Botanical Couture Inspiration From Across America

Slow Flowers Society will commission at least FIVE Floral Couture Looks for our 2024 American Flowers Week Collection. If you’ve been thinking about contributing, NOW is the time to commit!

We’re soliciting proposals from farmer-florist creative teams for this campaign. Those submitting must be active Slow Flowers members. Consideration will be made for new regions and botanical elements not previously featured. We have a special focus on inclusion and representation!


Fanciful headpieces worn by models in the “Fleurs et Couture” runway show

Hat Day by Evelyn Frolking of Studio Artiflora
Hat Day by Evelyn Frolking of Studio Artiflora

Design by Evelyn Frolking, Studio Artiflora, Granville, Ohio
artifloragranville.com, @artifloragranville.com
Photography by Shellee Fisher

Evelyn Frolking (left) with her Hat Day models
Evelyn Frolking (left) with her Hat Day models, Karin Stump and Dani Rosler

For the 22nd Hat Day gala to benefit the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, Evelyn Frolking, a Slow Flowers member and owner of Studio Artiflora in Granville, Ohio,, styled two fanciful headpieces worn by models in “Fleurs et Couture” runway show on May 5, 2023.

Hat Day 2023
Hat Day 2023
Evelyn with her models on the runway
Evelyn Frolking on the runway, with her models

The event, attended by more than 600 supporters, raised in excess of $475,000 in support of the Conservatory’s pre-K and K-12 education and outreach. To acknowledge Hat Day’s ultimate beneficiaries, each of twelve participating designers was asked to create two hats associated with a key word attached to programming for children. “I was given the word ‘connect,’ so you may notice that each of my headpieces has a point of connection to another part of the body, the waist or wrist,” Evelyn explained. “I was also assigned the colors red and pink, primarily.” Within those parameters, she designed two chic styles that exemplify local and domestic botanicals.

Hat Day 2023 with tulips

I was given the word ‘connect,’ so you may notice that each of my headpieces has a point of connection to another part of the body, the waist or wrist.

Evelyn Frolking, Studio Artiflora

Large red anthuriums are focal flowers for the  headpiece, worn by Karin Stump, and built on a sisal-wire structure. Other elements included pink hypericum, burgundy amaranth, and sweet huck, which soared high above the model’s head. Curled red cane accents the design and trails from the headpiece to connect with a striking, heart-shaped anthurium at her waist.

The second piece, worn by Dani Rosler, features tulips from the Studio Artiflora garden, attached to a wire and honeysuckle vine structure to drape in an asymmetrical fashion beyond the model’s shoulders. Evelyn harvested from her crop of 800 specialty tulips, which typically supplies a seasonal subscription service. Accent flowers included asters, eucalyptus, and string of pearls, the connecting element to a bronze wrist cuff. “The piece was not particularly lightweight and was a bit of a challenge to secure,” Evelyn said. “The models were conservatory volunteers who had never worn such a ‘hat’ before, so they needed to learn to balance their headpieces before zipping down the runways and doing spins!”

DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Evelyn Frolking, Studio Artiflora
FLOWER SOURCES:
Studio Artiflora, Granville, Ohio. Dreisbach Wholesale Florists
VENUE: Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

A floral wrap jacket with two sources of inspiration

Urban Secret Garden by Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm and Linda Spradlin of In the Garden Flower Farm
Urban Secret Garden by Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm and Linda Spradlin of In the Garden Flower Farm

Design by Nan Matteson, Queen City Flower Farm
Cincinnati, Ohio
Linda Spradlin, In the Garden Flower Farm
Seven Mile, Ohio
Photography by Jill Bader @jillmbader

“The urge to grow can take root anywhere,” says Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm, a devoted city gardener. “Pick your city. If you’re walking down the street you might get a glimpse of a private garden, seen from an alley or through a gateway.”

vintage Japanese firefighter's coat
One source of inspiration: a vintage Japanese firefighter’s coat
1920s women's coats with fur collars
1920s women’s coats with fur collars

The idea of a pocket garden led Nan Matteson and fellow grower Linda Spralin of In the Garden Flower Farm to create a wrap jacket with two inspirations — a shawl collar composed of dried botanicals to suggest a 1920s fur-collared woman’s coat and a 19th century Japanese firefighter kimono, often, traditionally, only a plain garment with a decorative textile lining.

I just love the whole concept of a guardian inside the fireman’s coat, providing protection even if you didn’t know it was there.

Nan Matteson, Queen City Flower Farm
Urban Secret Garden for American Flowers Week 2023
Urban Secret Garden for American Flowers Week 2023

The coat, sewn by Nan from a pattern she adapted, has a sky blue lining against which a spring flower garden is displayed — a secret border rooted in small, moss-covered bags that provide a water source at the hemline. “I just love the whole concept of a guardian inside the fireman’s coat, providing protection even if you didn’t know it was there,” she says, smiling. Similarly, the flower-lined garment illustrates how much our gardens can provide a sense of comfort and protection — even if we’re the only ones who see them.  

Dried flowers collar detail by Linda Spradlin

DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Nan Matteson, @queencityflowerfarm and Linda Spradlin, @inthegardenflowerfarm 

FLOWER SOURCES:
Collar: Dried amaranthus, craspedia, love-in-the-mist, celosia (plume and crested) scabiosa, gomphrena, spirea, dock, foraged grasses.
Secret Garden: redbud, tulip, bluebell, daffodil, hyacinth, hellebore, columbine, moss. All flowers grown by the designers.

MODEL: Carmen Sanders @Carmen.sanders3

VENUE: Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, @cincyartmuseum

Men in bloom for American Flowers Week, with a nod to Neverland

Flowers in His Hair by Sarah Wagstaff of SUOT Farm + Flowers

Design by Sarah Wagstaff, SUOT Farm & Flowers, suotfarmandflowers.com, @suotfarm
Burlington, Washington
Photography by Cecily Gubitosi Photography, @cecilygubitosiphotography

Flowers grown and designed by Sarah Wagstaff of SUOT Farm + Flowers
Flowers grown and designed by Sarah Wagstaff of SUOT Farm + Flowers

Sarah Wagstaff of SUOT Farm + Flowers wanted to flip the script on who wears flowers and so she recruited her husband Keith Chaplin, their 8-year-old son Huck Chaplin, and Steve Hayes, a willing friend, to model her creations for a American Flowers Week celebration.

A nod to Neverland
A nod to Neverland

Dressing adult men and a younger boy with botanicals reminds Sarah of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. “Remember when Pan comes back to Neverland after he becomes a grownup and has forgotten how to be childlike? That’s a story within us all,” she says. “I wanted to remember and recognize the child within each of us, especially in men.

Sarah wanted to attach flowers to every part of Steve’s body — his head, shoulders, neck, chest, back, arms, wrists, fingers, and legs. The botanical headpiece, a sunray shape, extends around neck and shoulders, covers his shirt, and fills the chest pocket. She used eyelash adhesive to glue flowers to his skin and wrapped his shoulders and arms with a 20-foot-floral boa fabricated from cedar boughs, tulips, peonies, and other cuts from her farm.

Bejeweled with blooms
Huck, the designer’s son, bejeweled with blooms
Flowers in his Beard - and more.
Flowers in his Beard – and more.

For her son Huck, whose interest in the project peaked when photographer Cecily Gubitosi encouraged him to take a few photos with her camera, Sarah devised a floral mohawk headpiece (a nod to Rufio), wrapped his wrists with floral cuffs, and donned his fingers with floral rings. “It’s really beautiful to watch him developing this connection with the world of gardens and plants, because I helped to cultivate it, too.”

I really wanted to use male figures leaning into this aspect of botanical couture . . . to show how flowers can be gender bending.

