Debra Prinzing

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Millennials who Grow Flowers — Meet Gretel & Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm (Episode 126)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
I took this photo of Steve and Gretel Adams in August 2012. They're amazing - and I'm so happy to share their conversation with you today!

I took this photo of Steve and Gretel Adams in August 2012. They’re amazing – and I’m so happy to share their conversation with you today! (c) Debra Prinzing 

 

In the workshop . . .

In the workshop . . . (c) Debra Prinzing

Gretel and Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio, are young flower farmers whose creativity and determination to earn a living from their land is truly inspiring.

This young couple didn’t grow up in the agricultural world; so naturally, they consider themselves serendipitous farmers. A food-farming apprenticeship sparked Steve’s passion for farming. And Gretel was blessed to inherit a 10-acre lot outside Columbus that her father bought in the 1980s.

My friend Rich Pomerantz, a fellow member of the Garden Writers Association, has taken some beautiful photographs of Gretel and Steve for his series about Young Farmers. Enjoy his post here.

As children, they both loved to be outside playing in the dirt and connecting with nature. As young adults, Steve and Gretel’s farming skills continue to flourish with their involvement in the U.S. cut flower industry. They are trying to live life as sustainably as possible using organic practices, composting to make soil amendments, and heating their house with wood, growing their own food and making natural soaps, among other things. 

Gretel, touring me through the growing fields.

Gretel, touring me through the growing fields. (c) Debra Prinzing

Sunny Meadow Flower Farm is filled with fields of beautiful flowers and four greenhouse structures help Steve and Gretel extend the growing season in Ohio.  

This farm-based business is established on a 10-acre parcel just inside the Columbus city limits. 

They recently told me about the way their acreage is used:  

“This coming season, our field space will include about 4 acres in production — plus 1 acre for our perennial and greenhouse space, making for a total of 5 acres.  The remainder of the tillable land will be rotated with cover crop to maintain soil health.”

Sunny Meadows’ flowers are sold at three seasonal farmers’ markets in Columbus and through Whole Foods stores in the region. Gretel is also a talented floral designer and the farm has added wedding floral design services, which is one of the most successful sources of income for the farm. 

Please enjoy our conversation – I know you will be impressed with Gretel and Steve, and you’ll find their passion contagious.

In the podcast, we discussed the upcoming Cut Flower Growers’ School, a program of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers that is scheduled for March 3-4, 2014 in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Steve and Gretel will be teaching a workshop called: “What to Grow and Why,” addressing how to choose which perennials to grow & which annual varieties are the best producers? 

And thanks to Sunny Meadows Flower Farm for providing these wonderful images that you can enjoy here:

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm wedding, with bride Pilar and groom Matt - and their beautiful seasonal & local Ohio-grown flowers

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm wedding, with bride Pilar and groom Matt – and their beautiful seasonal & local Ohio-grown flowers

 

A gorgeous boutonniere for another local wedding - with bride Genevieve & groom Todd.

A gorgeous boutonniere using Sunny Meadows’ awesome lisianthus — for another local wedding – with bride Genevieve & groom Todd. 

 

On the farm . . .

On the farm . . . 

 

Gretel (right) and friend  - showing off their floral crowns.

Gretel (right) and friend – showing off their floral crowns. 

 

A sense of the beauty of this farm - as seen in one section planted with Mexican sage.

A sense of the beauty of this farm – as seen in one section planted with salvia. 

 

What an organized place - rows of field-grown flowers and well-appointed greenhouses.

What an organized place – rows of field-grown flowers and well-appointed greenhouses.

 

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm bouquet

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm bouquet

 

Be still, my heart~ A beautiful bouquet by Gretel, using flowers she and Steve grow.

Be still, my heart~ A beautiful bouquet by Gretel, using flowers she and Steve grew.

 

Grown & designed by Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm

Grown & designed by Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm.

 

Another lovely bridal bouquet from Sunny Meadows Flower Farm.

 

A sublime color palette for a gorgeous bouquet.

A sublime color palette for a gorgeous bouquet last July.

I’m so pleased to have been able to introduce you to Gretel and Steve. On their web site, they write:

“Our mission is to educate the public about the quality and vase life of local flowers. Although you can get flowers for dirt cheap flown in from the Equator, the workers there do not have the same rights and protections and there are fewer restrictions on chemical use. So who knows what you are really buying? As a farm specializing in all naturally-grown fresh cut flowers, we are trying to show people just how important supporting your local flower farm really is.”

Follow SUNNY MEADOWS FLOWER FARM on Facebook here

To add your name to the Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, email Gretel & Steve at: SunnyMeadowsFlowerFarm@gmail.com

Because of your support as a listener, listeners have downloaded this podcast nearly 6,000 times! 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 hhcreates.net. 

  

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A Creative Weekend at the Holiday Arrangement & Centerpiece Bar

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
Here's my creation, featuring a medley of white, red and various shades of green.

Here’s my creation, featuring a medley of white, red and various shades of green.

It was a merry ol’ time at the first Holiday Arrangement & Centerpiece Bar, which I hosted along with Whitney R. White and Erica Knowles (of Botany 101 Floral), a talented pair of floral designer friends here in Seattle. We teamed up to create two fun, hands-on design workshops for the busy holiday hostess. 

The classes took places this past Friday evening and Saturday morning, with 18 students who joined us for festive refreshments, old friendships and new connections, as well as an introduction to eco-friendly techniques and a dose of the Slow Flowers philosophy. Everyone went home with a gorgeous floral arrangement that will grace their homes now through the holidays.

Erica Knowles, Debra Prinzing & Whitney White.

Erica Knowles, Debra Prinzing & Whitney White.

The basic premise of our two workshops:

1. Get inspired by the abundance of natural beauty around us here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere on the West Coast – all American Grown, of course!

2. Gain new skills in floral design, those you can employ throughout the coming seasons, as well.

3. Unleash your inner florist using an almost limitless supply of branches, boughs, berries and buds. 

The tables were laden with floral and foliage choices, including branches, berries, boughs and stems.

The tables were laden with floral and foliage choices, including branches, berries, boughs and stems.

Once we set up the “Bar,” Erica, Whitney and I stepped back in total amazement. We wanted our students to be blown away by the incredible variety of garden foraged ingredients — all in season. We also wanted to add some juicy blooming treats from local Northwest and California farms and nurseries. And thanks to our friends at The Sun Valley Group in Northern California, we had the perfect bit of sparkle – Ilex verticillata branches with red berries — so much to share with everyone in the class!

READ MORE…

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 38

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

RHYTHM IN GLASS

Rhythm in Glass

Chocolate cosmos blooms look fabulous in this art glass vase by Tracy Glover.

Ingredients:

7 stems fancy-leaf scented geranium (Pelargonium crispum), grown by Charles Little & Co.
3 stems pale apricot snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus), grown by Everyday Flowers
7 stems (tips only) light peach cockscomb (Celosia plumosa), grown by Charles Little & Co.
15 stems chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus), grown by Marigold and Mint
 
Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate cosmos, grown by Katherine Anderson of Margold & Mint.

Vase:

 
8-inch tall x 4-inch diameter hand-blown art glass vase, designed by Tracy Glover
 
Design 101
Dark and light: When you place lighter or brighter flowers around darker floral elements, the viewer’s attention is drawn to the distinct details of both. Here, the chocolate cosmos looks even better because it is displayed next to lighter-hued companion flowers: pale apricot snapdragons.
 
 

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 31

Monday, August 5th, 2013

PASSION FOR PEONIES

Close to perfection

I came home from Alaska with these luscious peonies – and it seemed as if no other flower could compete for room in the vase.

Ingredients:
10 stems ‘Sorbet’ peonies, grown by Echo Lake Peonies in Soldotna, Alaska
5 stems ‘Kansas’ peonies, grown by Midnight Sun Peonies in Soldotna, Alaska
 
Vase:
9-inch tall x 7-inch diameter vintage Haegar urn, cream pottery
or
Series of vintage one-pint glass milk bottles (7-inch tall), each holding two or three stems
 
milkbottles_peonies From the Farmer
Peony harvesting and design: Cut peonies during the coolest part of the day. According to Dr. Holloway, “Cut once you see the true color of the flower with one or two petals separating at the top – or any time after that. Then, the flower will continue to open in your arrangement.” If you cut prior to this stage the buds either will not open or they will be stunted. Fully-opened blooms can also be harvested, but their vase life is shorter. Based on years of peony research and field trials, Dr. Holloway offers this commercial growers’ tip: “Once cut, your flowers should be chilled in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to one week before putting them into a vase. That chilling very definitely extends vase life.” Wrap the peonies in paper towels and lay them flat in the crisper drawer, away from the refrigerator’s other contents until use.

