Debra Prinzing

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Digging Deep for Flower Lovers: A cyber book party, complete with gardening giveaways

December 2nd, 2014

Let's Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in "Digging Deep."

Let’s Play With Flowers! Fran Sorin tells us about floral design without rules in “Digging Deep.”

I’m one of those accidental bloggers who breaks most of the rules when it comes to what supposedly makes a garden blog successful.

For one thing, I write posts that are probably far longer than the experts advise.

Another thing: I am completely oblivious to key words, SEO, tags, metadata, etc. – all those tricks to get Google and other search engines to pay attention.

And finally, I write for my own pleasure rather than to merely sell or persuade. If I like something, I’m usually compelled to share it with the universe; and even if no one comments or clicks through, well, that’s no big deal. It makes me happy and that’s what stimulates me to create a post.

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” Read on to find out how you can enter to win!

So today, I am thrilled that the stars have aligned to accomplish two things at once — to share something that inspires me (and, I hope, you, too!) and to celebrate the publication of Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary Edition Digging Deep, a personally engaging book that gets to the heart, soul and “why” that lures us into a meaningful connection with nature, plants and gardening.

Today’s post is part of a “virtual book party” involving seven veteran garden bloggers, writers far more experienced than I am in the art and science of this craft. I was touched that Fran invited me to be part of the Cyber Book Party, all the more because I am smitten with this book.

I received no compensation or products for participating, although Fran sent me a review copy of Digging Deep (which is now a little used, because I’ve turned down page corners and underlined some of my favorite passages).

In honor of Digging Deep’s Cyber Book Party, Fran has priced the e-book at .99 while the giveaway is live. Yes, you read that correctly: 99-cents!

Here’s a little more about this book:

Observe a peony - this flower is one of Fran's first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

Observe a peony – this flower is one of Fran’s first childhood impressions of nature and the garden.

If you’re yearning to get out of the rut you’re in and cultivate more meaning and connection in life, Digging Deep offers the encouragement and tools to make it happen. Overflowing with tips, exercises, and resources, this instructive and inspirational guide is even more vital in today’s technology obsessed culture than when first published 10 years ago.

From Fran, you’ll learn how to bloom right along with your garden and use gardening as a conduit for beginning to experience creativity as a rich and dynamic lifetime journey.

The 7 Stages of Creative Awakening will take you through the steps of removing self-doubt and replacing it with strategies that will help you trust your instincts, let your imagination run wild, take risks, envision and design the garden of your dreams, reclaim your playfulness, and live the life you’re meant to— one filled with joy, well-being, and creativity.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former  Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

A diminutive bouquet, gathered from my former Southern California garden and arranged in a tiny toothpick cup.

And here’s one of the book’s “exercise” assignments that charmed me (I’ll tell you why later).

p. 35-37

“This is probably the most loved exercise we do in my workshops – I call it Playing With Flowers. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market, supermarket, street vendor, or florist. If you can possibly buy locally grown, sustainable flowers, please make the effort to do so [THANKS FRAN!]. Pick out as many different flowers as your budget allows. Just let your eye go to what it likes and add them to your bunch. Ideally, you want at last three different varieties of flowers in a range of colors as well as some greenery and other fillers like berries or branches.

smclippersIMG_3807When you get home, remove any excess leaves and trim the bottom of the stalks on the diagonal. It’s easiest and most efficient to use a pruner, which you can find moderately priced at any gardening center. Place the flowers in a sink filled with cool water with the bottom of the stems submerged.

Go through your cabinets and take out any kind of vases or containers you have that could hold flowers. Think outside the vase – you can use teakettles, jars, glasses, cachepots, or pitchers. And don’t limit yourself in terms of size – even the smallest tumbler or toothpick holder can look lovely holding the top of one blooming rose.

Now comes the fun part. Put on some music you love, turn off your phone, and just let yourself play with different variations of arrangements. Experiment with a variety of combinations and see what you like and dislike. Notice how colors, shapes, and textures of leaves and flower petals work together. If you start one arrangement and don’t like it, take it apart and start again. There are no rules here – no boundaries, no goals you need to strive toward. I know there are countless books and articles out there about how to create lovely flower arrangements, but that’s not what this is about. You don’t have to be a professional florist here. In fact, striving for any kind of perfection negates the whole point. This is about letting yourself go and playing, trusting your eye, and noticing all the interesting things you come up with.

