We are now mid-May, half way through a month of graduations, spring celebrations and weddings, and Mother’s Day is upon us here in the US this coming weekend. Something that all of these celebratory kinds of human marked rituals and events have in common? We so often mark them with the best of our most loved flowers of the season.
With that as our touchstone, I am so pleased to once again be in conversation this week with Deb Prinzing, founder of the Slow Flowers movement here in the U.S. and Canada, and of The Slow Flowers Society, representing the needs, successes, stories, and voices of the floral world in the Slow Flowers Journal, in the weekly Slow Flowers Podcast, and in the annual gathering known as the Slow Flowers Summit, this year happening in Seattle, WA June 26th and 27th.
As yet another facet of her floral focused advocacy, Deb is co-founder and Editorial Director of Bloom Imprint books, which identifies, develops, and publishes projects that shine a light on the floral lifestyle, showcasing the stories of floral personalities, creatives, entrepreneurs, farmers, artisans, and makers. Their newest title “Furrow and Flour” by sisters Sarah Kuenzi and Beth Syphers fits right in with this week’s themes.
I don’t know how she does it all, but I am so pleased she’s back to share with us about it.
(Deb was of course one of the women featured in my first book, The Earth in Her Hands!)
Enjoy the energy!
HERE IS THIS WEEK'S TRANSCRIPT by Doulos Transcription Service:
Images courtesy of Deb Prinzing, all rights reserved.
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Speaking of Plants and Place this week, I of course have to offer out a flower. And I am going to circle back to one mentioned in last week’s program by Camille Dungy as being beloved in her Northern Colorado garden – Liatris. The close to 40 species of the genus Liatris are also known affectionately as gay feather, snakeroot, or my favorite – blazing star. Liatris is a genus in the aster family, Asteraceae, and prized as a native plant across much of North America, Mexico and the Bahamas. According to the Native Plant Society of Texas, of the 38 known Liatris species – 27 are native to Texas. Sadly for me, there are no Liatris native to California, but as there are a good handful of species native to other warm, dry western states, including my birth state of Colorado where I loved meeting it’s bright rose-purple spikes of fluffy flowers in the wild, I would certainly consider many of the species for my garden here in North California.
Most of these drought and lean rocky soil tolerant prairies species are adaptable and undemanding in garden situations and provide mid to late summer and even fall bloom, when we and our migrating or resident wildlife often need continued bloom the most. As well, Liatris species provide the sole food source for the larva of moths of the Schinia genus, The blooms make great cut flowers if you have enough to spare. I say this because the great joy of these flowering perennials is how much the birds, bees, and butterflies love them for their nectar. The sight of one of our swallowtail butterflies at these colorful clump-forming flowers is a treat.
Herbaceous, clump forming, and winter deciduous perennials, Liatris’ small disk flowers (meaning they have no ray petals on them) are pollinated by insects with long tongues that can reach the nectar at the bottom of the tubular flowers. These small flower form many tight clusters on their upright 1 – 2 foot stems. Liatris corms and rhizomes can be attractive to rodents, so if you are concerned about this, plant more or plant in cages. The spiky foliage of these stems can provide textural interest in the garden throughout the spring and summer before the blooming begins, and the seed head stalks can be left for winter interest and birds until cutting back in late spring once soil and air temperatures have warmed and any over wintering creatures have emerged.
Rocky Mountain Blazing star is Liatris ligulstylis; dotted blazing star Liatris punctata, is native from Alberta Canada down to New Mexico and east to Missouri; Rough Blazing Star, Liatris aspera, can be found across easthern North America; Cusp gayfeather (Liatris mucronata), is sometimes called Texas Gayfeather. Liatris spicata is also known as marsh blazing star or snake root.
A prairie and foothills plant comfortable in lean soil, high and persistent heat, open exposure, and arid conditions, according to Texas Gardener Bob Kamper: "the worst thing you could do is to give Liatris additional fertilizer, soil amendments or water."
But among the best things you could do is give any one of this beautiful and ecologically functional genus to your loved ones for mother’s day, father’s day, graduation or simply because it is a beautiful spring or early summer day in the garden?
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Inspired by the fascinating conversations that happen at so many of The Garden Conservancy's Open Days across the country, we launched our Digging Deeper programs in 2015 to bring together intimate groups for unique and, in most cases, site-specific garden experiences. These programs feature informative talks and workshops with experts from every facet of the gardening world. Forthcoming Digging Deepers focus on drought-sensitive design in Albany, California; a special tour of the mid-century industrial designer Russel Wright's home in Garrison, New York; and creative repurposing in gardens San Francisco. Because that’s what we gardeners like to do, am I right – dig deeper and dig in together. Enjoy. More info on the Open Days Digging Deeper events can be found at gardenconservancy.org.
Thinking out loud this week:
Now seems the perfect moment from a favorite quote from floral designer and architect of change through her flower and garden love Lisa Waud of Flower House Detroit fame and that is:
"Flowers might not solve all of our problems, but they are a great start!"
(I hearing nodding and happy agreement from the studio audience – hehe.)
I am just going to keep going with this floral theme and cite another favorite quote, this time from British entomologist and biologist (and yes, gardener) David Goulson – author of The Garden Jungle and founder in 2006 of the UK based Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity aiming to reverse the decline in the bumblebee population. When I asked him in our conversation a few years his advice to gardeners hoping to put their gardens to work on behalf of insects, birds, habitat reintegration globally, and happiness generally, his advice was:
"Plant flowers, plant more and more and more flowers. Make most of them native to your exact spot, and overall just plant a lot of flowers."
I think that’s advice we can take to heart and out to the garden.
Enjoy planting more flowers this season friend.
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