Debra Prinzing

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ASCFG #4: Wild World of Weddings (Episode 171)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Wedding bouquets: the ultimate design challenge

Today’s episode was recorded on October 20th at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conference held in Wilmington, Delaware – and it is our fourth featured segment from that event.

“Wild World of Weddings” is a panel showcasing four voices that may be quite familiar to listeners of this podcast.

You’ll hear Jennie Love, of Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, based in Philadelphia; Sarah Ryhanen of Brooklyn-based Saipua; Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers in Baltimore and Sullivan Owen, owner of Sullivan Owen Floral & Event Design, also based in Philadelphia.

This free-ranging panel was left unstructured so that audience members could ask ANYTHING they wanted to know about growing, designing and selling local flowers to the bridal and wedding marketplace.

The panel wasn’t moderated per se, but you will first hear Jennie Love, who co-chaired the entire conference with Becky Devlin.

Remember, like all of our episodes from ASCFG, this one exceeds one hour in length. So I’ll keep my intro short and get right to the juicy material.

There’s amazing intel to learn from these four women — and you’ll hear a range of topics — from marketing your design business to navigating consultations to pricing and contracts.

Flower farmers and floral designers – and farmer-florists – will learn volumes from this panel.

Let’s get started with Jennie Love. After Jennie’s first remarks, I’ll interject to introduce each new voice who joins the conversation. You’ll begin to get used to the unique voices and points of view of each panel member as the segment continues.

Thanks for joining me and if you’re interested in learning more about any of these four talented designers, check out to find links to their social sites.

For the rest of December, my Slow Flowers Podcast episodes are very special and I’m thrilled to share two new voices with you.

On Dec. 17th, you’ll meet Molly Oliver Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers, a farmer-florist who’s growing her botanical ingredients right in the heart of Brooklyn!

And then on Dec. 24th, I’m very pleased to welcome Emily Thompson, owner of Emily Thompson Flowers, another New York star, a floral designer whose wild, rustic style is at the same time thoroughly elegant and timeless.

I recorded both interviews in person while spending a few days in NYC after attending the Cut Flower Growers Association conference and I’ve been eagerly waiting to broadcast them.

To wrap up the year, on December 31st, we’ll be looking to the future. I’ll host an episode that includes my 2015 forecast for the floral industry. Yes, I have a crystal ball and I’m going to gaze into it and share my insights with you.


If you’re hoping for something special to show up in your stocking or under the tree this year, be sure to send the gifters in your life to to buy you a space at the design table next July when Slow Flowers and the Field to Vase blog produce Peony Party.

You’ll join Christina Stembel and me over four fabulous peony-filled days focusing on the cultivation and design of Alaska Peonies.

Find all the details at There are only 20 spaces so grab your spot soon!

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 27,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at




SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua – a Brooklyn floral designer plants her own flower farm (Episode 110)

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013


Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua, is a Brooklyn floral designer who has planted her own flower farm (Episode 110)

Saipua means "soap" in Finnish, reflecting Sarah's family heritage.

Saipua means “soap” in Finnish, reflecting Sarah’s family heritage.


Nicolette and Sarah

Nicolette Owen (left) and Sarah Ryhanen (right), collaborators in The Little Flower School of Brooklyn.

I first learned about Sarah Ryhanen when I read an article about The Little Flower School of Brooklyn, a venture she had created with fellow floral designer Nicolette Owen of Nicolette Camille Floral. The article was in none other than the New York Times, in which the writer proclaimed the renaissance of old-fashioned floral design for modern-era crafters. 

Reading that article was like a huge floral flag being waved in front of my eyes.

Right on! The floral world I was so fascinated with documenting for The 50 Mile Bouquet was in good hands with these young, passionate, talented, urban designers. 

bowls and shears

All the supplies, beautiful, simple and ready for the flower arranging students at The Little Flower School of Brooklyn.

So like probably everyone else in the country, I started stalking Sarah through her web site and blog, and following Nicolette’s work through her web site and the lovely floral arrangements she created for Bringing Nature Home (Rizzoli, 2012), a book by photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo.

Welcome to Saipua

Welcome to Saipua + Flower School.

When I spent a few days in New York City last August, I contacted them to ask whether I could sit in on one of their workshops. The class was sold-out, of course, so I was just an observer. It was amazing to me that 12 persons (11 women and 1 man) gathered on a sweltering Saturday morning to create bowls of flowers in an un-airconditioned warehouse-studio in Brooklyn. There was so much excitement in the room, with a combination of newcomers and repeat students. People soaked up every word, concept and idea Sarah and Nicolette offered – and they were unabashedly proud of their own creations. 

Every detail was attended to in advance, as you can see by the photos I took that day. Sarah and Nicolette shared about their own design processes, about the way they select floral ingredients, and how they prefer to use materials like pin frogs and chicken wire (rather than foam). 

floral ingredients

Seasonal, locally-grown late summer flowers.

As the designs took shape, I had a bird’s eye view, perched in the tiny loft above the workshop. After students finished their arrangements, the women served them champagne and appetizers, like a fancy party. It’s no wonder these creative gatherings are so popular! It’s like going on an art retreat in the midst of your crazy, busy life. A moment in time that prompts anyone to feel more creative, more experimental, more artisitc.

When we met, one of the things Nicolette and Sarah and I discussed was the challenge of finding the flowers and botanicals they wanted and needed for special events, from weddings to workshops. Sarah told me that she and her partner Eric Famisan had recently purchased farmland in upstate New York, where they were in the early stages of planting a flower farm. 

students at work

A creative explosion of floral expression – enjoy this bird’s eye view.


Final bouquets

A still-life of the beautiful arrangements created by students of The Little Flower School of Brooklyn, August 2012.

Since then, I’ve watched as The Farm at World’s End has evolved, through Sarah and Eric’s wonderfully-photographed blog and honest, heartfelt text. 

Under a heading called “The Idea,” here’s what Sarah writes:

When the economy took a dive in 2008 we started to see a major loss in the NYC flower market. Loss of interesting product. The unusual, weedy, wild stuff that I was so into and that made my work unique. The trouble was that wholesalers had to be safe – the floral industry is one of the first to feel the blow of a weak economy. So wholesalers on the flower block of 28th street stuck to what they knew would sell; your South American hot house roses, ranunculus, lilies, peonies. Here’s a perfect example  — pre 2008 you could buy Garden Valley Roses (fragile, exquisite but expensive heirloom roses) on the block. 

Around that time I was starting to explore other outlets for material. We found local farms to supplement our market purchases (River Garden, Lebak, Added Value), and also started ordering product direct from the west coast – the promised land of flowers. 

Still there was always something I could not locate. Auricula, campanula “pantaloons”, black hellebores, unusual bearded iris…at Saipua we now spend hours and hours searching for the highest quality, most unusual flowers. Visiting flower farms and talking to growers is the best part of my job. You meet these crazy, passionate people and let me tell you – it’s contagious. Eventually you got to try growing yourself. So here we are.

On the flower block back in the city, the guys joke – when are you going to start selling us flowers? I try to explain to them (and to everyone who has not yet been to Worlds End) that it’s a slow process. That we’re years away from producing the opulent abundance that people envision when they hear “Flower Farm”. But I’ve come to realize that it’s not about quantity. I’m not in the business of hustling anymore. None of our work at Saipua will ever require thousands of stems.  It will however require a brown iris. And by god, I’m going to grow it.

Fortunately for listeners of The Slow Flowers Podcast, I had a quick 36-hour layover in New York a few weeks ago, en route to my Italian writing retreat. It coincided with a late afternoon opportunity to sit at the kitchen table in Sarah’s Brooklyn apartment, just around the corner from Saipua’s studio. We talked about farming, flowers and collaboration. Please enjoy the conversation.