Debra Prinzing

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Episode 401: Baylor Chapman and her new book Decorating with Plants and our State Focus: Louisiana

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design (c) Paige Green

Today’s guest is a long-time friend of mine and of the Slow Flowers Movement. I told this story in 2014 when I introduced you to Baylor Chapman in Episode 125. She and I originally met in the fall of 2010 when I was visiting San Francisco to give a lecture for the Garden Conservancy. We were introduced by a mutual friend, landscape designer and garden writer Susan Morrison, who told me: “You need to meet my friend Baylor when you’re in town. She’s into locally-grown flowers just like you are.”

That led to a wonderful visit to tour Baylor’s former “loading dock” studio in San Francisco’s Mission District. Susan and Rebecca Sweet, another fellow garden designer and blogger, met me at Baylor’s. The three of us had lots of fun drooling over Baylor’s floral creations and learning more about her design philosophy based on seasonal and locally-grown floral elements. 

Baylor in the pages of The 50 Mile Bouquet (with photography by David Perry)

Baylor is the creator and owner of Lila B. Design, a San Francisco-based design studio. Her creative path is well documented in the pages of The 50 Mile Bouquet where we featured her in a chapter entitled “The Accidental Flower Farmer.”

Writing, teaching and consulting about designing with plants has occupied a good part of this creative woman’s life for the past five-plus years. She hasn’t completely shifted from growing and designing with cut flowers, but she has found a special place in the living plant world, an important and growing niche in the floral marketplace.

Today she is described as an author, plant designer, botanical strategist and promoter of all things green. In 2014,  Baylor produced and wrote The Plant Recipe Book: 100 Living Arrangements for Any Home in Any Season (Artisan Books, 2014), with photography by Paige Green

Last month she released a new title: Decorating with Plants, also published by Artisan Books, with photography by Aubrie Pick.

Decorating with Plants

Here’s a bit more about Decorating with Plants:

In Decorating with Plants, Baylor Chapman walks readers through everything they need to know to bring houseplants into their home.

First, there’s Plant Care 101: from how to assess light conditions to tricks for keeping your plants alive while on vacation, Baylor gives readers the simple, foundational info they need to ensure their plants will thrive.

Then she introduces the reader to 28 of her favorites—specimens that are tough as nails but oh-so-stylish, from the eye-catching Rubber Tree to the delicate Cape Primrose.

Finally, she guides readers through the home room by room: Place an aromatic plant like jasmine or gardenia to your entry to establish your home’s “signature scent.”

Add a proper sense of scale to your living room with a ceiling-grazing palm. Create a living centerpiece of jewel-toned succulents for a dining table arrangement that will last long after your dinner party.

From air purification to pest control, there’s no limit to what houseplants can do for your home—and Decorating with Plants is here to show you how to add them to spaces big and small with style.

From “Decorating with Plants”

Here’s a bit more about Baylor Chapman, excerpted from the Lila B. Design “about” page:

Baylor writes: Every day I am inspired by the raw beauty of nature, and constantly think about ways of how to bring it into my home — and yours. I believe that nature is handsome more than pretty, and am always searching for an unexpected definition of beautiful.

I love working with plants so much that I’ve spent more than 15 years surrounding myself with them. I attended the UC Berkely program for garden design, founded Lila B., a San Francisco green-certified plant and flower design business, authored my first how-to title called The Plant Recipe Book — and built a parking lot garden in the middle of a big city.

A Woodland Kokedama Tablescape, from the DINING ROOM chapter of Decorating with Plants

Bringing nature to the city is essential to what I do, so you can often find me creating botanical arrangements in the urban industrial Mission district neighborhood where my own garden and studio reside.

For me, it all comes back to the idea that even if you have a really small space, you can bring a little bit of green inside. Whether it is an elaborate living centerpiece or tiny single succulent, through plant design you can make any space feel at home.

I spent my childhood on a farm, followed years working on an eco-friendly estate which lent a natural edge to my design aesthetics. Now I live in an apartment located a converted box factory, a testament to my commitment to design and my back deck is home to many of my favorite plants.

The Plant Recipe Book, publised in April 2014.

In the spring of 2014 I published The Plant Recipe Book, which features more than 100 lush photographs of creations similar to the ones I make for Lila B. In the same year a major international hotel chain asked me to collaborate on their worldwide botanical strategy.

