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.
June 11th, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window
Steve and Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, Ferndale,Washington
Earlier this week I headed north from the city and drove to Bellingham, Washington, close to the US-Canadian Border.
There, in lovely Whatcom County, I met Sarah Pabody for lunch at a charming cafe serving organic and locally-grown food. That seemed apropos because we were ready to talk about putting more flowers – edible and non-edible alike – into the agricultural conversation.
I’ve known Sarah and her husband Steve Pabody since their flower-growing operation Triple Wren Farms joined the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market two years ago. Sarah and I served together on the co-op’s board for a while and she has impressed me with her level-headed approach to our discussions and the thoughtful and inclusive way she makes decisions as a leader at the market.
Harvesting with Sarah.
We’ve been talking about me visiting Triple Wren, and now that it’s flower-growing season, the time was right to make the trip. I warned Steve and Sarah in advance that I wanted to record our conversation for the Slow Flowers Podcast – and fortunately for you, they were game!
After lunch and a whirlwind chat, I followed Sarah even further north up the highway to the town of Ferndale. What beautiful countryside, where only a few miles off the interstate you can find apple orchards and flower fields surrounding a charming farmhouse with a deep, covered, wraparound porch, perfect for sitting down with Sarah and Steve, and a jug of their cold, refreshing, home-pressed apple cider. Steve poured and we forgot about the recorder and you can join in vicariously.
Gentleman orchardist, Steve Pabody.
I wanted you to meet Sarah and Steve because they are a young flower farming couple who are nearly 100-percent self-taught. Trial and error doesn’t seem daunting to them, though. Steve, a former Baptist pastor, has an incredibly gregarious personality, a can-do attitude and the willingness to poke fun at himself while tackling challenges like raising chickens, pruning thousands of apple trees and installing irrigation lines. He’s sort of a city boy who has taken to farming with a passion. [And PS, as the daughter of a Baptist pastor and pastor's wife, I have a soft spot for Steve and Sarah - and their personal journey,]
Trey Pabody, inspiration for “Triple,” as he is named Steve Pabody, the third.
Like Steve, Sarah has an infectious smile and the type of optimism you hope rubs off on you. This is not an easy path, but it’s one they are committed to walking together. And without owning the land on which they farm, Sarah and Steve are mindful of the steps they need to take to sustain Triple Wren for their future.
I know you’ll be inspired by their story, whether you’re a young farmer, too, or if you’re more established.
And by the way, their farm name celebrates the two reasons Sarah and Steve are so devoted to creating a family enterprise. First, their son Trey (Triple) and their daughter Chloe Wren (Wren). The children are a huge part of the farm’s energy and joy – as you can see in the family photos Sarah shared here.
Chloe Wren, little sister and inspiration for “Wren” in the farm’s name.
Triple Wren Farms is located in the heart of Sm’Apple’s U-Pick Apple Orchard, which Steve manages for the Smith family, owners of the farm. During the fall U-Pick visitors are also able to harvest dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers and pumpkins to purchase.
Sarah, with Steve’s help, has developed two acres surrounding the orchard where she grows cut flowers and seasonal produce.
As you’ll hear in our interview, they got started with sunflowers just three seasons ago — and the mix of annuals, perennials, edibles, bulbs and woody floral ingredients they now grow for the floral marketplace has exploded. Since joining Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, Triple Wren has achieved Salmon Safe designation. The farm uses sustainable and non-certified organic practices.
In addition to being part of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Coop, Triple Wren sells to local florists and groceries in Bellingham, Ferndale and Lynden – and this year launched a very successful DIY Wedding Flowers program.
More farm photos, shared by Sarah and Steve:
Columbine and poppies, inside the hoophouse.
Sarah, flower mama extraordinare (and a cool farmer, too!)
Cosmosssssss!!!! Simple and so perfect!
Sarah snapped this lovely rose portrait at dawn. Sigh.
Perfect foliage: Pea vines.
Apples . . . everywhere! To eat, to press into cider . . . and to show up in bouquets (especially the flowering branches of spring and the tiny fruited branches of crabapples).
The message to take from today’s episode is one that both Sarah and Steve emphasized: Mentorship is important. Perhaps it’s essential.
I encourage all you veteran flower farmers to reach out and share your expertise, experience, years of knowledge with someone just getting started. Pay it forward. . . and soon, those young flower farmers will, in turn, follow your example and share with the next generation that comes after them. It’s key to saving our American-grown floral industry!
Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Triple Wren’s Sarah and Steve Pabody. Please enjoy this fabulous Q&A that Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs conducted with Sarah last fall.
Here’s how to follow Triple Wren’s activities, day by day:
Triple Wren on Facebook.
Triple Wren on Instagram
Triple Wren on Pinterest
June 8th, 2014
Grandma’s (or maybe great-grandma’s) pedestal fruit bowl is a perfect vessel for a NO FOAM summer arrangement.
You can definitely create a lush, overflowing floral arrangement that’s perched on a cakestand or pedestal-style bowl without resorting to a foam base.
I promise you, if I can do it – it’s not that hard. And when you’re finished with the design, guess what? You can toss all the spent flowers, vines, stems and pods into your compost bin and recycle the flower frog or chicken wire that originally held that arrangement together.
It seems as if my mother displayed this beautiful jade green glass pedestal bowl on the dining table for my entire childhood. It never really held anything but a few pieces of fruit because it’s pretty shallow. Turns out, it was my grandmother Helen’s before mom inherited it (and I think it was Helen’s mother’s before her). A few years ago, I asked Mom if I could borrow the piece to try arranging flowers in it. Her response, “oh honey, you can have it.”
I wish I had asked to borrow it years ago!
Such an elegant piece with a slender pedestal that resembles a candlestick holder. It measures 9-1/2 inches tall and the bowl is 10-inches in diameter. It is only 2-1/2 inches deep – just the challenge for NOT using foam!
There are 2 options, and both are equally smart approaches:
1. Anchor a vintage flower frog in the base of the bowl using adhesive waterproof clay. [If you're working with a cakestand, you will need to use a plastic tray or shallow bowl to hold the frog or chicken wire form and attach it to the flat base using tape or clay.]
Apply waterproof adhesive clay to the bottom of a vintage metal flower frog (I prefer the domed, cage style shown here).
Then insert the frog in the shallow base of the bowl or stand and add water.
OR . . .
2. Create a domed form with chicken wire (I call it a “mushroom cap” shape) and rest it inside the bowl, anchoring the wire with a criss-cross of waterproof floral tape (the plastic-coated fabric type).
Criss-crossed tape holds the chicken wire form in place. Don’t worry, your arrangement elements will soon hide the tape and the wire from view.
Begin designing. Here, I first added several stems of pale blue mophead hydrangeas. Soon, they completely disguise the chicken wire.
Step 2: Add your first floral element. It could be foliage or flowers. Here, I used hydrangeas in abundance.
Continue designing. The hydrangea worked in concert with the wire to anchor all the subsequent stems I added, including these stems of sedum.
Step Three: add your next pieces, such as the sedum shown here.
Add more elements, making sure the stems reach into the water as they poke through the wire or frog.
Next, I incorporated small pink dahlias and Scabiosa stellata (the pingpong-style scabiosa).
Wrap it up with your final stems and step back to admire your eco-friendly arrangement! You don’t need foam. Seriously! The planet will thank you for it.
The finishing touch is created with stems ‘Black Knight’ scabiosa.
Care and handling ~ Because the water source is very shallow here, I added fresh water every single day by placing my pedestal into the kitchen sink and pouring in fresh water with a tiny, houseplant-style watering can (you know, the type with a long, slender spout?).
Usually, the excess water spilled over the vase’s edge – it really can’t be helped. So then I placed the bottom of the pedestal on a towel to soak up the excess water before returning the arrangement to the table in my entry hall. I used a clear glass salad plate under the pedestal to protect my tabletop from accidental drips or a ring of water on the wood.
Please share your tips and ideas – and post photos of your foam-free designs to share with everyone!
June 5th, 2014
Join Slowflowers.com to share the news about your floral studio, shop, store or farm
and feature your American-grown botanicals!
What is Slowflowers.com?
Slowflowers.com is a project of Debra Prinzing, writer, speaker, designer and consumer advocate. She created Slowflowers.com as a free, searchable directory that makes it easy for customers to find florists, shops, studios and farms who share a commitment to sourcing local, seasonal and domestic American-grown flowers.
Why should you list your business?
This unique resource positions you and your business as a floral industry leader whose values and ethos promotes local, seasonal and domestic flowers. By being part of the Slow Flowers Movement, you gain market differentiation from the competition – and strengthen your brand in the eyes of consumers and your distinct marketplace.
What if you also sell/design with imported flowers?
We understand that some members may continue to import from global sources. Floral businesses featured on Slowflowers.com will be asked to highlight and feature their American-grown product and to supply domestic, seasonal and local flowers when their customers request it.
How do consumers use the site?
Slowflowers.com enables users to:
- Search by state, city or zip code to find a floral resource
- Search by category or key word
- Find studios and retailers who specialize in green weddings, weekly subscriptions and other services.
- Discover local flower farms that sell direct to the DIY consumer
- Provide reviews and raves about their experience with a specific vendor.
How can you list your business?
You have two options:
The FREE Standard Listing includes your business name, address, phone number, email and web site URL.
The PREMIUM Listing can be purchased on a yearly basis and allows you to create your personal page on Slowflowres.com. It includes the following: Business name, address, phone number, e-mail, website URL, logo, photo gallery of designs, summary and detailed descriptions, video and customer ratings/reviews.
Please follow the USER GUIDE instructions to take advantage of the introductory Premium Listing offer of $119 (that’s only $10/month). This offer expires July 1, 2014, when new listing rates go into effect ($199/year).
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 4th, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window
Before introducing you to this week’s guest, I must share with you a heartwarming letter I received recently from Emily Calhoun, a farmer-florist who owns Floriography in Corrales, New Mexico. She gave me permission to read her letter to you:
Here’s a charming glimpse of Emily (right) and the New Mexico floral landscape (left)
Hi Debra, I wanted to let you know what a HUGE difference your podcast has made in my life and my businesses.
In January we expanded our farming and design operation to the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area. This means I am traveling that long, lonely (300 mile) desert corridor between the northern and southern part of New Mexico. This drive can be draining and depressing, especially after working huge hours at either location.
Each trip I plug in my phone, queue up the SlowFlowers podcast and get lost in your interviews. The drive disappears and I find myself at my destination refreshed, inspired and motivated to forge ahead – -spreading the good word of local flowers to our clients and educating the state about its potential as a producer.
In fact, last month I mentioned your books, podcast and phenomenal website in my presentations at the NM Agrifuture conference. I was presenting on creating successful agricultural businesses in small and urban areas. Naturally, I pushed flowers. Having your resources really helped add legitimacy to what we were doing and showed that this whole flower thing for real! As a result I have been able to recruit farmers, young and old, to grow for us (a la Ellen Frost’s model). WE even piqued the interest of the NM Secretary of Agriculture!
Right now we are the only commercial cut flower farm in the state and are working diligently on growing that number! Hopefully soon we will be covering the state and the region with locally grown flowers.
From the bottom of my flower pickin’ heart, Thank you! Emily
Okay, pretty amazing, right? Thank you, Emily – your voice and vision will now be heard by everyone listening to this podcast and I encourage them to check out your great web site, Floriographynm.com, to see what she’s up to in promoting the Slow Flowers Movement on her corner of the planet. Send her a little floral note so she knows we applaud her tenacity in changing New Mexico’s relationship with their flowers — we’re rooting for your success, Emily.
Janice Wills Curtis of the California Cut Flower Commission snapped this photo as I interviewed Robert Kitayama at Sunset.
Next, my interview this week comes to you from the Garden Stage at Sunset magazine’s Celebration Weekend at the Sunset HQ in Menlo Park, CA.
I spoke twice this past weekend, sharing the Slow Flowers’ eco-conscious floral design approach – and I combined my exhibit with my friends at the California Cut Flower Commission.
We gave away thousands of lily bulbs for people to take home and plant in their own gardens and took photos of thousands of people who wanted to stand in front of a flower field.
Here’s our photo in the CCFC-Slow Flowers booth at Sunset’s Celebration Weekend. (c) CCFC
Those photos were posted all over social media, getting the word out about supporting local flowers. It was a blast!
I also persuaded Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers Farms in Watsonville, Calif., to sit down with me for an interview. You will be fascinated to hear his family’s story as it spans the generations, several areas in the west and numerous changes in flower crops – as this company has continued to evolve with the times.
A sea of colorful gerberas in the Kitayama Brothers’ greenhouses. (c) Linda Blue, CCFC
Kitayama Brothers has been growing and shipping beautiful cut flowers from Northern California since 1948. Located on majestic Monterey Bay, the company’s greenhouses in Watsonville enjoy perfect flower growing conditions.
The Monterey Bay’s cool evenings along with sunny days create an ideal environment for growing more than 20 different flowers and cut greens. Today, the farm’s top crops oriental and Asiatic lilies, lisianthus, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, mini callas, iris, gardenias and stephanotis, making their product selection a top choice for wedding and event professionals from around the country.
Robert Kitayama (left) and his brother Stuart Kitayama (right), pose with their mother at the 2013 Monterey Bay “Field to Vase” dinner. (c) Linda Blue, CCFC
I have gotten to know Robert and his family’s floral enterprise in the past few years, including spending a weekend at the farm in Watsonville last year where I arranged centerpieces for the field-to-vase dinner held inside one of Kitayama’s greenhouses the night before the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Tour.
This year’s tour is coming up on June 21st and you can get more details here. And check out Kitayama Brothers’ free gerbera plant promotion here.
One of those luscious, lavish gardenias . . . so awesome! (c) Linda Blue, CCFC
Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Robert Kitayama, just one of the many passionate flower farmers I encounter on my journeys through the fields and greenhouses where beautiful, fresh and local flowers are produced.
© Debra Prinzing, all written and photographic content. Website design/development by Willo Bellwood/Metric Media