You may find that the critical voices in your head are quick to sabotage –

“I can’t do this.”

“This is too hard for me. I’m not good at things like this.”

“This is stupid. Why am I bothering?”

This is all the product of the ego, rising up to make sure your spirit stays buried – right where the ego likes it, thank you very much. Notice how much you question and censor yourself. Let your kinder inner voice (it’s in there somewhere!) lead you through and nudge you into letting go and being in the moment. Remember, you don’t have to do this brilliantly. You don’t even need to do it well. You only need to do it for the sake of the childlike soul within.

This exercise has so many benefits. It shows you how to start trusting your instincts, allows you to develop an awareness of color, texture, shape, and form (which you’ll need later on), forces you to slow down and be in the moment, and opens you up to experimenting and exploring – all essential elements in the process of creating and gardening.

When you’re finished with your arrangements, place them in various spots in your home where you’ll see them often. Change the water and trim the bottom of the stems every day to continue your interaction with them and keep them fresh. Living with these flower combinations will give you a taste of their beauty in the micro so you can begin to cultivate your aesthetic appreciation for them in the bigger picture later on.”

Fran’s lovely exercise is one I’ve personally used many, many times. I just didn’t know to call it “Playing With Flowers”! My experience with flowers has been so similar to the one Fran suggests to her readers.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub - and inhaling the fragrance.

Yes, my lifelong love of lilacs dates back to a favorite childhood practice of playing at the base of an overgrown Syringa vulgaris shrub – and inhaling the fragrance.

In the introduction to my book Slow Flowers. I wrote about my year-long, weekly ritual of clipping and gathering stems, arranging them in just-the-right vase, and photographing the finished bouquet:

. . . 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.

    I used all my senses. Unplugged, away from electronic distractions, I studied the form, line, texture, subtle color and utter uniqueness of each stem. What a gift to slow down and experience the moment. I don’t know much about ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, but I understand that silence and contemplation of nature are part of its practice. I experienced something similar. Slow Flowers forced me to work at a decidedly different pace as I embraced creativity, fearlessly.

    I learned about my own preferences, design style and ability to look at the world of floral ingredients in an unconventional way. I learned that I really am a floral designer. Like me, you don’t have to earn a certificate from the London School of Floral Design to create seasonally-inspired bouquets. You can find local blooms in your or your friend’s garden, or from the fields, meadows and farm stands of local flower growers. Each bouquet tells a story about one moment in time, about Grandmother’s cherished flower vase or the fleeting memory that returns with a whiff of lavender or lilac. That’s one of the intangible gifts of bringing flowers into our lives.

. . . Gardeners are especially qualified in the art of floral design. After all, we have an intimate relationship with our plants, their bloom cycle, their natural form and character – and their seasonality. We also know what colors and textures we like when combined in the landscape. A vase can be a little garden, its contents gathered and arranged to please the eye.

       So give it a try. Design a bouquet. Channel your inner floral designer and begin your own year with slow flowers.

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Author, designer, visionary Fran Sorin

Playing With Flowers can cost little or nothing to try, especially if you step outdoors and gather seasonal gifts from your own backyard.

Here are some more goodies that might make your day.

Thanks to the support of others fans of  Fran Sorin’s “Digging Deep,” we have several giveaways for you to try and win.

In addition to entering here, you actually have seven chances to win by visiting all the participating bloggers:

1. Dee Nash –

2. Helen Yoest-

3. Jenny Peterson-

4. Rebecca Sweet-

5. Brenda Haas-

6. Fran Sorin-

The “Digging Deep” giveaway ends on Monday, December 8th at midnight Eastern Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 9th. Here are the rules:

1. Post a comment here on my blog, sharing an enduring, personal flower memory. For me, that “dig deep” flower memory is the color, soft texture and intense perfume of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, which reminds me so vividly of a Connecticut garden of my childhood. Share yours in the comment section below and you will be entered into the drawing, which takes places next week.

2. By making a comment here on, you will be entered into each of two drawings:

Blog_Seed_Giveaway_000_4239.jpg_-_Baker_Creek_Seeds-_Cyber_Giveaway-_19_hand_picked_selections_of_veggies_and_flowers 10818534_10205168719757714_1314615647_n.jpg-_Authentic_Haven_Brand_Soil_Conditioner

Prize #1Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — 19 handpicked varieties of veggies and flowers- valued at over $50. PLUS, a 3-pack selection of Authentic Haven Brand Tea, a premium soil conditioner  that’s safe for all garden, indoor plants and soil types. Makes an excellent foliage spray.