My work has also appeared in Sunset Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Better Homes and Gardens.

I have been a guest a guest on PBS’ “Growing a Greener World” and a DIY expert on and I love to travel around the country teaching people how to beautify their home “living centerpieces.”

I’m so pleased that Baylor joined us for an update on her deep passion for and creative life built around plants.

She has tapped into the life-giving force that inspires her three-dimensional botanical art and I hope hearing from her has opened up your thinking about adding or expanding the way you engage with the plant world.

Find and follow Baylor Chapman at these social places:

Lila B. Design on Instagram

Decorate with Plants on Instagram

Baylor’s upcoming Workshop Schedule

Our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – continues today, with farmer-florist Mary Marston of Plum Nelly Flower Farm in Coushatta, Louisiana. Plum Nelly Flower Farm is a Louisiana-licensed florist as well as flower farmer.

Mary writes this on the Plum Nelly “about” page, saying all our flowers are planted in the rich alluvial soil of the Red River. The term “Specialty Cut Flowers” means our flowers are the best ones to be grown locally. We grow them to their peak of perfection and sell them fresh to local florists and shop owners as well as the general public.

Follow Plum Nelly Flower Farm on Instagram

Like Plum Nelly Flower Farm on Facebook

Spring in bloom at the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I am so grateful to you for joining me and for spending your time listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast today. Thank you to our entire community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement.

As our cause 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.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of family farms in the heart of Alaska working together to grow and distribute fresh, stunning, high-quality peony varieties during the months of July and August when the normal growing season is complete. Arctic Alaska Peonies operates three pack houses supplying peonies throughout the United States and Canada. Visit them today at

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 It’s fitting that ASCFG is mentioned here, because today’s Fifty States of Slow Flowers guest is a member of both ASCFG and Slow Flowers.

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at and join the spring flower photo contest going on now through May 24th. Share a photo of what’s blooming in your garden, post to Facebook or Instagram, and you might win a $50 dollar gift card from Longfield Gardens!

Before we sign off, can I tell you how truly excited I am about the upcoming SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT?! I want you to join ME and our vibrant and engaging lineup of presenters on July 1st and 2nd in St. Paul, Minnesota. Please grab your ticket to join us. The very last day of our special PLUS ONE Ticket Promotion ends today, May 15th, so take advantage of this generous offer.

One of the top reasons our attendees love the Slow Flowers Summit is the opportunity to mix-and-mingle with other kindred spirits. So we want to make it easy for you to experience the Summit and bring along your BFF, partner, colleague or team member with our Plus-One Ticket Promotion!

For a limited time — through May 15th only — when you register for the Slow Flowers Summit, you can add a guest for $275! This applies to anyone who has already registered, as well as new ticket-buyers.

You can find the Plus One promo option by following the Register link at

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 462,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

Music Credits:
Children of Lemuel; Dance of Felt; Betty Dear; Gaena; Perspirationby 
Blue Dot Sessions http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely by Tryad

In The Field
Music from:

Flirty Fleurs: Meet the Farmer-Florist

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Feast your eyes on "Flirty Fleurs," a new magazine celebrating the love of flowers.

Feast your eyes on “Flirty Fleurs,” a new magazine celebrating the love of flowers.

Alicia Schwede

Alicia Schwede

My friend Alicia Schwede of the Flirty Fleurs blog recently set for herself a huge new creative challenge: To design and produce her own floral magazine. The result is simply beautiful and last night, I finally got my hands on the brand new issue of Flirty Fleurs: For the Love of Flowers, Edition One.

Alicia asked me to pen a story for her inaugural issue and she gave me the assignment of interviewing two of her favorite design studios: Botanique, owned by Kelly Sullivan of Seattle and Verbena: Flowers & Trimmings, owned by Karin Plarisan and Karly Sahr of Roseville, California.

Of course, since all three are involved in the Slow Flowers Movement and members of, it was an easy “yes” on my part.

I’m sharing a little preview of my involvement in the Flirty Fleurs magazine here. Click to order a digital or printed copy so you can read every word.

For $19.95, the printed copy is worth every penny. You’ll love the luscious look, the pearly-matte paper stock, the elegant graphic design and pages bursting with flowers. Alicia and her team pulled off something that many people dream of doing, but few can ever take from idea to reality.

The story I wrote: “Meet the Farmer-Florist,” begins this way:

Kelly Sullivan of Botanique, photographed in her Seattle cutting garden.

Kelly Sullivan of Botanique, photographed in her Seattle cutting garden.

Karen and Karly of Verbena, photographed at their Roseville, California flower farm.

Karin and Karly of Verbena, photographed at their Roseville, California flower farm.

Meet the farmer-florist

Marrying science and art, a new crop of floral designers are growing their own botanical ingredients

By Debra Prinzing

I first wrote about a “farmer-florist” in 2012, with the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet (St. Lynn’s Press). In a chapter titled “The Accidental Flower Farmer,” which profiled San Francisco floral designer Baylor Chapman, owner of Lila B. Design, I documented Baylor’s decision to start growing many of her own flowers, vines, ornamental shrubs, succulents and herbs, in order to diversify the palette with which she designed.

Even two years ago, I didn’t know that the “farmer-florist” category was going to be the phenomenon it has since become. In that chapter, I wrote: “Increasingly, there are designers who, by necessity, harvest floral ingredients from their own gardens. As well, there are growers who assume the role of floral designer, satisfying a bridal customer’s request for unique, straight-from-the-farm bouquets. That these two world are happily intersecting is due to curiosity, innovation and experimentation on the part of designer and grower alike.”

Today, more than two years later, all you have to do is search the hashtag #farmerflorist and dozens of self-references appear on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Designers and flower farmers alike are describing themselves as farmer florists, including two of the most recognizable names in the industry, Erin Benzakein of floret and Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers. No longer considered something outside the accepted scope of what a flower farmer is supposed to do (grow flowers) or what a floral designer is supposed to do (create beautiful bouquets using flowers that someone else cultivated and harvested), there is a lovely blurring of the lines between those formerly  conventional roles.

But to give credit where it is due, an entire generation of specialty cut flower farmers has been designing bridal bouquets and farmers’ market bunches for a long time. Lynn Byczynski first wrote about the business opportunities for flower farmers to design and sell their bouquets back in 1997 when her book The Flower Farmer was first published (the second, updated edition came out in 2008). But long before then, British designer-to-the-royals Constance Spry (the first celebrity florist) cut blooms, branches and foliage from her family’s land to sell in her London flower shop as early as the 1930s.

Thanks to a newfound passion for local and seasonal floral ingredients, more floral designers are putting on their gardening gloves and cultivating small and large patches of earth for cutting gardens, rose borders, raised beds and hedgerows – anywhere a few extra flowers can be planted and cared for. So we asked three Farmer-Florists to share their motivations for doing just that.

Here’s hoping that Alicia will continue her project to plan her 2nd edition of Flirty Fleurs. And here’s to farmer-florists everywhere, for bringing beauty to our lives!


Garden Tribe Video: Debra’s Eco-Floral Design Tips

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Earlier this year I met the creative team of Garden Tribe, Beth LaDove and Jen Long, two Bay Area creatives who have combined their love of gardening, documentary video and education to bring hands-on horticulture to life on the small screen.

Garden Tribe has been lauded in the San Francisco Chronicle as “an online classroom that connects the world of gardeners with world-class horticultural experts and garden/floral designers.”

Sunset magazine singled out Garden Tribe as a “Best in the West” online find.


I first learned of Garden Tribe when they debuted a workshop about designing and building “living arrangements,” taught by Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design (and The 50 Mile Bouquet fame) at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show.

After some discussion, Jen and Beth asked me to develop some online floral content for their new site. We filmed on day in early June at the beautiful Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma, California.

Today, thanks to Garden Tribe’s generosity, I am thrilled to share a “sneak peek” video clip to whet your appetite for the full workshop.

Please enjoy “Eco-Friendly Floral Design – Quick Tips” (see above) and “Cutting Flowers” (below).

You can find details about the full curriculum of workshops at

Beth LaDove (left) and Jen Long (right), creators of Garden Tribe.

Jen Long (left) and Beth LaDove (right), creators of Garden Tribe.

I was so impressed with their vision that I asked Beth and Jen to take part in a Q&A about their mission.

Debra: Please introduce yourselves and explain your interest/passion for gardening?

