Debra Prinzing

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Episode 509: From Cutting Gardens to Flowers for the Home, a Conversation with the Horticulture Team at Filoli Historic House & Garden, Jim Salyards, Kate Nowell and Haley O’Connor

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021
The Wedding Garden at Filoli Historic House & Garden (c) Gretchine Nievarez

Over the past year, you’ve heard from many of the panelists and personalities scheduled to present at the upcoming Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for June 28-30, which is right around the corner. And today, I’m bringing you straight to our Summit destination, Filoli Historic House & Garden based in Woodside, California, where we will gather for the first two days of the conference.

Filoli’s remarkable Georgian Revival architecture (c) Gretchine Nievarez

I am so excited for the opportunity Summit attendees, speakers, sponsors and guests will enjoy as we immerse ourselves in the beauty and legacy of this Bay Area cultural institution. We will spend two full days experiencing the historic property, including Filoli’s legendary landscape and cutting gardens, which you’ll learn more about today. We also will have unprecedented access to design a ‘floral takeover’ in ‘The House,’ California’s most triumphant example of the Georgian Revival tradition and one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century.

From left, today’s guests: Jim Salyards, Kate Nowell and Haley O’Connor of Filoli’s Horticulture Staff

For now, I’d love to introduce you to the horticulture team at Filoli, because they are the ones whose involvement in the Slow Flowers Summit will ensure a thoroughly immersive plant and floral experience.

Today, join me in a conversation with Jim Salyards, Kate Nowell and Haley O’Connor.

Jim Salyards is the director of horticulture, a 26-year veteran of Filoli!

Kate Nowell is the horticulture production manager, with about one decade at Filoli, and Haley O’Connor is Filoli’s new formal garden manager who joined about six months ago.

Let’s jump right in and take an audio (virtual) botanical tour with three talented plants people.


Attendees of the Slow Flowers Summit will have full access to the beautiful grounds at Filoli Historic House & Garden during our workshops and immersive floral experiences

Thank you so much for joining our conversation today! There are still a few spaces left to attend the Slow Flowers Summit and you can find all those details at slowflowerssummit.com. We are so excited to welcome our attendees to a safe, in-person, COVID-compliant and mostly outdoor setting at Filoli Historic House and Garden. The countdown begins!

The Garden House at Filoli

And by the way, if you’re not attending the Summit, watch Slow Flowers Society on Facebook, Slow Flowers Society and Slow Flowers Summit on Instagram for live feeds coming to you from the Slow Flowers Summit, including a behind-the-scenes tour that I will lead on setup day, Sunday, June 28th.


Something really fun happened this past week as I traded places at the microphone and answered questions posed to me rather than being the person asking those questions. Our good friend Jennifer Jewell, producer and host of Cultivating Place, an award-winning public radio program and podcast, invited me to join her to discuss all things Slow Flowers. I’ll share the link to that episode in today’s show notes. You’ve heard Jennifer here as a past guest and you may already subscribe to Cultivating Place. If not, please check out her amazing, inclusive and expansive weekly radio program about plants, people, place and other conversations about natural history and the human urge to garden. Jennifer is coming to the Slow Flowers Summit as our capstone speaker on day two — and I’m so honored that she shared our story – your story – the story of Slow Flowers – on her terrific show.


Our 2021 Botanical Couture Collection for American Flowers Week 2021

As you know, in the buildup to American Flowers Week, June 28-July 4, there is much to celebrate. This Friday, you’re invited to join our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up, June 11th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. The topic: Botanical Couture for American Flowers Week 2021 Collection. The guests? Several of the creatives responsible for this year’s expansive and flourishing fashion collection! Get a peek at the behind the scenes and hear from the creatives — Slow Flowers member farmers, designers and floral artists who rose to the open call for floral wearables. We have one-dozen looks in all this year — a feat of talent, ingenuity and inventiveness! Can’t wait for you to join us — all the details and the link to log in are available in today’s show notes. See you there!


Thank you to our Sponsors

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.

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, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.

sponsor logo bar

For each Podcast episode this year, we thank three of our Major Sponsors.

Flowerfarm.com, is a leading wholesale flower distributor that sources from carefully-selected growers to offer high-performing fresh flowers sent directly from the farm straight to you. You can shop by flower and by country of origin at flowerfarm.com. Find flowers and foliage from California, Florida, Oregon and Washington by using the “Origin” selection tool in your search. It’s smarter sourcing. Learn more at flowerfarm.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

Rooted Farmers works exclusively with local growers to put the highest-quality specialty cut flowers in floral customers’ hands. When you partner with Rooted Farmers, you are investing in your community, and you can expect a commitment to excellence in return. Learn more at RootedFarmers.com.


Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 734,000 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

Debra Prinzing

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

Music Credits:

Flattered; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely
by Tryad 
http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 500: Celebrating Episode 500 and the publication of Where We Bloom, with BLOOM Imprint’s Robin Avni and designer Cynthia Zamaria of Toronto’s House & Flower

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021
Here’s the COVER with the book jacket flap fully opened to reveal Cynthia Zamaria’s charming floral studio. (c) Robin Stubbert

Welcome to a very special episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — Episode 500 — in our weekly podcast series about Slow Flowers and the people who grow and design with them. Since we launched this special program in July 2013, I have regularly featured the voices of influencers, stylemakers, pioneers and heroes in the Slow Flowers Movement — and today we celebrate an impressive milestone with Episode 500!

