Debra Prinzing

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Episode 589: Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Joseph Abken introduces the 2023 Slow Flowers Summit Host Venue

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

Hello again and welcome back to the Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing, This is Episode 589

This is the weekly podcast about Slow Flowers and the people who grow and design with them. It’s all about making a conscious choice and I invite you to join the conversation and the creative community as we discuss the vital topics of saving our domestic flower farms and supporting a floral industry that relies on a safe, seasonal and local supply of flowers and foliage.

Bellevue Botanical Garden
The Perennial Borders at Bellevue Botanical Garden

On December 1st we opened up registration for next year’s Slow Flowers Summit and it’s so gratifying to see how many of you are jumping on our $100-off Early Bird Ticket offer.  Today, I also want to share more about our fantastic host venue — Bellevue Botanical Garden in Bellevue, Washington, just outside Seattle.

Joseph has an extensive background in management, merchandising and buying at independent garden centers and five more than five years, he served Executive Director of Kruckeberg Botanic Garden in Shoreline, just north of Seattle. He joined the Bellevue Botanical Garden as Society Director earlier this year and is an avid garden photographer — something that is a daily practice at the Botanical Garden.

And since it’s currently holiday season when the BBG hosts its special winter light show, Garden D’Lights, I filmed a nighttime video tour of the gardens illuminated with twinkling, botanical-inspired installations. So today, you’ll meet my friend Joseph Abken, director of the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, the public garden’s programming, membership and development arm, as he shares a bit about the history and mission of this very special place. The light show continues through December 31st, so if you’re in the Seattle area, schedule a visit at dusk!

Thanks so much for joining us today. Joseph and garden director James Gagliardi will give the opening remarks at the Slow Flowers Summit. In their presentation, “GARDENS FOR PEOPLE, they will set the tone for our two-day immersive experience at Bellevue Botanical Garden and share the story of this important cultural resource serving the people of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2022, BBG is known for its world class perennial border, the result of a partnership with Northwest Perennial Alliance. We’ll learn about the flowers, plants, and people of this beautiful destination. I’m so excited to share this gem with our guests, flower growers, floral designers, and flower gardening enthusiasts who will be inspired by both our program and this very special setting.

Learn more about Bellevue Botanical Garden, our 2023 Slow Flowers Summit Host Venue.

Follow BBG on Instagram and Facebook

Slow Flowers Summit Early Bird Tickets

Remember, Early-Bird Discount Expires December 31st, so register now to take advantage of the lowest ticket prices available!

$749    Slow Flowers Member                                                               
$849    General Registration (Non Member)
$873    Slow Flowers Member + Dinner on the Farm*                                                                $973    General Registration (Non Member) + Dinner on the Farm*  ​

*Dinner on the Farm is a separately ticketed event that will take place the evening of Sunday, June 25, 2023 at a local flower farm. Save $25 on your dinner ticket when purchased at the time of Summit registration.

Monday, June 26th @Bellevue Botanical Garden​

  • Two keynote presentations with Amy Balsters on Building a Better Bouquet and Lennie Larkin on The Flower Dollar: Pricing + Profitability
  • Hands-on floral design takeover and tour of Bellevue Botanical Garden
  • Breakfast, buffet lunch and evening reception
  • and so much more!

Tuesday, June 27th @Bellevue Botanical Garden, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market & Mayesh Wholesale Florist​

  • Design demonstration and Q&A with Julio Freitas of The Flower Hat
  • 2 breakout sessions to choose from to learn from experts in your field and connect with others on Flower Farming, Floral Design & Sustainability
  • Open house and design demonstrations at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market & Mayesh Wholesale Florist
  • Breakfast, buffet lunch and evening reception

News for this Week

If you missed out December 9th Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up — all about Value-Added Flower Farm Products — you can catch the replay video above. You’ll hear from Natasha McCrary of 1818 Farms and Sarah Wagstaff of SUOT Farm and Flowers, as they share how many of their floral crops are reimagined into botanical products that extend the seasons into year-round revenue.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 850 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.

Farmgirl Flowers 2022

Thank you to our lead sponsor, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $10 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at

Thank you to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at

Thank you to Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at

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 this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

Thanks so much for joining me 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.

Music credits:
Homin Brer; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field

Week 23 // Slow Flowers Challenge

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Sea holly (Eryngium sp.) looking dazzling!

Sea holly (Eryngium sp.) looking dazzling!

This week’s arrangement comes to you courtesy of a special event in which I participated to benefit the King County Library Foundation.

Called an “Author Salon,” the private gathering was one of several offered at the Library Foundation’s recent annual Literary Lions Auction. Library supporters  Elaine & John Hogle  and  Felicia Dixon & Lucas Hoban  hosted the Author Salon last weekend at theBellevue Botanical Garden – one of my very favorite public gardens in the Seattle area. Landscape architect Liz Browning of Swift Company also participated by leading a tour of the newest garden BBG installations area designed by her firm.

