Missouri-Grown Magic

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Missouri’s flora expressed in a whimsical dress by Andrea K. Grist. This and all images (c) Tiffany Marie Buckley

Floral artist Andrea K. Grist conjures a playful mini-dress infused with the personality of woodland, meadow and prairie, featuring botanicals sourced from Little Green Garden.

“I was inspired by the native plants and grasses that grow in and around the flower farms of Missouri and Kansas,” she says.

“I wanted a very organic look that’s youthful for our model’s age and size. I call the look ‘Cowgirl meets Yule Sprite’ for its sense of both innocence and powerful confidence.

Beth and Joel Fortin of Little Green Garden harvested all the ingredients from their farm, including flowers, grasses, pods and evergreens. The extensive grounds of our location include tall grass prairies and tree-lined horse trails, reflecting the flora of this region.

Andrea recently shared how she crafted the garment:

“I used felt purchased by the yard for the base of the floral bodice and skirt. I originally thought I could use a spray adhesive to attach the greenery, but I ended up using Oasis cold glue to attach the greenery – small pieces of spirea and cedar,” she explains.

A tip from Andrea: Use books to add weight to the foliage to ensure it attaches securely to fabric.

Once in place, the greenry became the neutral “ground” for Andrea’s botanical textile. The “print” was created by adding flowers of the season. Andrea encouraged her grower friends from Little Green Garden to bring what they loved and wanted to showcase. “It was a complete surprise,” laughs Andrea, who added: “my strategy was to place flowers wherever there was a hole in the greenery where the felt showed through.”

The finished felt panels wrapped around model Samantha Grist (Andrea’s daughter), secured with dress clips and a slender belt. Wavy, flowing hair, a lush floral crown and colorful trailing ribbons complete the “yule sprite” look.

On location, our photographer Tiffany Marie Buckley played with lighting to create a moody, mystical background, merging the initial concept with more fairytale qualities.”

Creative Credits:

Designer: Andrea K. Grist, Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, andreakgristfloralart.com, @andreakgristfloralart
Flowers: Little Green Garden LLC, Richmond, Missouri, littlegreengardenllc.com, @littlegreengardenkc
Venue: Sunset Trails Stables, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, sunsettrailsstables.com, @sunsettrailsstables
Model: Samantha Grist
Hair and Makeup: Andrea K. Grist
Photography: Tiffany Marie Buckley, Tiffany Marie Photography, tiffanybuckley.com, @tiffanymariephoto

Red, White & Bloom: Flowers Fill the Stage at SWGMC

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Amerian Flowers Week Floral installation Seattle Wholesale Growers Market
Amerian Flowers Week Floral installation Seattle Wholesale Growers Market; this and all images (c) Missy Palacol Photography

The fifth annual American Flowers Week celebration kicks off today, June 28th and runs through July 4th. You’re invited to join the party and share your beautiful flowers — local, seasonal and grown close to home.

Here is some inspiration for you: Nine Ways to Participate in American Flowers Week.

designers
A few of our design volunteers posed with Debra Prinzing in front of their floral creation. From left: Sandy Figel, Francie Romano, Carolyn Kulb, Emily Ellen Anderson, Debra Prinzing and Suzann Carson

Speaking of closer to home, here at Slow Flowers headquarters in Seattle, we were motivated to create a large-scale floral installation to commemorate locally-grown Washington flowers.

Thanks to a fabulous group of volunteer designers and generous support from Washington State Farm Bureau, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and Camflor, the week of local flowers took a theatrical turn worthy of the Broadway stage.

SWGMC’s Alana Roper shows her reaction to the beautiful floral draperies.

A group of talented floral designers, retail florists and farmer-florists joined together to produce the installation. We transformed the 10-by-10 foot loading dock at SWGMC into a theatrical floral stage, complete with lavish botanical draperies and a marquee banner reading “American Flowers Week” (more on that below).

On Tuesday afternoon volunteer Slow Flowers member designers threaded more than 2,000 flower heads onto 15-foot-long lei-like strands. A festive — “it takes a village” — spirit of collaboration filled the workroom as these women, many of whom had not previously met, each shared stories of their floral journey, as well as personal insights into finding balance as creatives and entrepreneurs. Gathered around a table while threading long needles through freshly-cut flower heads onto bullion wire . . . it felt like a modern-day quilting bee. Great connections while making something beautiful together.

Anne Bradfield of Floressence Designs (left) with Seattle mural artist Josie Rice. Josie not only embellished the exterior of SWGMC, she designed this year’s American Flowers Week campaign branding!

We loved the palette: white, cream, pink coral, lavender and maroon blooms, generously donated by the Market and its member growers. The color choice was a nod to red-and-white stripes of the U.S. flag while also blending nicely with the Josie Rice floral mural that covers the entire surface of the Market, including around the loading dock opening. Keita Horn of Smashing Petals designed two beautiful, tapestry-like floral tiebacks using nigella, scabiosa, delphinium and sea holly, among other blue-petaled options.

Suzanne Carson’s lapels say it all!

We also utilized several sections of greenery garlands, custom-made by Camflor, a California flower farm and Slow Flowers member. The texture and density of the eucalyptus and grevillea garlands added lots of volume and interest to the floral strands.

