Debra Prinzing

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Episode 432: Slow Flowers’ Holiday Music Special with Carolyn Kulb of Folk Art Flowers; plus, our state focus: West Virginia

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

It’s that time again, the annual Slow Flowers Holiday Music Special!

Floral design [(c) Suzanne Rothmeyer] by Carolyn Kulb, seen at right.

Today’s guest is Carolyn Kulb of Folk Art Flowers, based in Seattle. Carolyn and I met in the fall of 2018 and I’ve enjoyed watching how she fully participates in the benefits available to Slow Flowers members — from submitting designs to our monthly Slow Flowers Design Idea galleries on to showing up and volunteering for projects like an installation at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market to celebrate American Flowers Week.

Neon Brass Party, a Seattle “Honk” band — see today’s guest, Carolyn Kulb, wearing a hot pink hat and playing her violin towards the left

Last April, while chatting with Carolyn at the Whidbey Flower Workshop, I learned that she is not only an aspiring farmer-florist but also a musician. She plays and teaches violin and is a member of a HONK band called “Neon Brass Party,” here in Seattle.

I often try and feature a musical guest during the holiday season, so when I learned about Carolyn’s other artistic outlet, I asked if she would join me and share some of her talents for this episode.

You’ll hear portions of a violin piece that Carolyn played for me in person. Here is a link to listen to her digital music compositions.

Roses and peonies, designed by Carolyn Kulb of Folk Art Flowers

But mostly, today we talk flowers — including the trials and challenges facing a startup farmer-florist.

I hope you’ll enjoy the conversation. Carolyn says she started Folk Art after a long journey doing work that did not match her strengths. She continues:

Spring Hellebores by Folk Art Flowers

“Early on I worked with the Peace Corps, which was incredible mostly because I got to work with farmers all day. I kept climbing the ladder, including jobs that let me travel, but I was miserable behind a desk. What I did love about my career was working with other farmers in the field and connecting with people and nature, so I decided to start doing more of that.

“After moving to Seattle, I joined the Sustainable Farming Education Program at Tilth Alliance, which is an incubation program for beginner farmers. I joined a farm to experience a full season in action, and started growing flowers in my backyard. I also did a lot of arranging and experimentation to improve my craft, and designed full-service flowers for several weddings. (I also joined two bands, which is another story!) After this wonderful incubation period of creativity and learning, I finally decided to start Folk Art Flowers. I am so excited and grateful to be able to share some of my joy with you by bringing you beautiful, local, and sustainably produced flowers.”

A lavish dahlia bouquet, designed by Carolyn Kulb of Folk Art Flowers

As a design studio, Folk Art Flowers offers a flower subscription service, individual arrangements, wedding and event flowers, and more. Carolyn sources flowers locally through family farms in the Pacific Northwest, farms that employ sustainable growing practices. In the winter months, she occasionally sources botanical ingredients from California, saying: “I believe in American-grown flowers and will never use flowers that are flown in from another country.”

As you’ll hear from Carolyn, in 2019 with new leased land, she began to realize her dream to grow all of her own florals. Her commitment to sustainability includes everything from growing flowers using organic practices to recycling vases. It also includes a philosophy of building soil health naturally, avoiding the use of pesticides through integrated pest management, using only organic fertilizers, providing habitat for wildlife and bees, and rotating crops.  

Another fun Neon Brass Party band photo with Carolyn at far left

Find and follow Folk Art Flowers at these social places.

Folk Art Flowers on Facebook

Folk Art Flowers on Instagram

Folk Art Flowers on Pinterest

Thank you so much for joining my conversation with Carolyn! I love hearing her story and I know that 2020 will be a big, bountiful year as she develops her new farmland. This is the message that appears on Folk Art Flowers’ web site: “We are a member of the Slow Flowers community, and our flowers are local, meaning that you are supporting local farmers in your community in addition to supporting a small, woman-owned business. Since we use farm flowers, you’ll get to see the seasons change based on what we select for you.  And we might be biased, but we think we create the most beautiful arrangements out there.” — I couldn’t love this sentiment more!

Tamara Hough of Morning Glory Flowers (left), our West Virginia guest; Tamara’s botanical artwork – in process (right)

Fifty States of Slow Flowers continues today with a stop in West Virginia. You’ll hear from Tamara Hough of Morning Glory Flowers, our West Virginia guest in the 2019 Fifty States of Slow Flowers series. A few months ago, we commissioned Tamara, a flower farmer, botanical artist and new Slow Flowers member to design our American Flowers Week branding for 2020! I’m so excited for you to learn more about Tamara and the special role she is playing as our guest artist.

Tamara Hough of Morning Glory Flowers

You can see Tamara’s playful and charming floral ladies, faces and fashions that she posts on her Instagram feed . This artwork captured my imagination as a perfect way to represent the spirit of American Flowers Week! I asked Tamara to create an original illustration with three botanically-styled women to represent the best of Slow Flowers and American Flowers Week. She designed a trio of gals in beautiful floral headpieces, with bits and pieces from the garden used to create all the facial features — and their fashionable looks!

A trio of floral ladies celebrate floral female friendship, by Tamara Hough of Morning Glory Flowers

Check out our American Flowers Week 2020 branding artwork — and download your own badges and graphics here (thanks to Jenny Diaz for the beautiful typography!). Click here to find Tamara’s Etsy shop where you can order prints and cards.

The Early Bird promotion for the Slow Flowers Summit continues through the end of this month and I’m so encouraged by the incredible response we’ve had — passionate and progressive floral folks from nine states from East to West and one Canadian Province have already registered! We encourage you to take advantage $100 off the Member or General registration for the 2020 Slow Flowers Summit and purchase your ticket to the Slow Flowers Summit by December 31st.

