Homegrown Blooms appears in the June 2018 issue of Super Floral Magazine.
I’m so excited to share the stories of grocery stores around the country who are participating in and promoting American Flowers Week, bringing their customers a new reason to purchase bouquets and bunches of local blooms!
We’ve been planning and designing the 2018 Floral Fashion Collection for months — and it will be unveiled this week in the June issue of Florists’ Review!
For the third year in a row, American Flowers Week has commissioned fashion-inspired looks featuring local, seasonal and domestic florals.
For 2018, we have five fashion looks to unveil. It is amazing what the talented flower farmers and floral designers have conjured up this year and I’m so excited to be able to announce the participants and give you a preview of their creativity here.
Grab your June 2018 copy of Florists’ Review to read more and see a full 12-page spread about American Flowers Week’s floral fashions. I’ll be sharing individual stories and more beautiful photos throughout June, leading up to the June 28-July 4 #americanflowersweek Celebration.
Thank you to everyone who donated flowers, design time, photography and styling. The impressive dream team behind these looks are not only talented but passionate about promoting American-grown flowers through their creativity!
Let’s celebrate the five floral fashion narratives created for 2018 American Flowers Week. I can’t tell you how much it means to this cause — to elevate the public’s awareness and to engage the industry to CARE about domestic floral agriculture and sustainable, mindful floral design.
FIELD TO FASHION In its fourth year, American Flowers Week celebrates U.S.-grown (and foraged) botanicals with five fresh, inspiring and hand-crafted couture looks.
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.
“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.
[Note: this is an expanded bonus interview conducted for Florists’ Review June 2017]
Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Seattle’s Gather Design Co. once tried to convince a bridal studio to let her sew flowers onto a wedding gown for a styled shoot. They didn’t go for it, so faced with designing a gown out of classic American sunflowers, she jumped at the chance.
“I’ve been wanting to build a dress out of flowers, but there wasn’t a wedding gown designer around who would let me sew flowers on a very expensive dress,” she says.
Amy is the first to admit that working with sunflowers wouldn’t have been her first choice. “Most designers, especially designers who do weddings, would probably have the response I had: ‘Oh. Sunflowers. A big yellow thing with a dark center. Who wants that for their wedding?'”
Ever the researcher, Amy began to discuss her floral options with the staff and farmers of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. “They showed me all the options. Beyond yellow, there are varieties in the brown palette, and ones where the petals start a little bit yellow in the center and then fade to mostly brown. And then, they offered me a bunch of the burgundy and plum sunflowers. I’ll admit, I didn’t know there were plum-colored sunflowers before I did this project.”
The elevated palette allowed her to incorporate other seasonal field flowers, such as wine-colored amaranth and ‘Sahara Mix’ rudbeckia, which echoes the sunflower shape but on a softer, smaller scale.
When I saw the different shades and variations of the sunflowers, it was an ‘a-ha’ moment for me. And I knew this didn’t have to be just a solid yellow sunflower gown, but one with yellow fading into other colors to create something very elegant.
Having learned to sew and build things as a kid, the idea of working with unconventional tools wasn’t daunting. It’s these skills that have served Amy well as a wedding designer working on large-scale installations.
With the idea of a dress design in her mind’s eye, and with a willing model, flower farmer Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Flower Farm in Langley, Wash., Amy began to fit a two-piece garment that would serve as the basis for her gown. “I actually started with a dress that I bought at Goodwill and cut down to make a bodice with a plunging neckline and a really open back. The skirt is a flat king bed sheet draped over two types of chicken wire and a bit of tulle, with a belt that fastens on the inside of the skirt so you don’t see it as it cinches around her waist.”
Amy jokes that at times she felt more like a builder than a floral designer because of the amount of metal involved, including a section of 1/2-inch grid hardware cloth. “The entire gown weighed about 65 pounds,” she points out.
The skirt’s wire foundation was necessary because of the heavy flower heads, more than 500 altogether. “I didn’t want the train to collapse so I had to create a physical structure to hold it out.”
Because of the sheer quantity of flower heads, Amy’s original idea of sewing each botanical piece to the fabric base wasn’t practical. “It would have taken far too long and the flowers would have wilted by the time I finished,” she says. Tubes and tubes of cold Oasis glue did the job, however — at least one-half gallon of glue by Amy’s estimate. “I didn’t start attaching the flowers until late afternoon the day before our photo shoot. Then I attached the rest of the sunflowers, the amaranth and rudbeckia on the day of the shoot. I’m so glad that my friend Erin Shackelford of Camas Design volunteered to wrap the little grass pieces into tassels to edge the hem of the skirt.”
