Debra Prinzing

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Slow Flowers, Montana Style

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Our lovely gathering of Slow Flowers aficionados, pictured at Hart’s Garden & Nursery in Missoula.

Earlier this month, I flew to Missoula, a Western Montana, college town where there is quite a bit happening on the local flower farming scene. t was on my way to speak at the Rocky Mountain Gardening Live conference held on September 11-12 at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana, just 30 minutes outside the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Kathy Sherba, Carly Jenkins and Kristen Tack — all cohorts in Missoula’s Westside Flower Market

Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm, with me (right)

A giant sunflower puts a smile on my face, snapped during my tour of Mighty Fine Farm.

The reason for this Seattle-to-Missoula leg of my trip was to meet up with Carly Jenkins and Jamie Rogers of Killing Frost Farm, Kathy and Adam Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm and George and Marcia Hart of Hart’s Garden & Nursery — all in the Missoula flower farming and Slow Flowers community.

Carly and I met in person earlier this year when she attended Tobey Nelson’s Whidbey Island Flower Workshop, which featured Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events and Kaleb Willis of Kaleb Norman James Design. Carly, or CJ, as she’s often called, gave me the big news about the second-season launch of Westside Flower Market, a wholesale farmer-to-florist venture that she and Kathy incubated beginning last summer in Missoula garage owned by Carly and Jamie. You can hear our Slow Flowers Podcast interview from that visit here.

Great recent coverage on local & slow flowers in The Missoula Independent.

This year, six additional flower farmers have joined the momentum and they are doing some really awesome things. Read more about the Slow Flowers Missoula story in this excellent piece that just ran in The Missoula Independent.

George and Marcia graciously hosted a barbecue, farm tour and meet-up at their property.

And while I didn’t count totals, I bet we had about 30 folks in attendance,  including some who drove up to 4 hours from places like Kalispell to join us!

From left: Special guest Rep. Willis Curdy, George Hart & Marcia Hart, flower farmers and hosts.

I was delighted to introduce the Slow Flowers Movement to all those who attended, including Montana Rep. Willis Curdy, member of the agriculture committee for the state legislature, who just wanted to learn more about flower farming in his district — very cool!

A quartet of fabulous flower farmers: Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm, Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and Kathy Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm. Photographed at Mighty Fine Farm in Missoula.

We also had some very special guests in attendance — Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho! Jeriann and Ralph are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast, which we recorded last year upon the publication of their fabulous book, Deadhead: The Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers.

A last-minute flower farmers’ vaycay (thanks to an invitation from Carly), their 350-mile road trip . . .  and we were blessed with Jeriann and Ralph’s generous souls, playful personalities and amazing wisdom. People soaked up every word they had to say. Southeastern Idaho’s growing conditions are similar enough to those of Western Montana’s that our crowed wanted to hear every word — and wanted to buy signed copies of Deadhead!

Ralph and Jeriann shared their story and their flower farming wisdom at our Meet Up. Photographed at the beautiful grounds of Hart’s Garden & Nursery, Missoula

High tunnels filled with late summer dahlias at Hart’s Garden & Nursery.

An unnamed dahlia at Hart’s Garden & Nursery. The brilliance offset the smoky skies caused by Western Montana’s forest fires.

That night, Carly, Kathy, Ralph, Jeriann  and I stayed up late, talking and visiting under the Montana moon. It has been a rough few months there, with the rampant wildfires, so we all were delighted that the breezes cleared the skies for one beautiful evening. A very special thank you to Adam Sherba’s parents for lending us use of their fabulous Missoula home. Jeriann, Ralph and I stayed there in great Montana luxury. In the morning, I watched deer and wild turkeys roaming through the hillside below the home.

Chico Hot Springs, a favorite of everyone in Montana.

I drove from Missoula to Pray (about 250 miles east) on Sunday, September 10th, arriving before dinnertime to check into Chico Hot Springs. CHS is a very special place — historic for its dude ranch vibe, its restorative 104-degree soaking pools fed by the springs and its adjacency to Yellowstone. The original lodge, where I stayed, dates to 1900, but the first recorded reference to the Hot Springs goes back to 1865. This is a place for kicking back and relaxing, which I did lots of. But now that there is a Conference Center to host corporate events, people come for multiple reasons.

All local flowers from Bozeman floral designer Remy Greco-Brault, owner of Labellum. Remy taught a pin-on floral workshop after my lecture.

Rocky Mountain Gardening LIVE, with dahlias grown by #kangaroohousegardens in Hamilton, Montana

I was there as guest of Dan and Andra Spurr, editor and publisher of Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine.

This wonderful quarterly magazine is for gardeners throughout the Rocky Mountains, encompassing stories and subscribers from the Canadian-US border down to Colorado and includes Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

I was delighted to speak about Slow Flowers and share the story of what’s happening in Montana and beyond to an audience of more than 80 attendees.

Several flower farmers and florists were there, which made me feel welcome and allowed me to brag about their achievements — including Cindy Hanson of The Herb And Garden in Helena, a Slow Flowers member who I recently featured in Florists’ Review/Slow Flowers Journal.

After my time at Chico Hot Springs, I left knowing that even more folks are supportive of our movement, our cause, and our purpose. I met florists who promised to join and list their businesses on and I made lifelong friends with Dan and Andra, who couldn’t have been more generous in their hospitality.

A final bonus — spending two days with my siblings, Scott Prinzing and his wife Kristen Rickels Prinzing. They live in Billings and have both contributed to Rocky Mountain Gardening in the past, with articles (Kris) and photography (Scott). As a very special treat, they agreed to record the upcoming holiday special music episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — listen for that Episode 328 on December 20th. I have no musical talent, but it’s nice to have siblings who do!

Episode 237: Deadhead ~ The Bindweed Way with Idaho’s Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho ~ God's Country

Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho ~ God’s Country

The endless scene of field flowers at Bindweed Farm.

The endless scene of field flowers at Bindweed Farm.

Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm

Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm

Where do remote resort communities like Sun Valley, Idaho, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, get their flowers?

These high-desert mountain areas aren’t exactly huge agricultural regions, but today’s guests have built their successful flower farming business on serving these two luxury markets.

Please meet flower farmers Ralph Thurston and Jeriann Sabin. The talented wife-husband duo are the owners of Bindweed Farm in the southeast corner of Idaho.

I invite you to celebrate the recent publication of Deadhead~ the Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers, a new book about the joys and challenges of growing cut flowers for commercial sales.

Located about two hours from both of these upscale destination resort markets, Ralph and Jeriann have created a beautiful lifestyle that is supported by flowers.



Ralph is known as “il maestro”, the brain and the brawn who plans every detail, ordering all plant material, orchestrating the farm’s intricate planting schedule and irrigation scheme.

He is a genius, a green thumb wizard.  And not only that, he cuts nearly every stem, that’s thousands and thousands each season.

Jeriann is the beauty–as in aesthetics.  As an artist, color and texture are her DNA. Ralph may be responsible for the diverse varieties but Jeriann selects the colors.

Never without her trusty smart phone/camera, she photographs every flower on the farm and loves keeping the Bindweed blog.

She processes every stem–conditioning and packaging each bunch of flowers as they come in from the field.  In charge of sales and delivery, she enjoys meeting and consulting with designers each week.

Passionate about small farms and farmers, Bindweed has been a member of ASCFG, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for over fifteen years.  Each of them have served on the board of directors and have contributed articles for the Cut Flower Quarterly.

Snapdragons at Bindweed Farm.

Snapdragons at Bindweed Farm.

A Bindweed Farm arrangement.

A Bindweed Farm arrangement.

One morning's harvest.

One morning’s vibrant harvest.

Bindweed occupies five acres in the heart of potato country, the eastern edge of Idaho’s high desert plain.  Surrounded by several mountain ranges and cinder cones—extinct volcanoes—the farm enjoys spectacular 360-degree views, rich soil and a short growing season.

The view from Jeriann and Ralph's office. Wow!

The view from Jeriann and Ralph’s office. Wow!

On clear days the tip of the Grand Teton sits up like a shark’s tooth behind the foothills in the east and the resort, Jackson, Wyoming ,is only two hours away. Equidistance to the west lays Sun Valley.  Famed for skiing and hiking, both resorts are outdoor playgrounds for many of the rich and famous. Extremely popular for conferences, think tanks and destination events, they are the perfect market for our flowers.

Sunflowers - a Bindweed bestselling crop

Sunflowers – a Bindweed bestselling crop

Zinnias and Marigolds at Bindweed.

Zinnias and Marigolds at Bindweed.

"The Rear View" - the van is loaded and ready for delivery!

“The Rear View” – the van is loaded and ready for delivery!

Here’s how to find Jeriann and Ralph on social media:

Bindweed Farm on Facebook

Bindweed Farm on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 87,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at