Debra Prinzing

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Episode 343: Florist Shannon Cosgrove-Rivas of Sacramento-based Flourish on her California-grown sourcing practices

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

This past week the American Horticultural Society announced that I am the 2018 recipient of a Great American Gardener Award, one of 12 such awards given this year.

What’s really special is the specific award — named for Frances Jones Poetker, a floral designer, author and lecturer. First given in 1988, the award recognizes significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public.

Frances Jones Poetker, First Lady of Flowers

Who is Frances Jones Poetker? I thought it important to meet her!

Frances Jones Poetker was born on April 14, 1913 and grew up in Walnut Hills, Ohio. She later earned a degree in botany from Vassar College. She also attended the University of Cincinnati and received her master’s degree in plant ecology. Frances’s family owned Jones the Florist and operated floral shops in Ohio and Kentucky for more than a century. She was proud of her lineage, as her ancestors were originally named Jonaz, a floral dynasty dating to the early 1500s when they provided flowers to the courts of Holland.

Frances was a remarkable woman, known as “First Lady of Flowers” in the floral industry, both locally in Ohio and internationally. She received numerous awards and recognitions over her lifetime for her achievements as a botanist and horticulturist. She wrote a book titled Receiving God’s Gifts: Flowers, Herbs, Grasses, Trees and Water; she co-authored a prize-winning ecological book, Wild Wealth, had a syndicated column called “Fun with Flowers,” and presented a nationally syndicated TV course on plant ecology.

She also received an Olympic medal as co-chair of floral decorations at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and was named to the Floriculture Hall of Fame in 1967, which is the industry’s highest honor. In addition, her antique posey-holder collection is displayed in a permanent position at the Smithsonian. She died in March 2008, a decade ago.

Why am I so excited about receiving this recognition?! To me, the award legitimizes all of the efforts of the Slow Flowers Community as we work tirelessly to change the floral landscape in the U.S.

I have no idea whether Frances Jones Poetker was a Slow Flowers kindred spirit, but I like to imagine that she was, if only because of the decades that her career encompassed. I have to think she was a Constance Spry type of florist, one who relied on local flower growers and greenhouses to stock her Cincinnati flower shop.

At any rate, this is OUR award, for the entire Slow Flowers Community, and its existence moves what many consider a “fringe” movement to the mainstream where the consideration of seasonal, local and sustainable flowers is top of mind. It’s merely a piece of paper that I can frame, but I’m honored to accept it and share it with you.

Shannon Cosgrove-Rivas, Flourish

Okay, on to today’s guest. I am so pleased to introduce Shannon Cosgrove-Rivas of Sacramento-based Flourish. Shannon and I figured out that we met through Chapel Designers when Holly Chapple invited me to speak to one of her New York conferences several years ago.

Shannon (right) and I met up at the 2016 SF Flower & Garden Show and I loved the textural arrangement she demonstrated!

Later, when I was producing the Floral Stage at the San Francisco Flower Garden Show in 2016, I put out a call to all Slow Flowers members in California to propose presentations. Shannon did just that and she came to San Francisco to teach at the Show. I actually found a few photos taken of us together and featuring her beautiful floral arrangement that was part of the demonstration (see above).

The award-winning peony “boa” designed by Shannon Cosgrove-Rivas. This look won the “Best Art for Arts Sake: Unique Design” category in last year’s Alaska Peony Marketing Group/Florists’ Review

Here’s a bit more about Shannon, excerpted from her web site:

I started Flourish with the belief that every wedding should be a unique reflection of the couple.  Every couple has a story and that story is beautiful.  Using the freshest, seasonal and local flowers to inspire, amaze and to tell that story is my passion.

My husband Jim and I were married in 1994.  Aside from having everyone we loved in attendance, we knew a few things needed to happen for our wedding to feel authentic to us as a couple.  I wanted a wedding gown that was simple and classic.

Jim, a musician, wanted to choose all the music, and I absolutely had to carry peonies down the aisle. I wore a floral brocade gown and carried Sarah Bernhardt peonies. We danced the night away, with our closest friends, to such gems as “The Groove is in the Heart” and “Friday I’m in Love”.

I could fill this space with how I have been designing in flowers for 26 years and my designs have been published in national magazines and wedding blogs…etc.  Experience matters, but that is not the reason you should choose Flourish to design your wedding flowers.  The reason you should choose Flourish is, designing flowers is my passion.  Sharing that passion with my clients is what I love.

When I design flowers for a wedding, I am as invested in those flowers as I was in 1994 and I placed those precious peonies in my own bridal bouquet.  Every time I see a pink peony I think back to that day in May.  Your wedding flowers should be just as perfect and just as meaningful.

We believe that the beauty we are honored to work with every day should be available for our children and children’s children to enjoy.  What that means is using sustainable and environmentally responsible practices, whenever possible.

These are some of the steps we have taken to make operations at Flourish more environmentally friendly:

*We use locally grown and seasonally available flowers whenever possible (We are proud to be a member of Slow Flowers.).

*We have added a new cutting garden to the grounds outside our workshop.  Our cutting garden will allow us to add unique touches to our designs without having to truck those stems and blooms to our facility.

*We compost all organic waste for use in our cutting garden.

*All paper, glass and cardboard are recycled.

*Whenever possible, we use vases, containers and props for multiple events.

*We limit the amount of non-biodegradable Oasis foam we use in our arrangements

*Excess water from the design studio is used to water the plants in our cutting garden.

*We have asked our suppliers to limit the amount of paperwork, invoices and extra packing materials sent to us.

*Many of our vases and containers are made from recycled materials.

*All of our estimates, invoices, contracts and other communications are done electronically so there is no paper waste.

*We use limited paper marketing materials to reduce waste. What we do use, business cards and gift bags, are made from recycled materials.

*We limit the amount of packing materials we use in the transportation and presentation of flowers.

*Floral designs left over after the event are donated to a senior center where the  flowers can continue to bring joy after the event is over.

I love that Shannon has proclaimed specific practices on her web site, clearly underscoring her brand and values that she wants to share with her clients.

Enjoy these photos of Shannon and her beautiful flowers!

You can follow Shannon at these social places:

Flourish Designs on Facebook

Flourish Designs on Instagram

Read Sacramento Magazine’s recent article about Shannon’s “slow flowers” practices. Download PDF here: Flourish-SacMag2 (1)

Thanks so much for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Luxury Package promotion continues now through April 20th. If you register for the upcoming Slow Flowers Summit conference by that date, you’ll be entered into a random drawing to receive a $400 gift package — all the details are available here.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 300,000 times by listeners like you. In fact, March 2018 was our all-time highest month of listenership — at more than 12,200 downloads! Thank you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing — it means so much.

Take the Pledge!!!

As the Slow Flowers 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 right column.

Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs including this podcast, American Flowers Week, the online directory to American grown flowers, as well as our new channels, Slow Flowers Journal and the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit.

They are:

Florists’ Review magazine, for which I serve as Contributing Editor for the new Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of passionate family farms in the heart of Alaska providing bigger, better peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at

Longfield Gardens 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. Visit them at

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

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out 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

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

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:
Sage the Hunger (Rhythmic); Thannoid
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from: