Debra Prinzing

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Episode 439: Meet Hans and Lisa Larsen, Sunborn Gardens’ next generation

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
Fresh and beautiful – an all-Wisconsin-grown bouquet, with flowers and design from Sunborn Gardens

I’m so delighted today to welcome Hans Larsen and Lisa Larsen, partners in Sunborn Gardens, a Wisconsin flower farm and design studio with a long history in cut flower growing.

Hans Larsen and Lisa Larsen, partners in Sunborn Gardens, 2.0!

Tucked in a little valley near downtown Mount Horeb,  Sunborn has been growing beautiful cut flowers for over 40 years. Owners Hans and Lisa Larsen run the flower farm and design studio, working closely together to create unique and artful floral.  The farmer and florist relationship is what makes their floral designs one-of-a-kind, as they constantly trial new varieties and color palettes to showcase the best Wisconsin has to offer. All farming is done using organic practices in order to properly care for their family land. Sunborn’s modern designs are inspired by the garden, full of specialty blooms, heirloom varieties and rich with texture. 

Inside one of the Sunborn Gardens’ high tunnels, with Farmer Hans.

Sunborn Gardens’ founder Carol Larsen is Hans’ mother. She originally began to sell at the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison, Wisconsin, 44 years ago. Her love affair with flowers began with a bucket of orange marigolds and she and Sunborn have grown cut flowers ever since. Many of you will recall that Carol is a pioneering cut flower farmer who co-founded Fair Field Flowers, a marketing cooperative of Wisconsin and Illinois specialty cut flower growers.

Hans and Lisa with two of their three young children.

Fair Field Flowers permanently closed as of January 1, 2019, but the roots of this legendary and innovative regional model remain deep in Madison, Milwaukee and other markets formely served by the cooperative. These are talented people who really made a mark on the Wisconsin floral scene and whose reach went far beyond their region through education, workshops and sharing their knowledge generously.

This is posted on the Fair Field Gardens FB Page: Fair Field Flowers has ceased operation as of 1/1/19. Should you wish to contact any of the former partners please check out the info below:

PO Box 2071
Madison WI 53701

Mary Jo Borchardt
Five Green Acres

Catherine Cooper
Kate’s Fresh Flowers

Christine Curley
Bee Happy Blooms

Hans Larsen
Sunborn Gardens

Jeanie McKewan
Bright Flower Farm

Cheryl Burton and Gina Graham
Old Stone House Farm, LLC

At harvest with Hans Larsen

Here’s more about Flower Farmer Hans Larsen:

“When the opportunity to take over the family farm business came up I had just had my first child. It was in that moment that I knew I had to do it. I wanted my daughter to live the magical, nature-filled life I had as a kid. I wanted her to play in those woods and talk to the flowers. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Learning greenhouse production, bookkeeping, seed starting and more is no walk in the park.  I keep showing up for the flowers. The entrepreneurship journey is a interesting one, full of ups and downs, but unlike the jobs I had before, this gig feeds the soul.  Working so closely with my designer wife, we are cultivating something really special.”

Spring market bouquets (left) and summer lisianthus harvest (right)

And a bit from farmer-florist Lisa Larsen:

I married into this wonderful flower family of mine. When Hans first had the idea to take over his Mother’s flower farm I was skeptical.  I was about to move my entire life to a new city and become a farmer? I eventually found myself helping out in the design studio and it was there I found my calling. I had studied fine arts in college and was set on becoming a teacher, but through long days at the workbench creating art by using flowers as my medium, I was hooked. All the elements and principles of design I once studied were being applied on a daily basis and I wanted more more more! I apprenticed with my mother-in-law for a few years learning all I could. I now run the design studio with a small, very talented staff to produce weddings almost every weekend. I am constantly inspired by what is growing all around me. There really is nothing better than a fresh cut local stem.

Lisianthus season at Sunborn Gardens.

I can’t wait for you  to hear the next chapter of Sunborn Gardens and be inspired by the changes that Lisa and Hans have brought, changes that work with their lifestyle of living off farm and juggling farming and studio responsibilities while parenting three young children. As Lisa and Hans like to joke, it takes two of them to match the skills of Carol Larsen. They are all quite fortunate to have one another along this journey, with Carol continuing to share her “heirloom body of knowledge” (a phrase my friend Diane Szukovathy once coined) with the next generation.

Thanks so much for joining me today — what a wonderful visit with two passionate flower lovers. Sunborn Gardens is part of the upcoming Wisconsin Cut Flower Growers School, scheduled for next weekend, February 15-16, 2020, and presented by University of Wisconsin/Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. You can find more details here.

May 17th Spring Centerpiece Workshop with Lisa Larsen in Madison, Wisc.

Find and Follow Sunborn Gardens at these social places:

Sunborn Gardens on Facebook

Sunborn Gardens on Instagram

Sunborn Gardens on Pinterest

Love this image created by our friends at Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Well, we’ve made it through the first month of a new year and a new decade. If you missed the February Slow Flowers newsletter check it out here.

We’ve got lots of goodness going on and you won’t want to miss out on opportunities to get involved with campaigns, content and events that will benefit you and your brand. Among other things, the newsletter celebrates one of our top highlights for the New Year. January witnessed our largest burst of growth ever — with 23 new members joining and 61 renewing members last month. Welcome all!

Registration continues for Slow Flowers Summit and we’re more than 50% sold out!

Please join me on June 28-30th and connect with our fabulous speakers, enjoy the incredibly beautiful venue at Filoli Historic House & Garden, and experience the many features that will immerse you in the people, principles and practices of Slow Flowers.

Check out all the details by following the link in today’s show notes or head to where you can register at an incredibly affordable rate of $599 for 2-1/2 days inclusive of programming and meals. Slow Flowers Members enjoy a discount at $549.

Join me! Slow Flowers Podcast (c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 573,000 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.

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. Our partnership with Florists’ Review is such a valuable one, providing a forum for beautiful and inspiring editorial content in the #slowflowersjournal section – month after month. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at

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 Thanks to ASCFG for returning as a Slow Flowers Sponsor for 2020. We’re launching a fun podcast series this year, in which I will catch up with all of the regional directors across North America — so listen for news about what’s happening in your area.

Longfield Gardens, which provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at

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

Music Credits:

Homegrown; A Palace of Cedar; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions

Lovely by Tryad

In The Field
Music from: