June 22nd, 2016
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Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) (c) Amber Snow; and Ariella Chezar (right) (c) Corbin Gurkin
This week’s episode delivers double the inspiration as you will hear from two guests — one quite familiar to our Slow Flowers community, Ariella Chezar, and one who is an emerging leader in floral design education, Morgan Anderson.
Both interviews were recorded in May and I’m combining them here for an extended episode that will delight you as a creative person and evoke some new ways of thinking about your business model, be it flower farming, floral design or a combination of both.
MEET ARIELLA CHEZAR
I am so fortunate to have gotten to know Ariella Chezar over the years. We were first introduced virtually by Berkeley-based designer Max Gill, an incredibly talented floral artist who I profiled (along with the work of photographer David Perry) in The 50 Mile Bouquet.
When I interviewed Max, I asked him to connect me with someone who had influenced his work and he named Ariella. She and I corresponded by email and she contributed a lovely quote about Max’s work for me to use in the chapter about him (and PS, a podcast interview with Max is on my bucket list for the upcoming year).
I promptly ordered my own copy of Flowers for the Table, an evocative book that Ariella created for Chronicle Books in 2002, one that helped propel her into the world of editorial floral design.
Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC
Ariella and I finally met face-to-face in spring of 2013 at Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburgh, California. She was there at owner Kaye Heafey’s beautiful flower farm to lead a design workshop and as it turned out, I was there with Chicago-based photographer Bob Stefko to produce a clematis story for Country Gardens magazine. The following year, I interviewed Ariella for this podcast in her former Ariella Flowers retail studio in New York City (if you haven’t heard that episode, follow this link).
So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!
That was about the time that Ariella teamed up with her favorite editor, SF-based Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media (with whom she had created Flowers for the Table), to begin creating The Flower Workshop, the designer’s long-anticipated second book that Ten Speed Press released earlier this year.
A lovely inside page from “The Flower Workshop,” by Ariella Chezar: “How to make a tulip ‘float'” – Photography (c) Erin Kunkel
It took about 18 months to bring this lovely tome to life because Ariella and her creative team photographed flowers and her designs in season, on location in both the Bay Area, where Ariella worked in the early days of her career, and in her childhood home of The Berkshires, where she operates a studio and small flower farm in western Massachusetts.
The gorgeous new book expresses Ariella’s lush, whimsical garden style and her true passion for nature, both cultivated and wild.
Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our 2014 podcast interview, 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. Mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her, Ariella responded in kind with a loving respect for the elements. In response, her design style was and continues to be unique and iconic.
“Summer Fruits,” Ariella’s interpretation from the orchard. Photography (c) Erin Kunkel
Please enjoy this short interview. It was recorded at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on May 25th, after Ariella had spent two full days first touring the flower farms of some of the Market’s members, then teaching a master design intensive based on the content of The Flower Workshop.
June 18th, 2016
British Flowers Week 2016
Day Five of British Flowers Week 2016 (13-19 June) took place yesterday, concluding the fourth year of the industry-wide, nationwide campaign in support of British cut flowers, founded and organised by New Covent Garden Flower Market.
By yesterday, the hashtag #BritishFlowersWeek had reached a staggering 7.56 million people on Twitter and achieved a record Instagram reach of 2.72 million.
Rob Van Helden
DAY FIVE: The British Flowers Week designs by Rob Van Helden
The British alstroemeria appears in three exquisite floral designs by Rob van Helden, event florist extraordinaire. Read more about the British alstroemeria and its use as a cut flower.
Singular Beauty: A lone stone vase of British-grown red and pink alstroemeria sits ready to adorn a smart entrance hall or elegant office foyer.
Steely Style: Alstroemeria gets a touch of urban glamour in this striking massed umbrella arrangement of elegant white alstroemeria in a magnificent silver urn.
The Alstroemeria Collection
The Alstroemeria collection: Grouped as a collection, bunches of alstroemeria assemble in pretty little ceramic vases to dress dinner party, given light from a candelabra.
Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement (third from right) and her #britishflowersweek collaborators at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show on June 12th
What inspires me most about British Flowers Week is the widespread participation by people at every level of the floral industry — from growers and wholesalers to florists and public gardens. The media and politicians are paying attention and celebrating domestic, British-grown flowers. Here is my favorite “tweet” from this past week, featuring my friend Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement, a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast. She and others in Yorkshire have been deeply involved in the first RHS Garden Harlow Carr flower show, raising awareness and engagement between consumers and the source of flowers in their lives!
AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK
I’m so excited that American Flowers Week is just around the corner, set for June 28-July 4th! Follow along on Social Media by searching (and using!) #americanflowersweek #slowflowers and join the experience. We are changing the conversation and that’s incredibly exciting!
