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  • Jennifer Jewell


Excerpted from On Flowers by Amy Merrick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photograph by Miyuki Yamakana.


In a few short days the Northern Hemisphere will celebrate the Winter Solstice, that moment in the planetary position when the North Pole is at it’s furthest from life giving warmth of the sun, and the sun is at its most southerly declination in relation to us. When our nights are at their longest, and our daylight hours at their shortest.

We have the months of winter’s dormancy for resting, rooting, dreaming, planning, and plotting to look forward to and this week, as ballast for the winter journey, we’re joined by floral artist Amy Merrick. Amy’s new book – On Flowers: Lessons From An Accidental Florist (Artisan, 2019)– is as humbly and accessibly luxurious as flowers themselves. She's sharing with us her gardenlife journey and the quasi life-journal for her and instructional for us that is On Flowers, celebrating the delights of humble luxurious everyday flowers.

For us to dream on in our long winter's nap.

"Change is the only constant…always allow for growth – whether it be growing taller, more expansive, or more deeply rooted…"

Amy Merrick, On Flowers: Lessons from an Accidental Florist (Artisan, 2019)

In our conversation, Amy describes her purpose and process that resulted in the book after almost a decade putting off the idea of writing a book at all . Finally, with enough lessons born of success, of travel, or re-routing her path, of learning at the altar of flowers around the world, she said YES to writing a book. After trying to wrestle her story into one unfolding by seasons, she finally broke free of this pre-conceived structure into the freedom of sections following her own path and getting at the essence of the flowers of her places over time – in the city, in the country, fancy things, and humble pleasures. Throughout her work, and the book, Amy offers out some whimsical and meaningful ideas for being with and learning from the flowers we love.

Amy is a traveling writer, florist, stylist, teacher and student. She started her career as a florist in New York City. She has written about her experiences with flowers, gardens and design for the Wall Street Journal and she is one of the 75 featured women in my upcoming book, The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, being published by Timber Press in March of 2020 in celebration of Women’s History Month. It is available for pre-order NOW wherever you buy your books.

Follow Amy's work on Instagram feed: amy_merrick/

Join us again next week as we dive into our final episode of this year and this decade exploring the power of good children’s literature to inspire and inform all of us in nature and cultural literacy – literally changing our minds and empowering our hearts to grow a better world.

There are soooooo many ways people engage in and grow from the cultivation of their places.



Thinking out Loud this week...


Maybe you all could guess as to what I took away from this first part of our conversation with Amy Merrick – the artistry and regenerative creativity of her path notwithstanding, that last bit there about allowing yourself the freedom to grow - embracing the growth and moving with it to grow higher or root more deeply into the next best version of yourself.

Now wait – let’s say that again slowly and very very carefully for those of you out raking leaves or cooking dinner or driving carpool or stressing about the to-do list as we careen toward the holidays ready or not. STOP for really listen fully from your hair to your toes: ALLOW yourself the FREEDOM to grow. This is modeled to us every. Single. Day by our friends in our gardens and nature. In luminous beauty, inevitable decay and decomposition, in monochrome dormancy and vivid regeneration. Let’s say it one last time – as the garden’s blessing to you as think and plan for your goals and intentions in the coming weeks, coming new year and the whole decade beyond it:

ALLOW YOURSELF THE FREEDOM TO GROW. It’s a permission slip we all need….

Going a little further with the idea of allowing ourselves the freedom to grow higher and root more deeply, the other visual truth I keep seeing in my mind’s eye from Amy’s story, her work, and her book processing these things in her life to share with us, is the idea of reveling in the pure unadulterated luxury of nature – so much of our work to be GOOD people revolves around less: less spending, less fat, less calories, less complaining, less plastic. All of which I am FOR by the way – but it has our brains focusing on the less.

This sets us up in not only an either/or framework - which Amy points out so brilliantly with her sunflower in the city example. It also gets us stuck in scarcity thinking.

What if we work towards more –more of what we value, rather than more of what we feel we’ve been agreed to by default and been mass-marketed or culturally backed into?

Our gardens and our natural world offer out an insanely decadent luxurious and richly diverse abundance model to us everyday - when we focus on more healthy soil, more flowering plants, more time in the sunshine, more gardeners, more collaboration, more community, more care, more rest, more honoring and proudly exclaiming what we value – we are more.

Just as the plants we love are perfect seed forms, succulent foliage, resilient root systems, astoundingly colorful and fragrant flowers and fruit, and organic artful sculptural forms – so too we are more than any one form or season of us. We are all this and MORE with and as a result of our gardening and nature loving impulses.

Together we grow this world to be more of what we want.

Together we ARE more.

Happy Solstice!




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