Posts Tagged “book”

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



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





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.  


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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.




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.   



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!

Interview: Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt

Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt


I had the pleasure of first meeting Bill and Kris at the 2012 The Special Event.  It was my first year attending our industry events and our first year bringing the video camera along.  I was thrilled that when I asked, Bill agreed to do a little video for us and he choose to speak about our Mayesh Destination Events service.  (P.S. Bill introduced me to our then future Mayesh Design Star, Jodi Duncan during this time too).  I’m always inspired by what I’ve seen from Bill & Kris – from their flower design sessions at the shows, to their Stars Project, the Philadelphia Flower Show, and more – that a book from this dynamic duo just feels like a natural next step.  I’m excited to share the interview below with you about the authors and their book, Taking the Flower Show Home !!


We’re on the ground floor in an elevator. Tell me the gist of your book before the doors open on the top floor.

(ok – I am assuming this elevator is in Dubai in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world) ::::: deep breath :::::  In Taking the Flower Show Home we share an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at our creative process during the 2007 through 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show where we were awarded 3 Best in Shows. It takes the reader from the moment of conception to the placement of the final stem.  The book includes many of our original sketches and drafts, in addition to over 300 photographs by some of the most talented photographers.  At the end of each chapter of the book, we include a “How To” section.  The “How To” section uses each Exhibit as inspiration for learning techniques that we actually used for the reader’s own designs.


Turns out this car is stopping frequently. Let’s avoid uncomfortable silence. Flesh out your favorite point from the book.

Our absolute favorite point from the book is page 137.  Page 137 is why we do what we do.  It is a list of the designers and friends who make it all happen each and every year.  It is the Schaffer Designs Team – our Tribe!  As our Team grew with each and every year, our designs improved exponentially and our experiences became better and better.  We dream BIG and it is this group of people that make our dreams come true.


Why did you decide to write “Taking the Flower Show Home”?

Deciding to write Taking the Flower Show Home is different than why we wanted to be authors.  The story of this book has written itself.  It just needed to be organized and put on paper.  The individual people and companies involved in the 6 years that the book encompasses needed to be recognized.  The #1 question that we had received year after year was; “How did you do that?”  We thought that it was time to reveal it to the world.  The trials, tribulations and failures and the friendship, joy and successes come together in what is essentially a love story.  The love of what we do and a love for each other that came together as each year of the Flower Show passed and culminated in our actually getting married on the center stage of the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show in front our family, friends and almost 10,000 Flower Show attendees.  It was televised to over 1 million people in our Tri-State area and seen by millions around the world on an episode of “The Cake Boss”.  OK – a little secret:  we pitched a series of ideas to a Schiffer Publishing and we were offered a multi-book deal – but – the owner of the company is actually a fan of the Philadelphia Flower Show, seemed to love this story and wanted this to be the first book of the deal.  Who were we to argue?


When did you know that you wanted to be an author?

We have been inspired by so many design books throughout our lives that became integral parts of our learning process, which made us want to share what we do in hopes of giving that same experience to others.


Who is the intended audience for your book?

Designers, Gardeners, Floral Enthusiasts and anyone who loves a good story of how an idea can come to fruition no matter what it takes – no matter how many obstacles it faces – that persistence, talent and a team working together can make anything come to life.  Though there are over 300 amazing photographs that tell the story; this book is about the story – the actual thoughts behind our process and the thoughts of many who helped us along the way.


How can our audience buy your book?

Taking the Flower Show Home, Award Winning Designs from Concept to Completion can be purchased through:

  • Schiffer Publishing
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Florists’ Review
  • Fusion Flowers
  • – you can order directly from Kris and Bill for your autographed copy of the book … We would love to sell it to you this way – BUT – it is probably the most expensive way for us to sell it – we don’t charge for the signing, but we do charge full price + shipping and packaging charges.  Now – if you happen to see us anywhere and have the book with you – we will sign it for free!!!


Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt Bill Schaffer & Kristine Kratt


Don’t forget to leave your comment below to win a signed copy of Taking the Flower Show Home!

Interview: Elizabeth Demos & “Vintage Wedding Style”

I would like to introduce to you Elizabeth Demos, author of the new book “Vintage Wedding Style”.  Vintage.  It is a “trend” that really isn’t going away.  Love it or not, vintage is a part of mainstream wedding culture.  For Elizabeth, she doesn’t believe  “vintage tendencies will ever leave weddings because they make so many people happy.  Weddings are about tradition and family.”   Who can argue with that?

Elizabeth’s new book was brought to my attention by her Mayesh sales representative from our Los Angeles shipping department, Sarah Girard.  Whose name, by the way, is in the acknowledgements of the book (very cool)!  After contacting Elizabeth, she was kind enough to donate 3 of her books for a give away!

Yes, I said “give away”, but the only way to get your hands on our freebies is to enter our National Design Contest as each of our 3 winners will receive Elizabeth Demos’ new book!  If you love vintage and want to buy “Vintage Wedding Style”, don’t fret, as you can order the book now.  Click here to order.

