Debra Prinzing

Get the Email Newsletter!

Archive for the ‘Spiritual Practices’ Category

Episode 327: Food Justice and Brian Sellers Peterson, author of Harvesting Abundance

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

As more people ask “where is my food grown” and increasingly “where are my flowers grown?” issues of access to available land where food and flowers can be produced are increasingly important — especially in urban areas.

My guest today, Brian Sellers-Petersen, is working at the heart of food justice and turning underused land into productive, inclusive mini-farms.

An avid gardener, beekeeper and chicken rancher, Brian is author of a new book, Harvesting Abundance: Local Initiatives of Food and Faith, which tells the stories of mostly Episcopal congregations around the country that are stewarding their land in new ways, sharing produce that’s grown on parcels once carpeted by green lawns.

He has recently started consulting after 16 years with Episcopal Relief & Development and he holds the unique title of Cathedral Apiarist or beekeeper at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.

Against the urban backdrop of downtown Seattle, Brian Sellers-Petersen tends to rooftop hives at St. Mark’s Cathedral

He writes:

“One reason to have a garden on the church’s front lawn or most visible site is that it will receive lots of foot traffic. You might not initially get many fans from those who are used to lovely ornamental landscaping, but with some care and thought, you can win them over with a carefully designed array of purple basil, rainbow chard, intercropped flowers, fruit, trees and fill in the blank. . . . It’s going to communicate to members, neighbors, and visitors your values and how people of faith are committed to gathering together around a table to eat.”

Brian maintains that everything you really need to know about the Creator you can learn in a garden.” I love that sentiment and the meaning behind it.

We go back two decades to when we worked together at a large Christian NGO, and I’ve always found myself encouraged by Brian’s progressive ideas and by the way he walks the talk in his own life.

A gathering of participants in Seattle’s Food & Faith Network, photographed at Redmond-based Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) / Masjid al-Rahmah

He’s been involved in Seattle’s Food & Faith Network, bringing together congregations of many faiths to learn how to start community and teaching gardens and other agricultural projects to grow healthy local food and flowers, build community, care for the earth and bring justice to neighbors and people they serve.

Find Brian at his blog, “Faithful Tilth”

Follow Brian on Facebook

Thanks so much for joining us today!  The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 262,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

I have a special treat in store for you next week, with our third annual Slow Flowers Holiday Music Special.

You’ll meet my guests, Scott & Kris Prinzing, yes, my brother and sister-in-law, musicians, educators, environmental activists and an uber creative duo behind EarthShine.

You’ll hear their story as passionate creatives and they will share five original songs that relate to gardens, seasons and the environment. It gave me great pleasure to invite them to appear on the Slow Flowers Podcast and I’m eager to share their story and songs with you.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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

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

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. Find them at

Longfield Gardens 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. Visit them at

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

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. Check them out at

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

(c) Missy Palacol 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

Music Credits:
Lesser Gods of Metal
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from:

Episode 326: Solstice Garden Gatherings and the Farm to Flower Shop trend with Barbara Rietscha of Boston’s Field & Vase

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Barbara Rietscha and David Buchholz of Stow Greenhouses, recently rebranded as Boston-based Field & Vase

Today, you will hear from two guests: Sue Nevler, an incredibly active gardening friend from the Pacific Northwest and national public horticulture scene who will share about the Solstice Garden Gatherings on December 21st, and Stow, Massachusetts-based Barbara Rietscha of Stow Greenhouses, which has rebranded as Field & Vase in Boston — yet another flower farm branching into retail floristry. I’m so excited to share these interviews with you!

We’re getting close to the end of 2017 and for many of you, that means reflecting on the meaning of one’s work, on the relevance and purpose that we seek to have, and on the relationships that define us.

Thanks to all who joined me at the Seattle area Slow Flowers Meet-Up! This group knows how to feed one another’s appetites and creativity.

This all came together for me Sunday evening at the latest Slow Flowers Meet-Up. Over the course of 2017, I’ve gathered with our Slow Flowers Community in towns and cities across North America, listening, learning, sharing, connecting in places as diverse and wonderful as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Toronto, Ontario; Missoula, Montana; Guilford, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island, and yes, Seattle.

It was such a joy to have a hometown (for me) Meet-Up and I am so happy that 14 folks in Seattle’s Slow Flowers community joined the festivities — flower farmers whose blooms thrive in tiny urban lots or expansive rural acreage, food farmers who are diversifying in to cut flowers, floral designers who specialize in weddings, everyday deliveries or workshops, landscape designers exploring the floral industry and also wholesalers who represent the farmers and sell their bountiful harvest to local florists.

It was wonderful to watch the new relationships and connections take place over delicious food, clicking of glass, and laughter throughout. There was one moment when it all went into slow-motion, freeze-frame for me. I stood there in my kitchen and marveled at the goodwill being shared among new and old friends, people who have supported the Slow Flowers movement in their own work, aligning their brands with ours. It was special and truly overwhelming to see where this singular Slow Flowers idea has taken all of us.

Last week I recorded a short interview that I want to start today’s episode. It will, I hope, inspire you to take a step or make a gesture in your own community as we approach the Winter Solstice, the holiday season and the New Year around the corner.

Sue Nevler (seen above), calls herself a gardening advocate. In 2016, Sue created an event called Solstice Garden Gatherings — and I shared the idea on an episode of this podcast last December. Solstice Garden Gatherings has gained momentum and support across the world, and I’m so glad to see the idea of people who assemble with others in public and private gardens, or in a flower field, or on a farm. The objective is simple, but powerful. A gathering in support of peace, acceptance, understanding, and hope.

Beginning December 10th, this Sunday, there are several taking place in the Seattle area, including these:

Bellevue Botanical Garden (Garden D’Lights)
Bloedel Reserve
Dunn Gardens
Kruckeberg Garden
University of Washington Botanic Gardens ( CUH)
Days, dates, times and formats vary at all these, so check individual garden website’s for more details.

Please use the hash-tag #solsticegardengatherings if you attend or create a similar event in your community. She is eager to see this idea spread and will be encouraged by your posts.

Flowers by Field & Vase

Our main guest today is Barbara Rietscha of Field & Vase, a new venture of Stow Greenhouses, based in Stow, Massachusetts, in the Boston area.

The Rietscha-Buchholz family at their farm in Stow, Massachusetts

Stow Greenhouses is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Dave Buchholz and Barbara Rietscha. In addition to growing and arranging flowers, they are raising three sons.

Barbara runs the day-to-day operations of the business and oversees everything from first seeding to final arrangement. Born in PA, Barbara had a circuitous route to flower farming. After graduating from college with a chemistry degree, she moved to Central Africa to teach farmers how to raise fish. When she returned home, Barb learned how to program computers and then moved to the business side of things and got her M.B.A. After the birth of her 2nd son, she took some time off to raise 3 sons until she and Dave bought the farm in 2010.

Barbara uses flowers and herbs grown on her farm as well as things foraged from the property. Her style is organic and natural and she likes to bring the garden to the vase whether it is for a bride, home or office. Barbara is motivated to educate her customers about the local flower movement as well as support local farms and businesses. She enjoys being outdoors and skiing and her retirement plan is traveling across the country in an Air Stream.

By day Dave is an IT professional at a large bank but by night, he is a plumber, electrician, carpenter – a whatever-it-takes to keep the farm running. He is also the patient voice of reason to Barb’s unbridled enthusiasm. Dave was born with skis on his feet, enjoys all forms of cycling and coaches the high school ultimate frisbee team.


Slow Flowers Summit Recap and Review

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

It’s hard to believe that one month ago, nearly 100 of us gathered together in Seattle for the first Slow Flowers Summit. Before too much time passes, I want to personally thank you everyone who attended and invested their time and presence in sharing this incredible experience with me and others in the Slow Flowers Movement!

Here are a few of the Raves we’ve received to date:

The Slow Flowers Summit was a great platform for discussing important issues, the most important for me being diversity and inclusivity in the business. . . a fantastic event with something for everyone that didn’t shrink from the more challenging issues facing us.

The Slow Flowers Summit was hugely inspiring to me as a grower and an entrepreneur. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded people who are successfully uniting their passion for flowers with a vision for a better world.

The Summit offered a day of inspiration and conversations. Being in the presence of other men and women who are passionate about their craft and the world behind the flowers was inspiring and uplifting. The value of the people that I met, the conversations that we united around, and the ideas that I left with made the day invaluable. I hope to be back year after year.

My participation in the Summit has sparked new ideas regarding how I grow my business. I’m inspired to think bigger and connect with a larger audience of like-minded flower people.

Thank you to our presenters for their intelligence, ideas and wisdom:

Above, from left: James Baggett, Riz Reyes, Nicole Cordier Wahlquist, Chantal Aida Gordon, Emily Ellen Anderson, Teresa Sabankaya, Amy Stewart, Debra Prinzing, Lisa Waud and Leslie Bennett

Who attended? Here’s a breakdown of how attendees identified themselves* in our post-Summit survey:
Florist/Floral Designer: 50 percent
Flower Farmer/Farmer-Florist: 27 percent
Educator: 14 percent
Media: 10 percent
Flower Gardener/Floral Enthusiast: 10 percent
Other categories: Wholesale floral managers, horticulturists, online floral retailer
*respondents were allowed to choose more than one category

We asked: “Was the Summit content relevant to you and your business?” Attendees ranked this answer 4.22 out of 5.0 
We asked: “What elements of the Summit were valuable to you? Attendees ranked these choices as follows:
1. Connecting with other Attendees
2. Connecting with Speakers
3. Learning about new Resources & Skills
4. Playing with Flowers (Flower Wall and Flowers on Your Head)

Panelists, from left: Chantal Aida Gordon of blog; Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens; Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture; and Nicole Cordier Wahlquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii

Our Master of Ceremonies, James Baggett of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative

Keynote speaker Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential and many other bestselling titles.

Lisa Waud of pot & box, Flower House Detroit and Detroit Flower Week

Enjoy our PICTURES!! Summit photos are here for your enjoyment and use. Follow this link to see/download.
Please credit (c) Hannah Brenlan and Luke Holtgeerts and use these hashtags: #slowflowersummit #americanflowersweek when you use any of these images. Thank you!

READ THIS. #SlowFlowerSummit 2017 is a HIT!
I loved reading one attendee’s thoughtful response with her takeaways from the Summit. Kit Wertz of Los Angeles-based Flower Duet wrote an extensive review in her July newsletter. You’ll want to subscribe to her newsletter! Thanks, Kit!

I can’t close without thanking all of our Sponsors and Volunteers.

I especially want to thank Stephanie Downes of Vanita Floral, @vanitafloral, our Event Manager Extraordinaire, and Niesha Blancas @nieshamonay, our Social Media Maven, from Poppy Social Media.

Seriously. Could. Not. Have. Done. The. Summit. Without. Them. xoxo

Our Audio/Visual Team was the best! Thank you to Hannah and Andrew Brenlan and the Brothers Holtgeerts (Henry and Luke).

A few of the many flowered and beautiful heads, thanks to Mud Baron for Flowers on Your Head

Thanks to Mud Baron of Muir Ranch for adding a festive, Instagram-worthy “flowers on your head” element to the day!

I’ve received personal notes from so many of you — and I promise to write back as time allows. I hope to announce a save-the-date for our 2018 Summit — on the East Coast — very soon.

Until then, continue to Inquire, Inform, Include, Instigate and Inspire!

Join me for Winter Solstice, December 21st

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

solstice-garden-gathering-title-page-image I believe all creatives want to make a difference in their community, and to that end, may I share an opportunity that my Seattle friend Sue Nevler has suggested?

