July 9th, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window
Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams
Today’s guest is Bess Wyrick, founder and creative director of Celadon & Celery, a floral design and events studio based in New York City and Los Angeles.
I first learned of Bess when researching florists to possibly feature in The 50 Mile Bouquet – I wanted to document the emerging business model of floral designers who actively promoted green practices, such as using seasonal and local flowers, embracing earth-friendly products and promoting anti-mass market style.
I later learned that this category is called “eco-couture,” and it’s quite possible that Bess coined the phrase herself.
May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick’s floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.
In 2009, Bess’s Celadon & Celery was featured in a New York Times‘ blog post about “organic flower” sourcing. The writer cited Bess’s policy of sourcing flowers within a 200-mile radius of NYC and also noted that when seasonal flowers aren’t available, she purchased Fair Trade, Veriflora and USDA organic flowers from certified vendors.
The following year, in 2010, BizBash, a web site devoted to event planning, published a piece about Celadon & Celery that stated: “. . . sustainability is important to Wyrick. She composts, grows many of her own plants in her Chelsea studio, sources flowers from local growers or certified organic suppliers, and scavenges for materials to repurpose.”
Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.
To read about that philosophy today – in 2015 – doesn’t seem all that unusual. But five years ago, it was rare. Believe me, I counted on one hand the number of designers proactively taking the green approach. I saved that article in my folder of inspiring designers.
So how cool was it that when Celadon & Celery brought its floral design workshop series to Los Angeles, Bess’s publicist pitched me to write the story.
Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery
I was definitely intrigued. Intimate hands-on floral design workshops had hit the East Coast, and the New York Times had run a piece in 2010 about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn (and owners Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen, two recent guests of this podcast). I’d even led a few seasonal floral workshops for Ravenna Gardens in Seattle in 2010, but I hadn’t seen much like this happening elsewhere on the West Coast.
My editor at the Los Angeles Times agreed, and I did a short Q&A interview with Bess about the workshop series in fall 2011. At the time, Celadon & Celery was charging $300 for its two-hour sustainable-design workshops at Bess’s loft-studio in New York’s Chelsea Flower District. For the Los Angeles expansion, she dropped the tuition to $125 and used social media channels to promote the classes.
Overwhelmed by the positive response, Bess rented a photography studio in downtown Los Angeles and turned it into a classroom. She hired a few local freelancers to help and ran three classes a day for three weeks. “In that time we taught floral design to more than 800 people,” Bess marvels.
bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation
I was able to witness the excitement in person and cover it for a chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet. In the book’s pages, you can read about the explosion of DIY interest in floral design.
In that piece, Bess offered this observation: “The word ‘eco’ has a bad reputation implying something weedy,” Bess says. “But we’re creating flowers that are sophisticated, chic and tailored. ” You can read the entire chapter by clicking this link.
I’ve connected with Bess many times since the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet, in both New York and Los Angeles, depending on where our travels intersect. She is a generous supporter of the new Slowflowers.com and you can find Celadon & Celery featured in the online directory under studio florists and weddings/events.
I’ve been wanting to have her on as a guest and I’m delighted to include our conversation here today. Please enjoy our discussion about how floral design – and this designer in particular – has evolved to encompass event production, conceptual storytelling and artistic installations.
a singular bouquet.
You’ll learn that floral design can be as multidisciplinary and multidimensional as you choose it to be. And, according to Bess, florists who advocate for their vendors, the family flower farm in particular, have an edge. She says: “I like to sell the fact that I’m a luxury brand and luxury brands work with really small artisans and that’s really important because you want to make sure that your flower farm vendors keep doing what they’re doing and creating unique and unusual flowers that the higher luxury market will pay for.”
(c) Jana WIlliams
I love how generous and frank she is and a few more of her interview comments really resonated:
For one thing, volunteering on flower farms has educated Bess to understand that “it’s not okay for clients to negotiate the cost of flowers because it is back-breaking work and there aren’t enough people who know how to grow flowers.”
And second: This quote is powerful and I hope it more than a few people in the floral industry to rethink their practices: “I don’t think that any florist in California should be importing flowers at all. That’s just being lazy.”
(c) Jana Williams
Ahem. Thank you, Bess, for stating the obvious. You’ve lent a lot of credibility to the Slow Flowers Movement with that proclamation!
Here are links to all of Bess’s social outlets:
Life with Bess Blog
And Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times.
July 4th, 2014
Just picked, from the cutting garden and fields at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, CA
Composing this arrangement for the July 4th holiday is my reward for 48 hours of hard work.
I’ve been here in Southern California on assignment for Country Gardens magazine and Deck, Patio & Outdoor Rooms magazine.
I worked with Michael Garland, an LA-based photographer, to capture two wonderful garden stories that you’ll see in the pages of these publications next year (summer 2015).
Today, after wrapping up at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, which has been the subject of past blogs and a podcast interview with founder Danielle Hahn, I got to play with the extra flowers from our photo shoot.
Everything that grows here is lush, and organic, and seasonal and simply devine! Here’s what my flower playtime yielded. Only in Santa Barbara area do the dahlias, roses, hydrangaes and succulents look at their peak on the same day.
If you have to work on a holiday, let it be July 4th and let it be at a American flower farm, right?
July 2nd, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window
Molly Kobelt and Heidi Joynt of Field & Florist, pictured at their flower farm outside Chicago.
Before introducing you to this week’s guests, I want to share some of the highlights that have recently come my way, thanks to friends and members of the Slowflowers.com site.
These incidents may seem small, but when gathered together, they encourage me that the message of this podcast and the usefulness of Slowflowers.com are increasingly important.
First, we recently added “Floral Workshops & Classes” as a listing category. Maryann Nardo, owner of 7 Petals Floral Design in San Rafael, California, just let me know she booked her first student through a Slowflowers.com customer who was searching for floral design classes. That’s awesome news!
Second, Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, a recent guest of this podcast, shared news that a floral designer in her Bellingham, Washington, area – someone who’s taken a workshop of mine — found Triple Wren on the Slowflowers.com site and has since subscribed to the farm’s flower CSA for the rest of this summer. Sarah wrote: “I thought you might like to know both that it helped our farm and that she is super inspired to continue in what you taught her.”
And finally, Kate Richards of the Farmhouse 38 blog, sent this awesome piece of news.
“One of my guests at my blogger dinner this weekend is getting married in Rhode Island in September. She’s incredibly ecologically minded, and had opted to not do any flowers at the wedding because she is pretty much ‘over’ the current floral industry. Between my recent blog post about the Slow Flowers movement and my blogger dinner featuring all local, CA-grown flowers (and food), my friend had her eyes opened to the idea of slow flowers (she called it ‘life-changing’, lol). She hadn’t even considered that there could be a proximate flower farm where she could get local, responsibly raised flowers. So she went on slowflowers.com and sure enough, she discovered Robin Hollow Farm, not too far from where she’s getting married—and they are officially doing her wedding flowers now! Huzzah!!!”
These stories are simply fantastic – just what I had hoped for when I created Slowflowers.com. If you want to make my day, I’d love to hear how this movement, this podcast and the online directory is helping you as a flower farmer, retailer or florist.
It’s no surprise to learn that today’s guests are also part of the Slowflowers.com directory. Pictured above, Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt of Field & Florist, are based in the Chicago area. A few weeks ago, I was able to visit their idyllic growing grounds in Barrington, IL, about 30 minutes northwest of the city. After touring the fields to see what flowers are emerging from those lovely long rows, we sat down for a fun interview.
Field & Florist Farm. Photo by Jaclyn Simpson Photography
I first met Heidi when she attended the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ conference that was held in Tacoma during the fall of 2012.
We ended up sharing a car ride back to Seattle from a farm dinner in Skagit Valley, along with several other awesome young farmer-florists. For me, it was a memorable 90 minutes: ideas and energy bounced around the inside of my Subaru. Each person had something vital to share and we were all eager to learn about how our fellow passengers were developing their own floral businesses – from Seattle to Chicago to Columbus, Ohio — similar things are happening to connect local flowers with eager floral customers.
In the two subsequent years, Heidi and I have stayed in touch and corresponded about her business. She’s a model farmer-florist who has done so many exciting things to educate and inspire her customer base — from holding fun “work parties” on the farm that gets city folks out to the country and leaves a little dirt under their nails; to producing pop-up shops at hip Chicago venues, to designing beautiful seasonal wedding flowers for many happy couples.
Engagement photo bouquet. Photo by Ashley Bosnick Photography
Heidi is no longer a solo farmer and in this interview you will meet her new business partner Molly Kobelt. The two women have known one another for a couple years, through Dose Market – an innovative Chicago hub for all things local. Molly worked for Dose Market handling promotions and marketing; Heidi brought her flowers to sell. They recognized in each other a kindred spirit in their philosophy that being passionate about one’s work is important. Earlier this year, they joined forces when Molly came onboard as a partner in Field and Florist.
Ampersand Pop-Up Dinner Arrangement. Photo by Michael Litchfield
Check out “A Taste of a Floral Arrangement,” an awesome video produced by Rabbit Hole Magazine at Kinmont Restaurant in Chicago with Field and Florist. In the “small world” category of our intersecting lives, my son Ben works at this restaurant – and he originally shared the clip with me before he knew Heidi and I were friends. That connection makes me very happy.
Field and Florist grows and harvests a wide array of beautiful blooms from April to October – that’s about the maximum amount of time you can source locally in Chicago’s climate. In the winter months, Field and Florist sources from certified sustainable sources within the U.S.
