Flowering forms

Week 49, as we revisit the 10-year anniversary of the book Slow Flowers

Echoes of the 2013 arrangement appear in this 2023 design, with more texture, color, and interest added.
Echoes of the 2013 arrangement appear in this 2023 design, with more texture, color, and interest added.
Page 94 Slow Flowers book
Flowering kale paired with tricolored sage in the original design

Florists seem to have a love-hate relationship with flowering kale, winter-hardy members of the Brassica clan that resemble a giant cabbage rose measuring 4- to 5-inches in diameter. It’s a plant that we’ve seen in nursery and grocery displays this time of year, and flower farmers have been growing the longer-stemmed forms for market bouquets.

flowering cabbage
Flowering cabbage detail – from Ojeda Farms

In my opinion, the “love” part is its size — flowering kale fulfills the “focal flower” role in a bouquet or arrangement. I suspect that the “hate” part has to do with the fact that we’re seeing ornamental kale and cabbage everywhere (up until holiday decorations take over), but also the smell, which some people complain is similar to, well, cooked cabbage.

Lacy Kale and Berggarten sage detail
Lacy Kale and Berggarten sage detail

But hey, I’m on a mission to showcase what’s local and seasonal in the moment and here’s what I selected for the NEW version of this kale-and-sage design:

6 stems of lacy and smooth magenta-purple flowering kale, grown by Ojeda Farms

15 stems of ‘Hancock’ snowberry (Symphoricarpos x chenaultii ‘Hancock’), grown by Jello Mold Farm

10 stems of ‘Cypress Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress, harvested by Leo’s Trees

Privet berry sprigs, sourced from California at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

10 stems of Berggarten sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’), clipped from the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden

Hancock snowberry detail
Hancock snowberry detail
Privet detail
Pretty privet!
texture from Arizona cypress, privet, and flowering kale
Great texture from Arizona cypress, privet, and flowering kale

I wanted to elevate the composition, and the Hancock snowberry and blue cypress provided necessary height and sprays of color and form. I couldn’t find the tricolored sage (grown by Charles Little & Co. back in 2011 when I was creating Slow Flowers), so I foraged some sprigs of the Berggarten sage in my backyard.

The Hancock snowberry is a huge gift to Slow Flowers florists this time of year. Thank you, Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm, for putting in the work to develop this crop on your farm — and to bring it to the marketplace. It’s stunning! The first time I saw this cut, I thought it was a type of beautyberry!

Arizona cypress detail
‘Cypress Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress detail
Week 49

Debra Prinzing

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.

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Slow Flowers Journal is brought to you by SlowFlowers.com. Slow Flowers is an award-winning online directory created to help consumers find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers that supply American grown flowers. Founded in 2014, the site has grown to 850 members across the U.S.


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For more information, please contact Debra Prinzing
at 206-769-8211 or 844-SLOWFLO (844-756-9356); debra(at)slowflowers.com.