From spring’s first hopeful tendrils to silvery silhouettes stretching across a hushed winter landscape, Debra Prinzing urges readers to embrace the seasonal splendor that flourishes close to home.
“One of the joys of gardening is to step out my back door and clip a few sprigs to bring inside,” reveals Debra Prinzing. “The prettiest blooms and just-unfurled leaves—gathered simply into a bunch and displayed in a jar of water—provide everything I need to start the day.” As it turns out, venturing outdoors has also given the Seattle-based author and lecturer the seeds to cultivate her life’s work. Encompassing a veritable kaleidoscope of creative pursuits, Debra’s educational background includes studies in fashion, journalism, international business, and marketing. She was director of communications for a nonprofit agency when her true passion came into focus with sudden, vivid clarity. “I remember sitting at my desk, looking out my window, and saying to myself, I want to be a garden writer,” she recalls.
Training in the textile arts taught Debra the language of design principles, but the avid home gardener wanted to deepen her knowledge of horticulture. Now, nearly two decades into a thriving career as a garden, design, and outdoor-lifestyle writer, she still insists that nothing compares with the thrill of walking through a garden gate to inquire about a new discovery. The concept for Debra’s latest book, Slow Flowers (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013), developed from her mission to promote local, sustainably grown blossoms—a cause that resonated with the author after she profiled leading floriculturists and florists in the organic-flower movement for The 50 Mile Bouquet (St. Lynn’s Press, 2012).
Although the avid supporter of American flower farmers has recognized a cultural shift in consumers who want to know the source of their produce, she notes that many still believe it is impossible to find stunning posies in their own regions throughout the year. Debra set out to dispel this myth with fifty-two weeks of beautifully designed and exquisitely photographed fresh seasonal arrangements comprising area fl ora—most foraged from her own property. Nestled between a lake to the east and Washington’s Puget Sound to the west, in the temperate Zone 8b climate, the garden includes woody ornamental shrubs, fragrant bloomers, and hearty perennials. When designing bouquets, the recreational florist draws from two distinct points of inspiration. Often, she focuses on a single unforgettable variety—utilizing stems from a nearby flower market or a friend’s backyard in displays that reflect a sense of time and place. The muse is sometimes a favorite container selected from her collections of vintage American pottery and contemporary blown glass. Even the humble Mason jar, which she appreciates for its “Made in U.S.A.” stamp, becomes a charming vase overflowing with delicate blossoms.
Once intimidated by floral design, Debra began this artistic endeavor expecting to stretch herself creatively and to encourage others, but she was surprised at how nourishing the ritual proved to her own spirit. She says, “I didn’t realize that those few hours I spent each week gathering and choosing petals and stems, arranging them in a special vessel, and then figuring out where and how to capture the finished design through my camera lens would be so personally enriching.”
To learn more about the slow flowers movement, see ” Following a Garden Path” on page 49 of the July/August 2014 issue of Victoria.