Debra Prinzing

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Episode 330: Slow Flowers’ 2018 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018


The fourth annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights & Industry Forecast for 2018

I’m excited to announce that Florists’ Review has come onboard as Slow Flowers‘ lead sponsor for 2018, signifying a strategic partnership that acknowledges the many ways the Slow Flowers approach is moving into many facets of floristry — at all points along the farm to consumer pipeline. Florists’ Review is the only independent monthly magazine for the retail, wholesale and supplier market, reaching the largest number of floral professionals in the industry. I’m honored to be a Contributing Editor producing the monthly Slow Flowers Journal section, filled with unique content reflecting the cultural shift taking place in flower sourcing and design.

Since 2014, I have drawn from input from members of the Slow Flowers Community, past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast and other progressive leaders in the floral industry — including farmers, florists and design creatives — to “predict” the future. While by no means a statistical survey, the Slow Flowers Floral Insights & Industry Forecast serves as a botanical crystal ball to identify emerging themes affecting the domestic floral industry. I’m excited to share these key insights for the first time in print form, here in the pages of Florists’ Review’s “Slow Flowers Journal” section.

Think of these topics as your inspiration checklist for 2018 — Your Next, New and Now Report. Some of you are already engaged in these up-and-coming developments, so consider yourself on-topic!

The overarching theme for 2018 is “Flowers without Borders,” which to me reflects the disappearance of silo-like barriers that previously separated growers of flowers from sellers of flowers from designers of flowers. Thanks to technology and social media, the ability of conventional “gatekeepers” to control the flow of information and product has greatly diminished. Transparency is power, making it easier than ever before to identify sources of fresh and uncommonly beautiful flowers and foliage. So here’s to a new floral landscape where accessibility is the driving force.

#1 Flower Farmers Diversify into Seeds, Bulbs and Plants

Beyond selling their crops to wholesale, retailer and independent florists, entrepreneurial flower farmers are finding new ways to turn expertise into cash flow. This phenomenon has moved far beyond seed-swapping and informal exchanges of plant cuttings.

One story of diversification comes from Bailey Hale of Ardelia Farm + Co. in Irasburg, Vermont. A trained horticulturist and two-time Philadelphia Flower Show gold medal floral designer (through his former studio MODA Botanica), Bailey now raises specialty cut flowers for farmers’ markets and florists and provides full-service wedding and event design. He turned his own hunger to find sources for uncommon “couture” flowers into a spin-off venture called Farmer Bailey, a custom plug brokerage.

When he’s not tending to his own farm, which is famous for producing sweet peas long into Vermont’s cool summer months, Bailey has become a cut flower hunter. He evaluates new varieties, contracts with a large wholesale nursery to custom grow “plugs” of must-have cultivars and markets his ever-expanding online catalog of irresistible choices to flower farmers and farmer-florists like himself. Bailey saw an un-served opportunity in the marketplace and used his connections and ingenuity to fill the demand. The result is a thriving new venture and the chance to influence the types of blooms — from Asters to Verbenas — entering the floral marketplace.

#2 Flower Farmers Launch Direct-Ship Wholesale Programs
Shipping to designers in markets that don’t otherwise have access to their unusual flowers, Gretel and Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio, “have opened door to get our product to florists without having to physically deliver it,” Gretel explains. Recently, their farm joined a shipping cooperative to take advantage of discounted overnight rates, an essential part of keeping their pricing competitive.

After a season of testing packaging methods and learning to navigate the FedEx system, Sunny Meadows expects to unveil The Columbus Flower Company’s national wholesale flower shipping program this spring, beginning with its huge ranunculus harvest. “We’d like to be able to send flowers to designers in New York, or Los Angeles, or places that don’t have access to a good flower market,” she says.

Gretel, also a wedding and event designer, feels she can add value for florists who order from the farm. “My favorite clients are florists who give me an inspiration board and a budget and I’ll pull a mix of ingredients that I myself would use.”

