Debra Prinzing

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Green and Local as a Flourishing Business Model with Bash & Bloom of Seattle (Episode 195)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
Meet Eleanor Blackford, owner and creative director of Bash & Bloom (c) Barbie Hull Photography

Meet Eleanor Blackford, owner and creative director of Bash & Bloom (c) Barbie Hull Photography

bashandbloomlogo This week’s guest is Eleanor Blackford Davis, owner of Seattle-based Bash & Bloom.

Eleanor and I frequent the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market where she is a regular customer and I’m on the board.

A Bash & Bloom emerald green and white bouquet displayed in an ornate chair with photography (c) Courtney Bowlden Photography

A Bash & Bloom emerald green and white bouquet displayed in an ornate chair with photography (c) Courtney Bowlden Photography

It’s always fun and tempting to see what she has loaded in her arms on those early-morning excursions – and there’s often a fabulous related story she shares about a wedding or event in the works.

Eleanor and I got to talking last year about her decision – and her public announcement – to go foam free as a designer.

A Bash & Bloom Table Garland adorns a wedding reception (c) photography by Mark Malijan Photography

A Bash & Bloom Table Garland adorns a wedding reception (c) photography by Mark Malijan Photography

She also believes in sourcing from local farms and through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, whose staff members procure only local, seasonal and sustainably-grown flowers from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California.

My photograph of Eleanor Blackford, with her sample arrangement using local spring flowers and Floral Soil.

My photograph of Eleanor Blackford, with her sample arrangement using local spring flowers and Floral Soil.

Eleanor's finished design, a prototype for her wedding reception.

Eleanor’s finished design, a prototype for her wedding reception.

We continued the dialogue recently while both participating in a workshop to use Floral Soil, a 100-percent plant-based alternative to the conventional foam, invented by Mickey Blake, a past guest of this podcast.

Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs, another past podcast guest, led the workshop on designing elevated centerpieces, and I have to tell you that Eleanor’s piece was stunning! It was also the prototype for her own wedding florals, which took place on May 8th. 

Check out the no-foam elevated centerpiece she created at the workshop with Alicia and Mickey.

But about five weeks ago, Eleanor and I agreed to meet over tea to record our conversation, and I know you’ll enjoy it.

Eleanor's art deco bouquet in white and dark reddish purples was photographed by (c) My Beloved Photography

Eleanor’s art deco bouquet in white and dark reddish purples was photographed by (c) My Beloved Photography

I’m happy that Eleanor has shared so many photos of her floral design work and a few bonus photos from her recent wedding to Matthew Davis (see below).

Eleanor on her wedding day with flowers by Kelly Sullivan of Botanique (Instagram photo from wedding photographer Shane Macomber)

Eleanor on her wedding day with flowers by Kelly Sullivan of Botanique (Instagram photo from wedding photographer Shane Macomber)

Those fantastic elevated centerpieces designed with Floral Soil - adorning Eleanor and Matt's wedding reception. (c) Shane Macomber Photography

Those fantastic elevated centerpieces designed with Floral Soil – adorning Eleanor and Matt’s wedding reception. (c) Shane Macomber Photography

You can find Eleanor at these Social Sites:

Bash & Bloom on Facebook

Bash & Bloom on Instagram

Bash & Bloom on Pinterest

The Greater Seattle Floral Association, the local organization for wedding, event, studio and retail designers in which she is actively involved.

Bouquets for a pink-and-mauve floral palette (c) Alante Photography

Bouquets for a pink-and-mauve floral palette (c) Alante Photography

Here’s how my guest introduces herself on the Bash & Bloom web site:

I’m Eleanor Blackford – a craftster, dog lover, fun haver, and Owner of bash & bloom. My style has been described as having a lush, organic, and creative look and feel. I love to make an event unique, personal, and fun and can’t wait to sit down with you to talk about your vision. I work closely with my couples or party hosts to bring their unique personality and style to their event, primarily using seasonal and local products.

Vivid palette (c) Dana Pleasant Photography

Vivid palette (c) Dana Pleasant Photography

Thanks again for joining me today for another wonderful conversation about American flowers and the designers and farmers who are changing this entire industry for the better.

More flowers from the brighter end of the spectrum, (c) Barrie Anne Photography

More flowers from the brighter end of the spectrum, (c) Barrie Anne Photography

PodcastLogo Listeners like you have downloaded the podcast 50,000 times.

I want to stop for just one moment and savor that news. Yes, we just produced our 96th episode and we are very, very close to airing the big one-hundredth episode, just one month from now.

THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until next week please 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 shellandtree.com.

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Garden Tribe Video: Debra’s Eco-Floral Design Tips

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Earlier this year I met the creative team of Garden Tribe, Beth LaDove and Jen Long, two Bay Area creatives who have combined their love of gardening, documentary video and education to bring hands-on horticulture to life on the small screen.

Garden Tribe has been lauded in the San Francisco Chronicle as “an online classroom that connects the world of gardeners with world-class horticultural experts and garden/floral designers.”

Sunset magazine singled out Garden Tribe as a “Best in the West” online find.

GardenTribeLogo

I first learned of Garden Tribe when they debuted a workshop about designing and building “living arrangements,” taught by Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design (and The 50 Mile Bouquet fame) at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show.

After some discussion, Jen and Beth asked me to develop some online floral content for their new site. We filmed on day in early June at the beautiful Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma, California.

Today, thanks to Garden Tribe’s generosity, I am thrilled to share a “sneak peek” video clip to whet your appetite for the full workshop.

Please enjoy “Eco-Friendly Floral Design – Quick Tips” (see above) and “Cutting Flowers” (below).

You can find details about the full curriculum of workshops at GardenTribe.com.

Beth LaDove (left) and Jen Long (right), creators of Garden Tribe.

Jen Long (left) and Beth LaDove (right), creators of Garden Tribe.

I was so impressed with their vision that I asked Beth and Jen to take part in a Q&A about their mission.

Debra: Please introduce yourselves and explain your interest/passion for gardening?

Beth & Jen: We are both lifelong gardeners and entrepreneurs. Beth comes from a long lineage of Italian food growers. Jen has never met a flower she didn’t want to grow. Between the two of us, we’ve probably been obsessed with just about every kind of garden and plant out there, at one time or another. Together, we have a shared passion for growing things. And these days, we are thrilled to be growing a business designed to give people a more joyful, meaningful experience of gardening.

Debra: How did you come up with the idea to launch online video educational programming?

Beth & Jen: We get questions all the time about how and when people should do things in their garden. The best way to answer those questions is by literally showing people what to do. We decided to create beautiful video classes that demonstrate real gardening, step-by-step. We also designed our classes to stream online, so that learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

Debra: Why GARDEN TRIBE? It’s such a cute name!

Beth & Jen: Gardening knowledge has always passed along in a tribal way–from person-to-person, out in the field. We named our company Garden Tribe because it honors how important it is to learn from each other, and cultivate our community.

Debra: Who is your target audience?

Beth & Jen: We know that all gardeners, from beginning to experienced, are looking for trustworthy information. That search often begins online, and the quality of that information greatly impacts the real world DIY experience.

We’re providing curated, high-quality content for people who want to learn from top experts, so that their projects can get started right, the first time. Because our real goal is to get people where they most want to be: out in the garden and having fun.

Debra: How many classes have you produced and what do you have cooked up in the future?

Beth & Jen: We have seven classes streaming now, with more launching in the near future. We’re also always adding new seasonal content. (The best way to stay in-the-know is to join our mailing list.)

As for future projects, we’re busy creating a new way for everyone on gardentribe.com to connect and share!

Debra: Anything else you want people to know?

Beth & Jen: We’re excited to be part of a growing movement that’s bringing the next generation into gardening. It’s so amazing to work with world-renowned experts (like you, Debra!) and share all that gardening knowledge online, around the globe. We’d love everyone to join our tribe, and share their questions, ideas and inspiration!

Thanks to you both~ and thanks for sharing your passion with my tribe!

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A new brand of floral entrepreneur, Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery (Episode 149)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

Bess Wyrick of Celadon & Celery, wearing one of her beautiful floral crowns (c) Jana Williams

CC_Logo_final.ai-page-001 Today’s guest is Bess Wyrick, founder and creative director of Celadon & Celery, a floral design and events studio based in New York City and Los Angeles. 