The Author Salon team, standing, from left: Felicia, Liz and Elaine; I'm seated in front.

The Author Salon team, standing, from left: Felicia, Liz and Elaine; I’m seated in front.

What a beautiful venue! I was asked to talk about Slow Flowers, the book, as well as the slow flowers movement to source domestic and local flowers rather than rely on imports.

Local flowers and the Slow Flowers book go together well!

Local flowers and the Slow Flowers book go together well!

My publisher, St. Lynn’s Press, generously donated copies of Slow Flowers so that everyone in attendance took home a signed copy. And all the proceeds of the afternoon benefit the King County Library Foundation. Cindy Sharek and Andrea Quigley of the Foundation ensured that we had a lovely reception to hear the message of supporting literacy education!

And about the flowers you see here. I asked – and received special permission – to cut from the famed Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden for my demonstration.

While you might think I focused on which blooms to choose first, it was the oak leaf hydrangea that caught my attention before anything else.

My vase had a fairly wide opening of about 7 inches, so I needed larger, structural branches and leaves as my design’s starting point. Plus, I absolutely love the hydrangea’s stage right now. The leaves are large and supple and the flowers are still in bud so they’re the same color green and the foliage.

Susy Hutchison took home the Slow Flowers bouquet.

Susy Hutchison took home the Slow Flowers bouquet.

See my entire plant list below. As I was basically designing on the fly, (I only clipped the blooms 30 minutes before the event!), it occurred to me that I had three primary hues and three secondary hues of blooms — and naturally, that gave me an organizing structure to discuss a bit of color theory.

I had a few longtime friends in the audience who surprised me by attending, people I hadn’t seen for years!

How cool that my friend Susy Hutchison, former news anchor for KIRO-TV (CBS affiliate) won the doorprize to take home my arrangement. Seriously, it was not a fix!

Susy reported to me that the bouquet was “still going strong,” one week after she brought it home. Yes, folks, that’s another great reason for sourcing locally – your arrangement’s vase life will be extended!

The finished "color wheel" bouquet - clipped just steps away from our event.

The finished “color wheel” bouquet – clipped just steps away from our event.

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Three sets of complements: Blue & Orange; Purple & Yellow; Red & Blue (with lots of green thrown in for good measure)

Here's that essential oak leaf foliage

Here’s that essential oak leaf foliage

Here is the recipe, with all ingredients from the Perennial Border at Bellevue Botanic Garden:

  • Oak leaf hydrangea foliage & flowers (Hydrangea quercifolia)
  • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
  • Red/Maroon: Astilbe
  • Green: Allium ‘Hair’ (a mutation of  A. sphaerocephalon)
  • Orange: Geum (Geum chiloense) possibly ‘Totally Tangerine’
  • Purple: Catmint (Nepeta sp.)
  • Yellow: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Blue: Sea holly (Eryngium amethystinum)
  • Bonus stems: I added a few beautiful stems of pale orange and yellow foxglove

The lady's mantle and oak leaf hydrangea blooms add a touch of lime.

The lady’s mantle and oak leaf hydrangea blooms add a touch of lime.

Friday garden field trip

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Sigh. What else can you say in response to these gorgeous, white bleeding hearts?

Well, this field trip was LAST Friday, but you’ll enjoy my photos all the same. If you don’t know about the July 22-25th Garden Bloggers Seattle Fling, then check it out here.

My pals Lorene, Marty and Mary Ann  and I were persuaded to “host” this horticultural free-for-all that can be best decribed as a weekend of garden touring and networking for bloggers around the globe.

Lorene and I headed out last Friday to scout a couple amazing residential gardens that we want to include on the tour, as well as the Bellevue Botanical Garden. It’s truly still spring here in Seattle; I’ve been away for four years, living and gardening in Zone 10-+, but I don’t remember this persistent rain, wet, gray, chilliness as late as mid-May. So when you see the photos I took on May 6th, you might be surprised! They look very April-ish, don’t they?

Even still, it was exhilarating to have a glimpse of the soon-to-arrive “season” of blooming and unfurling. Please enjoy along with me:

What a sultry combo, spotted at Michelle and Christopher Epping's garden in Newcastle. This will be a stop on the Bloggers' Fling. Yummy Rodgersia + sooty-black Mondo grass.

I love this modern, see-through, cube-planter at BBG. I want one, preferably in this gorgeous weathered steel.

More steel, this time in an orb, suitably displayed in a bed of tumbled riverrock.

Stone totems paired with grasses create a lovely entrance at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.