She is proposing that gardeners, ecologists, naturalists, flower farmers and anyone engaged with the environment schedule, host or take part in a Winter Solstice Garden Gathering. Sue sent this note to her community last week:

Dear Garden Friends,

I am asking gardens to join together on Dec. 21st, the Winter Solstice, to invite people to bring a light and enjoy the company of others in a favorite beautiful lighted night garden.

Solstice is a very old tradition, and people are looking for community and connections at this time.  This is not a protest, but a coming together, a chance for unity, camaraderie, savoring the calm, serenity and beauty that our gardens provide.

As past director of the Dunn Gardens in Seattle, I began a Solstice Stroll there. It was a simple, quiet, beautiful winter night’s event. Friends gathered around a bonfire, hold a candle, savor garden shadows and dark sky.

This year, I’m gathering with many sister gardens in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. All have shown interest and enthusiasm. I was inspired to think about a much larger Winter Solstice Garden Gathering after reading a message that The American Public Gardens Association sent to members on November 14, 2016.

“At this moment, the world needs public gardens more than ever. Everyone needs to disconnect from the stress and loss; then find, themselves in our gardens. Whether they are naturally preserved and conserved or deliberately designed to evoke awe and emotion, gardens are where we can all intersect.”

As Sue encourages garden communities, and I’d like to encourage floral/flower farming communities, to incorporate gatherings as appropriate to your part of the country.

Sue suggests that we find inspiration from Eric Lui, who cowrote “Gardens of Democracy” in 2011:  He wrote, “To be a gardener is not to let nature take its course; it is to tend.” 

And clearly, those of us in the Slow Flowers Movement know that “to be a flower farmer is not to let nature take its course, but it is to tend.”

Tend to your corner of the world, in a garden or on a flower farm, and participate in this simple practice of unity, community, and humanity on Dec. 21st, the Winter Solstice. Together, may we illuminate and nurture our floral communities.

Episode 252 Bouquets Grown in Massachusetts with Melissa Glorieux of Aster B. Flowers

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016
An historic American farm with roots dating to the Revolutionary War is home to farmer-florist Melissa Glorieux's Aster B. Flowers.

An historic, 400-year-old American farm with roots dating to the Revolutionary War is home to farmer-florist Melissa Glorieux’s Aster B. Flowers.

00527_DP_VERTICAL_AFW_Poster-page-001 This week kicks off American Flowers Week, which began yesterday on June 28th and continues through next Monday, July 4th, Independence Day!

This is our second year celebrating American grown flowers in all shapes, sizes, forms, fragrances, locations and home states.

Before I introduce you to today’s guest, a thoroughly American flower farmer and florist, I want to share a few updates about what’s going on this week:

We’ve had participation at all levels of the floral continuum, warming the hearts and sparking the imagination of flower lovers everywhere.

Beginning with flower farms large and small across the U.S. and continuing through conventional wholesaler and on to consumer-facing flower shops, online florists, grocery stores, and farm-direct channels, the message being communicated is that these flowers have a domestic origin, grown by real people on real U.S. flower farms. Can we have some fireworks, please?!

As of last week, the social media hits were adding up quickly, thanks to  your participation. According to, which tracks Instagram and Twitter hashtag use, the American Flowers Week message has generated nearly one-half million impressions since we announced the 2016 celebration on May 1st (note, this is an updated figure from June 28th, four days after I recorded this podcast intro).


A fresh-picked, red, white and blue bouquet from Aster B. Flowers -- perfect for American Flowers Week.

A fresh-picked, red, white and blue bouquet from Aster B. Flowers — perfect for American Flowers Week.

Your use of the hashtag term is making an impact, so keep on using #americanflowersweek along with #slowflowers and your personal branding terms. We’ll keep on re-tweeting and re-posting for exponential results!

American Flowers Week has attracted major media attention, including a feature called “Get to know your growers,” by Janet Eastman of The Oregonian.

As I mentioned on the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook earlier this week, when the venerable FTD writes a blog post about American Flowers Week, well, it means we’ve got the attention of mainstream floriculture. And that’s a good thing, folks!

Keep sending us your submissions for 50 States of American Grown Flowers — wouldn’t it be great if all 50 states were represented in the gallery at

Everyone who participates and submits an arrangement is eligible for the prize drawings that include lots of great swag and shopping sprees from our sponsors. A recent addition from Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska: a beautiful box of 20 stems of premium peonies, which she has donated to our prize pool!

Meet Melissa Glorieux of Aster B. Flowers

Melissa with a bouquet of Massachusetts-grown (and designed blooms)

Melissa with a bouquet of Massachusetts-grown (and designed blooms)

It is entirely fitting to devote today’s conversation to a farmer-florist whose land in Essex, Massachusetts (according to local lore) is said to have been used by George Washington and his troops as a camp site during the Revolutionary War.

Imagine the history that this soil contains! Aster B. Flower’s owner, Melissa Glorieux, a native of Massachusetts, blends flower farming, floral design and artistry at an historic homestead about 30 miles north of Boston, where she and her husband and 2 children settled after previously living the SF Bay Area.

Melissa was first inspired by the abundant availability of seasonal and local flowers in that benign California climate . . . and she wanted to bring that practice to New England when she started Aster B. Flowers.

Melissa has developed the seven acre New England farm around the values of growing local and sustainable flowers. Aster B. strives to be sustainable both in the field and out.

A bevy of bouquets from Aster B. Flowers.

A bevy of bouquets from Aster B. Flowers.

424796_271381576273174_48212622_n The farm reuses and recycles whenever possible, such as repurposing trellising, fabric mulch and drip tape from one season to the next.

Organic growing practices, composting and water conservation are part of the daily life on this farm. Minimal packaging means that flowers are rubber-band tied and, if a client requests it, wrapped in wax paper.


Melissa (left) with design partner and fellow co-op member Rebekah Mindel of Meadow Wilds, a member of the new Essex Flower Co-op.