June 16th, 2016
New Covent Garden Flower Market in London, the team behind British Flowers Week, has set the bar very high, giving us something quite beautiful to which we aspire — and this week, the 4th Annual British Flowers Week, has delivered far beyond expectations!
British Flowers Week’s promotional model involves a diverse lineup of events. Growers and florists nationwide are staging flower farm open days, British flower workshops, demonstrations and displays or staging pop-up stalls in town centres across the UK.
The Dorchester hotel, Petersham Nurseries, River Cottage Canteen, NT Knightshayes, RHS Harlow Carr, Habitat on King’s Road and BBC Gardener’s World Live are among the venues hosting British Flowers Week events.
The campaign is centered around Five Days, Five Classic British-Grown Flowers, and Five Renown British Florists, showcased June 13-19th.
British flowers at Number 10 Downing Street
British flowers adorn Number 10 Downing Street!
This stunning urn arrangement of beautiful British delphiniums, oriental lilies, alstroemeria, astrantia, garden roses, stocks and British foliage was created by floristry students at Capel Manor College, and generously donated by New Covent Garden Flower Market wholesalers Zest Flowers, Pratley, GB Foliage and C Best. The Chairman of the British Florist Association, Brian Wills-Pope MBE was instrumental in making this possible.
By the way . . . *Are you thinking what I’m thinking*? If Number 10 Downing Street, the resident of the British Prime Minister, can have British-grown flowers, why can’t the White House have American-grown flowers?
Today, I want to share the flowers and florists behind Days One, Two, Three & Four of British Flowers Week.
Kudos to my friends at New Covent Garden Flower Market — Helen Evans, director of business development and support, and publicist Liz Anderson — and all of the British flower farmers and designers who created these iconic examples of fresh, local, seasonal blooms (and foliage) and inventive, inspired floral design. You can learn more about this campaign by listening to my Podcast interview with Helen, aired last spring.
June 15th, 2016
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How do you manage all the paperwork that goes into planning, budgeting, and producing a successful wedding or special event?
According to today’s guest, Santa Barbara-based designer Sarah Hinton, it took years of struggling with spread sheets and clipboards before she was inspired to develop a software program that simplifies all that paperwork into one online tool called ULARAS.
When I first learned about this project of Sarah’s I wasn’t aware of any other program like hers.
Since then, other programs have also hit the marketplace so be sure to check out “Florist App Comparison,” a useful comparison guide that our friends at Mayesh Wholesale recently published.
Here’s how a ULARAS proposal inspiration board looks.
Basically, Ularas handles all the facets of floral event planning — including managing weddings and events contacts; writing estimates and contracts, and managing product orders and the production workflow.
Meet my redhead floral pal, Sarah Hinton, of Ularas — a new florist tool for managing weddings and events
I’m eager to share Sarah’s story with you. Her journey feels so universal to me ~ she’s a highly creative person who ran into a “need” that didn’t seem like anyone was addressing and felt motivated to help others in her industry with a solution.
Before becoming a software entrepreneur with business partner Paul Dillow, Sarah spent 13 years operating a retail floral, gift and art gallery; that was followed by RowanOak Events, a special event floral design studio.
The origins of ULARAS began when she asked Paul, lovingly called the company “programmer and geek,” to help her correct a mistake in “a very elaborate Excel spread sheet.”
Like magic, within ten minutes, Paul repaired and returned the complex, hot mess to Sarah with one question… “What do you use this for?”
A Ularas Proposal (what your customer receives)
Paul has owned Houston Computer Solutions for more than 17 years. He saw in his mind’s eye a beautiful software program that sparkled and twinkled where Sarah only saw hours of frustration in a spreadsheet she kept breaking.
Basically, Paul looked at what Sarah had created on her own and suggested turning the tool into a database software platform for florists.
Check out Ularas’s “QuickStart” video (17 min) to get a flavor of this robust system and how it might work for your business (bel0w). The video and all of the slides included in these show notes are easily found on the special page for the Slow Flowers Community here.
Creating the Proposal Template
June 8th, 2016
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Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers and Botanicals, in their new Portland space
Welcome to Solabee!
The roots of this week’s episode began in December 2010 when I met Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers & Botanicals, a Portland-based design team.
I was visiting Portland’s Flower Market, in the area where Oregon-grown product is marketed, working with photographer David Perry on The 50 Mile Bouquet. At the time, we weren’t sure of the book’s title, nor did we have a publisher, but we were forging ahead to capture stories of interesting people and their commitment to American grown, local, seasonal and sustainable flowers. Somehow we snagged an introduction and invitation to Solabee.
