Debra Prinzing

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Episode 562: Susan McLeary shares her large-scale, foam-free, floral design installation techniques at the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit (encore presentation)

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022
Watch Susan McLearly’s design stage presentation from the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit at Filoli in Woodland Hills, California

We are closing in on the 2022 Slow Flowers Summit, taking place June 26-28th in Westchester County New York – at two venues, the Red Barn at Maple Grove Farm in Bedford and at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills. You’ve met almost all of our speakers here on the Slow Flowers Show or the Slow Flowers Podcast and tickets are nearly sold-out with sales closing on June 19th.

Susan McLeary
Susan McLeary demonstrates her “burrito” mechanice for large-scale, foam-free floral installations (c) Missy Palacol Photography

We invited Susan McLeary to teach on 2021 Slow Flowers Summit design stage and also to give our keynote presentation. We’ve shared Sue’s entire demonstration of a large-scale, foam-free botanical installation. You can learn Sue’s exact techniques and mechanics, as well as how she prepares her famous “burrito” as an alternative to foam, what types of ingredients she selects, and how she uses principles of design to achieve pleasing proportion and balance in her final work of art.

Susan McLeary's hanging installation at Filoli
A section of Susan’s hanging installation at Filoli during the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Meet Susan McLeary at these social places:
Susan McLeary on Instagram and Facebook
Susan McLeary’s courses and workshops
Request Sue’s list of reliable flowers

I just looked up a quote from Sue from the first profile I published about her in 2017. This was for a story in Florists’ Review called “A Curious Creative.” Here’s a quote from Sue that I so appreciated, she said:

Susan McLeary teaching
Susan McLeary teaching large-scale foam-free floral installations at the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit (c) Missy Palacol Photography

“You have to be insanely curious and you have to keep your curiosity.” Rather than waiting for the muse to miraculously appear, Sue is ever-attentive and observant, seeking inspiration from many sources. She continues: “The life of a florist is very busy and there isn’t a lot of free time. But my advice is to make creative time a priority. Schedule a day, or part of a day, each month, and try out new ideas. Create just for yourself. Make the things that you want to make and be sure to have them photographed. Make it a priority.”

My favorite Sue McLeary quote from her 2021 Slow Flowers Summit presentation is this:

I think of large-scale design as a corsage for the room.

Susan Mcleary

Last Chance to Grab Your Slow Flowers Summit Ticket!

floral details at slow flowers summit
Floral details at the Slow Flowers Summit (c) Jenny M. Diaz

Of course, you’ve already heard me mention the countdown to the 2022 Slow Flowers Summit — it’s going to be an amazing event, a gathering of kindred spirits representing all facets of the domestic floral marketplace. This week is the FINAL opportunity to grab your ticket — and I have a special discount code to share with you! Use the Coupon Code: LETSDOTHIS for 10% off registration for any 2022 Slow Flowers Summit Ticket Type or for our once-in-a-lifetime Slow Flowers Dinner at Blue Hill Restaurant on Monday, June 27th. Offer expires June 19, 2022 (midnight PT) Find the registration link in today’s show notes — and I hope to see you there!

Thank you to our Sponsors!

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Farmgirl Flowers 2022

Thank you to our lead sponsor, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $10 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at

Thank you to Store It Cold, creators of the revolutionary CoolBot, a popular solution for flower farmers, studio florists and farmer-florists.  Save $1000s when you build your own walk-in cooler with the CoolBot and an air conditioner.  Don’t have time to build your own?  They also have turnkey units available. Learn more at   

Thank you to CalFlowers, the leading floral trade association in California, providing valuable transportation and other benefits to flower growers and the entire floral supply chain in California and 48 other states. The Association is a leader in bringing fresh cut flowers to the U.S. market and in promoting the benefits of flowers to new generations of American consumers. Learn more at

Thank you to the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. Its mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast is a member-supported endeavor, downloaded more than 858,000 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 our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

If you’re new to our weekly Show and our long-running Podcast, check out all of our resources at Slow Flowers and consider making a donation to sustain Slow Flowers’ ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button to the right ->.

Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. 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.  Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time. 

Music credits:
Game Hens; For We Shall Know Speed; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field