Get Ready for Red-White-and-Blue Florals!

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Arranged with all-local Pacific Northwest blooms, I love this sweet centerpiece that I made at a design workshop with Tammy Myers of First and Bloom last summer (c) Missy Palacol Photography

A perfect patriotic floral combo! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Maybe the palette seems a little cheezy to you, but ever since I created American Flowers Week in 2015, I have been on the lookout for fantastic ingredients that add up to beautiful (and anything but cheezy) Red-White-and-Blue floral arrangements and bouquets.

Nothing says “proud” and “homegrown” better than recreating our American flag’s true colors in a vase, right?

Here a pretty bouquet from last summer at a Tammy Myers’ First and Bloom workshop, with photographs by Missy Palacol.

Another view and a snap of me with my American Flowers Week-inspired beauties (c) Missy Palacol Photography

That fun, al fresco-style event took place a month or so after American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) but clearly the stars and stripes were top-of-mind because I didn’t hesitate about the palette when Tammy offered me an entire rainbow of botanicals from which to choose.

MORE RED-WHITE-AND-BLUE FLORALS

I’ve been playing with reds & maroons, whites & creams, blues & indigos — across the botanical spectrum — for the past three years, and now I’m really getting excited about our next American Flowers Week campaign. It’s coming up in just five weeks, so I hope these images inspire you to create your own Independence Day bouquets. Please share them at our Slow Flowers Community Page on Facebook!

All-American flowers, grown in Oregon at Charles Little & Co.

A child’s table, painted delphinium blue by a vintage dealer, is my perfect podium for this bouquet.

A July 4, 2015 Mason jar bouquet featuring ‘Checkers,’ a favorite dahlia from Jello Mold Farm.

Enjoy these glorious red-white-and-blue flowers, picked just in time for American Flowers Week.

 

Social Media Graphics for American Flowers Week 2018

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We’re so excited to unveil the new social media graphics for you to use in branding your American Flowers Week promotions this year!

Click here to download branded graphics for your Facebook profile, Instagram post, a website/blog badge (shown above) and a 4×6 inch promotional post card.

We’ll soon be able to share our 5 Floral Fashions, so check back for details!

New Floral Business Models at the Slow Flowers Summit

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Note: This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Cut Flower Quarterly, the publication of Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.

There is a sweet spot in our industry when flower farmers make personal connections with floral designers and I’ve heard time and again how rewarding it is for flower farmers to see their fresh, local and seasonal botanicals elevated as floral art by talented designers.

It is these types of face-to-face connections between grower and florist that has propelled local flowers to be “the most exciting story in the floral industry today,” as one leading floral educator recently told me.

Yet reaching out to the mainstream floral industry continues to be a challenge and that is one reason I launched both American Flowers Week in 2015 and last year offered a one-day symposium for floral designers called the Slow Flowers Summit.

That the Slow Flowers Summit coincided with the annual conference of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), held last year in Seattle, was a happy coincidence. Several AIFD members and media attended the Slow Flowers Summit, curious to see what the buzz was all about. Rather than competing with what is considered the leading professional association in floristry, I wanted to add local flowers to the conversation.

The effort has led to an invitation from AIFD to speak on “Field to Vase: Connecting Grower, Florist and Consumer” as part of the group’s first-ever “Field to Vase Florists” educational track at this year’s Symposium. The track is promoted as “acknowledging the movement toward sustainability and locally grown, AIFD welcomes industry professionals who share the farmer/floral artist lifestyle.”

AIFD’s leadership also invited Slow Flowers to produce our second annual Slow Flowers Summit and share its symposium venue by providing conference space and promoting the event. The Summit will taking place on Friday, June 29th (the day prior to AIFD’s opening session) at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C.

I’ve asked this year’s speakers (flower farmers, farmer-florists and floral industry leaders) to focus on new business models in floral design. Christina Stembel of San Francisco-based Farmgirl Flowers’ keynote presentation will help attendees think about scaling their studio or farm to new levels. Casey Schwartz and Kit Wertz, partners in Los Angeles-based Flower Duet, will share their recipe for diversifying a floral design studio to include workshops, tours, weddings and events, as well as online education. Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore (Maryland) and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet (Rhode Island) will present floral designs inspired by their favorite flower farms and discuss best practices for local sourcing. Jonathan Weber of Pittsburgh-based greenSinner will be joined by ASCFG member Jessica Hall of Harmony Harvest Farm (Virginia) and Christina Stembel to pull away the curtain on flowers, technology and infrastructure. And we’ll close the session with two pioneering urban flower farmers: Mud Baron of Muir Ranch (Pasadena) and Walker Marsh of Tha Flower Farm (Baltimore).

I am excited by the diverse range of experiences and voices coming together for a day that promises to enrich professionals and thought leaders in the progressive floral community. Plus, we’ll have only local and American grown flowers on display and incorporated in the presentations, thanks to many Slow Flowers and ASCFG member farms.

See videos of last year’s sessions and find registration details at slowflowerssummit.com.

Announcing the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit

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RESERVE YOUR TICKETS HERE

We’re thrilled to announce the second annual SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT. In 2018, the one-day conference that has been called a “TED Talk for Flower Lovers” is co-locating with the American Institute of Floral Designers‘ annual symposium — a symbolic step for proponents of the Slow Flowers Movement and its values and ethos.

That’s right: Slow Flowers Summit is coming to the East Coast!

Developed and produced by Debra Prinzing and Slow Flowers LLC, this one-day event coincides with the fourth annual AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK (June 28-July 4, 2018), bringing together creatives, thought leaders and change agents with a lecture series featuring leading voices in the progressive American-grown floral community.

Our venue: Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, D.C.

The SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT will stimulate your curiosity by inquiring, informing, including, instigating and inspiring conventional assumptions as we explore conscious and ethical practices in the floral industry.

The 2018 SUMMIT turns its attention on the future, innovation and reinvention. Who’s invited? Florists, Floral Designers, Farmer-Florists, Retailers, Wholesalers, Growers, Media, Educators, Students and Progressive Thinkers.

Christina Stembel, Farmgirl Flowers

We are honored to welcome CHRISTINA STEMBEL, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based FARMGIRL FLOWERS as our Keynote speaker. Christina’s topic, “Scaling Your Floral Business to the Next Level,” will share insights and lessons from her highly successful e-commerce floral business.

Profiled in every major media outlet imaginable, Christina has experienced so many highs and lows, wins and challenges, and she is generously sharing her story with our community. You will draw lessons for your own business, no matter the size!

Our Keynote will be followed by four inspiring presentations:

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore (left) and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet (right)

KELLY SHORE of Petals by the Shore (Maryland) and MARY KATE KINNANE of The Local Bouquet (Rhode Island) on “A YEAR OF LOCAL FLOWERS.” These Slow Flowers members are designers who specialize in weddings and events. Both Kelly and Mary Kate have developed deep relationships with flower farmers in their areas. The women will co-present their personal design and sourcing philosophies and demonstrate floral techniques featuring botanicals from their favorite local flower farms.

Kit Wertz (left) and Casey Schwartz (right), partners in Los Angeles-based Flower Duet

KIT WERTZ and CASEY SCHWARTZ of FLOWER DUET, are a sister-sister dynamic duo who have grown their Los Angeles-based floral business in to a multifaceted studio with services ranging from workshops, tours and online teaching to weddings and events and corporate commissions. Casey and Kit will outline how to think strategically and diversify a non-retail floral studio to attract customers throughout the year. These Slow Flowers members will also demonstrate their take on floral design.

Panelist Jessica Hall, Jonathan Weber and Christina Stembel

Along with our Keynote Speaker, FARMGIRL FLOWERS’ CHRISTINA STEMBEL, we’re excited to welcome JONATHAN WEBER of greenSINNER (Pittsburgh) and JESSICA HALL of HARMONY HARVEST FARM & FLORAL GENIUS (Virginia) in a forward-thinking panel discussing “Tech & Flowers: Amazon, Uber and the Floral Industry.” Increasingly, the intersection of transportation and infrastructure are pressuring everyone along the floral continuum to consider new ways of doing business. This panel will address how floral businesses large and small can think innovatively about delivery their product to the end consumer.

Mud Baron (left) and Walker Marsh (right)

The SUMMIT concludes with an inspiring presentation featuring two “change agents” in Urban Flower Farming. These men are rethinking the way flowers are grown and who gets to produce them in cities facing change, social pressures and economic disparity for many communities. Please welcome WALKER MARSH of THA FLOWER FACTORY (Baltimore) and MUD BARON of MUIR RANCH (Pasadena/Los Angeles) for “Planting Seeds on Urban Flower Farms.”

Tickets to the SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT include All Sessions, Continental Breakfast, Awesome Swag Bag and Cocktail Reception with Speakers. Registration: $250 per person. Slow Flowers Members and registered AIFD attendees will enjoy preferred pricing: $195 per person. Reserve your seat here.

Debra Prinzing developed the Slow Flowers Summit. She is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American Grown Flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, Debra has convened a national conversation that stimulates consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases.

