Debra Prinzing

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Episode 453: Returning to St. Louis, Missouri, (Virtually) with Jessica Douglass of Flowers & Weeds

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020
Jessica at The Planting Bar at Flowers and Weeds (c) Jordan Bauer

If you’re listening on Wednesday, May 13th, the date this Episode 453 was released, picture me in St. Louis, where I was scheduled to be the luncheon speaker at the annual “Flower Power at Tower Grove Park” event. One of seven National Historic Landmark Parks, Tower Grove  is a 289-acre Victorian park that serves as the backyard of St. Louis’ most diverse and densely populated urban neighborhoods and draws 2.5 million annual visitors.

The annual luncheon is a rite of spring. I’m pretty impressed that Tower Grove asked me to share the Slow Flowers story with its patrons and members, considering that last year’s luncheon speakers were NYC’s Putnam & Putnam rock stars. I was especially excited about the organizers’ plan to invite four St. Louis area Slow Flowers members to provide the luncheon centerpieces, including Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds, Kate Estwing of City House Country Mouse, Rebecca Bodicky of Alice Blue Collective and today’s guest, Jessica Douglass of Flowers & Weeds.

The good news is that Tower Grove has rescheduled the Flower Power event for September 30th and I very much look forward to my future visit to St. Louis and this botanical celebration.

The vintage sign at Flowers & Weeds is mounted on the original pole that once stood in front the building when it was a St. Louis ice cream shop (c) Virginia Harold

In the meantime, I wanted to bring you this conversation with Jessica. I interviewed her in 2016 when I traveled to St. Louis for the first time to lecture at St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom – which was an unforgettable experience. You can listen to that interview, which I paired with a lovely conversation with Vicki Lander of Flower Hill Farm, a Slow Flowers member and talented cut flower grower in the area – one who supplied me with her flowers for that Art in Bloom demonstration and who continually supplies florists like Jessica.

Jessica Douglass (c) Virginia Harold
“Guess this is QUARANSPRING” — local photographer Nate Burrell documented Flowers and Weeds’ curbside plant pickup in his St. Louis COVID Days series

For now, I’ll jump right in and introduce Jessica Douglass. I’ve been reporting almost exclusively on “Stories of Resilience” as our floral community adapts and adjusts creatively to the COVID-19 pandemic. And you’ll hear that theme continue in my interview with Jessica.

The Garden Center at Flowers and Weeds (c) Virginia Harold
A screen shot of the online store at flowersandweeds.com

Find and follow Flowers and Weeds at these social places:

Flowers and Weeds on Facebook

Flowers and Weeds on Instagram

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Flowers and Weeds, the cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, founded by today’s guest Jessica Douglass

Thanks so much for listening in on my virtual visit to St. Louis and Flowers and Weeds. The local connections being made are so important and are deepening ties between where flowers are grown and the ways floral consumers can enjoy them while supporting floral agriculture.

These indeed are Stories of Resilience. I mentioned that there are three other florists or farmer-florists whose designs are part of the now-rescheduled Tower Grove “Flower Power” event. I’m hopeful that I can record an update with each of them in the coming months, as well.

Replay of our May 8th Meet-Up

Our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to provide value and support as a member benefit. Last Friday on May 8th, we welcomed Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony and the Certified American Grown Council as our Zoom “virtual”meet-up guest.

Please join me at the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up, this Friday, May 15th —  9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there!

Yoni Levenbach (left) and Bethany Little (right)

Our special guests include Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders, and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co. They both work in the wholesale arena, although with very different models. I am excited for you to hear from Yoni about what he calls being a “Flower Hunter,” who works from his base in Los Angeles to custom source from farms across the U.S. for a diverse customer base. And I’m thrilled that Bethany will have news to share from Eugene Oregon, where she and her husband Charles Little are veteran cut flower farmers who have seen it all. Everything old might be new again for Bethany and Charles, but they are elevating and expanding their flower business in exciting new ways, which will inspire you.

Follow this link to join us on May 15th. We will also share the link on our Slow Flowers FB Page and in the Slow Flowers Community on FB.

Thank You to our Sponsors

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

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 thegardenersworkshop.com

Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.

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 ascfg.org.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 604,000 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 the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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 soundbodymovement.com

Music Credits:

Turning On The Lights; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely by Tryad 
http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 243: More About Missouri Grown with Two St. Louis-based Slow Flowers Voices

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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Seasonal branches from Flower Hill Farm paired with seasonal blooms from Urban Buds for my stage arrangement at St. Louis Art Museum.