Meet Cynthia Zamaria, looking so content in her creative space, featured in Where We Bloom (c) Robin Stubbert

It’s been a busy and exciting week here at the Slow Flowers Society! In January, I introduced you to creative director Robin Avni, my partner and co-founder of BLOOM Imprint, the book publishing branch of Slow Flowers Society. You can listen to our conversation from January’s Episode 490 here, in which we discuss the goal of telling stories by and about Slow Flowers members through the medium of books!

BLOOM Imprint’s first title is at the printer right now and we can’t wait to tell you all about it. Where We Bloom is an information and idea-packed volume filled with 37 intimate and inspiring floral studios, workshops, storefronts and growing spaces like greenhouses and barns — all home to creative floral enterprises of Slow Flowers members.

You may have seen the cover art because I’ve shared a few sneak peeks across social media and in Slow Flowers’ newsletter, but today I’m excited to introduce you to the woman responsible for the delightfully engaging space featured as our cover destination to illustrate the concept of Where We Bloom.

Please meet Cynthia Zamaria, Toronto-based designer, flower grower and stylist whose studio is called Cynthia Zamaria House & Flower. Cynthia will share a bit about her journey with flowers and the three of us will discuss the central themes of Where We Bloom, about which I write in the introduction:

  • The importance of devoting space to the pursuit of one’s art
  • The way environments can inspire individual expression and reflect one’s aesthetic style
  • The ways one’s studio or workshop can inspire the senses.

There is also the intangible feeling of security and comfort that creative individuals may feel when they can escape to a destination where their ideas flourish and, yes, blossom!

Debra Prinzing, where we bloom

Let me tell you a bit more about Robin and Cynthia:

Based in Gig Harbor, Washington, Robin Avni is a creative veteran in the media + high-tech industries. Her experience includes more than 15 years in the publishing industry and eight years at Microsoft in design and creative management. She has successfully managed innovative, award-winning design teams and high-profile projects as well as received numerous national design awards and photo editing honors for her own work. Robin has produced 10 books, including collaborating with Debra on the Slow Flowers Journal.  

Robin Avni, co-founder and creative director of BLOOM Imprint

In 2004, following Microsoft, she founded bricolage*, a consultancy specializing in creative strategy, content development, and trend analysis for home + garden. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies, national advertising agencies and award-winning media properties, applying timely actionable insights to their businesses. ​

Robin received a BA in journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington and a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan; she holds a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. 

Find and follow Robin Avnia & BLOOM Imprint at these social places

Robin Avni on Instagram

BLOOM Imprint on Instagram


Cynthia Zamaria (c) Lisa MacIntosh

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Cynthia Zamaria is an interior and floral designer known for character-filled spaces and carefree flower displays. With an infectious creative spirit and a belief that we all need more beautiful in our lives, Cynthia shares inspiration as an interior and floral editorial stylist, content contributor, writer and workshop teacher. Her work is regularly featured in leading lifestyle media. ​

An advocate of the Slow Flower Movement, Cynthia sustainably grows small-batch speciality blooms and designs unfussy seasonal arrangements. This soulful aesthetic spills into Cynthia’s interiors which are true-to-the-space, trendless mash-ups of scale, texture and colour.​

Cynthia and her husband Graham Loughton share a passion for saving forgotten houses and have restored a range of period properties. A former public relations executive, Cynthia now devotes her time to family and creative projects from her home base in Toronto.

Find and follow Cynthia Zamaria at these social places:

Cynthia Zamaria on Facebook

Cynthia Zamaria on Instagram

Cynthia Zamaria on Pinterest


Sneak peek to more inside pages:

“Modern Homestead,” owned by Lori Poliski of Flori (c) Missy Palacol
“Backyard Room of her Own,” owned by Maura Whalen of Casablanca Floral
(c) Alessandra Brescia
“Arizona in Bloom,” owned by Aishah Lurry of Patagonia Flower Farm (c) Kayla Simpson Lewis
“Living Among the Lavender,” owned by Jennifer and Adam O’Neal of PepperHarrow
(c) PepperHarrow

Thanks so much for joining me today. You can pre-order a signed copy of Where We Bloom at BLOOMImprint.com and we are offering bulk discounts to retailers — so reach out if you’re interested in quantities. Don’t forget to join Robin and me, along with many of the talented Slow Flowers members featured in Where We Bloom at our Virtual Book Launch party on Tuesday, April 27th at 4 pm Pacific/7pm Eastern. We’ll be sharing some giveaways and introducing you to a few creatives featured in our pages. Join us via this link!

If you’re in the Seattle area, please come out and say hello, at two upcoming booksigning events — we’ll be wearing our masks and observing careful social-distancing practices! On May 1st, 2-4 p.m., Gillian Mathews and Ravenna Gardens, Seattle’s boutique home and garden emporium, will host a signing and we expect that some of the creatives featured in Where We Bloom will join us! On May 8th, 1-3 p.m., we’ll be at PaperDelights in Burien, just outside Seattle, where we are joining Teresa Rao of Belle Petale at her Mother’s Day floral popup. Teresa is featured in the pages of Where We Bloom so we’re thrilled to share this event with her!

To find out what’s next for BLOOM Imprint, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media – I’ll have the links for you in today’s show notes. Later this year, BLOOM Imprint will publish two exciting books by Slow Flowers members. First, we’ll release an essential guide to rose growing from Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm + Floral; and then we’ll publish Holly Chapple’s long-awaited first book, A Life in Flowers. And we have four other titles in the catalog for 2022, including as you heard, Cynthia Zamaria’s book, House & Flower. What a dynamic lineup of creativity!


Above: Tobey Nelson (left) and Becky Feasby (right),
photographed at the 2019 Sustainable Flowers Workshop Photos by Ian Gregory: @ianmgregory

And save the date for this Friday’s April member meet-up for the Slow Flowers Community. That’s right, on Friday, April 9th, join our monthly meet-up via Zoom. The time is always 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. This month, we welcome two Slow Flowers leaders who will share their approach to Sustainable Floral Design and green practices. Learn more about the definition of “sustainability” in floral design and gain insights about how you can adapt your floral enterprise to be safe, healthy and beautiful!.
You’ll learn from Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Events & Design and Sustainable Floral Design (Whidbey Island, Washington) and Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers and Sustainable Flowers Workshop (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). You can find the Zoom link to join us in today’s show notes and come prepared to ask your important questions about this important shift in floristry. We’ll have some fun giveaways, and you might win one of our drawings! See you there!

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 850 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, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.

For each Podcast episode this year, we will also thank three of our Major Sponsors:
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.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.

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.


Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 711,000 times by listeners like you. We wrapped up the month of March with 13.5k downloads — wow — that’s the highest in the past year. 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

Music Credits:

One Little Triumph; Turning on the Lights; Color Country; Loopy; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely
by Tryad 
http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 466: Black Sanctuary Gardens with Leslie Bennett of Oakland-based Pine House Edible Gardens

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
Left: Leslie Bennett in her Pine House Edible Gardens-designed Oakland backyard
(c) Rachel Weill

Today’s special guest returns to the Slow Flowers Podcast after her 2017 appearance. Leslie Bennett is an award-winning garden creator whose Pine House Edible Gardens designs and installs beautiful, productive edible landscapes that provide bountiful harvests of organic fruits, vegetables, cutting flowers and herbs — and that create space for more beauty, peace and connection in clients’ lives. Pine House also maintain gardens, harvests and processes garden-grown food, and teaches clients the skills to do it themselves.

Edibles and cut flowers (citrus, blueberries, fig, protea, poppies) flourish in anAlameda front yard (c) Caitlin Atkinson

As a Black woman owned business and multi-racial, queer inclusive, majority female team, Pine House Edible Gardens stands for more than just healthy food and beautiful landscapes, and this is one reason I invited Leslie back to the show — to discuss her firm’s commitment to making gardens accessible to all through its equity pricing program and the Black Sanctuary Gardens project. As Leslie writes on the company’s web site: “We believe an edible garden can be a transformative space to grow and practice the better ways and world we want for ourselves and for our communities.”

The 2017 Slow Flowers Summit presentation features (from left): Chantal Aida Gordon, Leslie Bennett, Riz Reyes and Nicole Cordier
The speaker lineup at our first Slow Flowers Summit, including Leslie Bennett (far right)

In 2017, Leslie joined the first Slow Flowers Summit in Seattle as a speaker on the topic of inclusion and representation in floriculture and horticulture. She is definitely a mentor of mine as I strive to make the Slow Flowers community an inclusive, supportive and accessible place for Black flower farmers and Black floral professionals.

The first Black Sanctuary Garden project, created for a community leader in East Oakland
(c) Rachel Weill

Slow Flowers has had the privilege of sharing our resources to support anti-racist programs and to support new members through our Professional Development Fund for Black Farmers and Florists. One of the programs we were moved to support financially is the Black Sanctuary Gardens program that Leslie began a few years ago through Pine House Edible Gardens. I wanted you to learn more about this program because I believe it is a model that anyone who wants their creative enterprise to be guided by values- and mission-. As I watch how Leslie uses her talents and resources to support her beliefs, it inspires me to want to do the same with Slow Flowers.

A front garden landscaped with edible plants in Atherton, Calif. (c) David Fenton

Thanks so much for joining my conversations with Leslie — our most recent one and the replay of Episode 302.

One thing Leslie said that struck me so powerfully and it needs to be restated: This is not charity. This is giving back what has been taken. Land, generational wealth, historic and systemic racism. Operating very humbly will take us forward.

The 2020 campaign page . . . with donations soon reaching the $30k goal!

The current Go Fund Me Campaign for Black Sanctuary Gardens is close to reaching its 2020 campaign goal of $30,000, but the fundraising continues because this will be an ongoing design/installation series. You can read more about Black Sanctuary Gardens at Pine House Edible Gardens’ web site, but I’d like to highlight a few details. Leslie writes:

“Inspired in part by Alice Walker’s naming of the garden as a site for black women’s spirituality, creativity and artistic work, landscape designer Leslie Bennett and her team work to design, install and care for a series of low to no-cost Black Sanctuary Gardens for Black women and Black communities. Visual curation and photographic documentation of the women and communities in their garden spaces is a secondary, integral part of the project as we create imagery that more accurately and inclusively reflects the relationship of Black women and communities with their gardens.