Early Wednesday morning, we installed the floral draperies from the lip of the roll-up loading dock door. S-hooks and zip-ties were perfect mechanics to engineer the scheme. A time crunch before the market opened to buyers at 6 a.m. kept everyone focused. As soon as the garlands and floral strands were in pace, Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative her assistant Alana Crawley climbed ladders to install a fabulous bunting-style banner that spanned the opening of the loading dock declaring: AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK.

The banner, designed by Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative, features F L O W E R S spelled out in red buds and petals.

Our favorite part: the F L O W E R S part is spelled out in red spray roses, dianthus and other tiny flower heads.

Thank you to everyone who attended. For those of you who missed the festivities, please enjoy the party virtually, through Missy Palacol’s lens (thank YOU, Missy!).

Other thanks are as follows:

Charmaine (as dancing pansy) and Dennis aka Mister.Mold.

Dennis Westphall, Jello Mold Farm and @mister.mold, for sharing his music and his fun floral costumes!

Charmaine Butcher, SWGMC Marketing Coordinator, and Alana Ropper for performing and dancing to Dennis’s music while masquerading as a Pansy and Daffodil, respectively.

Molly Sadowsky, Katy Beene and Liz Gusarson of the SWGMC team for keeping us supplied with flowers, foliage, borrowed ladders, borrowed, tools, carts, storage space and so much more.

Designers:
Floral director Melanie Cherry and her team from Town & Country Markets, including Sarah Clark (Bainbridge Island T&C), Brenda King and Robin Alex (Central Market Shoreline).
Francie Romano, Francie Flower
Karen McIntosh, Flowers by Karen
Anne Bradfield, Floressence Design
Tammy Myers, First & Bloom and Lora Bloom
Carolyn Kulb, Folk Art Flowers
Keita Horn, Smashing Petals
Suzanne Carson, Washington Farm Bureau
Laura Ridenour, Washington State Department of Agriculture
Sandy Figel, Verbena Floral Seattle
Emily Ellen Anderson, Lola Creative
Alana Crawley, Lola Creative

More Thanks:
Lainie Kertesz, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, who brought flower seed giveaways and cut flower resources
Erin Murphy, Tilth Alliance, for sharing resources on organic farming and farm tours
Suzanne Carson and Laura Ridenour who just kicked off the Washington Flowers Project in conjunction with American Flowers Week and lent major support and enthusiasm for the installation and party.
Jessica Lutovsky, Must Love Frosting, for her fantastic and delicious cookie artistry

Road Trippin’ with Oregon-grown blooms

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The road trip starts with our Oregon retro fashionista following her wanderlust
(c) Haley Swinth Photography

Beth Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm wanted to tell a story of a sassy, confident, modern-day young woman, and she framed her narrative around the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“I also wanted this design to embrace women in all shapes and sizes and reflect their power,” she says. Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., a farm known for fabulous dried flowers, joined Beth as co-designer to fabricate the production of the late-summer/early autumn garment.

“We decided to highlight the 1960s dried flower vibe. We loved showcasing a combination of dried and fresh flowers as a way to extend the ‘local’ season in our floral designs,” Beth explains. She designed the outfit’s top with mostly fresh-cut flowers, ornamental grasses and foliages. Bethany assumed design responsibilities for the skirt design, incorporating a mix of dried flowers from her farm.

Beth envisioned a storyline for her model (who happens to be her beautiful daughter, Rilley Syphers): Wanderlust has taken hold of the young woman’s imagination and she strikes out for town, hitch-hiking at the edge of a country road.

Rilley’s outfit began with a trip to a vintage store, where she found a top and skirt that felt comfortable to the skin yet was stable enough to support the weight of hundreds of flowers. Beth embellished the top using a combination of Oasis cold glue for the fresh material and hot craft glue for dried material. Similarly, Bethany created a tapestry-like pattern on the skirt, including using silky grasses as a fringed detailing.

Photographer Haley Swinth followed along on the narrative, as Rilley first posed at the edge of a country road, holding a vintage suitcase in one hand and sticking out her thumb with the other.

Lucky for Rilley, she hitched a ride with her cousin Remington Kuenzi (shown above), driving a vintage coupe. Suitcase loaded into the trunk, sunglasses popped onto their faces, the two made the trip into town to catch a movie on the big screen. What a stylish couple!

As inspiring to the creative team as it is to followers who viewed the images in Florists’ Review and in social media, this Oregon-grown botanical fashion look is a true celebration of flower farming, floristry and flowers as art.

“Flowers in all stages of their lifecycle have beauty,” says Beth Syphers. “I would love folks to look at this design and be confident about stepping away from following the crowd; to not be afraid of what people think of their art, but to be bold and unique.”

Creative Credits:

Designer: Beth Syphers, Crowley House Flower Farm, Rickreall, Oregon, chflowers.com, @crowleyhouse
Co-designer: Bethany Little, Charles Littl e& Co., Eugene, Oregon , charleslittleandcompany.com, @charleslittleandco
Fresh and Dried Floral: Crowley House Flower Farm and Charles Little & Co.
Venue: McMinnville, Oregon
Models: Rilley Syphers and Remington Kuenzi
Hair and Makeup: Rilley Syphers, @rilley.h.s
Photography: Haley Swinth, haleyswinthphoto.com, @haleyswinth

1960s-inspired Mod Flowers

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“Our brave, boundary-pushing young woman is wearing 1960s Vogue attire created from gerbera daisies,” says artist and photographer Jenny M. Diaz. “The ’60s were such a pivotal decade for women. Women were demanding more inclusion in the workforce, equal pay and control of their personal rights.