Prize #2 – Nature Innovations- — a new product line for indoor and outdoor gardening that provides plants with the most realistic look of nature with out chopping down a tree.

Molded from live trees Nature Innovations planters are made from a high density polyurethane, lightweight, UV resistant, and incredibly durable.  All Nature Innovations planters are individually had painted and are 100% made in the USA. The prize includes four planters/containers  (retail $149).

Thanks for your participation! And no matter what level of a gardener or a floral designer you I challenge you to try “Playing With Flowers” as you Dig Deep into your relationship with the earth.

38 Responses to “Digging Deep for Flower Lovers: A cyber book party, complete with gardening giveaways”

  1. Donna@GardensEyeView Says:

    I remember my mom planting marigolds every summer and that scent brings back that time when she would fill the garden with a kaleidoscope of colors. Now I grow marigolds too. And I also have grown to love cutting flowers, leaves, berries, dried seedheads and the like and fill a vase every week even in my NE snowy garden. I am loving this giveaway and all the wonderful bloggers who are participating.

  2. Deb L Says:

    One of my enduring flower memories is of growing sweet peas along the edge of the main vegetable garden at my grandmothers – and then entering the blooms in the county fair. I don’t remember what color of ribbon I won for my flowers, but I do remember the heady aroma of the building all the garden exhibits were displayed in. I try to grow a few sweet peas each year, just to recapture that moment in time.

  3. Jen Y Says:

    Oh I have so many! My favorite is still going strong though. I have a country amaryllis that my husband’s grandmother(Maw) gave to me over 20 yrs ago. I still have the same old enamel pan bulbs. I’ve gifted the extra bulbs over the years as well.

    I love the memories I’ve shared with Maw. She was a great letter writer & we always sat down & wrote to each other when our bulbs bloomed, comparing timing, how many blooms, ect. She’s been gone a few years now but as I care her bulbs & anticipate the blooms each winter I remember her sweet voice & enthusiasm for sharing her garden with me.

  4. Sue Says:

    I fondly remember my Dad adding roses to a large bed he created along the side of a detached garage when I was a kid in California. I’ve found it to be somewhat more challenging to grow them in the colder climates of Wisconsin and Minnesota, so have included more shrub roses in my Midwestern gardens (some of which didn’t make it through last winter’s record cold). But I sometimes sneak my favorite hybrid tea, Double Delight, into a bed, replacing it in future years if it succumbs to the cold.

  5. Will Says:

    When I was a kid my grandparents had a giant magnolia tree in their backyard. I thought it was the most beautiful tree I’d ever seen. I loved it. As I also loved setting the table “properly” according my grandmother’s old home ec book, I sometimes got to cut magnolia blooms from the tree to set in a crystal bowl of water for a centerpiece. I can’t see magnolias without thinking of my grandmother.

  6. Danica Says:

    I live in the old farmhouse on a farm the has been in my family for over a hundred years. There is a rhododendron outside my kitchen window that my grandfather gave my great-grandmother, a giant lilac tree that sends its heady perfume through my bedroom window, day-lilies and irises fill the front corner of my yard, vinca turns the hillside purple, random daffodils pop up everywhere, there is an enormous flowering quince that I love to steal branches from, and I have fun wrangling the massive wisteria that climbs my front porch. I not only enjoy the beauty of these flowers every spring, but I love that they provide me with a glimpse into the past, and a feeling of connectedness to the family that came before me.

  7. Nicola Says:

    When I was a young girl in California, we had English neighbors that had the most enchanting English cottage garden I had ever seen. It reminded me of my favorite book at the time “A Secret Garden”. They went back to visit England for a month and asked me to be the caretaker of their special garden, so I had my very own “secret garden”, with fragrant roses, sweetpeas,lilies, and sheltering hedges, and all the large plump raspberries I could eat. I’ve been enchanted with gardening ever since!

  8. Caitlin | Our Natural Heritage Says:

    My favorite flower memory was from my first anniversary. As a surprise, my husband had our wedding florist recreate my wedding bouquet and put it in a vintage container – it was such an amazing gift!

