Debra Prinzing

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Episode 251: Ariella Chezar’s The Flower Workshop Book and Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture’s PhD in – yes, Floriculture

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) and Ariella Chezar (right)

Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) (c) Amber Snow; and Ariella Chezar (right) (c) Corbin Gurkin

This week’s episode delivers double the inspiration as you will hear from two guests — one quite familiar to our Slow Flowers community, Ariella Chezar, and one who is an emerging leader in floral design education, Morgan Anderson.

Both interviews were recorded in May and I’m combining them here for an extended episode that will delight you as a creative person and evoke some new ways of thinking about your business model, be it flower farming, floral design or a combination of both.


The Flower Workshop BookI am so fortunate to have gotten to know Ariella Chezar over the years. We were first introduced virtually by Berkeley-based designer Max Gill, an incredibly talented floral artist who I profiled (along with the work of photographer David Perry) in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

When I interviewed Max, I asked him to connect me with someone who had influenced his work and he named Ariella. She and I corresponded by email and she contributed a lovely quote about Max’s work for me to use in the chapter about him (and PS, a podcast interview with Max is on my bucket list for the upcoming year).

I promptly ordered my own copy of Flowers for the Table, an evocative book that Ariella created for Chronicle Books in 2002, one that helped propel her into the world of editorial floral design.

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella and I finally met face-to-face in spring of 2013 at Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburgh, California. She was there at owner Kaye Heafey’s beautiful flower farm to lead a design workshop and as it turned out, I was there with Chicago-based photographer Bob Stefko to produce a clematis story for Country Gardens magazine. The following year, I interviewed Ariella for this podcast in her former Ariella Flowers retail studio in New York City (if you haven’t heard that episode, follow this link).

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

That was about the time that Ariella teamed up with her favorite editor, SF-based Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media (with whom she had created Flowers for the Table), to begin creating The Flower Workshop, the designer’s long-anticipated second book that Ten Speed Press released earlier this year.

A lovely inside page from "The Flower Workshop," by Ariella Chezar

A lovely inside page from “The Flower Workshop,” by Ariella Chezar: “How to make a tulip ‘float'” – Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

It took about 18 months to bring this lovely tome to life because Ariella and her creative team photographed flowers and her designs in season, on location in both the Bay Area, where Ariella worked in the early days of her career, and in her childhood home of The Berkshires, where she operates a studio and small flower farm in western Massachusetts.

The gorgeous new book expresses Ariella’s lush, whimsical garden style and her true passion for nature, both cultivated and wild.

Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our 2014 podcast interview, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic. Mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her, Ariella responded in kind with a loving respect for the elements. In response, her design style was and continues to be unique and iconic.

"Summer Fruits," Ariella's interpretation from the orchard.

“Summer Fruits,” Ariella’s interpretation from the orchard. Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

Please enjoy this short interview. It was recorded at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on May 25th, after Ariella had spent two full days first touring the flower farms of some of the Market’s members, then teaching a master design intensive based on the content of The Flower Workshop.