Jenny’s Mood Board, which she created prior to the production of her Mod Gerbera Dress

“I chose the city of Fresno as my backdrop because many of the structures date back to the ’60s. The gerbera daisies are strong, not only in their appearance, but also how they create a pattern on the dress. Our gray background contrasting with a beautiful model in my bright gerbera dress made for a perfect combination.  

California Dreaming, 1960s-inspired, for American Flowers Week (c) Jenny M. Diaz

“We wanted to show how strong women can be — on the rooftop, looking out into the world, hanging over the edge, riding a skateboard — all while looking stunning. My hope is that when someone sees this look, they are inspired to push themselves further. I am a graphic designer who wanted to push myself to create this look from start to finish. Yes, I was absolutely terrified, but I stepped out of my comfort zones and jumped in head first!”

Kara Trukki collaborated with Jenny M. Diaz as model and muse

Creative Credits:
Designer: Jenny M. Diaz, jennymdiaz.com, @jennymdiaz
Flowers: Dramm + Echter, Encinitas, Calif., drammechter.com, @dramm_and_echter
Venue: Fresno, Calif.
Model: Kara Trukki @luckytrukki
Hair and Makeup: Sixx Valenzuela, @sixxvalenzuela
Photography: Jenny M. Diaz

Washington-grown Dahlias as a Lavish Quilt

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A designer’s hands at work; this and all photos (c) Missy Palacol Photography

We’re so excited that Tammy Myers of First and Bloom, who’s based in the Seattle area, centered her American Flowers Week botanical couture look around quilts and dahlias.

“I’ve always been inspired by the American West,” she explains. “My mother is a quilter. My father loves American history. My grandfather was a descendant of the Karuk Tribe in Northern California. To me, a quilt is a beautiful symbol of true American history.

Tammy’s original sketch that inspired her American Flowers Week dahlia quilt

Tammy continues: “Upon more research, I discovered these iconic patchwork designs actually originate from women during the Colonial period of the 1700s. Later, Native women, known for making beautiful blankets, also started using these same quilting techniques. Quilts are truly a labor of love that brings warmth and comfort to whomever they surround. I find flowers have a similar nature. They too, bring joy and comfort to whomever they are near.”

On location at Laughing Goat Farm, on a blustery October day, at the very close of dahlia season. Tammy makes some final adjustments on the garment modeled by Anne Davidson.
The moody weather and gorgeous setting at Laughing Goat Farm enhanced the vibrancy of Tammy’s designs.

“Authenticity was very important to me for this project. Our model, Anne Davidson, is of Native Athabaskan descent and the area where this scene was photographed at Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw, Wash., is an area rich in Native American history.”

Tammy posed with her quilt as the photo shoot wrapped up.

“My hope is that others will be inspired to take lessons from their past, apply those lessons to their present challenges and work to create a better future. Working in the floral industry is a lot like making a quilt. Quilt-making takes proper planning, specialized skills, a lot of time, and a fair amount of trial and error before one gets it right. A quilt can be a valued piece of art or seen as just a blanket. Nevertheless, both flowers and quilts have a valuable purpose in life. We must never forget that and discover ways to preserve our craft for future generations.” — Tammy Myers, First and Bloom

Flower farmer Amy Brown of Laughing Goat Farm, collaborator and host for the photo shoot (c) Debra Prinzing
Amy took her turn, too! Is she dreaming of dahlias? (c) Debra Prinzing

Creative Credits
Designer:
Tammy Myers, First & Bloom, firstandbloom.com, @firstandbloom
Design Assistance: Amy Brown and Leila Jorden @leilajjorden
Flowers: Laughing Goat Flower Farm, Enumclaw, Wash., laughinggoatfarm.com, @laughinggoatflowerfarm
Additional Flowers: Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, seattlewholesalegrowersmarket, @seattlewholesalegrowersmarket
Venue: Laughing Goat Farm
Model: Anne Davidson, @amd98065
Hair and Makeup: Elizabeth White Artistry @elizabethwhiteartistry Photography: Missy Palacol Photography @missy.palacol

Magical Florida Fern Couture

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Slow Flowers Botanical Couture comes to Florida; All images (c) Danielle Werner

The beauty and inspiration of our American Flowers Week wearable fashions continues with a stop in Seville, Florida, on the grounds of FernTrust, one of the country’s largest sources for U.S.-grown ferns, fronds and foliage. Founded in 1986 as a cooperative of family fern farms sharing a rich history in agribusiness, FernTrust grow the highest quality foliage available.

Eileen Tongson is an urban farmer-florist in Orlando and owner of FarmGal Flowers. She partnered with FernTrust to create this lush, contemporary, all-Florida look for American Flowers Week.

Ferns elevated to high fashion

“My starting point for the design was a visit to FernTrust, where I was able to see up close all the foliage they grow,” Eileen says. “All of the shades of green, not to mention the textures and shapes of foliage, were so inspiring! Many people still do not know that Central Florida is the cut foliage capital of the world. I wanted to create a design that highlights this amazing botanical product and encourage other designers to use it as more than just foliage in their floral arrangement

Isabel Tongson models a glamorous fern gown in the historic orange grove.

Eileen’s botanical gown and the fern-farm location are thoroughly integrated. “We want you to look at our story and immediately know its setting — the real, natural Florida,” she says. “We were so fortunate that the most perfect oranges were still on the trees at FernTrust. Spanish moss was moving in the breeze. There were also majestic oak trees overhead and countless varieties of ferns below. What a dreamy, magical place!”

We asked Eileen to share more about how she constructed the gown, modeled so perfectly by Isabel Tongson, her daugher.

“The base material is ‘poultry netting,’ aka Oasis floral netting. The floral netting was cut and shaped into two pieces — the ‘skirt’ of the gown and the ‘top’ of the gown. Ends were attached with zip ties. The top of each piece was left loose and then tightened with zip ties after our model stepped into it. The floral netting was covered with plastic wrap; then, I attached the foliage with cold glue.”

The textures and patterns are gorgeous!

Eileen allowed the shapes, textures and forms of each type of foliage to inspire the surface pattern. For instance, she says, “the long Calathea and large Monstera leaves looke best applied verticall on the skirt — elongating the design.”

Fern headpiece to complete the look

Foliage selection includes: Monstera, Calathea Louie, Calathea Blue, Feather Fern, Plumosus, Fatsia, Ming, Leatherleaf Fern and Victoria’s Lace Fern. See all of these varieties in FernTrust’s gallery.

“Many thanks to Jana Register and the team at FernTrust for providing me with foliage to practice and create samples prior to the actual gown production,” Eileen says. “That allowed me to determine how the leaves would look best and which would hold up longest for the photo shoot.”

Design team! From left, photographer Danielle Werner, Jana Register of FernTrust, model Isabel Tongson, farmer-florist Eileen Tongson and hair artist Katrina Elbo.

Creative Credits:

Designer: Eileen Tongson, FarmGal Flowers, Orlando, Florida, farmgalflowers.com, @farmgalflowers
Foliage: Jana Register, FernTrust, Seville, Florida, ferntrust.com, @ferntrustinc
Venue: FernTrust
Model: Isabel Tongson, @isabel.tongson
Hair: Katrina Elbo, J. Bauman Salon, shearkatrina.com, @shearkatrina
Makeup: Miki Walker, Make Me Up Miki, makemeupmiki.com, @mikilanii
Photography: Danielle Werner, Live Wonderful Photography, livewonderful.com, @livewonderful_

Local Flowers meet Local History in Charleston

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American Flowers Week botanical couture from South Carolina. All photography
(c) Philip Casey

Co-designers Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms and Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm viewed their American Flowers Week botanical couture collaboration as an opportunity to highlight the unique heritage and culture of coastal South Carolina’s Gullah Geechee, a community descended from West African and Central African enslaved people. The women explain, “we were also inspired by the work of noted Southern painter Jonathan Green and spent a lot of time pouring over photos of his work, as well as photos of women in traditional Gullah dress.

Behind the scenes with Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora (left) and Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms (right), with model Giovanni Richardson

“We wanted to focus on primary colors for the flowers — the reds, blues, yellows that so frequently appear in Mr. Green’s paintings — and we selected a location that reflects the culture and story of the Gullah Geechee people,” Laura says. “This palette pops brilliantly against the greenery of the marsh location, as well as the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, a fraternal common house built in 1915 by black farmers for their community.”

Production day at the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767; Toni Reale (left) attaches a vibrant palette of Lowcountry S.C.-grown blooms, including those from Feast & Flora Farm (right).

Flowers grown in local soil at Feast & Flora Farm and foraged on location compose a brillant floral garment for their model, Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah. “As we created Queen Gigi’s dress, we listened to her stories, bearing witness to a beautiful, strong woman, living her life and honoring her heritage as a descendant of slaves. Through listening, understanding and facing the dark reality that is our history, and our present, we believe we can create a different future,” Toni says.

This project was personal and meaningful to the creators, and they credit their model for her guidance and collaboration. “We saw this as an opportunity to highlight the Gullah Geechee community with the hope of challenging people to think of Charleston not just as a place of iconic landmarks frequented by tourists, but as a place whose farms, homes, and plantations were born on the backs of enslaved people, people whose descendants live here and to whom we owe a debt we will never be able to repay.”

Attaching blooms, one at a time (left) and the dream team (right)

For more about this gorgeous floral project, read Laura’s recent article, “Botanical Couture and the importance of American-grown.”

Toni recently wrote about the experience on her blog, as well: “American Flowers Week 2019.”

