The Winter Garden’s Many Colors

Week 2, 2023, as we revisit the 10-year anniversary of the book, Slow Flowers

The beauty of our quiet season in the garden is collected in this do-over arrangement, inspired by the 2013 version called “Winter’s Multi-Hued Palette”

The takeaway from this arrangement is that flowers are not always necessary for a beautiful composition, especially during the dormant season where not much is in bloom, at least here in the Pacific Northwest.

If you read the original story in Slow Flowers, you’ll recall that I was scheduled as the lunchtime speaker for a local garden club’s January meeting. The topic? The local flowers movement (we hadn’t even really started calling it “slow” yet – back in 2011). The “ask”: Please demonstrate a local and seasonal winter arrangement during the meeting. Eek! What a scramble when snow was still on the ground.

We had just moved back to Seattle from Southern California a few months prior; we were living in a rental house with only a generic yard and a few foundation plants. So I turned to two good gardening friends for permission to harvest from their gorgeous, botanical showpiece properties. From my dear friend, Jean Zaputil, a successful residential landscape designer, I harvested Corsican hellebores, Japanese aucuba and sweet box — all with pretty foliage colors and textures; from my dear friend, artist and writer Lorene Edwards Forkner, I harvested oak leaf hydrangea foliage, witch hazel and Japanese honeysuckle vine. Lorene also lent me the tall vintage cream ware urn.

I love what I wrote in the pages of Slow Flowers: “Lush, vivid and complex in texture, the bouquet is one of my most favorite of the entire year’s creations. It proved to me that the garden’s gifts are indeed generous (as are my friends).”

Winter Week 2 of 2023 in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Winter, Week 2, of 2023 in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden

One decade later, this time around, Jean’s garden is no longer available to me, as she has moved back to her home state of Iowa. I now have a cream ware vase of my own, similar to Lorene’s; plus, witch hazel ‘Jelena’ and a few oak leaf hydrangeas, so I really just needed to clip Japanese honeysuckle from her fence. But, alas, that plant has disappeared as our favorite garden plants are occasionally wont to do.

Leucothoe burgundy foliage
This leucothoe is incredible in the winter garden. Look at the color!

I’m kind of glad that I needed to start from scratch and replicate this arrangement with new or similar ingredients, thinking about the design with a new eye. And here’s what I came up with from my garden (plus cuttings from one new vine plant purchased from my local specialty garden center).

textures and hues of the winter garden
Textures and hues – they improve with age! I love this little collection from my garden, inspired by the original design published in Slow Flowers in 2013!

3 branches of golden privet (Ligustrum ‘Golden Ticket’)
3 branches of gold variegated Euonymus fortunei Emerald ‘n’ Gold
3-5 leaves from perennial hellebores
3-5 sprigs from Pieris japonica
Glossy green foliage from Pieris japonica ‘Katsura’
3 long stems of maroon Leucothoe foliage
2 stems of witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’)
2 stems of oak leaf hydrangea foliage (Hydrangea quercifolia)
4 stems pressed, dried Autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’)
1 length of evergreen cathedral gem sausage vine (Holboellia coriacea ‘Cathedral Gem’)

Vase: 12-inch vintage cream ware urn

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)