I hope you enjoy hearing from these two talented farmer-florists, as we talk about all the successes and challenges of their venture.
Recent bridal + bridesmaid bouquets. Photo by Averyhouse
Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Heidi and Molly.
Here are links to sign up for the Field and Florist newsletter
Consider subscribing to their floral CSA - they’re taking orders for September right now.
June 25th, 2014
June Bouquet with ornamentals and edibles.
Last weekend I was involved with the Hardy Plant Study Weekend as a speaker and a participant. This is an annual event, held every June. I rotates between Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, and this year was hosted and produced by the Northwest Perennial Alliance.
I was asked to present a floral design demonstration at Saturday night’s gala, held at Wells Medina Nursery. What could be better than attending a fun dress-up party with the theme “50 Shades of Green” (get it?). Surrounded by horticulture friends old and new, many of them who wore awesome green outfits, I demonstrated “The Marriage of Ornamentals and Edibles in the Vase.”
Here is a recreation of that arrangement, using most of the same flowers that I included in the first arrangement. I used a sizeable cast-iron urn (7 inches wide x 9 inches high) and filled it with a 5-inch vintage flower frog (cage style). NO FOAM, people! It’s not necessary and it actually shortens the vase life of flowers like these.
Step One: Choose an awesome container. This image gives you a good idea of the vessel’s shape and scale.
Gather together your foliage. Start with something large and dramatic. Artichoke/Cardoon foliage is a great summer element- straight from the veggie garden.
Step Two: Add the largest foliage first. I placed three leaves asymmetrically.
Step Three: Add the larger textural elements, like hydrangeas – straight from my garden.
Step Four: Add more texture for contrast. Here, I added ladies mantle – lime green and super fluffy. Also straight from my garden.
Step Five: Add smaller, darker, glossier foliage. Like sprigs of mint. They smell fantastic!
Step Six: Now, the diva flowers. Like these locally-grown garden roses.
Step Seven: The final “viney” elements! Love the nasturtium. It lasts surprisingly long in the vase. PS, one vivid yellow poppy!
How do you keep this looking fresh for an entire week? Place this urn down inside the sink and run water inside (using the nozzle on the sink faucet). Give this vase a drink for 2-3 minutes and let the excess water spill over the edge. You’ll basically replace old, clouded water with fresh, clean water!
June 25th, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window
Before we get started with today’s awesome guest, I’ve got a little self-promotion to share. The Slow Flowers “brand” is a lovely bouquet with several unique blooms in the vase.
There is this podcast, of course, and we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary on July 23rd (we’ll have an exciting announcement from a special guest to celebrate our 52nd episode!).
And there is the Slowflowers.com online directory, which is growing every day – up to 325 vendors on the site as of this week.
But it all started with the book: Slow Flowers, four seasons of locally-grown bouquets, from the garden, meadow and farm. St. Lynn’s Press published this little gem in early 2013 and it has been the creative inspiration to launch the Slow Flowers Movement.
We just got word that Garden Writers Association has awarded Slow Flowers with one of two Silver Medals of Achievement for Overall Book product this year. I couldn’t be happier and I’m so pleased to receive the recognition because it reflects what together our American grown floral community has achieved in changing the dialogue and changing the relationship consumers have with their flowers. Congratulations to the entire St. Lynn’s Press creative team for making my words and images into such a beautiful little book: Paul Kelly (Publisher), Catherine Dees (Editor) and Holly Rosborough (Art Director). They are the dream team!
TODAY’S GUEST: MARGOT SHAW, flower magazine
Margot Shaw, “flower magazine” founder and editor-in-chief
“To Flower” ~ the definition embodies the spirit of this magazine.
Now, it is entirely fitting that I introduce you to Margot Shaw of flower magazine, my interview subject today. Margot has coined the phrase “a floral lifestyle,” a term I thoroughly embrace – and I know you will, too.
Margot calls herself a “late bloomer” when it comes to the art of floral design. A self-proclaimed “call-and-order-flowers girl,” Margot’s “a ha moment,” her view of flowers, changed when planning her daughter’s at-home wedding.
Working alongside the floral and event designer, she recognized the artistry and inspiration involved in “flowering” and soon began apprenticing with that same designer.
After a few years, enamored with all things floral but unable to locate a publication that spoke to her passion, she set about creating one.
With a clear vision, a deep appreciation for beauty, a facility with words, a hometown uniquely geared towards publishing, and the advice and counsel of generous industry professionals, Margot launched flower in March of 2007.
I snapped this photo of the flower magazine staff back in January 2011 when I visited Birmingham, Alabama, for a get-to-know meeting. That’s Margot, second from the left.
Originally filled with floral, garden, and event design, the niche publication has gradually broadened to include content that trumpets a floral lifestyle—interiors, art, travel, fashion, jewelry, and entertaining.
“It has something for everyone who likes flowers—and who doesn’t like flowers?!” Shaw proclaims.
Since its debut, flower has continued to grow at a steady pace, recently moving from quarterly to bimonthly, and available in all 50 U.S. states and 17 countries.
Here’s some more information on the publication and its influence on our floral community:
Here’s what you’ll find on the pages of flower magazine ~
Here’s who reads the magazine.
Here’s more about the circulation and geographic distribution.
Want to check out the current issue of flower magazine? Margot has generously shared the “secret” log-in password with listeners of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast. Click here to read the digital edition and use TUBEROSE as the password.
June 18th, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window
One of Kathleen’s arrangements for a CCFC Field to Vase dinner earlier this year – in her coveted McCoy vase!
Today’s guest is my friend Kathleen Williford of the lifestyle blog Bloemster, the California Cut Flower Commission, the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House & Tour, and Staff of Life Natural Foods in Santa Cruz, California.
Yes, Kathleen is involved in all these endeavors, thanks to her talents, her tendency to say “yes” to all sorts of opportunities, and her genuine love for all-things local when it comes to flowers. In fact, it seems as if everything Kathleen does professionally and personally intertwines like flowers, stems and tendrils in a lovely bouquet.
We recorded this interview on June 1st while working together at the Sunset Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, California. Kathleen had just pulled off her largest floral design commission ever the night before – she designed the tabletop flowers for a VIP dinner hosted by Sunset’s editor in chief Peggy Northrop. The setting was gorgeous and everyone raved about the all-California-grown centerpieces, which were an important reminder of the weekend’s local and seasonal theme.
Kathleen teaming up with Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.
I’ve worked with Kathleen off and on for a couple of years, thanks to our mutual association with the California Cut Flowers Commission. Kathleen has helped me source flowers from the Monterey Bay area farms for my demonstrations at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show and for a Garden Conservancy workshop I taught in the East Bay Area two years ago. She is a social media whiz, prompting all of us involved in the American Grown movement to hustle to catch up with her.
Kathleen created the new ALL LOCAL floral department at Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.
Kathleen is the first one to notice a trending topic, a new voice on twitter, a new source of gorgeous local flowers on instagram. I can count on her to always bring me up to speed. Case in point, when a group of us wanted to cheer on the only all-California-grown float in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, it was Kathleen who compiled an exhaustive list of the twitter addresses for every single broadcast personality on the various local, national and cable networks . . . just so we could be strategic with our messaging. She was one step ahead of the rest of us.
Social media has been a tool for her promotional work as the special events planner for CCFC’s Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour, which will take place this coming Saturday, June 21st.
Here’s one of the lovely California grown bouquets Kathleen designed for the Sunset Celebration Weekend VIP dinner earlier this month.
I was invited to participate last year as a speaker and as the guest designer for a delightful field-to-vase dinner that Kathleen organized with her colleague Janice Wills Curtis of CCFC. We had a total blast and I’m truly disappointed that I have to miss the fun this year due to another lecture commitment.
It was through social media that Kathleen also connected with Holly Chapple of The Chapel Designers, a previous guest on this podcast. Kathleen found her way to the Chapel Designers’ conference that was part of Florabundance Design Days in Santa Barbara this past winter. (Actually, it was Kathleen’s husband Paul who gifted her the two-day design intensive as a surprise Christmas present).
One of many arrangements that graced Sunset Celebration Weekend.
Since that experience earlier this year, Kathleen has been on a floral fast-track, adding special event floral design to her plate, launching a website to support her personal design work – called Bloemster – and further, taking on the floral department management for Staff of Life, where she also handles marketing and special events.
I think she needs to clone herself, because there never seems to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all these to-do’s, but Kathleen knows how to pull it off.
I thought you’d enjoy hearing about the many ways one person can live out the values of supporting local and seasonal agriculture – from design, to retail, to communications and more. One person can make a difference, and Kathleen demonstrates that every single day.
If you are in the Bay Area this weekend, take a drive to Santa Cruz County for a free tour of several flower farms, nurseries and greenhouses where you can meet a flower farmer, buy cut flowers and plants, and enjoy a slice of the true California floral experience. I’ll add all the details on my web site so you can check out the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour. You might just run into Kathleen. She’ll probably be wearing a large-brimmed hat and carrying a clipboard, an armload of flowers, a phone, a tote bag, a camera, or all of the above!
Follow Kathleen at these places:
More McCoy + CA Grown Blooms.
Love this hot orange and dark teal combo of Kathleen’s.
Locally grown flowers made the Field-to-Vase Dinner a huge success.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.
© Debra Prinzing, all written and photographic content. Website design/development by Willo Bellwood/Metric Media