(c) Mary Grace Long

Debra is the producer of slowflowers.com, the online directory to American grown farms, florists, shops and studios who supply domestic and local flowers. Each Wednesday, approximately 2,500 listeners tune into Debra’s “Slow Flowers Podcast,” available for free downloads at her web site, debraprinzing.com, or on iTunes and via other podcast services.

In 2016, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farm-to-florist cooperative, honored Debra with the first Growers Choice Award for her “outstanding contributions to revitalizing the local floral community.” In 2016, GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators inducted her into its Hall of Fame.  She is the author of 10 books, including Slow Flowers and The 50 Mile Bouquet.

American Flowers Week Rose Tutu by Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co.

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California Pajarosa roses adorn the tutu, bodice and headpiece designed by Teresa Sabankaya for American Flowers Week 2017.

Floral Palette: California-grown hybrid tea roses, garden roses and spray roses and their seasonal companions
Designer: Teresa Sabankaya, Bonny Doon Garden Co., (Santa Cruz, CA)
www.bonnydoongardenco.com@bonnydoongarden
Floral ingredients supplied by California Pajarosa, Watsonville, CA, and Bonny Doon Garden Co., Santa Cruz, CA

Teresa Sabankaya in the Bonny Doon Garden Co. cutting garden.

Teresa Sabankaya launched her floral business Bonny Doon Garden Co. by selling single stems, bunches and bouquets from a kiosk in downtown Santa Cruz, Calif. She often stocked the tiny shop with cuttings from her vast residential garden in the nearby hamlet of Bonny Doon, called Shangri-La by locals for its remote and stunning natural beauty.

As author Amy Stewart wrote in her groundbreaking book Flower Confidential, “Teresa Sabankaya has the kind of flower shop that you would dream about opening, if you are the kind of person who dreams of opening a flower shop . . . (it) fit with my idea of how floral commerce must work — you’d grow some flowers in your garden, you’d buy some from a farmer down the road, and you’d put them in buckets and sell them to your neighbors.”

A decade after being profiled by Stewart, Teresa is still designing and selling her signature garden-style florals throughout the greater Santa Cruz area, although today Bonny Doon Garden Co. is housed inside the coastal city’s New Leaf Community Market. As a Veriflora Certified Retail Florist, the shop assures customers the product they buy is grown in a sustainable manner, including from domestic flower farms.

“We source mainly from local organic and sustainable flower farms, thus assuring you a very fresh product,” Teresa explains on her web site’s home page. “We love to incorporate materials from our own cutting garden in Bonny Doon, too, while using the surrounding woods, meadows and vineyards as our inspiration.”

The 11-acre Sabankaya grounds are often home to styled shoots, attracting private design students and photographers alike. It serves as the ideal setting for Teresa’s American Flowers Week creation, a wearable rose tutu and headpiece to accompany her model’s pink satin corset.

With her model (and daughter) Antalia Sabankaya as her muse, Teresa selected an intense, fiesta-hued palette with roses dominating her design. The pristine hybrids, sprays and garden roses are more local than most, having been raised in sheltering greenhouses just miles away in Watsonville, where friend and flower farmer Paul Furman runs California Pajarosa Roses.

“I absolutely love his product,” Teresa raves. Her enthusiasm and commitment to green practices in her business are in alignment with the second-generation rose farmer’s decision to pursue Veriflora Certification for California Pajarosa.
“I am so impressed that Paul went through the process of switching from conventional growing to a sustainable method that allowed the farm to also become Veriflora Certified,” she says. “It can be an expensive process for growers and it’s not easy.”

While planning the rose-infused wearable floral fashion shoot for American Flowers Week, Teresa zeroed in on one of her favorites grown at Pajarosa: the ‘Alhambra’ rose. “That was my star rose,” she says. “It almost looks like a garden rose with its high petal count and the petals range from pinky peach to orange to fuchsia on the outer petals.”

Teresa wanted to design a flattering floral tutu that accentuated Antalia’s fitted pink satin corset. She researched magazines and Pinterest boards for inspiration and found a tutu made from silk flowers that got her thinking about constructing a tutu that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of real roses.

“While tulle fabric wouldn’t have worked, I found a gold mesh product from Oasis and began playing around with it,” Teresa says. She used 24-inch lengths of the mesh to shape “petals,” layering them to form a “flower” skirt. Matching gold Oasis flat wire woven through the mesh grid serves as a “belt” that fastens to Antalia’s waist.
The design begins with a tight pavé rose pattern to accentuate the tutu’s waistline. Teresa attached botanical elements with a combination of glue and gold wire, the tails of which are like little tendrils dangling from the skirt.

“The metal mesh itself isn’t that strong, but the wire edges of each petal hold their shape,” the designer explains. “As I folded the pieces, they formed a pouf here and a tip there to create the petal look I wanted.”