An entry garden in Los Altos, Calif., features low-water, edible and native California plantings (c) Caitlin Atkinson
Edible garden in Hillsborough, Calif. (c) David Fenton

The primary goal of Black Sanctuary Gardens is to create garden spaces for Black women to rest and be restored. This space is so needed, given the racism and sexism that Black women experience as part of daily American life. A further goal is to define, uphold and celebrate Black community spaces, amidst gentrification and displacement of historically Black communities in Oakland. 

Black Sanctuary Gardens is an exciting opportunity to develop gardens that are reflective of our brilliant Black community and supportive of our specific cultural experiences, while offering real sanctuary for Black people to commune, converse, collaborate, heal, rest, and be nourished.

Left: An enclosed kitchen garden with fruit trees and vegetable beds in Oakland Hills (c) Caitlin Atkinson; A bountiful planting from Pine House Edible Gardens

After we recorded today’s interview, Leslie and I continued to discuss the many important reasons for centering a business around Black wellness, creativity and community. It has inspired me to find words to state the importance of these values in the Slow Flowers movement. While I’m proud that our stated Manifesto values sustainability, local sourcing of flowers, and supporting family farms, I realize I want to more explicitly and actively support equity in our Black farming and floristry community. Look for an update to the Slow Flowers Manifesto in the coming days — as we put values and beliefs into words.  

Here’s how you can find and follow Leslie Bennett and Pine House Edible Gardens:

Pine House Edible Gardens on Facebook

Pine House Edible Gardens on Instagram

More about Black Sanctuary Gardens

Now, more than ever, your Slow Flowers Membership gives you an important story to share with your community and your customers.

Our monthly Slow Flowers Meet-Ups continue this Friday on August 14th (9 am PT/Noon ET) and you’re invited to join us – virtually – via Zoom.

If you missed last month’s Meet-Up, you can find  video from our July 10th Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up with featured guests wedding designer and stylist Joy Proctor, founder and creative director of Joy Proctor Design and Slow Flowers members and wedding and event designers Adam Rico and Alicia Rico of Dallas-based Bows and Arrows Flowers. Learn about the first @saytheirnamesmemorial in Portland, Oregon, installed on Juneteenth (June 19th) by Joy and a group of friends, artists, designers and craftspeople, and created in several other cities including Dallas and Atlanta by Bows and Arrows Flowers.

Gina Thresher (left) and Tonneli Gruetter (right)

This week’s guests include Gina Thresher of From the Ground Up Floral and Tonneli Gruetter of Salty Acres Farm — they’re among the instructors in a new virtual floral conference taking place in late August called Fleurvana Virtual Summit. You’ll hear more from Gina and Tonneli and learn how you can grab a free registration for the four-day conference August 23-26 — I’ll be speaking at Fleurvana, too. You’re invited to join us on Friday!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 632,000 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 the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

Thank you to our Sponsors!

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

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.

Rooted Farmers works exclusively with local growers to put the highest-quality specialty cut flowers in floral customers’ hands. When you partner with Rooted Farmers, you are investing in your community, and you can expect a commitment to excellence in return. Learn more at RootedFarmers.com.

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com

Music Credits:

Homegrown; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely by Tryad 
http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field
audionautix.com

Revisiting our Stylish Sheds

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Published in 2008, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways is more relevant than ever!

In 2008, after a year of scouting the country for “stylish sheds” with my wonderful collaborator, Seattle photographer Bill Wright, and after months of interviewing shed owners, designers and builders, then writing 50k words or some ridiculous amount of text, Clarkson Potter (Random House) published Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways.

We loved that book so much. We loved how beautiful Bill’s photography was, capturing the personalities and stories of each shed owner, not to mention unique geographical and architectural characteristics of each shed. We loved storytelling through my interviews, conversations that dug deep into the psyche of hideaways, retreats and shelters.

Bill and I were truly ahead of our time. We saw around the corner and we believe that Stylish Sheds captured a shift in how people viewed their gardens and the once-neglected huts or sheds that stood there.

Our book documented that lovely shift toward viewing sanctuary not as somewhere you have to travel to, but somewhere that exists just steps away from your backdoor.

Stylish Sheds Well, 2008 was a financial disaster and the bottom fell out of the real estate market. Our timing could not have been predicted. Ten years later, a number of copycat books emerged on the marketplace. And Bill and I just sat their and thought: Wow, we were visionaries! The promotional machine we needed in the lifestyle media marketplace was in its own crisis when Stylish Sheds was published. That was the era when magazines like House & Garden, Cottage Living, Domino and others suddenly folded.

Eventually, nearly 20k copies of Stylish Sheds were shipped to booksellers, more than any other book I ever wrote. But then, it went out of print a few years later. You can still find this special title on your library shelf and through online sellers of used books.

We were quite suprised recently when Lyda Kay Ferree, a lifestyle writer for a group of magazines in the South, contacted us to see if she could excerpt a few of Bill’s photos and interview me for an April 2020 Home & Garden feature for VIP Jackson Magazine and one of its sister publications.

Lyda Kay definitely “gets” this book. When she contacted me to set up the phone interview, she wrote: “I am fortunate to live in an historic district in a 100-year-old home, complete with the original potting shed with brick walls. (It has electricity but no running water.) I had saved an article about your book as I am getting ideas for my potting shed.”

Well, we had a lovely conversation about Stylish Sheds, and Lyda Kay’s article appears here, with photography graciously provided by Bill. Seeing those beautiful and diminutive structures we documented brings back a flood of memories of that year — between summer of 2006 and summer of 2007 — when Bill and I produced 35 photo shoots in 52 weeks.

Itinerant seekers of inspiration, we felt like we were on a treasure hunt, gathering the best tiny architecture and design ideas to share in our book’s pages.

Lyda Kay has shared the PDF of her article and you can download or read it here. We’re so pleased that she reached out and helped to remind us of this special book and the memories of creating it. Thank you, Lyda Kay!

Got Rocks? Here’s a savvy design solution for all those nuggets you’re digging up

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Love this tall console-style table made from hog fencing, rocks and a stone top — Design by Greg Graves and Gary Waller of Old Goat Farm.

If your garden is like ours, well, rocks are in abundance.

Our six-month-old garden occupies the 20-foot-by-60-foot backyard of a suburban home completed just months ago, right before we moved in on February 11th.

By the time we started working on the garden, no surprise! We realized what everyone who moves into a new-construction house learns. Landscaping crews simply move a lot of dirt and rocks around (usually destroying topsoil in the process). Then, they push any excess mixture of native soil, debris, the random screw or nail, and rocks up against the perimeter of one’s “new” yard and toss some bark dust on top. Not exactly “prepared soil,” right?

Rocks of all shapes and sizes have been piling up. We’ve had to muscle them out of newly dug planting holes for shrubs, perennials and trees. Said rocks range in size from a pingpong or tennis ball to something the size of a large dinosaur egg.

Case in point:

Yes, this is from the ground in our backyard. It was definitely a “two-person” rock, as they say.

Clearly, the rocks are winning. And it’s not like you can toss them into the compost bin and let the city deal with the mess.

Right now, along the side of our house next to the foundation, a long row of rocks is on display. There are mostly 6- to 12-inch diameter nuggets; some are surprisingly smooth; others more shard-like. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I returned to Old Goat Farm this past weekend. And I was reminded that it’s possible to turn unwanted rocks into very-much-wanted garden furniture and art.

Old Goat Farm is owned my my friends Greg Graves and Gary Waller. Old Goat Farm is out in the country, as one might expect, in the town of Graham, about 45 minutes south of where we live in Des Moines. It is a combination display garden, specialty nursery and animal sanctuary, all of which surround a charming Victorian farmhouse where Gary serves his famous holiday teas (there’s usually a waiting list, so check it out ASAP if you’re interested). I have written about Old Goat Farm’s holiday teas a few times, and you can read those posts here from 2010 and 2012.

Both men say they themselves are “old goats,” but the only reason you would believe that is their combined gardening and horticulture wisdom. Together, Greg and Gary know more than many of us will ever learn in one lifetime, not to mention two. Old Goat Farm is always open to the public the second weekend of the month, April through October. You can learn more about other special sales and events by checking out the Facebook page here.

Bruce and I spent a lovely evening last weekend at Old Goat Farm, where the guys hosted their first ever farm-to-table dinner in the garden. The food was out of this world – all vegetarian, of course – and presented in such a visually appealing manner by local chef Meghan Brannon of Conceptual Catering.

Between courses, we were encouraged to stroll the display gardens, and they are magnificent. I hadn’t been to Old Goat during the summer months for several years, and so I’d missed how much these borders, paths, islands and vignettes have matured over the dozen-plus years that Gary and Greg have tended to this land.

With rocks (and what to do with them) on my mind, what jumped out at me during this visit was how masterfully the guys handle their rock containment. Let’s review a few of these special pieces:

Twin gabion towers that serve as pedestals for beautiful urns to mark the entry into Linda’s Garden, a special destination honoring our late friend Linda Plato.

A small garden bench (right) and a square side table (left). Both utilize stone slabs for the “top.”

Another view of the fantastic gabion fern table. This is a stunner!

A detail of the planted surface of the table.

Another beautiful view.

You’ll want to read Greg’s blog post  from a few years’ back, in which he discusses his wire-cage designs and his personal relationship with the rocks in his garden. I found it inspiring!

Simply defying gravity, Greg and Gary make stone-filled metal orbs, too.

What a lovely way to punctuate a turn in the pathway.

 







Floral Spectacle in Seattle, inspired by The Flower House (Episode 230)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

“We can imagine it and we can do it,” Diane Szukovathy, Jello Mold Farm & Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

Lisa Waud, artist, innovator, entrpreneur, floral designer and creator of The Flower House (Detroit). She's standing in front of the base of the tree-inspired sculpture installed by her students at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Lisa Waud, artist, innovator, entrpreneur, floral designer and creator of The Flower House (Detroit). She’s standing in front of the base of the tree-inspired sculpture installed by her students at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

A botanical tree grows up the walls and across the ceiling of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

A botanical tree grows up the walls and across the ceiling of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

Last week I told you about a series of Flower House activities taking place in Seattle with creator Lisa Waud. As I noted, Lisa has been on a West Coast tour which began on January 19th in Seattle, took her to Olympia and Portland, and continues until early next week in California.

As it turns out, I had a scheduled interview be postponed, so today, I’m bringing you a series of clips, short takes and conversations from the various events held at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market when Lisa was here. Please enjoy these sound-bites, beginning with remarks from flower farmer Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm, board chair at the Growers’ Market, as she introduced Lisa Waud’s Wednesday morning lecture.

Diane is followed by Lisa’s introductory remarks; then we’ll jump to several short interviews with designers who took part in a Master Design Class led by Lisa. Thirteen designers teamed up to experience a mini-version of the Flower House installation, creating a massive botanical sculpture within the Market’s walls in just under 4 hours on January 19th.

Early in the class, a team started building the "bones" of the sculptural installation, while other designers worked on the floral pieces, called "amoebas"

Early in the class, a team started building the “bones” of the sculptural installation, while other designers worked on the floral pieces, called “amoebas”

The team of amazing designers who were led through a 4-hour session with Lisa Waud (lisa is front, far left)

The team of amazing designers who were led through a 4-hour session with Lisa Waud (lisa is front, far left)

Love this hot, orange-red amoeba palette!

Love this hot, orange-red amoeba palette!

Led by Lisa, the designers went through the entire process that a Flower House designer probably experienced — from visioning, brainstorming, creative problem-solving and execution. Having watched the process first-hand, I have to say it was nothing less than Spectacular!

One of the fun things Lisa threw into the mix was a series of surprises that added pressure and tested the mettle of the designers, much like the Flower House team endured during the 3 days when they installed the Flower House.

So I played along as a member of the press, who showed up unannounced expecting people to stop what they were doing while I conducted an interview. That was just one of the crazy twists Lisa threw at her students. Another of her surprises was to add a “last minute” delivery of flowering branches — and challenging the designers to figure out how to incorporate those elements into an almost-finished composition.

In the end, well, all I can say is, these designers rose to the challenge and proved that the sum of their parts was far greater than anyone could have individually achieved.

The final installation is gloriously wild and magical.

The final installation is gloriously wild and magical.

The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market's 18-foot-high ceilings are perfect for the installation -- check out the I-beams.

The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s 18-foot-high ceilings are perfect for the installation — check out the I-beams.

Each of the five "amoebas" were woven with foliage, branches and flowers, with a specific color emphasis.

Each of the five “amoebas” were woven with foliage, branches and flowers, with a specific color emphasis.

Another view of the hanging pieces

Another view of the hanging pieces

Details of the pink and fuchsia amoeba

Details of the pink and fuchsia amoeba, fashioned with flowers and foliage from the farms that supply the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

As you hear a series of clips, I will ask each person to introduce herself and her business, followed by a brief series of questions; and then we move onto another group of designers. This patchwork quilt of a podcast episode concludes with a 10-minute wrap-up session, a debrief with Lisa and the 13 designers, as they compare notes about the challenges and results of their time together.

Here is a list all the participants and their social media links — these are women you will want to follow if you haven’t yet discovered them!

Floressence, owned by Anne Bradfield

Terra Bella Flowers, owned by Melissa Feveyear

Splash Floral and Interiors, owned by Lisa Behringer

Columbia City Bouquet, owned by Emily Kopca

Gather, owned by Amy Kunkel-Patterson

Bash and Bloom, owned by Eleanor Blackford

Lola Creative, owned by Emily Ellen Anderson

Camas Design, owned by Erin Shackelford

First & Bloom, owned by Tammy Myers

Smashing Petals, owned by Keita Horn

Melanie Benson Floral, owned by Melanie Benson

Vases Wild, owned by Tobey Nelson

Casablanca Floral, owned by Maura Whalen

Finally, I have to state publicly, that this entire week of events could not have happened so successfully without the leadership and talents of the three staff of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market: Molly Sadowsky, Danielle Bennett, and Agnes Cwalina. They are amazing!

NEWS TO SHARE

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

I want to thank the flower farmers of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market for surprising me with a huge honor. Here is a link to the Market’s press release.

On January 19th, Slow Flowers hosted a dinner to honor Lisa Waud and to showcase the floral art installation she and her team had installed earlier that afternoon.

At the dinner, Diane Szukovathy took the mic and announced that the farmers had created a new award, called the Growers Choice Award, and that I was the first recipient. Later she told me it was the most fun scheming she’d had in a long time, which puts a huge smile on my face. I truly was astonished to receive this recognition–and the language is most meaningful because it recognizes “outstanding contributions to revitalize the local floral community.”

80K

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 80,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Music provided by: Audio Nautix







The Flower House Virtual Tour Part 3 with Liz Andre-Stotz and Holly Rutt (Episode 224)

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

The Flower House's "A Little Michigan Magic," a gorgeous, fantasty-like expression of all four seasons in Michigan state.

The Flower House’s “A Little Michigan Magic,” a gorgeous, fantasty-like expression of all four seasons in Michigan state.

I snapped this photo of Liz Andre-Stotz, inside the room she designed and fabricated with two other Michigan designers. Love the natural light spilling through the windows.

