“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 . . .