Beth & Jen: We are both lifelong gardeners and entrepreneurs. Beth comes from a long lineage of Italian food growers. Jen has never met a flower she didn’t want to grow. Between the two of us, we’ve probably been obsessed with just about every kind of garden and plant out there, at one time or another. Together, we have a shared passion for growing things. And these days, we are thrilled to be growing a business designed to give people a more joyful, meaningful experience of gardening.

Debra: How did you come up with the idea to launch online video educational programming?

Beth & Jen: We get questions all the time about how and when people should do things in their garden. The best way to answer those questions is by literally showing people what to do. We decided to create beautiful video classes that demonstrate real gardening, step-by-step. We also designed our classes to stream online, so that learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

Debra: Why GARDEN TRIBE? It’s such a cute name!

Beth & Jen: Gardening knowledge has always passed along in a tribal way–from person-to-person, out in the field. We named our company Garden Tribe because it honors how important it is to learn from each other, and cultivate our community.

Debra: Who is your target audience?

Beth & Jen: We know that all gardeners, from beginning to experienced, are looking for trustworthy information. That search often begins online, and the quality of that information greatly impacts the real world DIY experience.

We’re providing curated, high-quality content for people who want to learn from top experts, so that their projects can get started right, the first time. Because our real goal is to get people where they most want to be: out in the garden and having fun.

Debra: How many classes have you produced and what do you have cooked up in the future?

Beth & Jen: We have seven classes streaming now, with more launching in the near future. We’re also always adding new seasonal content. (The best way to stay in-the-know is to join our mailing list.)

As for future projects, we’re busy creating a new way for everyone on to connect and share!

Debra: Anything else you want people to know?

Beth & Jen: We’re excited to be part of a growing movement that’s bringing the next generation into gardening. It’s so amazing to work with world-renowned experts (like you, Debra!) and share all that gardening knowledge online, around the globe. We’d love everyone to join our tribe, and share their questions, ideas and inspiration!

Thanks to you both~ and thanks for sharing your passion with my tribe!

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Floral design with living plants & Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design (Episode 125)

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014


(c) Paige Green

(c) Paige Green

I’m so pleased to introduce listeners to Baylor Chapman, creator and owner of Lila B. Design, a San Francisco-based floral and plant studio. Baylor’s story is well documented in The 50 Mile Bouquet and in many newspaper, magazine and blog articles.

I first met Baylor in the fall of 2010, on a trip to SF where I was scheduled to give a lecture for the Garden Conservancy.

Serendipitously, Susan Morrison, a friend who I’d known through the Garden Writers Association, learned I was coming to her backyard and called to say, “You need to meet my friend Baylor when you’re in town. She’s into locally-grown flowers just like you are.”

That led to a wonderful visit to tour Baylor’s former “loading dock” studio in San Francisco’s Mission District. Susan and Rebecca Sweet, another fellow garden designer and blogger, met me at Baylor’s. The three of us had lots of fun drooling over Baylor’s floral creations and learning more about her design philosophy based on seasonal and locally-grown floral elements. Here’s a blog post about that adventure. 

How cool is this? Coffee, brunch or lunch at Stable Cafe, amidst the lovely living garden created by Lila B. Design.

How cool is this? Coffee, brunch or lunch at Stable Cafe, amidst the lovely living garden created by Lila B. Design. (c) Sophie de Lignerolles photo

Today you can find Baylor and her team working in the welcoming open-air courtyard that’s part of Stable Cafe, the community-minded restaurant owned by her friend Thomas Lackey.

Thomas and Baylor have both been operating businesses on Folsom Street, and when Baylor lost her loading-dock studio this past June, it was Thomas who said: “Move over to our courtyard.”

He “gets” the idea of creating connections with neighbors, artists, fellow small-business owners and others who want to keep jobs and culture alive and well in San Francisco’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Plus, Stable Cafe’s kitchen makes delicious, healthy, seasonal & organic food! Now if you’re in SF, you can visit Lila B. Design, shop for flowers, plants and beautiful garden products, while also eating scrumptious food at the Stable Cafe! What’s not to love?

Baylor graciously shared these photos of her recent work for you to enjoy. Please notice the specific photo credit with each.

The new Lila B. Design studio at Stable Cafe, a plant-centric place for garden and flower lovers alike.

The new Lila B. Design studio at Stable Cafe, a plant-centric place for garden and flower lovers alike. (c) Sophie de Lignerolles photo 


One of the event, classroom and workshop spaces at Stable Cafe, featuring a wood-burning pizza oven, a massive trestle table, and Lila B.'s garland of local flowers.

