Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Farmer and The { Florist } Interview: Sue Prutting of White Magnolia Designs

sue123
I’m sooooo incredibly excited to introduce you to my dear friend and phenomenal floral designer, Sue Prutting of White Magnolia Floral Designs. Sue truly is one of the kindest, most giving women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on this wild and wonderful flower journey. From the moment we first met at the Ariella Chezar Workshop in 2013, we bonded almost instantly. Soon after, we were inseparable. Sue and I started as “flower friends,” and have become “real-life” friends as well. Sue was right there beside me, lending a patient, supportive and encouraging hand at last year’s wildly popular Seasonal Bouquet Project workshops and again at all of our on-farm workshop this year. She and I are going to team up again on a road trip this fall to do the floral designs for a fellow farmer florist’s wedding in North Carolina. It is going to be epic! Sue is a fantastic floral designer and every time we’re together I learn so much. Sue’s beautiful, abundant designs have brought graceful elegance to weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, book signings and big events in the Washington D.C.-area and in select venues across the country.

sue1212
Erin: Sue, can you share a little bit more about your business and your design style?

Sue: Sure! I guess I would describe my design style as garden inspired. It has a formality…or maybe an elegance to it because of the product I love to use, but also has a bit of a natural and wind blown look. Layers and layers of texture, branches, berries and vines, are some of my favorite elements. I primarily design weddings and events and my proximity to Capitol Hill has lead to some pretty cool assignments: really meaningful fundraisers, photo shoots, events for dignitaries etc.

sue
Sue: One of the things I love about owning a business is that I have been free to morph my business model and reinvent myself as my responsibilities at home have shifted. As my kids have grown, I’ve been able to travel more and help other designers behind the scenes at their workshops. Teaching is a real passion of mine – sharing what I have learned and helping others grow is the best! Also, getting to hang out with some ridiculously talented people and continuing to learn from them, isn’t too shabby either. Working with you on the Farmer Florist and the Floral Intensive Workshops, meeting all of the attendees and getting to see them spread their wings has been a real highlight for me. Plus, I never laugh as hard as when I am with you Sister!

2014_Flowerwild_Pippin_Hill_0152_2
Erin: Garden and yard space is at a premium in D.C. With limited space, what flowers and foliage get prime real estate in your cutting garden?

Sue: It is really hard to get the foliage and flowering branches I love to use, so lately I’ve been focused on planting all sorts of bushes and even a few trees. I have about an acre to play on and have planted crab apples, viburnum, two types of nine bark, way too much spriea (if there is such a thing), mock orange, winterberry…all sorts of goodies. Developers in my neighborhood have been great about letting me dig up plants before they raise a house and clear the lot. I have lots of peony, hydrangea, grasses and some mixed perennial beds. Also, living in the DC area means you must have cherry trees and azaleas in your garden. The first week of May is an absolute color explosion in this area, and both do surprisingly well in arrangements. Next up on the planting wish list…garden roses.

sue33
Erin: I know that no floral designer likes being asked their favorite flower, because we all have at least 40 favorites. (Plus, our favorites change depending on the season–or the day, for that matter!) So, instead, tell me about a few of flowers and foliage that you’re smitten with this summer.

Sue: This summer, I have gotten a ton of use out of my ornamental plum tree. It has been great to cut the sweetness of the blushes and pinks that have been so popular. Some other favorites are beach tree foliage, thornless blackberry and this crazy wild rose that grows in my area. After an unfortunate poison ivy incident, I now look like a hazmat worker when foraging it. Finally, I’d say that my little shade garden has been a real workhorse for me this year. I’ve been loving Solomon’s Seal and especially Epimedium. It’s foliage lasts forever when cut and those little heart shaped leaves are soooo good in bouquets.

sue2
Erin: Like so many great floral designers, you switched careers to pursue this “creative operation,” as you describe it. I would imagine your background as a Clinical Social Worker helps in working with (shall we say) “discerning” bridal clients. How has this training influenced your business?

