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.
“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.”
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.”
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
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?”
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
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
“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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
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.”
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
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
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
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.”
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_
We’ve just received our fabulous American Flowers Week labels (actual size: 2-x-3 inch oval) and it’s time to place your order! It’s completely free to participate in American Flowers Week, but if you really want to dazzle your customers, we have an affordable resource for you to use. For the 4th year in a row, you can use American Flowers Week bouquet labels to highlight your product, your brand and your mission. The labels are available exclusively to all active Slow Flowers members. To offset the cost of design and production, we ask for a nominal contribution from you. Pricing: $20 50 $35 100 $50 200 $100 500 To order: Please send your request to: email@example.com and indicate the quantity of labels you want. Payment: You’ll receive an invoice payable via PayPal and once payment is complete, the labels will be shipped. We will add $10 Priority Shipping & Handling to each order, due to a Postal Service rate increase to $7.65 for a flat-rate envelope. Deadline/Shipment: All label orders must be received by Friday, June 21st in order for us to mail them to you in time.
Use American Flowers Week’s badges and graphics in your marketing. Click here for a link to download. The logos and social media-formatted badges are free for you to download and include in your own camapigns and promotions.
A special thanks to designer Jenny Diaz, for her contribution over the past four years. We love the look and vibe of the branding you’ve created, Jenny!
As a special branding bonus for 2019, We are so thrilled to share this beautiful red-white-and-blue illustrated floral print that we commissioned from Seattle-based artist Josephine Rice.
We’re so excited to announce that American Flowers Week now has a comprehensive Events Calendar – AND – an easy way for you to add your event to it. Click here to add your event or select the form from the Event>dropdown>Add Your Event in the menu above.
The goal: To share as many American Flowers Week floral events on the calendar, coast-to-coast. Emphasis is placed on all June and July Events!
Why is this important? We’ll be sharing the events calendar with the media, with our subscribers and on social media. We want flower lovers all across the U.S. to learn about you and your blooms. They want new opportunities to attend workshops, pop-ups, meet-ups, parties and public floral events.
Adding your event is FREE.We reserve the right to edit for length or decline if the event isn’t relevant to American Flowers Week.
We’ve included lots of categories to help you organize (and help users find) specific types of events. They include:
Floral Design Workshop
Flower Farming Event
Get those dates listed and we’ll help you promote them!
Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm created these gorgeous and graphic flatlay color studies during American Flowers Week.
Check out these charming images, created by Slow Flowers member Nan Matteson of Cinncinnati-based Queen City Flower Farm. When we saw them, we asked her for permission to post here — and to share the “back story” of her inspiration.
She explains: “I absolutely remember the inspiration with the crayons. I had read that Crayola was discontinuing the color Dandelion Yellow.
“As you are probably aware yellow flowers don’t sell well, which is unfortunate because there are so many gorgeous yellow flowers that never get used for this reason. This thought was the jumping off point for an Instagram post — and crayons had to be in the picture. At the time is was one of my most ‘liked’ posts.”
Yellow was Nan’s original color study — and it inspired her to create red, white and blue color studies with crayons and flowers.
It gets no respect. With flowers or crayons. Crayola has announced it is discontinuing Dandelion Yellow, that very first flower a child gives its mother. There are so many gorgeous yellow flowers that are never sold because . . . . well who know why . . . . but don’t count them out. Look for them this summer. They can be spectacular and won’t disappoint.
Then . . . on to Red, White & Blue . . .
Nan continues, “since I had all these boxes of brand new crayons, it only made sense to do some more. You know, trying to find ways to post that don’t look like everyone else’s pictures.”
We love what she’s done with these eye-catching flat-lays, presenting domestic, local and seasonal blooms with an American Flowers Week message!
And no Independence Day post is complete without FIREWORKS!
For the fourth consecutive year, Slow Flowers will commission designer-flower farmer creative teams to transform popular, American-grown flowers and foliages into Couture Fashion Looks for American Flowers Week!
We’ve been working behind-the-scenes with a fabulous group of Slow FlowersMembers around the U.S. to envision the “collection” for 2019.
A few of the looks have already been produced and photographed; a few more photo sessions are on the calendar later this fall; and in warmer climates like Florida and California, looks will be designed and photographed over the winter months into early spring.
You’ll be the first to see the entire AFW 2019 Botanical Fashion Collection — we promise!
Being featured in Florists’ Review is one bonus for our participants and a wonderful change to promote local and seasonal botanicals AND your growing & design talents!
The series will first appear in the June 2019 issue of Florists’ Review, followed by many other platforms and channels. In fact, we’ll share American Flowers Week badges for you to download free and use in your own promotion and branding.
Until then, help thank, congratulate and celebrate our Designer Dream Teams:
Rayne Grace Hoke, with model and friend Mary Yarumian, on location at Johnny’s Seeds in Winslow Maine.
Rayne Grace Hoke of Florasmuse partnered with our very own sponsor, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, to create a stunning gown embellished with field-grown flowers, herbs and ornamental grains — harvested from Johnny’s famous trial gardens in Winslow, Maine.
Eileen Tongson of FarmGal Flowers, based in Orlando, is teaming up with Jana Register and the fern and foliage farmers from FernTrust in Seville to interpret a glam-greenery look.
Our very own Jenny M. Diaz, the artist and graphic designer who’s responsible for all of the American Flowers Week branding, is bringing her fashionista vibe to a botanical couture look using flowers from Dramm & Echter Farm.
Beth Syphers (left) and Bethany Little (right)
Beth Syphers of Crowley House and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., two farmer-florists and good friends are collaborating on a sassy 1950s-60s floral ensemble!
Heather Grit of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Heather Grit of Glamour and Grit Floral is pulling together a creative team to produce a winter wonderland look ~ so Michigan, right?! Her theme: locally-grown ferns and greens.
Laura Mewbourn (left) and Toni Reale (right, with Debra Prinzing)
Two talents who are 100% committed to locally-grown flowers are teaming up for an uniquely Southern-inspired project. Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm, a farmer-florist, and floral designer Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms envision a botanical look that reflects and respects the history of their region.
MORE TO COME . . . It’s no surprise that we’ve had more submissions for participants (floral designers and flower farmers) who really, really, want to participate in the 2019 Floral Couture Collection. And with so many talented creatives, we’re finding it super hard to say “no,” so stay tuned for more announcements!
P.S., EVERYONE is invited to conjure their own American Flowers Week botanical couture wearable, because we hope to flood social media with #americanflowersweek goodness come June 28-July 4! Let your imagination go wild!
I’ve known Josie through the local floral community, including my floral designer friend Anne Bradfield of Floressence, for whom Josie has worked. But Josie’s real talent is illustration and printmaking. Anne gifted me a framed print by Josie, which I cherish.
And the more I followed her Instagram feed, and watched how creatively she plays with palettes, patterns and depth, I couldn’t wait to see what Josie might do with a red-white-and-blue floral theme.
Slow Flowers’ 2019 American Flowers Week artwork by Josephine Rice
Ever since I first saw Josie’s graphic, playful, polychromatic, floral-patterned illustrations, I’ve been glued to her Instagram feed.
Josephine Rice, our American Flowers Week artist, photographed recently on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
I just love how her stylized flowers, buds, vines, leaves, pods and petals add up to something so visually mesmerizing and pleasing to the eye.
What she sees in a three-dimensional flower inspires her two-dimensional art. Her drawings are far from literal, but they convey the personality and attribute of each element beautifully.
Together, the hundreds of small botanical shapes that appear in Josie’s compositions are bold, engaging — and very much dimensional. I’m fascinated with her color sensibility, her use of thin and thick black lines to define each shape, the patterns created by layering cutouts of plant parts, and then . . . the final expression in a print you can frame.
That’s why I wanted to commission Josie to create our 2019 American Flowers Week branding. I’m unveiling it here, reveling in the quirky red-white-and-blue palette that is so joyous and uplifting.
Mind you, Josie’s take on red-white-and-blue is a modern twist on the conventional patriotic colors. In the botanical world, flowers themselves change color throughout a single season, so I thoroughly appreciate how our artist has reimagined traditional flag colors in a new, inventive way.
I recently met Josie for an extended face-to-face interview and I’m sharing part of our conversation to introduce you to this ingenious artist. You can download your own badges and graphics to add to your social media as you begin planning and promoting American Flowers Week in your market.
Debra: Tell us about your early relationship with art.
Josie (laughing): When I was a kid, my preschool teacher told my parents that I was gifted in art. I was drawing faces with all the facial features when I was very young — ones that are normally left out in children’s drawings.
Debra: When did you start seeing yourself as an artist or wanting to pursue art in your life?
Josie: I always wanted to paint and draw and be creative. In high school, I was determined to be a painter. I was very determined to have a “not normal” life. I did not want to sit behind a desk. I would do anything to not go down that road.
This is one of Josie’s earlier works that that inspired our 2019 American Flowers Week design.
Debra: Where did you go to school?
Josie: I went to Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, a small art school. I started in integrated studio arts, which was mixed media-fine arts. But really rapidly, I started getting panic attacks. Basically, I hated that I had to explain everything. Every week we had multiple critiques about, “why did you do this?” and “why did you do that?” I wanted to say: “I didn’t have reasons. I just drew it.” It was like I had to have a big story, a big political statement or some deep poetic thing, and I couldn’t explain myself that way.
Debra: Isn’t that sad, that that’s what the teacher wanted from you?
Josie: Yes, and I see now how it all turned out okay, but at the same time, I was feeling like maybe I shouldn’t be doing painting. Maybe I should get a degree in something that would help me get a job.
Debra: What did you do?
Josie: I changed to interior architecture and I graduated with a BFA in 2010. I really enjoyed it. I loved model making. I just wanted to use my hands. I loved using my hands. And yet, I also found that the craft had turned into AutoCAD and I would have literally lived my life behind a computer screen doing AutoCAD and drafting — and that made me just want to die.
Debra: So how did you wrap up college?
Josie: At thesis time, I wanted to do my thesis on a tree house. I wanted to build a tree house and I proposed this whole project to my teacher, and he said: “I really don’t think you should do that. I think it’s cool, but maybe you should focus on something that’s going to help you in the real world.” It was the stupidest mistake ever. I like what I did for my thesis instead, though. I designed a hostel that was inspired by my first big trip. I went to the Galapagos Islands.
Debra: What did you do after college?
Josie: I graduated feeling really disheartened that if I could even get a job, I was going to be doing AutoCAD. The economy was down. Jobs weren’t really happening for a lot of people and honestly, I think there are only two people from my major who are working in the field. I ended up working at a restaurant that was like my family in Wisconsin.
Debra: Did you ever get back to tree houses?
Josie: I went on a West Coast tour with my sister — we stopped in Seattle and Vancouver and Oregon — all along the coast. I’d always had a fantasy about coming out this way — it was just my hippie dream. After I was back in Wisconsin, and I remember this very vividly because I had just gotten dumped, I opened my tree house book. Seriously, the page dropped open and I read this: “Come to our tree house workshop in Issaquah, Washington.” I remember thinking: “I’m going.” I had not given up on tree houses yet.
Debra: Did you go?
Josie: Yes. It was Pete Nelson’s Tree House Workshop at Tree House Point. In recent years, I think he is now focused on a television show on Animal Planet, so I got lucky because it was one of the last years he held workshops. After that, and after being around the mountains and the forest, which was amazing, I had to move to Washington. So I saved up; I had a boyfriend at the time and I told him, “I’m moving to Washington.” and he decided to come with me. We drove across the country; we had no plan and started running out of money fast.
Debra: What year was that?
Note the intricate botanical detailing in one of Josie’s compositions.
Josie: It was 2012. And at that time, I was feeling very alone in the city and I didn’t know people. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have money to spend going out, so I sat in my apartment and started painting. I always had my art supplies, and I would doodle around with them. But during those first couple of months in Seattle, I thought, “I want to be an artist and there’s nothing for me to do other than paint.”
Debra: How did you support yourself?
Josie: I looked for a job, couldn’t find anything because I had tried everything in my power to not work at a restaurant any more. I got hired at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I remember leaving the first day and I was so pissed off. I thought, “I just graduated and the only job I can get is a minimum-wage job at Bed, Bath and Beyond.”
Debra: You poor thing.
Josie: I remember going online and searching any place where I could display my art. I got lucky to connect with a place called Venue in Seattle, which showed my art. I was new to making art and it was nothing like what I make now. But even then, I was making flowers. I always did flowers. I somehow can’t draw anything else. I just have a very specific style and I can only do it that way.
I love this image of some of Josie’s favorite flowers and the artwork they inspired.
Debra: What is your preferred medium?
Josie. Gouache. I had always liked gouache and that’s what I still work in now.
Debra: Describe gouache to me.
Josie: I would call it a thick acrylic. Basically, instead of getting those watermarks, your goal is to make a flat, saturated, solid color — and I was just drawn to that.
Debra: That matte effect you create is so compelling. I could just stare at it all day.
Josie: Thank you.
More about the process of gouache painting on top of floral shapes drawn with a black Sharpie
Debra: I actually thought you used colored paper and cut it out — but you’re painting on the paper.
Josie: At one point, I was cutting out paper. Yeah, that was actually a short period of time — another heartbreak and I had nothing to do. So I was in my apartment, cutting up solid colors of paper and I realized I had these really cool designs, but I couldn’t tape up pieces of paper to the wall. That’s not going to work. I was so concerned with, well, “how am I going to hang this on a wall?” So I started painting on paper.
Debra: It sounds like the difference between the craft and the art, you now?
Josie: Yes, I wanted to make a tangible piece of art that a person could buy. I was very concerned with “how am I going to sell this?” I don’t know why I cared who I was going to sell it to. Then, I just kind of put it on the back burner and said, “Why don’t you just let it be fun? Stop ruining the fun part of this.”
Debra: That’s really good advice for anybody, really.
Josie: There’s the level of trying to make it your living, and then also letting go a bit.
Debra: Right, and finding your voice in all of that.
Josie: Yes, and don’t think it’s all over the second you start. I have no idea what my art is going to look like in five years. I can’t wait to see.
Debra: So you started having more fun with your art, but how did you get it out into the world?
