Slow Gardening

Could it get any slower, you ask?  After all, planting an oak sapling is not the time to buy a hammock.  Nevertheless, we’re adding Slow Flowers to the Slow Food Movement.

SlowFoodThe Slow Food Movement, a global, grassroots movement founded in Italy in 1986 as an alternative to fast food, celebrates the pleasures of food and the preservation of traditional and regional cuisine.  As part of this movement, it includes a commitment to both community and the environment.  The Slow Food Movement strengthens the connection between the food on our plate and our feet on the earth through education, the development of seed banks for heirloom varieties, and the development the Ark of Taste for each eco-region.  At my son’s school garden, we are growing the Makah Ozette fingerling potato that has been grown continuously in Washington state for over 200 years.

Slow Gardening grows hand in hand with Slow Food, of course, from picking your own hyper-local vegetables and saving seeds of the varieties that do well in your garden.  Think beyond edibles and be on the lookout for varieties of flowers that appear at your local farmers markets.  These are the flowers you should be growing in your front yard, too.

Currently, 80% of cut-flowers sold in the United States are imported from places like Ecuador and Columbia.  The U.S. subsidized flower production there to divert land from growing cocaine, undercutting farmers here in the Northwest.  Notwithstanding the deforestation, pesticide and shipping problems, buyers are also presented with a narrow range of ordinary flowers that just don’t make sense (or scents, either), compared to the wide variety of fragrant and unusual foliage and flowers grown locally.

Summer Bouquet from Farmers Market, August 2012
Hydrangeas, dahlias, ‘Black Knight’ scabiosa
and ping-pong Scabiosa stellata
Photo (c) Debra Prinzing


Here in the Pacific Northwest, a consortium of cut-flower farmers have formed the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market with the tagline “from farm to florist”.  Recently awarded a $138,000 block grant by the USDA to support regional farmers with specialty crops, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market can now continue to support sustainable growing practices, expand the market and demand and provide reliable sales volume.  It will provide custom bouquets to florists and local grocery stores.  The public can also visit on Fridays from 10-2 at 5840 Airport Way South, Suite 201 in Seattle, so you can design your own dinner party or wedding bouquets.

“This is the most exciting thing that has happened in flower buying in 50 years. It’s totally put the joy into buying, because you see the flowers grown by local growers,” said buyer Diane Larson, owner of Mercer Island Florist. [Seattle Business Journal]

By visiting weekly, you’ll watch the progression of fabulous, local summer blooms change to stunning winter twig and hellebore combinations.  Leverage your local farmers and their knowledge of heirloom flower varieties and seasonal availability based on local climate, to get ideas of what you can grow in your own garden.

Read more in depth about this exciting new niche for artisan farmers and sustainable practices in Debra Prinzing’s new books, The 50-mile Bouquet, and Slow Flowers.

2 Replies to “Slow Gardening”

  1. Hi Grace and thank you for your wonderful commentary about local flowers and the Slow Flowers movement. Wanted you and your readers to know about my new project called, which will be a free nationwide database for consumers to find floral designers who are committed to working with American-grown flowers. We’re developing the site right now and it should launch later this fall. Please visit and sign up for future notices. Cheers, Debra

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