Melissa (left) with design partner and fellow Essex Flower Co-op member Rebekah Mindel of Meadow Wilds.

As Melissa and I discuss in the interview, for 2016, Meadow Wilds, Roving Radish, 1956 Blooms (transitioning to True Vine Studio) and Jemma Tory Floral Design have joined Aster B. on the farm to create the Essex Flower Co-op, a flower grower/floral designer cooperative.

Members of the co-op grow and design side-by-side, sharing expertise and supporting one another in their flower-centric endeavors. This is an exciting new model that I’m eager to share with you, yet another innovative way to keep things local and stimulate small-farm economies.

Another lovely view of Aster B. Flowers in Essex, Massachusetts

Another lovely view of Aster B. Flowers in Essex, Massachusetts

When her customers purchase Aster B. Flowers, Melissa wants them to know they are supporting a local micro-business that provides jobs, treats the Earth kindly and makes the world a little more beautiful.


You can follow along with The Ritual Mandala on Melissa's Instagram feed.

You can follow along with The Ritual Mandala on Melissa’s Instagram feed.

IMG_3796 Melissa’s new project is called The Ritual Mandala, a lovely endeavor that combines her life as a flower farmer with her life as an artist.

I know you’ll be inspired to try making your own farm-nature-garden-themed mandalas after seeing images of her beautiful work.

Here’s where to find and follow Melissa:

Aster B. Flowers on Facebook

Aster B. Flowers on Twitter

Aster B. Flowers on Pinterest

Aster B. Flowers on Instagram

Last week we promised a drawing for a free signed copy of The Flower Workshop, our guest Ariella Chezar’s new book. We drew the winner’s name from those of you who took the time to post a comment on the show notes page of And that person is: Megan Illingworth. Congratulations and thank you for listening and commenting!

There is still plenty of time to add your voice to the AmericanFlowersWeek excitement, so post your red-white-and-blue blooms and tag #americanflowersweek. Everyone’s contribution counts and together, we are changing the conversation about flowers!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 104,000 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

Playing with Flowers and Digging Deep with Fran Sorin (Episode 175)

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we're just weeks away!

Awaiting early tulips and hyacinths . . . we’re just weeks away!


Before we get started, I want to announce our new Slow Flowers Podcast Sponsor for 2015 – the California Cut Flower Commission.

The Commission is committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers.

I’ll be working closely with CCFC on a number of initiatives to promote domestic flowers in 2015, and I promise to keep you posted as details unfold.

SlowFlowersChallengeCover.jpg (2)


Today on the Slow Flowers Podcast we launch the Slow Flowers Challenge, share all about a new urban flower farm in Pittsburgh, and explore the meaning of flowers on a personal level with author and gardening personality Fran Sorin.

To kick off 2015, I invite you to join in the fun and creativity of the Slow Flowers Challenge. This project was inspired by Katherine Tracy, a talented plantswoman, designer and owner of Avant Gardens Nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Katherine blogged about taking the “Slow Flowers Challenge” after hearing my presentation at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Rhode Island this past fall…and she started using the hashtag #slowflowerschallenge, which in turn prompted other people to create seasonal bouquets, photograph them and share their designs on Facebook, Instagram and personal blogs.

Katherine’s artistic arrangements reveal her love of the natural world, the seasons, the plants, the gifts of the garden and wilder places. I’ve so enjoyed seeing these bouquets pop up across the web – thoroughly serendipitous and seasonal – representing pure joy for a moment in time. SO I thought, “why don’t we make the Challenge available to everyone who loves local flowers?”

I encourage you to check out these very simple rules and download a free SlowFlowersResourceGuide2015 here. Sign up to receive weekly design updates and follow a link to the Slow Flowers Pinterest Gallery, where you are welcomed and encouraged to post your seasonal arrangements.  Let’s have fun, make beauty, and change the American floral industry with new (and more seasonal) habits.


Briefly, before getting to our main guest, I also invited Jonathan Weber to share what’s going on with greenSinner, a Pittsburgh-based floral design, wedding and event studio and urban micro flower farm that he owns and runs with partner Jimmy Lohr.

Past guests of this podcast, the two have made good on their dream — to buy more land and establish a working flower farm. Jonathan and Jimmy recently purchased 4 acres of long-neglected land inside the Pittsburgh city limits. It’s called Midsummer Hill Farm.

I couldn’t be more excited to see them take this major step, but so much is needed to get seedlings and bulbs into the soil in time for flowers to bloom in 2015. Here’s a recent article featuring greenSinner, Midsummer Hill Farm and Jimmy and Jonathan’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, which runs through January 27th. I encourage you to check it out and perhaps invest in the growth of local flowers in Pittsburgh.

Fran Sorin, author of "Digging Deep."

Fran Sorin, author of “Digging Deep.”

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” Read on to find out how you can enter to win!

Today’s guest Fran Sorin is an author, gardening and creativity expert, and deep ecologist. Her book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, was groundbreaking when published in 2004. It was the first book to address gardening in the context of creativity, and as a tool for well-being and personal transformation. Here is a link to my blog post about “Digging Deep for Flower Lovers,” sharing favorite excerpts from Fran’s book.

Fran recently released an updated 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep. The book is even more vital today, because our culture has become increasingly obsessed with technology and progressively more “nature deprived.”

From the moment Fran decided she wanted to share her passion for gardening with a large audience and approached the local Fox TV station in Philadelphia about the idea, she became a fixture on the TV circuit. She spent years as a gardening authority on Philadelphia’s Fox and NBC stations; she was the regular gardening contributor on NBC’s Weekend Today Show, and made several appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Lifetime, HGTV, DIY, and the Discovery Channel. She is one of the creators of the popular weekly dose of garden news at Gardening Gone Wild Blog.

Fran is celebrating her tenth year as a CBS Radio News correspondent. Her Digging Deep gardening features are heard several times a week on CBS Radio stations throughout the United States. She has also written dozens of articles about gardening and well-being for USA Weekend Magazine, Radius Magazine, and iVillage.

She has spent more than twenty-five years initiating and working on community projects that have served the diverse community of West Philadelphia, most recently initiating a community garden and learning center on the grounds of a church in an underprivileged neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

Even prior to becoming an ordained interfaith minister, Fran was ministering to folks whether she was taking on the role as a garden designer, a media trainer, a TV personality, or a radio host. Fran’s greatest strengths are in connecting to audiences and individuals and galvanizing them to take action. In these tumultuous and technologically obsessed times, when so many of us feel stuck, scared, and disconnected from ourselves and others, her optimistic, grounded values, and empowering message are needed more than ever.

Here is Fran’s video – she’s a woman on the street, sharing her inspiring “Give a Flower. Get a Smile” project:

Follow Fran here:


Give a Flower Facebook Page


If you want to participate in the drawing for a free copy of Digging Deep, post a comment about your earliest memory of gardening or experiencing nature. Your comment enters you into the drawing, which takes place at midnight Pacific Time, this Saturday, Jan. 10th. We’ll announce the winner next week.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more frequently than ever before.  We’re at nearly 30,000 downloads, which will be an exciting milestone to reach in the coming week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at

A Quiet Sunday Morning

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

A Seattle Sunday Morning: 43 degrees F. Foggy and damp. It’s supposed to get up to 53 degrees F this afternoon, so who am I to complain about a little morning fog?

I woke up grateful for many things, including the sense that my life has slowed down for this 30-day holiday period. I’ve purposely limited my social commitments so as to save my energy for the creative projects that are tugging at me. This afternoon, I might get the sewing machine out and see what I can fashion from my collection of pretty scraps and remnants.

One lovely suprise happened last night, just as I was about to turn off the back episode of “Madame Secretary” I was watching and crawl under the flannel sheets.

Fran Sorin, yes that Fran Sorin – of Digging Deep and Gardening Gone Wild fame, sent me a note to say she devoted her latest CBS Radio gardening segment to “Slow Flowers.”

I’m hoping to get the audio posted, but right now, let me just say THANK YOU so much to Fran! What a generous gift of support from one serious flower lover to another. She gave me the transcript, which I’ll share here:


December 5, 2014-4- Slow Flowers

If you’re thinking about sending flowers to someone for the holidays, I’ve got a suggestion for you.

This is Fran Sorin for DIGGING DEEP.
A gardening colleague, Debra Prinzing, has singlehandedly created and committed her life to developing a nationwide online directory of florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers. It’s call Slow Flowers.
In the U.S., we spend close to $28 billion a year on floriculture. Around 80% of the cut flowers bought in the U.S. are imported.
The Slow Flower Movement is following the sustainable values of the Slow Food Movement—which is to buy local, lower the carbon footprint, enrich the local economy, and preserve local farmland.
To learn more and buy magnificent flowers from local American growers, click on

This is Fran Sorin for CBS Radio News.


A lot like Fran’s unepected gift of a 1-minute endorsement heard on radios around the country, this next item also gets filed under the “out of the blue-gift from the universe” category.

In April 2013, I received an email from a stranger. Someone named Todd E. MacLean who just reached out with an invitation to get involved with a new book of essays entitled “Global Chorus.” Here’s what he wrote:

Global Chorus, edited by Todd E. MacLean

Global Chorus, edited by Todd E. MacLean

My name is Todd E. MacLean and I’m the Editor-in-Chief for an international fundraiser anthology that is currently being compiled called Global Chorus: A 365-Person Anthology of Worldwide Concern and Enduring Hope.

With collected words from Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, David Suzuki, Stephen Hawking, Bill McKibben, R.K. Pachauri – Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Ashish Ramgobin – great granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, Frances Moore Lappé, Paul Hawken, Trudie Styler, Gloria Flora, Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, Kenny Ausubel, Joel Salatin, Alexandra Cousteau, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama, and many, many more, Global Chorus is growing into a powerful anthology for a world in crisis; and through this letter, I am now extending to you an invitation to write a brief response for inclusion in the Global Chorus anthology.

Global Chorus is a 365-day compendium, bringing together 365 contemporary voices and sharing in the experience and wisdom of many of humanity’s most concerned citizens. Contributors are asked to express their thoughts on the future of the planet, and the anthology will present a different contributor’s response for each day of the year. Proceeds from the sales of Global Chorus will go toward World Wildlife Fund, The Jane Goodall Institute, The David Suzuki Foundation and The International Committee of the Red Cross.

Contributors to Global Chorus have one page (suggested length of up to 250 words, to a maximum of 350 words) to answer the anthology’s question:

“Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet? What would these conditions look like? In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?”

Something resonated with me about this project and I decided to say “YES.”

I used Todd’s invitation to bring flower farming and flowers into the dialogue about global environmental issues and the individual choices we make to respect the planet.

Todd helped me with a few edits and here is what ended up in the book, one of 365 essays (you can find mine on the page for October 19th). Learn more about Global Chorus and find a bookstore near you to purchase a copy. I’ll be giving these books as gifts this holiday season.

Debra Prinzing

It feels daunting to think one person can change

things in this world. That is when I turn from the

macro to the micro and focus on individual action.

A single gesture takes on meaning far greater than

me, my family, my block, my neighbourhood, my

city. When that gesture is frequently repeated, its

impact is exponential.

I have always turned to flowers, those growing

in my garden and in the fields of my flower farmer


The symbolic gesture of giving flowers has

been practised for generations. Flowers appear in

history, in literature, in every culture and in every

land. Gathering flowers as a show of affection or a

celebratory display is no small thing. It is a timeless,

universal practice.

Flowers connect humans with Nature and

heighten our awareness of the seasons. They root

us to our place on the planet. Our senses see, smell,

touch (and even hear and taste) botanical beauty.

This is a truth understood by all humans.