Sarah Wagstaff, SUOT Farm + Flowers

In the final moments of the photo session, which took place at SUOT Farm + Flowers, Sarah’s husband Keith agreed to model a floral headpiece and have his beard flowered. “I often feel like flowers are assigned a feminine trait, but they don’t have to be gender related,” Sarah says.

DESIGN + CONCEPT: Sarah Wagstaff, SUOT Farm & Flowers, @suotfarm
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Olivia Yates O’Donnell, FloravoreNW, @floravorenw
FLOWER SOURCES:
SUOT Farm & Flowers: Tulips, peonies, frittilaria, ranunculus, poppies, daffodils, ferns, Spanish blue bells, bleeding heart, alliums, lilac, violas, hellebores, forget-me-nots, grasses, ivy, cedar, clematis, bones/shells
MODELS: Steve Hayes, Keith Chaplin, Huck Chaplin
VENUE: SUOT Farm & Flowers, Burlington, Washington, @suotfarm

A medley of pink and orange botanicals covers the skirt with bold bands of marigolds and a floral pattern of lisianthus, celosia, sunflowers, and snapdragons.

Cutting Garden Couture by Blair Roberts Lynn of Sweet Blossoms
Cutting Garden Couture by Blair Roberts Lynn of Sweet Blossoms

Design by Blair Roberts Lynn, Sweet Blossoms, sweetblossomsllc.com@thesweetblossoms
Ijamsville, Maryland
Photography by Kirsten Smith Photography, @kirstensmithphotography

Sweet Blossoms designer Blair Roberts Lynn on location with her 2023 Botanical Couture design
Sweet Blossoms designer Blair Roberts Lynn on location with her 2023 Botanical Couture design
Sweet Blossoms mood board for creative inspiration
Sweet Blossoms mood board for creative inspiration

Blair Roberts Lynn is an experienced wedding and event florist whose feminine, two-piece floral ensemble expresses her affection for seasonal and local flowers.

I feel passionately about local flowers and I loved being able to highlight what Tom and Sarah are growing at Grateful Gardeners.

Blair Roberts Lynn, Sweet Blossoms LLC
Grateful Gardeners' dahlias in the field and on the gown
Grateful Gardeners’ dahlias in the field and on the gown

Her friends Sarah Daken and Tom Precht contributed flowers from their farm and invited Blair and photographer Kirsten Smith to use Grateful Gardeners’ fields as the photography setting. Blair cut mop head hydrangeas from her own garden to fashion a delicate bandeau top covered in tiny florets. A full-length skirt is finished with hydrangea foliage and ostrich fern at the waist; Annabelle hydrangeas form a ruffle at the hips and Limelight hydrangeas trim the hem and flirty slit.

The vivid floral pattern epitomizes the best of late summer cutting garden beauty
The vivid floral pattern epitomizes the best of late summer cutting garden beauty

A medley of pink and orange botanicals covers the remaining skirt silhouette, including bold bands of marigolds and a floral pattern of lisianthus, celosia, sunflowers, and snapdragons. Dinner plate dahlias dance across this colorful floral background to finish the look.

DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Blair Lynn, Sweet Blossoms, sweetblossomsllc.com@thesweetblossoms
FLOWER SOURCES:
Dahlias, Lisianthus, Marigolds, Celosia, Ostrich Fern, Snapdragons, Hydrangea (Grateful Gardeners, @grateful_gardeners); Hydrangea blooms and foliage (Sweet Blossoms, @thesweetblossoms)
MODEL: Tanya Ferrell
HAIR + MAKEUP: Tanya Ferrell
VENUE: Grateful Gardeners Farm, Poolesville, Maryland, @grateful_gardeners

A sunflower petal bodice flows into a flared skirt embellished with flower heads

Tú tienes mi corazón, designed by Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media

Design and Photography by Niesha Blancas, Fetching Social Media, @nieshamonay
Fresno, California

Slow Flowers Society’s social media manager Niesha Blancas is not a florist or a grower, but she is a fashionista, having graduated from California State University Fresno with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising. Niesha brings both talent and heart to her floral fashion this year, her third contribution to American Flowers Week’s botanical couture collection.

