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'Slow Flowers': Author talk centers on rethinking the bouquet

February 25, 2013|By Craig Nakano
  • The newest book from garden writer and L.A. at Home contributor Debra Prinzing looks at home floral arrangements made with seasonal, local ingredients.
The newest book from garden writer and L.A. at Home contributor Debra Prinzing… (St. Lynn's Press )

When Debra Prinzing talks about "Slow Flowers," the title of her new book, what's most striking is the extent to which concepts that sound so familiar and so logical also can seem so foreign. After all, how many times have we picked up flowers at Trader Joe's without asking ourselves: Are the blooms in season? Were they grown locally? Who produced them or where did they came from? You might find those kinds of sourcing questions answered on menus but rarely on store-bought bouquets.

Prinzing will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday to talk about the ideas driving the book, which is subtitled "Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets From the Garden, Meadow and Farm" [$16.95, St. Lynn's Press]. The writer, one of the garden and design contributors to L.A. at Home, approached the project as a challenge to herself: Could she create 52 flower arrangements -- one for each week of the year -- using botanical material from her own garden supplemented by flowers from friends and other local sources. Flowers became more than a commodity; they were a connection to the flower-growing process and the people behind it.

In "Slow Flowers," Prinzing pairs that mind-set with factoids and how-to advice from her own experience and from experts she consulted on the road. Readers will learn that some hydrangeas with a tendency to wilt fast in a vase can be brought back to life with a cool, 15-minute bath in the kitchen sink. Or that peonies will stay fresh much longer if chilled in the refrigerator at least 24 hours before going into a container.

Worried about using florist's foam, which often is manufactured with formaldehyde? Prinzing shows daffodils held in place with a handmade grid of twigs.

Tired of arrangements falling apart as you pluck out the first flowers to die? The author shares the trick of snipping the upper part of the expired flower but leaving the base of the stem in place, so the rest of the arrangement doesn't shift.

Want to hide stems in a glass vase? Stuff the vase with excelsior, she writes, the wood fiber used to ship wine bottles. It acts as an anchor for stems and has a neutral, organic look that complements, not competes, with the arrangement above.

Prinzing will share more ideas, talk about her travels and demonstrate some of her design ideas at the talk Wednesday, so audience members are invited to bring a few samples from their gardens. Check-in for the event starts at 6:30 p.m. at Friendship Hall at Griffith Park, 3201 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles. The program is scheduled to end at 8:30 p.m. General admission is $35. You can find details and register online on this Garden Conservancy page. Information: (845) 424-6500.

craig.nakano@latimes.com

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