Posts Tagged “American grown”

Interview w/Erin Benzakein {Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden}

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We couldn’t be more thrilled with all of the rich educational resources that are becoming such an important focus within the flower industry. From in-person workshops to online tutorials, there are so many different ways for florists to continue learning & growing, and Erin Benzakein’s new book, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden, is a welcome addition to this growing collection of educational tools.

Lucky for us, Erin was able to take a little time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her book, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you hightailed it out the door to your nearest Barnes & Noble to pick one up after you finish reading! Enjoy!

Above photo by Michele M. Waite

 

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So let’s go back to the very beginning. With everything already going on in the Floret world – growing & selling flowers, educational workshops, and selling seeds just to name a few – adding a book to the mix seems a little bit crazy! What made you want to write a book in the first place?

I have a habit of taking on multiple massive projects at the same time; and you are right, it can be a little crazy!  In this case, I have the book to thank, and to blame, for Floret Seeds.  For years, I had dreamed of writing a book and having my own line of seeds, but the latter was always something I envisioned for sometime much further down the road. Well, that timeline got bumped up when I realized that many of my favorite cut flowers, the very ones I was writing about in the book, are not widely available unless you’re willing to wade through obscure catalogs without photos organized by scientific names, or spend a lot of money buying seeds in bulk. Most gardeners, florists and small scale growers only need 50 to 100 seeds of a particular variety, not 1,000! My editors at Chronicle Books emphasized the importance of making the book accessible and approachable to home gardeners, so rather than substitute some of the flowers I featured, I decided to source the seeds myself. It was then that Floret Seeds was born!

 

You’ve mentioned that you wish this book existed when you first began growing flowers – what do you hope readers will gain from it? Is it geared more towards the everyday gardener, or those wishing to start their own flower farm?

It is definitely geared towards the home gardener and floral designers wanting to start their own cut flower garden to supplement their design work. I wanted to show flower lovers that they don’t need massive estates or expansive farm fields to grow great flowers.  Even in the smallest spaces, you can create cutting gardens that are both pretty and super productive.

Some of my most popular posts online are ones that feature big buckets overflowing with freshly-cut flowers. But harvesting these big, beautiful blooms is just one small part of the longer process of growing great cut flowers.  The book fills in all of those blanks by taking readers through the entire progression starting with planning your space and prepping the soil all the way through post-harvest care and providing design ideas for what you can do with your floral abundance.

Whether you plant flowers in honor or in memory of a loved one, to provide food for bees or other pollinators, for a business or exclusively for your own personal pleasure, flowers are a beautiful balm for the soul.  There are so many reasons to grow, share and enjoy seasonal flowers. My hope is that my book will help others discover this joy and grow the garden of their dreams.  

 

View More: http://wildflowersphotos.pass.us/floret

Photo by Joy Prouty

 

I’m sure throughout the writing process, there were so many little things you wanted to cover. What was the most challenging part about writing this book, and editing it down to the essentials?

It is so true.  There was much, much more I wanted to include in the book, but simply could not because of space constraints.  Even after successfully lobbying to have the number of pages increased, I still struggled.  For example, it was hard to pick just four peony varieties to feature in the book, when I really wanted to feature 14!  I also wanted to go into even more detail about how to grow certain types of flowers, but had to narrow the focus on some of the easier to grow varieties that appeal to a broader audience.

 

How about the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part was finally holding the finished book in my hands.  I’m not going to lie, the book was a lot of work and challenged me in so many ways.  After working on it for so  long, finally seeing the finished book felt a little unreal!  Reading the heartfelt notes and sweet reviews from folks who have been inspired to grow more or new flowers because of the book makes it all totally worth it.

 

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Being from the Pacific Northwest, our seasons are very different from other regions – hello, rain! Will the seasonal format of the book speak to gardeners in varying climates?

Absolutely. I worked with my phenomenal editor, Julie Chai, to make the book as universally applicable as possible. Instead of referencing specific months or days of the year, for example, I discuss planting and harvest dates in relation to the number of weeks until your first or last frost.  Plus, all the measurements include metric system references.  This took a little extra work, but it was important to make it accessible, regardless of the growing zone, continent or even what hemisphere your garden is located.

 

One benefit to growing flowers is that you have an abundance of gorgeous blooms at your fingertips to play with! You are a great example of someone who has taken advantage of that and become a sought-after floral designer on top of growing. Tell us a little bit about the floral arranging aspect of the book.

For each of the four seasons, I include a few floral design projects.  I loved being able to showcase the beauty of seasonal flowers by creating simple, elegant designs. Each project includes detailed instructions and photos illustrating each step in the design process.  Several of the projects incorporate nontraditional foliage you may have in your landscape that I love tucking into your into designs for added texture and interest.   

 

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Photo by Joy Prouty

 

Lastly, if you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you were first starting out, what would that be?

In regards to writing, my advice would be: be patient. Just as it takes a lot of time, patience and a lot of love to take a tiny seed and nurture it into a fully grown flower in bloom, so too does it take time to take an idea for a book and nurture it into an actual book. In terms of gardening and flower farming, I’d remind myself about the phrase don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

 


 

Thanks again for sitting down with us, Erin, and for sharing your invaluable knowledge with our community. For more gardening how-to’s and information, be sure to check out the Floret blog – it’s a treasure trove of growing tips & tricks!

Detroit Flower Week Recap

 

Guest Blogger: Andy Arthur (Mayesh Detroit)

 

On October 11, Michigan was home to the first ever “Detroit Flower Week”.  This event was the brainchild of Lisa Waud of Pot & Box Florist in Hamtramck, MI.  Lisa was the creative mind behind the concept of the “Detroit Flower House”, which took place exactly one year ago the same week.  Since Flower House, Lisa was constantly asked what she had planned for this year.  What originally started as a pizza party get together of everyone involved in Flower House, slowly began to morph in Detroit Flower Week.  The Flower House had drawn creative designers from all over the country, but at the end of the event, they really didn’t have a lot of time to socialize with each other.  Lisa decided for this year she would have another week long event, and invite many of the trending floral designers on social media, as well as some other equally talented individuals whose work compliments the floral industry. 

 

She was able to reserve the historic, and very retro “Jam Handy” building in Detroit as the primary venue.  This very eclectic space had seen many different uses in its lifetime – from a sound stage for General Motors, to a space for filming military films, to its current use as an event location.  The building offered two separate, large rooms, along with a second floor loft.  One room was set up with a stage, and seating for sixty or more people, the other room was set up for design workshops, and the loft was used for discussion groups.  Lisa also parked her Flower Truck, “Scoops” in the space with the stage, and Monique Herzig from Alchemy Slow Living, had her event trailer set up in one corner, which gave the space a really fun kind of vibe.

 

Entrance to the Jam Handy

 

The event started on Tuesday, October 11 with a presentation by Maurice Harris of “Boom & Plume” events from Los Angeles, CA.  Maurice spoke of his background, and what inspired him to become one of the leading event florists in California.  He also spoke of his 2106 calendar, “Shades of Blackness”, which featured pictures of influential people in his life overlaid with pictures of floral arrangements.  He was very entertaining, and engaging, and well received by the audience.  Maurice is a frequent customer of Mayesh at the LA Market, and spoke highly of everyone there.  Following Maurice, was the very talented Heather Saunders of Heather Saunders Photography in Detroit, MI.  Heather met Lisa shortly before Flower House, and they quickly became fast friends.  Heather was the official photographer of Flower House, and spoke about her self-published book on Flower House, which is currently offered for presale, and will be available in the next month or so.  I have been fortunate enough to see some of the sample pages of the book, and it looks amazing!  The book contains images that have not been published before, as well as Heather’s personal writings about Flower House. 

 

The next three days all started at 7am with coffee by Red Hook Coffee of the West Village.  If you ever have the chance, I HIGHLY recommend the “Lavender Latte” they serve – it is unbelievable! This was followed each day with Yoga from 8-8;30am, with the first presenters starting at 9am.  The first presenter on Wednesday, was Holly Chapple of Holly Chapple Flowers, followed by Heidi Berkman of “The Bloom Project” in Portland, OR.  This project provides flowers for Hospice patients on a weekly basis, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time talking with Heidi.  Amy of our Portland location is a big supporter of this project, and next month is assisting them with a program that is going to provide flowers to the caregivers – which is new concept – but I personally think is a great idea.  I can’t imagine doing what those people do every day, and a gift of flowers is just a small token of the thanks they deserve.  The next presenter was Ashley Woodson Bailey, floral photographer.  If you have not heard of Ashley, please take the time to look up her website – www.ashleywoodsonbailey.com .  She is a VERY talented photographer, and her work is absolutely stunning. Following Ashley was Joe Masse, botanical artist,  from England.  Giving his presentation took Joe away from the impressive installation he was working on at the Historic Detroit Public Library, which was the showpiece of the dinner that ended the week’s activities on Saturday.  I had personally had the opportunity to meet Joe earlier in the day when I delivered the flowers for the installation, which were all donated by Mayesh, with help from many of our American grown suppliers.

 

Peter representin’

 

During the day Wednesday also saw the start of the workshops offered during the week.  The first two workshops had Susan Mcleary from Passion Flowers in Ann Arbor, MI demonstrating how to make living jewelry in one room, and the other had local graffiti artist Ouizi demonstrating her style of painting flowers.  Susan’s work has been featured in many publications, and numerous sites on line.  Ouizi was responsible for the beautiful artwork on the back of the Flower House – pieces of which are now used on the Flower Truck.  Both of these women has indescribable talent, and I truly wish I could have been present for their classes.  The afternoon classes featured Jill Rizzio of Studio Choo, in San Francisco, CA demonstrating her style of dramatically arranged local flowers in one space, and discussion in the loft with Maurice Harris about diversity in the floral industry.  This discussion was sparked after Lisa heard a complaint from someone that her event “lacked diversity”.  This was not intentional – MANY people had been invited to be presenters, but when it was all done, unfortunately, the ones who accepted invitations, did not give the image of a lot of diversity.  The evening ended at The Chartreuse Kitchen, a local eatery with botanical décor, and a menu that changes daily based upon the seasonality and availability of the freshest local ingredients and inspiration.

 

Thursday’s first presenter was Julia Bell, from Succulent Gardens in Castroville, CA.  Lisa had assisted Julia earlier in the year to create a building covered in succulents in California.  Julia is a very talented individual, who I was lucky enough to sit with at the dinner on Saturday night.  She was followed by Ariella Chezar of Ariella Chezar Design  in New York.  If you have the chance to check out her website, http://ariellaflowers.com/ you will not be disappointed!  The final presenter of the day was Emily Thompson, owner of Emily Thompson Flower in New York.  Peter Sessler, myself, and my daughter, Chloe were able to see her presentation, in which she spoke of her love for using unusual objects when creating her floral designs.  Peter was also able to spend some time with Maurice Harris, who he knew from his days on the LA Market.

 

Peter with Maurice Harris

 

The workshops offered Thursday started with Monique Herzig of Alchemy Slow Living demonstrating the art of scent and combining fragrance to make custom perfume.  This is another workshop I wish I could have attended – I have always been fascinated by fragrance, and would have liked to experience this – I hope to attend another of Monique’s workshops in the future.   The second workshop featured the world renowned Francoise Weeks, offering the first day of two workshops on European Floral Design.  Mayesh was also able to provide flowers for workshops thru donations from our vendors.  I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with Francoise throughout week, and am still in awe of her humbleness regarding her skills.  The second workshop was Emily Katz of Modern Macrame in Portland, OR.  Emily created a very impressive, LARGE macramé hanging attached to a piece of the wood siding from the Flower House that had some of Ouizi grafitti on it.  The final piece was also featured at the dinner Saturday night, with a floral garland across the top that was created by Viviane Saunders, daughter of Heather Saunders.  What made the floral so interesting was that it was the FIRST TIME, Viviane had every attempted floral design – and afterwards, she was heard commenting that she thinks she wants to be a floral designer.  One final note on Modern Macrame – be sure to check out her Instagram page – she posts many amazing and inspiring photos!  The final workshop featured Lewis Miller of Lewis Miller Design in New York.  His demonstration featured product purchased from Mayesh, and showcased how to make large, lavish designs.  He also has a really nice website that is worth checking out – http://lewismillerdesign.com/ .  the evening ended at Katoi eatery in Detroit, which features a trendy, compact dining room with an open kitchen offering elevated Thai plates, plus cocktails.

