Debra Prinzing

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Earth Day with Updates from Peterkort Roses and Floral Soil (Episode 190)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Earth-Day-Logo-2015This week’s episode coincides with Earth Day, fittingly symbolic for the Slow Flowers Movement and flower farmers, floral designers and product innovators who are working to change our industry and push for progress to alter the status quo.

So I’d like to share a few news items as well as two follow-up interviews featuring guests of past Slow Flowers Podcast episodes.

Listen closely to find out how you can win prize packages from each of our guests – you’ll want to get in on the good stuff!

First off, if you enjoyed last week’s interview with Jenny Elliott and Luke Franco of Tiny Hearts Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley and Rachel Gordon of Taproot Flowers of Brooklyn, please check out more photos that I’ve added to the show notes. They’re onto something really special and I encourage you to listen if you missed that episode – and enjoy the beautiful flowers the three of them grow and arrange in their worlds.

FRD_posters_2015_photography_loweres2Second, I want to share details about this week’s Fashion Revolution Day, which takes place on April 24th.

If you believe in Slow Flowers, you should also embrace and support Slow Fashion, which has so many parallels in terms of labor practices, environmental concern and trade policy.

Slow Fashion asks questions about the origins of the clothing we wear that are virtually identical to the questions Slow Flowers asks about the bouquets we bring into our homes.

Fashrev2015Fashion Revolution Day 2015 marks the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,133, and injured over 2,500 people.

According to Fashion Revolution’s data, one in six people work in the global fashion supply chain. It is the most labor-dependent industry on the planet, yet the people who make our clothing are hidden from us, often at their own expense, a symptom of the broken links across the fashion industry.

Wow, doesn’t that sound identical to the floriculture industry? On April 24th, coordinated teams around the world will challenge global fashion brands to demonstrate commitment to transparency across the length of the value chain, from farmers to factory workers, brands to buyers and consumers., an innovative online fashion brand based in New York City, is serving as U.S. chair of Fashion Revolution Day. Slow Flowers has been invited to help promote the cause. Check out this Slow Fashion/Fashion Revolution event taking place in Brooklyn. Slow Flowers hopes to have ongoing involvement with Slow Fashion in the future.


I am inspired by what the fashion industry has done in just two years to mobilize conscious consumers to care about the origins of their clothing — and in the future, I hope the floral industry will be just as vocal. I don’t wish for a fatal disaster to occur at an unregulated flower farm in a distant land to make us all wake up and start asking about the origins of our flowers.

What you can do on April 24th is to use your own social channels to get active. Take a photo of yourself wearing an item of clothing inside out. Tag the brand, share the photo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags: #whomademyclothes and #fashrev.

Not to take away from this important endeavor, but perhaps you’ll be inspired to ALSO take a photo of yourself holding flowers that came from a US mega-retailer, big box store or supermarket and tag that retailer on your social sites with the hashtags: #whogrewmyflowers and #slowflowers. Just a thought.

Thanks for caring!

READ MORE… Florists ‘Take Back’ Valentine’s Day From Tele-florists With Sustainable Choices

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery ( says, "I consider each season in terms of which flowers and branches I can get my hands on! For Valentine's Day, I turn toward spring. Women love receiving the unexpected, so look for arrangements that are made with unusual flowers, grown locally on American flower farms. Bright, colorful arrangements adorned with ribbon and silks are a fresh alternative to a dozen imported red roses." The arrangement above was created using only California-grown red amaryllis, burgundy snapdragons, purple anemones, pink ranunculus, pink freesias, camellia flowers and camellia leaves. (Photo: Laura Grier, Beautiful Day Photography)

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery says, “I consider each season in terms of which flowers and branches I can get my hands on! For Valentine’s Day, I turn toward spring. Women love receiving the unexpected, so look for arrangements that are made with unusual flowers, grown locally on American flower farms. Bright, colorful arrangements adorned with ribbon and silks are a fresh alternative to a dozen imported red roses.” The arrangement above was created using only California-grown red amaryllis, burgundy snapdragons, purple anemones, pink ranunculus, pink freesias, camellia flowers and camellia leaves. (Photo: Laura Grier, Beautiful Day Photography)

**Note: this press release was distributed nationally via PR Newswire today – in anticipation of the news media’s Valentine’s Day reporting

SEATTLE (Jan. 13, 2015) – This Valentine’s Day, urges consumers to rethink how they celebrate and woo by supporting local farmers and florists with sustainable, American-grown bouquets.

The flower market is booming! Retail value of U.S. cut flower sales totals $7-8 billion annually, but of the 224 million roses sold in 2012, only two percent were American-grown. Nearly 500 florists committed to sourcing U.S. grown flowers have sights set on Valentine’s 2015 to take back business that has for decades belonged to 1-800 tele-florists and the imported flowers they distribute.

The battle begins in Miami where its international airport receives 80,000 – 120,000 boxes of flowers per day during Valentine’s week. Ecuador has the largest share with U.S. growers nabbing only two percent of the market, behind Canada. On the heels of the successful farm-to-table movement, is racing to galvanize support for its farm-to-vase crusade. Valentine’s 2015 is positioned as an industry coup, where the country’s most progressive florists are turning down 1-800 orders that flood their businesses every February – opting instead to meet demand with artistic pieces using only domestic flowers and foliage.

Debra Prinzing, founder of and consumer spokesperson for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, says sweethearts will select American-grown if given the option. “Fifty-eight percent of consumers would rather purchase domestic flowers if given the choice. Valentine’s sees millions of roses arrive via Jumbo Jet with a shelf life of just days,” she says. “Even if ‘American-grown’ is not a concern, buying fresher flowers should be.”

Christina Stembel, florist and owner of San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers, has built her business using only California-grown flowers. “The entire process of ordering from the big guys feels like you just got conned,” says Stembel. “We’re pledging flowers that are fresh, local, beautifully designed, and thoughtfully delivered.”

The Origin Matters push from the California Cut Flower Commission is hoping to change flower-giving this season by placing Valentine’s 2015 into the hands of florists committed to domestic flowers. “We are ready to prove bouquets and arrangements are far better than imported alternatives,” says Prinzing. “It’s time to show your love with local flowers.”

Slow Flowers is an online directory to help consumers find florists, event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers committed to using American-grown flowers. More information is at

PR Contact: Lola Honeybone, 615.818.9897,

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A new brand of floral entrepreneur, Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery (Episode 149)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams’s guest is Bess Wyrick, founder and creative director of Celadon & Celery, a floral design and events studio based in New York City and Los Angeles. 

I first learned of Bess when researching florists to possibly feature in The 50 Mile Bouquet – I wanted to document the emerging business model of floral designers who actively promoted green practices, such as using seasonal and local flowers, embracing earth-friendly products and promoting anti-mass market style. 

I later learned that this category is called “eco-couture,” and it’s quite possible that Bess coined the phrase herself.


May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick's floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick’s floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

In 2009, Bess’s Celadon & Celery was featured in a New York Times blog post about “organic flower” sourcing. The writer cited Bess’s policy of sourcing flowers within a 200-mile radius of NYC and also noted that when seasonal flowers aren’t available, she purchased Fair Trade, Veriflora and USDA organic flowers from certified vendors. 

The following year, in 2010, BizBash, a web site devoted to event planning, published a piece about Celadon & Celery that stated: “. . . sustainability is important to Wyrick. She composts, grows many of her own plants in her Chelsea studio, sources flowers from local growers or certified organic suppliers, and scavenges for materials to repurpose.” 

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

To read about that philosophy today – in 2015 – doesn’t seem all that unusual. But five years ago, it was rare. Believe me, I counted on one hand the number of designers proactively taking the green approach. I saved that article in my folder of inspiring designers. 

So how cool was it that when Celadon & Celery brought its floral design workshop series to Los Angeles, Bess’s publicist pitched me to write the story. 

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery 

I was definitely intrigued. Intimate hands-on floral design workshops had hit the East Coast, and the New York Times had run a piece in 2010 about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn (and owners Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen, two recent guests of this podcast). I’d even led a few seasonal floral workshops for Ravenna Gardens in Seattle in 2010, but I hadn’t seen much like this happening elsewhere on the West Coast. 

My editor at the Los Angeles Times agreed, and I did a short Q&A interview with Bess about the workshop series in fall 2011. At the time, Celadon & Celery was charging $300 for its two-hour sustainable-design workshops at Bess’s loft-studio in New York’s Chelsea Flower District. For the Los Angeles expansion, she dropped the tuition to $125 and used social media channels to promote the classes. 

Overwhelmed by the positive response, Bess rented a photography studio in downtown Los Angeles and turned it into a classroom. She hired a few local freelancers to help and ran three classes a day for three weeks. “In that time we taught floral design to more than 800 people,” Bess marvels.

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

50MileBouquet_bookI was able to witness the excitement in person and cover it for a chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet. In the book’s pages, you can read about the explosion of DIY interest in floral design.

In that piece, Bess offered this observation: “The word ‘eco’ has a bad reputation implying something weedy,” Bess says. “But we’re creating flowers that are sophisticated, chic and tailored. ” You can read the entire chapter by clicking this link.

I’ve connected with Bess many times since the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet, in both New York and Los Angeles, depending on where our travels intersect. She is a generous supporter of the new and you can find Celadon & Celery featured in the online directory under studio florists and weddings/events.

I’ve been wanting to have her on as a guest and I’m delighted to include our conversation here today. Please enjoy our discussion about how floral design – and this designer in particular – has evolved to encompass event production, conceptual storytelling and artistic installations.

a singular bouquet.

a singular bouquet.

You’ll learn that floral design can be as multidisciplinary and multidimensional as you choose it to be. And, according to Bess, florists who advocate for their vendors, the family flower farm in particular, have an edge. She says: “I like to sell the fact that I’m a luxury brand and luxury brands work with really small artisans and that’s really important because you want to make sure that your flower farm vendors keep doing what they’re doing and creating unique and unusual flowers that the higher luxury market will pay for.”

(c) Jana WIlliams

(c) Jana WIlliams

I love how generous and frank she is and a few more of her interview comments really resonated:

For one thing, volunteering on flower farms has educated Bess to understand that “it’s not okay for clients to negotiate the cost of flowers because it is back-breaking work and there aren’t enough people who know how to grow flowers.”

And second: This quote is powerful and I hope it more than a few people in the floral industry to rethink their practices: “I don’t think that any florist in California should be importing flowers at all. That’s just being lazy.”

(c) Jana Williams

(c) Jana Williams

Ahem. Thank you, Bess, for stating the obvious. You’ve lent a lot of credibility to the Slow Flowers Movement with that proclamation!

Here are links to all of Bess’s social outlets:

Life with Bess Blog






And Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

The Slow Flowers podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at

It takes a village . . . to get a book promoted~

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Bess Wyrick of NYC-based Celadon & Celery created this gorgeous bouquet and delivered it as a gift from me to Lara Spencer of Good Morning America.

My publisher actually asked me if I could get Martha Stewart to write an endorsement “blurb” for my new book, slow flowers.

I know he thinks I’m superwoman, but really? That’s a tall order!

So then I started thinking…who can I ask for a word of endorsement?

And Lara Spencer came to mind. Lara is the gorgeous, talented and funny “lifestyle anchor” for ABC’s Good Morning America.

Even as Lara is dressed in designer gowns covering red carpet events and interviewing celebrities, she is at heart a passionate design maven, a bargain-hunting thrift-store gal.

When I met Lara in 2009, I was working for the LA Times. I visited her mid-century-era Beverly Hills home to report on the incredibly beautiful makeover she had conjured up. It was a la Hollywood regency, but the best part of our story included Lara’s secret sources. Ebay, Craig’s List, Pasadena Rose Bowl – she has the nose for the bargain to be sure!

You can read that story here:

Now Lara has left her LA gig as host of “The Insider” to join Good Morning America. Oh, and did I mention? She’s also the host of the “Good Afternoon America,” ABC’s new daily show?

In order to let Lara know about my new book project, I knew I needed to make a big splash. So here’s what I did:

1. I put together a package that included a copy of The 50 Mile Bouquet, as well as all the great press stories we’ve received from major newspapers like the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design and more.

2. I shipped it to my floral designer friend Bess Wyrick, of Celadon & Celery. “Bess,” I wrote. “Can you make a LOCAL floral arrangement and deliver it to ABC Studios with my package?”

3. Bess did not disappoint. She created this yummy bouquet of locally-grown hydrangeas and delivered it to Lara Spencer a few weeks ago with my package of clips and the book. Since then, Lara and I exchanged messages on Twitter – she LOVED Bess’s flowers – and The 50 Mile Bouquet.

4. That was followed by a series of calls and emails to Lara’s talented producers -Sabrina and Kelly. These women did the legwork to make sure ABC’s legal department could “sign off” on Lara contributing a blurb to support my new book. Today, I got the YES! the Green Light!

Here’s Lara’s blurb:

“Debra Prinzing inspires us to slow down and smell the flowers, especially those grown in our own backyards or by local flower farmers.”

Lara Spencer, ABC’s Good Morning America lifestyle anchor and New York Times best-selling author of “I Brake For Yard Sales.” 