In Weyers Cave, Virginia, Jessica Hall and her family run two businesses, Harmony Harvest Farm (specialty cut flowers) and Floral Genius (pin frogs and other flower frogs). Jessica also reports of plans to ship flowers in 2018, borrowing lessons learned from shipping flower frogs across the U.S. to Floral Genius’s  wholesale accounts.

Harmony Harvest spent 2017 trialing packaging, stem hydration and shipping methods to determine best practices for a farm-to-florist wholesale program. “I believe there is a collective army (of smaller flower farms) that can take care of the U.S. need; they might be able to grow those flowers and see that it’s possible to ship. I’m going to figure it out and hopefully that will change the industry,” she says.

#3 Retail Garden Centers Add Floral Design Services

Last year’s Floral Insights report highlighted “Return of Brick and Mortar,” documenting a possible reversal of the decades-long decline in floral retail, as I witnessed studio florists with a distinct local and community focus open a new generation of retail flower shops. The next wave in this shift continues in retail nurseries and garden centers, which are opening or reviving in-house floral shops with a distinctly local emphasis.

Slow Flowers Journal featured The Flower Shop at O’Donal’s Nursery outside Portland, Maine — which recently introduced full-service floral design as a sister business to a 60-acre tree and shrub nursery. Manager Rayne Grace Hoke credits having a distinct aesthetic inspired by O’Donal’s extensive plant collection for much of the shop’s success.

On the opposite coast, Windmill Gardens, an independent garden center in Sumner, Washington, also debuted a new flower department. According to owner Ben DeGoede, Windmill brought floral design in-house for the first time since 2001, taking over space once occupied by a tenant and rebranding as Windmill Floral Studio. The beautiful, full-service shop has a commitment to providing only locally-grown and American-grown flowers. “The Slow Flowers movement and the buy local movement has inspired us to take floral back again,” he explains.

General manager Wendy Pedersen explains that the flower shop “wants customers to support local farmers.” There are obvious synergies for couples who book Windmill Gardens’ outdoor wedding venue and hire Windmill Floral Studio to design their flowers.

#4 Flower Farmers Shift into Retail

While it may seem “counter-trend,” a number of flower farms are opening retail spaces in prime locations where their flowers are marketed alongside related hard goods and artisan products. It’s a move welcomed by consumers who want to buy farm-direct in urban and suburban markets. I’ve identified Chicago, Boston and Albuquerque, among other cities where flower farmers have opened retail shops to sell their blooms.

In Boston, Field & Vase, a new venture of Stow Greenhouses, has opened two retail spaces at The Shops at Prudential Center, a major downtown retail hub. Barbara Rietscha and Dave Buchholz incubated their first retail venture two years ago at Boston Public Market, a year-round, indoor farmers’ market with 40 vendors and a New England-grown mandate. Success in that venue attracted the attention of developers at the tony Prudential Tower, and this past September, Field & Vase opened two locations there — a permanent kiosk in the heart of the mall’s central court and a full-service shop-studio that is large enough to accommodate custom design work, event production, client consultations and ongoing workshops.

Barbara says adding multiple retail channels to sell their farm’s value-added flowers was an intentional decision. By selling the flowers they grow direct to consumers through retail, Field & Vase enjoys larger margins and gets out of the wholesale environment dominated by price competition with imports. Additionally, at the Prudential locations, the business promotes other flower farms that aren’t set up to do retail themselves. “We source within the U.S. because we believe in local,” Barbara says. “We want to be a venue for flower farmers who don’t have retail outlets themselves.”

#5 Aromatherapy and Wellness Remedies

Botanically-inspired fragrances, body care remedies and other herbal and scented goods have a natural affinity for floral consumers, and I’ve noted some brilliant ways that florists are taking advantage of this. From developing their own candle and soap collections to offering aromatherapy-themed events, florists are tapping into ways to cross-promote flowers and aromatics.

Stacey Carlton, AIFD, of The Flora Culturist in Chicago has made the fragrance connection for her customers with an “Aromatherapy Bar” service. It’s a smart way to extend into a new revenue stream incorporated into parties and special events. Guests are invited to create a personal, custom fragrance blend — or to follow Stacey’s cleverly personalized scent recipes. From intimate gatherings like bridal showers to large interactive events, the Aromatherapy Bar gives guests a social experience and a new way to engage with fragrance.

Farmer-florist Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm in Groton, California, is a certified herbalist who studied at the California School of Herbal Studies. She extends her farm’s season by creating and selling “small batch, field to face” herbal and aromatherapy products.
Full Bloom Flower Farm’s skin care line includes rich hydrating creams made from roses, calendula and lavender grown on her farm. A rosemary hydrosol is an organic spray that can be used either on the face after sun exposure or used in cocktails after a long day of gardening. Hedda’s personal favorite product is the Injury Salve which she uses after a day of farming to soothe sore muscles. She sells her products online, alongside other farm-logo items like tank tops, sweatshirts and hats.

#6 Cause-Related Flowers

Flower farmers and florists alike are investing their talents in helping nonprofits and others in their communities. Floral philanthropy or “flowers with heart” efforts are inspiring, and I love seeing flowers used as a currency to change lives and advance important causes. A number of feel-good projects caught my attention in 2017 and I am certain they will continue in 2018.

The Bloom Project, profiled recently in Florists’ Review, is a 10-year-old volunteer-run program that upcycles donated flowers into bouquets for hospice and palliative care patients in Portland, Oregon.

On a national level, Christina Stembel’s Farmgirl Flowers selects and supports a monthly nonprofit partner by donating a portion of sales for a signature bouquet in its product mix.

“We started our ‘With Heart’ campaign because we wanted a way to give back to multiple organizations that are near and dear to our hearts throughout the year,” Christina explains. “It’s also a way we can support many organizations that our team members are passionate about.” Since it launched in April 2017, Farmgirl’s ‘With Heart’ program has contributed more than $70,000 to nine different charities.

I’m also impressed with charities using flower farming and floral design as a platform for change. It’s inspiring to watch nonprofit farms that help teens and adults train for the workplace or those that provide sustainable jobs for individuals with different abilities. Some notable efforts include Muir Ranch in Pasadena, WOW Farm in Oakland, Blawesome Farms in the Raleigh-Durham area, Blooming on the Inside in Portland, and other socially responsible enterprises.

The bottom line is that flowers can meet people where they are and be used as a positive tool to instigate change, stimulate progress and enhance lives.


Episode 263: Sunny Meadows Flower Farm’s Gretel and Steve Adams share a preview of the ASCFG Conference

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Grand Rapids skyline in watercolor splatters with clipping path

2016 National Conference: Grand Rapids is the destination for four full days of Flower Farming topics, people and more!

ascfg-badge-for-slow-flowersYou may have noticed that Slow Flowers and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, or ASCFG, have teamed up for the coming year to cross-promote and cross-sponsor each others’ programming and marketing.

Slow Flowers and ASCFG has partnered in smaller ways in the past, including my giving a presentation at the 2012 Conference in Tacoma and supporting fundraising efforts for the ASCFG Foundation.

ASCFG has featured Slow Flowers in its popular publication, the Cut Flower Quarterly, and I featured ASCFG in my book, The 50 Mile Bouquet and in past podcasts. Now, we’ve formalized this mutually beneficial relationship with a formal sponsorship agreement.

Slow Flowers is the new media sponsor for the 2016 ASCFG Conference, November 6-9 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and ASCFG has joined our awesome family of sponsors for, the Slow Flowers Podcast and American Flowers Week 2017.

Sunny_Meadows_Gretel_Steve3To kick off this partnership, I’ve invited two past guests of this podcast to return and share a preview of the upcoming ASCFG conference. Gretel and Steve Adams are owners of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, based in Columbus, Ohio.

I met Steve and Gretel in 2010 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first time any of us had attended a national ASCFG Conference. They impressed me with how eager they were to learn from flower farmers who were more established than they were, and how naturally they seemed to soak up advice, lessons and knowledge from their peers.

Gretel and Steve Adams on their farm in Columbus, Ohio.

Gretel and Steve Adams on their farm in Columbus, Ohio.

A couple years later, I found myself lecturing and teaching in Cincinnati, Ohio. I called up Steve and Gretel and invited myself for a visit. I drove a few hours to Columbus and enjoyed a fabulous Sunday morning touring Sunny Meadows Flower Farm and getting to know this couple better.

When I invited Gretel and Steve to be guests on the Slow Flowers Podcast in January 2014, I called them “young flower farmers whose creativity and determination to earn a living from their land.”

Our relationship inspired me to pitch a story about Sunny Meadows Flower Farm to my editor James Baggett at Country Gardens — He said YES and we I met in Columbus two summers ago to work with the very gifted photographer Kritsada to produce a story about Gretel and Steve.

As we discuss in this episode, that article and Sunny Meadows Flower Farm’s story has been very popular. Meredith Publishing, owner of Country Gardens and Better Homes & Gardens, has run our piece two subsequent times, including the recent appearance of Gretel and Steve on the cover of the premiere issue of Living the Country Life’s rebrand for the Spring-Summer 2016 issue.

For this episode, I caught up with Steve and Gretel Adams via Skype, recorded over Labor Day Weekend when they were giving themselves a rare “day off.”

We previewed their three presentations scheduled for ASCFG conference, including Gretel’s participation on a panel called ‘Wedding Designs from the Farm’ with Rita Anders of Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas, and Jennie Love of Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, Philadelphia, past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Steve and Gretel will also be part of a panel called Scaling Up the Farm, with Heidi Joynt of Field and Florist outside Chicago, Illinois, and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm in Sebastopol, California — also past guests of this Podcast.

Then, you’ll hear from the couple during their one-hour presentation, “Business, Business, Business,” which examines topics that flower farmers juggle besides growing great flowers. They will share how they keep their business going while dealing with crew, florists, grocery stores, suppliers, paperwork, weddings, and more, all while still liking each other at the end of the day.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation. I look forward to seeing many of you in early November at the ASCFG Conference in Grand Rapids. ASCFG recently announced that the Sunday, November 6th Growers School is sold-out, as is the Wednesday, November 9th Tour Day, due to space limitations. You can still attend for the full two days — Monday & Tuesday — of speaker sessions, the trade show, banquet and auction. Follow a link at to check out registration rates, hotel information and other details of the ASCFG Conference. UPDATE: As of Air Date, Wednesday, September 21st, there are only 10 registration spaces left for the speaker sessions on Monday & Tuesday! 

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 118,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers. To learn more visit

More sponsor thanks goes to 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

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing 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

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

And finally, Welcome to our new sponsor, the 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

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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at

Lessons from a Historic “Picking Garden” with Quill Teal-Sullivan of Meadowburn Farm (Episode 228)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan of Meadowburn Farm, this week's Podcast Guest.

Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan of Meadowburn Farm, this week’s Podcast Guest. Photo: (c) Eric Hsu

Well, we’ve made it through the first week of 2016 and I wonder if you’ve been seeing those social media promises like one that read: “78 days ’til spring,” or whatever the number happens to be at that countdown point.

The New Year causes us to take a deep breath and consider what is essential for our life, our purpose, our creative endeavors. At least that’s how it’s always been for me!

Whether that means taking a baby step or making a radical change, we tend to measure our future choices on or around the first of the New Year. It’s universal. Setting goals and striving to achieve them is what makes us human. I’m excited for 2016 and what it promises in our community, with so many exciting Slow Flowers-inspired gatherings, events, stories and connections on the horizon.