The strapless full-length gown, an upcycled Jessica McClintock prom dress that Niesha thrifted for $2, features a bodice covered in sunflower petals that flows into a flared skirt embellished with flower heads — strawflowers, pincushion proteas, yarrows, sunflowers, and craspedia Billy balls. Pointed flames are outlined by deconstructed yarrow and yellow-orange sunflower petals. “This dress was easily 40 pounds,” Niesha laughed. Fortunately, her friend Irys Jazmin Flores was up for the modeling assignment.

Niesha’s inspiration was highly personal, as she revisited childhood memories of growing up in a small Fresno community called Calwa. “I lived there until I was in sixth grade. My late father was born and raised in Calwa; my grandma had her house there.” For the photography venue, Niesha chose the Calwa playground where she remembered climbing an iconic rocket ship play structure as a kid.


This year’s theme is an homage to my childhood and my love of Chicano culture, which my dad introduced me to while growing up. Calwa is populated by many Hispanic farm workers, and I wanted to give this place my love.

American Flowers Week 2023 Botanical Couture by Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media
American Flowers Week Botanical Couture design and photography by Niesha Blancas
American Flowers Week Botanical Couture design and photography by Niesha Blancas
Fetching Social Media Niesha Blancas Botanical Couture for American Flowers Week 2023

The love is symbolized by a Corazón (Heart), which Niesha displays as the Sacred Heart, created with red alstroemeria petals layered over a heart-shaped piece of chicken wire. Its “flames” are made with green acuba foliage, a botanical element that also has appeared in Niesha’s previous botanical couture looks. “I intended for my dress to bring life back into this dull community, and serve as the heart of this neighborhood that I love,” she explained. “It was important to use bright and colorful flowers, especially yellow ones to convey my concept.”

This stunning gown gains authenticity from Niesha’s styling, prop selection, and accessory choices. “The sacred heart reflects the Chicano heritage, but so does the lowrider car, which I knew I wanted for my photography.” She put out the call and a friend’s brother who is involved in California car culture helped her find and borrow “Purple Haze,” a dazzling magenta Cadillac, completely suited with gold-rimmed wheels and custom detailing. “I could not have envisioned a more perfect car for this photoshoot, especially when it comes down to the littlest details.”

Accessories are also a nod to her Chicano culture, from the model’s Ray Bans, the oversized bamboo hoops and gold jewelry, to the pair of Nike Cortez sneakers. “Before heading to our photoshoot location in Calwa, we stopped at the local corner market for some last-minute props. I brainstormed many different Mexican snacks and settled with two of my go-tos — a Mandarin Jarrito and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Once we finished with the photo shoot, we realized we had forgotten to incorporate them. But then my model started snacking on them, and I realized how truly perfect they were for my story.” Of course, as both designer and photographer, she captured that perfect moment on camera.

DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Niesha Blancas, Fetching Social Media, Fetching Social Media, @nieshamonay
FLOWER SOURCES:
CamFlor Inc., Watsonville, California, @camflorinc
MODEL: Irys Jazmin Flores, @irysjazmin
HAIR + MAKEUP: Irys Jazmin Flores
VENUE: Calwa Park, Fresno, California, calwarecreation.org
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Ana Quinata, @anaquinata

Dressed in all white florals, a model looks like an ancient sculpture

Design by Jennifer Reed, Jennifer Designs Events
Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Photography by Haley Richter, @haleyrichterphoto

The Romance of Peonies by Jennifer Reed, Jennifer Designs Events

A long-forgotten historic garden ignited Jennifer Reed’s imagination for her contribution to this year’s American Flowers Week collection. Owner of Jennifer Designs Events, based in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, the floral artist says the Crowninshield Garden at Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, inspired her.

I envisioned a sculptural and statuesque botanical couture design to emulate
the feel of the 1920s neoclassical garden.

Designer Jennifer Reed
Hagley Garden Wilmington, Delaware

“I drew from the story of this garden’s original owner, Louise Evelina du Pont Crowninshield, an American heiress, historic preservationist, and philanthropist. Louisa was influenced by her travels to Rome, and she established her garden with replicas of the architectural features she saw there.”

Conceptual design by Jennifer Reed of Jennifer Designs Events
Jennifer’s “storyboard” submitted for the Botanical Couture Collection

Created as an intentional “ruin,” the garden includes cascading layers of Italianate pools, columns, statuary, and colonnades, built in the early 20th century, but crafted to appear weathered by time. Through local horticulture contacts, Jennifer received permission to photograph her botanical look here, even though the gardens are still being restored and not open to the public. “I thought this was the perfect location for my wearable floral creation, worn by a model who looked like an ancient sculpture dressed in all-white florals,” she said. “We painted her hair and body to match the white flowers, creating the illusion of a statue.”

Jennifer Reed's peony design for American Flowers Week 2023
Jennifer Reed’s peony design for American Flowers Week 2023
Peony dress by Jennifer Reed
Peony Couture (left); floral artist Jennifer Reed (right)

Using 330 stems of  ‘Bowl of Cream’ and ‘Gardenia’ peonies and 40 stems of sweet peas, all grown by Owlet Farms of Pilesgrove, New Jersey, Jennifer fashioned her garment to emulate the fluid drape of a silk gown. Other ingredients included pepper cress, larkspur, snapdragons, delphiniums, dusty miller, and ornamental wheat, all of which added textural details to the monochromatic white palette.

Due to the garden’s hills and multiple levels, this floral look had to be more than pretty, she added. “I’ve learned that if you want a model to walk in a floral garment, it needs to be comfortable. This dress is actually made with four different panels, and each is attached to a belt at the waist. When we moved locations, there were four of us who walked with Brooke, our model, by holding onto the panels.”

Sections of lightweight plastic mesh form each of the skirt sections, “flowered” by Jennifer and a design assistant. They inserted hundreds of peonies into small openings in the mesh material, taping individual stems in place on the back side of the skirt panels. Larkspur covers a contrasting section in the skirt, creating the look of lace, while a braided cord crosses the model’s bare back adding feminine detailing. Jennifer made a separate peony-and-sweet-pea shawl to wrap around the shoulders, and attached peonies and sweet peas to a metal headband for the model’s crown.

Peony details and peony gown by Jennifer Reed
Peony details and peony gown by Jennifer Reed

Jennifer and photographer Haley Richter posed their peony model in many places throughout the extensive landscape to reflect its unique architectural vignettes and destinations. Their visual story honors the alluring garden’s original owner, an heiress to the duPont fortune. Shannon Wellington brought the faux ruins to life, creating table laden with flowers, candles, and platters of food. “She styled it in the spirit of a roaring twenties party that might have originally taken place here,” Jennifer said.

These images, photographed at an iconic American garden, narrate the best of American Flowers Week. The story is told via a classical garment that celebrates quintessential American-grown peonies, designed and made by a gifted floral artist.
DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Jennifer Reed, Jennifer Designs Events@jenniferdesignsevents
FLOWER SOURCES:
Owlet Farms, Pilesgrove, New Jersey, @owletfarms
CamFlor Inc., Watsonville, California, @camflorinc
Muth Family Farm, Williamstown, New Jersey, @muthfamilyfarm
MODEL: Brooke G. @brookeitlist
HAIR + MAKEUP: Jessica Saint Beauty @jessicasaintbeauty
and Toni Burke @toniburke_muah
VENUE: Hagley Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, @hagleymuseum
TABLE STYLING: Shannon Wellington @shannonwellingtonweddings
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Jennifer Bender @thisholidayhouse

Tailored drama with a botanical lapel

A Tailored Garden by Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies
All photography: Madeline Isabella, madelineisabella.com

