Debra Prinzing

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Episode 284: Wedding Coordinator Aimée Newlander and the new Slow Weddings Network

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
Slow Flowers designed by Bonny Doon Garden Co. for Aimée's Slow Weddings clients

Slow Flowers designed by Bonny Doon Garden Co. for Aimée Newlander’s Slow Weddings clients

Valentine’s Day is over — are you ready to relax and celebrate your success?!

I hope so! If you’re looking  for a great way to invest in yourself and feed your creativity in a new way, please join Anne Bradfield and Jason Miller and me at the upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. It will take place in Seattle on March 6th and 7th and you can find a link to more details here. This intimate 2-day event is designed for creatives to boost their powers of language, narrative and storytelling — on the page and on video. We’re excite to share our expertise and help you develop your business and your brand – so check it out.


Before we get started with today’s interview featuring a fantastic guest, I want to share a big announcement with you.

Please put Sunday, July 2nd on your calendar and save the date to join me in Seattle at the first SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT, a one-day conference that I’m calling a “TED talk for flower lovers.”

For years, I’ve been talking with a few of you about producing a “slow flowers summit,” essentially devoting time and space to gather thought leaders and change agents to discuss the momentum of the Slow Flowers Movement.

Now, the timing is right to hold such a forum. The 2017 Slow Flowers Summit achieves and recognizes many things.

00581_DP_AFW_Badge_2017First, it coincides with American Flowers Week, our third annual campaign to promote domestic flowers, farms and florists, scheduled again to take place June 28 through July 4th. Holding the Summit during American Flowers Week allows us to celebrate and recognize the mission of Slow Flowers.

Second, it allows people attending AIFD, the American Institute of Floral Designers annual conference in Seattle that week, to access high-quality, substantial American-grown educational programming that they will not obtain at their conference.

And third, this year’s timing allows us to bring in keynote speaker Amy Stewart to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her influential book, Flower Confidential. So many of you were inspired to change your own relationship with flowers after Amy published Flower Confidential in 2007 and we’re thrilled to bring her to the Summit.

Our other speakers are pretty amazing, too. We have Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., a past guest of this podcast and the florist originally profiled by Amy in her book. We’re honored to welcome award-winning garden blogger and author Chantal Aida Gordon of The Horticult blog, who will moderate a panel on Diversity in the Floral and Horticulture industries. She’ll be joined by some great friends of, Leslie Bennett, principal of Pine House Edible Gardens in Oakland, Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture in Seattle, also a past guest of this podcast, and floral artist Nicole Cordier Wahlquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle’s Lola Creative will speak about “reinvention,” sharing her transition from landscape architect to floral and event designer, and our favorite flower rebel Lisa Waud of pot & box will bring the insights from her experience with The Flower House and Detroit Flower Week to lead a conversation on nurturing creativity. Emily and Lisa are both past guests of this podast.

All of these important voices will be shepherded through the day by our very charming and charismatic master of ceremonies, James Baggett. He’s a top editor at Country Gardens and Better Homes & Gardens and is one of the most devoted to publishing my stories about flower farming across the U.S. We’re delighted he’ll be joining us as emcee and media sponsor.

In the coming weeks we’ll host many of these speakers as guests, so expect to hear more as we build momentum for American Flowers Week and the Summit. Tickets are $175 for the day and we have a special rate for Slow Flowers members, so check it out.


Aimée Newlander, wedding coordinator and creator of the Slow Weddings Network

Aimée Newlander, wedding coordinator and creator of the Slow Weddings Network

SlowWeddingsLogo2Okay, let’s turn to the inspiring Aimée Newlander.

I first met Aimée in March 2015 while visiting Santa Cruz to spend time with Teresa Sabankaya. Teresa put together a little brunch and invited some of the area’s kindred spirits, people involved in the Slow Coast sustainable business community located along the fifty mile stretch of mountains & ocean in the midst of California’s famed coastline.

One of those attending was Aimée, a wedding coordinator with whom Teresa collaborates, when couples who work with Weddings by Aimée order locally-grown flowers for their ceremonies.

Aimée told me she was using “the mindful planner” as a hash-tag and that she planned to soon launch a Slow Weddings forum.

The two of us stayed in touch and continued to exchange ideas as her project took off and last August. When we held a Slow Flowers meet-up in Santa Cruz, Aimee joined us to share more details about the coming launch of the Slow Weddings Network.

Fast forward to last fall and what began as a Facebook Group with 100 members has evolved into the nonprofit Slow Weddings Network.

a SLOW WEDDING, Santa Cruz-style

a SLOW WEDDING, Santa Cruz-style

Here is the description — I think the mission will resonate with many of you in the Slow Flowers community.

We seek to shake up the status quo of the wedding industry, to reclaim the sacred space for couples who are seeking authentic and “present” weddings. But, more than that we are the nexus for a movement that is long overdue. It’s about educating from the inside out.  Own what you are passionate about.  We are about having high standards, education and building and bringing awareness to the masses.  You don’t have to have a fast wedding…. you can be well, enjoy the process and end with a wedding celebration you are present for, participate in, enjoy and will remember for the rest of your life.

“Slow Weddings Network” is a not-for-profit membership organization made up of wedding vendors around the world. Its directory of vendors includes wedding professionals, artisans, musicians and Mom & Pop shops and other small businesses.  Wellness, adventure and other ‘experience’ vendors that will enhance destination weddings are also included.

Artisan sweets, from Slow Weddings Network bakeries and pastry makers.

Artisan sweets, from Slow Weddings Network bakeries and pastry makers.

As founder and executive director of the Slow Weddings Network, Aimée Newlander wears many hats. Here is a bit more about Aimée:

She left a very successful career in and around the health and wellness corporate world to pursue a long-standing passion for organizing and managing events. That led to the founding of Weddings by Aimée in 2009 and her ‘mindful planning’ approach.  She knows that educating couples on how to feel prepared and organized for their ceremony and how to prioritize choices is so important.  Her business quickly grew, thanks to creativity and possessing a true artistic flair that has helped organize all types of individualized weddings — from intimate and organic affairs to glamorous and opulent occasions.

Aimée’s professionalism, warm personality and superb eye for detail means that couples and their families are able to truly relax and enjoy the planning process without having to worry about a thing on wedding day. Aimée considers herself a “Destination wedding planner”, specializing in areas such as Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Carmel, California coastline as well as International locations (Italy, France, Mexico).

“Team” is a big part of who Aimée is, from her time playing international Soccer, to her passion for collaborating with other vendors at her events. She has managed budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, cultivated stakeholder relationships for large scale events, and offers expertise in venue sourcing and procurement.

One of Aimée’s passions is developing venues from a raw space, molding a larger vision from scratch. She’s applied her passion, vision, and skills to founding the Slow Weddings Network, and hopes to see the global movement grow into a well known organization.

Dreamy venues and beautiful attire for Slow Weddings ceremonies.

Dreamy venues and beautiful attire for Slow Weddings ceremonies.

Follow and find Weddings by Aimée and the Slow Weddings Network at these social places:

Slow Weddings on Facebook

Slow Weddings on Instagram

Weddings by Aimee on Facebook

Weddings by Aimee on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 158,500 times by listeners like you.
THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.


Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens 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. Visit them at

More sponsor thanks goes to 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

And finally, thank you 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

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:
Harpoon by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
Not Drunk by The Joy Drops
Additional music from:

Country Gardens: A Lavender Life

Friday, May 15th, 2009
Look inside for Debra's feature about Oregon lavender farmer Sarah Bader

Look inside for Debra's feature about Oregon lavender farmer Sarah Bader

I’m sending a huge *virtual* bouquet of aromatic lavender to the lovely and wise Oregon grower Sarah Bader. Sarah is the subject of a story I wrote for the Summer 2009 issue of COUNTRY GARDENS magazine — out on newsstands now.

Another big bouquet goes to James Baggett, the awesome editor at Country Gardens who asked me to interview Sarah and write the piece. He has an uncanny knack for finding just the right story subjects for moi. And Sarah was a perfectly wonderful plantswoman to profile.

She is the purveyor of Lavender at Stonegate in West Linn, a village about 20 minutes outside Portland. As you’re planning summertime excursions, think about a thoroughly enjoyable detour to Stonegate. Sarah, her children, small staff, neighbors and friends – not to mention lavender enthusiasts from around the country – celebrate the season with several fun events, plant sales and u-pick opportunities. Just think, an aromatic escape that feeds your eyes, fills your head, and and nurtures your spirit. One step onto this farm and you’ll be cramming your hatchback full of dozens of lavender varieties. [UPDATE: Lavender at Stonegate’s “opening day” for the summer season is May 22nd. The Summer Lavender Festival weekend is set for July 11-12. You can check the web site for other events and open hours.]

Just to give you a whiff of Sarah’s lavender life, I want to share the opening lines of my story, “Purple Haze.” Laurie Black photographed the story. I’ve had the chance to collaborate with Laurie on a past article and I do love her work! Here it is:

countrygardenslavender002She lives and breathes all things lavender. When gentlewoman-farmer Sarah Bader isn’t working side by side with a few employees to propagate lavender cuttings and harvest armloads of the aromatic herb, she’s walking along hazy purple rows to evaluate her best-performing lavender cultivars. She gardens with lavender, cooks with lavender, perfumes her home with lavender, and is even writing a book about lavender.

Sarah calls her West Linn, Oregon, farm Lavender at Stonegate. About 20 minutes from Portland, the venture takes its name from a hand-carved stone pillar near the entry of her 5-acre parcel. Sarah began growing lavender as a hobby – a way to make her agricultural property productive after its original hazelnut orchard suffered from blight. Inspired by a visit in 2002 to the Sequim (Washington) Lavender Festival, Sarah started with 380 Lavandula sp. plants. She laughs at her beginner’s ambition: “I wanted to try growing 10 to 15 kinds of lavender. I jokingly called that first effort ‘my learning curve field’ because I couldn’t plant in straight rows.”

countrygardenslavender005I called Sarah this morning to see how she thought the final story and photography turned out. She was so pleased.

Pleased, too, that Country Gardens readers from all around the country, coast to coast, have already begun to contact Lavender at Stonegate with inquiries about special events this summer, about buying and growing lavender – and to tell Sarah what an inspiration she is to them.

That’s exactly how I feel every time I talk with Sarah. She is an inspiration.

The final lines of my story capture this woman’s strength, passion and engaging spirit:

Sarah’s philosophy is summed up by a hand-lettered sign that hangs in her greenhouse: “We have the honor of assisting the creator in making little miracles every day.”






It’s time to think about spring in the garden

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Yes, it may only be the second week of January, but our Noble firs and cedar boughs are now past their prime (and in my case, at least) cut up and ready for recycling in the yard-waste bin.

Onward to spring!

To get me in the mood, I have this inspiring drawing pinned next to my desk.

My friend Jean Zaputil, an artist and garden designer, illustrated and hand-colored it as a most charming New Year greeting.

The scene depicts a songbird perched on top of a hellebore, with the wistful and compelling lines, which read:

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” 

[attributed to Percy Byssne Shelley]

Perhaps this saying will give you something to hold onto in the dormant months of winter! Spring is coming soon!

Also getting me in the mood for spring: Country Gardens’ early spring 2009 edition, which just arrived in my mailbox. 

I opened it up to find my story about friend and designer Bonnie Manion, owner of Mon Petit Chou, a vintage design business based in Encinitas, California. Bonnie blogs at VintageGardenGal – a cheery and charming spot to visit – you’ll want to do so frequently!

The story, commissioned by James A. Baggett, editor of Country Gardens, is called “Tour de Forced Bulbs,” and it features Bonnie’s designs pairing forced spring bulbs with forced flowering branches – arranged in vintage containers.

Here is the story in its entirety. A shorter version appears in the magazine, along with the step-by-step instructions for planting a container with hyacinth bulbs and pussywillow branches. The story was photographed by Ed Gohlich and produced by field editor Andrea Caughey.

TOUR de FORCED BULBS: Get a jump on the season by pairing vintage vessels with spring-fresh forced bulbs to create uniquely charming displays.

The promise of spring appears in fresh-green leaves emerging from the pointed tops of daffodil, tulip, hyacinth and amaryllis bulbs at Bonnie Manion’s garden in Encinitas, California. Swelling buds on her flowering trees – apricot, plum and peach – hint at new growth about to unfurl into delicate blossoms and tender foliage.

Bonnie, a collector and purveyor of garden antiques and cottage décor, celebrates the season’s arrival by growing a multitude of flowering bulbs. But instead of digging holes in the ground for her many bulb varieties, this clever gardener relies on unique vintage containers for forcing and displaying masses of spring blooms.

She named her vintage design business Mon Petit Chou (translated from French, it is a term of endearment meaning “my little cabbage head”). The whimsical phrase encompasses her love of French antiques and American barnyard implements alike.

“I look for pieces with a history but that can also be repurposed and used in a fabulous new way,” Bonnie explains. She custom-designs her arrangements for special events and commissions, often advising customers about what to plant inside a chipped enamel kettle, a wire market basket or even an intricately-carved wooden drawer.

Come springtime, Bonnie considers flowering bulbs and branches as the perfect partners.

Some gardeners are intimidated by forcing bulbs, but to Bonnie, nothing could easier. “In a way, bulbs are similar to a chicken egg in that they are also one of nature’s perfect self-contained packages,” she says. “They have everything that’s required to bloom into a flower. There’s a lot of simplicity to growing them.”

Using fresh-cut branches, the flower and leaf buds of which have yet to open, requires little effort, Bonnie adds. Whether brought indoors for flower arranging, or used as accents to planted containers, the tiny buds slowly open until flowers gracefully unfurl. “They last quite a while, especially if you keep the branches in water,” she advises.

With a spring palette ranging from soft pastels to bright primary colors, bulbs and branches pair companionably with timeworn artifacts of the past. “I like the yin-and-yang of it. To me, the weathered patina of old containers goes well with the colors of my spring bulbs.”

To grow bulbs in containers, Bonnie begins with the right vessel, selecting an eye-catching piece with a generously-sized opening at the top. Bulbs don’t require much root space, meaning that even a four-inch-deep wooden box is adequate as a planter. Deeper containers can be used as well. “You can keep the soil level low around the bulbs, and use the height of the container to support bulbs such as paper whites or amaryllis, as they grow tall and reach for sunlight,” Bonnie says.

Interesting vintage containers include chicken feeders, tool carriers, old boxes or pails, hay racks, sugar tins, large and small funnels, oil cans, children’s wagons or carts, old urns, kitchen strainers – “virtually any container with a wonderful vintage character,” she says.

Bonnie’s finished designs look spontaneously fresh. “I get a lot of my plant and container ideas from my travels,” explains this vintage garden gal.

She frequents large and small flea markets and other off-beat vintage garden antique sources around the country and occasionally visits Europe for inspiration. “I might see a single potted rose in a Paris flower shop. Or, I’ll discover a dramatic floral arrangement in a London hotel lobby and try to recreate it at home.”

Bulb-filled vintage containers never fail to make a statement. “Put them in a setting in your garden where you need some ornamentation,” Bonnie suggests. “You can have fun bringing old pieces back to life and making them functional again. Get as creative as you like, and your pieces will be uniquely you!”

Forcing Bulbs

Try Bonnie Manion’s methods of planting spring-flowering bulbs in an unusual vintage or salvaged container. Look for blooms that will show off the best features of the vessel, such as crimson-streaked tulips that echo the red painted handle of an enamel kettle. Here are some tips:

  • Make note of each bulb’s “Plant-to-Bloom” timeframe to coincide with your needs. Bloom times vary greatly and you will need to plan ahead when planting.
  • Forcing bulbs in soil, versus water only, will ensure the bulb has the ability to bloom again year after year (replanted in your outside flower beds or another vintage container).
  • Use organic or general-purpose potting soil. The soil should reach a level one-inch below the container’s rim. Make sure you have good drainage so that any excess water is able to drip out of the base (you may need to use a saucer to protect furniture or windowsills from water damage).
  • Plant dormant spring bulbs directly into the potting soil. Bulbs should be root-side down and pointed-tips upward. It’s okay to pack bulbs “shoulder to shoulder” for a massed and abundant result. In general, you can completely cover daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs with at least one inch of potting soil. The top third of an amaryllis bulb should peek out above the soil surface. Pack potting soil firmly around bulbs to anchor them in place and water once thoroughly to close any air pockets in the soil.
  • Bulbs require sunlight to awaken from their dormant state, and begin forming roots, stems, and flower parts under their onion-skin-like sheath.
  • Protect the container from extremes (place on a porch or under eaves in milder climates; bring indoors in colder ones). Do not let the soil dry out, but keep it lightly moist. In general, bulbs prefer to be on the drier side, rather than wet.
  • If you want maximum versatility with your designs, plant bulbs in small plastic nursery pots. One or two bulbs will fit inside a six-inch, soil-filled pot. You can plant up dozens of bulbs and care for them using directions above. Once they begin to bloom, arrange the bulbs inside larger containers and layer Spanish moss on top to cover your secret.

Check out one of Bonnie’s favorite bulb sources: Easy-to-Grow Bulbs.

Forcing Branches

Young branches of woody trees and shrubs are supple and pliable in the spring. This makes them easy to weave into trellis-like designs as Bonnie has done. If you cut the branches before their flower or leaf buds open, you can bring them indoors for long-lasting vase arrangements. Better yet, add cut branches to outdoor containers as a complement to spring bulbs. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Look around your landscape for inspiration. Do you have a golden forsythia, coral-bark maple, or flowering plum? As many of these woody plants are in need of early spring thinning or pruning, save the cut branches for container or vase designs. A neighbor might also allow you to lightly prune a few branches. In late winter or early spring, local markets or florists are good sources for cut branches, such as curly willow, quince, or witch hazel.
  • Use a pair of clean, sharp garden shears, secateurs or loppers to branches at a 45-degree angle. Make the cut at the bottom of a stem where it joins a larger branch.
  • You can stick the pointed base of each cut branch directly into the planting soil, at least three inches deep. As you water your bulbs, the branches will soak up needed moisture to keep the buds plump until they bloom.
  • You can also arrange cut branches in a water-filled vase. Flower preservatives can keep the water muck-free, but nothing’s better than replacing water daily.