Week 47, as we revisit the 10-year anniversary of the book Slow Flowers
While returning each week of 2023 to the arrangements I originally created for my 2013 book, Slow Flowers, I have journeyed to the early days of being immersed in floral storytelling, embracing the essence (and essential qualities) of locally-grown, seasonal flowers, and discovering how my love of gardening and plants was uniquely suitable for floral design.
This arrangement really captures that moment in time, as it was one of the very first ones I designed in the waning days of autumn 2011. I still didn’t have a firm notion that the blogging project would be compiled into a book. I was just playing around with the self-imposed goal of arranging botanicals once weekly to see what the year-long practice would teach me.
I wrote: “The last flowers of summer are often reluctant to disappear come fall,” and nothing could be truer than this year, right? It felt to me like the dahlias produced their most gorgeous blooms just before frost descended. I worked ahead of my calendar this year, though, fearful that I wouldn’t get my hands on the original Jello Mold Farm-grown ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias for my new version of the original. And that, indeed, was the case.
However, on October 28th, I procured these stunning blush dahlias, called ‘Sweet Nathalie’. The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market had two bunches and I grabbed both. One was grown by Slow Flowers member Alyssa O’Sullivan of Sweet Alyssum Farm, and the other came from Floralie Flower Farm. They are so different in color and form from the desired ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias, but I find their character stunning.
I was delighted to replicate the warm red ‘Piano Freiland’ garden roses, grown by Peterkort Roses; it is such a gift to the entire PNW floral community to have the enduring presence of this third-generation Oregon grower. I feel so fortunate!
Similarly, I have so much gratitude for Jello Mold Farm, from whom I procured red oak foliage (Quercus coccinea), which really anchors this design in the season. The red rose hips are also from SWGMC, procured by them from a BC supplier.
About the vessel. There is a sentimental story that I tell in the pages of Slow Flowers, and my friend Paula Panich later wrote more extensively about it here. The tarnished silver “loving cup” is the perfect vase for these sterling blooms. Its inscription: “Woman’s Club of Hollywood Flower Show – 1917.” Can you believe this piece is more than 100 years old and despite its dings and slightly lopsided stature, it continues to entice me, calling out for roses and dahlias.