As many of you know, my path to flowers began as a home and garden features writer for magazines and newspapers. And one of my favorite gigs twenty years ago, when I first shifted from business journalism to design writing, was as garden editor for Seattle Homes & Lifestyles.
I love shelter magazines of all kinds, a dying breed, some would say, including that magazine, which took a hit along with so many during the 2008 downtown in real estate. But we had a very good run and I scouted gardens, produce photo shoots and wrote about landscape design in the Seattle area for years.
One of the very first stories I produced for Seattle Homes & Lifestyles was about a young couple named Gwen and Paul Sayers, who had a company called Paul Sayers Landscaping and who lived in Monroe, Wash., about 30 miles northeast of Seattle. Paul had designed and installed an amazing pond surrounded by a strolling path and landscaped with hundreds of beautiful trees and shrubs. It was a plant-lovers paradise and I visited Paul and Gwen on a few occasions for that article and another one for The Herald, the local daily newspaper in Everett, for which I also wrote.
Fast forward more than 15 years later and I reconnected with Paul and Gwen at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in 2017 where they had a retail booth selling items from the retail shop at their new nursery, renamed Pine Creek Farms & Nursery. Gwen has a great eye for combining plants with vintage objects and that, combined with Paul’s ability to build anything out of salvaged lumber, added up to a charming display. At the time, Gwen told me that she had started growing cut flowers for wedding clients, including ceremonies being held at Pine Creek Nursery. It was a bit of a shift from running a landscaping company, but in a logical way, their sister businesses — Pine Creek Nursery and Scattered Seeds — made a lot of sense to me.
Last summer, I was immersed in the full wedding experience at Pine Creek Nursery when I designed the florals for my friend’s daughter’s wedding — on July 6th no less — just a few days after returning to Seattle from the 3rd annual Slow Flowers Summit in the Twin Cities.
The bride, Claire, grew up with my boys, and since I don’t have a daughter, I guess I was feeling quite sentimental when I offered to help her with her wedding flowers. You can see a few photos of that ceremony, captured through the lens of talented wedding photographer B. Jones Photography.
I mention this experience to help underscore how impressed I was with the venue, the amenities, the incredibly beautiful landscape and cutting gardens that create Pine Creek Nursery.
Paul and Gwen and I recorded this episode right before the holidays and I’m so happy to share it with you here. You will learn how these retail nursery owners turned some of their tree production fields into destination wedding venue and cut flower farm. It’s a story of innovation and love for their land. And as we continue the conversation of sustainability in 2020, today’s them is how to sustain a livelihood from your land.
Here’s a bit more about Paul and Gwen:
Paul, the visionary of Pine Creek, began landscaping in 1989. Taking the leap to build a full service nursery in 2002, he and Gwen bought 20 acres of land on the outskirts of Monroe, Wa. Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Cascade Mountains, they have developed what was once a raw piece of ground into a stunning destination nursery and event venue. Paul is an all around talented man who not only envisioned Pine Creek, but built every facet along the way. He is a man who not only dreams up BIG ideas, but actually tackles them and makes them real! From growing nursery stock out in the field, or repairing heavy equipment or irrigation, Paul has made it happen with full on hard work and a ‘get er done’ work ethic! His passion is building, creating and working with rock which is seen throughout the nursery, including a grand granite rock fireplace that is a centerpiece to the event venue at Pine Creek!
Gwen who loves everything green, growing and flowers, has been alongside Paul through the whole process of developing Pine Creek. She has had a love for gardening ever since she was a young girl, & now some of her favorite things to do are propagating plants as well as developing a new addition to the nursery… ‘Scattered Seeds…a Flower Farm’ where fresh, locally-grown flowers are lovingly tended for weddings and local floral shops. Gwen wears many hats at Pine Creek – from the office, greenhouse, loading materials, to arranging flowers — but you can always find her with clippers in hand, foraging for unique & beautiful elements to add to a vase or to propagate for future nursery stock.
I’m so grateful that they are part of the Slow Flowers community! We’ve come full circle together and that’s a priceless gift.
As they mentioned, by creating a dedicated brand called Events at Pine Creek Nursery, and hiring an a dedicated wedding coordinator, they have been able to build a following for that brand and business channel. It’s a smart move and as you heard, 2020 wedding bookings are already higher than last year. A flourishing year, for sure.
Find and Follow Gwen & Paul at these social places:
We are continuing to build the program for the Slow Flowers Summit, including some special surprises that we’ll be announcing in the weeks and months ahead.
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.
Follow this link to see all the details, including the Slow Flowers member discounted registration rate. And THANK YOU to two of the first sponsors to join us in presenting the Summit:
Sarah Hinton and BloomTrac software for event florists, is again sponsoring our name tag layards — and we hope she will be on site to share more about BloomTrac with you.
And thanks to our friends at Red Twig Farms, Lindsey and Josh McCullough, just joined as one of our evening meal/reception sponsors! Check out links to these two great floral partners at today’s show notes at debraprinzing.com. We’ll have more sponsors to announce soon.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 566,000 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.
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.
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.
FarmersWeb. 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 www.farmersweb.com.
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.
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
In The Field