 

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 20

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

A Softer Side of Green

Pastel bouquet

An unexpected combination, inspired by the pale ‘Supergreen’ hybrid tea roses given to me by the grower

 

Pastel flowers in detail

This sweet detail shows the delicate features of the apricot verbascum and the varietgated Star of Bethlehem

Ingredients:

15 stems Dusty Miller foliage (Centaurea cineraria), grown by Charles Little & Co.
5 stems lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), grown by Charles Little & Co.
15 stems ‘Supergreen’ hybrid tea roses, grown by Peterkort Roses
9 stems Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans), grown by Choice Bulb Farms
6 stems Verbascum ‘Caribbean Crush’, grown by Jello Mold Farm
Vase:
7½-inch tall x 7-inch diameter woven basket with a 6-inch tall x 6½ inch wide glass insert
Eco-technique
Vase in an instant: Any container can double as a flower vase as long as you can hide a watertight vessel inside of it. This simple, budget-conscious technique instantly expands your design choices. I frequently pick up glass vases for 50-cents to a few dollars at the thrift store, which means I always have extras on hand to tuck inside boxes, baskets, tins – and even leaky watering cans .

 

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 17

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Jewel Tones

Jewel tones in a blue vase

This indigo-blue vase is a favorite of mine. Love it with fucshia anemones, bachelor’s buttons and white tulips.

Ingredients:

12 stems fuchsia anemones (Anemone coronaria ‘Galilee Pink), grown by Everyday Flowers

8 stems pearl bush (Exochorda x macrantha), grown by J. Foss Garden Flowers

6 stems bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus), harvested from my garden

7 stems white tulips, grown by Alm Hill Gardens

Vase:

8-inch tall x 6-inch diameter round vase with 5-inch opening

Stunning detail

Stunning detail shows those velvety black button-like centers of the anemones.

Design 101

Color wheel lesson: The flowers and vase combination illustrate an analogous color palette. Analogous colors are adjacent to one another on the color wheel. Fuchsia, purple and indigo are pleasing when viewed together because they each share varying quantities of the primary color blue. White floral accents offset the black centers of the anemones, adding a graphic punch to this composition.

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 14

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Chocolate-and-Vanilla

Chocolate and Vanilla Flowers

A graphic, fresh combination: dark-chocolate-colored Anthriscus sylvestris foliage with creamy white Viburnum tinus flowers.

A graceful spring bouquet

The white square dish, elevated on a pedestal, makes this simple grouping of flowers all the more special.

Ingredients:

8-11 Viburnum tinus blooms, harvested from Charlotte Behnke’s Seattle garden

6 stems Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, grown by Jello Mold Farm

6 stems bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea cantoniensis ‘Flore Pleno’), grown by Charles Little & Co.

3 stems green dogwood (Cornus sp.), harvested by Oregon Coastal Flowers

Vase:

6-inch square x 3-inch deep white ceramic nut dish (overall height is 8 inches)

Design 101
Elevate for importance: There’s something appealing about lifting a floral arrangement with a footed vase or dish. It’s like giving your bouquet a little stage or platform to help it rise above its environment. This is especially noticeable with an arrangement designed to be viewed on all sides, such as a centerpiece. If you don’t have a footed dish or urn, you can use a cake plate to elevate your flowers!

NOTE: Each Sunday of this year, I post my photographs, a how-to “recipe” and tip for that week’s floral arrangement, created for my new book, Slow Flowers.

Enjoy the floral journey through 52 weeks of the year~

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Floral urns that earn my admiration

Friday, April 5th, 2013
Two types of Vivian's delicious anemones

Two types of Vivian’s delicious anemones

With the arrival of spring here in Seattle, we flower lovers have lots to celebrate! That’s because the wistful beauty coming from our local flower fields, meadows and farms are simply sublime.