The co-creatives in their original and tiny retail space (2010)
It was a dreary winter day; the time of year when true “local” floral product is at a minimum, but we found bounty and beauty inside the small storefront about the size of a building foyer in Portland’s historic Kenton neighborhood.
Sarah and Alea told us how the business was founded and their story became a section in The 50 Mile Bouquet in a chapter called “Botanical Wonderland,” that documented the Portland design scene’s embrace of a new floral ethos. Click on the image below to read the story about Solabee.
The new Solabee store is gorgeous and inviting.
Sarah and Alea teamed up after both women had managed other flower shops in Portland. As creative partners, they specialize in sustainable design for weddings and events. They source from local farmers, grow their own flowers and harvest ingredients from house plants, such as begonias, tillandisas, orchids and ferns.
Plants occupy every nook and cranny in the new store, including in the upstairs mezzanine.
Young and self-financed, Solabee’s owners are resourceful, hard-working and creative. In the book, Sarah discussed gleaning foliage, branches and seed pods from her parents acreage and Alea described their “wild-crafting” exploits that included picking up nature’s debris from the urban terrain.
As you will hear in today’s conversation, a lot has transpired in the past six years including the recent discovering of the most perfect corner retail space in the Humboldt neighborhood in North Portland.
More interior shots of Solabee’s new North Portland retail studio.
I visited Sarah and Alea at the new Solabee retail shop in April. It occupies a vintage Portland storefront with double-high ceilings that accommodate a mezzanine above. Light pours through the windows of the southeast-facing shop, dancing across the vintage mosaic tile floor.
A Solabee installation featuring tillandsias-as-mandala
Plants appear here in equal measure to flowers, which is a signature Solabee element. The women are known for showcasing living plants as a sustainable floral option and now, with the large display area, their shelves, walls and ceilings are lush and verdant. Plants add character and serve as the perfect complement to the wild and imaginative floral arrangements created here.
Design for the day when I visited in April 2016.
I joined Alea and Sarah in their mezzanine office where we could easily overlook and hear all the activity of their employees and customers downstairs. You’ll hear a little of that ambient sound in the background during our recorded episode.
A seasonal bouquet from Solabee.
Please enjoy this conversation about floral design, floral retail, sourcing techniques, creating company values and sustaining a small business. I loved reconnecting with Alea and Sarah and Solabee, and I know you’ll love meeting them here.
Poppies, a la Solabee
A lovely bridal bouquet
Find Solabee on Facebook
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See Solabee on Pinterest
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.
ABOUT OUR SPONSORS
I want to acknowledge and thank our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers. To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.
More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com
Thanks to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.
And finally, thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com.
“Whistle While You Pod”
album: Creative Commons
by: Christopher Postill, Sounds Like an Earful
June 1st, 2016
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Our March gathering of the North Bay Flower Collective & Slow Flowers, pictured inside the barn at Open Field Farm (c) Betany Coffland, Chloris Floral Design.
Zoe Hitchner of Front Porch Farm (left) and Jaclyn Nesbitt of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs (right) are featured in “part one” of this episode
Sarah James, who owns Open Field Farm with her husband and partner Seth James, is featured in “part two” of this episode.
American Flowers Week is only one month away, scheduled for June 28th through July 4th.
Check out our dedicated web site here to read stories about members who are involved with this cool media and consumer awareness campaign. Find free downloads of graphics, a badge for your blogroll and images to use on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And here is our brand new fun coloring map of the USA, which you can download and print here to share with customers. Get out your pens and pencils and color to your heart’s content. Then PLEASE post your creation and tag #americanflowersweek — we look forward to seeing your work. A grateful shout-out to Jenny Diaz, our designer, for hand-drawing and hand-lettering the adorable 50-state map.
You’re also invited to contribute a bouquet of your own by designing a red-white-and-blue arrangement with local flowers from your state — and be sure to post and send us a photo of the results. Sign up here.
We’ll add it to our “50 Weeks of American Grown Flowers” gallery that will live on americanflowersweek.com and at the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. So far, we’ve had people from 11 states volunteer to contribute a photo of their patriotic bouquet –and we’d love to receive your imagery by mid-June. Please share the love and get involved!
And by the way — all submissions will be eligible for several prizes donated by our sponsors, including three $100 dollar shopping sprees from Syndicate Sales. We’ll have more swag to announce in the future.
This map of Sonoma County shows the geographical diversity of the region north of San Francisco Bay in California
I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day March floral excursion hosted by the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, also known as the North Bay Flower Collective.
If you’ve been listening to this series, I can only imagine you shared the same response as I’ve experienced — that of being awed and inspired by the basic human truth that we each need a tribe; we each can soar to achieve that which we imagine or dream, when we are not alone.