Seasonal branches from Flower Hill Farm paired with seasonal blooms from Urban Buds for my stage arrangement at St. Louis Art Museum.

In March I visited Urban Buds, a flower farm in the heart of St. Louis owned by Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack.

And I know the conversation we recorded for this Podcast (click to hear Episode 238) inspired many of you interested in flower farming in the heart of a city as an alternative to using only rural land.

On that same visit to St. Louis, I also met others in The Slow Flowers Community, including several who attended my lecture and design presentation at the St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom. Two of those Missourians are guests of today’s podcast.

Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm.

Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm.

First up, you’ll hear my conversation with Vicki Lander of Flower Hill Farm.

Vickie and her husband Jack Oglander grow flowers on 35-acres of rolling hills, fields, and woods located in Beaufort, Missouri, one hour west of St. Louis.

In their fifth year of production, it’s their mission to continuously improve the art and science of flower farming.

Flower Hill Farm sells flowers to florists, designers, DIY brides restaurants and distributors, and at a local farmer’s markets  in the greater St. Louis area.

Flower Hill Farm's fields at the peak of summer.

Flower Hill Farm’s fields at the peak of summer.

The farm offers wedding and special event customers the freshest, locally-grown flowers possible and is a popular destination for “pick your own” custom parties designed for couples, families and friends preparing for their wedding ceremony.

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A heart filled with lovely Flower Hill Farm zinnias

Flower Hill Farm is guided by Sustainable practices, using organic farming methods. The farm has not pursued USDA Certified Organic labeling.

Vicki and Jack participate in a farmer-to-farmer certification program called Certified Naturally Grown, which is based on similar standards. Instead of using synthetically-derived fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, the couple strives to build good soil by amending with organic materials and minerals.

They tackle weeds and insect pests in a way that honors their commitment to long-term care of their farm, their watershed, their environment and the earth. To Vickie and Jack, farming practices matter, even if you don’t eat the flowers.

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At work on Flower Hill Farm.

Flower Hill Farm delights in providing to those who value and seek out locally grown choices. As they explain on their web site: “What gives us pleasure is offering the freshest flower-buying experience. We love it when someone looks at our flowers, a smile emerges, and the thought, the question arises: Who can I give these flowers to…..?”

Vicki describes herself this way: Somebody loves flowers.  Somebody loves sourcing just the right seeds that, if not collect and saved from her own farm, come from organic (if possible) and caring growers. Somebody loves planning, planting and caring for each seedling, watering, transplanting and tending to it. Somebody loves “vase life trials.” Somebody especially loves hands in dirt (soil, that is) and casting her shadow on her growing field. That someone would be Vicki Lander.

On the other hand, Farmer Jack (Jack Oglander), says he thinks farming is challenging. Farmers wear lots of hats, and must know how to handle many tools, responsibilities and physical tasks. Building and machine maintenance, irrigation, pruning, grounds keeping and fencing are current and ongoing projects– not to mention tilling, weeding, trimming and taking out the compost… Many farmers make invaluable use of a lifetime of experience when they wake up to a new morning…  Some don’t have that lifelong advantage.  At Flower Hill Farm, many of these tasks are up to Jack….  He’s still new to farming.  He thinks his title should be: Assistant Branch Manager.

Aerial view of Flower Hill Farm~ lush, green, magical.

Aerial view of Flower Hill Farm~ lush, green, magical.

Vicki and Jack reached out to me before I came to St. Louis and offered to supply what they could for my design demo and lecture, despite the early time of year. They cut the most beautiful quince and forced it for me, as well as tender curly willow branches just starting to leaf out. We didn’t think we would have time to record a conversation, but when Vicki delivered the branches to me, we grabbed a short interview in her car. You’ll enjoy hearing her story and how she and Jack are developing a beautiful chapter of their lives at Flower Hill Farm.

Follow Flower Hill Farm on Facebook

Flower Hill Farm on Instagram

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Jessica Douglass's cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, called "Flowers and Weeds."

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Jessica Douglass’s cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, called “Flowers and Weeds.”

Flowers and Weeds

Flowers and Weeds

On the same trip, I also met and spent time with St. Louis florist Jessica Douglass.

Jessica and I were introduced virtually by our mutual friend Sally Vander Wyst, a Slow Flowers member in Milwaukie, Wisconsin, whose voice and story you’ve heard previously on this Podcast (we met and recorded that interview during The Flower House opening last October).

When Sally heard  that I was heading to St. Louis, she told Jessica and I that we must meet — and I’m so happy that we did.

Jessica is the owner of a perfectly-named business: Flowers and Weeds, a retail floral studio and plant emporium on Cherokee Street in St. Louis. There is a greenhouse and a cutting garden, as well as a design studio where Jessica and her team create a popular selection of terrariums as well as romantic, free-form floral designs that allow flowers to have their own movement, inspired by the garden and nature.

The Cutting Garden at Flowers and Weeds

The Cutting Garden at Flowers and Weeds

Jessica Douglass and I posed near her beautiful floral entry for the St. Louis Art Museum's Art in Bloom exhibition.

Jessica Douglass and I posed near her beautiful floral entry for the St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom exhibition.

With an on-site cutting garden of beautiful, seasonal flowers and herbs, Flowers and Weeds freely expresses year-round creativity.

Jessica believes it’s important to use what is currently beautiful and blooming, embracing seasons to include anything from spring’s ranunculus and freesia, to winter’s juniper and kale.

Her goal is to be as sustainable as possible as a designer and she states: If we can’t grow it, then we are committed to finding locally sourced flowers that are sustainably grown.

I didn’t have my wits about me when I met Jessica for dinner just after I arrived on my flight from Seattle to St. Louis.

We recorded this interview via Skype a few weeks later to combine with Vicki’s and my conversation. As it turns out, Jessica is a customer of Flower Hill Farm and she often features their flowers in her designs. So this is a perfect pairing to share with you today.

A Flowers and Weeds mini-terrarium

A Flowers and Weeds mini-terrarium

The Planting Bar at Flowers and Weeds

Jessica gets hands-on at the Terrarium table at Flowers and Weeds

Follow Flowers and Weeds on Facebook

Follow Flowers and Weeds on Instagram

Thanks for joining today’s podcast. I learned so much and gained new insights into the business of flower farming and floral design through these conversations — and I know that you’ll want to check out Flower Hill Farm and Flowers and Weeds via their online sites . . . and if you should ever make it to St. Louis, be sure to visit them and see their flowers.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 94,000 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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Episode 238: St. Louis’s Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

A sublime Urban Buds ranunculus, photographed inside the vintage glass greenhouse on March 10th.

A sublime Urban Buds ranunculus, photographed inside the vintage glass greenhouse on March 10th.

 

Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds.

Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds.

943881_555233521292989_4077588127578733507_nToday’s podcast conversation took its time arriving here. I believe I first met Missouri flower farmer Mimo Davis of Urban Buds in 2012 at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers annual meeting in Tacoma, where I was a speaker.

We have corresponded over the years and followed what each other was doing. Mimo even once asked me when I might come to St. Louis to speak and visit.

Well, earlier this month, finally, that happened, thanks to the good people at the St. Louis Art Museum who invited me to be a featured speaker for their annual spring extravaganza called Bouquets to Art.

My all-Missouri-grown arrangement on display at Bouquets to Art, where I lectured and demonstrated the Slow Flowers story

My all-Missouri-grown arrangement on display at Bouquets to Art, where I lectured and demonstrated the Slow Flowers story

Bouquets to Art is a celebration of springtime, art and floral design, a tradition found in a number of top art museums across the country.

I was excited to attend and speak during the weekend of activities beginning with a gala opening dinner on March 11th, and followed by lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions from March 12th to 14th, with ticketed events seating audience members in a luxurious theatre with plush chairs and a huge stage and screen.

It was an event complete with a celebrity speaker – this year it was Carolyne Roehme, a native Missouri daughter, fashion industry icon and author of numerous lifestyle books.

I followed Ms. Roehme and presented on the same stage, with  150-or-so floral enthusiasts learning about the Slow Flowers Movement as I created several arrangements.

I was definitely concerned about sourcing local flowers for my floral demonstration because of the time of year.

And fortunately, I had two Missouri sources from which to shop: Urban Buds, owned by Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack – today’s guests; and Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm in Beaufort, Missouri.

Tiffany caught this image of me as I sampled (sniffed) the first crop of beautiful stock at Urban Buds

Tiffany caught this image of me as I sampled (sniffed) the first crop of beautiful stock at Urban Buds (c) Tiffany Buckley

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