Episode 514: All about growing and breeding dahlias with Kristine Albrecht of Santa Cruz Dahlias
July 14th, 2021
Of course you’ve heard me talk about my road trip to California in late June for the 4th Slow Flowers Summit. A few days before the Summit took place, I was treated to a morning visit at Santa Cruz Dahlias, the micro- flower farm owned by award-winning dahlia breeder Kristine Albrecht, a Slow Flowers member. I’d been wanting to learn more about Kristine’s work as a flower farmer whose curiosity about breeding has led to incredibly unique – new – named cultivars, a devoted following among cut flower farmers, and now, a new book, published in 2020: Dahlia Breeding for the Farmer-Florist and the Home Gardener, with Brion Sprinsock, Kristine’s spouse, as co-author.
I ordered my copy and asked Kristine if she would sit down with me when I was in the area late last month. She kindly invited me for a tour and I enjoyed a deeply informative lesson on her work and her passion.
In the foreword to Dahlia Breeding, Kristine writes:
“I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to talk and write to people about dahlias almost every day. While familiar with growing dahlias from tubers, many growers simply have no idea that unique varieties of dahlias can be generated from seed. The more I thought about that, the more I was inspired to write this short book and share my hybridizing knowledge.”
She continues: “I’m not a typical dahlia hybridizer who breeds mainly show dahlias. I have as much interest in breeding varieties loved by florists and designers as I do in breeding dahlias for show. I don’t have a scientific background: the advice in this book comes from practical experience at my farm. I currently grow on a quarter-acre suburban farm in the California Central Coast. I generate hundreds of dahlia blooms every week, and when they are not being cut for shows, I sell them to designers and florists. These floral designers give me wonderful feedback on what colors and forms are the most commercially viable. Their input helps me set my hybridizing goals.”
In 2014, after years of learning and experimentation, Kristine hand-crossed pollen parent Kenora Jubilee with seed parent Elma Elizabeth for a new variety called ‘KA’s Cloud’. She excitedly sent it off to the American Dahlia Society trial gardens across the U.S. and the blooms won the Derrill W. Hart and the Lynn B. Dudley medals, the two top awards in the country.
Blue ribbons aside, she was hooked. And that experienced ignited what has become one woman’s amazing journey with dahlias, one she generously shares with you today. I know you’ll enjoy the rest of the story, as I introduce Kristine Albrecht in today’s episode.
Follow Santa Cruz Dahlias on Instagram
Thanks so much for joining us today as you learned more about dahlias specifically bred for floral design. Enjoy photos of my visit to Santa Cruz Dahlias and some of the gorgeous dahlia introductions that Kristine has bred!
More about the Slow Flowers Podcast
This podcast is a vehicle for storytelling and for sharing the stories of our Slow Flowers Members. Several years ago, I made the conscious decision to put a priority on featuring Slow Flowers members as Podcast guests.
There may be an occasional episodes with a floral celebrity or book author, but the majority of our weekly guest slots are devoted to our members’ stories. We strive for inclusion, representation and diversity among our guests. We also mix things up when it comes to geographical location and different facets in the floral industry.
To be considered as a guest, please be sure you have gone back through our archives to familiarize yourself with our various themes and interesting angles. You can find the archives in the right column at debraprinzing.com, home of the Slow Flowers Podcast show notes.
Then, put together a proposal email. Please share your name, business name and bio; a selection of 5-7 photos that illustrate you, your farm/shop/studio/enterprise; and your flowers. We use these images in our “Show Notes.”
Tell me the topics and themes you propose for the episode. What’s new, exciting, timely and relevant to our audience? What is the “takeaway” that will resonate with listeners?
Our ideal guest has a personal story to tell and is generous with information and inspiration to share with other floral professionals. We plan several months in advance, so start thinking about sharing your story! I look forward to hearing from you!
Join our NEW Video Podcast on July 21st
Today, as we wrap up the seventh consecutive year producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast, I have to take a moment and reflect on the amazing community of experts, visionaries, artists, educators and pioneers in the Slow Flowers Movement who have shared their insights on this program — during 414 consecutive weekly episodes. What a privilege and honor to hear and share your voices. And beginning next week, with Episode 515, as we celebrate this show’s 8th anniversary, you will not only hear the voices of our guests, you’ll see their faces, their farms, their shops and their studios — and most of all, their flowers.
Beginning on July 21st, the Slow Flowers Podcast is launching a new live-stream video format, which you will be able to view on YouTube and Facebook Live. Each Wednesday you’ll watch a new video episode and then, on the following week, we’ll release the show’s audio through our established podcast channels, including iTunes, Spotify and at debraprinzing.com, and more.
Let’s see how it goes! Change is exhilarating, but technology isn’t always my friend, so I’m asking for your patience as we work out the new platform. My goal is to enhance your relationship with the Slow Flowers Podcast, or, as I’ve been told to call it now, a Vodcast, the video-podcast hybrid term.
Sponsor Thank You’s
This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 880 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.
And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Visit them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.
Red Twig Farms. Based in Johnstown, Ohio, Red Twig Farms is a family-owned farm specializing in peonies, daffodils, tulips and branches, a popular peony-bouquet-by-mail program and their Spread the Hope Campaign where customers purchase 10 tulip stems for essential workers and others in their community. Learn more at redtwigfarms.com.
Longfield Gardens, which provides 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at longfield-gardens.com.
Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 744,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.
I value your support and invite you to show your thanks to support Slow Flowers’ ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right at debraprinzing.com.
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.
Lanky; Feathersoft; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
In The Field