Creative Credits:
Floral Designer: Toni Reale, Roadside Blooms, North Charleston, S.C., roadsideblooms.com, @roadsideblooms_shop
Farmer/Florist: Laura Mewbourn, Feast & Flora Farm, Meggett, S.C., feastandflorafarm.com, @feastandflora
Venue: Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, James Island, S.C., National Registry of Historic Place
Model: Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah, tasteofgullah.com
Design Assistants: Kelsey Bacon, Joy Colby, Scott Woytowick
Photography: Philip Casey, philipcaseyphoto.com, @philipcaseyphoto

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Prettiest Peony Couture

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Peony Dress by Kim Herning, Northern Lights Peonies, Fairbanks, Alaska (c) Roxy Marcy, Alaska Alchemy

The inspiring Botanical Couture Collection is central to the American Flowers Week celebration. This beautiful series of wearable floral fashions was created with locally-harvested flowers and foliages by design teams around the U.S. For 2019, we have the largest collection to date — NINE Looks!

In the days leading up to the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4), we want to highlight stories of the people, flowers, studios and farms behind these beautiful looks.

Let’s visit Alaska’s Prolific Peony Fields

The fanciful and feminine peony gown designed by Kim Dunshie Herning of Northern Lights Peonies incorporates hundreds, if not thousands of peony stems!

Kim is also on the board of Arctic Alaska Peonies, a sponsor of Slow Flowers, so we’re thrilled that she listened to her inner fashionista and came up with this fabulous gown!

We asked Kim to share how she created this wonderful look.

Materials list:
-Two layers of heavy-gauge chicken wire to form the base of the skirt
-Wire to fasten and attach sections of chicken wire
-Landscape plastic mesh to cover the chick wire skirt
-Spruce branches

Peony Varieties:
Festiva maxima, Sarah Bernhardt, Felix Supreme, Walter Faxon and My Love

Method: “I rolled out the heavy-gauge chicken wire to create the basic shape of my skirt. I realized that I would need two layers of the wire to make the base strong enough to stand up on its own in order to support the hundreds of peonies I planned to use!

“After I finalized the shape, I wired a layer of plastic landscape mesh over the chicken wire base (the openings in the mesh are comparable to the diameter of a peony stem). I also cut a ‘bendable’ door on the back/hem of the skirt that was large enough for my model to slide into.

“From the underside, I also wired on spruce branches to provide more support for the peony stems once inserted. Then, my team and I filled all of the holes with short-stem peonies that I had been saving during the season in our cooler.”

P.S., Kim says that because the Fairbanks weather was so mild last summer, “the dress lasted a good week!”

What’s next for you, Kim? “My head is spinning with plans for Summer 2019 with a bigger and better peony dress — or maybe two, this time! Who knows?”

We’re so thrilled that Kim’s peony dress caught the attention of The Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska’s daily newspaper. Check out the feature story they just published about it!

Thanks, Kim! Download social media badges here and see all of our 2019 Botanical Couture collection here!

Creative Credits:

Design team: Kim Herning, Roxy Marcy and Tirzah Friesen
Venue and Flowers: Northern Lights Peonies, Fairbanks, Alaska, @northernlightspeonies
Lead Designer: Kim Herning, Northern Lights Peonies, Arctic Alaska Peonies @arcticalaskapeonies
Model and H/MU: Tirzah Friesen
Photography: Roxy Marcy with Alaska Alchemy @alaskaalchemy


Field-Grown Fashion

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Bountiful blooms in an unforgettably magical location.

We’re quickly approaching American Flowers Week, the fifth annual celebration originally launched in 2015 by Slow Flowers.

This year, we continue the inspiring Botanical Couture Collection, a series of wearable floral fashions, created with locally-harvested flowers and foliages by design teams around the U.S. For 2019, we have the largest collection to date — NINE Looks!

In the days leading up to the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4), we want to highlight stories of the people, flowers, studios and farms behind these beautiful looks.

First up: Maine

Design Elements: An endless array of iconic, field-grown flowers at the Johnny’s Selected Seeds Research Farm, a 40-acre farm is located in Albion, Maine. At first glance, Johnny’s Farm looks like a typical market farm, with three greenhouses, a hoophouse, and orderly fields of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. But a closer inspection reveals its true nature as a place of study and evaluation. Labels mark the variety trials; staff members with clipboards make notes; and groups of employees from the nonfarming parts of the company participate in guided “crop walks” and “field forums” across the seasons to learn about varieties and methods being trialed.

Inspiration: Rayne Grace Hoke, Slow Flowers member and owner of Flora’s Muse in Biddeford, Maine, says she was inspired by the incredible variety of annuals, herbs, grasses and foliages. She incorporated many of these choices into a beautiful tapestry-like bodice and a flowing skirt of grasses and greens.

We asked Johnny’s flower and herb expert Hillary Alger a few questions about the project. Here’s our conversation:

Q: What was the starting point for the design?
A: Rayne was so wonderful and open to anything. In one of the planning phone calls, there was some mention of the warmth and glow of high-season annuals. That stuck in my mind and was the guiding concept in gathering materials for Rayne to work with. The final harvest list included a lot of apricot, gold, cream and coral blooms. It was so exciting to participate and imagine what the final piece would look like. I definitely went overboard harvesting a little too much!

Q: Can you describe the place where photography occurred?
A: The shoot took place in our flower trial fields, located on a high point of Johnny’s trials and research farm. The farm is very rural, bordered by woods and farm fields. It was an old dairy farm before becoming the primary location for Johnny’s Selected Seeds in the 1970s. It’s a quiet place at the end of the day when everyone has gone home. For the photography, we got an early start in order to catch some dreamy light.