A dramatic departure from the traditional boutonnière or floral pocket square, this exaggerated look is Tara Folker’s modern idea of botanical menswear. “I wanted to take things to an extreme and play around with building a floral lapel,” she says. About half of the ingredients came from Tara’s Splints & Daisies garden, located northwest of Philadelphia. The Rustic Bunch, a Slow Flowers member, and Riverside Blooms also contributed design elements.
Grape hyacinths, daffodils, anemones, poppies, hellebores, and flowering forsythia, plum, and magnolia branches appear to “grow” from the left lapel of the model’s honey brown velvet jacket, extending far above his torso and head. “A smaller floral accent on the right sleeve balances that out,” Tara notes. She inserted layers of branches, stems, and blooms, which are held in place by small pieces of chicken wire stitched onto the garment to create a base mechanic. The vivid spring-blooming palette includes a cluster of bright orange flowers of the Fritillaria imperialis — creating a jolt of joy.

Splints & Daisies (c) Madeline Isabella photography

DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Tara Folker, Splints & Daisies
splintsanddaisies.com, @splintsanddaisies

https://madelineisabella.com/

FLOWER SOURCES:
Splints & Daisies
The Rustic Bunch, @therusticbunch
Riverside Blooms, @riversideblooms
MODEL: Kris Boston
VENUE: Splints & Daisies garden, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Slow Flowers Journal Summer 2023 Edition

As a returning American Flowers Week botanical couture designer, Jennifer Reed of Jennifer Designs Events imagined a model dressed in all white florals -- locally-grown peonies and sweet peas -- and posed her as an timeless female statue, transporting us to a neoclassical garden of the 1920s. (c) Haley Richter
As a returning American Flowers Week botanical couture designer, Jennifer Reed of Jennifer Designs Events imagined a model dressed in all white florals — locally-grown peonies and sweet peas — and posed her as an timeless female statue, transporting us to a neoclassical garden of the 1920s.
(c) Haley Richter

BLOOM Imprint and Slow Flowers Society have lots to celebrate, including American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4), our eighth annual promotion. At its heart is our botanical couture collection and we love showcasing Slow Flowers’ floral artists, farmer florists, and growers as they interpret and express season, place and story through wearable floral fashions. This issue is free to Slow Flowers Members as a membership benefit (Look for the link in your in-box).


Summer's Bounty spread for American Flowers Week
Our American Flowers Week branding, illustrated by artist April Lemly 
Learn more and download our graphics here.

Sneak Peek into our Issue:

Florals give menswear an upgrade
Florals give menswear an upgrade

Design by Tara Folker, Splints & Daisies
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Photography by Madeline Isabella
FLOWER SOURCES:
Splints & Daisies, https://www.instagram.com/splintsanddaisies/
The Rustic Bunch, https://www.instagram.com/therusticbunch/
Riverside Blooms, https://www.instagram.com/riversideblooms/
MODEL: Kris Boston
VENUE: Splints & Daisies garden, Lancaster, Pennsylvania


The Romance of Peonies
The Romance of Peonies

Design by Jennifer Reed, Jennifer Designs Events
Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Photography by Haley Richter, @haleyrichterphoto
FLOWER SOURCES:
Owlet Farms, Pilesgrove, New Jersey, @owletfarms
CamFlor Inc., Watsonville, California, @camflorinc
Muth Family Farm, Williamstown, New Jersey, @muthfamilyfarm
MODEL: Brooke G. @brookeitlist
HAIR + MAKEUP: Jessica Saint Beauty @jessicasaintbeauty
and Toni Burke @toniburke_muah
VENUE: Hagley Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, @hagleymuseum
TABLE STYLING: Shannon Wellington @shannonwellingtonweddings
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Jennifer Bender @thisholidayhouse


Tú tienes mi corazón
Tú tienes mi corazón

Design by Niesha Blancas, Fetching Social Media
Fresno, California
Photography by Niesha Blancas, @nieshamonay
FLOWER SOURCES:
CamFlor Inc., Watsonville, California, @camflorinc
MODEL: Irys Jazmin Flores, @irysjazmin
HAIR + MAKEUP: Irys Jazmin Flores
VENUE: Calwa Park, Fresno, California, calwarecreation.org
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Ana Quinata, @anaquinata


Cutting Garden Couture
Cutting Garden Couture

Design by Blair Roberts Lynn, Sweet Blossoms
Ijamsville, Maryland
Photography by Kirsten Smith Photography, @kirstensmithphotography
https://www.instagram.com/kirstensmithphotography/
FLOWER SOURCES:
Dahlias, Lisianthus, Marigolds, Celosia, Ostrich Fern, Snapdragons, Hydrangea (Grateful Gardeners, @grateful_gardeners); Hydrangea blooms and foliage (Sweet Blossoms, @thesweetblossoms)
MODEL: Tanya Ferrell
HAIR + MAKEUP: Tanya Ferrell
VENUE: Grateful Gardeners Farm, Poolesville, Maryland, @grateful_gardeners


Flowers in His Hair
Flowers in His Hair

Design by Sarah Wagstaff, SUOT Farm & Flowers
Burlington, Washington
Photography by Cecily Gubitosi Photography, @cecilygubitosiphotography
https://www.instagram.com/cecilygubitosiphotography/
DESIGN + CONCEPT: Sarah Wagstaff, SUOT Farm & Flowers, @suotfarm
https://www.instagram.com/suotfarm/
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Olivia Yates O’Donnell, FloravoreNW, @floravorenw
https://www.instagram.com/floravorenw/
FLOWER SOURCES:
SUOT Farm & Flowers: tulips, peonies, frittilaria, ranunculus, poppies, daffodils, ferns, spanish blue bells, bleeding heart, alliums, lilac, violas, hellebores, foreget-me-not, grasses, ivy, cedar, and clematis.
MODELS: Steve , Keith Chaplin, Huck Chaplin
VENUE: SUOT Farm & Flowers, @suotfarm
Burlington, Washington


Urban Secret Garden by Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm and Linda Spradlin of In the Garden Flower Farm
Urban Secret Garden by Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm and Linda Spradlin of In the Garden Flower Farm

Design by Nan Matteson, Queen City Flower Farm
Cincinnati, Ohio
Linda Spradlin, In the Garden Flower Farm
Seven Mile, Ohio
Photography by Jill Bader @jillmbader
https://www.instagram.com/jillmbader/
DESIGN + CONCEPT:
Nan Matteson, @queencityflowerfarm and Linda Spradlin, @inthegardenflowerfarm 
FLOWER SOURCES:
Collar: Dried amaranthus, craspedia, love-in-the-mist, celosia (plume and crested) scabiosa, gomphrena, spirea, dock, foraged grasses.
Secret Garden: redbud, tulip, bluebell, daffodil, hyacinth, hellebore, columbine, moss. All flowers grown by designers.
MODEL: Carmen Sanders @Carmen.sanders3
VENUE: Cincinnati Art Museum. Cincinnati, Ohio @cincyartmuseum

American Flowers Week 2023
Download your free social media badge in three different formats to show your support and help to promote #americanflowersweek

The 2023 American Flowers Week artwork was created exclusively for Slow Flowers Society by April Lemly, an artist, illustrator, and former flower farmer based in Los Angeles, California.

April Lemly, artist and illustrator
April Lemly, artist and illustrator

April is a long-time friend of the Slow Flowers Movement who previously owned and operated Kamama Flowers in Sequim, Washington. You can listen to our 2018 interview with April on the Slow Flowers Podcast here. She has been a teacher, a graphic designer, a small business marketing coach, a flower farmer, and floral designer. We love her artwork (seen at aprillemly.com) and her playful illustration techniques that depict mostly female characters, animal, and plants. 

April Lemly pattern design
April Lemly pattern design

Recently, our founder Debra Prinzing connected with April to discuss her story and her relationship with flowers and nature.
AFW: April, can you describe yourself as an artist?
AL:
At my core, I’m a creative and I’ve had the luck to fall in love with many different mediums. And when I fell in love with working with flowers, I was able to say, ‘oh, flowers are just another medium for my art.'”

AFW: Describe your path to becoming an artist.
AL:
I had been making art since I was a child. I wanted to be a teacher, so my bachelor’s degree had an emphasis on teaching art to elementary-aged children. I taught art at a juvenile detention center in Los Angeles County for many years. But I knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree and further evolve as a human being and an artist. I earned a MFA in graphic design in 2008 at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. My early work was mostly branding and print design, but painting and drawing has always shown up in my projects.

April Lemly, Poppies
“Poppies,” by April Lemly

AFW: What are you currently working on?
AL:
During quarantine, I was able to focus more on my career development and I began taking illustration classes. So yes, I still design annual reports and marketing collateral, but I’m really loving this move into illustration. I’m currently focused surface design and illustration for paper goods, greeting cards, and journals.

AFW: We love your playful, graphic style! What inspires you?
AL:
I’ve always been a ‘nature child’ at heart. I love animals. I love wilderness. Flora and fauna are my muses. They all show up in my work. A woman I work with says, “people will buy your joy.” As long as I keep creating work that I am really passionate about, the joy shows up.

AFW: And it’s clear that you are confident around color!
AL:
I love bold color, yes, and I’m pretty free with it in personal projects. Of course, when I’m working with a client’s branded palette, the project scope always drives the design.

Bloom mural by April Lemly
Bloom mural by April Lemly

AFW: Before we talk about your illustrations for American Flowers Week 2023, tell us about the chapter of your life when you were a farmer-florist.
AL: I was living and working in Portland, Oregon, and my home garden was like a quilt of flowers from all the previous owners — for example, a rose garden over here and succulent rock garden over these, peonies along the house and so forth. It was beautiful! I was making vases of flowers for friends and family and it was suggested that I should grow flowers and design for weddings, kind of as a weekend project. We knew someone who was getting married, so I volunteered — and it kind of blossomed out of that. A local organization called EcoTrust had a “Meet Your Farmer CSA” event and I signed up for that. I was the only florist there at the time! From that, I gained a half dozen CSA customers and that was really how I got my name out.

AFW: What time period did that cover?
AL:
I started Kamama Flowers in 2013 and grew flowers in Portland until 2016. Then, I farmed in Washington for two years after that. Now that I’m in “concrete” Los Angeles, I miss it. The flower farmers and florists I knew and worked with in the Pacific Northwest are part of a wonderful community with so much heart and soul and respect for one another. They share and help one another — and I don’t have that here.

AFW: Great memories of a time when you were more deeply immersed in flowers, right?
AL:
Definitely. I was so honored when we started to discuss working together for the American Flowers Week artwork. I wanted to honor that time (when I grew flowers) and how special it was for me. And even though I don’t have that business anymore, I do have such fond memories of that time and I really am grateful for all of it.

AFW: Your illustration captures that sense of community! The gathering of different growers and their diverse appearances is really symbolic. We’re hearing really positive responses!
AL: I wanted it to reflect how society ought to be represented, frankly. I tried to draw some of the people as gender-neutral; I have the hippie guy with the peace sign on his shirt. I’m not really sure who the child belongs to. It was all intentional.

AFW: What was your technique to make this piece?
AL:
It is a digital illustration, all done in Procreate. I usually start with some reference imagery. I drew the background and land first; then the people; and then the flowers and the little details. I have to say that the flowers were actually the hardest — the center bouquet had so many different iterations. But finally, I landed on the sunflowers. Who doesn’t love sunflowers?

AFW: Yes, it is the quintessential American flower! And by the way, although this is a two-dimensional drawing, there are layers of texture throughout it!
AL: Even if I’m drawing an owl or a bat, I love texture, so I try to put that in.

AFW: Thank you, so much, April!
AL: It was really fun. I’m happy with it.