Teresa realized she didn’t want to complete cover the mesh with flowers, but instead allow the material to be the tulle-like element of her design. “I put something lacy toward the tips of each petal, pieris and jasmine from my garden that supplements Paul’s roses for a lacy, frilly look.”

The corresponding headpiece relates to the skirt with one distinct difference. “We had been cutting tree peonies from my garden to sell at the shop and the intense color was a perfect complement to Paul’s roses,” Teresa says. “I knew I had to add one to the headpiece.”

With the backdrop of her property’s Mediterranean-style architecture and its lush, secret garden to showcase her all-local floral couture, Teresa’s imagination plays out in the third dimension, made more special because she collaborated with family and longtime floral industry colleagues to celebrate American Flowers Week. “I want people to look at this picture, to look at those flowers, and feel the way I feel when I get to design with them,” she says.

Resources:

Model: Antalia Sabankaya
Makeup: Zachary Winer
Hair: Carly Vollers
Photography: John Kaemmerling Photography
Location: Sabankaya family garden, Bonny Doon, CA

Originally published in FLORISTS’ REVIEW | JUNE 2017 | floristsreview.com

American Flowers Week’s Floral Cape by Tara Folker of Splints & Daises

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Romantic and mysterious, the floral cape designed by Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies features all-American grown botanicals from Stargazer Barn in Arcata, California. (c) With Love and Embers

Floral Palette: Bulb flowers, including Irises, tulips and callas; Foliages, including ornamental cabbage, sword fern and wild huckleberry.
Floral ingredients supplied by Stargazer BarnArcata, California
Designer: Tara Folker, Splints & Daisies, Lancaster, Pennsylvania;
splintsanddaisies.com @splintsanddaisies

Floral designer and artist Tara Folker

Tara Folker has been designing flowers for nearly two decades, having opened her own dried florals and woven basketry business when she was 19. Coming from a family of artists on her mother and grandmother’s side and of plant lovers on her father’s side, Tara concludes, “Things mixed for me, and I ended up in artistic florals.”

While she doesn’t describe herself as a fashion designer, Tara has produced a number of wearable floral garments for styled shoots. “I call it my playtime because it’s when I can actually do what I want to do. As anyone in the wedding industry knows, you don’t always get that. With styled shoots, I’m going to do what I love.”

When Bill Prescott, Stargazer Barn, offered to provide the flowers and foliage for Tara’s American Flowers Week con­cept, the timing was perfect. Tara and her team photographed in early January when not much local product was avail­able on the East Coast.

She treasured the chance to select from Stargazer’s greenhouses and fields in Northern Cali­fornia: Fancy and standard tulips, ‘White Versailles’ Freesias, ‘Telsar’ Irises, ‘Cantor’ callas and all sorts of greenery, such as white and purple ornamental cabbage, sword ferns and lacy sweet huckleberry. The color palette: purples, peaches, white and green – quiet and moody for the season.

I had never seen the huck before, but it looked fun. Plus, I loved that the sword ferns were harvest­ed from the Redwoods just a few days before the shoot.

Tara is comfortable with designing in real time, on location, rather than committing to a sketch or recipe in advance. She took as her muse Ashley Garner, the beautiful, edgy model, and the raw warehouse space at Hingework, a Lancaster event studio with large windows, white brick walls and a con­temporary/industrial vibe.

The designer imagined a semitrans­parent floral cape that would showcase all of the fresh flowering bulbs, draping fluidly from the model’s form. “I didn’t want to do a dress or a skirt again, but I wanted to create something wearable that was new to me, too, so that I could feel satisfied with the design.”

Ashley’s style – juxtaposed against the soft, romantic, feminine florals – emoted an almost fantasylike narrative. A black leotard and leggings allowed Ashley’s body form to be another organic element while the makeup accentuated her eyes and lips. Of course, the model’s bare head also became part of Tara’s overall vision.

Tara envisioned a short shrug or capelet with sleeves, but while building the underpin­nings with chicken wire, she realized sleeves would restrict Ashley’s movement and feel stiff. For a tall, lanky model, that just didn’t make sense.

“In the end, the chicken wire is almost like a scarf that lays across her shoulders. With not much of a base, the flowers them­selves became the garment,” Tara says. “The flowers were tied onto the wire that I did use, and it really hugged her shoulders.”

