Episode 456: Lessons from The London Plane Flower Shop with founder Katherine Anderson and manager Jeni Nelson
June 3rd, 2020
The simple goal of keeping flowers in customers’ hands is one I have been hearing continually over the past three months. Distilled to its simplest form, this seems to be what we all want to make happen, as the floral season progresses from late winter, to early spring; from late spring to early summer. We are drawn into the beautiful web of nature where we allow flowers and plants speak for us when our hearts are heavy and there is a loss for adequate words.
At The London Plane, when the sudden reality of the Coronavirus faced co-owner Katherine Anderson and her partners, as well as flower shop manager Jeni Nelson, it meant finding ways to juggle myriad moving parts – from a restaurant and bakery to a grocery operation to a design studio. I’m a big fan of both of these women and their truly seasonal aesthetic.
Their shop is in the heart of an inviting, European-style cafe in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood and it is one to which any flower person visiting the Emerald City wants to make a pilgrimage. Meals here are simple and delicious, prepared with the same care that the floral design team creates an arrangement. Homage and respect is paid to each ingredient – from a salad composed of just-picked greens and herbs to the hand-gathered flowers one takes home.
You may recall that Katherine Anderson first appeared as a guest on this podcast way back in March 2014 in one of our early episodes, titled: Marigold & Mint’s Katherine Anderson – a leading eco-floral entrepreneur.
I also featured The London Plane flower shop in a Q&A with Jeni Nelson that appeared in the February 2019 issue of Florists’ Review – including the beautiful cover photography. Read that article here:
This is how The London Plane’s IG feed recently introduced Katherine Anderson:
A co-owner and a founder of the London Plane, Katherine has always loved flowers and nature. She is a trained landscape architect, owns an organic farm in the Snoqualmie River Valley, and is an incredibly talented person, florist, and business owner. We want to show our gratitude to this powerful force and wearer of so many hats – she greatly contributes to the Seattle community, is active in philanthropy and supporting the arts, and is constantly creating connections between people. She helped us create the relationship with the UW Medical Centers so we could donate 13K+ meals. On top of that, Katherine is a mother and a wife, she’s really cool, and she is an integral part of the London Plane.
This is how The London Plane’s IG feed recently introduced Jeni Nelson:
Jeni has worked at the London Plane for 6 years, leading our floral team for the past 3 years. She never ceases to amaze us with her artistry in a vase, crown, or installation, from roses to peonies to geum to bolting radicchio. We’re lucky to have her as part of our team, even more so in this difficult time for the world and our community.
She loves all flowers (and things vintage and French) but she–and most of the florists we know in Seattle, tbh–has a real soft spot for spring and the dozens of rich, colorful, tender blooms that show up in the PNW April and May.
Maybe it’s due to the love of these blooms that she was going to be married this spring to her sweet Canadian fiancé, Tim. Jeni and Tim have had to put their wedding on hold due to closed borders between the US and Canada for months. She’ll share a bit of that story with us today, as well.
I asked Katherine and Jeni if I could actually meet them in person at The London Plane to discuss how they are managing during Coronavirus. This was my first opportunity to record a podcast interview in person since March 15th. The three of us sat in different corners of the baker’s room at The London Plane, socially distanced of course. The digital recorder perched on a stool in the center of our little triangle as we captured a wonderful conversation to share with you.
The London Plane is a shop, cafe, bakery, wine shop & bar, and events space.
A collaboration between the teams of Marigold & Mint, The Corson Building, Bar Sajor, and Old Chaser Farm, The London Plane occupies two corners of Pioneer Square’s Occidental Mall. The larger space is home to a cafe, bakery, flower counter, grocery and larder shop. This is where locals and visitors stop by for something to eat or drink, or shop the grocery and larder for ingredients to prepare a meal at home. The smaller space, called The Little London Plane, is a wine shop, wine bar and event space. That’s where you can grab a glass of wine, savor a simple selection of bar foods, or shop for wines to takeaway. It’s also where many events take place. Right now, The London Plane’s on-line store offers special arrangements of flowers for pick-up or Seattle area delivery. There is also a lovely selection of popular retail and gift goods that customers anywhere can order.
The flower shop currently offers flower delivery on a one-day-a-week basis (every Friday) in compliance with safety measures concerning COVID-19. Customers can also order flower arrangements for curbside pick up, as well single variety bunches, with both options available for pick up Wednesdays through Saturdays. The occasional “virtual floral class” is also offered and customers are encouraged to support The London Plane flower shop by purchasing a floral class gift certificate.
In addition, The London Plane flower shop continues to design wedding and event florals, from an elopement bridal bouquet to a grand installation to a small memorial. Just recently, The London Plane re-opened for in store shopping for essentials Wednesday through Saturday 10am – 6pm. Advanced online orders for pick up. and Friday delivery Larder Shares and Flowers continue.
Here’s how to find and follow Katherine Anderson and Jeni Nelson of The London Plane:
The London Plane on Instagram
The London Plane Flower Shop in Instagram
Jeni Nelson’s Magniflora Page on Instagram
Thanks so much for joining today’s conversation. It has been a tough week for my family and me personally, as we lost my father Fred William Prinzing Jr., to complications from pneumonia. In addition, we are watching our cities in crisis as brothers and sisters struggle for justice during what feels like endless and senseless acts of violence (and worse, murder) against people of color.
Along with many friends and colleagues in the Slow Flowers community and the larger horticulture and floriculture community, I feel like I need to do more than speak out. I need to act. I’ve decided to donate all of the Slow Flowers revenue for the month of May to one or more social justice organization literally working on the front lines. I challenge you to do the same. Let’s do some justice work with our flowers.
We care about “Stories of Resilience” here, on the podcast and in the larger Slow Flowers community. I thank you for listening and encourage you to make a human gesture of support for the marginalized and disenfranchised in your community.
Last Friday, we held our final weekly Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up — our 10th consecutive online gathering of florists, growers, farmer-florists and supporters, launched in late March. The Virtual Meet-Ups will now continue as a regular monthly event on the 2nd Friday of each month — so our next gathering is scheduled for Friday, June 12th, same time 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern – and same location and link to join me on Zoom. I’ll keep you posted through other regular channels but you can always find the details in the linktr.ee menu that appears in our Instagram profile @myslowflowers.
Thank you to last Friday’s special guests, Lisa Waud of Lisa Waud Botanical Artist, a core member of the Slow Flowers team, Amanda Maurmann of Gnome Grown Flower Farm and a the Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative, for sharing about Lisa’s new project to bring botanical art to Detroit while supporting local flower growers in her state. It’s called Big Flower Friend and Slow Flowers is a sponsor of one of the upcoming floral installations so you’ll hear more about that soon.
Thank you to our Sponsors
This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.
And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.
FarmersWeb. FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at farmersweb.com.
The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. Online education is more important this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at thegardenersworkshop.com.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 610,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.
As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.
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