Josie: By then, I think it was 2013, I had moved to Crate & Barrel, where I was a furniture saleswoman. But I was a horrible salesperson. I was literally selling couches and didn’t even own a couch! I had an empty apartment with a futon in it.
Debra: You were the anti-salesperson.
Josie: I was just so miserable. Kickstarter had become a new thing, and I had poked around on the site. I found myself thinking, “who are these people asking for money to work on their art?” There was one in particular that I saw, who, in my opinion, was not anything very good. And this person raised a bunch of money. I was just flabbergasted and I thought, “I can do that.” So I put up a Kickstarter campaign. Somehow it actually worked and I raised the money.
Debra: Wow! What was your campaign?
Josie: I said I wanted to raise $3,000 to focus on art for a summer. To have time to work on my art and put on an art show. It was amazing. I felt so loved by the people who supported me. It really changed my mindset that people want artists; people want you to pursue your craft. It was like Christmas morning when I raised the money.
Debra: Where was your show?
Josie: It was at Venue. I rented out the place and invited people. And we had a night of my art. It was sweet.
One of Josie’s local murals, showing the beautiful connections between her large-scale and small-scale artwork.
Debra: What happened next?
Josie: I had quit Crate & Barrel, so I got hired as a waitress at a restaurant where I worked while still making my art. During this time, I started making murals. Being a mural artist has always been a fantasy of mine, but I realized there was no way I was ever going to get a mural job unless I had a portfolio of murals. So, I put out an ad on Craigslist, and offered: “I will do a mural for free for you. I will pay for the mural if you have a wall.” I got lucky and a few people wanted me to do a mural. They let me do insane rainbow stuff.
Debra: Your murals were on garage doors and sides of buildings, right?
Josie: Yes, and they were so fun. I met the nicest people who were looking in the artist section on Craigslist, willing to let me paint their building.
Debra: What came out of the mural work?
Josie: I got this idea, “I love flowers so much; why don’t I work in flowers?” That just clicked one day and because I also love travel, I thought, “if I’m going to go to a workshop, I’m going to travel at the same time.” I ended up taking a two-week workshop on The Business of Flowers at Judith Blacklock’s Flower School in Knightsbridge, London. That was three years ago and when I came back, I just cold-called everybody in Seattle looking for a floral job.
Debra: Where did you land?
Josie: I went to work for Anne Bradfield of Floressence in Seattle. It worked out wonderfully to have Anne take me under her wing. She was so patient with me. At least I knew art and I knew design and I knew what looked good and what doesn’t look good.
Debra: How did your art change because of working with flowers?
Josie: Before I even went to the London workshop, I would go to the public hours at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. I was drawing flowers and I needed inspiration, so I would go there and snap a bunch of pictures and buy just one bundle of something. It was so amazing. I remember being there one day and taking home Icelandic poppies, which were, to me, the most special thing I’d ever seen. I also ended up working part-time at the Market, while also working for Floressence and making art. I was getting so much inspiration at the Market. I was seeing things I’d never seen before. You don’t see those flowers on the street. I began to focus on different palettes or whatever is in season at the Market.
Debra: Where are you now with your art?
Josie: The work I am creating happens when I forget about “how am I going to sell this?” and instead focus on “I just like drawing. I just like painting on paper and making paper cutouts. I make little pieces of paper and over time I have hundreds of them. Then I layer them together. It looks beautiful and who cares if I sell it or not? Maybe all I care about is that it looks cool to share a glimmer of beauty on the Internet.
Debra: In a way, there’s a thread between the murals I saw on your web site and the prints you’re doing now.
Josie: Oh yeah. It’s all about the line. That’s what I have going for me. My line. Everything starts with the Sharpie. I love Sharpie. I start by sketching flowers with a black Sharpie, which often looks like a doodle. Then I paint the whole page. Then, my favorite part is adding tiny details of the black line and cutting out the shapes.
Josephine Rice at Surtex 2018
Debra: One of the first times I met you, you mentioned wanting to exhibit at SURTEX in New York. I looked it up: SURTEX is a big trade show for artists to sell original art and design. That’s where you exhibit your work to agents, licensors, manufacturers and retailers who are looking for art to make wall coverings, patterns, decorative accessories, bed linens, stationery, giftware, apparel and more.
Josie: Yes and I’d been thinking about going for two years. It seemed very daunting but I knew I had to do it. It was this past May and I was in the First-Timer’s Area. My mom went with me and it’s so awesome to have parents who want me to pursue my dreams.
Debra: How did SURTEX go for you?
Josie: I felt confident that yes, I have something good here. It felt good to know I have a style and somehow that style has developed. In fact, I was commissioned to make a design for a client, which will be out soon. SURTEX showed me that yes, you can sell your art to businesses. But could also be your own business.
Debra: What else did you learn about yourself by taking that huge leap?
