Slow Flowers by Debra Prinzing is the perfect book to be browsing through on this frigid day. The temperature is only 20 degrees, but the sun is brilliant and the ground sparkles with frozen snow crystals. As I turn the pages of the sumptuously illustrated book, my own summer garden exists in my imagination as it never has before. Debra’s 52 weeks of bouquets from local flowers from ‘garden, meadow and farm’ are full of surprises and inspiration for those of us who are fearful and reluctant flower arrangers.
Debra always put herself in that class of fearful and reluctant flower arrangers, but the work she did visiting flower farms and farmers for her previous book, The 50 Mile Bouquet written with photographer David Perry, gave her arranging lessons by osmosis and more confidence in her own skills. Each two page spread in the book includes a photo and description of a seasonal arrangement with a list of ‘ingredients’ like 5 stems of heuchera foliage, 7 stems of Sweet William and 5 stems of mock orange and a 6 inch tall vase with a 7″x3″ opening. There is also always a tip of one sort or another. The Eco-technique note for this handsome arrangement is to arrange the foliage in the vase first to supply the support for the flowers. I never realized that florist’s foam contains formaldehyde which makes it undesirable. I’ll never use it again! No great loss because I never managed it very well, anyway.
Other tips have to do with the latest thinking about preparing and managing cut flowers and shrub branches for the most long lasting life in the vase. Other tips have to do with design like having complimentary colors in the arrangement and with the container. Debra has her 52 arrangements in some beautiful vases and other containers.
Going through the lists of flowers and foliage that go with each arrangement I have come up with some surprises, and made some additions to my wish list for new plants this spring. Curly willow! Grape vines. Sedums. Plants with graceful seed heads like northern sea oats and millet. Clusters of cherry tomatoes. Fruiting crabapple branches in fall, not only in spring bloom. Evergreen branches with pine cones.
There seems no end to Prinzing’s creativity as she looks at flowers and creates arrangements with brilliant spring and summer colors, the rich colors of fall, and the elegant colors of winter. Of course, my winter bouquets would never look like her Seattle bouquets, but they inspire nonetheless. My similar white arrangement of pussy willows, Dusty Miller and artemesias, might simply come at a different time of year.
Slow Flowers is an encouraging book. I felt as enpowered after spending my afternoon within its pages as I did after my session with Gloria Pacosa who gave me a lesson is flower arranging at her studio.
I would hardly have to add anything to my garden to make an arrangement similar to this. I already have scented geranium foliage, boltonia, and artemesias, I’d just have to add the celosia cristata (crested cockscomb) and apricot cactus zinnias. Debra points out that the different types of green foliage “are woven together as a textured and verdant tapestry.”
I can’t wait to make an arrangement like this. I’ve got everything I need: daffodils, ferns and pussy willows.