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September/October content is online NOW!

Thomas Jayne’s hostess gift picks

August 28th, 2014

In our July/August issue, we featured go-to hostess gifts from a few of our flower friends. As we head toward the last hurrah of summer, Labor Day, we share a few additional thoughts from one of our favorite interior designers, Thomas Jayne, who also happens to be a consummate host and always-thoughtful guest:

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“My strategy for not arriving empty-handed at a party is manifold. First, I am reminded of Barbara Walters, who sends bouquets from her florist before the party (usually the morning of or day before) with a note that she is looking forward to a wonderful evening. Of course, it is bad form to arrive to dinner with flowers that require arranging, so at our house we have a universal vase to accommodate those well-meaning gestures when we’re on the receiving end. We’ll try to arrange them for the party if at all possible and if the soufflé will survive. Chocolate is always welcome: thin mints from Fortum & Mason or crème brûlée confections from Kee’s. When I’m in California, I bring See’s lollipops if the hostess has a particular sense of fun.

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However, the best gifts are delivered after the party or visit, when an ideal gift can be identified. Say a certain book title is mentioned and located, or the dearth of a good corkscrew is remedied, or a handsome flower vase is found. Recently we had a perfect houseguest. She did not arrive bearing gifts; instead when she left there was a selection of cheeses that Richmond especially likes (the gooey and smelly kind), red wine for me, and a pair of wooden toaster tongs—a tool that Richmond mentioned he did not have.

I add a piece of good advice a Parisian host once offered me: He suggested a case of Champagne for every week spent in someone’s home. We’re still searching for that kind of houseguest, by the way. Really you can never go wrong with chocolates or Champagne. There is always a way to employ these luxurious commodities, and hence they are perfect demonstrations of gratitude.”—THOMAS JAYNE

 

 

flower in Dallas

August 26th, 2014

When I told people I was headed to Dallas, in August, I witnessed lots of raised eyebrows and “stay hydrated” type words of wisdom—understandable. However, as I hail from Birmingham, Alabama, the Big D in late summer didn’t scare ME! Plus 3 fabulous Dallas flower friends, (Heather Furniss, Laurie Towns, and Cathy Williamson of The Middle Page blog) were hosting a reception for the magazine and me. Having lived there and interned for a decorator in the late 70’s, I’m partial to that part of the world with its big vision, generous spirit and all-in attitude. My hostesses were the embodiment of their city’s graces and the party reflected that—flowers by local luminary Todd Fiscus of Avant Garden and Heather Furniss, cleverly-themed food and drink, and a hand drawn and printed invitation, and set in an early 20th-century, chicly and thoughtfully appointed French-style house in Highland Park.

I also snuck in a visit to the Dallas Arboretum. For a city in the middle of Texas, in August, Dallas sure was lush and green, and oh so delightful. I love my job.

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flower friends and hostesses, Cathy Williamson, Heather Furniss, and Laurie Towns

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Q&A with Debra Prinzing

August 22nd, 2014

We chat with Debra Prinzing of Slowflowers.com about her many ventures in the floral world.

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flower: We know you have a background in textiles and journalism—that being said, how did you get involved in the flower world? Debra: After a 10-year career as a business reporter in Seattle, I shifted my focus to design writing—a natural fit considering my university training in textiles and personal interest in homes and gardens. I became a master gardener and studied horticulture and landscape design at the community college level, which gave me the tools to write about gardening. In 2006, I got the flower bug when I first stepped foot on a local cut flower farm. One could say my passion for American grown flowers was inevitable: I think childhood flower memories are incredibly powerful, and my personal family story forms those remembrances. I come from a family of green thumbs specifically for dahlias and peonies. I have the privilege of having multiple flower farms at my fingertips here in Seattle. The flower farm community has graciously welcomed me onto farms, and the farmers have even shared their growing secrets.

Your first book was titled The 50 Mile Bouquet—is this what sparked the ‘Slow Flower Movement’ and consequently your next book Slow Flowers and Slowflowers.com? Yes. As I met and interviewed domestic flower farmers and eco-conscious floral designers, I discovered the beginnings of a cultural shift to local, seasonal, and sustainable flowers. While working on The 50 Mile Bouquet, I discovered that flowers are following the same trajectory as their edible counterparts. The “slow food” movement began 40 years ago when Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, heralding food prepared with local ingredients from small, artisanal purveyors. Many restaurants and chefs have told the farm-to-table story, helping focus attention on the faces behind the food—increasingly, consumers want to know where their food comes from and who grows it. Slow Flowers is a metaphor for similar changes in floral design, flower consumption, and consumers’ increasing interest in knowing where their flowers come from—I predict this awareness will continue to become more central to our daily lives.

Clearly there has been a widespread reach with the Slow Flower movement. You have appeared on various television shows and travelled across the country to flower communities. Are there particular trends you have noticed in the flower world since you started the movement? While I like to think I had something to do with the popularity of the naturalistic floral look we’re seeing everywhere, I can’t take credit for any specific design trend. There are literally hundreds of gifted floral artists, studios, and shops whose beautiful work reflects this aesthetic: field grown; freshly picked, hand-gathered, wild, loose, unstructured, and highly textural (no roundy-moundies). The palette of the moment is tea-stained, muted, blushing, soft, and dreamy. Other fashion-forward floral design themes include using uncommon foliage, such as silver-gray, burgundy, variegated or chartreuse-colored leaves (rather than standard flower-shop or supermarket salal, bear’s grass, and ferns), and non-flowering design elements such as fruiting branches and vines, culinary herbs, seed heads, pods, grasses, and living plants—all gorgeous when incorporated into a botanical tapestry.

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Would you say that there is a new connectivity between flower farmers? Yes! The connection isn’t just between flower farmers. It’s also between flower farmers and florists, and that is actually more powerful because it creates a “win” for the floral consumer. Flower farming (and to some extent floral design) is a rather solitary practice. Thanks to social media channels, people are finding one another and sharing ideas, encouragement, and inspiration. It has been so incredibly exciting to be a “connector” in this community.

Your podcast has become a weekly broadcast featuring flower activists across the country. How did your podcast evolve into what it has become? I just hit the one-year anniversary of the “Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing.” I have to give credit for this endeavor to my friend Kasey Cronquist, CEO of the California Cut Flower Commission. He originally suggested I start a podcast about flowers and the stories behind them. In just one year, the podcast has been downloaded nearly 20,000 times. I focus on the personal story of a creative pro or flower farmer; a specific type of flower; a personality; and other newsworthy topics of interest to people in the American grown community and to the floral industry in general.

Living in Seattle, you must have multiple places to choose from in buying fresh, local flowers. What is your favorite place? My number one source for flowers is the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a Northwest farmer-to-florist cooperative of about 15 Oregon, Washington, and Alaska farms (full disclosure: I joined the co-op board last year as one of two non-farmer representatives). While its primary business is to supply Northwest and domestic flowers to shops, studios, and wedding/event designers, the market is also open with limited hours so anyone can also shop for flowers directly from the farmer. It has been a great experience to work with this group, rubbing shoulders with experienced growers and learning about their passion for heirloom varieties, unique floral crops, and sustainable practices. Each season, the market offers an incredible diversity of the moment—even in the winter when you wouldn’t think much could be harvested.

Ok, we have to ask, what is your favorite flower to grow? I have a lot of success with hydrangeas. I have no fewer than seven hydrangeas in my garden, from the common mop head variety (H. macrophylla) to lace cap, oak leaf and an unusual dark-leaved/blue-flowering shrub whose plant tag I’ve misplaced. As a group, these woody flowering shrubs really do love my garden’s Zone 8a conditions—and my vases love their prolific blooms.

Lauren Bacall

August 14th, 2014

This Throwback Thursday is dedicated to Lauren Bacall, who passed away Tuesday at age 89. Known for her glamour in Hollywood’s golden age, and of course, as Humphrey Bogart’s wife, her legacy will forever be held on a pedestal—a true class act. She is pictured below in a fabulous floral dress with her iconic “look” on her face—chin down and eyes up.

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photo via: bluevelvetvintage.com

Summer arrangement

August 11th, 2014

We are always looking for interesting containers, so imagine our delight when the team at Studmuffin Desserts sent us an assortment of their cookies chicly packaged in buckets with snappy, coral-colored labels. The cookies were delicious (melt-in-your-mouth Jackie O’s being the flower girl fave), and quickly disappeared, but we were left with the perfect repurposing option. Leslie Dupré, our marketing assistant/master gardener foraged in our editor’s garden and filled the bucket with summer blooms, making this a clever and eco-friendly arrangement. THANKS for the treats—and the inspiration— Studmuffin!

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Flower list:

knock-out roses

celosia

coneflower

dusty miller

chocolate cosmos

sunflower

lambs ear

hosta blooms

hypericum berry

echinacea