Josie: I used to think it was really wrong to take photos of a flower and then draw it later. Then I realized that process actually goes with the way I work, because my work is flat and I’ve simplified what I’m drawing. The paper cutouts give my work a 3D look. Now I’m exploring starting my own line, maybe a line of journals.
Debra: Josie, I’m so glad you made a piece for American Flowers Week.
Kelly Shore Hosts American Flowers Week Interactive Flower Crown Party and Farm Tour
In honor of American Flowers Week, one East Coast florist hosted her second annual Flower Crown Party, inspiring over 50 attendees to M&M Plants and Flower Farm in Dickerson, Maryland on June 27, 2018, leading up to the week-long domestic flower promotion campaign that has taken place annually from June 28 to July 4, since 2015.
Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore in the Washington, D.C., area coordinated a farm tour and flower crown-making party complete with live band, potluck-style refreshments, and professional photographer.
Partygoers co-mingle among the blooms, picking their favorites to assemble their unique, freeform crowns and arrangements. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography
For Kelly, the party was more than a mingling opportunity; it was a way for flower enthusiasts to develop a keen understanding of where flowers come from and how much work it takes for American farmers to bring their product to market.
“Even though it’s a fun event, we plant the seeds so that the next time [attendees] are at a farmers’ market and see a flower stand, they know more about how farmers grow those flowers — and it might make them more inclined to make a purchase,” she says. “Visibility is key. This is why American Flowers Week is so important.”
American Flowers Week signage adorns the Flower Crown Party flower bar at M&M Plants and Flowers. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography
For the sake of teaching the attendees about the plethora of varieties available from domestic flower farms, the designer steered away from classics such as alstroemeria and roses, focusing more on textural blooms that the attendees wouldn’t normally think of, such as raspberries, strawflower, and Veronica.
After completing their designs, the flower fanatics posed for professional shots of their creations. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography
“People immersed themselves in the challenge and tried different botanical textures. No one’s flower crown was the same,” Kelly says. “It was a hands-on workshop, and I didn’t want it to be ‘cookie cutter.’ I wanted participants to feel empowered to explore and enjoy the experience of being creative with flowers.”
Kelly and her team set up a ‘flower bar’ with buckets of blooms grouped together by color and variety, which encouraged attendees to choose at their will. Attendees ranged from florists and farmer-florists to hobbyists and even a horticulture teacher from a local high school – and each tapped into their creative side, constructing flower crowns, hair combs, and petite bouquets. The flower bar allowed the DIY florists to be cognizant of their choices and feel ownership over their designs.
“I gave a tutorial showing two different styles of flower crowns, but people didn’t have to do it my way,” Kelly explains. “There were no rules. Someone made a floral necklace and it was awesome; I embraced it. People in our society don’t often stop to be creative, but at this party, they were out in nature, having a euphoric experience.”
I am enamored by the flower farming community; by all of the tedious, hard work behind producing an incredible final product. People do this because it’s what they love to do. It’s really about supporting families, and the more I connect with people, the more important it is to me to support this community.
Along with the party, attendees also enjoyed a tour of M&M Plants & Flowers, led by farmer Madgie McGaughan. The productive floral enterprise is a fully functioning farm devoted to the sale of plants and flowers, Kelly and her hosts wanted to attendees to gain an inside look into the strenuous labor that goes into planting and harvesting fresh, local and seasonal blooms.
The Flower Crown Party has become her favorite event of the summer. “We wanted to paint a real picture of what flower farming is actually like. It is so life-affirming,” she says.
Andrea K. Grist Hosts Girls’ Night Out Design Workshop
Rosco’s Fresh Cut Flowers provided their healthiest, most beautiful blooms for the event, giving the arrangements a “straight-from-the-garden” feel.
Enjoying light hors d’oeuvres in Midtown Kansas City’s stylish, naturally-lit Market Studio, floral designer and speaker Andrea K. Gristand 20 flower enthusiasts chatted about the importance of American Flowers Week while constructing freeform-style arrangements.
On June 29th, 2018, Grist taught a popular Girls’ Night Out floral design workshop with The Bloom Academy, which asked her to host the event during American Flowers Week. Andrea shared with guests the importance of using locally-grown blooms in their floral arrangements, focusing on popular design techniques to create more freeform, natural centerpieces full of texture and whimsy.
For her Girls Night Out workshop, Grist and her students played with colorful, textural blooms in their freeform designs.
“We talked a lot about color theory and the design that seems to be popular now, which is more textural, full of color, and asymmetrical,” Andrea says. “I encouraged participants to allow the stems to follow a natural bend; everyone had fun with their designs, because they weren’t stuck in limiting parameters.”
Using blooms provided by Rosco’s Fresh Cut Flowersin Kansas City, Missouri, Andrea and her students enjoyed designing with farm-grown flowers, incorporating the leaves and foliage and creating arrangements cohesive with the “natural, American-grown” look that reflects the beauty of using straight-from-the-garden flowers. According to Andrea, many of the attendees were already familiar with American Flowers Week, which showed her that the phenomenon “seems to be the New Thing.”
