Flowers, friends and fun in Colorado
May 26th, 2011
Where have I been lately? Last week, I hopped on an airplane and flew to Denver, which surprisingly is only 2-1/4 hours away from Seattle.
At the invitation of the Denver Botanic Gardens, my collaborator David Perry and I spent three lovely days giving talks and workshops about some of our favorite topics. We met some wonderful new friends and were inspired by the DBG’s beauty as a public space for all of Denver to enjoy.
Last Wednesday evening, I spoke about the “Personal Outdoor Dwelling,” aka “stylish sheds,” featuring many of Bill Wright’s gorgeous photos from our book Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways.
Then on Thursday, David and I made a joint presentation on “A Year in Flowers: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Ingredients.” We split the talk into two parts, an illustrated lecture and a flower design demonstration.
I was so fortunate that Denver floral artist and designer Arthur Williams, of Babylon Floral, helped procure locally-grown cut flowers for me to work with. Not only that, but he lent me some vases to use. We so enjoyed meeting Arthur and visiting his colorful shop (he’s pretty colorful, too – check out his arms!).
The following morning, Dave taught a hands-on photo workshop that wowed his students with new-found skills for their point-and-shoot digital cameras.
While Dave was with his students, I wandered along the Botanic Garden paths and through the various themed displays, taking in early Rocky Mountain spring day.
We found that the pace of spring’s unfolding in Denver is quite similar to Seattle’s this year. In other words, cooler than normal and later than normal. You’ll see what I mean in the photos I took.
On Friday, we spent a delightful afternoon with my friend and former editor Marlene Blessing. Marlene was my editor on The Abundant Garden and she also created the Pacific Northwest Garden Survival Guide and asked me to write it in 2004. She is an awesome writing coach and an encouraging advisor from whom I learned a lot about storytelling and book creation. I gained much confidence as a writer while working with this dear woman.
Marlene is presently the editor-in-chief of Interweave Press Books. After all the hue and cry about the publishing world falling apart, we took great comfort in the inspired, aggressive and confident approach to niche publishing embodied by this Loveland, Colorado-based imprint. With an emphasis on fiber arts and craft books, Interweave is led by a highly creative and innovative group, including Marlene. You can only imagine the compelling topics we covered during dinner later that evening. Marlene calls Interweave Press founder and creative director Linda Ligon her “Sensei,” but we kinda want to call Marlene our very own Sensei — what a breath of fresh air in a world of book-making!
After eating a delicious meal at Sugarbeet, a hip Longmont restaurant, we retired rather late and incredibly satisfied with our productive day. Bright and early Saturday morning, I picked Dave up at his hotel and we drove about 30 minutes to Boulder. There, we met up with Chet and Kristy Anderson, owners of The Fresh Herb Co., at their Boulder County Farmer’s Market booth.
Chet and Kristy’s farm is actually in Longmont, and they sell most of what they grow through Whole Foods and other retail outlets, but they still bring herb plants, hanging baskets and cut flowers to this market every Saturday. It is the only market in this part of Colorado that requires its vendors to sell what they produce. No dealers or re-sellers here. You meet the growers, purveyors and farmers who have raised or produced their goods – from amazing mushrooms to colorful Easter egg-colored radishes, to beautiful bouquets and more.
It was fun to walk the market with Chet, who, I swear, could easily be called the “mayor” of the Boulder County Farmer’s Market. His popularity seems second only to his mother Belle’s popularity. She is there every week, helping at The Fresh Herb Co. booth, talking with new and returning customers, and greeting other vendors as longtime friends. It was fun to meet her!
We followed Chet back to the family’s homestead and farm so that David could do some photography before a tour group from Denver Botanic Garden arrived. Leesly Leon, the DBG’s adult program coordinator, lined up the field trip so that some of the students in our workshops could have a first-hand visit to a flower farm. Chet and Kristy are very successful at what they do, but they are also passionate and humble about their role in bringing flowers from their fields to the customer’s vase.
“When you know and meet the grower, and when the flowers are fresh and locally grown, there’s no better flower bargain,” Chet told the group. We couldn’t agree more!
Here are some more photographs from our trip – I loved every moment, every visual impression, and the great people we met.