Singular Sensation

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

trio of vases
A trio of precious vases to hold hyacinth blooms. (2023)

The opening line of “Heady Hyacinth,” the essay I wrote about a vase filled with just eight stems of locally-grown hyacinth, began like this:

“A Singular Sensation — for the eye as well as the nose — hyacinths are so stunning that it’s hard to justify pairing them with any other flower.”

The extremely simple arrangement that we published in Slow Flowers in 2013 features a cluster of hyacinths, their stems spiraled and tied with twine, visible under water in a clear glass vase.

Heady Hyacinth chapter Slow Flowers book
“Heady Hyacinths” (2013)

I was spoiled back then and I really didn’t know it, because the folks at Alm Hill Gardens were a reliable source for Pacific Northwest bulb flowers at their Pike Place Market stall. Alas, Gretchen Hoyt, the doyenne of Alm Hill Gardens, closed operations during the pandemic. It was a huge disappointment for people like me who loved buying armloads of her tulips and hyacinths to carry home.

Mantel with Hyacinths
Mantel with Hyacinths (2023)

This time around, I picked up B.C.-grown hyacinths from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, which I guess we will describe as “local-ish.” The stems of each 5-hyacinth bunch are incredibly long, with the stump of its bulb still holding on. I decided to group several vases together, all white and cream; and each unique and singularly sensational in form. My color choices include white, pale pink (the Market staff described them as “blush,” but they are more “mauve,” I think); and pinky-purple.

McCoy with Hyacinth
Vintage McCoy pottery with hyacinths (2023)
Vintage creamware with hyacinths (2023)
Vintage Creamware with hyacinths (2023)

I love the grouped vignette, including a cornucopia-shaped McCoy vase and a vintage cream ware vase (no markings), with scalloped handles. Both are part of an amazing collection that my friend Nancy Finnerty gifted to me when she moved from her Seattle bungalow to her large (but not large enough) studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I am the loyal caretaker of this collection; Nancy thrifted most of the pieces on her annual visit to a sister in Iowa.

Frances Palmer vase with white hyacinths (2023)
Frances Palmer vase with white hyacinths (2023)

The third vase, which holds a spray of pristine, all-white hyacinths, came from the celebrated artist and potter Frances Palmer. A gift, which I cherish. And while small, the vase opening and the proportions of this vase are just perfect.

I’m looking forward to enjoying these fragrant blooms, which are both visually pleasing and so lovely to smell.

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)