Now you know I love to get you behind-the-scenes, so I jumped on this opportunity to interview an author and fellow floral community member.  Read on, enjoy, and be inspired . . .


Why did you decide to write “Vintage Wedding Style”?

The vintage wedding trend that has stuck around for some time and has grown in popularity. So much so that I felt a book should be devoted to it. Brides and grooms recognize that they can pull in more than one “something old.”  They can fill tables with vintage china, hang antique chandeliers, craft bouquets that include old jewelry, the possibilities are endless and I wanted to capture it in a book.

I don’t think vintage tendencies will ever leave weddings because they make so many people happy.  Weddings are about tradition and family. Some of my brides just have an attraction to old things, but mostly it’s about connecting to their family’s specific past and I adore that.  We’ve always had a “something old” and a “something borrowed” in weddings and so many brides want to celebrate that sense of shared history.

Imagine, as the mother of the bride, hearing, “Do you still have that veil?”  or, “Can I use grandma’s gloves?” “Could we set the head table with the family china?” Who wouldn’t want to pass on a cherished family heirloom and see those memories come to life again?

Of course, vintage may not be for everyone.  The key is authenticity.  If it doesn’t feel like you, it won’t come across well.

One of the brides whose wedding is featured in this book was a true collector.  When her father gave the toast, he turned to the groom and said, “Take a good look around you.  This is what the rest of your life is going to look like.”

That was really gratifying to me—to know that I’d worked with a bride to create a wedding that matched the way she lives.


When did you know that you wanted to be an author?

I had always wanted to write a book but had tossed around more then my share of ideas. It wasn’t until I started doing event design that I realized I had a different perspective on weddings but one that was catching on. I felt strongly that there was a void in published works that were devoted to the type of couples and the types of weddings I was meeting.


Who is the audience for your book?

This book is for anyone that loves antiques, vintage wares and being creative that might be planning or dreaming about a wedding, particularly brides, their mothers and friends. I would say it is a mostly female audience but I think there will be some male fans especially when they see that the weddings featured aren’t all full of pink flowers and sparkly chandeliers. They are approachable events and the groom isn’t totally left out of the process or the celebration. I also think it is for people that aren’t looking for the standard cookie cutter event. They want to inject their personalities into their events in a different way.


Do you have a favorite design in “Vintage Wedding Style”?

I love to create pretty and practical designs. I also want things to be clever and approachable. So my favorite designs are those that marry those characteristics. The book is filled with them so it would be impossible to choose just one.


How did you start your business?

I owned a retail store for 10 years all the while I was working as a freelance photo stylist for national magazines. I decided to close my store to pursue photo styling full time and do an occasional wedding. The weddings took off and I quickly found that the event business combined everything that I loved about being creative, working with people and making lasting memories. It was a business tailor made for me.


How would you describe your design style?

If I had to narrow down elements or a design style that I feel defines my look I would say it is a combination of three.

  • I like to tell a “story” and have it recorded beautifully; I suppose it is because I am photo stylist and an event designer. I approach events much the same way as I do a photo shoot. I pay attention to every detail and I want the entire production to feel complete top to bottom. My events are thoughtfully produced; they are not formulaic or mechanical. They are true representations of my clients.
  • My love of all things vintage. Because I feel like events are made richer with the inclusion of items with meaning. Sure I can go to the local big box store or order things online but it is way more interesting to explore an antique fair, score some great details at an estate sale or use family heirlooms.
  • I like to channel a sense of fun and personality from my clients. I can’t imagine a wedding or party that is wholly me, rather then the host and hostess. I’m not that kind of designer.


If had to pick just one (I know it is nearly impossible) what would be your favorite flower and why?

Nearly impossible is right! If it has to be just one I would say ranunculus. It just gets better and better as it opens, the color fades to a spectacular subdued tone right before they fall apart. I almost love them more when they are loosing their luster.

My runners up are: astilbe, fringe tulips, dahlias, peonies, anemone, and garden roses. Can’t forget my greens: geranium leaves, dusty miller, lambs ears, and honeysuckle vine.


Tell us a story – Have you ever had a strange request? Created something wonderful out of a sticky situation? Have you ever felt like MacGyver and used your mad design skills?

You can plan and plan all you want but once you get on site you are surprised with some sort of missing item, wrong delivery, bad fit, etc. I once had four 18’ trees delivered for a wedding reception. It sounds fantastic but I hadn’t realized the tree service delivered them with bare roots. They simple dug them up out of the ground and brought them over. I happened to have bolts and bolt of burlap on hand and we wrapped the root ball to disguise them. Note to self: always have burlap on hand.


What is your favorite color combination right now?

Indigo blue, green and gray.


What is your best piece of advice for new comers into the event industry?

This advice actually holds true for every career I’ve pursued. Be yourself. The minute you try to do or be anything but yourself you fail. Authenticity always wins.


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