I first learned of Bess when researching florists to possibly feature in The 50 Mile Bouquet – I wanted to document the emerging business model of floral designers who actively promoted green practices, such as using seasonal and local flowers, embracing earth-friendly products and promoting anti-mass market style. 

I later learned that this category is called “eco-couture,” and it’s quite possible that Bess coined the phrase herself.

 

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick's floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

May 5, 2013 cover of New York Magazine, featuring Bess Wyrick’s floral crown on the head of artist Jeffrey Koons.

In 2009, Bess’s Celadon & Celery was featured in a New York Times blog post about “organic flower” sourcing. The writer cited Bess’s policy of sourcing flowers within a 200-mile radius of NYC and also noted that when seasonal flowers aren’t available, she purchased Fair Trade, Veriflora and USDA organic flowers from certified vendors. 

The following year, in 2010, BizBash, a web site devoted to event planning, published a piece about Celadon & Celery that stated: “. . . sustainability is important to Wyrick. She composts, grows many of her own plants in her Chelsea studio, sources flowers from local growers or certified organic suppliers, and scavenges for materials to repurpose.” 

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

Bess shared this photo of a floral teepee, a recent installation.

To read about that philosophy today – in 2015 – doesn’t seem all that unusual. But five years ago, it was rare. Believe me, I counted on one hand the number of designers proactively taking the green approach. I saved that article in my folder of inspiring designers. 

So how cool was it that when Celadon & Celery brought its floral design workshop series to Los Angeles, Bess’s publicist pitched me to write the story. 

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery

Local flowers in a beautiful palette, designed by Celadon & Celery 

I was definitely intrigued. Intimate hands-on floral design workshops had hit the East Coast, and the New York Times had run a piece in 2010 about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn (and owners Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Owen, two recent guests of this podcast). I’d even led a few seasonal floral workshops for Ravenna Gardens in Seattle in 2010, but I hadn’t seen much like this happening elsewhere on the West Coast. 

My editor at the Los Angeles Times agreed, and I did a short Q&A interview with Bess about the workshop series in fall 2011. At the time, Celadon & Celery was charging $300 for its two-hour sustainable-design workshops at Bess’s loft-studio in New York’s Chelsea Flower District. For the Los Angeles expansion, she dropped the tuition to $125 and used social media channels to promote the classes. 

Overwhelmed by the positive response, Bess rented a photography studio in downtown Los Angeles and turned it into a classroom. She hired a few local freelancers to help and ran three classes a day for three weeks. “In that time we taught floral design to more than 800 people,” Bess marvels.

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

bliss! a Celadon & Celery seasonal creation

50MileBouquet_book I was able to witness the excitement in person and cover it for a chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet. In the book’s pages, you can read about the explosion of DIY interest in floral design.

In that piece, Bess offered this observation: “The word ‘eco’ has a bad reputation implying something weedy,” Bess says. “But we’re creating flowers that are sophisticated, chic and tailored. ” You can read the entire chapter by clicking this link.

I’ve connected with Bess many times since the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet, in both New York and Los Angeles, depending on where our travels intersect. She is a generous supporter of the new Slowflowers.com and you can find Celadon & Celery featured in the online directory under studio florists and weddings/events.

I’ve been wanting to have her on as a guest and I’m delighted to include our conversation here today. Please enjoy our discussion about how floral design – and this designer in particular – has evolved to encompass event production, conceptual storytelling and artistic installations.

a singular bouquet.

a singular bouquet.

You’ll learn that floral design can be as multidisciplinary and multidimensional as you choose it to be. And, according to Bess, florists who advocate for their vendors, the family flower farm in particular, have an edge. She says: “I like to sell the fact that I’m a luxury brand and luxury brands work with really small artisans and that’s really important because you want to make sure that your flower farm vendors keep doing what they’re doing and creating unique and unusual flowers that the higher luxury market will pay for.”

(c) Jana WIlliams

(c) Jana WIlliams

I love how generous and frank she is and a few more of her interview comments really resonated:

For one thing, volunteering on flower farms has educated Bess to understand that “it’s not okay for clients to negotiate the cost of flowers because it is back-breaking work and there aren’t enough people who know how to grow flowers.”

And second: This quote is powerful and I hope it more than a few people in the floral industry to rethink their practices: “I don’t think that any florist in California should be importing flowers at all. That’s just being lazy.”

