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!


The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2014 Grower’s School

In my opinion, my friend Kim Haven of Billabong Fresh Flower Farm has the best job in the world. She makes her living growing flowers. Kim is part of a movement that is creating a resurgence of American floriculture. Right now, approximately 90% of the cut flowers sold in the US are grown oversees. Thirty years ago, only 10% of cut flowers sold in the US came from abroad. More and more people like Kim are using their knowledge and love of horticulture to try and recapture market share that has slowly been lost to foreign competition.


A lovely bouquet grown by Kim Haven of Billabong Fresh Flower Farm in Hempstead, Texas

Here in Texas we have several growers who are making their living by producing high quality flowers, grown in a responsible manner, to the cut flower trade. With the support of The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, these growers have developed a community that works together to help each other grow, market and sell their beautiful products.

If you have ever thought of turning your flower growing hobby into a business, now is the perfect time to get started. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is holding their 2014 Grower’s School at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on March 3 and 4. This year’s conference features several leaders of the field to vase movement from all across the country. Below are highlights of some of the presentations.


These lovely “boot bouquets” are bursting with beautiful flowers grwon and arranged by Frank and Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Blanco, Tx

Frank and Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Blanco are the true pioneers of this market. Frank and Pamela Arnosky are the owners of one of the most successful field grown flower farms in the U.S. (and probably the whole world if the stats were checked). Starting with nothing but a chain saw and a dream, they have built a business that now provides the absolute finest quality, locally grown, fresh cut flowers to companies like HEB, Central Market and Whole Foods. Frank will pass on his growing knowledge in his presentation “Seeds or Plugs? Both?” and Pamela will provide you with the information you need to get your product into supermarket chains and also teach you how to harvest and handle your crop post-harvest.


This lovely row of zinnias on Rita Anders farm “Cuts of Color” is ready for harvest

Rita Anders is the South Central Regional Director of ASCFG and she has worked very hard to put this workshop together. She is also the owner of Cuts of Color in Weimer, Texas where she grows and sells to Central Market and Farmer’s Markets in the Houston area. She also has a thriving design business where she works closely with her brides to create beautiful weddings full of sustainably grown flowers. Rita will show you how to sell directly at Farmer’s Markets and also teach you how to quickly assemble your products into stunning arrangements.

Cynthia Alexander, of Quarry Flower Farms in Celina, Texas, harvests poppies for her floral customers Cynthia Alexander of Quarry Flower Farms in Celina, Texas grows a variety of roses, Texas natives and other specialty flowers for the floral trade. She uses and teaches sustainable growing techniques on her many farm visits. She also offers a unique wedding experience by letting the bride come to the farm and pick the flowers that will be used in her bouquets and arrangements. Cynthia will teach you all you need to know about developing relationships with florists and how to prepare your flowers for delivery to them.

Right now is an exciting time to be a flower grower in the US. Demand for locally grown sustainable products is high and supply is low. If you have ever thought of turning your hobby into a money maker now is the time to act. You may never get a better chance to learn the ins and outs of this industry from the leading producers of local, sustainable flowers in the country. Click here to go directly to the full schedule of events and a registration form. Happy gardening y’ all and I hope to see you in Fort Worth!