can be overwhelming.
The Floral Color Wheel helps simplify and organize your design process, guiding you to create harmonious, eye-pleasing arrangements, centerpieces and bouquets, using a fun, paint-by-number approach (or shall we say “paint-by-petal”)?
 
Let’s call it the Floral Color Wheel 
I use all parts of a plant to guide my color choices: Flowers and buds, of course. But also the stems, leaves, pods and berries. And then there’s the selection of vase color, another important variable.
When I teach floral students, I tell them that the color wheel is often the most essential tool in a designer’s toolbox. Knowing the basics: Primary and Secondary colors, and how they relate to each other, is a good starting point. Tertiary colors are the connectors that bring together otherwise disharmonious colors. See the glossary of terms at the end of this post for specifics about each term. 
Yellow & Purple - a perfect complement.

Yellow & Purple – a perfect complement.

Thank You For the Complement (above)

There are so many ways to create visual poetry with flowers. You want to express dramatic or intense emotions? Go for high contrast with complementary colors. Red and Green are across each other on the color wheel, and that’s why they’re called complementary. In the floral world, that might be reinterpreted as maroon with lime – imagine how gorgeous that combo could look! Orange and blue might morph into peach and teal (a very popular wedding palette these days). Yellow and purple can be a zinger in the vase. One of my all-time favorite summer bouquets pairs fresh-cut French lavender with field-grown sunflowers – a purple and yellow bouquet that is the perfect example of complementary design.
Analogous color palette of pinks, mauves and purples!

Analogous color palette of pinks, mauves and purples!

Let’s Be Friends: Analogous (above)
Neighboring colors on the wheel share many common pigments, which gives the floral designer clues as to how well they might look together in a vase. In landscape design, you often hear the term “cool” garden or “warm” garden – and essentially these terms describe the two sides of a color wheel. Cool colors with blue undertones include blues, greens, purples and pinks. Warm colors have red undertones ranging from yellow and orange to red and those yummy coral/peach hues. The mood created by analogous floral palettes can be anything from soothing and serene to high-voltage excitement. 
 
Three types of coral flowers - a Monochromatic bouquet.

Three types of coral flowers – a Monochromatic bouquet.

Monochromatic is anything but boring
Out of flowers? Short on funds? That’s when a monochromatic bouquet of all foliage comes to the rescue. Gardeners and florists use the term “greenery” all the time – it’s nature’s neutral shade. But thanks to so many amazing textures, shapes and sizes of foliage, you can pull together a monochromatic foliage bouquet with ease — your clippers and a walk through the backyard make it easy. The result? A totally unexpected, thoroughly contemporary look. You can try this technique with any color foliage or flowers – or a combination of both. I created a small but sweet arrangement using a dark-burgundy aeonium (a succulent) and dark purple potato vine. Two completely different plants; same color. Eye-catching design.
Another way to express a singular color.

Another way to express a singular color.

I recently designed a fun, monochromatic project involving three yellow tumblers, each of which holds different varieties of black-eyed Susan flowers (Rudbeckia sp.) and textural foliage. This type of design allows you to clip bits of this and that from the garden and end up with a cohesive design – thanks to the unifying color theme.
 
A Botanical Rainbow
Nature’s stems, buds, petals and leaves make up the floral color wheel. It’s easy to incorporate these elements in your centerpieces and bouquets using complementary, analogous and monochromatic pairings. Be inspired by this timeless approach to color. But don’t feel restricted by color “rules.”They are only guidelines, worth breaking. Harold Piercy, principal of the Constance Spry Flower School in England, wrote in 1983: “…in flower arrangement, I have always found it advisable to discard any preconceptions about colours.” He added: “Keep an open mind and do not be ruled by the colour wheel. You may hit upon unexpected satisfactory results during your experiments.”
 
Glossary of color terms
Primary: These pure colors include Red, Yellow and Blue
 
Secondary: Combinations of two primary colors, including Orange (Red + Yellow), Green (Blue + Yellow) and Purple (Red + Blue)
 
Tertiary: A combination of one primary color and one secondary color
 
Complementary/Contrasting: Color “pairs” that reside opposite each other on the color wheel
 
Analogous: Adjacent colors on the color wheel, related to a dominant primary hue
 
Monochromatic: A single hue, or variations of one color, including tints, shades and tones