(c) Jana Williams

(c) Jana Williams

Ahem. Thank you, Bess, for stating the obvious. You’ve lent a lot of credibility to the Slow Flowers Movement with that proclamation!

Here are links to all of Bess’s social outlets:

Life with Bess Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Flickr

Instagram

And Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times.

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 and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Meet Berkeley’s Eco-Floral Maven, Pilar Zuniga of Gorgeous and Green (Episode 116)

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Pilar Zuniga is a Berkeley-based, eco-Green floral designer and outspoken advocate for locally-grown, sustainable flowers and design practices.

Pilar Zuniga is a Berkeley-based, eco-Green floral designer and outspoken advocate for locally-grown, sustainable flowers and design practices.

Meet Pilar Zuniga, owner of Gorgeous and Green, a Berkeley-based boutique and eco-floral design studio. She’s my guest in this week’s Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing.

Pilar started Gorgeous and Green nearly six years ago after she discovered how hard it was to plan her own sustainably-minded wedding. Since then, her venture has expanded from a floral studio designing for weddings and special events to a charming storefront on College Avenue in Berkeley.

One of Gorgeous and Green's bridal bouquets in a sultry green and dark purple color scheme.

One of Gorgeous and Green’s bridal bouquets in a sultry green and dark purple color scheme.

There, you can find a full-service floral and gift shop that carries uncommon goods, curated by Pilar, including vintage jewelry, locally-made goods, recycled-paper stationary,  organic bath and beauty products — and of course, local and sustainably-grown flowers. Gorgeous and Green recently won the Best of Berkeley 2013 award in the florist category.

For anyone interested in learning how a brick-and-mortar retail flower shop can make it in today’s era of mass merchandising and big boxes, you’ll want to join my conversation with Pilar.

She is blazing a new trail and is the TRUE definition of a LOCAL FLORIST….a hometown, Main Street flower shop that goes the full distance to source from local flower farms in her own backyard. 

Succulents grace the wedding table for a Gorgeous and Green client.

Succulents grace the wedding table for a Gorgeous and Green client.

483274_10151503701057210_305906289_n Here’s her answer to the “Why Sustainable”? question:

A Native American proverb suggests that all that we do today must be done with the next 7 generations in mind.

The mainstream floral and gift industries have many byproducts like pesticide pollution, dependence on plastics, underpaid labor, hazardous working conditions and excessive CO2 Emissions. Additionally, events are the producers of more waste and CO2 emissions. The average wedding emits 12-14 tons of CO2, more than a person emits in a full year.  

We can minimize these negative effects by amending our practices to become sustainable ones.  For Gorgeous and Green, sustainability means using methods that we can afford to duplicate without negatively affecting the environment and people around us. With a lot of creativity and research, we have been able to develop floral practices and offer gift products that allow us to do just that.

Gorgeous and Green wants to be mindful of not just how we leave our world for the next generation, but how we touch those people and places that were involved in the beauty we created today. 

Take a look at our Services section or visit our On-Line Boutique page to see just what we have come up with so far. We’re always creating new ways to save the earth and stay gorgeous.

Another yummy seasonal floral arrangement, using California-Grown flowers from farmers Pilar knows and supports.

Another yummy seasonal floral arrangement, using California-Grown flowers from farmers Pilar knows and supports.

In the second half of our interview, Pilar and I scratched the surface on a MAJOR topic that’s going on right now in the floral world. It regards the concern she and I — and so many others — have about that green florists’ foam, the crumbly, brick-shaped chunk that you often find stuck inside a vase delivered from a floral wire-service. It is a conventional product that has been around since the Postwar 1950s, developed, so it seems, to make arrangements look fuller using fewer stems of flowers and foliage.

The simple economics have (sadly) led many florists down the rabbit hole of same-old, same-old, unimaginative designs based around the foam. I believe it’s a crutch that limits creativity and certainly hurts the people and environment who encounter it. 

Every single week I hear from florists and designers who tell me they are weaning themselves off the product, which is made by a small group of manufacturers in the US and abroad. Those designers are eager to find alternative ways to stabilize stems, such as some that Pilar and I discussed. I will devote a future episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast to more extensive information on this topic. 

The bounty of local farms makes its way into Gorgeous and Green's designs.

The bounty of local farms makes its way into Gorgeous and Green’s designs.

Pilar was one of the first to speak out and warn florists about the risks of using chemically-based foam. As I mentioned in our interview, every time I did a web search about this topic, her blog posts popped up, as early as 2009. Here are some links you’ll want to read: 

(March 4, 2009) Floral Foam: Not so Green 

(September 5, 2009) Biodegradable Floral Foam, Where Are You?

(February 18, 2011) Let’s Change Floral Foam

(August 16, 2011) MSDS Floral Foam

If you’re looking for “green” alternatives to floral foam, check out my blog post about Eco-Friendly Design tips, excerpted from Slow Flowers.

Thank you  for joining me in this episode of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with Debra Prinzing. Because of your support as a listener, we’ve had more than 3,000 downloads since July – and 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. 

All photographs courtesy of Gorgeous and Green. Thanks Pilar!

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 29

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

STUNNING SUCCULENTS

Rose Succulent

The rose-shaped echeveria pairs beautifully with the garden rose.

Ingredients for arrangement above:
  • Several rosettes from Echeveria plants, with wire “stems.” I took these cuttings from my friend Cristi Walden’s Southern California garden and brought them home to Seattle in my suitcase; they lasted the entire summer in a number of arrangements.
  • 7 stems of rose-red, multipetal garden roses, variety unknown, harvested from my Seattle garden
 
Vase:
6½-inch tall x 4½-inch diameter glass jar with 3½-inch opening
 
Succulents Dahlias

A beautiful green Aeonium rosette and cactus-style summer dahlias

From the Farmer

Succulent success: Robin Stockwell, owner of Succulent Gardens Nursery in Castroville, California, says it’s easy to remove rosettes with a clean, sharp florist’s knife or clippers. After several days, the succulents will likely be the only part of your bouquet that still looks attractive. They can be re-used in your next arrangement. Or, remove the wire and set the cuttings in a bright window where they’ll soon produce roots. That’s when you can replant your succulent in a pot or in the garden.

 

 

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 24

Monday, June 17th, 2013

A Certain Vintage

A Certain Vintage

Ruffly ‘Green Spice’ heuchera foliage pulls together the mocha-colored vintage vase and the deep burgundy sweet William flowers

detail Ingredients:
25 stems heuchera foliage (Heuchera ‘Green Spice’), harvested from my garden
7 stems sweet William (Dianthus barbatus var. nigrescens ‘Sooty’), grown by J. Foss Garden Flowers
5 stems mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), harvested from my garden
Vase:
6-inch tall 1940s vase with a 7-inch x 3-inch oval opening
Eco-technique
Just add foliage: Thanks to the eco-conscious designers I’ve met and interviewed, I am quite wary of using florist’s foam, a formaldehyde-based product, to stabilize arrangements. Designing around a base of foliage offers a greener way to keep flower stems upright in a vase. Choose leaves that are large, fluffy or textured. Then, insert your other floral ingredients through this vegetation. For example, in this bouquet I placed the heuchera leaves first; then I added the sweet William and mock orange stems. Everything stays just where I want it.

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SLOW FLOWERS: Week 19

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

FIRST PEONIES OF THE SEASON

Peonies from Ojeda Farms

These luscious red peonies from a local grower reflect the garnet-colored art glass and complement two forms of ornamental allium.

Foliage detail

The lady’s mantle foliage is absolutely the BEST for spring bouquets. And if your garden is like mine, it’s super abundant right now!

Ingredients:
10 stems red peonies, grown by Ojeda Farms
7 stems each ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Cowanii’ ornamental alliums, grown by Choice Bulb Farms
12 stems lady’s mantle foliage (Alchemilla mollis), harvested from my garden

Vase:
9-inch tall x 5-inch diameter hand-blown glass vase

Design 101
Create a collar: You can use flowers or foliage to ring the base of a bouquet or arrangement as a finishing detail. This technique is usually done as the bouquet’s last step. For this arrangement, I pre-cut the greenery and then added it beneath the peonies, slightly overlapping each stem as I worked around the circumference of the bouquet. Here, the lady’s mantle visually separates the dark red peonies from the wine-red vase.

 

 

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