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.”
Three Days. Six Workshops. Hundreds of American Grown Flowers, including some very special Florida-grown varieties.
Having Fun on the Festival Stage at Disney Epcot.
Last week, the Slow Flowers Challenge took place in Orlando, at the International Flower & Garden Show at Epcot. This was the third time I’ve been invited to present at Epcot since 2010 – and I was thrilled to return. If you love horti-tainment (and that’s what I call the combination of talented horticulture staff let loose on plants, Disney-style), you’ve got to visit this 10-week spring celebration of flowers and gardening, usually staged between March and May.
There are no fewer than 21 planted topiary characters throughout the park, from my personal favorites, Farmers Mickey & Minnie, to the hottest new offering: Anna and Elsa from the animated film “Frozen.”
Each morning for three days running I shared the story of “American Beauty: the Slow Flowers Movement,” featuring the successful renaissance of flower farming and creative floral design that’s inspired by local and domestic American-grown flowers. Each afternoon, audiences were able to see that same story brought to life with flowers and foliage. Here are some of those arrangements:
Love this all-California-grown palette featuring grevillea, Gerrondo gerberas, bupleurum, pink wax flowers,’Green Ball’ dianthus and an echeveria.
An all Florida arrangement featuring three types of foliage and ferns combined with trailing clematis.
A whimsical arrangement with a Disney-fun palette of yellow lilies, hot pink Matsumoto asters and ‘Green Ball’ dianthus – California grown – arranged into a base of variegated Florida-grown pittosporum foliage.
A truly favorite nearly all-Florida bouquet with ferns, foliage and clematis, topped off with an echeveria. White waxflower is from California.
The big takeaway? People want to know more! They understand the importance of keeping things local – from saving farmland to the environment to jobs! I consider it a privilege to tell that story while playing with the flowers grown by people I respect and admire!
I wanted to share the press release that Slow Flowers co-issued today with the Certified American Grown program to acknowledge and celebrate the significance of join U.S. Senate and House resolutions encouraging the giving of American Flowers for Mother’s Day and urging the White House to “strive to showcase flowers and greens grown in the United States to show support for the flower breeders, farmers, processors, and distributors of the United States.”
The opening lines of the Senate Resolution urging support of American Grown Flowers.
“As Sunday’s holiday approaches, we remember that Mother’s Day is the most important day of the year for America’s flower farmers, with two-thirds of Americans purchasing flowers to honor their moms,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown program.“We are very pleased that on May 5, 2015, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), with the help of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), sponsored and unanimously passed in the Senate a resolution to honor America Grown flowers and the people who cultivate them on the occasion of Mother’s Day.”We are very appreciative to Sen. Feinstein for drafting the resolution and for her long-term leadership on flower farming and overall agricultural issues. Her S. Res. 166 notes that ‘purchasing flowers grown in the United States supports the farmers, small businesses, jobs and economy of the United States….(and) flowers grown in the U.S. enhance the ability of Americans to honor their mothers on Mother’s Day,’” said Cronquist.
“Today, as the Senators noted, millions of stems of domestically grown flowers are now Certified American Grown and the Slow Flowers movement continues to expand across all 50 states,” said Prinzing, author of Slow Flowers. The support in both the House and Senate is welcome news for flower farmers across the country.
“Last Friday, the four leaders of the House Cut Flower Caucus introduced an identical bill, H. Res. 245, in the House of Representatives. We very much appreciate that Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) have started this cut flower caucus to educate their colleagues in Congress about the economic and cultural impact of cut flower farming. We look forward to building co-sponsors on their resolution, which is a wonderful first step for the organization.
“We appreciate our champions in the Senate and the U.S. House for their support for America’s flower-farming families. It’s a milestone moment in our efforts to encourage consumers to seek out locally and sustainably grown flowers,” Prinzing said.
Commenting on the resolution, Sen. Feinstein said: “We know that Americans want to support local businesses and increasing consumers’ awareness about the flower industry will encourage them to look for that ‘Certified American Grown’ label.”
Americans will spend more than $2 billion on flowers this Mother’s Day, and nearly $25 billion per year on floral products. Research shows that 58 percent of consumers would prefer to buy domestically grown flowers, an option made more clear-cut by the American Grown movement.
# # #
About Certified American Grown
The American Grown Flowers brand symbolizes a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms representing small and large entities across the country. The Certified American Grown Flowers initiative has partnered with Certified Inc., an independent, third-party agency that verifies the source of products made and grown in the USA. Participating flower farms are certified by this agency through a supply chain audit that qualifies them to add the Certified American Grown logo to their floral packaging, websites and other marketing materials. To learn more, visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org.
The web site is a free, nationwide online directory to American flowers and the people who grow and design with them. Created by American flower advocate Debra Prinzing in 2014, the resource has grown to more than 550 members in 50 states. The site connects consumers with the farms, shops, studios and designers who provide American grown (local and domestic) flowers, ensuring transparency about the origin of each stem.
Tony Ortiz (left), with his parents Mercedes and Joseph Sr.
Today’s guest is an up-and-coming leader in cut flower farming in California and the U.S.-American grown cut flower world.
Tony shows off some of the fresh, just-picked lisianthus from Joseph & Sons’ fields.
I met Tony Ortiz last year when he and his father Joseph Ortiz, Senior, were part of a delegation of U.S. flower farmers who traveled to Washington, D.C., for meetings with their Representatives. Their family farm, Joseph & Sons, is based in Santa Paula, California (Ventura County), where the vast majority of their flowers are field-grown.
I always have a soft spot in my heart for field-grown flowers, so I was excited to schedule a visit to tour the Joseph & Sons’ operation when I was in Southern California last month. In Santa Paula, they grow 58 acres of flowers, as well another 1 million square feet of greenhouse-varieties.
To get to Joseph and Sons you drive north from Los Angeles on the Ventura Freeway (Hwy 101) and turn east once you hit the city of Ventura. I felt quite a bit of nostalgia heading up to Santa Paula, traveling that same route I drove for four years when our family lived in Thousand Oaks from 2006-to-2010. So may familiar stops that brought a flood of memories along with the sunshine that required me to wear sunglasses (not something that happens much in the winter up here in Seattle).
Beautiful blue delphiniums in the high tunnel.
At Hwy 126 I turned east, away from the Pacific Ocean, and after a few miles, I exited and made my way through agricultural fields growing nursery plants and food crops.
Look at this gorgeous, healthy amaranthus!
I arrived at Joseph & Sons on Telegraph Road where Tony met me and led me on a tour of the flower processing and packing facility, then outdoors, through the rows of high tunnel covers that protect tidy rows of Joseph & Sons’ flowers:
Bells of Ireland
Queen Anne’s Lace
Hot pink snapdragons.
By the way, as you’ll hear in my interview with Tony, Joseph & Sons also grows flowers in two other California regions: Lompoc, in Central California, where Joseph & Sons has 280 acres of field grown flowers, and Imperial Valley, in San Diego County, where the company grows 75 acres of seasonal flowers. Joseph & Sons is a Certified American Grown flower farm selling flowers across the U.S.
A birds-eye view of the packing operation.
The family-owned and operated business has more than 50 years of growing and shipping experience. Founded by Joseph Senior, a man who allegedly was born with a green thumb that others have tried in vain to duplicate, these flower growers are dedicated to making sure the best growing practices are followed.
We’re celebrating Indiana-grown flowers this week! A huge thanks to my host Mark Zelonis, the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director of Environmental & Historic Preservation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He and his horticultural teammade my visit a huge successlast weekend!
Admittedly, it was a challenge to source locally-grown flowers at the end of April in Indiana’s Zone 5, but with the help of some really supportive flower friends, we pulled it off! THANK YOU to the team at Welch Wholesale Florists (sisters Annie and Nora), who ordered our local tulips, ranunculus and anemones — straight from flower farmers nearby!
The designers in my afternoon workshop were so happy to create their arrangements using 100% local flowers and foliage. Enjoy their work here and admire the amazing diversity of styles and interpretation of the material.
THANK YOU to the horticulture staff (Chad and Irvin) for giving me a golf cart and letting me drive around the “back lot” of the grounds to clip here and there. We gleaned baptisia foliage, oak leaf hydrangea foliage, young peony foliage, flowering dogwood, flowering redbud, hellebores galore, narcissus and euphorbia!
The horticulture staff’s awesome golf cart, filled with my early-morning cuttings!
I’m so inspired by the variety and creativity that one room of women and men expressed using the same “ingredients.”
The Slow Flowers Challenge comes to Indiana with my own creation.
Indiana-grown florals and foliage for my bouquet include:
Kay Studer (left) and Susan Studer King (right) of Buckeye Blooms (c) Jason Bowers Photography
I’m so pleased today to share a long-distance conversation I recorded a few weeks ago with Kay Studer and Susan Studer King, mom-and-daughter farmer-florists based in the Northwest Ohio community of Elida, where they grow and design.
The two are doing exciting things in their community, region and state and I know you’ll learn much from their experience, which they so generously share in the interview.
But first up: A bit of news. You may recall my interview a few months ago with Lisa Waud of Detroit’s pot and box, a studio, wedding and event florist who has taken it upon herself to dream up a project called “The Flower House” – a 100-percent American grown floral installation in an abandoned house in the Motor City.
Lisa has big plans and since our podcast, her first interview ever, she has garnered a lot of attention from the floral design and flower farming community, as well as the media. The Flower House will take place October 16-18, but this weekend, Lisa and her fellow floral artists will unveil their plans at a preview event to be held in a neighboring vacant house. As Lisa promises: “It will whet the whistles of interested florists, curious visitors and potential sponsors.”
I’ll be there to help the designers celebrate the launch of this incredible project. Please check out the links at The Flower House to find out how you can attend – especially if you’re in the Detroit area this coming weekend.
And if you want to get involved, please help FLOWER HOUSE BLOSSOM AND GROW. The team has just kicked off a funding campaign on my favorite crowd-funding platform Indiegogo so you’ve gotta know they’re smart cookies! Follow links to the campaign and donate at whatever level you feel you can. I’m intrigued by the fun perks, ranging from $5 to $5,000.
A few that listeners of this podcast might love:
an American-made tote bag straight from Michigan crafters for $40
a special fragrance inspired by The Flower House for $75
a picture frame made from wood salvaged from The Flower House and made by Lisa Waud’s Dad for $100
a private dinner in Detroit hosted by Lisa and her team for $5,000
Some amazing talents are participating in this fabulous project and I am excited to watch it bloom, flourish, blossom and beautify Detroit, to use as many metaphors as I can think of!
The road that leads to Buckeye Blooms in Northwest Ohio (c) Jason Bowers Photography
A Buckeye Blooms bouquet (c) Emily Wren
Okay, today’s guests will be equally inspiring. Kay and Susan are gardeners, farmers and family. They love flowers, of course.
As Buckeye Blooms, the mother-daughter team grows flowers without the use of any toxic chemicals and they express their earth-friendly values season after season by growing high-quality, super-fresh flowers.
“Just as a home-grown tomato tastes better than a store-bought one, we believe the freshest and most beautiful flowers come from the garden rather than the refrigerated section of a big-box store. By purchasing locally-grown flowers, you get fresher, longer-lasting blooms, while supporting Ohio farm families.”
The land on which Kay and Susan operate Buckeye Blooms has been in the Studer family for several generations.
Located in northern Allen County, Dolau Farm features a meadow set aside for permanent conservation, dense woods, mature windbreaks, and an established perennial garden in addition to the large flower field.
More beauty from Buckeye Blooms
The historic 1880’s farmhouse is set back off of the road down a picturesque lane shaded by towering maple trees. Surrounding the house are many species of trees, woody ornamentals, grasses and greenery in addition to dozens of old-fashioned and unusual flower varieties. The Buckeye Blooms flower shop and design studio occupies what used to be the milking parlor of the “big barn.” The shop is also used for farm flower parties and other special events.
Environmental conservation is important to the Studer and King families and it is at the core of their farm operations. Hundreds of hardwood trees have been planted to prevent soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat and combat climate change. Recycling and energy conservation measures are implemented for every step of the flower production process.
“We don’t use toxic chemicals. Period. Plus, we put our money where our mouth is: we donate a portion of our profits to charitable organizations that work on behalf of food security, community gardens and solutions to climate change.”
A floral still-life.
Here’s a bit more about Susan and Kay:
Inside the studio at Buckeye Blooms (c) Jason Bowers Photography
Susan Studer King’s background is in the environmental nonprofit field.
For more than eight years, Susan worked for Ohio Environmental Council where she led statewide efforts to reform Ohio’s factory farm, wetland and agricultural drainage laws and also served as the Council’s Development Director.
Prior to partnering with her mother to create Buckeye Blooms, Susan and her husband served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ecuador where they saw firsthand the many negative environmental and social impacts of the commercial rose industry in Ecuador.
One of my favorite designs of Susan and Kay’s – love the trailing ribbon.
Upon returning to the U.S., Susan & Jeremy moved back to the farm to start Buckeye Blooms and to live a low-carbon lifestyle.
Susan now splits her time between “the farm” and Granville where she does freelance writing; she serves on the Licking County Local Food Council and tries to steer her toddler out of trouble.
Kay Studer brings a lifetime of gardening experience to Buckeye Blooms.
Kay served as the Horticulture Program Coordinator at Ohio State University Extension Service in Allen County where she managed the Master Gardener program for more than 15 years.
Kay received national recognition and numerous awards for her leadership and programs at the Children’s Garden in downtown Lima.
An expert in diagnosing garden pest problems and an accomplished freelance landscape designer, Kay also has a great eye for floral design.
Kay’s first big floral design job: her daughter Susan’s wedding in 2000. Buckeye Blooms is headquartered on the family farm she has lived on since childhood.
The recent gathering of Ohio’s Flower Farmers shows the energy, intelligence, enthusiasm and diversity of this American-grown community. Kay and Susan are pictured in the front row; far right.
Thank you so much for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.
For Earth Day a local real estate mangement firm asked me to give a talk and demonstration during a lunchtime event held on the rooftop garden of a hot LEED-Certified building in Seattle’s Southlake Union neighborhood.What a great chance to speak with office-bound hipsters from architecture, design and advertising agencies about LOCAL flowers and ECO design!
And what a perfect time to do this – when the vivid hues of springtime are exploding from my favorite Northwest flower farms!
Local ornamental shrubs, perennials and flowering bulbs, with a few succulents tossed into the mix.
Here’s what I included in my design demonstration:
Euphorbia foliage, grown by Jello Mold Farm
Lilac blooms, grown by Jello Mold Farm
Poppies, grown by Jello Mold Farm
Anemones (pale purple), grown by Sonshine Flower Farm
Anemones (maroon-red), grown by Everyday Flowers
Fancy orange tulips, grown by Sonshine Flower farm
Bleeding hearts, grown by Ojeda Flower Farm
Detail showing the variegated aeonium and green rosette-style succulent.
Nice overhead detail that captures all of nature’s glorious forms and colors.
Back view: showing off those maroon anemones!
A burst of Earth Day sunshine in this lovely Washington-grown poppy!