If you’ve not yet checked out details, you can find links to all the exciting news about our partnership with Filoli Historic House and Garden, our venue for days 1 and 2 of the Summit (that’s June 28 &29) and our fabulous speaker lineup. By the way, Day 3 is an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour led by our friend Christina Stembel, CEO of Farmgirl Flowers. This is rare access, folks, available only to Summit attendees. As I said, check out those details in today’s show notes.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 558,000 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.

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. Our partnerships with Florists’ Review is such a valuable one, providing a forum for beautiful and inspiring editorial content in the #slowflowersjournal section – month after month.

Thanks to Florists’ Review, you can now order a subscription for yourself + give one as a gift this holiday season.

Set your 2020 intention to enrich your personal and professional development!

Click here for the Buy-One-Gift-One special offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

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

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at

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 – and even September. Thank you to the many farmers and growers who have been part of this operation to supply peonies throughout the United States and Canada.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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:
Glass Beads; Betty Dear; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

Lovely by Tryad

In The Field; Acoustic Shuffle
Music from:                                                                                                                                                       

Beautiful botanical art

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009


Linda Ann Vorobik, Lopez Island-based botanical artist

Linda Ann Vorobik, Lopez Island-based botanical artist

Sometimes, if you’re open to the experience, you meet the most amazing people in the unlikeliest of places. Earlier this month, artist Linda Ann Vorobik was my surprise encounter.

This is Part 2 of my Lopez Island story. We went camping on July 4th weekend on a lovely little island called Lopez, in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

My friend Jennifer Cargal, who organized the camping trip, mentioned that the Farmer’s Market on Lopez was a real treat. Imagine, getting to poke around booths, sample jams and nuts, talk with artisans – all while ostensibly on a camping trip (I must add that Jennifer made the most of our visit to Lopez because we also managed to have a “mom-only” tasting at the Lopez Winery, while her husband kept an eye on all four boys – what a champ).

Turns out that the Lopez Farmer’s Market was a 2-day affair over the holiday weekend, so we went Friday and Saturday. Amid the vendors of artwork, yarn spun and died from local sheep and alpaca, jewelry, pottery and photography, I spied Linda’s display of botanical artwork.

A botanical art gallery at the Lopez Island Farmer's Market

A botanical art gallery at the Lopez Island Farmer's Market

Linda is an incredibly gifted scientist and illustrator whose work has documented highly regarded field guides and botanical reference manuals. She considers all three west coast states “home,” but has returned to her family property on Lopez to live and draw and work on myriad research projects. As we spoke, I realized how broad and deep are her talents. She pretty much has the entire west coast flora population covered in her knowledge.

With a PhD from the University of Oregon, Linda conducts field research and teaches in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern Oregon. She also visits Berkeley on a regular basis, where she is a research associate at the University Herbarium at UC-Berkeley.

Linda is the principal illustrator of The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California (an expanded, updated version of which will be issued next year) and The Flora of Santa Cruz Island. She has contributed many illustrations to scientific, botanical and horticultural publications.

We started talking about Santa Cruz Island, which is the tiny, remote island I visited in California’s Channel Islands this past May with my friend Paula Panich. Linda’s illustrations of native California species that grow on Santa Cruz are just spectacular. I think we’d have to go earlier in springtime to see some of them growing in situ. But the next best thing are her watercolors. I had to purchase a set of note cards to send Paula as a reminder of the day there.

The set included Dicentra formosa (Western bleeding heart); Dicentra spectabilis (Garden bleeding heart); Calochortus catalinae (Catalina Island mariposa lily); and Calochortus splendens (Lilac mariposa lily). Check out Linda’s web site to see the incredible detail of each plant and its parts. All four of these flowers are available as cards, prints – and even a few of the original paintings are available for purchase at what seems like a pretty affordable price for original botanical art.

Okay, so the Channel Island note cards were in my basket. What next ? Oh, I couldn’t resist two cards for my new friend Marie Lincoln, owner of the Chocolate Flower Farm on Whidbey Island. Having just met Marie a few days earlier, I was thinking about her when I saw two beautiful cards with patterned fritillaria, which Linda rendered in sultry, luscious “chocolatey” hues ranging from soft green to deepest plum. Fritillaria affinis (Chocolate lily) appears in several coastal Pacific Northwest locations. As Linda writes on her web site: “If you are lucky enough to encounter them, take a peek into their enchanting nodding bells to see six bright yellow stamens with a background of green and brown checker-painted petal color.”

Spring Wildflowers of Lopez Island

Spring Wildflowers of Lopez Island

Finally, all this gift-giving for my garden friends made me yearn for something of Linda’s to bring home to my Southern California walls. The perfect print was there in her little open-air gallery. It symbolized the happiness I experienced on Lopez, as I enjoyed nature, good companionship, the laughter and boisterous activities of children, eating food around the fire, and pure summer.

Linda’s print: “Spring Wildflowers of Lopez Island,” features several of her botanical watercolors together: Zygadenus venenosus (Death camas – prettier than its name suggests); Dodecatheon pulchellum (Shooting star), Camassia leichtlinii (Camas) and the two gorgeous chocolate lilies. Just looking at this print today makes me smile.

If you have any inclination to learn more about botanical art, you’ll be pleased to know that Linda teaches workshops all around the west, including classes scheduled for the Berkeley area this September. Read about them here.

It’s these small souvenirs that become touchstones for so many of our memories. That’s why I brought home a pocketful of smooth pebbles, gathered from the shore of Lopez Island. They are piled on my nightstand where I can be sure to see them – at least twice a day.