  9. Zapote Says:

    As a young child, I would love the sweet smell of spring- lily of-the-valley! and much welcomed their lacy caps and green spears poking through the cracks of our concrete porch and simple border of a lake house, perfuming the mornings where my mum would hang clothes out on the line, a clothespin in her mouth as she adjusted each garment to dry in the rising sun…sometimes green garter snakes would slip among the flowers, or slip into the laundry basket…

  10. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening Says:

    I still remember the sound of my fiance running up the two flight of stairs to my apartment. He thrust the biggest bunch of poet’s narcissus into my hands, and, in between gasps for breath, told me they grew half-wild at his parents’ country home, planted in rows in a field by a previous owner. We heard a car honk, and my soon-to-be-husband said, “I gotta go, my dad’s waiting. Bye!” Those were the first flowers he ever gave me, and I’ll always remember that moment. I learned later that his dad had rather unwillingly made a long detour from there original errand of dropping a car off at the shop, but my husband braved his dad’s irritation to make sure I got those narcissus!

  11. Carol W. Says:

    An enduring flower memory for me is watching my mother fuss over her miniature roses. Also, as a child I would wait every spring to inhale the intoxicating fragrance of hyacinths.

  12. Digging Deep Cyber Book Party and Giveaway with Fran Sorin Says:

    […] Debra Prinzing- Debra Prinzing website […]

  13. Bethany Karn Says:

    what a great idea and post! I would LOVE to send a flower memory but that would fill a book, as I was lucky enough to grow up in the 70’s with a Dad who was bitten by the Crockett’s Victory Garden bug and who turned our suburban backyard into an organic Eden. Every day we were surrounded by something in bloom. I used to look at my neighbor’s backyard green deserts and scratch my head. Where was all the color? How did they get through the spring without daffodils or lilacs or peonies? Where were the tulips and the hydrangea? No wonder they never went outside – there was no apple tree to climb and no smiling floral face to greet them. It was like living on the set of the Wizard of Oz; a tiny slice of techno-color sunshine in a black and white world. I am forever grateful for all his hard work.

  14. Digging Deep with Fran Sorin: 10th Anniversary Edition Cyber Book Party and Giveaway Says:

    […] 4. Rebecca Sweet- 5. Brenda Haas- 6. Debra Prinzing- 7. Fran Sorin- This event begins Tuesday, December 2nd at 5m EST with […]

  15. Suellen Jennings Says:

    I remember growing up that for mother’s day my sisters and brother and I would each get my mom a new rose bush for her. When they moved, she left behind the most amazing rose garden.The colors and fragrances were so beautiful. My mom instilled in us a love for beauty.

  16. Digging Deep with Fran Sorin and a HUGE Cyber Book Party! | Harmony in the Garden Says:

    […] Helen Yoest@ Dee Nash @ Jenny […]

  17. Cyber book party and giveaway for Digging Deep - Red Dirt Ramblings® Says:

    […] 6. Debra Prinzing at […]

  18. Jennie Brooks Says:

    i remember picking wildflowers on the property surrounding my grandmother’s home. such sweet memories.

  19. Amber Says:

    My favorite flower memory is bachelor buttons growing in my grandmas garden. I would go around and try to pick one of every single color. Now that I’m older I don’t even see seeds for some of the colors that she had in her garden, they had just been growing there naturally for the past 20 years. I love bachelor buttons and want to be sure to have some in my garden now.

  20. commonweeder Says:

    It is with immense pleasure that I read Digging Deep, and I have to say that I love Playing with Flowers. Fran really knows how to encourage those of us who might be a little timid and worry about ‘rules’

  21. Terri Says:

    Bringing back memories and making new ones is a constant for a gardener. Grandma letting me pick some of her sparse Lilly of the valley then tucking them behind my ear. The look on Auntie’s face while she was pruning and trying to teach me, I still remember the smell of the honeysuckle that she shared she had dug up wild in her aunt’s back yard in Missouri and bringing back here to Colorado. I have planted many of those same plants and now when I catch the whiff on a breeze they are back with me again.

  22. Christina Says:

    I’ve always loved lilacs & tulips. When I was little, I remember sneaking into my neighbors yard and carefully pulling all the petals off her tulips.