And so, I owe a HUGE thanks, not just to Lara, whose kindness and friendship is incredibly sweet, but also to Bess, floral designer extraordinaire, for all her legwork! And to Lara’s producers, Sabrina and Kelly.

See? It really does take a village of women – supportive, encouraging friends – to make things happen.

Shadowing an Eco-Couture floral designer

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

 Bess Wyrick, Celadon & Celery

Bess, on an early-morning visit to the NYC floral district, carrying an armload of kiwi vines for her next arrangement.

I planned on being in New York for a few days last month so I called Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery to see if we could get together. David Perry and I met Bess in person last November when we flew to Los Angeles to produce a story about Bess’s DIY floral design workshops. I had previously interviewed her by telephone – for a piece in the Los Angeles Times. In April, when The 50 Mile Bouquet comes out, you will be able to read all about Bess and her eco-couture floral design tips and techniques.

A designer attending to her craft

“Why don’t you come with me to one of my client’s?” Bess suggested. I met her in New York’s Chelsea Flower District at 7:30 a.m. one morning and we headed to her regular source for flowering branches.

Ironically, I had visited the same vendor on a trip to NYC two years ago. On this shopping trip, Bess picked out a huge bunch of kiwi vine, with nutmeg-colored bark and attractive curls. The kiwi is locally harvested and cut to 4- and 5-foot lengths.

We headed up to midtown to a restaurant called Rouge Tomate, a 2-star Michelin establishment known for its modern, organic fare. Celadon & Celery is responsible for designing weekly arrangements for the hostess station, the main dining room and the downstairs private dining room. Because of the restaurant’s organic menu and reputation for serving local ingredients, it makes sense that the owners of Rouge Tomate want their flowers to echo similar values.

The restaurant’s credo: “At Rouge Tomate, we give preference to local and seasonal products, including fruit and vegetables grown on farms that respect the environment; choose fish depending on their stock and impact on ecosystems; select meat and poultry from farmers that feed their animals with local plants; highlight quality wines grown by viticulturists who follow organic or biodynamic principles.”

Kiwi vines and young spring gladiolas – silhouetted against the uplit wall of Rouge Tomate

From a floral designer’s point of view, it’s easy to adhere to these principles when summer’s abundance offers more choices than you can ask for. Come January, though, Bess gets creative. And I was eager to see how her commitment to seasonal and local played out first hand.

Before I arrived, Bess’s driver had delivered the other flowers she needed. Those ingredients included the longest and most slender gladiolas I had ever seen. In pale green, the blooms were clearly hothouse grown, but they weren’t imported. Along with the glads, Bess had requested yummy bunches of winter anemones in the deepest plum hue, with dark black centers. She also sourced quirky purple artichokes on stems. All of these ingredients came from greenhouses in Florida, whereas the kiwi and pussy willow branches came from local farms on Long Island.

Bess’s arrangement for the main dining room was simple yet completely sophisticated. She first filled a tall, square container with the kiwi branches, using them to create a tree-like structure that soared above dining tables. Bess arranged the glads in and among the kiwi, using that fresh promise of spring green against the earthy kiwi bark to make a thoroughly organic statement.

Twin bouquets – local and seasonal, of course

Downstairs, Bess filled two matching vases with a similar version of the upstairs combo. The pair of vases flanks either side of a staircase that descends to the private dining room. These containers were large enough to accommodate an addition of pussy willow branches in and among the kiwi vines and green glads.

A perfect floral and culinary pairing: Artichokes & Anemones

Finally, the hostess stand called for an impactful, smaller-scale design. Bess filled two bark-wrapped cylinder vases with what, to me, is a dazzling duo in purple: Artichokes and Anemones. I love the vegetable-and-flower pairing. It’s especially fitting for a restaurant venue, and it works nicely because of the purple palette. A few curly kiwi vines emerge from this design, helping to connect the smaller vases with the ingredients of the larger ones.

After finishing her design work, Bess still had cleanup duties. She brings biodegradable garbage bags with her when she designs on location. All the cuttings and trimmings get tossed in the giant bags, which are then placed with the restaurant’s kitchen compost. Any cardboard goes into the recycling, leaving zero waste on site.

This weekly ritual is one that keeps Bess in close contact with the restaurant management and kitchen staff. As a result, when weddings and private events are booked into Rouge Tomate, it’s a given that Celadon & Celery is called in to design eco-friendly flowers for the clients.