I do believe that flowers parallel food. We don’t

often eat petals and buds, but they feed us nonetheless.

The spiritual sustenance of flowers has caused

me to think more intentionally about how I consume

them. I have been inspired to start the Slow

Flowers movement, a conscious practice of sourcing

flowers grown close to me rather than ones shipped

to me from afar. When I choose local flowers, I am

preserving farmland, ensuring economic development

in rural areas and keeping farm jobs viable.

As an advocate for those who grow flowers

enjoyed by so many, I believe it’s important to remember

the human toil required to plant, cultivate

and harvest those blooms. I find hope in honouring

the flower farmer, hearing his or her story and

acknowledging the farmer’s role in bringing beauty

into our lives. By making a simple connection between

flower and farmer we humanize an entire

industry, one that has previously been so disconnected

from us. It is perhaps more indirectly rather

than directly world changing, and yet, it is the act

I know makes a difference far beyond the vase on

my dining table.

— Debra Prinzing, author, speaker, designer,

founder of

Gorgeous field-grown tulips, from Gonzalo Ojeda of Washington's Ojeda Farms.

Gorgeous field-grown tulips, from Gonzalo Ojeda of Washington’s Ojeda Farms.


Digging Deep for Flower Lovers: A cyber book party, complete with gardening giveaways

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Let's Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in "Digging Deep."

Let’s Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in “Digging Deep.”

I’m one of those accidental bloggers who breaks most of the rules when it comes to what supposedly makes a garden blog successful.

For one thing, I write posts that are probably far longer than the experts advise.

Another thing: I am completely oblivious to key words, SEO, tags, metadata, etc. – all those tricks to get Google and other search engines to pay attention.

And finally, I write for my own pleasure rather than to merely sell or persuade. If I like something, I’m usually compelled to share it with the universe; and even if no one comments or clicks through, well, that’s no big deal. It makes me happy and that’s what stimulates me to create a post.

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” Read on to find out how you can enter to win!

So today, I am thrilled that the stars have aligned to accomplish two things at once — to share something that inspires me (and, I hope, you, too!) and to celebrate the publication of Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary Edition Digging Deep, a personally engaging book that gets to the heart, soul and “why” that lures us into a meaningful connection with nature, plants and gardening.

Today’s post is part of a “virtual book party” involving seven veteran garden bloggers, writers far more experienced than I am in the art and science of this craft. I was touched that Fran invited me to be part of the Cyber Book Party, all the more because I am smitten with this book.

I received no compensation or products for participating, although Fran sent me a review copy of Digging Deep (which is now a little used, because I’ve turned down page corners and underlined some of my favorite passages).

In honor of Digging Deep’s Cyber Book Party, Fran has priced the e-book at .99 while the giveaway is live. Yes, you read that correctly: 99-cents!

Here’s a little more about this book:

Observe a peony - this flower is one of Fran's first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

Observe a peony – this flower is one of Fran’s first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

If you’re yearning to get out of the rut you’re in and cultivate more meaning and connection in life, Digging Deep offers the encouragement and tools to make it happen. Overflowing with tips, exercises, and resources, this instructive and inspirational guide is even more vital in today’s technology obsessed culture than when first published 10 years ago.

From Fran, you’ll learn how to bloom right along with your garden and use gardening as a conduit for beginning to experience creativity as a rich and dynamic lifetime journey.

The 7 Stages of Creative Awakening will take you through the steps of removing self-doubt and replacing it with strategies that will help you trust your instincts, let your imagination run wild, take risks, envision and design the garden of your dreams, reclaim your playfulness, and live the life you’re meant to— one filled with joy, well-being, and creativity.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former  Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

And here’s one of the book’s “exercise” assignments that charmed me (I’ll tell you why later).

p. 35-37

“This is probably the most loved exercise we do in my workshops – I call it Playing With Flowers. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market, supermarket, street vendor, or florist. If you can possibly buy locally grown, sustainable flowers, please make the effort to do so [THANKS FRAN!]. Pick out as many different flowers as your budget allows. Just let your eye go to what it likes and add them to your bunch. Ideally, you want at last three different varieties of flowers in a range of colors as well as some greenery and other fillers like berries or branches.

smclippersIMG_3807 When you get home, remove any excess leaves and trim the bottom of the stalks on the diagonal. It’s easiest and most efficient to use a pruner, which you can find moderately priced at any gardening center. Place the flowers in a sink filled with cool water with the bottom of the stems submerged.

Go through your cabinets and take out any kind of vases or containers you have that could hold flowers. Think outside the vase – you can use teakettles, jars, glasses, cachepots, or pitchers. And don’t limit yourself in terms of size – even the smallest tumbler or toothpick holder can look lovely holding the top of one blooming rose.

Now comes the fun part. Put on some music you love, turn off your phone, and just let yourself play with different variations of arrangements. Experiment with a variety of combinations and see what you like and dislike. Notice how colors, shapes, and textures of leaves and flower petals work together. If you start one arrangement and don’t like it, take it apart and start again. There are no rules here – no boundaries, no goals you need to strive toward. I know there are countless books and articles out there about how to create lovely flower arrangements, but that’s not what this is about. You don’t have to be a professional florist here. In fact, striving for any kind of perfection negates the whole point. This is about letting yourself go and playing, trusting your eye, and noticing all the interesting things you come up with.

You may find that the critical voices in your head are quick to sabotage –

“I can’t do this.”

“This is too hard for me. I’m not good at things like this.”

“This is stupid. Why am I bothering?”

This is all the product of the ego, rising up to make sure your spirit stays buried – right where the ego likes it, thank you very much. Notice how much you question and censor yourself. Let your kinder inner voice (it’s in there somewhere!) lead you through and nudge you into letting go and being in the moment. Remember, you don’t have to do this brilliantly. You don’t even need to do it well. You only need to do it for the sake of the childlike soul within.