Before I introduce you to this week’s featured guest, I have some newsy items to share.


Yay! Check it out!!!

Yay! Check it out!!!

First off: the HUGE news that Martha Stewart Living is featuring Slow Flowers and the directory in the February 2016 issue – aka the Valentine’s Day issue!

Here’s the text:

“The benefits of choosing locally grown foods over those from all over the world extends to flowers as well. That’s why garden and features editor Melissa Ozawa likes, an online directory of more than 600 florists and flower farms across the United States. The site offers local blooms in season (for instance, winter tulips or anemones, if you’re in the Northwest). Have your heart set on classic roses? It also helps users find growers in California and Oregon that ship nationally.” 

There you have it! Short and VERY sweet!

Individually, none of us could have earned this type of media attention from a magazine with paid circulation of more than 2 million subscribers, monthly newsstand sales of 115,000 issues and total audience reach of more than 9 million. The demographics of the Martha Stewart reader are in close alignment with your own floral business. You can find the reader statistics on my show notes at, so check them out and feel proud of what we’ve accomplished!


And here’s another mindboggling fact: If we tried to purchase a 1/6-th page advertisement for in this issue, it would cost approximately $45,000.

Simply put: those 82 words mean so much to our Slow Flowers community and also represent the incredible value to you as a member of

We can only pursue this type of media coverage if you join the site and support it financially – so keep that in mind as you plan your own business marketing budget in the coming year. For just $200 a year, you can have a significant impact in the success of the Slow Flowers Movement.

When I hear from editors who ask for flower farming and floral design images I often send a call for submissions to members of Recently that paid off in an article by an Associated Press features writer Sarah Wolfe, who wrote about succulents in bridal bouquets.

The work of several Slow Flowers members was featured in her AP wire story that ran in countless daily newspapers across the U.S., including Holly Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Floral Design, Kelly Sullivan of Botanique and Erika Knowles of Botany 101.

When it came to illustrating the piece, Martha Stewart Living‘s art directors reviewed our gallery of choices, including floral images submitted by several Slow Flowers members who responded to my call for artwork.

Kathleen Barber of Erika's Fresh Flowers grew, arranged and photographed these lovely Oregon-grown flowers.

Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers grew, arranged and photographed these lovely Oregon-grown flowers.

Flower farmer, floral designer, floral photographer, Kathleen Barber

Flower farmer, floral designer, floral photographer, Kathleen Barber

The art directors were drawn to a beautiful, early spring bouquet from Erika’s Fresh Flowers in Warrenton, Oregon.

Erika’s is owned by Kathleen Barber, a gifted flower farmer, floral designer and photographer – all her talents came together for the image you see here.

Our podcast today features a mini-interview I recorded with Kathleen last weekend when I called to congratulate her.

Check out Kathleen’s work at these social places:

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Facebook

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Instagram

Kathleen Barber Fine Photography

Enjoy this lovely profile of Kathleen Barber that ran in a local publication last summer. I so appreciate her including the Slow Flowers movement in the story!

And if the image you submitted for consideration for the Martha story wasn’t chosen don’t feel disappointed. I have been asked to share images with another prominent publication for a pre-Valentine’s Day web gallery coming up soon — and you can be sure your floral submissions will be included — I’ll share details once they’re published.

10628400_887376461342199_5702140127668746605_nNext, Amy McGee of the blog Botanical Brouhaha hosted a guest post from me last week in which I shared the Slow Flowers story.

I am so appreciative that Amy dedicated her time (and valuable online space on her popular floral blog) to share the story with her readers.

One lucky reader won our giveaway of a one-year Premium Listing to promote her floral business.

Congratulations to Eden Frei of The Garden of Eden Floral Design. I’m so pleased that visitors to will soon discover This Idaho-based floral design business that also serves the Spokane, Washington area.

