Ilex, Tulips, Pelargonium Foliage, and Paper Whites

Week 51, as we revisit the 10-year anniversary of the book Slow Flowers

This design shown as 4 smaller arrangements
Week 51 for 2023, inspired by Slow Flowers (revisited). This design shown as 4 smaller arrangements.
Week 51 for 2023, inspired by Slow Flowers (revisited)
The same four vessels are nested in a basket, revealing a more bountiful look
Page 100 of the 2013 Slow Flowers book
Page 100 of the 2013 Slow Flowers book for the year’s Week 51

Paper white detail
Paper white detail
Scented geranium (aka pelargonium) foliage called 'Chocolate Mint'
Scented geranium (aka pelargonium) foliage called ‘Chocolate Mint’

The text began: “Welcome to the Holiday Season, when flowers are less likely to originate from my outdoor garden and more likely to be forced indoors. The lovely tradition of potting up paper whites (Narcissus papyraceus), a spring-flowering daffodil cherished for its intensely fragrant flowers, can’t come at a better time for most of us.”

Ilex, scented pelargonium, paper whites, and tulips

That’s exactly how I approached my 2023 version of this arrangement, forcing paper white bulbs in vases filled with washed gravel and water. For weeks, the table underneath the livingroom window was home to a lovely compendium of tall, green flowers stalks and foliage blades. Then, just in time, they started blooming (and falling over due to the height of the stems).

Details of red and white elements
Details of red and white elements

In 2013, I used the paper whites while still on the bulb, but this time around, I cut them all to add to this week’s arrangement.

I had arranged in advance to order two bunches of scented geranium (Pelargonium sp.) from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, so this year, I used two varieties — an unnamed green leaf, slightly serrated around the margins, and one called ‘Chocolate Mint’, with contrasting reddish markings. The foliage and the red Ilex berries are all from California.

Row of metal vessels
Row of metal vessels creates an impactful centerpiece for the table

Today, on my pre-Christmas grocery store run, I spotted one more element, new for 2023. Five-stemmed bunches of standard red B.C.-grown tulips for $4 per bunch were irresistible. I cut them low into the arrangements because that holiday meal is 48 hours away and I know those tulips will “grow” in the warmth of our home.

This design is a favorite for its versatility! I distributed the flowers, berries, and foliage across four metal pots. And then I photographed them two ways: in a row and nested in a basket. Both options are appealing, fresh, in the palette of the season, and will last for several days. If the paper whites begin to fade, there are extra bulbs yet to flower, so I’ll have a few more stems to replace them.

Happy Holidays!

We’re almost ready to wrap up a full year of Slow Flowers Revisited! This 52-week project has celebrated the original designs created for my 2013 book, Slow Flowers.

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, 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 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)