Debra Prinzing

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Episode 671: Learning from Tree Collectors, a conversation with Flower Confidential’s Amy Stewart about her new book that reveals “tales of arboreal obsession”

July 10th, 2024

What can flower people learn from tree collectors? For Amy Stewart, whose 2007 book “Flower Confidential” ignited the spark of the Slow Flowers Movement, the tree world is filled with people who are as equally fascinating and inspiring as the flower world contains. Amy and I discuss her new book, its 50 vignettes of remarkable people whose lives have been transformed by their passion for trees, as well as her approach to writing and illustrating humans and their beloved specimens.

Amy Stewart (c) Scott Brown
Amy Stewart (c) Scott Brown
The Tree Collectors

I’m so thrilled today to share my recent conversation with Amy Stewart. The New York Times best-selling author of The Tree Collectors, The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and several other popular nonfiction titles about the natural world, Amy is best known in the Slow Flowers community for writing Flower Confidential – the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers – in 2007. She wrote the foreword to my 2012 book that launched the Slow Flowers Movement, The 50 Mile Bouquet, and I’m honored to call Amy a friend.

Amy has also written several novels in her beloved Kopp Sisters series, which are based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters – there are seven books in the series and you’ll want to read them all.

Her books have sold over a million copies worldwide and have been translated into 18 languages. Amy lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer who can usually be found at his shop, Downtown Brown Books.

Amy Stewart, self portrait

Today, you’ll learn about The Tree Collectors, and Amy and I discuss the connections between the tree community and the floral community.

When Amy discovered the universe of tree collectors, she expected to meet horticultural fanatics driven to plant every species of oak or maple.

But she also discovered that the urge to collect trees springs from something deeper and more profound: a longing for community, a vision for the future, or a path to healing and reconciliation.

In this slyly humorous, informative, quite poignant volume, Amy shares captivating stories of people who spend their lives in pursuit of rare and wonderful trees and are transformed in the process.

The Memorialist: Linda Miles, Netherton, England, illustrated by Amy Stewart
The Memorialist: Linda Miles, Netherton, England, illustrated by Amy Stewart
The Arboreal Therapist, Janusz Radecki, Pruszcz, Poland, illustrated by Amy Stewart
The Arboreal Therapist, Janusz Radecki, Pruszcz, Poland, illustrated by Amy Stewart

I’m delighted that Amy has populated her lively tree compendium with her own hand-drawn watercolor portraits of the extraordinary people and their trees, interspersed with side trips to investigate famous tree collections, arboreal glossaries, and even tips for “unauthorized” forestry. This book is a stunning tribute to a devoted group of nature lovers making their lives—and the world—more beautiful, one tree at a time.

The Landscape Architect, Diane Jones Allen, New Orleans, Louisiana, illustrated by Amy Stewart
The Landscape Architect, Diane Jones Allen, New Orleans, Louisiana, illustrated by Amy Stewart

Learn More:
Book Tour for The Tree Collectors
Subscribe to Amy’s Newsletter: “It’s Good to Be Here”
Listen to Episode 140 (May 2014), Amy Stewart’s past guest appearance on the Slow Flowers Podcast

News of the Week

Slow Flowers in the NYT

Summer is in full swing, and I just want to take a moment to celebrate the exciting news that just appeared in last week’s New York Times!

Writer Amanda McCracken’s piece, “Your Wedding Flowers Could be in Your Backyard,” blew up the web with excitement from our Slow Flowers community.

She writes: “Ms. Prinzing attributes the rising interest in local flora partly to social media, where couples and florists have shared photos of romantic bouquets featuring nonconventional flowers,” and also quotes a talented lineup of our @slowflowerssociety members:

Jessica Stewart, @bramble_blossom_pgh; Lennie Larkin,; Heather Henson, @borealblooms; and Becky Feasby, @prairiegirlflowers.

The response from our social media community underscores how much support there is for the topic of local, seasonal, and sustainably-grown wedding flowers. As of July 4th, here are the metrics:
>REACH: 21.5 k accounts, (including 87% non-followers)
>ENGAGEMENT: 1.3k accounts
>SHARES: 170 times

For people who think local flowers are a “fringe topic,” this level of engagement does not lie! Thank you, Amanda, for reaching out to chat. This story represents one great reason to join Slow Flowers Society @slowflowerssociety — when the press calls, we love to highlight our members!

Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 750 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Thank you to The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. Online education is more important than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at

Our next sponsor thank you goes to Store It Cold, creators of the revolutionary CoolBot, a popular solution for flower farmers, studio florists and farmer-florists.  Save $1000s when you build your own walk-in cooler with the CoolBot and an air conditioner.  Don’t have time to build your own?  They also have turnkey units available. Learn more at

Our next sponsor thank-you goes to Red Twig Farms. Based in New Albany, Ohio, Red Twig Farms is a family-owned farm specializing in peonies, daffodils, tulips and branches, a popular peony-bouquet-by-mail program and their Spread the Hope Campaign where customers purchase 10 tulip stems for essential workers and others in their community. Learn more at

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

I’m so glad you joined us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast is a member-supported endeavor, downloaded more than one million 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 our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. If you’re new to our weekly Show and our long-running Podcast, check out all of our resources at

Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. 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. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time. Thanks so much for joining us today and I’ll see you next week!

Music Credits:

Drone Pine; Gaena; Turning on the Lights; A Palace of Cedar
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field

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