Andrea worked with the farmers at Rosco’s to select the best of the best for her Girls’ Night Out workshop: just-picked peonies, Asiatic lilies, zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and other vivid blooms.
Instead of focusing on one palette, the instructor explained to her attendees that when buying from local farms, florists must adapt and trust that farmers will supply the best blooms of the moment. In this way, Andrea taught that beautiful arrangements can based on personal taste, artistic creativity, and flexibility.
“I stuck to basic design principles, used American-grown flowers, and used chicken wire instead of foam to continue with the sustainability theme,” she adds.
Slow Flowers contributor, Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer. She writes regularly for the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine, and her work also appears in The Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Canadian Florist, and Tastemakers music magazine. She interned with MSNBC, Donna Morgan, and The American Horticultural Society and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Music Industry from Northeastern University. Mackenzie worked as a floral designer for Fern Flowers in Boston’s Back Bay Area, and Tiger Lily Florist, the top flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives in Manhattan’s East Village.
American Flowers Week labels decorate bouquets from Le Mera Gardens ~ photographed at the Fry Family Farm Store in Southern Oregon (c) Photo by Erica @ofthewonder
Designed by Tonya Berge of Washington’s Berge’s Blooms for American Flowers Week. She captioned the image on Instagram with this sentiment: “freedom • the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
This year’s American Flowers Weekreached garden and flower lovers from all across the country and inspired dozens of events and celebrations to commemorate and honor local farmers, flower growers, and florists who garner a passion for USA-grown blooms.
Steve (left) and Suzy (right) Fry with the Fry Family Farm “family” in Oregon’s Rogue Valley — celebrating American Flowers Week with hyper-local flowers grown by farming partner Joan Thorndike of Le Mera Gardens (c) Photo by Erica @ofthewonder
On social media platforms, #americanflowersweekreceived over three million impressions, incited over 900 original posts, and according to Real Time Tracker of Instagram and Twitter platforms, inspired a whopping 80.1% positive sentiments. As the Slow Flowers message continues to spread, here are some of the highlights from American Flowers Week 2018.
Slow Flowers member, farmer-florist Jim Martin of Compost in My Shoe, emceed the American Flowers Week design competition, called “Bloom Battle.”
On June 30th, Marion Square in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, bustled with activity in honor of American Flowers Week. Three local designers competed in a “Bloom Battle” floral design competition at the Charleston Farmers Marketto showcase their talents working with locally sourced and sustainable blooms. Laura Mewborn of Feast and Flora Farm helped organize the event, which showcased not only the designers, but also the Southern flower farms who provided the flowers.
It’s important for us to educate the public about the importance of using locally grown flowers. They are all relatively young farms [providing the flowers], and when we all combine like this to host a big event, we are much more visible. People can see the impact that they have on the individual farmers, and they think of their purchasing power.
Judges and contestants participated in the Low Country Flower Growers’ fun event to promote American Flowers Week 2018. The two Bloom Battle judges, Nikki Seibert of Wit Meets Grit and Kelli Shaw of Kelli Shaw Designs, on the left, posed with the three competing designers, pictured on the right.
The goal for the farmers, Laura explains, was to feature flowers that consumers may not be familiar with in terms of seasonal flowers that bloom during summertime.
“People generally think of zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers in terms of growing summer flowers,” she says. “We wanted to showcase crops that people don’t necessarily already grow, like lisianthus, lilies, celosia, and amaranthus.”
This diversity of American-grown flowers enticed locals and tourists alike to come to Mewborn and other farmers with gardening questions, wanting to know more about the benefits of locally-sourced blooms and how they might be able to grow them in their own gardens. According to Laura, Marion Square’s Charleston Farmers Market was a successful venue to host the event as many tourists pass through the area who can ultimately spread the message of American Flowers Week and the Lowcountry Flower Growers coalition throughout the country.
The winning designer, Tony Reale of Roadside Blooms, arranged a farm-to-table bouquet design that stole the show with its amaranthus, lisianthus, and natural-wood accent.
“The Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square is a very busy market in general,” Laura says. “There are so many tourists there, which means that the message is going out far beyond and past just the local people. Now, it is going to people all across the country.”
In comparison to last year’s Lowcountry Flower Growers booth, where farmers simply handed out zinnias, Laura notes that this design competition allowed the farmers to do something that was more involved, and the response was largely positive.
Tony Reale from Roadside Blooms ultimately won, but designers Ann Cinniffee from Purple Magnolia and Noah Sanderson from The Bearded Florist also received prizes to commemorate the event and celebrate in locally-grown, naturally sourced floral designs. In the future, Mewborn wants to incorporate more of a fundraising feel for upcoming American Flowers Week events, and she will also be hosting another event for Lowcountry Flower Growers in August.
Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm and Peachey Trudell of One Wild Acre smiled among their locally-grown blooms in honor of American Flowers Week.
“It’s been great to have conversations with people, and they seem surprised by how much we can grow here in Charleston,” Laura adds. “These events are incredible to let people know that we’re here.”
Isabella Thorndike Church of Jacklily Seasonal Floral Design designed a fantastic floral “painting” depicting a barn and fields for American Flowers Week. All photos: (c) Juliet Ashley Photography
Mother-daughter team Joan Thorndike and Isabella Thorndike Church work side-by-side at Le Mera Gardens, Joan’s established flower farm in Talent, Oregon, providing fresh cut flowers directly to local florists, grocery stores, and for weddings and events.
In the past, Isabella and her mother have plastered American Flowers Week stickers on each bouquet, and this year Isabella decided to take the celebration a couple steps forward by installing a 4-by-6-foot floral display including more than 5,000 stems of locally-grown Oregon flowers.
Jeremiah Thorndike Church delivers a bounty of Oregon-grown blooms for use in the vivid botanical installation (c) Juliet Ashley Photography
The botanical installation took around six hours to complete with a small crew by her side, and drew substantial foot traffic into Fry Family Farm where she set up the display, Isabella says.
“The installation drew people into the store and we were able to talk to them about locally grown flowers,” she adds. “When I was making the installation, I posted about it on Instagram, and several people came in to watch the process. People were in awe of the size and the amount of flowers I used.”
Originally, Isabella did not intend to have her stems show through the back of the installation, but once she started going, she realized that the exposed stems effectively showed viewers just how many local blooms were used in the arrangement (c) Juliet Ashley Photography
Isabella repurposed a ready-made metal frame from Fry Family Farm and hung it vertically, covering it in a chicken-wire base to arrange the flowers.
She harvested flowers such as delphinium, feverfew, Russian statice, and larkspur to create a life-size floral depiction of the Fry Family Farm logo, and kept the stems exposed from the back so that onlookers could get a feel for how many flowers were used in the display. The spectacle intrigued and inspired viewers to have a go at their own installations, and increased dialogue about the importance of locally sourced flowers.
“People were psyched to see how it worked,” Isabella continues, noting that the exposed stems on the reverse side of the botanical installation was equally beautiful. “Several women were like ‘I’m going to get chicken wire and make it myself.’ Others returned to see the drying process. They had to touch the flowers to see if they were real. They asked about the different kinds of flowers. People don’t normally engage, but they were engaging more with this installation piece.”
Isabella Thorndike Church carefully adds her locally-grown blooms into the chicken-wire base of her installation for Fry Family Farm (c) Juliet Ashley Photography
Along with the display, Jacklily Seasonal Floral Design, Le Mera Gardens, and Fry Family Farm used American Flowers Week stickers on the bouquets they sent out to recipients, and they handed out a free sunflower to every customer who walked in the shop. One Fry Family Store employee, Daria Lisandrelli, said that she was surprised by how many people were already aware of American Flowers Week.
We’ve been promoting American Flowers Week across all sectors. We’ve had the AFW stickers on our bouquets, and when people come into the farm store, we give them a free sunflower in honor of the week. This year, we had the Fry Family Farm venue to have the installation piece and were able to bring it all together.
The staff of Scenic Place Peonies wore locally-grown flower hats to commemorate American Flowers Week during the Fourth of July parade in Homer, Alaska.
Scenic Place Peonies Celebrates AFW at the Homer, Alaska, Fourth of July Parade
Independence Day in Homer, Alaska, was blooming this year thanks to the farmers, employees, and designers from Scenic Place Peonies farm. As a long-time member of the Chamber of Commerce in Homer, which sponsors the parade, Beth Van Sandt and her crew were invited to drive their wrapped reefer truck in this year’s 4th of July extravaganza, handing out their farm-grown blooms to attendees and wearing locally-sourced flower hats to commemorate American Flowers Week.
The response was overwhelmingly positive with exclamations of surprise and pure joy at receiving flowers from the crew,” she says. “I believe it brought awareness to many that we have beautiful wildflowers in our backyard and all it takes is cutting some to bring that beauty into our homes.
The Scenic Place Peonies crew handed out “wild-sourced” chocolate lilies, geranium, and Alaska’s state flower, the forget-me-not, to parade-goers. Images of Scenic Place Peonies’ employees filled the farm’s Instagram and Facebook feeds, as they smiled and wore flower hats adorned with local greenery, tulips, daisies, and a variety of wildflowers. The flowers, sourced from their property of meadows in Alaska, brought awareness and happiness to the Homer, AK, parade.
“American Flowers Week is a time to celebrate the hard work that flower farmers perform each day,” Van Sandt said. “It’s very rewarding when your labor of love is expressed through the eyes of an eager recipients face.”
Grace Flowers Hawaii engaged Instagram followers in the week-long giveaway of blooms grown on The Big Island, making a lot of people very happy and educating them about local flowers.
Grace Flowers Hawaii’s Free Bouquet of the DayGiveaway
For this year’s American Flowers Week, manager Nicole Cordier and her team at Grace Flowers Hawaii decided to up the ante in terms of interactive customer service by hiding a “Free Bouquet a Day” each day somewhere on The Big Island.
Each morning, a staff member would take a photo of the free floral arrangement and tease it on Instagram and Facebook with cryptic hints as to where customers might be able to discover it later in the day. Then, Nicole or a team member took the free bouquet, lei, or orchid to its hiding place, and snapped a photo for their social platforms, urging followers to move fast if they wanted to win the challenge. Along with the prize, she attached a note to the free merchandise describing the concept of the giveaway and why they decided to host the challenge during American Flowers Week.
These free Bouquet of the Day arrangements featured locally-grown tropical flowers and evoked a cheery, summertime feel.
“The response was enigmatic,” she recalls. “I remember someone commenting on the photo that they drove from their home as soon as they saw the post and by the time they got to the hiding place, it was gone. She thanked us for adding excitement to her day.”
Each day, Grace Flowers Hawaii staff members hid their Free Bouquet of the Day giveaways in various scenic locations on the Big Island.
According to Nicole, the concept behind the Free Bouquet of the Day Giveaway was to highlight flowers, foliage, and plants grown on the tropical Hawaiian Islands, and “the Big Island in particular.”
By showcasing the diversity of plants grown by local farmers in Hawaii, Cordier brought attention to the Slow Flowers Movement through tropicals and warmer-temperate plants. From orchid leis to large-anthurium arrangements to Hawaiian-grown orchid plants in attractive containers, the spectrum for the Free Bouquet a Day Giveaway was broad and indicative of the biodiversity on the Big Island of Hawaii.
American Flowers Week, to us, is a time when specific attention is placed on supporting American flower farmers, which is important because it brings a concerted shift and push in consumer awareness about where flowers are grown and how far some flowers must travel from origin to market. It’s important to support our domestic floral/agriculture industry which will in turn make this a viable livelihood for our workforce, and better for this planet.
Impact, Influence and Impressions for American Flowers Week 2018
MORE American Flowers Week Ideas
Along with the events outlined above, many other celebrations occurred across the nation to honor American Flowers Week. Here are a few more of the highlights.
Laureen Kelly’s award-winning snapdragons
Longfield Gardens Photo Contest
Longfield Gardens, based in Lakewood, New Jersey, hosted its second American Flowers Week photo contest from June 30th through July 4th, asking their social media followers to post a photo of their favorite American-grown arrangements in order to win a $100 gift certificate. The winner, Laureen Kelly, posted a photo of her healthy snapdragon arrangement to the Longfield Gardens Facebook page (above).
Syndicate Sales Made in America Easel Stand at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Syndicate Sales’ Director of Education Tom Bowling created a special arrangement to be placed in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C. with Syndicate’s new Made in America Easel Stand, which is manufactured in the United States (above).
Syndicate Sales gave an attribution to American Flowers Week through the hashtag on Instagram.
Maple and Mum Mobile Flower Shop Announcement
In honor of American Flowers Week, Connecticut-based Slow Flowers members, Maple and Mum Floral Designsannounced that they will be “bringing locally grown flowers to the Connecticut shoreline and beyond,” through an Instagram post on July 4th. Maple and Mum’s mobile flower shop is up and running, and followers are urged to check their page for upcoming locations along the East coast (above).
Town and Country Markets Grocery Display
At Town and Country Markets in Seattle, Washington, floral category director Melanie Cherry and her team set up an American Flowers Week display featuring Hawaii-grown tropicals.
Other displays garnered attention with bunches of sweet peas from Willow and Mabel Garden Company and “Farmers Favorites.”
Stars of the Meadow Baker’s Dozen Supper
On July 3rd, Stars of the Meadow of Accord, New York, hosted a “Baker’s Dozen Supper” where attendees gathered for “homemade strawberry ice cream topped with black caps,” according to their Instagram post. Locally grown boutonnieres and arrangements made an appearance at the event, where guests celebrated American-grown flowers.
About Mackenzie Nichols:
With this feature story, we’re introducing a new Slow Flowers contributor, Mackenzie Nichols.
Mackenzie is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer. She writes regularly for the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine, and her work also appears in The Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Canadian Florist, and Tastemakers music magazine. She interned with MSNBC, Donna Morgan, and The American Horticultural Society and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Music Industry from Northeastern University. Mackenzie worked as a floral designer for Fern Flowers in Boston’s Back Bay Area, and Tiger Lily Florist, the top flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives in Manhattan’s East Village.