When I stepped inside the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market two days ago, I was stopped in my tracks. The botanical abundance in each stall made me catch my breath with happiness~ A new season is upon us – hurrah!!!

I brought home arm-loads of goodies, enough to make three lovely arrangements of three different sizes. The common threads are these blooms, including some clipped from my own garden. and the style of vase. I cannot resist a footed urn!

  •  Three bunches of anemones, including 2 clusers of a luscious, velvety maroon variety and one bunch of the coveted black-centered/white petaled variety, grown by Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Washington.
  • One bunch of the *first-of-the-season* snowball viburnum, grown by Patrick Zweifel of Oregon Coastal Flowers in Tillamook, Oregon
  • One bunch of the *first-of-the-season* bridal wreath spirea, grown by Charles and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co. in Eugene, Oregon
  • One bunch of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ and one bunch of garden hellebores, grown by Dennis Westphall and Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington
  • From my garden: salmon pink tulips, grape hyacinths, delicate and pale-yellow flowers from epimedium (a ground-cover) and camellia foliage.
More yummy flower details

Hellebores play so nicely with snowball viburnums, anemones and more.

As noted above, my vase(s) of choice are footed urns or bowls. All three used here are vintage and quite dear to me.

I hope that seeing how I used them inspires you to snatch up a footed vase or bowl, an urn or anything with a pedestal base – they are indeed the superior vessels for showcasing flowers. If you frequent vintage sites online, flea markets or garage sales . . . maybe you’ll be just as lucky as I have been. I’ve used vintage metal flower frogs inside each. The frogs are like half-dome cages and because they are metal, they’re heavy enough to just sink to the bottom of the vessel (no tape or stickum required).

Constance Spry wrote about one of her favorite vases — a footed marble bowl — in her 1933 book Flower Decoration. I can only imagine how pricey one of these vases would be today! Here’s what she had to say:

“This vase is beautiful to look at whether empty or filled with flowers. It is so heavy that it is not disturbed by the heaviest branches of fruit or blossom, and its soft, pale-brown colour enhances whatever one chooses to put in it.”

Here are the designs that gave me so much pleasure:

Bouquet One

Green Floraline Pedestal Bowl

A Green Floraline Pedestal Bowl, featuring snowball viburnum, hellebores, anemones, Anthriscus foliage and bridal wreath spirea.

After I created and photographed this arrangement, I decided to see how it looked WITHOUT those spikey branches. So here’s version 2 of the same bouquet:

 

Green Pedestal Bowl and Turquoise Bud Vase

The spirea moved into the teal blue Haegar (vintage) bud vase, while the green Floraline footed bowl contains the remaining blooms.

Bouquet Two

Olive Glass Urn

With hellebores, white and burgundy anemones, salmon pink tulips, Anthriscus foliage, camellia foliage and bridal wreath spirea.

 Bouquet Three

Bronze Flea Market Pedestal Bowl

With Anthriscus foliage, hellebores, epimedium flowers, grape hyacinth, anemones and bridal wreath spirea.

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Spring is blooming!

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

March 20th is just around the corner – thankfully! And blooms are everywhere – under our noses, poking through the soil, erupting from branches, and filling our vases. Hurrah!

Here are some of the hints of spring that have come my way:

Kay's flowering quince branches and the delicate hellebores make for a stunning, early spring bouquet!

1. A DIY designer gets inspired by her own garden’s bounty. Earlier this week, an email with this charming photo appeared in my in-box from Kay Christie, who attended one of my demonstrations at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show last month. Thanks so much for sharing, Kay! And for the kind words. Keep designing!

I wanted to show you an arrangement I just made with cuttings from my garden. I really loved your demo at the flower and garden show. It gave me the idea for this. I also used chicken wire inside to hold the stems. Thanks do much for the inspirational talk.

A silver pitcher contains a sublime bouquet in a pink-and-gold palette, by Peggy Shelley.