  23. Nicki wiederstein Says:

    As a child my grandmothers and mothers had taught me about
    Gardening My grandmothers had roses which they cut for bouquets
    My mother had perennials as her cushion mums.

  24. Tom Mann Says:

    There is no specific memory… they all have become lumped together when I married a Master Gardener and have learned so much from her from what I knew about planting a tomato or a row of corn. Square stems = sage, flat flowers = more butterflies, don’t deadhead everything and the birds will be happy. So many lessons in our time together. Thanks for the contest, and good luck, all!

  25. Ari H Says:

    My enduring flower memory is of picking as many bunches of yellow south african wood sorrel as my little hands could carry on my grandparents ranch.

  26. RD Says:

    planting with my grandparents as a kid on summer brake was my fav. memories,great page,

  27. Melody Says:

    When I was a child, I would visit my grandmother in south FL. She didn’t have a lot of flowers, but she did have azaleas. The little girl next door and I would hide behind the bushes that were planted along the house and play dolls, or have imaginary tea parties. One of our favorite things to do was pick the azalea blooms and suck the super-sweet nectar out. When my girls were growing up, I taught them to do the same thing. I have since read that azalea nectar is poisonous, but none of us ever got sick from it.

  28. Pam's English Garden Says:

    I am enjoying this cyber book party enormously, having now visiting all the host blogs. One of my most enduring memories … as a child in England I would visit a nearby woods every spring to pick bluebells. I can see now the thick carpet of blue under the trees. I can smell the clean spring air and hear the lovely birdsong. I would place bunches of bluebells in jam jars filled with water and give them to my mother and my teacher. I’ll never forget. Thanks for hosting! P. x

  29. Laura Flanders Says:

    My flower memory is recent (and kind of sad but also sacred). I grew heart seed (aka: love in a puff) for the first time this year. I went to visit my friend Sarah in the hospital and took her a bouquet of flowers, including a vine from my heart seed plant. The vine had a few puffs (pods) on it. She broken open the pods and found the seeds inside (with hearts on them). I said to her, Sarah I love much…may you remember God’s love for you during this hard time. She died 10 days later. So now, every spring I will plant heart seeds (love in a puff) in honor of Sarah.

  30. Deirdre Barnett Says:

    My favorite flower memory is planting a sunflower house for my young daughter, and sharing the magic of gardening with her as the flowers grew from seedlings to 6 feet tall. We placed a small rug and chairs inside the “house” and spent many afternoons there that summer. (She’s 22 now!)

  31. marmee Says:

    my mom had poinsettias growing in our yard. i loved the way they looked and wanted to bring some inside. i cut some and the milky stuff got on me and i found out i was allerigic to them. i didn’t care i just used gloves the next time. i even used poinsettias for my wedding.

  32. Melody Says:

    When I was a teenager my grandparents moved into a house where an old woman had plants in every kind of recyclable container imaginable – washing machine tubs, giant tin cans, etc. I was enthralled, especially with the night blooming cereus that covered a tree. I was devastated when I went back and all of the plants were gone, even the beautiful cereus. Now, many years later, I have a yard full of plants that I love – and some are even planted in recycled containers!

  33. Kathy Says:

    I remember this big patch of rose daphne at my grandparents’ house. Its sweet fragnance could be smell so far away. Pink blossoms look like cottom candy. No shootings were made from this plant. I tried to transplant the portion of it, unsuccessly. It is slow died after the demise of my grandparents.

    I finally bought a new plant in memory of my grandparents. They had many beautiful gardens that they welcome everyone to visit.

  34. modern mia Says:

    Daffodils never fail to pull wonderful memories out of my failing memory banks. As a child, I remember visiting my aunt and playing in her backyard that was a field of daffodils. In reality, it was a steep hill where she planted hundreds bulbs to keep the soil from eroding. Every spring she would let me pick daffs to my hearts content. They all ended up in mason jars on her table.

  35. Julie @ Garden Delights Says:

    Flowers are a part of every special moment in my life. My earliest memory is of the lilac hedge in my childhood backyard. Each spring, my mom would snip armfuls of lilacs to arrange around the house. The scent was heavenly. I keep trying to growing lilacs in SC, but sadly–they aren’t quite the same as my mom’s.

  36. debra Says:


  37. debra Says:



  38. Lanita Simson Says:

    loved the blog and your style

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