This exercise has so many benefits. It shows you how to start trusting your instincts, allows you to develop an awareness of color, texture, shape, and form (which you’ll need later on), forces you to slow down and be in the moment, and opens you up to experimenting and exploring – all essential elements in the process of creating and gardening.

When you’re finished with your arrangements, place them in various spots in your home where you’ll see them often. Change the water and trim the bottom of the stems every day to continue your interaction with them and keep them fresh. Living with these flower combinations will give you a taste of their beauty in the micro so you can begin to cultivate your aesthetic appreciation for them in the bigger picture later on.”

Fran’s lovely exercise is one I’ve personally used many, many times. I just didn’t know to call it “Playing With Flowers”! My experience with flowers has been so similar to the one Fran suggests to her readers.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub - and inhaling the fragrance.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub – and inhaling the fragrance.

In the introduction to my book Slow Flowers. I wrote about my year-long, weekly ritual of clipping and gathering stems, arranging them in just-the-right vase, and photographing the finished bouquet:

. . . Slow Flowers reflects life lived in the slower lane. My family, friends and professional colleagues know that it’s almost impossible for me to do anything slowly. I’m the queen of multitasking; I just can’t help myself. There are too many exciting opportunities (or bright, shiny objects) that command my interest. But this “year in flowers” was altogether different. I can only compare it to the practice of praying or meditating. I didn’t realize that those few hours I spent each week, gathering and choosing petals and stems, arranging them in a special vessel, and then figuring out where and how to capture the finished design through my camera lens, would be so personally enriching.

    I used all my senses. Unplugged, away from electronic distractions, I studied the form, line, texture, subtle color and utter uniqueness of each stem. What a gift to slow down and experience the moment. I don’t know much about ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, but I understand that silence and contemplation of nature are part of its practice. I experienced something similar. Slow Flowers forced me to work at a decidedly different pace as I embraced creativity, fearlessly.

    I learned about my own preferences, design style and ability to look at the world of floral ingredients in an unconventional way. I learned that I really am a floral designer. Like me, you don’t have to earn a certificate from the London School of Floral Design to create seasonally-inspired bouquets. You can find local blooms in your or your friend’s garden, or from the fields, meadows and farm stands of local flower growers. Each bouquet tells a story about one moment in time, about Grandmother’s cherished flower vase or the fleeting memory that returns with a whiff of lavender or lilac. That’s one of the intangible gifts of bringing flowers into our lives.

. . . Gardeners are especially qualified in the art of floral design. After all, we have an intimate relationship with our plants, their bloom cycle, their natural form and character – and their seasonality. We also know what colors and textures we like when combined in the landscape. A vase can be a little garden, its contents gathered and arranged to please the eye.

       So give it a try. Design a bouquet. Channel your inner floral designer and begin your own year with slow flowers.

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Playing With Flowers can cost little or nothing to try, especially if you step outdoors and gather seasonal gifts from your own backyard.

Here are some more goodies that might make your day.

Thanks to the support of others fans of  Fran Sorin’s “Digging Deep,” we have several giveaways for you to try and win.

In addition to entering here, you actually have seven chances to win by visiting all the participating bloggers:

1. Dee Nash –

2. Helen Yoest-

3. Jenny Peterson-

4. Rebecca Sweet-

5. Brenda Haas-

6. Fran Sorin-

The “Digging Deep” giveaway ends on Monday, December 8th at midnight Eastern Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 9th. Here are the rules:

1. Post a comment here on my blog, sharing an enduring, personal flower memory. For me, that “dig deep” flower memory is the color, soft texture and intense perfume of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, which reminds me so vividly of a Connecticut garden of my childhood. Share yours in the comment section below and you will be entered into the drawing, which takes places next week.

2. By making a comment here on, you will be entered into each of two drawings:

Blog_Seed_Giveaway_000_4239.jpg_-_Baker_Creek_Seeds-_Cyber_Giveaway-_19_hand_picked_selections_of_veggies_and_flowers 10818534_10205168719757714_1314615647_n.jpg-_Authentic_Haven_Brand_Soil_Conditioner

Prize #1Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — 19 handpicked varieties of veggies and flowers- valued at over $50. PLUS, a 3-pack selection of Authentic Haven Brand Tea, a premium soil conditioner  that’s safe for all garden, indoor plants and soil types. Makes an excellent foliage spray.


Prize #2 – Nature Innovations- — a new product line for indoor and outdoor gardening that provides plants with the most realistic look of nature with out chopping down a tree.

Molded from live trees Nature Innovations planters are made from a high density polyurethane, lightweight, UV resistant, and incredibly durable.  All Nature Innovations planters are individually had painted and are 100% made in the USA. The prize includes four planters/containers  (retail $149).

Thanks for your participation! And no matter what level of a gardener or a floral designer you I challenge you to try “Playing With Flowers” as you Dig Deep into your relationship with the earth.

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Nature as inspiration for your floral designs with Nancy Ross Hugo (Episode 164)

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Paperwhite foliage (left) and a fatsia leaf (right) provide a study in contrasts. Design and photo by Nancy Ross Hugo.

Paperwhite foliage (left) and a fatsia leaf (right) provide a study in contrasts. Design and photo by Nancy Ross Hugo.

Before I introduce you to today’s guest, I wanted to reach into the letter bag and share some of the notes that arrived this week.

Emily Watson, a farmer-florist who owns Stems Cut Flowers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a member of, writes:

“I have been listening to your podcasts and after every single one I think I should write you a thank you but neither of us has time for that! So here it is one big thank you for all of them. Some weeks I hear pieces of my own story, some weeks inspiration for where I want to go, some weeks I just feel grateful that there are people like you and Kasey Cronquist and the Field to Vase  project making good things happen. At the ASCFG conference that I went to in DC a a few years ago I remember an ice breaker session where you were supposed to tell the people at your table where you though your business would be next year. And at that time I was not even sure that my business was going to be around the following year. I was tired, emotionally, financially, and physically exhausted. After four long growing seasons I started to feel like maybe I should just cut my losses and return to the “normal” workforce. But then I saw things starting to happen on the bigger scale, people bringing awareness to the issues that mattered to me and my business, people connecting the dots for all the small businesses like mine.”

Since then my business has evolved a bit and I am on the verge of another transformation. One that I feel like I will have support for and a community which I can draw on for ideas and information. And you have been a big part of making this happen so thank you very much.”

And here’s one from Tobey Nelson, a floral, wedding & event designer who owns Vases Wild in Langley, Washington, on beautiful Whidbey Island – a wedding destination:

“I have been listening to your podcasts in an OCD fashion lately – love them!  And I really appreciate all the work you are doing for Slow Flowers and (the) American grown (movement). So great. Do you know that just this year we have had three professional flower growers sprout up on Whidbey Island? It makes me happy!”

Thank YOU, Tobey and Emily ~ your encouragement for this endeavor means a lot. It’s easier to promote American grown flowers when I have such talented farmers and florists as my partners!

ST LYNN'S WINDOWSILL ART CVR Anyone listening today knows that flowers can be a huge source of comfort, encouragement, celebration and serenity – depending on the time and place and occasion.

Today’s guest, Nancy Ross Hugo, brings the macro world of nature, landscape, the garden or the flower farm down to the micro world of the windowsill. And in doing so, she offers us a simple ritual, a moment, a meditation on the botanical beauty around us

The author of a new book called “Windowsill Art: Create One-of-a-kind Natural Arrangements to Celebrate the Season,” Nancy writes about gardening, trees, and floral design from her home in Ashland, Virginia and her family’s small farm in Howardsville, Virginia.

Her love of trees has led her to tree habitats all over the world, but her real passion is celebrating the common wildflowers, weeds, trees, and everyday plants that are often overlooked in ordinary backyards.

Naturalist, designer, artist, educator and author Nancy Hugo Ross. Photo (c) Robert Llewellyn

Naturalist, designer, artist, educator and author Nancy Hugo Ross. Photo (c) Robert Llewellyn

Nancy loves reading old natural history books, writing new ones, and exploring the creative process through flower arranging and nature journaling.

Through nature journaling and blogging about the “windowsill arrangements” she creates every day, she says she keeps her creative muscles exercised, her thoughts straight, and her eyes open to all things wild and wonderful.

Nancy has authored five books and hundreds of articles about nature and the outdoors, She is the former garden columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and education manager at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She travels the country speaking on the two topics closest to her heart: observing trees carefully and celebrating the seasons through daily, simple flower arranging.

Rustic boxes filled with an immature sunflower head (left) and stacked marigold blossoms (right). Nancy writes: "Marigolds will last longer than you think out of water."

Rustic boxes filled with an immature sunflower head (left) and stacked marigold blossoms (right). Nancy writes: “Marigolds will last longer than you think out of water.”

I met Nancy through St. Lynn’s Press, our shared publisher. It seems that at the same time I was working on Slow Flowers – a book about creating a local and seasonal floral arrangement every week of the year with only what I cut from my own garden or sourced from local flower farmers, Nancy was working on Windowsill Art, engaging in a similar method of marking the seasons in nature with floral arranging.

Violas in stone cube with "gumball."

Violas in stone cube with “gumball.”

The difference is that of simplicity and spontaneity. Nancy’s practice is so “of the moment” and I greatly admire her artistry and approach. You might think a windowsill would constrain the creativity – but that’s anything but the case.

A beet displayed beside a jug of coleus. "I realized I could turn (the beet) upside down and support it on its leaf stems . . . showcasing the part of the beet I like best - its tapering root."

A beet displayed beside a jug of coleus. “I realized I could turn (the beet) upside down and support it on its leaf stems . . . showcasing the part of the beet I like best – its tapering root.”

In May 2011, Nancy began a blog on which she posted a photo of a small flower arrangement (or just a conglomeration of natural materials) every day. Assembled on the windowsill, these simple displays celebrate the seasons and chronicle Nancy’s love affair with local wildflowers, weeds, and garden flowers as well as her discovery of new and exciting ways to display them. They also demonstrate why practicing this easy art form is so valuable as a form of nature journaling and rewarding as a personal creative practice. You can see more than 800 arrangements at

Sweet William, wild mustard, and Chinese temple bell (Moricandia avensis) flowers.

Sweet William, wild mustard, and Chinese temple bell (Moricandia avensis) flowers — in Nancy’s favorite bud vases.

As Nancy points out, almost everyone does it – puts a little something on the windowsill to watch it ripen, root, or just sit there looking pretty. To this gifted woman, the windowsill can serve as a stage for more intentional arranging – a personal, freewheeling kind of art. A catalyst for creativity.

The compound leaves of nandina emerge copper-colored in spring and are arranged here in a row of test tubes.

The compound leaves of nandina emerge copper-colored in spring and are arranged here in a row of test tubes.

She writes, “for me, windowsill arranging is almost a spiritual practice. Where I am looking for materials to display and placing them . . . I feel more like a poet placing words in a haiku than a floral designer placing stems in a vase. I love the limited space, the double connection to the outdoors (through the window and my materials), and the structure that repeating the same activity over and over provides.”

Gifts from the kitchen and herb garden compose a lovely still-life on Nancy's windowsill.

Gifts from the kitchen and herb garden compose a lovely still-life on Nancy’s windowsill.

As we enter the more dormant period of the year in our gardens and on our farms, I challenge you to pick up Nancy’s approach to observing nature’s gifts and seeing each pod, branch, stem or vine (or fruits and vegetables) as an artistic element. It may be a gift to give yourself this season.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation. Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 23,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at

Note: Many of the supplies Nancy uses can be ordered from The Arranger’s Market: vases, clippers, bottle brushes, and other floral design equipment.

All photos in this post copyrighted to Nancy Ross Hugo, used by permission of St. Lynn’s Press.

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.