RESOURCES
Model: Ashley Garner
Makeup: Stefani BurketBonafide Ginger, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Photography: Jillian and Ryan McGrath, With Love & Embers, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
Location: Hingework, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Originally published in FLORISTS’ REVIEW | JUNE 2017 | floristsreview.com

American Flowers Week’s Floral Menswear by Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes of Seattle’s RHR Horticulture

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Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture’s botanical tapestry for American Flowers Week 2017 (c) Mary Grace Long Photography

Floral Palette: A medley of flowers and foliage from the landscape, hothouse and nature
Designer: Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, RHR Horticulture, Seattle, WA @rhrhorticulture

Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, guest designer for American Flowers Week 2017

Riz Reyes is a garden and floral designer whose creations have won gold medal and people’s choice awards at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, all achieved while he also worked as a horticulture manager at public and private landscapes in Seattle.

Riz considers Portland, Ore., floral designer Françoise Weeks one of his mentors, and he is influenced by the work of Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost and British designer Zite Elze, the artistic inspiration for this piece.

Asked to create a woodland-inspired menswear look for American Flowers Week 2017, Riz’s response was highly personal.

The whole concept of men and flowers is intriguing to me because it touches on my background and the journey I took to get into horticulture, floriculture, plants and flowers. For me, there was always that stigma of little boys and flowers not being a favored thing.

Because this shoot was scheduled for early January, Riz drew on product from California and Oregon, such as pincushions (Leucospermum) and Grevillea foliage, sourced through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market from Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers.

“I especially like working with things that are textural. A lot of the materials and natural elements that I use and the range of colors that I like are inspired by the Pacific Northwest and its ferns, moss and lichen,” he says.

Riz began with the Market’s availability list to choose an array of small succulents such as Aeonium, Sempervivum and Echeveria; Phalaenopsis orchids; spray roses; hellebores; globe thistles (Echinops); Pieris japonica; the metallic blue fruit and buds of Viburnum tinus; sprays of Grevillea blossoms and G. ‘Ivanhoe’ foliage; Leucadendron foliage; the mosslike textures of the crested Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Cristata’) and Dianthus ‘Green Trick’; the fascinating marble vine (Diplocyclos palmatus); buds of larkspur (Delphinium hybrid); and the immature fruits of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera). He also foraged for lichen, small pods and ferns from nature.

Behind-the-scenes at our photo shoot with model Alexander Brooks, photographer Mary Grace Long, designer Riz Reyes and make-up artist Yessie Libby. Photographed, January 2017.

“I had never done anything of this magnitude,” he admits. Working with a mannequin torso was essential to give shape to the vest and a corresponding jacket as he added botanical elements. Riz first applied two coats of adhesive spray to the vest to get a sticky surface for attaching the textural “embroidery” of flowers, plants, foliages, pods and lichen.

At the same time, he used liquid floral adhesive to attach individual pieces, balancing shapes, colors and varieties, to create an overall pattern. The textilelike design is reminiscent of a Persian rug or antique tapestry in its depth and detail.


To Riz, it was important to collaborate with the model and photographer and to develop a level of trust with both.“Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be able to work in this dynamic. There is this profile of a guy being the giver of flowers. So for me, the grand takeaway from this experience – and hopefully, it will come true – is to dispel the assumption that men and flowers don’t exist together.”

RESOURCES
Model: Alexander Brooks
Makeup: Yessie Libby, Yessie Makeup Artistry, Seattle, Wash.
Photography: Mary Grace Long, Mary Grace Long Photography, Seattle, Wash.
Location: Mary Grace Long Studio and Discovery Park, Seattle, Wash.

Originally published in FLORISTS’ REVIEW | JUNE 2017
floristsreview.com

Unveiling our 2018 American Flowers Week Branding with Artist Ellen Hoverkamp

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Artist Ellen Hoverkamp created a one-of-a-kind American Flowers Week botanical work for our 2018 campaign!

Ellen Hoverkamp

I’m so thrilled to share this beautiful red-white-and-blue botanical composition that we commissioned from Connecticut-based artist Ellen Hoverkamp.

I’ve known Ellen for a number of years through the Garden Writers’ Association and we first me virtually when I reviewed the award-winning book she created with Ken Druse called Natural Companions (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012) for an article in the Los Angeles Times.

Recently, I spent the day with Ellen. She served as my local chauffeur and host when I traveled East for the Connecticut Slow Flowers Meet-Up. That event took place in early October at Trout Lily Farm, which is owned by Michael Russo and Raymond Lennox. Learn more about Trout Lily Farm in my recent interview with Michael for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

As it turns out, Ellen and Michael go way back as friends and fellow art students in both high school and college. Ellen’s work, which is termed “scanner photography,” utilizes freshly-picked flowers, foliage and other gifts from nature as her raw material. When composed into a botanical still-life and then scanned, the resulting digital image can be printed on archival, museum-grade paper for framing, or printed for other products, such as note cards or Ellen’s beautiful silk scarves.

After reuniting with Ellen and seeing her beautiful work again up close, it occurred to me that I wanted to commission a piece in which she created a red-white-and-blue floral portrait for American Flowers Week 2018.

Given the season in New England, it was possibly the last moment when I could have requested that Ellen create a piece for us! Fortunately, Michael and Raymond still had a few dahlias and other goodies on their flower farm for her to clip and incorporate into her floral portrait. Plus, Ellen told me that she also had several cuttings being stored in her refrigerator for (it seems) just this purpose.

I hope you love this gift from the garden — as interpreted by such a talented artist — as much as I do! The graphic branding, which Jenny Diaz created by adding our American Flowers Week typography, will be used in a number of ways to promote next year’s week-long campaign.

HOW SHE DOES IT

Here’s more about Ellen and how she developed this method and style for her work. The text from our Q&A comes from a 2015 article I wrote about her for Garden Design magazine.

Ellen Hoverkamp first started composing images from nature using an early model flatbed photo scanner in 1997, she didn’t even own a camera. Nor did she know the names of most of the plants she used. “It was all about form and color for me.”

Fast-forward to 2005 and Hoverkamp’s evocative and artful assemblages of botanicals and edibles have been profiled in The New York Times. They’ve since been exhibited in museums and graced covers of books (Natural Companions) and periodicals (Organic Gardening and Sweet Paul). She arranges flowers, pods, branches, vines, gourds and roots as vivid still-lifes against striking black backdrops. If Hoverkamp had been born three or four centuries ago, she would have been a Dutch master painter. “I love the hyper-real details of my images,” she says.

Hoverkamp relies on cuttings from public gardens, nurseries and private landscapes to create her pieces. “I scan what other people grow,” she jokes. “I’m forever grateful to the people and places that supply me with plants. The mission of my work is to bring attention to the efforts of gardeners and to the beauty of nature.”

WHAT TO READ

“I created 144 botanical images for Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2012), with author / photographer, Ken Druse. He provided plants for 66 of my scanner photographs. Sometimes I worked at his place in New Jersey; occasionally, cuttings were shipped to my studio. Once, Ken delivered plants to me at a parking lot. He would provide lists of Latin plant names for sampling at particular private gardens. That year, the growing season seemed to be about 3 weeks off schedule in CT. I would see all sorts of beautiful floral material that wasn’t on Ken’s list prompting him to say, “Pick whatever turns you on and we’ll figure it out.” I will forever be proud of our collaboration.

SUMMER FLOWER COMBINATIONS TO PHOTOGRAPH

“My most favorite (and also the most challenging) flowers for scanning are peonies from private gardens. I love this composition of Sandi Blaze’s peonies with beauty bush and ninebark, picked from her cottage style gardens, dubbed, “Pixie Perennials” (pixieperennials.com) in Wilton, Conn. An image I composed at Jennifer Brown’s garden, in Greenwich, CT, shows the beautiful diversity of peony forms and petal colors.”

SUMMER VEGETABLE COMBINATIONS TO PHOTOGRAPH

“I used edibles for my art long before the popularity of the farm-to-table initiative. I’ve always liked combining organic vegetables with ornamental floral material. I collect the vast majority of edibles at Trout Lily Farm (trout-lily-farm.com) in North Guilford, Conn. They are grown by my longstanding dear friend Michael Russo, vegetable and flower farmer and floral designer. Michael has collaborated with me and sustained my work since the early days. He has expanded his gardens at Trout Lily Farm offering me more variety – and his farm stand customers reap the benefits, as well. The cool thing is that I can set up my scanner in his barn and work directly from the garden.”

FAVORITE PUBLIC GARDENS

“I love the Northeast’s many public gardens. I have had two solo exhibitions in the Alice Milton Gallery at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Mass. (towerhillbg.org) and I was their first Artist in Residence. On August 22nd, I’ll be teaching ‘APPetizing Edibles,” an introduction to imaging food using a flatbed scanner and to editing scans using mobile-device photo apps. On September 10th, Trout Lily Farm and I will be vendors in the marketplace as part of “Gardener’s Day 2015: A Celebration of Plants” at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island (blithewold.org). The personable team of gardening enthusiasts and horticultural professionals guide and welcome visitors to the lovely grounds of this historical estate.”

FAVORITE NURSERY

“I consider Broken Arrow Nursery (brokenarrownursery.com), growers of rare and unusual plants in Hamden, Conn., a favorite destination. The Jaynes family and their knowledgeable staff are longstanding contributors of cuttings, and have provided great information and general support for my work.”

FAVORITE GARDEN ACCESSORIES

“I love using Florian pruners (florianpruners.com). They are handy, dependable and made in the U.S.A. I wear Foxgloves (foxglovesinc.com), which made of soft Lycra fabric and are perfect for flower picking. They were created by my friend Harriet Zbikowski, a landscape architect and professional horticulturist.