Q: Can you describe the mood or sentiment of the location?
A: The concept and story we had in mind when setting up and styling the shoot was something of ‘Alice in Wonderland-meets-flower farmer.’ The story was that Mary, our model, was in her own flower field; she’s taken by and a bit intoxicated by the beauty of the moment. Responding to the experience, she has gathered all that her arms can carry. Maybe she made the dress . . . or maybe she just imagined it!

Q: What do you hope is the message for those who see these incredible images, the flowers and Rayne’s magical dress?
A: I hope this inspires others to explore the story of local and domestic farms, seasonal flowers and the farmers and designers who are working hard to make our world so beautiful.

Q: Anything else you want to mention about this project?
A: It was really fun to think about floral design, beyond the bouquet. We should all do that more often!

Thanks, Hillary! Download social media badges here and see all of our 2019 Botanical Couture collection here!

Creative Credits:

Designer: Rayne Grace Hoke, Flora’s Muse, Biddeford, Maine, florasmuse.com, @florasmuse
Design Assistant: Hillary Alger, Product Manager for Herbs and Flowers, Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Flowers and Foliage: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, Maine, johnnyseeds.com, @johnnys_seeds
Venue: Johnny’s Trial Gardens, Albion, Maine
Model: Mary Yarumian, @marybebythesea
Hair and Makeup: Mary Yarumian
Photography: Kristen Earley, Johnny’s Selected Seeds; Chris Pinchbeck, pinchbeckphoto.com

The Big Reveal: American Flowers Week’s Botanical Couture Collection

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Red, White and Bloom
Introducing the fifth annual American Flowers Week botanical couture collection

Photos by Tiffany Marie Buckley, Philip Casey, Jenny M. Diaz, Kristen Earley, Roxy Marcy, Joelle Martin, Missy Palacol, Chris Pinchbeck, Haley Swinth and Danielle Werner

Field-fresh and runway-ready, the American Flowers Week botanical couture collection features nine fashionable floral looks produced by Slow Flowers teams across the U.S. Together, these wearable floral garments represent a diverse story of originality and inventiveness. Each melds talents of growers and florists, elevating local and seasonal flowers in unexpected and beautiful ways.

In its fifth year, American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) promotes domestic flowers and foliage in the marketplace, inspiring professionals and consumers alike. When flowers are seen as fashion, they ignite the imagination and stimulate new awareness of domestic floral agriculture and the art of floral design.

This year’s participants have transformed familiar and uncommon annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, grasses and herbs into everything from mod minis to luxurious gowns, continuing the American Flowers Week series that began with Susan McLeary’s iconic red-white-and-blue floral ‘fro in 2016. The collection has grown to 20 pieces, each of which portrays floral design as art rather than a commodity.

The Slow Flowers application process invited designer-farmer teams around the country to submit their best ideas for showcasing regional traditions, seasonal crops and distinct cultural and historic influences through the floral medium. The alluring results are found in the pages of Florists’ Review’s Slow Flowers Journal. When a model dons a garment fashioned from petals, fronds, buds and blades . . . we as viewers experience wonder and curiosity. These designs shine a light on the passionate individuals who have turned ideas into reality. From gardens to gowns. From cut flowers to couture. From seedlings to style.

Appreciate these artisans and learn from their creative process as they transform fields of blooms into a collection of American floral fashion ingenuity.

ALASKA
“The inspiration for our garment came from the floral looks of past seasons,” says Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies, based in Fairbanks, Alaska. “And since we are peony farmers, we knew we would be working with peony blooms in all colors and sizes. The style of the peony dress harkens back to women’s fashion in the 1700s and is also reminiscent of the ‘Barbie cakes’ my mother would make in the 1960s. We hope by combining our beautiful peonies with a lovely model in a fantasy setting we would create magic.”

Creative Credits
Design team: Kim Herning, Roxy Marcy and Tirzah Friesen
Venue and Flowers: Northern Lights Peonies, Fairbanks, Alaska, @northernlightspeonies
Lead Designer: Kim Herning, Northern Lights Peonies, Arctic Alaska Peonies @arcticalaskapeonies
Model and H/MU: Tirzah Friesen
Photography: Roxy Marcy with Alaska Alchemy @alaskaalchemy

WASHINGTON

“I’ve always been inspired by the American West,” explains floral designer Tammy Myers of First and Bloom, based in the Seattle area. “My mother is a quilter. My father loves American history. My grandfather was a descendant of the Karuk Tribe in Northern California. To me, a quilt is a beautiful symbol of true American history. Upon more research, I discovered these iconic patchwork designs actually originate from women during the Colonial period of the 1700s. Later, Native women, known for making beautiful blankets, also started using these same quilting techniques. Quilts are truly a labor of love that brings warmth and comfort to whomever they surround. I find flowers have a similar nature. They too, bring joy and comfort to whomever they are near.

“Authenticity was very important to me for this project. Our model, Anne Davidson, is of Native Athabaskan descent and the area where this scene was photographed at Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw, Wash., is an area rich in Native American history.”