2. A talented gardener clips goodies from her backyard for a special arrangement. Like Kay, Woodinville, Wash., gardener Peggy Shelley harvests beautiful floral ingredients from her landscape. I visited Peggy and her husband Al Shelley (also a gifted gardener) earlier this month to interview them for an upcoming Better Homes & Gardens article about their garden (the feature will appear in the August 2012 edition). There was a gorgeous bouquet on the kitchen counter and of course, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It included pink-flowering Japanese pieris, bi-colored pink-and-green euphorbia stems, golden thread branch cypress sprigs and lemon-yellow privet foliage. Peggy told me something quite inspiring – and I’m going to remind myself of her passion every time I head into my own garden:

The biggest satisfaction of my garden comes from making a bouquet and giving it to a friend.

Lynn Fosbender of Pollen, an eco-friendly floral designer in Chicago, with her beautiful bouquet of local spring tulips.

3. Local flowers arrive just in time for a Chicago designer. Last Sunday, I was in Chicago to speak at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show (thanks, Bill Aldrich, for inviting me!). I called Lynn Fosbender, who owns Pollen, a sweet, ec0-conscious floral studio, and asked if she could bring a bouquet to my talk and also pass out her business cards. I wanted to showcase Lynn as a home-town resource for Chicago area floral customers, and let them know about her intentional design philosophy of using local flowers whenever possible. “I’d love to come,” she said. “But March 11th is still pretty early. I probably won’t be able to find local flowers from my sources.”

Then, to my delight, Lynn showed up with a vase of the most stunning vibrant orange-and-green parrot tulips I’d ever seen! “Spring has been mild here – and one of my local growers called me on Friday to let me know his tulips were ready to harvest,” Lynn said. What a wonderful treat. I wrote a post about Lynn when I first met her in 2012. Here’s a link to that story. I was so impressed with her vision for her business:

For several years I thought I would like to own a full-service flower shop that was eco-friendly. I knew if anyone should do it, it should be me.

Spring's yellow and lime floral gifts collected in a green vase.

4. See what my own garden yielded this week. I’ve been making a local and seasonally-inspired floral arrangement every single week for the past 20 weeks (since the first week of November). It’s part of my plan to create a book or blog called 52-Weeks-of-Local-Flowers. It’s been fun, creative, and very educational to discover what I can source from local growers, local farmers’ markets, and of course, my own backyard.

Yellow and green are the theme of this week! I used two types of euphorbia (dipping the cut stems in boiling water helped “seal” the ends so the milky white sap didn’t drain into the vase); two types of daffodils that the prior owners of our home planted on the parking strip along the street; lots of bright-yellow-flowering forsythia; and some lovely variegated foliage from the scented geranium plant I’ve been babysitting in my garage under the shop lights. Everything came together nicely in a small green-glazed vase and a vintage flower frog held the stems in place.

Today, strangely, it’s snowing in Seattle. I soaked my sweet pea seeds in water last night and I plan to plant them in flats in the garage today. I had wanted to weed and prep the beds, but really? I think I’ll wait and see if it warms up a bit! Happy Almost-Spring!

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Backyard Bouquets

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As some of you may know, I’ve been working on a book about local and seasonal floral design for several years, since 2007 to be precise. My collaborator, photographer David Perry, and I have been using the working title, A Fresh Bouquet.

But that’s all changing now, with a new title from our new publisher, St. Lynn’s Press. The words evoke just the right idea we want to communicate: The 50 Mile Bouquet: Discovering the World of Local, Seasonal, Sustainable Flowers.

Nice, huh? Our publication date is April 2012 and I’ll be writing lots more news about it soon.

Since all I’m doing these days is interviewing flower farmers, eco-couture floral designers and gardeners who grow their own cut flowers, my head is swimming with beautiful blooms.

And somehow in all this flurry of work, I’ve failed to post the out-takes from my floral design story that ran a few months ago in Better Homes & Gardens. So today, I’m taking a moment to get to it.

Backyard Bouquets - in BH&G's July 2011 issue

How great that 7.3 million readers of the July 2011 issue were introduced to the timeless notion of gathering flowers from the garden, a local farmer or a market stand – IN SEASON – and creating a simple, yet sumptuous arrangement that’s of the moment!

I have my editors Eric, Doug and Gayle to thank, because they believed in the idea and created the perfect opportunity for me to fly to Iowa and design a series of bouquets literally out in the field at Howell’s Family Farm.

I shared some of my on-the-scenes location photos last year, but here, finally, are my photos and recipes of the actual arrangements.

Project One

Project One features a rectangular galvanized container, measuring about 5-by-8 inches and about 5 inches tall. This small vessel was perfect for a compact bouquet with two simple ingredients. First, I filled the opening with four or five luscious heads of ‘Limelight’ hydrangea, the stems cut fairly short, say 3 inches long. To fill the spaces between the hydrangea heads and to add contrasting color and texture, I made miniature bunches of ‘Strawberry Fields’ gomphrena by wiring five slender stems with wire so that each bunch could be inserted as if it were a single flower. This is the perfect arrangement to enjoy while it’s fresh and then let it slowly air dry as an everlasting bouquet.

Project Two

Project Two features a tall, square, modern green glass vase with a neck opening that’s smaller than the base. So of course, to make it look abundant and full, I had to create volume and height. The starting flowers here are sultry-looking zinnias from a new seed mix called ‘Queen Red Lime’ – I love the terra cotta, mauve, and reddish blooms with a lime-green center. Once I had those in place, I thought: We need dark foliage. And lucky for me, the folks at Howell’s, like many cut flower growers, have discovered how well basil performs as a cut ingredient – especially purple basil! Think about it: when you harvest basil from your garden and bring it indoors to keep in a jar on your windowsill, have you ever noticed how long those cut stems last? Of course basil is a great cut floral ingredient! The third element here is one of those happy coincidences – common foxtail grass, which some consider a ditch weed, that perfectly echoes the green vase, and catches the late summer sunlight just beautifully. Three simple ingredients in perfect harmony.

Project Three

Project Three is one of my very favorites, because of the mix of colors and textures. Contained in a vintage pitcher, I absolutely love the playful combo of velvety cockscomb (the crested form of Celosia ) with all the lime green contrasting forms. Here’s how I made this bouquet. First, I filled the pitcher with soft greenery, a white mugwort (Artemisia lactiflora) that fills the opening and becomes the supporting structure for all the subsequent stems. Second, I stripped foliage off of 10 maroon and coral-hued cockscomb flowers; then I cut the stems pretty short and inserted each into the fluffy base, making sure that you can’t see the stems showing at all. Third, I added some ‘Green Envy’ zinnias, which echo the pitcher’s green quite nicely. For a sense of movement, as a final touch, I inserted taller stems of quaking grass (Brizia maxima), so they seem to hover above the bouquet. Casual and the epitome of summer!

Two other projects fell on the cutting room floor, so to speak, so you get to see them here! Actually Project Four showed up in the iPad edition, along with a video interview filled with my eco-savvy design tips. You actually have to download the July edition to see the entire interview (filmed by David Perry) on an iPad.

Here’s a rough-cut edit of the video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLKacMtjJUY

Project Four

Anyone can replicate Project Four, a fun trio of mini-arrangements, which are displayed in a row or grouped together on the table as a centerpiece. We used three yellow tumblers that art director Scott Johnson brought from his kitchen cupboard. The simple idea was to showcase several varieties of black-eyed Susan flowers (Rudbeckia sp.) with a mix-and-match of foliage choices. The daisy-like Rudbeckia varieties include, from left: ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Denver Daisy’ with zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’); ‘Irish Spring’ with lamb’s ears; and ‘Prairie Sun’ with goldenrod (Solidago). This type of design works well when you only have one or two of anything in bloom at a given time – voila!

Project Five

For Project Five, the last arrangement, I had to rise to the challenge of creating flowers that wouldn’t fall out of the wide, saucer-like bowl. Similar to cutting the hydrangea stems short in the first design, I cut lots of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ in their unopened stage. A this point, they still look pretty green because the buds are tight. When you cut the stems short, say at 2-3 inches, you can really cram a lot inside an opening. To me, they almost look like heads of broccoli! But the tightly-packed sedums create a foundation through which other stems can be inserted. And in this case, I inserted old-fashioned love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) and Queen Anne’s lace. The tassels cascade over the edge of the shallow bowl, and while it’s kind of quirky, I really love the effect of textures and colors.

Together, these five designs demonstrate the diversity of the cut flower world – and ways to arrange blooms without using florist foam to stabilize the stems. Have fun playing around with these ideas using your own vases and garden flowers.

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