NOTE: Ellen’s American Flowers Week 2018 piece will be available to order as a print early next year — and we’ll share the link to her online order page soon. For now, you can peruse her catalog of botanical images, prints, cards and scarves — HERE.

Lennie Larkin’s report on the inaugural Slow Flowers Summit

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Only four months have passed since the first Slow Flowers Summit took place during American Flowers Week, but the feedback continues to remind us that our “Ted Talk for Flower Lovers” was a success.

We invited Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm in Sonoma County, California, to attend as a media guest.

She recently reported on the Summit and shared her impressions in her column in Cut Flower Quarterly, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ member publication. Lennie is the West and Northwest regional director for ASCFG, so she regularly dispatches her point of view with the members in our region.

That article has just been posted and I’m excited to share it with you today. I’m so impressed with the highlights Lennie shared, including her personal insights.

Her summary featured takeaways from Amy Stewart’s presentation on the 10-year retrospective of “Flower Confidential” and our Panel Discussion with Chantal Aida Gordon, Leslie Bennett, Riz Reyes and Nicole Cordier Wahlquist on diversity, inclusion and representation in floriculture and horticulture.

Lennie makes a point during the panel Q&A

Read the full Lennie Larkin Column (PDF) here.

Keynote speaker Amy Stewart

One thing Amy really wanted to impress upon us during her talk was that her takeaways on the international flower industry are actually more nuanced than they may seem at first glance. Namely, as we navigate the ins and outs of the domestic vs. imported flower industries, it can be easy to forget the jobs and the people behind all this commerce and the full dialogue around it. Things become a lot less black and white and yes, more nuanced, when we’re able to remember this.

Panelists, from left, including moderator Chantal Aida Gordon, Leslie Bennett, Riz Reyes and Nichole Cordier Wahlquist.

According to Lennie, the panel led by Chantal “felt like a discussion that was long time coming for our industry.” She felt motivated to respond to many of the points covered by the panel, and offered this encouragement:

I think it’s important for us to take a look at ourselves and remember that we’re not just passive actors out in the world, that we all in fact play huge roles in setting industry norms and standards. Who else can we get to that table?

Thanks for your support, Lennie — and for endorsing the Summit! We’d love you to attend our 2018 Summit, details of which will be announced soon!

Photo credits: Hannah Brenlan and Luke Holtgeerts

Behind the Scenes as we ready for American Flowers Week 2018

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“In Process” — Kelly Shore (left), preps her Alaska Peony model Ashley Johnson; Hedda Brorstrom (right) attends to a few details for the dahlia dress worn by model Sophia Lane

American Flowers Week began in 2015, and it has grown significantly in three short years to involve participation across all channels of domestic flowers — from seeds to bouquets to beautiful floral fashions.

Your involvement helped us generate more than 5 million impressions on social media (Instagram and Twitter) during this year’s campaign, a major leap from the 400,000 measured in 2015 and 1.2 million measured in 2016.

We’re making a difference in the relationship people have with their flowers — and that’s inspiring!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update here, but not because I have forgotten about American Flowers Week! The fact is, we’ve been hard at work developing next year’s amazing promotions, partnerships and platforms to elevate and expand this one-week celebration of domestic botanicals and you can be sure that plans are well underway for an incredible American Flowers Week 2018.

I’m excited to share some of the latest news with you!

Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events created our red-white-and-blue floral ‘fro for 2016, with graphic design from Jenny Diaz

As you know, for 2016, we commissioned Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events to design a beautiful red-white-and-blue floral ‘fro using all American-grown blooms.

With talents of photographer Amanda DuMouchelle, makeup artist Imagine Three Beauty Studio and our beautiful model Monique Montri, the iconic image is still posted and shared today.

That led to the ambitious campaign to produce an extensive lineup of floral fashions showcasing the best local, seasonal and domestic flowers, unveiled earlier this year.

The floral creativity we witnessed by Slow Flowers members — flower farmers and floral designers — was mind-blowing and we’ve yet to share all of the images captured by our photographers.

You can read about our first piece of 2017, a sunflower gown designed by Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Gather Design Co., modeled by stylish flower farmer Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farm and captured on film by Anna Peters, with hair and makeup by Yessie Libby.

A quartet of four other amazing floral fashions followed, and I’ve been remiss about posting those — so look for the back-story of our rose tutu, floral cape, woodland menswear vest and peony Geisha in the coming weeks. Those were created by Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies, Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture and Arthur Williams of Babylon Floral Design.