I snapped this photo of Liz Andre-Stotz, inside the room she designed and fabricated with two other Michigan designers. Love the natural light spilling through the windows.

Holly Rutt, of Sweet Pea Floral Design, posing with the marigold "shower curtain" in "In Loo of Flowers"

Holly Rutt, of Sweet Pea Floral Design, posing with the marigold “shower curtain” in “In Loo of Flowers”

Today’s podcast brings you Part 3 of our coverage of the Flower House, a fabulous, groundbreaking floral art project that designer Lisa Waud instigated in the city of Detroit.

Today, we continue the miniseries with more conversations recorded with designers who came together for this visionary project that opened to the public for a 3-day run beginning on October 16th.

Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2, my prior episodes gathering the voices of some of the lead designers who executed individual rooms in the Flower House.

First, I’ll introduce you to Liz Andre-Stotz of Parsonage Events, who teamed up with two other Michigan designers to turn the first floor bedroom of the Flower House into “A Little Michigan Magic.”

The room was a true Michigan collaboration with Jamie Platt from A.R. Pontius Flower Shop in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and Jennifer Ederer, owner of Modern Day Floral in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Then we’ll pivot to Holly Rutt of Sweet Pea Floral Design, another Michigan designer, who chose the first-floor bathroom and called her installation “In Loo of Flowers.”

MEET LIZ ANDRE-STOTZ

Seasons in Michigan, expressed by Liz, Jamie and Jenn, three friends who teamed up to create a room at The Flower House

Seasons in Michigan, expressed by Liz, Jamie and Jenn, three friends who teamed up to create a room at The Flower House

Winter is expressed against the fading robin's egg blue walls in "A Little Michigan Magic"

Winter is expressed against the fading robin’s egg blue walls in “A Little Michigan Magic”

Based in Clarkston, Michigan, Parsonage Events is a family affair. Liz runs the full-service floral design studio with mom Susan and her husband Bill Stotz.

READ MORE…







A (American Grown) Flower-filled April, Part Two. OR: Adventures with Sharon Lovejoy

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

I’ve been home for a few weeks from my 11-day road trip that took me by plane to Southern California and back home again behind the wheel of a rental car. I have many fond memories (as well as the photographs that I collected), while stopping along U.S. Hwy. 101 on my way north to Seattle.

So here is a second travelogue, which I think many will enjoy.

I stopped at the home and garden of fellow writer and sweet friend Sharon Lovejoy and her partner in all, Jeff Prostivitch. They live in San Luis Obispo, a stunning area of coastal California, in a cozy bungalow surrounded by an oft-photographed and published garden.

There are several highlights from this short visit that I want to share.

running-out-of-night First of all, I got to hold in my hands the advanced readers’ copy of Sharon’s debut novel, Running Out of Night, which will be published in November.

On an earlier visit to Sharon and Jeff’s (I think it was in the fall of 2009), I tagged along with Sharon to a regular session with her writer’s group. This is the small gathering of writers in her area who have faithfully met with one another for years as they’ve read given both encouragement and critiques of each other’s writing projects. It was on that visit that I heard Sharon read aloud one of the chapters of her novel-in-progress. 

So you can only imagine how thrilling it was to sit for a while on the sofa in their living room and read the first few chapters in the REAL book! If you have a young person in your life (ages 7-12), I urge you to order this book or ask your librarian to order it. It is an adventure that involves two young girls who are equally enslaved, despite the difference in their skin color. I thoroughly love the characters, the plot – and the dialogue! Sharon is a masterful storyteller and I can’t wait to get this book into the hands of my niece (a 4th grade teacher) and her students.

A bud vase displays charming nasturtium flowers and foliage, on the edge of the kitchen's vintage farm sink.

A bud vase displays charming nasturtium flowers and foliage, on the edge of the kitchen’s vintage farm sink.

I also experienced a treat that anyone who visits this abode is bound to see. This is the home of gardeners, naturalists and amateur botanists. Every single thing that grows in the Lovejoy-Prostovitch garden is a gift from the earth. And they cherish those gifts with fervor.

The simplest tendril, sprig or pod is elevated with love and affection by Sharon and Jeff. Their home is filled with tiny bouquets and posies. The whole idea of “bringing the garden indoors” takes on new meaning when jam jars, bottles and shot glasses are filled with minature floral arrangements. A delight for the eyes. Here is a peek at some of the ones I noticed (I’m sure there were more!):

Geraniums (pelargoniums) in a bottle; citrus on a cake plate.

Geraniums (pelargoniums) in a bottle; citrus on a cake plate.

 

The posy by my bedside table. With the sweet William tucked inside, you can only imagine how it scented my dreams that night!

The posy by my bedside table. With the sweet William and sprigs of herbs tucked inside, you can only imagine how it scented my dreams that night!

 

Cheery golden-yellow columbine in the bathroom.

Cheery golden-yellow columbine in the bathroom. Is that parsley as the greenery?

 

Vases of flowers even appear in the garden, like this display of bird-of-paradise, collected with the potted succulents.

Vases of flowers even appear in the garden, like this display of bird-of-paradise, collected with the potted succulents.

 

Mr. Owl, with the moon, spotted on that magical night at Old Edna.