Okay, it’s time to introduce you to Quill Teal-Sullivan, horticulturist, flower farmer and floral designer.

MB_mast3Quill is the garden manager of Meadowburn Farm, a historic garden and working farm located in the Warwick and Vernon Valley, just 90 minutes from NYC.

There, she is leading preservation efforts and saving the century-old “picking garden” and heirloom floral varieties once grown by the original owner, Helena Rutherfurd Ely (1858-1920), a pioneering figure in American horticulture at the turn of the 20th century and founding member of the Garden Club of America.

Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan, today's inspiring guest.

Meet Quill Teal-Sullivan, today’s inspiring guest.

Quill has worked with the owners of Meadowburn Farm for the past six years to preserve their significant historic gardens, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sit at the center of Meadowburn’s 590 acre preserved farm.

As a graduate student in the Longwood Graduate Program, she spent two years researching the garden’s history and possibilities for their preservation, which served as the topic of her master’s thesis.

Today she acts as Meadowburn’s Garden Manager, working day in and day out to bring the 130 year old gardens back to life.

An aerial view of Meadowburn Farm today.

An aerial view of Meadowburn Farm today.

Helena Rutherford Ely

Helena Rutherford Ely

Here’s a bit more about Meadowburn from the beautiful web site:

Helena Rutherfurd Ely built her gardens surrounding her country home Meadowburn over the course of a forty-year period with the help of her loyal gardener, Albert Furman.

Through trial and error she developed the practical hands-on horticultural knowledge that informed and inspired  her three widely influential books on hardy gardening.

In her day, Helena was considered one of the premier garden experts in America and her gardens at Meadowburn were recognized as among the finest in the country.

The process of rehabilitating Helena Ely’s gardens—interpreting her vision and philosophy and tending the landscape day-to-day—is a deeply rewarding and very personal journey for Quill, who has been gardening since she was a girl helping in her mother’s garden in the Pacific Northwest.

The three influential books written by Helena Rutherfurd Ely in the early 1900s.

The three influential books written by Helena Rutherfurd Ely in the early 1900s.

In bringing Helena’s story and the important historic gardens at Meadowburn back to life, Quill has begun to find her own voice as a horticulturalist.

The feature on Meadowburn Farm appeared in Martha Stewart Living September 2015

The feature on Meadowburn Farm appeared in Martha Stewart Living September 2015

Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, on my friend Ken Druse’s podcast Real Dirt, and on Green Wedding Shoes.

Then and Now, the "Picking Garden" at Meadowburn Farm.

Then and Now, the “Picking Garden” at Meadowburn Farm.

I first met Quill two years ago. We started an email correspondence after Quill made a contribution to the Indiegogo campaign and she replied to my thank-you email with this note:

I just saw that you are based in Seattle, which is where I will be for another week and a half before making the trek back East to wake up the gardens at Meadowburn Farm.  If you have any free time in the next week, I would love to take you out to coffee and talk about my project at Meadowburn and perhaps get your advice.  

In a nut shell, I am managing the restoration of a 6 acre historic garden outside of NYC, and working with the family to set up a business which hopefully will incorporate cut flowers. For 100 years the garden had a 1 acre ‘picking garden’ which filled the house with fresh cut flowers from may until frost. We still have over 500 linear feet of heirloom peonies, and hundreds of heirloom dahlias.  I have done quite a bit of research on the possibility of selling our cuts, and have spoken with several other growers such as the folks at Jello Mold. Would you be willing to meet with me?  I would be so grateful.

That turned out to be a lovely moment in the midst of my busy Indiegogo campaign when Quill and I met at my neighborhood bakery.

The beautiful and timeless bearded irises at Meadowburn Farm.

The beautiful and timeless bearded irises at Meadowburn Farm.

She shared the fascinating story of her own journey into horticulture and tempted me with tales of a once famed but nearly forgotten American garden writer whose historic gardens were coming back to life in Quill’s hands. In retrospect, I realize what an opportunity I missed to share her story with the larger community, mainly because that was months before we launched this Podcast.

Meadowburn's famous dahlia garden.

Meadowburn’s famous dahlia garden.

So now I’m making up for that oversight and while Quill was back in the Seattle area over the holidays we sat down to record this interview. Consider this our delayed-by-2-years “do-over” and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Thank you for joining me today. I hope you’re inspired to check out the Meadowburn Farm web site to learn more about this important living artifact in America’s gardening narrative.

Dahlia 'Jane Cowl'

Dahlia ‘Jane Cowl’

Home gardeners and florists alike are now able to order heirloom dahlia tubers that are the offspring of ones grown by Helena Rutherfurd Ely at Meadowburn Farm in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Meadowburn Farm’s Sustainably grown, fresh cut flowers from the 130-year-old picking garden are available wholesale to florists and markets.

Peonies are available starting in May until July; Dahlias are available July until mid October.

Other flowers often available include: foxglove, lily of the valley, iris, cornflower, ammi, phlox, nicotiana, nigella, and an assortment of other unusual, rare, and unlikely cut flowers and foliage from the gardens, meadows, and woodlands.

Please contact Quill directly for bulk and wholesale orders and to join her weekly wholesale availability list. You can incorporate a bit of American gardening history into your arrangements and support the restoration of an amazing garden while you are at it!.  Send your name and e-mail address confirming your interest in cut flower availability to

NYC florists can often find our flowers at 28th St Wholesale Flowers in Manhattan.

Follow Meadowburn Farm on Facebook

Follow Meadowburn Farm on Instagram

If you are in the NYC area, you are invited to hear from Quill next Wednesday evening in a lecture she’s giving entitled “Finding my Way.” It takes place from 6 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, January 20th.

This is the first in Wave Hill’s 2016 Horticultural Lectures, a winter series hosted by the Friends of Horticulture Committee and devoted to the subject of garden making and garden design and the meaning of our interactions with plants and the natural world.

The series of three lectures continues February 17 with  garden writer Marta McDowell; and on March 16th with Katherine Tracey, co-owner of Avant Gardens, a nationally known mail-order nursery and garden design/build firm in Massachusetts (and as you all may remember, the instigator of the Slow Flowers Challenge).

All three talks are  held at the New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan. and you can purchase the series ticket for $60/$50 Wave Hill Member or student. Individual lecture tickets are: $25/$20 Wave Hill Member or student. Seating is limited, and advanced reservations are recommended, online or by calling 718.549.3200 x216.

download (1)And one more piece of last-minute news: If you haven’t yet heard, next week on January 18th, Ohio flower farmers are gathering in Cinncinati for their second annual “Meet Up.”

You can find all the details on Buckeye Blooms’ event page, where Susan Studer King and others have created a info-packed and inspiring program.

The meeting will take place at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm outside Columbus, thanks to hosts Steve and Gretel Adams. I’ll be there in spirit, via a Slow Flowers surprise package we’re donating for a door prize. When I checked in with Susan earlier this week, she said that the registration is nearing capacity – but if you’re interested in attending, they may be able to squeeze in a couple late entrants.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 78,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Millennials who Grow Flowers — Meet Gretel & Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm (Episode 126)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
I took this photo of Steve and Gretel Adams in August 2012. They're amazing - and I'm so happy to share their conversation with you today!

I took this photo of Steve and Gretel Adams in August 2012. They’re amazing – and I’m so happy to share their conversation with you today! (c) Debra Prinzing 


In the workshop . . .

In the workshop . . . (c) Debra Prinzing

Gretel and Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio, are young flower farmers whose creativity and determination to earn a living from their land is truly inspiring.

This young couple didn’t grow up in the agricultural world; so naturally, they consider themselves serendipitous farmers. A food-farming apprenticeship sparked Steve’s passion for farming. And Gretel was blessed to inherit a 10-acre lot outside Columbus that her father bought in the 1980s.

