Debra Prinzing

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What does Slow Flowers mean, anyway?

June 21st, 2013

Please Pick sign

After I found this sign in a garden shop, I took the liberty to cross out the words “DO NOT” so the message better fits my philosophy of floral design!

I’ve been eating, sleeping, breathing, writing and speaking about SLOW FLOWERS for so long that it’s good to sometimes be reminded that not everyone understands what that phrase means. Recently, one of my flower farmer friends emailed to ask: Tell me again what Slow Flowers mean. I know it’s USA flowers but SLOW?

Fair enough. With all due respect to my fellow garden writer Felder Rushing, who coined the phrase “Slow Gardening,” let me outline my personal definition of SLOW FLOWERS. This is excerpted from my introduction to the book, Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013).

Thanks to the culinary pioneers who popularized the Slow Food movement, it now seems like you can put “slow” in front of any term to convey a different philosophy or approach to that subject. When I say the  phrase “slow flowers,” there are those who immediately understand it to mean: I have made a conscious choice. 

My blooms, buds, leaves and vines are definitely in season; not, for example, grown and brought in from elsewhere in the world during the wet, cold winter months in my hometown of Seattle. So, come December and January, my commitment to sourcing locally-grown floral materials sends me to the conifer boughs, colored twigs and berry-producing evergreens – and the occasional greenhouse-grown rose, lily or tulip, just to satisfy my hunger for a bloom. 

Slow Flowers (the concept and the book) is also about the artisanal, anti-mass-market approach to celebrations, festivities and floral gifts of love. I value my local sources. If not clipped from my own shrubs or cutting garden, I want to know where the flowers and greenery were grown, and who grew them. Having a relationship with the grower who planted and nurtured each flower is nothing short of magical. I call so many flower farmers around the country my friends. They are the unsung heroes – the faces behind the flowers we love. 

Finally, Slow Flowers reflects life lived in the slower lane. My family, friends and professional colleagues know that it’s almost impossible for me to do anything slowly. I’m the queen of multitasking; I just can’t help myself. There are too many exciting opportunities (or bright, shiny objects) that command my interest. But this “year in flowers” was altogether different. I can only compare it to the practice of praying or meditating. I didn’t realize that those few hours I spent each week, gathering and choosing petals and stems, arranging them in a special vessel, and then figuring out where and how to capture the finished design  through my camera lens, would be so personally enriching.
And speaking of the phrase, is also the name of my newest project, announced this past week. With a scheduled Fall 2013 launch, this will be a free, online database that helps connect consumers with floral designers, studio florists, florists and supermarket floral departments who are committed to designing with American-grown flowers. Please sign up – either for consumer updates on our official launch, or to be listed as as designer.
SlowFlowersScreenShotSo I guess you can also say that the idea of “Slow Flowers” is also a resource that I hope many will find useful. Here is the description of this project:

Join the Slow Flowers Movement, an All-American philosophy that supports grown-in-the-USA flower farms as well as floral designers, florists and retailers committed to using American-grown ingredients.

Origin matters! is a free, searchable database that makes it easy for customers to find designers who share their values and ethos. Log onto our home page to add your listing. Let’s tell consumers that there is a better way to beautiful – and they can find it at enables users to:

* Search by state or city and by keyword for the type of florist they seek.

* Find studios and retailers who specialize in green weddings, weekly subscriptions and eco-florals.

* Discover local flower farms that sell direct to the DIY consumer.

* Access coupons and promotions from individual studios, shops and farms.

* Provide reviews and raves about great American flower sources and comment on


* Map the location of a desired destination.

I hope this helps! I invite you to add your own thoughts about “Slow Flowers” and what it means to you.

10 Responses to “What does Slow Flowers mean, anyway?”

  1. Mark Charipar Says:

    Cool project! “Slow flowers” sounds like a cool movement. Now I’ll want to put “slow” before everything. 🙂

  2. Rose Panna Cotta | East of Eden Cooking Says:

    […] to imported flowers in the 1990’s and has made an extraordinary comeback. Consumers are purchasing locally grown flowers in a trend that mirrors the “farm to table” food trend. A highlight of the day was meeting […]

  3. peg moran Says:

    Debra, This is a great idea! I’m a flower farmer in coastal CT. I love what I do … and love to share both flowers and ideas. Flowers for summer celebrations are my speciality. Come visit at Best of luck in your endeavor. Regards, Peg Moran

  4. Debra Prinzing » Post » Lola Creative, A Floral Design Studio’s Innovative Business Model (Episode 168) Says:

    […] been on the road for the past two weeks. Speaking about and promoting the Slow Flowers Movement has taken me to Rhode Island, Colorado and New Mexico. In addition to racking up a lot of valuable […]

  5. Debra Prinzing » Post » Minnesota Blooms with Christine Hoffman of St. Paul’s Foxglove Market & Studio (Episode 193) Says:

    […] Slow Flowers Movement has a lot to celebrate lately – and I want to share with you the very good news that occurred just […]

  6. Get Your Local On with Slow Flowers by debra - Skigh's Garden Says:

    […] use the term “Slow Flowers” to define the practice of sourcing flowers locally, one that closely mirrors the Slow Food […]

  7. Get Your Local On with Slow Flowers by debra | sweetkarenlopez Says:

    […] use the term “Slow Flowers” to define the practice of sourcing flowers locally, one that closely mirrors the Slow Food […]

  8. Agrochic: Gardening Inspiration & AdviceLas flores y su procedencia – Agrochic: Gardening Inspiration & Advice Says:

    […] Pero, a qué se refiere Prinzing con el término de Slow Flowers. En su sitio de, ésta explica que lo utiliza en el contexto de tomar decisiones conscientes sobre la compra y envío de flores. Escoger aquellas que han sido cultivadas en temporada y localmente. Además, enfatiza en todo aquello de caracter artesanal, alejado de la producción en masa. Lee su artículo completo AQUí. […]

  9. Three Reasons Why Local, "Slow" Flowers Matter - Folk Art Flowers Says:

    […] approach” to our floral creations. You can read a full blog post here by Debra about what Slow Flowers really means. She also created books, podcasts, websites, etc. for further […]

  10. Introducing The Local Economy Project - Sea Change Farm & Flower Says:

    […] & Flower was to join in the growing Slow Flower movement. Like the Slow Food movement, “Slow Flowers” is an ideology that flowers should be grown and used consciously, sustainably, seasonally, […]

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