Mr. Owl, with the moon, spotted on that magical night at Old Edna.

That evening, Sharon and Jeff brought me along as their guest to a party given by their friends Aline and Frank.

This lovely couple lives in New England but spends part of the winter months staying in the San Luis Obispo area to be closer to some of their grandchildren.

While they have rented many types of houses for their winter interludes, this year found them settled in at a place outside SLO called Old Edna

Sharon promised: “Oh, Deb, you’re going to love it!”

And she was right.

Seen from the back, through the trees, the two-story tin mercantile building, circa 1908.

Seen from the back, through the trees, the two-story tin mercantile building, circa 1908.

Old Edna has an amazing history, and I hope to do it justice with this brief summary (please follow all the links to read more). Today, Old Edna is the creation of a dreamy artist named Pattea Torrence.

Pattea's office, in a charming garden shed on the Old Edna grounds.

Pattea’s office, in a charming garden shed on the Old Edna grounds.

 

Love how an old branch becomes a "trellis" under the eaves.

Love how an old branch becomes a “trellis” under the eaves.

 

Sharon and Jeff, both taking photos, at Old Edna. They are standing in front of the original Old Edna cottage.

Sharon and Jeff, both taking photos, at Old Edna. They are standing in front of the original Old Edna cottage.

Pattea has saved this elderly hamlet that time almost forgot, turning it into a destination that includes guest cottage farm stays, wine tasting, special events and more.

In 2000, Pattea and her husband Jeff Kocan purchased the two-acre, 100-year-old townsite with its running creek in Edna Valley (a world-class, wine-producing region) and two-story tin building (once a general store, dance hall and post office, dating back to the turn of the century, 1900).

They have salvaged and restored many of the structures and created a magical place for guests who stay for short or extended periods. There are two guest cottage on site, a three-bedroom Suite Edna and a one-bedroom honeymoon cottage called DeSolina. 

Another stunning sight: Birds in flight, in the sky overhead - a perfect V formation.

Another stunning sight: Birds in flight, in the sky overhead – a perfect V formation.

Pattea is affectionately known as “The Mayor” of Old Edna. She was a gracious host, although I have to also thank Aline and Frank for their amazing hospitality!

I hope to return and spend more time, but these photos will give you a glimpse of what I experienced. Up next: A visit to The Sun Valley Group, an unforgettable flower farm in Arcata, California.







Shutters, stylish and succulent-filled

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Last year I blogged about finding a set of half-circle shutters at a vintage sale. I wanted to emulate my friend Baylor Chapman’s succulent-planted shutters that grace her outdoor terrace in San Francisco. Since then, a few folks have emailed to ask if I EVER finished that project? Much to my embarrassment, those dusty shutters sat in the garage, untouched for nearly a year!

But finally, now that we’ve settled into a permanent residence, I’ve been able to work on this project. The shutters have been cleaned and given three coats of exterior paint. To turn them into vertical succulent planters I mounted both pieces with wood screws outside my office windows and then stuffed the openings betweeen each slat with sedums and sempervivums. Let’s see how they look:

Step one: Paint the shutters. I used semigloss acrylic berry-red, the paint used for my home's exterior trim

Step Two: Staple landscaping cloth to the back of both shutters.

Step Three: Mount shutter and fill the "slots" with potting soil.

Step Four: Plant with hardy sedums and other succulents.

 







Mostly native plant list for a modern California garden

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

A stand of cape rush adds a semitransparent layer of privacy between sidewalk and front garden.

Joel Lichtenwalter and Ryan Gates of Grow Outdoor Design, based in Los Angeles, have introduced me to some really creative gardens they have designed. And what strikes me when seeing these mostly small, urban landscapes, is how well plants are used as architectural elements within the spaces they reside.

Designers Joel and his client Scott can be seen in the distance, conferring on some of the planting designs.

You won’t see fluffy cottage gardens with English-inspired perennial choices in Ryan and Joel’s gardens. Yet even when they design for bungalow-scaled residences, some of the same intimate, cottage garden experience occurs for the humans who occupy them. That emotional sense of being surrounded by plants, layers of textures — and even color in a tonal, modern sense –happens in their gardens.

I wrote about one such place recently and you can follow the links to the Los Angeles Times story here, including an extensive web gallery.

For those who ask: What plants are appropriate for a lush, low-water landscape? I think you’ll appreciate Ryan and Joel’s plant list for their clients’ lawn-free front yard now filled with native and Mediterranean grasses, shrubs, ground covers and trees, many of which display multi-season beauty:

A shopping list of California native plants and their Mediterranean companions
Natives:
Ceanothus griseus horizontalis
Yankee Point
Cercis occidentalis
Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’

Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’
Leymus condensatus ‘Canyon Prince’

Muhlenbergia rigens
Platanus racemosa
Carpenteria californica
Eschscholzia californica
Juncus patens

Sisyrinchium montanum (Blue Eyed Grass)

Non-Natives:
Arbutus ‘Marina’
Agave bracteosa
Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’

Agave vilmroniana
Olea europaea
Chondropetalum tectorum

Materials:
Composite decking (raised deck and boardwalk)
Square pre-cast concrete pavers
Poured-in-place concrete bench
‘Del Rio’ gravel
Decomposed granite (DG)
Shredded tree mulch