One of the event, classroom and workshop spaces at Stable Cafe, featuring a wood-burning pizza oven, a massive trestle table, and Lila B.’s garland of local flowers. (c) Sophie de Lignerolles photo


Pitcher plants (Sarracenia sp.) in a glass vessel.

Pitcher plants (Sarracenia sp.) in a glass vessel.  (c) Holly Stewart photo 


A Lila B. Design tablescape, featuring living plants.

A Lila B. Design tablescape, featuring living plants. (c) Milou + Olin photo 


One of Baylor's lovely arrangements that combines locally-grown flowers with the foliage from houseplants.

One of Baylor’s lovely arrangements that combines locally-grown flowers, including Cafe au Lait dahlias, from Lila B.’s garden. (c) Page Bertelson photo 


Another arrangement with begonia foliage, clipped from a living plant.

Another arrangement with begonia foliage, clipped from a living plant. (c) Page Bertelson photo 



Stunning! (c) Page Bertelson photo 


Lila B. Design's new plant hanger - a SF-designed and fabricated product.

Lila B. Design’s new plant hanger – a SF-designed and fabricated product. (c) Sophie de Lignerolles photo 


Details, details. . . boutonnieres in the making.

Details, details. . . a garland in the making. (c) Sophie de Lignerolles photo 


A stunning centerpiece featuring living plants, created by Lila B. Design

A stunning centerpiece featuring living plants in a date palm frond, created by Lila B. Design. (c) Milou + Olin photo 


The Plant Recipe Book, out in April 2014.

The Plant Recipe Book, out in April 2014.

 Baylor has so many good things going on in her career, but the newest is The Plant Recipe Book: 100 Living Arrangements for Any Home in Any Season (Artisan Books, 2014), which will be published on April 8, 2014. This idea-filled book was photographed by Paige Green

It contains detailed planting instructions for centerpieces and arrangements that give living plants a “starring role” in all sorts of creative vessels. A follow up to last year’s title by Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis, “The Flower Recpie Book,” this new inspiring book offers more than 100 projects will blow your mind and prompt you to bring more living plants into your own design work. 

If you live in or will be visiting the Bay Area, you can get a sneak peek and first dibs on a signed copy of this lovely tome. Come and hear Baylor speak at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, where she will demonstrate some of the book’s fun projects using living plants as floral design elements. Details here.

As I mentioned above, as soon as we met, I knew that Baylor needed to be featured in The 50 Mile Bouquet. Please enjoy the entire story:

The Accidental Flower Farmer
A patch of urban asphalt surrounded by chain link fencing and loops of barbed wire may seem unwelcoming. That is, until you peer inside to discover a designer’s bountiful cutting garden in San Francisco’s Dog Patch District.
Increasingly, there are designers who, by necessity, harvest floral ingredients from their own gardens. As well, there are growers who assume the role of floral designer, satisfying a bridal customer’s request for unique, straight-from-the-farm bouquets. That these two worlds are happily intersecting is due to curiosity, innovation and experimentation on the part of designer and grower alike. 
San Francisco-based Baylor Chapman, owner of Lila B. Design, is both designer and flower farmer. She is 
also a Certified San Francisco Green Business owner who bases her studio philosophy on local and sustainable design practices. 
Baylor’s fashionable, 500-square-foot workshop occupies a loading dock in San Francisco’s Mission District, where she and her 
assistants turn out dazzling, flower-filled vases, bowls and urns. Local and seasonal blooms are used here with abandon. How did 
all of this come to be?
Early on, Baylor saw that many of her botanical design ideas couldn’t be realized because it wasn’t always easy to source ingredients locally. For her, the obvious answer was: “Why not grow those blooms myself?”
Urban Farm Scene
She first tried raising flowers on the roof of the warehouse where her street-level studio is housed. The plants took root in soil-filled milk crates lined with screening. “We had to walk up 75 steps to tend to the flowers,” Baylor recalls. Stair-climbing wasn’t the worst of it, though. All the soil and water had to be hand-carried to the roof just to keep the flowers alive.
It didn’t take long for Baylor and her staff to yearn for a ground-level gardening space. “We found an old parking lot about 1½ miles away in a neighborhood called ‘Dog Patch’ and arranged to rent part of it.” Today, the blacktop setting has a thriving crop of city-grown flowers. Perennials, annuals and vines grow in more than 100 recycled 15-gallon nursery pots, the type typically used to grow landscaping trees.
The Lila B. Lot Garden flourishes on this industrial street behind a barbed wiretopped fence. The garden’s presence beautifies the neighborhood and has attracted the interest of nearby auto body shop workers who peer admiringly through the chain link when out on their lunch breaks. “Now you see hummingbirds and bees flying around,” says the designer, her friendly face breaking into a warm smile. “The car repair guys come out and enjoy it here for lunch. It’s sort of a sanctuary.”
Her pop-up urban flower farm has helped Baylor gain credibility with clients. Now she can say: “We grew these flowers for you.” It allows her to incorporate all sorts of uncommon blooms, berries, foliage and tendrils into her designs and even custom-grow to a bride’s specifications.
Among the crops here at Lila B., you’ll find salvia, rudbeckia, gaillardia, oat grass, asters, scented geraniums, roses, lamb’s ear, sweet peas, veronica, nigella, passionflower,sea holly, cosmos, scabiosa, sunflowers, cerinthe and zinnias – as well as plants grown for their fruit and foliage. It is a mind-boggling selection of design ingredients you’d be hard pressed to find in most conventional flower shops. Sophie de Lignerolles, an artist who works for Lila B. as a designer, maintains meticulous spread sheets of the flowers they grow, including varieties grown from seeds and unusual offerings from Annie’s Annuals, a specialty and mail-order nursery in the East Bay area, a favorite with the women. “Sophie is propagating from seed now, which I think is pretty fabulous,” Baylor says. That means an even greater variety of floral bounty for Lila B.’s customers.
A Greener Approach
Baylor is well equipped to grow her own unique floral choices, thanks to her landscape design studies. After earning a garden design certificate from University of California at Berkeley Extension, she spent time on the crew of a Bay Area estate garden whose owners valued organic practices and requested that flowers from the grounds would be used for interior bouquets. Baylor soon found herself creating these arrangements. Her interest in floral design lured her into more creative gigs, including freelancing for other studios and shops. 
In 2007, Baylor opened Lila B., named after her grandmother. At first, she worked out of the loft where she lives. After one year of literally living with her flowers, she moved her studio across the street to another warehouse. Formerly a commercial laundry, it now houses 60 art studios in an environment that fosters creativity and experimentation. Baylor’s tiny workshop was once a warehouse loading dock, so it faces the street and has a huge, roll-up door that brings light and fresh air inside. While not a retail store, the street-front presence wows pedestrians with glimpses of huge arrangements inside – and high above the roll-up door at the front: a trio of frames planted with a living tapestry of succulents.
Thanks to Northern California’s temperate environment, Baylor enjoys an excellent, almost year-round source of flowers from her suppliers. Besides her own Lila B. homegrown flowers, she takes advantage of San Francisco’s wholesale flower market where many California growers bring their crops to sell. A few “weird and wonderful” suppliers are favorites, including two sisters who run a company called Florist at Large. They stock foraged goodies such as fruit, branches and wild ingredients coveted by designers who want a natural look. “I want people to be curious,” says Baylor. “I want my bouquets to be beautiful to the eye, but they should also prompt the question: ‘What is that? Where does it grow? Can you eat it?’”
We visited Baylor at the peak of summer when she and Anna Hoffmann, a designer who occasionally freelances for her, were creating flowers for a peach-and-ivory-themed wedding – using a combination of tawny ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias, blush-pink garden roses, the silvery foliage of Dusty Miller and lamb’s ears, fluffy ornamental grasses, flowering sprigs from a mock orange tree and honeysuckle vines. 
As Baylor assembled the groomsmen’s boutonnieres with scented geranium foliage and seed heads from the pincushion flowers growing in her Lot Garden, she paused to admire her creation: “Even though flowers are ephemeral, I treat floral design like I do garden design. I think of each arrangement as a mini garden, with its own texture, scale and color palette. They’re little masterpieces.”
Baylor’s bouquets embody both her artistic sensibility and her profound admiration for the plant world’s infinite variety of color, form and texture. “I hope that people are drawn to me because of what I’m doing and what I’m interested in doing,” she says, “because I feel very blessed.”