Together, this community of people who make their living on flower farms and in design studios tells an important narrative of collaboration over competition.
I recorded this segment in two parts at two Sonoma County farms, both of which provided me lodging and meals, not to mention friendship and breathtaking scenery.
Zoe, me, Mimi and Jaclyn at Front Porch Farm.
First, you will hear my conversation with Zoe Hitcher, the head flower farmer at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, California, and Jaclyn Nesbitt, owner of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Floral Design based in Santa Rosa, California, two Slow Flowers members who are part of the North Bay Flower Collective. You’ll also hear a few comments from my ever-present escort Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm.
Just one of the many high tunnels at Front Porch Farm; this one was filled with spring ranunculus
Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.
Mimi Buckley’s signature wreaths
Here’s a bit of background about Front Porch Farm.
Mimi Buckley, my lovely and generous host for the first night of my farm stay.
After other successful careers, Peter and Mimi Buckley started a 110-acre organic farm outside Healdsburg six years ago. Front Porch Farm lies along a wild stretch of the Russian River, due east of Healdsburg, California.
The farm rests on a bench of rich alluvial soils, surrounded by low hills forming a lovely pocket valley. There, they tend a mosaic of fruit, nut, and olive orchards; fields of grains, alfalfa, and pasture grass; a wide variety of heritage vegetable crops; and wine grapes on the sunny hillsides.
Blackberry cultivars ripen along the fences and the Russian River flows nearby, alive with osprey, herons, deer, and the occasional mountain lion. Organic farming depends on biological diversity and flowers are an integral part of the farm’s ecosystem.
By attracting pollinators and beneficial insects, the flowers that Zoe grows keep fruit trees and berry bushes productive as well as row crops protected. They add beauty and bring joy to those who work with and receive them. Front Porch Farm’s flowers are sold at the farm, at local farmers’ markets, and in local floral shops around Healdsburg and Sonoma County. In addition, as flower manager, Zoe provides elegant and natural design work capturing the spirit of the farm customized to unique clients and events.
Zoe Hitchner, Front Porch Farms flower farmer.
Zoe’s bio originally appeared in the Field to Vase “grower’s spotlight” blog, written by our second guest, Jaclyn Nesbitt and used with permission:
Zoe has a rich background in flowers and gardening. She has worked at a flower shop, urban community gardens, and a school garden. She participated in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz and finally, before joining Front Porch Farm, she and two colleagues ran a thriving farm in Santa Cruz.
The farm’s owners, Mimi and Peter, are two vibrant, beautiful souls who are dedicated to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture in a region solely focused on wine.
Zoe with one of her designs.
In Zoe’s words: “Our vision at Front Porch Farm is to create a diverse farm in the midst of wine-country monoculture. We see ourselves as stewards of the land which means it’s our job to look after the health of the soil and the Russian River that runs through our valley. We want to create habitat for the honey bees and the migratory birds. We also want to create the highest quality produce, most cared-for meat (look into our heritage pig operation!) and, my charge, the most beautiful flowers! Thanks to my partner Mimi Buckley and her vision, we are in the process of turning two acres of our farm into a vibrant flower garden, including over sixty varieties of annual flowers and many perennials and bulbs as well. Ultimately we aim to be a training ground for new farmers and a resource for our local community.”
Jaclyn Nesbitt, floral designer and fine artist (c) Megan Clouse
A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt (c) Clane Gessel
More seasonal floral artistry from Jaclyn Nesbitt; Left photo (c) Jaclyn Nesbitt; Right photo (c) Megan Clouse
Here’s an introduction to Jaclyn Nesbitt:
Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs specializes in flowers and botanicals for special events and styled shoots. She takes pride in sourcing local and seasonal materials for her unique, organic, and artful designs. She wholeheartedly believes in supporting the incredible flower farmers she has made personal relationships with in the Greater Bay Area. Rooted in her strong values, Jaclyn is able to honor the earth, the local economy, and the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Formally trained in painting, photography, printmaking and textile design, Jaclyn is a true artist that can put her creative sensibilities to work through any medium.
A tabletop design from Jaclyn (c) Clane Gessel
She writes this manifesto on her web site: Our work thrives where art + nature collide. Our passion for design, fine art, and fashion is balanced by a lifelong love relationship with the wild, mysterious natural world. Articulating this fine balance is what motivates our work.
We love and respect our local flower farmers. Through our commitment to using seasonal and locally sourced materials, we strive to honor the earth, our local economy, and our region’s rich agricultural heritage. Celebrating the diversity of people and their extraordinary stories is what makes our work meaningful.
© Debra Prinzing, all written and photographic content. Website design/development by Willo Bellwood/Metric Media