My friend Rich Pomerantz, a fellow member of the Garden Writers Association, has taken some beautiful photographs of Gretel and Steve for his series about Young Farmers. Enjoy his post here.

As children, they both loved to be outside playing in the dirt and connecting with nature. As young adults, Steve and Gretel’s farming skills continue to flourish with their involvement in the U.S. cut flower industry. They are trying to live life as sustainably as possible using organic practices, composting to make soil amendments, and heating their house with wood, growing their own food and making natural soaps, among other things. 

Gretel, touring me through the growing fields.

Gretel, touring me through the growing fields. (c) Debra Prinzing

Sunny Meadow Flower Farm is filled with fields of beautiful flowers and four greenhouse structures help Steve and Gretel extend the growing season in Ohio.  

This farm-based business is established on a 10-acre parcel just inside the Columbus city limits. 

They recently told me about the way their acreage is used:  

“This coming season, our field space will include about 4 acres in production — plus 1 acre for our perennial and greenhouse space, making for a total of 5 acres.  The remainder of the tillable land will be rotated with cover crop to maintain soil health.”

Sunny Meadows’ flowers are sold at three seasonal farmers’ markets in Columbus and through Whole Foods stores in the region. Gretel is also a talented floral designer and the farm has added wedding floral design services, which is one of the most successful sources of income for the farm. 

Please enjoy our conversation – I know you will be impressed with Gretel and Steve, and you’ll find their passion contagious.

In the podcast, we discussed the upcoming Cut Flower Growers’ School, a program of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers that is scheduled for March 3-4, 2014 in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Steve and Gretel will be teaching a workshop called: “What to Grow and Why,” addressing how to choose which perennials to grow & which annual varieties are the best producers? 

And thanks to Sunny Meadows Flower Farm for providing these wonderful images that you can enjoy here:

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm wedding, with bride Pilar and groom Matt - and their beautiful seasonal & local Ohio-grown flowers

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm wedding, with bride Pilar and groom Matt – and their beautiful seasonal & local Ohio-grown flowers


A gorgeous boutonniere for another local wedding - with bride Genevieve & groom Todd.

A gorgeous boutonniere using Sunny Meadows’ awesome lisianthus — for another local wedding – with bride Genevieve & groom Todd. 


On the farm . . .

On the farm . . . 


Gretel (right) and friend  - showing off their floral crowns.

Gretel (right) and friend – showing off their floral crowns. 


A sense of the beauty of this farm - as seen in one section planted with Mexican sage.

A sense of the beauty of this farm – as seen in one section planted with salvia. 


What an organized place - rows of field-grown flowers and well-appointed greenhouses.

What an organized place – rows of field-grown flowers and well-appointed greenhouses.


A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm bouquet

A Sunny Meadows Flower Farm bouquet


Be still, my heart~ A beautiful bouquet by Gretel, using flowers she and Steve grow.

Be still, my heart~ A beautiful bouquet by Gretel, using flowers she and Steve grew.


Grown & designed by Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm

Grown & designed by Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm.


Another lovely bridal bouquet from Sunny Meadows Flower Farm.


A sublime color palette for a gorgeous bouquet.

A sublime color palette for a gorgeous bouquet last July.

I’m so pleased to have been able to introduce you to Gretel and Steve. On their web site, they write:

“Our mission is to educate the public about the quality and vase life of local flowers. Although you can get flowers for dirt cheap flown in from the Equator, the workers there do not have the same rights and protections and there are fewer restrictions on chemical use. So who knows what you are really buying? As a farm specializing in all naturally-grown fresh cut flowers, we are trying to show people just how important supporting your local flower farm really is.”

Follow SUNNY MEADOWS FLOWER FARM on Facebook here

To add your name to the Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, email Gretel & Steve at:

Because of your support as a listener, listeners have downloaded this podcast nearly 6,000 times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

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