Its American Flowers Week !!!

Its American Flowers Week !!!  That means it is time to celebrate American flower farmers, the beautiful products they grow and the talented people that turn them into the stunning arrangements that will brighten your dinner table, adorn your wedding, let your sweetie know you care or comfort the family of a dear friend at their passing.

American Flowers Week

A lot of people don’t know this, but most of the cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported.  Each time you buy a bouquet at the supermarket or order an arrangement, there is an 80% chance that the flowers came from overseas.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with that fact, more and more Americans are making a choice to ensure that “the flowers at the center of [their] table [are] as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on [their] plate” (quote courtesy of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner press release).

Lovely view from the Big Big Barn at Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Blanco, Tx. Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Lovely view from the Big Big Barn at Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Blanco, Tx. Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Over the last couple of decades the American floral industry has seen several changes.  One of the most pronounced has been the beginnings of what is now called the “Slow Flowers” movement.  The term “Slow Flowers” was coined by my friend Debra Prinzing.  Debra is the author of the of the best-selling  book “The Fifty Mile Bouquet – Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers”.  Debra was the first person to begin telling the world about the amazing American floral producers who have decided to win back market share from foreign competitors by doing something the foreign growers can’t – locally growing the highest quality, environmentally sensitive floral products available on the planet.

Debra Prinzing, the mother of the Slow Flowers movement, enjoys the great local flowers, the great local food and the company of many passionate flower lovers at the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Blanco. Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Debra Prinzing, the mother of the Slow Flowers movement, enjoys the great local flowers, the great local food and the company of many passionate flower lovers at the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Blanco. Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Since writing “The Fifty Mile Bouquet” Debra has been adopted by these local farmers to spread their message.  These flower farmers and their amazing, high quality products inspired Debra to start a journey that has led her from the flower fields of America all the way to the Whitehouse.  In the past few years she has worked to build growers coops, organize and promote field to vase dinners, create an on-line resource to connect those that want to buy locally with those that produce, promoted flower farmers through regular interviews available on podcast  and written extensively about the “Slow Flower”  movement in publications like the New York Times, Sunset Magazine and Country Gardens Magazine.  Her advocacy for the American flower farmer recently resulted in an invitation to speak about “Slow Flowers” and the importance of the American farmer at the annual “First Lady’s Luncheon” ( a gathering of all of the spouses of our elected officials in Washington, D.C.).

American Grown's Field to Vase Dinners are a great way to show your support of the American flower farmer. Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

American Grown’s Field to Vase Dinners are a great way to show your support of the American flower farmer. Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

I recently attend a local Field to Vase Dinner in Blanco as Debra’s guest.  The dinner was a very special event for me.  Not only was it a beautiful event that featured local food, local beer, local wine and the beautiful locally grown flowers of Slow Flower pioneers Frank and Pam Arnosky, it was a chance to gather with old and new friends that love American grown flowers as much as I do.  The night was an unbelievably beautiful and tasty tribute to the work being done by these passionate growers of American flowers.

Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Photo credit: Whitney Devin for Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

If you are already a passionate believer in the work being done by these American farmers, or you would like to learn more about them, I highly recommend attending one of these Field to Vase events when they come to your area.  Each year American Grown sponsors several of these events all across America.  Be sure to click here to see when they are coming to your part of the country.


Market research has shown that, when given a choice between an American product and an import, the vast majority of US consumers would choose to buy American.  In a market that is flooded with foreign products, it is often difficult to find a local alternative.  Thanks to the hard work of these pioneering American flower farmers, their advocates and educational programs like American Flower Week you now know you have a choice when it comes to buying fresh cut flowers.  The next time you need an arrangement, why not head over to the Slow Flowers website and spend your dollars in support of American agriculture.  By buying American from these visionary farmers, florists and designers you will ensure that the flowers you purchase will be as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on your plate.

American grown flowers are grown and sold locally so you get the freshest, most organic products available.

American grown flowers are grown and sold locally so you get the freshest, most organic products available.

Farm to Market Flowers


Debbie Thornton is one of a growing number of people in this country that are doing something I think is very important.  Debbie is the owner of Farm to Market Flowers (FM Flowers) and she is sustainably growing fresh cut … Continue reading

Whitney and Ryan Jump the Broom!

Fathers of sons will never get to experience the feelings of shock, pride, amazement, joy and deep, pure love that overtakes them when they turn around and see their daughter in her wedding gown.  A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter Whitney gave me this incredible gift.   She was beautiful –and I cried.  As I walked her down the aisle, I cried.  When I toasted them, I cried.  As we danced, I cried.  When I hugged her and her new husband Ryan as they were leaving for their honeymoon –well you get it, I cried!

14_0426_whitney_ryan_WED_00578 When I was not crying like a little girl, Sally and I had a fabulous time celebrating Whitney and Ryan’s nuptials with all of our (and their) friends and family.  Whitney and Ryan were married in a beautiful afternoon ceremony in Seattle’s Martha Washington Park.  While lovely, it was a bold move.  As our dear friend Debra Prinzing said to us “only a Texan would plan an outdoor wedding in Seattle in April!”  Luckily, their gamble paid off.  Whitney and Ryan were truly blessed to be able to celebrate their love for each other in a beautiful place, on a perfect, rainless day in the Pacific Northwest.

14_0426_whitney_ryan_WED_00419 As a man, I may never fully understand why weddings are such big deals to women.  However, after being a part of four weddings in the past four years, I have learned one thing about them.  Weddings are BIG EVENTS and they cannot happen without the help of a whole lot of people that care a whole lot for the bride and groom.  This wedding was no exception.  We could not have done it without the help of many, many caring and generous people.

14_0426_whitney_ryan_WED_02067 As a budding (pun intended) floral entrepreneur, Whitney is friends with many talented people.  Several of those friends chipped in to make sure this wedding celebration was beautifully adorned and beautifully documented.  Many thanks to Adam and Alicia Rico of “Bows and Arrows” and Erica Knowles of “Botany 101”.  They used locally sourced, sustainably grown seasonal flowers from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market to create stunning arrangements that, despite the grandeur of the setting,  pulled the guests in and made them feel a part of the small, intimate event.   Robert Kitayama of KB Farms donated the gardenias that comprised the simple, yet elegant bridal bouquet.  Also, huge thanks go out to Angela and Evan Carlyle of Angela& Evan Photography.  All of the photos in this post were taken by them.  As you can see, their photography is amazing.  They are also incredibly professional and amazingly fun to work with.

14_0426_whitney_ryan_WED_00614 Finally, I want to say a very special thank you to Debra Prinzing.  Debra has been so kind and generous to Whitney over the past year and half.  She is the mother of the “Slow Flower” movement in the US and a big part of the reason my daughter moved to Seattle.  To call her a friend greatly understates how entirely wonderful she has been to Whitney and our entire family.  In typical Debra fashion she opened her home to the entire bridal party for the entire day!  She started by hosting the loveliest of bridal luncheons (with help from Cynthia Alexander of Quarry Flower Farm) for all of the women that were there to celebrate with Whitney.  Then, once the luncheon ended, she allowed the wedding party to stay and have hair and makeup done, make floral head pieces for the ceremony and dress.   She even delivered Whitney to the ceremony!

There are many kinds of wedding gifts.  While matching silverware is nice, the giving of your time and talents to make a special day for the people you love is the best gift of all.   Whitney and Ryan, you are blessed to have so many people in your lives that care so deeply for you.  And all of us are blessed to have you in ours!


“A Year in Flowers” by Debra Prinzing

This is the second post on MOH by a guest blogger.  This one is by another of my incredibly smart, talented and beautiful daughters.  Whitney White is an incredibly talented floral designer in Dallas, Texas.  She is currently employed by “Bows and Arrows”. Bows and Arrows is a truly awesome design shop in downtown Dallas.  Their awesomeness was recently recognized when they were named the Best Florist in Dallas.  Their work is often featured in Martha Stewart and Style Me Pretty as well as in countless other local, state and national blogs and publications.

Whitney recently spent a Saturday with best selling author Debra Prinzing.  Debra is a true Master of Horticulture.  Not only is she a very accomplished author, she finds time to support other garden writers by serving as the current President of the Garden Writer’s Association.  Below is my daughter’s account of a day that was truly life changing to her.

Debra Prinzing with her team in Dallas. On the left is Joy Ijams, Education Director at the Dallas Arboretum. Debra Prinzing holds the bucket. Next to Debra is Cynthia Alexander of Quarry Farms. She grew and provided most of the floral material we used in the class. And finally there is me!

This past weekend I got to meet one of my heroes.  Debra Prinzing ( is a pioneer and advocate for the “locally grown and sustainable fresh flower market”.  As a floral designer that dreams of one day owning my own business that creates the finest floral designs using locally grown fresh cut flowers, hearing Debra speak about this movement was truly a rewarding experience.  Debra is highly respected author and expert in the locally and sustainably grown fresh cut flower movement.  Her latest book, “The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers” visits with many of the pioneers that are redefining the way the American public buys flowers.  By growing seasonal crops that are appropriate for the region in an ecologically sustainable way and then selling them locally (often the same day they are harvested), these pioneers are reinventing an industry that has traditionally relied on homogenous product grown overseas at great cost to the environment.

A slightly fuzzy pic of an arrangement I made for my Dad with only things from his yard. How local is that?

I attended Debra’s lecture entitled “A Year in Flowers” at the Dallas Arboretum.  During this talk, she encouraged people to rethink the way they look at floral bouquets.  Her lecture encouraged us to ask the following questions when buying or making a fresh bouquet for our home, office or event.

1.  Must a bouquet always contain flowers?

2.  Why not use many stems of one kind of flower?

3.  Is the arrangement full of life?

4. Does it shine at the end of its blooming season?

5. Is it fleeting?

6. Does it borrow from the orchard?

Debra’s mantra is “Buy flowers in season, locally and often”.  This was a common thread throughout her lecture.  “A Year in Flowers” educates participants on what she calls the “field to vase movement”. The “field to vase” philosophy states that environmentalism and ethical buying choices should apply as much to the floral world as it does to the food movement.  Just because we are not eating the flowers (at least I hope not) we should still be concerned with the chemicals we are bringing into our homes and dispensing to our loved ones.  Besides, buying from your local flower farmer is not just good for you; it is also good for the environment.  Local growers care about more than producing the highest quality flowers at the lowest possible cost.  They want to do this while still caring for the earth.  Because of these, the flowers they grow have been produced with a lot of love and very few, if any, chemicals.  Their organic methods ensure that when the time comes for them to allow the next generation to produce flowers, the earth will actually be in better shape than when they started.

Another local arrangement I made for my Dad

After the lecture, Debra gave a demonstration on how to build beautiful bouquets using locally grown floral products.  You cannot imagine how thrilled I was when Debra asked me to stay and be her assistant in this demonstration.

Debra discussed many of the benefits that come from buying your flowers from local producers.  First, you can develop a relationship with the grower.  This relationship allows you to see the face of the farmer you are supporting in every daffodil.  You can smell the generations of care in every garden rose and you can appreciate the bounty of the seasons when you see blooming branches at the first of spring.  On more than one occasion an elderly man or woman has wandered into my work place to ask me why roses don’t smell any more. This is depressing. Most flowers don’t smell good anymore because they are grown by people in lands far away that don’t care how they smell.  They only care about how well they ship from where they are to the U.S.  While it may sound simple, the ability to actually stick your nose in a flower and smell it the way it is supposed is a huge reason to buy local!

You can order Debra's new book by clicking on the link in the sidebar of this blog

What is a florist anyway?

One point that Debra made during the presentation is that a florist used to be someone who raised their own plants and flowers for the arranging. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were a rule for being a florist now? If the floral designers and florists of today acted like they did in the past, we would live in a much prettier place and takes much less of a toll on mother earth. This is why I am now completely enamored with “My Luscious Backyard”, a Toronto based florist (in every sense of the word) who plants and maintains urban flower gardens in other people’s back yards. It doesn’t get any better than that folks. This lady even bicycles her deliveries (Learn more about “My Lucious Backyard” at ).

Another thing I learned in Debra’s lecture was how bad Oasis flower foam is for the environment.  I had no idea up until this lecture that Oasis (floral foam) is plastic based.  Because of this, it never completely decomposes in a landfill. This is big news since I use it almost every day and have been using it for almost a decade. Great…..

But lucky for all of us, Debra has gathered tips of the trade from all over to use in place of Oasis. This video shows most of the techniques she demonstrated to us in the class this weekend ( I was happy to be sent home with the left over wood fibers to play with in my own designs.

The 50 Mile Bouquet

“My Luscious Back Yard” is one of the many talented and forward thinking florists Debra highlights in her newest book, “The 50 Mile Bouquet: Discovering the World of Local, Seasonal, Sustainable Flowers”.  Debra teamed up with photographer David Perry to showcase some of the nation’s hard working ladies and gents in the flower farm industry that are dedicated to producing the most gorgeous hand grown, handpicked, flowers you have ever seen. The book comes out April 1st.  I haven’t been this excited for a book release since the last Harry Potter novel had its midnight debut.

I truly love Debra Prinzing.  She is so sweet and so very, very talented.  It was a huge thrill for me when she called me “friend” when introducing me to the class.  I will always treasure that moment. Even though we had just met, her open and gracious personality allowed us to become fast friends. This simple act sums up my entire impression of Debra: utterly genuine and full of gumption.  Debra is a woman with a passion for farmers, the environment and an eye for design.  She is destined to be the face of the field to vase movement just like she is already the face of smart garden design. Even with her vast repertoire of knowledge and publications, she is so down to earth.  I truly look forward to working with Debra again and hope that you will use your voice to demand locally grown flowers. Go local!