From left: Ashley & Kelly during our prep time; Kelly’s tapestry of Scenic Place peony blooms; and floating peonies, on location at the Homer Marina

But for now, let’s jump ahead to 2018 . . . and our PEONY Look!

Slow Flowers‘ designers and flower farmers have already stepped up to help us capture two of next year’s five floral looks on film and while we can’t reveal the completed designs yet, we can credit the talented teams and give you a little behind-the-scenes taste of what to expect when promotions launch for American Flowers Week 2018.

In July, with Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and Beth Van Sandt & Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies, we visually documented a quintessential moment for Alaska-grown peonies!

Kelly and Beth partnered on numerous creative endeavors during a single week at the end of July 2017 . . . including the Field to Vase Dinner and a romantic styled shoot that Kelly designed, which was photographed in Scenic Place’s peony fields and published in the October issue of Florists’ Review (in the Slow Flowers Journal section).

But . . . thanks to Beth’s brainstorm and Kelly’s willingness to jump in and say “yes,” we also produced a thoroughly unique peony experience on the docks and shoreline of the fishing marina in Homer, Alaska. Beth wanted our American Flowers Week “look” to blend Homer’s two economic engines — commercial fishing and peony farming.
We were lucky for so many reasons, including:

  • Joshua and Brittney Veldstra of Homer-based Joshua Veldstra Photography signed on to document the story with their amazing talents.
  • The folks at Grunden’s donated a pair of white bib overalls and “Deck Boss” boots, the feminine version of the attire you’ll see worn by commercial fishing pro’s.
  • Our beautiful model jumped right in and said “yes” to everything we asked of her. Ashley Johnson, flower-farmer-in-training, spent this past summer as a WOOFER (that’s World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at Scenic Place. We were super lucky that she agreed to be our model!
  • There were other helpers who made this shoot such a success: Lisa Thorne of Thorne & Thistle, a Slow Flowers member who traveled to Homer to volunteer for all of the Field to Vase activities; and Elizabeth Morphis, a Scenic Place Peonies team member who assisted with hair, makeup and design!

Enjoy a sneak peek of our visual story above — you’ve never before seen Alaska-grown peonies expressed in such a creative way that underscores the importance of season, place and beauty! The entire reveal will occur during American Flowers Week, June 28th through July 4th! I thank everyone who made this happen — they are my heroes!

From left: designer Heddah Brorstrom attaches more than 350 local dahlias to the “skirt”; a lovely detail of the floral artistry expressed in this project; and real-time photography.

Next up: Dreaming of DAHLIAS!

I’ve been wishing for a dahlia “look” for American Flowers Week for many reasons, the most obvious of which is that the renaissance of field-grown dahlias has been a game-changer for Slow Flowers members — farmers and designers alike. No other flower is so precious and coveted in summer and early autumn. No other flower is dependent on local sourcing, a boon for those who grow and design with them.

I asked Slow Flowers member Kate Rowe, co-owner with Omar Duran of Aztec Dahlias in Petaluma, California, if she would sponsor a photo shoot depicting dahlias in a floral fashion — and she said YES!

We agreed together that Hedda Brorstrom, a farmer-florist who owns Full Bloom Farm in nearby Sebastopol, California, would be THE person to design the look.

Yet the larger backdrop for our October 16th photo shoot, captured by Becca Henry at Aztec Dahlias’ farm, was less than ideal.

Everyone in Sonoma County has been coping with the onslaught of horrendous wildfires — in fact, every person involved in this photo shoot has a connection with a loved one who has lost everything to the fires. Working conditions for flower farmers in Sonoma County have been highly risky due to the poor air quality and intense heat. We weren’t really sure that the schedule would work out due to all these external (negative) conditions.

But . . . the dahlia dream team pulled it off — and I’m so impressed with their talents! The entire look, worn so elegantly by model Sophia Lane, was achieved due to the “village” of talents. THANK YOU to everyone involved!

Hedda Brorstrom – Floral Designer
Becca Henry – Photographer
MaryAnn Nardo – Harvesting / Floral Design Assist
7 Petals Floral Design @7petalsdesign
Sophia Lane – Model
– Amanda Lane, Mom
Dan’yell Powell – Harvest / Assist
Sarah Reyes – Assist
Unfurled Design @unfurleddesign
Kate Rowe – Dahlias
Aztec Dahlias @aztec_dahlias

What’s Next?

Our anticipation for American Flowers Week 2018 continues and I’m eager to involve more Slow Flowers members in the campaign! The Peony and Dahlia fashions will be published in the Slow Flowers Journal section of Florists’ Review magazine in our June 2018 issue — that’s the big “reveal” of all this gorgeous American-grown creativity! And stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes news to come . . .