On the road, but trying to stay local

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

The 50 Mile Bouquet shares the stage with Lila B.'s charming mini-floral arrangements.

Promoting the Slow Flower movement means one may have to travel. I realize that’s a huge contradiction, but that’s life – a series of choices, right? I rationalize my airplane journeys by trying to cram as many events into one destination as possible. Not exactly logical, but it makes me feel more efficient and keeps me away from home for a shorter period of time.

Earlier this month, I headed to San Francisco for Mother’s Day weekend. It started when Flora Grubb and Susie Nadler, two of the superstars of The 50 Mile Bouquet, invited me to be part of the Mother’s Day events at Flora Grubb Gardens. It was the perfect excuse to combine a visit to meet my own mom (and dad) in San Francisco. And then Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Flowers, another superstar of our book, invited me to be part of her activities as part of the SF Made Week. We filled those 48 hours to the brim with flowers, friends and family. A special thanks to Sophia Markoulakis, food and garden writer, for featuring The 50 Mile Bouquet and the Mother’s Day book-signings in her article for the San Francisco Chronicle, ‘Slow-flower’ movement’s power sprouts with new book.

Here are some of the photos from the trip:

Hi Mom! Having fun with my own mom, Anita Prinzing, at the SF Conservatory of Flowers.


Spending time with floral artist Baylor Chapman is always a treat. We're at the Lila B. Flowers pop-up shop at the Stable Cafe on Folsom Street.


Sigh. Baylor's famous succulent-planted shutters. So beautiful!

At Flora Grubb's on Mother's Day, including (from left) Flora and her mom, Susie's mom, Susie, and me.


A chalkboard notice welcomes me.

Susie create a scrumptious local bouquet using ingredients from her own backyard, from local flower growers and - of course - from succulents at Flora Grubb Gardens.

Shutters, stylish and succulent-filled

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Last year I blogged about finding a set of half-circle shutters at a vintage sale. I wanted to emulate my friend Baylor Chapman’s succulent-planted shutters that grace her outdoor terrace in San Francisco. Since then, a few folks have emailed to ask if I EVER finished that project? Much to my embarrassment, those dusty shutters sat in the garage, untouched for nearly a year!

But finally, now that we’ve settled into a permanent residence, I’ve been able to work on this project. The shutters have been cleaned and given three coats of exterior paint. To turn them into vertical succulent planters I mounted both pieces with wood screws outside my office windows and then stuffed the openings betweeen each slat with sedums and sempervivums. Let’s see how they look:

Step one: Paint the shutters. I used semigloss acrylic berry-red, the paint used for my home's exterior trim

Step Two: Staple landscaping cloth to the back of both shutters.

Step Three: Mount shutter and fill the "slots" with potting soil.

Step Four: Plant with hardy sedums and other succulents.


What to do with salvaged shutters

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Read on to learn what I'm going to do with these amazing shutters!

I recently spent the morning at a cool local flea market in Seattle. I was up early and out the door by 7:15 a.m., ready to get my creative juices going.

My mission: to discover as many castoffs from others that could make their way home with me.

The destination: 2nd Saturdayz, a popular flea market where vendors, dealers and designers come together to do business with salvage-savvy shoppers.

The apt motto: A Saturday Market of Fine Tastes and Curious Treasures.

Once inside the doors of a huge hangar (yes, the flea market is held at a decommissioned Naval base), I met up with Jean and Gillian. But not too much socializing is encouraged at these events. That is, IF you want to get the best deals. First-come, first-serve is the motto. Or: Every woman for herself.

I shouldn’t limit this endeavor to the female salvager because there were many men in attendance at 2nd Saturdayz. But still, you know what I mean. It’s a gal’s paradise.

Galvanized chicken feeder. 30 sizeable oval openings. A succulent planter or a flower holder? Or both?

Lately, I’ve been collecting vintage flower frogs, which makes sense since I’m living and breathing floral design. But this time, instead of finding glass and metal frogs, cages and stem-holders to displace the dreaded florist’s Oasis, I picked up a galvanized metal chicken feeder.

Think of a loooong ice-cube tray with oval cutouts. In metal. Very cool. Now that I’m looking at it again, I may just use this nifty piece as a planter for hardy succulents. It’s probably leaky so that’s going to give the drainage I’ll need.

