The Slow Flowers Summit “Floral Takeover” was a top feature of our June 2021 experience.
Thousands of donated blooms, many from the farms and gardens of members who were in attendance, combined with hundreds of bunches of greenery, branches and other “wild-gathered” elements provided by Filoli’s Horticulture team, and dozens of hands of creatives who reinterpreted the interior spaces of a historic mansion using vintage vessels . . . it was a floral explosion of the highest degree.
The idea originated from the Horticulture team, who early on invited Slow Flowers to add a “floral takeover” component to the Summit. The unprecedented invitation allowed our attendees to collaborate as teams, room by room, indoors and outdoors, with grand gestures and exquisite details alike.
It was no small feat to pull off this ambitious undertaking, especially because we only scheduled 3-4 hours for design and installation. But inspired by a morning filled with floral demonstrations from Susan McLeary and Max Gill, and faced with the prospect of getting so many incredibly fresh and local botanicals in their hands, our attendees jumped right in and made some serious floral magic take place.
A special, huge bouquet of thanks goes to Tobey Nelson, our Floral Takeover Producer, whose organizing skills are unparalleled. In advance of the Summit, Tobey coordinated with Kate Nowell at Filoli, and several other Horticulture team members, to plan the installation parameters for numerous indoor spaces, including the Butler’s Pantry, Kitchen, two Hallways, Dining Room, Drawing Room, Reception Room, Ballroom and Ladies Cloak Room; two large outdoor spaces at the Main Entrance and Dining Room Terrace; and the Visitor’s Center.
We asked veteran designers and florists in attendance, all Slow Flowers members, to take the lead for each space, creating teams of florists, growers and creatives to join them as team members. Before all this took place, however, Tobey and others organized buckets of flowers and foliages for each room, taking into consideration both palette, but also some of the Curator’s requirements for protecting rooms filled with historic textiles and artwork (ferns were not allowed, nor were cut flowers likely to drop debris like lilies or amaranth).
As this chaotic idea came to life, as buckets of flowers transformed from art supplies to elegant compositions worthy of this beautiful architectural setting, something else also occurred. Each person who participated, both as a designer and as an observer marveled at the immersive experience and felt uplifted by one another. We captured an opportunity to collaborate for the sheer pleasure of the moment in time. We expanded our community of kindred spirits; new flower friendships formed with those who otherwise may never have met; and the seeds for future growth were planted, as well.
As one of our attendees expressed in the post-Summit survey: “I liken the Slow Flowers Summit to a retreat with flowers and with flower-inspired people. I came away feeling that flowers are more than just beauty in the garden and vase. They are truly the soul of the earth and we are their soulmates.”
Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American-grown flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, she has convened a national conversation that encourages consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases.
Debra is the producer of SlowFlowers.com, the weekly "Slow Flowers Podcast" and the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) campaign. Debra is author of 11 books, including Slow Flowers (2013), The 50 Mile Bouquet (2012) and Slow Flowers Journal (2020). She is the co-founder of BLOOM Imprint, the boutique publishing arm of Slow Flowers.