 

Artwork From Alchemy Henna Trailer

 

The first presenter on Friday was Lisa Ziegler from the Gardens Workshop in Virginia.  Lisa has numerous books and dvds on gardening, and is a pleasure to converse with.  I had many opportunities over the course of the week to talk with her, and found her to be very informative.  She was followed by Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Dahlia Farm in Oxford, MI.  I was very fortunate to meet Michael last year at Flower House, and this year we offered his amazing dahlias at our location, resulting in dahlia sales like we have never seen before!  Michael is incredible passionate about his dahlias, and has incredibly high standards for quality, which is evident every time you see his flowers. This year he increased his production, and offered 90 different varieties of dahlias.  He was featured earlier this year in an interview with Mayesh.  The next presenters were Heidi Joynt & Molly Kobelt from Field & Florist in Chicago, IL.  They are Chicago flower farmers and also floral designers who specialize in local and sustainably grown florals for weddings and events.  From April-October they grow and harvest from their farm in Three Oaks, MI. In the winter months, flowers are sourced from certified sustainable sources within the United States.  The final presenter of the day, and at this venue, was Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers.  Debra and Lisa became friends last year before Flower House, and Lisa gave her first interview on the subject with Debra.  For those of you who don’t know, Slow Flowers is a movement to help find the best U.S floral designers who are committed to sourcing from American flower farms.  Debra spoke of the importance of supporting American flower growers, and how there has been an increase the last few years in flower farmers in the U.S.  I am fortunate enough to have gotten to know Debra over the last year, and always enjoy visiting with her.  The evening ended with a discussion by Sarah Pappas of Fresh Cut Detroit at the Aloft at the David Whitney on the subject “From here to where? Mapping justice in our Flower System.”  Sarah has flower farm in Detroit and provides our location with product during the Michigan growing season, and always provides me with stimulating conversation regarding our industry.

 

 

The workshops Friday started with a continuation of the Joe Masse installation at the library, where volunteers assisted Joe in suspending hundreds of stems of flowers upside down over the room on a steel structure specially designed for the occasion.  There was also the second day of the Francoise Weeks workshop, images from which were featured on her Instagram page that week.  Emily Katz also offered more macramé opportunities as she worked to finish her display piece for the dinner Saturday night.

 

Aftermath on Friday night as we cleaned out Jam Handy building

 

Saturday’s events took place at the library, and the first presenter was Diane Szukovathy from Jello Mold Farm in Seattle, Washington>  Diane spoke not only of her farm, but also of the Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market, an idea she had for a place where local flower farmers could meet to seel their products, rather than going door to door with florists.  She spoke of their commitment quality at the market, the challenges they have faced since they started, and the success they have achieved in recent years.  I found her talk to be very enlightening and thought provoking, and her stories about her husband antics kept everyone very entertained.  She was followed by Debra Prinzing and Christina Stembel of Farm Girl Flowers in San Francisco, CA discussing Christina’s support for American grown product.  Christina is known for her “Burlap Wrapped” bouquets and her efforts to minimize her impact on the environment.

 

The final presentation of Detroit Flower Week featured Lisa Waud speaking for the first time in Detroit about the Flower House project.  Her presentation featured images that will be in the Flower House Book, as well as her inspiration for the installation, what it took to make it happen, and what she has experienced in the year since.  A almost mind blowing fact that she offered about the Flower House was the analytics provided to her by the marketing people of Martha Stewart Magazine.  They researched “Detroit Flower House” activity on the internet, and discovered that there had been over 280 MILLION media impressions on the subject – which meant people opened links or stories about it that many times!!  One of the stories she shared was about her dealings with the city building inspector, and she made this project happen, and how he never seemed to understand her.  As the Flower House was about to open, she was informed he was back at the house, and fearing the worst, she went to talk to him.  When she approached him, he was taking a photo of a spider that had made a web in the florals, and as he turned to her, she noticed he emotionally moved.  At that pint he told her “everyone needs to see this”.  As she finished telling this story, she then invited him to come up to the podium from the audience – none of us knew he was there.  He then read a poem he had written about the Flower House that is going to be included in the book.  His delivery and tone were beyond compare, and left many in the audience teary eyed.  I had a chance to speak with him briefly afterwards, but he was anxious to go see his second great grandchild who had been born earlier that day.

 

The week culminated with a dinner in the Adam Strohm hall of the library.  This is a breath taking room without a massive floral installation!  It features six murals that are over twenty feet high representing historical scenes from Detroit, and man’s mobility.  The windows appear to be stained glass, but are hand painted to let in more light.  The ceiling is a reproduction of ones found in European palaces, and was designed by the same artist who created the ceiling U.S. Supreme Court building.  For the flower installation, Lisa commissioned a local metal fabricator, Garrett Hammerle, to design a grid structure that would support flowers hanging upside down over the room.  This massive structure was then covered in Rose Hips, Safari Sunset Leucadendron, Pumpkin tree, Cotinus, Amaranthus, Safflower, Artichokes, Eucalyptus, Hydrangea, Millet, Coxcomb and various grasses.  All throughout the day, the library had been giving its usual Saturday tours of the building, and every group that came thru the hall was left speechless.  When it was time for the dinner, the lights were dimmed, and candles were lit on the tables casting shadow on the flowers above, giving the room a look of an upside down garden.  The meal was provided by extremely talented local chefs and was beyond compare.  Music was provided by Detroit-based “Double Winter”, led by Holly Johnson on bass guitar and lead vocals, who is also an employee of Pot & Box.  Seeing her perform left me totally impressed – I felt like I was in the presence of a female Jack White.  The evening came to a close around midnight, and everyone left feeling that week had been an overwhelming success. 

 

Adam Strohm hall before Joe Masse installation

Saturday mid-morning Joe Masse installation

Saturday evening before dinner

Dinner Saturday evening

Holly Johnson of “Double Winter”, also an employee of Pot & Box

Live Chat Replay: Lisa Waud & Debra Prinzing on Detroit Flower Week

detroit-flower-weekYesterday, we spoke with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box, and Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers about all of the greatness that is Detroit Flower Week or DFW.

You may recall hearing about an amazing project last year, The Flower House, which brought together over 3 dozen florists, 100 volunteers, 36,000 stems of American grown flowers & plants that were artfully designed in 17 rooms of an abandoned house in Detroit. Truly an awe inspiring moment in our flower history thanks to its creator, Lisa! Fast forward a year later to today, and Lisa is ready to leave her mark on history once again with help from some trail blazing flower friends like Debra. Debra is a champion of American grown flowers helping to promote awareness and consumption of the blooms grown in the U.S. Such a dynamic duo that we were lucky to have time to chat with!

Enjoy and share with your flower friends.

Links:

http://www.detroitflowerweek.info/
http://www.theflower.house/
http://www.flowerhousebook.com/
http://www.potandbox.com/#welcome

http://slowflowers.com/

Home


https://americanflowersweek.com/

Live Chat: Detroit Flower Week w/ Lisa Waud

Detroit Flower week

 

Detroit Flower Week is fast approaching (October 11-15 to be exact) and we’re so excited to be a part of it again this year! If you haven’t yet heard about it, check out our coverage on last year’s Flower House Detroit to see how it all started.

We’re excited to share that we’ll be doing our second LIVE VIDEO CHAT with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box, discussing all things Detroit Flower Week! If you want to learn more about this awesome event, or just check out his whole live video thing, be sure to register and tune in next Wednesday at 4pm EST.

The live video chat will take place on Huzza. All you need to do is just click, listen, chat, and ask questions! And if you feel like it, share a selfie with us. Click the link below to follow & subscribe and Huzza will send you a reminder 30 minutes prior to our live chat.

 

CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE

 

Detroit Flower Week

 

We’ll also be streaming this live on Facebook, so check us out there too!

Mayesh Minute: Local Oregon Flowers

wholesale echinops


For today’s Mayesh Minute, David Dahlson reviews some great product from Oregon. A great selection of summer flowers: Hopleys pink and purple oregano, Echinops, blackberries, white oregano, Kent’s  Beauty oregano, Physostegia (obedient plant), Blue Muffin viburnum, eryngium.

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