A nearly-pristine child's typewriter complements my grown-up Underwood.

I also picked up a vintage child’s typewriter. It can play nicely with my retro black Underwood typewriter that we bought back in 1985 at the Rotary Club Auction on Bainbridge Island. I think I paid $5 back in the day.

Those old typewriters, truly relics, are now priced at $50 on up. And to think so many of them have been dismantled to make jewelry from the letter keys. I’m guilty of buying one of those alphabet bracelets, too.

When I walked into one small “booth” with my friend Jean, an awesome Seattle landscape designer, I found myself absent-mindedly stroking the frame and spindles of a cast iron baby crib. The vendor had taken off one of the crib’s side-rails and piled pillows and cushions on the springs and against the three remaining railings.

Here's the end of the baby crib. Next time you see this, I'll be lounging against some cushy pillows, perhaps under a shade tree. This crib will become my garden bench.

What did it recall? Yes, a very fashionable garden daybed or bench. And for $100, I totally lucked out. My friend Gillian, who is a pro at this sort of buying-and-selling of antiques and vintage items at Ravenna Gardens, pulled me aside to share the secret that she’s seen other dealers selling cast iron baby cribs for $600. I don’t have a “garden” in which to place this bench right now, since I’m in a rental house and I’m not yet ready to invest energy on land I don’t own. But . . . I did decide to bring this crib home and store the pieces in the garage until the next garden comes along. Luck-ee me!!!

I couldn’t ignore the central element inside the warehouse – a little hamlet of potting sheds. Their perky corrugated metal roofs, topped with finials created from shiny bits and pieces, stood high above the flea market’s landscape.

While gazing at the rustic but stylish potting sheds, I met designer/builder Bob Bowling. Owner of Bob Bowling Rustics of Whidbey Island, this engaging shed artist greeted me and generously shared his story.

Turns out, like some of the talented folks we featured in Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways, Bob makes unique structures using reclaimed and recycled materials. Whimsical and playful, and finished off with salvaged windows, doors and other artifacts, the Rustics sheds are each a delight to see.

Bob's cool garden shed was hard to miss.

The "stripes" come from variously-stained boards.

The prices are reasonable, too. I should know. For $3200, you can get this “Rasta” shed. It measures about 7-by-7 feet in diameter (plus or minus) and features cool details, like the exterior of alternating stripes of differently-stained boards and the window boxes, door hardware and towering finial.

You could easily spend this much for a pre-fab storage or tool shed on the lot of your local big-box store. Which would add more art and style to your life, while also being quite functional?

All this thrifty flea-market shopping had energized me and made me feel quite artistic.

And then I met that shutter duo that called my name. Loudly. They appear to be half-circle crowns or eyebrow tops from a set of plantation shutters.

Wooden, with 2-inch deep slats, these pieces were displayed separately. Once I noticed both of them, I was not going to leave with just one! I don’t think I got a huge bargain, since I paid $28 apiece (but the seller insisted she had just cut the price in half). Whatever. When you spy something so uncommon, you have to act.

Other than changing the depressing buff-colored paint job to something more lively, what on earth do you suppose I will do with these crescent-shaped pieces?

Hello! You two are pretty darned cute. That Baylor Chapman is uber-talented!

Here's another small shutter-turned-wall garden, compliments of Baylor Chapman.

For inspiration, I hearkened swiftly to my visit to Baylor Chapman, a talented San Francisco floral and garden designer I recently profiled for A Fresh Bouquet. After my friends Susan and Rebecca took me to meet Baylor at her floral studio, the three of us accompanied her to her loft apartment in SF’s Mission District.

And there on the outside roof deck, were some pretty amazing succulent gardens – PLANTED IN SHUTTERS!!!

Naturally, I am going to draw from this incredibly clever idea and put those twin shutters to very good use with a vertical planting of hardy succulents. It may take until next spring, but stay tuned. And if you have any suggestions on what color I should use to upgrade the crappy paint color, please chime in.

The trick, according to Baylor, is to secure a layer of landscaping cloth like a little pocket or envelope behind each shutter opening. Then you can add potting soil and plant your sedums, succulents or whatever else seems fitting. You know, I really do love that chocolate brown finish on the shutters. Doesn’t it nicely offset the silver, gray, blue and green foliage of the succulents?

Well, all in day’s work. More to come as I execute these big plans.