Debra Prinzing

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Episode 430: Two Virginia floral voices: Shanda Zelaya of Flor de Casa Designs and Kate Meyer of Chatham Flower Farm

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Fifty States of Slow Flowers continues today with a stop in Virginia.

This year-long project is coming to a close and it has been so rewarding to bring you a large cross-section of voices and stories of passionate Slow Flowers Members.

I love it that we can approach conversations about floral ventures from two perspectives: from a designer’s point of view and from a grower’s viewpoint.

That’s what today’s interview accomplishes as we check in with two members in Virginia.

Today, I’m thrilled to feature Shanda Zelaya of Flor de Casa Designs, based in Arlington, Virginia (serving the DC Metro area in the Northern part of the state) and Kate Meyer of Chatham Flower Farm in Painter, Virginia (on the Chesapeak Bay/Eastern Shore). Together, they give us a portrait of to the city and the country and how flowers factor into both areas.

Studio wedding and event florist, Shanda Zelaya of Flor de Casa Designs

First, let me introduce Shanda Zelaya. We met in 2018 when she attended the Slow Flowers Summit in Washington, D.C., and we recently reconnected at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock. I’m delighted that you can hear Shanda’s story and her path to floristry.

Born in Costa Rica, flowers have surrounded Shanda since infancy.  It wasn’t until she married her best friend in 2015 that she realized just how much she loved flowers.  A year later, Flor de Casa Designs was born.  Inspired by comments from a complete stranger, Shanda’s Northern Virginia based floral studio caters to brides that have a taste for natural beauty. ​

She specializes in fine art floral design and offers a design style for couples  wanting loose, organic, textured and free-flowing flower arrangements that take inspiration from the beautiful blooms we find in nature.  No roundy-moundy’s found here, folks, Shanda insists.

Shanda Zelaya of Flor de Casa Designs, one of our Virginia guests!

Flor de Casa Designs has been featured in several publications, including: Washingtonian Weddings, United with Love, Wedding Chicks and Baltimore Magazine (June 2019 Issue) among others. ​

Find and follow Flor de Casa Designs at these social places:

Flor de Casa Designs on Facebook

Flor de Casa Designs on Instagram

Flor de Casa Designs on Pinterest

That was fun! Hearing about anyone’s path to flowers is inspiring. Of course, each person’s story is unique. But there is often a common and universal thread that threads Shanda’s story to my story; my story to your story and on it goes. That is a  yearning to connect with nature, to express ourselves creatively and artistically, and to find a profession in balance with a lifestyle of beauty. Don’t you agree?

Kate Meyer and John Fitzpatrick of Chatham Flower Farm (left) and a field of their dahlias on Virginia’s Eastern Shore (right)

So that thread continues with our second guest, Kate Meyer of Chatham Flower Farm. Kate has an equally fascinating journey to share and you’ll find yourself wanting to put Virginia on your travel list for 2020 just to see where she farms and lives.

Kate Meyer and her husband John Fitzpatrick I knew they wanted to settle on the Eastern Shore a few years back when John came to harvest straw with his brother’s company Aden Brook. They had spent many summers there in Virginia during straw season, extending the length of time each year. After both spending many years traveling for work, Kate says they needed to feel grounded in a place of their own. It was just a matter of finding not only the perfect location, but a home as well.

The historic Chatham Flower Farm.

They found themselves unsuccessful after months spent trying to purchase another farm on the shore – and started a new search. In one day they looked at 13 properties and Chatham Farm was the last one they visited.

The barn serves many purposes, from farm-to-table dinners to art shows.

As Kate writes on Chatham Flower Farm’s web site: “We knew as soon as we walked in the door that we had found our home. This farm was perfect in virtually every single way and has given us an amazing base to build from. By adding our growing in the same ground, we are able to add to the farm’s long history. The land is the framework for our dream of growing beautiful Flowers, Lavender and Herbs, all while combining the Barn Studio , flower and artist workshops to support the history of this land and area of Virginia.”

Chatham Flower Farm’s late-summer harvest adorns tables during a Meet me at the Table community farm dinner.

Find and follow Chatham Flower Farm at these social places:

Chatham Flower Farm on Facebook

Chatham Flower Farm on Instagram

Chatham Flower Farm on Pinterest

Meet More Slow Flowers Members from Virginia

In all, there are 20 members – floral designers and flower farmers – in Virginia and we’ve been able to feature several of them here in the past — including Lisa Mason Ziegler of Gardener’s Workshop, Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios, Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, Holly Heider Chapple of Hope Flower Farm and Jessica Hall and Chris Auville of Harmony Harvest Farm. Click on the links above to listen to those past Virginia episodes!

Photographed at Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Wash. (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I wrote and recorded the introduction and transition segments for today’s episode last Friday, Black Friday, I guess, when everyone is supposed to be shopping or putting up holiday decorations. My husband walked into my office and found me at the computer at around 7:30 am and he said: “You’re already working?” I thought about it for a split second and answered: “It’s not work if I love what I’m doing.”

That’s truly how I feel. I bounce out of bed every morning eager to continue this passionate endeavor of nurturing my Slow Flowers relationships in our community and promoting the Slow Flowers Movement as far and wide as possible. It is an honor and a continual source of joy and satisfaction. And PS, I didn’t sit at the keyboard all day. I set aside plenty of time to plant the last 100 or so tulip and narcissus bulbs!

It has been a whirlwind season, not only because of the holidays, but because on Monday, December 2nd, we kicked off the Early Bird Ticket Sales for the 2020 Slow Flowers Summit. That’s right — take advantage of grabbing your registration for the 2020 Slow Flowers Summit and save $100 off your ticket price if you purchase by December 31st.

High Place at Filoli
FILOLI: the recently-renovated “High Place” at Filoli in Woodside, Calif., destination for the Slow Flowers Summit 2020

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.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is brought to you by, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers. This Podcast has been downloaded more than 553,000 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.


Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Our partnership 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! You can find the Buy-One-Gift-One special offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Longfield Gardens, which 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens 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

Our final sponsor thanks goes 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 You can also find a link to our latest article for the November Johnny’s Advantage newsletter. Johnny’s asked me to write about Sustainable Floral Design after hearing Tobey Nelson’s presentation at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit. My Q&A with Tobey is inspiring and chock-full of “better choice mechanics and techniques for foam-free floristry” and more resources.

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
Music from: