Debra Prinzing

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Episode 623:  Celebrating our 10th Anniversary! From the Slow Flowers Podcast Archives – an Encore of Episode 270 with sisters and floral entrepreneurs Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party and A Milkhouse Party

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023
Dawn Clark and Mary Coombs of A Garden Party LLC

Today is the 4th Encore Episode as our decade-long retrospective to highlight one episode from each year of the past decade and bring the best of the Slow Flowers Podcast to you. If you’re a longtime listener, you might recognize these flower folks; if you’re new to the Slow Flowers Podcast, I’m excited to introduce you to them for the first time.

Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party LLC
Mary Coombs (right) and Dawn Clark (left) of A Garden Party LLC

Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Dawn Clark and Mary Coombs, horticulturists and floral designers, sisters and co-owners of A Garden Party LLC in Elmer, New Jersey. I visited Dawn and Mary at their studio in South New Jersey in the fall of 2016. We recorded this interview in the studio adjacent to Mary’s home and later visited the women’s new event space located just down the road — called A Milkhouse Party. Fast-forward seven years and both enterprises continue to thrive and provide gorgeous, seasonal floral design and events to customers in NJ, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Dawn Clark and Mary Coombs
Dawn Clark and Mary Coombs

Mary and Dawn first appeared on the Slow Flowers Podcast Episode 270, which you can find here. The show notes include an extensive bio about Mary and Dawn’s paths from studying horticulture, working in garden centers, and building their floral vision.

bridal bouquet by A Garden Party LLC
Bridal bouquet by A Garden Party LLC

I am thrilled that we’ve had a number of opportunities to feature their design work and creativity, including publishing seasonal wedding bouquets and a farm-to-table event photographed at A Milkhouse Party — in the pages of Slow Flowers Journal Volume One.

Read “You’re Invited” here:

Thanks so much for joining me today! I’ll be hosting an IG Live conversation with Dawn and Mary today, August 16th, so check it out @slowflowerssociety — and you’ll find all of my Slow Flowers Podcast 10th anniversary Live Chats in the archives there.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Farmgirl Flowers 2022

Thank you to our lead sponsor, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $10 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at

Thank you to The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. Online education is more important this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at

Thank you to Details Flowers Software, a platform specifically designed to help florists and designers do more and earn more. With an elegant and easy-to-use system–Details is here to improve profitability, productivity, and organization for floral businesses of all shapes and sizes. Grow your bottom line through professional proposals and confident pricing with Details’ all-in-one platform. All friends of the Slow Flowers Podcast will receive a 7-day free trial of Details Flowers Software. Learn more at

Thank you to CalFlowers, the leading floral trade association in California, providing valuable transportation and other benefits to flower growers and the entire floral supply chain in California and 48 other states. The Association is a leader in bringing fresh cut flowers to the U.S. market and in promoting the benefits of flowers to new generations of American consumers. Learn more at

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

I love all this floral goodness and I am so happy you joined me today! The Slow Flowers Podcast is a member-supported endeavor, downloaded more than one million 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 our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. If you’re new to our weekly Show and our long-running Podcast, check out all of our resources at

Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. 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.  Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time. Thanks so much for joining us today and I’ll see you next week!

Music credits:
Chymique; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

Clap Along; In The Field

Episode 270: Meet Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party Florist, a New Jersey-based floral design, events and workshop studio

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

2upI’ve been wanting to visit Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party Florist ever since we first met at a Chapel Designers conference in 2014. The sisters are based in Elmer, New Jersey, which is in the southern, rural area of the “Garden State.”


Dawn Clark (left) and Mary Coombs (right) are a sister duo with so much love and passion behind their combined creative efforts.

I had an instant connection with Mary and Dawn when we met, because I sensed their passion for horticulture and floriculture, and appreciated their desire to weave local flowers into their business. As it turned out, what I sensed was incredibly accurate. These former 4-H’ers combine a cutting garden, floral design for weddings and events, and now design workshops and private gatherings at their new event space called A Milkhouse Party.


Ready for the party! at A Milkhouse Party, the new event space.

On their web site, they write: we share gifts from our garden and treasures from our local growers. We spend an enormous amount of time and effort sourcing (and sometimes even growing!) these bits of beauty. The farm fresh deliveries are like Christmas morning!

sm_danielle-jeff-farm-to-table-wedding-photography-love-story-studios-0061For many reasons, we focus on designing with as much locally grown material as possible:

  1. FRESHNESS: hand-picked from our garden by our team of designers and fresh deliveries from our local flower farmers, it just doesn’t get any fresher!
  2. VARIETY: Of those rare varieties, what garden gems they are! Also, we can hand pick the exact stems and the perfect shade of pink.
  3. ECO-FRIENDLY: This is a green industry for sure! Producing little non-compostable trash, much of our work goes back to the earth, so we should take care of it. Many of our local growers grow organically. The little bugs are a bonus in my book! 
  4. ORIGIN MATTERS: The farm to table movement has expanded to include the field to vase movement! We proudly sell locally grown and domestic blooms. We will admit that we do not sell 100% domestic product, but as the demand increases for US grown flowers, the US farms are growing as well!

We hope that our studio is aiding the SLOW FLOWERS movement in some small way. See our listing on SLOW FLOWERS or find another local florist near you committed to sourcing local flowers. 

Lush and local, a bountiful wedding bouquet by A Garden Party's Mary & Dawn.

Lush and local, a bountiful wedding bouquet by A Garden Party’s Mary & Dawn.

Mary, little sister, is mom to sons Lee – 6 and Sam – 3; she is a proud farmer’s wife (insert shameless plug for Coombs Sod Farms here), a hunter of garden gems, a lover of wine & cheese (who isn’t?), a collector of friends, a mama’s girl (youngest sibling trait?), a creator of pretty things, and a believer that the simplest things bring the greatest pleasure. Mary admits to being the extrovert in the partnership

Dawn, slightly older sister, is a happy mama to two beautiful girls (Grace, 11 and Leah, 7), an obsessive organizer, an avid reader with a kindle binge every now and then, a supporter of trashy reality tv, a true beach lover (work or play!) a hermit on Mondays, a loving wife to her even more introverted husband (she says she’s the outgoing one in that relationship) and a true believer in doing what she loves: flowers!


I am so encouraged by their involvement in, especially when I receive emails like on Mary sent me last season. Her subject line: “It is Working.”

 “I was meeting with a client last night and I asked her how she found us. Much to my delight, she found us via! She is a perfect fit for my company and I am proud to be listed on this site. Thank you for working so hard on this!”