Other finishing details include single threads of burgundy amaranth that drape beautifully over the model’s waist and hips, speckled turkey feathers collected from a local farm and a charming hair piece that echoes the botanicals use for the dress. “I’m just thrilled with how it turned out,” Amy says.
SLOWFLOWERS.COM ANNOUNCES 2017 AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK
A new Floral Holiday, now in its third year
Set for June 28-July 4, 2017
SEATTLE, WA (May 1, 2017) – Slowflowers.com, the comprehensive online resource that connects consumers with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers, today announced details about the third annual “American Flowers Week.”
Since 2015, Slowflowers.com creator Debra Prinzing has staged a week-long celebration of domestic flowers to raise consumer awareness and unite America’s flower farmers with the U.S. floral industry. Last year, that effort generated more than 1.3 million social media impressions on Twitter and Instagram in a single month, demonstrating the power of images, ideas and values that promote American Grown Flowers.
Clearly, we’re experiencing a new normal marketplace in which consumers are highly conscious of the origins of the goods they purchase, and this is more evident in the floral industry than ever before,” Prinzing said. “The Slow Flowers community of growers and designers believe it’s important to raise awareness and celebrate local and domestic flowers with a new American floral holiday.
Many of the floral fashions will be published in the June 2017 issue of Florists’ Review magazine and the full gallery of images will be revealed and shared during American Flowers Week, Prinzing said.
In addition, American Flowers Week will be celebrated during a one-day Slow Flowers Summit, a symposium for progressive thought and action in the floral industry. Called a “Ted Talk for Flower Lovers,” the Summit takes place on Sunday, July 2, 2017 at the Surf Incubator Event Space in Downtown Seattle.
“Certified American Grown is excited to be part of promoting a week focused on America’s flower farming families and the flowers they grow,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of Certified American Grown. “Origin matters, and we believe a week like this helps drive public awareness about the quality, beauty and economic benefits of supporting and buying homegrown blooms. Buying American Grown Flowers makes a difference.”
“Johnny’s Selected Seeds is thrilled to be an American Flowers Week partner,” said Gretchen Kruysman, Johnny’s marketing director. “We encourage our customers, employees and the flower farming and gardening community to plant more flowers and help local flowers thrive.”
“Syndicate Sales is an American manufacturer of vases and supplies for the professional florist, so it’s entirely fitting to promote the vibrant American-grown floral palette from local flower farms and floral designers who fill our vases,” says Kelvin Frye, Syndicate Sales’ director of sales and marketing. “We salute American Flowers Week.”
“At Longfield Gardens, we supply gardeners with the best quality plants and bulbs for their landscapes, cutting gardens and containers,” says Jen Pfau, marketing director for Longfield Gardens. “American Flowers Week helps us shine the light on the amazing selection of flowers to plant, cut and arrange. It’s a great campaign that involves everyone from home gardeners to flower farmers and florists.”
American Flowers Week is designed to engage the public, policymakers and the media in a conversation about the origins of their flowers. As an advocacy effort, the campaign coincides with America’s Independence Day on July 4th, providing florists, retailers, wholesalers and flower farmers a patriotic opportunity to promote American grown flowers.
American Flowers Week supporters can find more information and resources at americanflowersweek.com. Downloadable fact sheets, infographics and the 2017 American Flowers Week logo and social media badges are available for growers and florists to use for marketing and promotion efforts.
The “50 States of American Grown Flowers” contest will highlight local flowers from across the country, Prinzing said. “Slowflowers.com member farms and florists are invited to submit their designs to a gallery to be shared with media during American Flowers Week. Our goal is to showcase the botanical and seasonal beauty from flower farms and designers in all 50 states.”
Participants are encouraged to use the social media tag #Americanflowersweek to help spread the word about this campaign across all platforms.
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, the innovative farmer-to-florist wholesale cooperative based in Seattle, has stepped up its support for American Flowers Week 2017, today announcing its sponsorship of one of five Floral Style Fashion shoots.
SWGMC is excited about the opportunity to support and sponsor American Flowers Week. This creative campaign encourages consumers to think about where their cut flowers are grown, and brings about more awareness of the importance of our domestic flower farms, and the challenges they face.
— Molly Sadowsky, Market Manager
We’ve assembled a talented “dream team” behind the Prairie-inspired floral look, which will be depicted in a pastoral setting that reflects American floral agriculture at its best!
Inspiration board featuring NW-grown flowers from Jello Mold Farm, Everyday Flowers, Sonshine Farm and Rain Drop Farm.
We can’t wait to share this imagery with you! But it will be embargoed until American Flowers Week 2017 — June 28-July 4, 2017.
Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about our Floral Style Fashions — we’re producing 5 in all so there’s still time to become a sponsor! I’m at debra (at) slowflowers (dot) com (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hand-lettered chalk signs announce American Flowers Week at New Seasons Market in Portland
Love the message: Loud and Clear!
Just inside the entrance, this display greets customers of New Seasons’ Arbor Lodge store in Portland.
Thanks to suggestions from my flower farmer friends who sell to two of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular grocery chains, American Flowers Week took center stage in this region’s floral departments at Town & Country Markets and New Seasons Markets.
The chains adopted American Flowers Week as a vehicle to sell and promote locally-grown flowers during the Independence Day holiday week and incorporated our unique American Flowers Week label to alert their consumers about the origin of the flowers on display. In-store signage unique to each chain’s brand and staff members empowered to “own” the message with personality and creativity really paid off.
I hit the road early in the American Flowers Week campaign to see the creativity for myself and the “Buy Local Flowers” message at these stores came through strong and successful. Here are some of the highlights:
Town & Country Markets Inc. is a regional, locally-owned and operated independent grocery company founded in 1957 and based in the Seattle area and participated with American Flowers Week signage and bouquets throughout its six-store chain.
Town & Country on Bainbridge Island’s gorgeous local flowers display for American Flowers Week
Tags appear on Town & Country/Central Market bouquets large and small to alert customers about the origins of each flower.
New Seasons Market is a Portland-based West Coast neighborhood grocery with 18 stores in three states and showcased flower bunches, bouquets and mason jar arrangements from Northwest and California farms.
New Seasons’ floral manager Katie McConahay (right) with flower farmer Bethany Little (second from right) and team members Alaina and Guen (manager) at the Arbor Lodge neighborhood store in Portland.
On Wednesday, June 29th, I headed to Portland bright and early to see the floral design entries for the Oregon Flower Growers Association’s American Flowers Week celebration (more on that cool program later this week).
There, I met up with flower farmer Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., a Slowflowers.com member and a Certified American Grown farm. I love how they took the initiative to do something special and stimulate floral consumption during the week of July 4th! The idea has inspired me to work on similar efforts across the U.S. and has laid the groundwork for even more grocery promotions in 2017.
Katie McConahay (floral buyer) and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co.
It was Bethany who called me about six weeks ago and suggested that I develop a bouquet label that flower farmers could use on their grocery and market bouquets. She and her husband Charles Little (past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast) sparked the idea and also pitched it to Katie McConahay, New Seasons Market floral buyer.
Certified American Grown Red-white-and-blue mason jars on sale for $12.99 at New Seasons. The bouquet featured red and white dahlias and gerberas with blue delhiniums.
We headed over to a nearby New Seasons Market in Portland’s Arbor Lodge neighborhood where buyer Katie and store floral manager Guen Armstrong showed off the signage, product selection and product labeling for American Flowers Week. Katie has a reputation for consistenly supporting Northwest and California flower farms throughout the year. She discussed this philosophy on a past episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast, which you can find here.
A huge variety of Northwest-grown mixed bouquets labeled with “American Flowers Week” at New Seasons Market.
From the hand-lettered chalkboard signage to the adorable mason-jars filled with red-white-and-blue California flowers, to the abundant and lush mixed bouquets from farms like Charles Little & Co., Rain Drop Farms and other NW flower farms, the message was clear: We Love Local. New Seasons also promoted American Flowers Week it is weekly circular and online. Check out these photos of my visit — I was blown away by the way New Seasons highlighted American Flowers Week!
Check out the faces behind the flowers of American Flowers Week! (c) Mary Grace Long Photograph
A lot of great people have shared their talents to help kick off American Flowers Week for 2016 and I was able to spend time with a number of them yesterday during the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’sflower farm tour for customers.
Above, please meet Kelly Uhlig and Pam Uhlig of Sonshine Farm of Whidbey Island, Washington. And standing/smiling next to me is Jan Roozen of Choice Bulb Farms, of Mt. Vernon, Washington.
Kelly and Pam donated their luscious white tulips and Jan donated the lovely blue grape hyaciths all seen in the poster of our red-white-and-blue Flower Fro that Susan McLeary of Passionflower designed.