Creative Credits
Designer:
Tammy Myers, First & Bloom, firstandbloom.com, @firstandbloom
Design Assistance: Amy Brown and Leila Jorden @leilajjorden
Flowers: Laughing Goat Flower Farm, Enumclaw, Wash., laughinggoatfarm.com, @laughinggoatflowerfarm
Additional Flowers: Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, seattlewholesalegrowersmarket, @seattlewholesalegrowersmarket
Venue: Laughing Goat Farm
Model: Anne Davidson, @amd98065
Hair and Makeup: Elizabeth White Artistry @elizabethwhiteartistry
Photography:
Missy Palacol Photography @missy.palacol

CALIFORNIA

“Our brave, boundary-pushing young woman is wearing 1960s Vogue attire created from gerbera daisies,” says artist and photographer Jenny M. Diaz. “The ’60s were such a pivotal decade for women. Women were demanding more inclusion in the workforce, equal pay and control of their personal rights.

“I chose the city of Fresno as my backdrop because many of the structures date back to the ’60s. The gerbera daisies are strong, not only in their appearance, but also how they create a pattern on the dress. Our gray background contrasting with a beautiful model in my bright gerbera dress made for a perfect combination.  We wanted to show how strong women can be — on the rooftop, looking out into the world, hanging over the edge, riding a skateboard — all while looking stunning. My hope is that when someone sees this look, they are inspired to push themselves further. I am a graphic designer who wanted to push myself to create this look from start to finish. Yes, I was absolutely terrified, but I stepped out of my comfort zones and jumped in head first!”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Jenny M. Diaz, jennymdiaz.com, @jennymdiaz
Flowers: Dramm + Echter, Encinitas, Calif., drammechter.com, @dramm_and_echter
Venue: Fresno, Calif.
Model: Kara Trukki @luckytrukki
Hair and Makeup: Sixx Valenzuela, @sixxvalenzuela
Photography: Jenny M. Diaz

MISSOURI

Andrea K. Grist conjures a playful mini-dress infused with the personality of woodland, meadow and prairie, featuring botanicals sourced from Little Green Garden. “I was inspired by the native plants and grasses that grow in and around the flower farms of Missouri and Kansas,” she says. “I wanted a very organic look that’s youthful for our model’s age and size. I call the look ‘Cowgirl meets Yule Sprite’ for its sense of both innocence and powerful confidence. Beth and Joel Fortin of Little Green Garden harvested all the ingredients from their farm, including flowers, grasses, pods and evergreens. The extensive grounds of our location include tall grass prairies and tree-lined horse trails, reflecting the flora of this region. On location, our photographer Tiffany Marie Buckley played with lighting to create a moody, mystical background, merging the initial concept with more fairytale qualities.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Andrea K. Grist, Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, andreakgristfloralart.com, @andreakgristfloralart
Flowers: Little Green Garden LLC, Richmond, Missouri, littlegreengardenllc.com, @littlegreengardenkc
Venue: Sunset Trails Stables, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, sunsettrailsstables.com, @sunsettrailsstables
Model: Samantha Grist
Hair and Makeup: Andrea K. Grist
Photography: Tiffany Marie Buckley, Tiffany Marie Photography, tiffanybuckley.com, @tiffanymariephoto

MICHIGAN

Heather Grit of Caledonia, Mich.-based Glamour and Grit Floral highlights the winter beauty of Michigan, saying “as a designer, I have to be creative in the colder months and think outside the box to create a dress that doesn’t scream ‘Christmas.'”

She harvested trimmings from 17 types of evergreens growing at a Michigan tree farm, including spruces and firs. “I wanted to give our dress dimension and texture — and show how pretty Michigan can be when there is snow on the ground and the flowers are dormant.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Heather Grit, Glamour and Grit Floral, glamourandgritfloral.com, @glamourandgrit
Plants and Greenery: Speyer Greenhouse, Byron Center, Mich., @speyergreenhouse; and Hart Tree Farm, Rockford, Mich., harttreefarm.net
Venue: Private location, Caledonia, Mich.
Model: Kailee Naber, @kaileenaber
Hair and Makeup: Tawwney Sayre, Makeup by Tawwney, @tawwney.jua
Photography: Joelle Martin, Lavender and Lace Photography LLC, lavenderandlacephotos.com, @lavenderandlacephotos

MAINE

Rayne Grace Hoke’s inspiration for the late-summer dress was two-fold. She envisioned a floral version of her family’s collection of heirloom crazy quilts and drew from the extensive flowers, greenery and herbs at Johnny’s Selected Seeds’ research farm in Albion, Maine.

When Rayne arrived at the 40-acre certified organic farm, she was mesmerized by the varieties available at the peak of the season.

“I let the palette of organic botanicals ‘speak’ to me, as their twists and swirls, colors and shapes influenced this dress design,” she says. “The setting and flowers lent themselves to the natural progression that allowed me to turn our model into a flower harvest goddess. I created a pattern with flowers to mimic fabric for the dress’s bodice. Grasses of all types created the garment’s skirt. The key to constructing this look was to make sure the undergarment we used was fitted and could support the weight of the flowers. This is when my skills in fashion design and sewing come in handy!”
She continues: “I hope my love for the stunning beauty of Maine comes through, as well as love for what I do as an artist.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Rayne Grace Hoke, Flora’s Muse, Biddeford, Maine, florasmuse.com, @florasmuse
Design Assistant: Hillary Alger, Product Manager for Herbs and Flowers, Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Flowers and Foliage: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, Maine, johnnyseeds.com, @johnnys_seeds
Venue: Johnny’s Trial Gardens, Albion, Maine
Model: Mary Yarumian, @marybebythesea
Hair and Makeup: Mary Yarumian
Photography: Kristen Earley, Johnny’s Selected Seeds; Chris Pinchbeck, pinchbeckphoto.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Co-designers Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms and Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm viewed their botanical couture collaboration as an opportunity to highlight the unique heritage and culture of coastal South Carolina’s Gullah Geechee, a community descended from West African and Central African enslaved people. The women explain, “we were also inspired by the work of noted Southern painter Jonathan Green and spent a lot of time pouring over photos of his work, as well as photos of women in traditional Gullah dress.

“We wanted to focus on primary colors for the flowers — the reds, blues, yellows that so frequently appear in Mr. Green’s paintings — and we selected a location that reflects the culture and story of the Gullah Geechee people. This palette pops brilliantly against the greenery of the marsh location, as well as the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, a fraternal common house built in 1915 by black farmers for their community.”

Flowers grown in local soil at Feast & Flora Farm and foraged on location compose a brillant floral garment for their model, Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah. “As we created Queen Gigi’s dress, we listened to her stories, bearing witness to a beautiful, strong woman, living her life and honoring her heritage as a descendant of slaves. Through listening, understanding and facing the dark reality that is our history, and our present, we believe we can create a different future,” Reale and Mewbourn say.

This project was personal and meaningful to the creators, and they credit their model for her guidance and collaboration. “We saw this as an opportunity to highlight the Gullah Geechee community with the hope of challenging people to think of Charleston not just as a place of iconic landmarks frequented by tourists, but as a place whose farms, homes, and plantations were born on the backs of enslaved people, people whose descendants live here and to whom we owe a debt we will never be able to repay.”

Creative Credits:
Floral Designer: Toni Reale, Roadside Blooms, North Charleston, S.C., roadsideblooms.com, @roadsideblooms_shop
Farmer/Florist: Laura Mewbourn, Feast & Flora Farm, Meggett, S.C., feastandflorafarm.com, @feastandflora
Venue: Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, James Island, S.C., National Registry of Historic Places
Model: Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah, tasteofgullah.com
Design Assistants: Kelsey Bacon, Joy Colby, Scott Woytowick
Photography: Philip Casey, philipcaseyphoto.com, @philipcaseyphoto

OREGON

Beth Syphers wanted to tell a story of a sassy, confident, modern-day young woman, and she framed her narrative around the late 1950s and early 1960s. “I also wanted this design to embrace women in all shapes and sizes and reflect their power,” she says. “Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., a farm known for fabulous dried flowers, assisted me with this project. We decided to highlight the 1960s dried flower vibe. We loved showcasing a combination of dried and fresh flowers as a way to extend the ‘local’ season in our floral designs. To me, flowers in all stages of their lifecycle have beauty. I would love folks to look at this design and be confident about stepping away from following the crowd; to not be afraid of what people think of their art, but to be bold and unique.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Beth Syphers, Crowley House Flower Farm, Rickreall, Oregon, chflowers.com, @crowleyhouse
Fresh and Dried Floral: Crowley House Flower Farm and Beth and Charles Little, Charles Little & Co., Eugene, Oregon, charleslittleandcompany.com, @charleslittleandco
Venue: McMinnville, Oregon
Models: Rilley Syphers and Remington Kuenzi
Hair and Makeup: Rilley Syphers, @rilley.h.s
Photography: Haley Swinth, haleyswinthphoto.com, @haleyswinth

FLORIDA

Eileen Tongson is a farmer-florist in the Orlando area who partnered with FernTrust, one of the nation’s largest sources of Florida-grown ferns and foliage. “My starting point for the design was a visit to FernTrust, where I was able to see up close all the foliage they grow,” she says. “All of the shades of green, not to mention the textures and shapes of foliage, were so inspiring! Many people still do not know that Central Florida is the cut foliage capital of the world. I wanted to create a design that highlights this amazing botanical product and encourage other designers to use it as more than just foliage in their floral arrangements.”

Eileen’s botanical gown and the fern-farm location are thoroughly integrated. “We want you to look at our story and immediately know its setting — the real, natural Florida. We were so fortunate that the most perfect oranges were still on the trees at FernTrust. Spanish moss was moving in the breeze. There were also majestic oak trees overhead and countless varieties of ferns below. What a dreamy, magical place!”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Eileen Tongson, FarmGal Flowers, Orlando, Florida, farmgalflowers.com, @farmgalflowers
Foliage: Jana Register, FernTrust, Seville, Florida, ferntrust.com, @ferntrustinc
Venue: FernTrust
Model: Isabel Tongson, @isabel.tongson
Hair: Katrina Elbo, J. Bauman Salon, shearkatrina.com, @shearkatrina
Makeup: Miki Walker, Make Me Up Miki, makemeupmiki.com, @mikilanii
Photography: Danielle Werner, Live Wonderful Photography, livewonderful.com, @livewonderful_

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