Debra Prinzing

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Kelly Sullivan of Seattle’s Botanique, an urban floral designer with a backyard cutting garden (Episode 121)

Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Kelly Sullivan, floral designer, flower farmer, and owner of Botanique in Seattle.

Kelly Sullivan, floral designer, flower farmer, and owner of Botanique in Seattle.

Today’s guest is my friend and fellow Local Flowers Advocate Kelly Sullivan.

Based in Seattle, in fact, just a few blocks from where I live, Kelly is an up-and-coming studio floral designer, small-scale flower farmer and owner of Botanique. 

We met a few years ago at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, just as Kelly was developing her business model for Botanique. I have to tell you, her venture has really taken off — and Kelly has lived up to her tag-line: Overwhelmingly Beautiful Flowers

Kelly brought me this spring arrangement using all spring garden elements with a few juicy anemones from a local farmer. So enchanting!

Kelly brought me this spring arrangement using all spring garden elements with a few juicy anemones from a local farmer. So enchanting!

There are so many things that impress me about this young woman. She brings a garden design and landscaping background to her floral creations; her horticultural knowledge has greatly influenced the plantings in The Botanique Cutting Garden – the backyard “urban flower farm” where Kelly grows many of the flowers she uses in her designs. 

While she’s still young, Kelly is actually already on her second career. She trained and performed as a modern dancer after college. Dance plays a special role in her designs. “When people ask what defines my style, I’ve realized recently that it’s ‘movement,’” she says. “Movement is like choreography. When I compose a bouquet, it always has movement – and you see it in everything from the vines to the stems.”

One of Kelly's beautiful arrangements shows her dancer's sensibility in designing with botanicals.

One of Kelly’s beautiful arrangements shows her dancer’s sensibility in designing with botanicals.

Movement adds energy to her otherwise lush design style. Kelly isn’t interested in producing perfect, symmetrical arrangements. “When I design, that’s when the gardener in me shows up,” she says. “I love foliage, berries, wild elements. I love interlocking stems, unusual edibles and even seed pods.” What you see in her vases looks and feels alive (I guess that’s the dancer showing up, right?).

A peek inside Kelly's new floral design studio in her Seattle garden.

A peek inside Kelly’s new floral design studio in her Seattle garden.

Our conversation took place in Kelly’s brand new studio, a converted one-car garage that will soon be a bustling center of creativity and design. “I’m obsessed with flowers,” she confides. To Kelly, when you grow your own ingredients you can’t help but notice the seasonality of each flower. “If it’s growing right there in your garden, it’s impossible not to want to pick it and arrange it,” she points out.

Of course, I feel the same way. And as more floral designers follow Kelly’s example – either by growing some of their own botanical elements or connecting with local flower farmers – the floral community will only improve. Designs that are seasonal and local have a special character, a vibrancy and authenticity not found in distantly grown or out-of-season choices. Here are some more flowers, gathered together by this gifted and inspired designer. 

 Botanique6 Botanique5 Botanique4 Botanique1 Botanique2 Kelly2_7958

So happy holidays to the flower-obsessed. And thank you  for joining me in this episode of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with Debra Prinzing.

Because of your support as a listener, we have had nearly 4,500 downloads in 2013 – and I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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. Learn more about her work at 

Here Comes the Couple: A chance to win Free Wedding Flowers

Monday, November 19th, 2012

I’m so inspired by the creative and generous souls around me. When I see their work, I am compelled to share it!

Last week, on a visit to Seattle floral designer and flower-grower Kelly Sullivan’s, I couldn’t take my eyes off of a beautiful floral still-life arranged on her end table.

Here’s what it looked like:

For anyone obsessed with the joy of garden flowers, you’ll immediately recognize the Helleborus blooms at the top of this image and the little sprigs of Pieris japonica flowers used to spell out L-O-V-E.

“That’s gorgeous, Kelly!” I exclaimed. “What are you up to?”

“I’m giving away one-thousand dollars’ worth of wedding flowers,” she explained. “To one Washington couple getting married next year. It’s my way of honoring marriage equality.”

Kelly is the owner of Botanique Flowers, a by-appointment floral design studio in Seattle. She’s known for creating seasonally-inspired designs with a romantic, natural feeling. I previously wrote about Kelly and her subscription CSA-style bouquet program (the article was entitled “Floral Choreography,” and you can read it here). Kelly grows many of the flowers and foliage for her designs in her own cutting garden. And, she designed my cutting garden, which I’m slowly installing and hope to have finished next spring.

Kelly’s new project, the Love Is Love Sweepstakes, celebrates the passing of Referendum 74 with FREE wedding flowers for one Seattle couple who will be married in 2013. “I believe LOVE IS LOVE, period,” Kelly says. “Botanique stands behind any couple that wants to celebrate their love through marriage.”

If you’re planning on tieing the knot in the greater Seattle area anytime next year, you are eligible to win $1,000 worth of wedding floral design services from Botanique. Contestants can enter by visiting the Love is Love page on Botanique’s website and filling out the entry form.

All entries must be received by 5 p.m. (PST) on Friday, December 7th. Kelly will notify the winning couple on Monday, December 10th.

All I have to say is kudos to Kelly for dreaming up this wonderful gesture of love and support for the couples of Washington. I hope other designers are similarly inspired! The lucky couple will be doubly lucky to have Botanique Flowers as a celebratory symbol on their wedding day.

Here’s one more gorgeous floral still-life, created by Kelly:

Seasonal eye candy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Eco-conscious flower farmer and floral designer Kelly Sullivan of Seattle’s Botanique Flowers arrived with this gorgeous bouquet at a lunch I hosted last week. I had to share it!

Kelly Sullivan's evocative spring bouquet

Here’s what she included in the diminutive urn:

From her own garden: purple-blue grape hyacinths (Muscari); pale pink and purple flowers from a groundcover called Pulmonaria; geranium foliage; and variegated foliage/scented pale-pink flowers from a shrub called Daphne odora.

From the garden center: It was too early to harvest these from her own backyard, so Kelly bought potted anemone plants and clipped several of their romantic black-centered flowers in indigo and dark pink to add to the bouquet.

Everything is stablized with a small piece of chicken wire inside the vase, which allowed the designer to get the full, cascading effect she wanted. I was smitten!

So, when we had a talk and book-signing at Ravenna Gardens on Sunday, I brought along her vase to add to the book display. It’s simply sublime!

Kelly's bouquet looks pretty dazzling with our book display.

THANK YOU, Kelly!!!