Sue: I think more than anything, I have empathy for the brides and the amount of work it is to plan a wedding. If things get a little crazy, I try to hear them through that filter and help them manage their stress. I think one of the most frustrating things you can ask a bride is “What is the vision you have for your wedding?” It really helps to break that question down into smaller bites – “How do you want your guests to feel when the enter the reception; like they are coming home? Blown away? Pumped up? Peaceful and serene?” It is my job to translate, and put to words what they are picturing in their mind. I think my training has also helped me to separate other peoples stress from my own and most importantly, I can keep a straight face no matter what someone says to me. 😉

000021200013
Erin: You’ve traveled all over the country as a freelance designer. Can you share a favorite memory (or two)?

Sue: I worked on a wedding in Tennessee with Kate Holt of Flowerwild this summer. Climbing through the woods foraging with Kate and her team (which included Kim Sanders and Janelle Wylie) was a hoot! One night we went out to catch fireflies because they don’t have them in California. It was pretty magical. Noticing the beauty and the gifts that are right there in front of us each day is key.

IMG_4527
Sue: A few years ago, I started traveling to train and work with other designers after I had what felt like a huge setback. I started to doubt what I saw as beautiful and needed to see my work through a different lens. Learning from designers I admire and trust, and then working with them has allowed me to do that. It has been so empowering. I think the climate in our industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. Professionals like you, Erin and Ariella Chezar, Sara Rhyanan and Nicolette Owen, Kate Holt, Françoise Weeks, Jennie Love and Holly Chapple, to name a few, have been so generous with their experience and information. That willingness to share what they know, be transparent and to connect growers and designers around the world through their workshops and social media has changed the face of what we do, and how we do it. This is a tough job and can be a little isolating, but now thanks to these women and others, it doesn’t have to be.

sue22
Erin: This column has become the place to confess floral foraging “adventures.” Any you’d care to confess?

Sue: Ok, here goes. My mom swears that I have been picking “roadsideia” since I could first walk, and she is probably right. I was forever coming home with a little bunch of wild violets, or black eyed Susan’s. Walking home late one night in college, I stopped to admire some bearded iris and made the mistake of picking one. I swear a woman must have been hiding in the bushes two feet from me, because as soon as I made that cut, I heard “Do you always take what you want” in a old craggy southern drawl. She seriously scared the crud out of me. I ran so hard and fast that I crushed the poor iris. Serves me right. I avoided that part of campus for the rest of my time at school.

sueee
Erin: I am counting down the days until we get to meet up in D.C. and then make the drive down to North Carolina to Sassafras Fork Farm, foraging along the way. We are going to create the biggest, baddest bouquets ever for Stephanie Hall’s wedding. I can’t wait! While we don’t want to spoil tooo many of the surprises we have in store for sweet Stephanie, would you like to share perhaps a little preview of what we’ll be doing down there?

Sue: It is going to be epic! Stephanie is building the most beautiful reclaimed wood, post and beam barn on her family farm. It will be an amazing venue for events in the future, and we get to decorate the heck out of it for her wedding. She is a sweet and trusting soul, because she has given us carte blanche to “do what we do best”. With 350 guests expected, dinner will be served family style on long vintage farm tables. Lots of platters and bowls on the tables means not a lot of real estate for flowers, so we are going vertical! We will be using all American grown flowers – from our own gardens, from Stephanie’s farm and from a number of flower farmers we will pass on our drive down to North Carolina. Plus, we will get to use tons of foliage from her farm, and maybe even a little roadsideia. I’ll be sure to pack you a hazmat suit.

film_bride_editorial_michael_carina_photography_(306)
Erin: I seriously cannot wait! It’s going to be absolutely amazing! Sue, from the bottom of my heart: thank you. Thank you for your kindness, generosity and for all that you do. I so treasure your friendship.

Sue: Right back at you Erin. I just love getting to live this life with you!

The Farmer and The { Florist } Interview: Sue Prutting of White Magnolia Designs

sue123
I’m sooooo incredibly excited to introduce you to my dear friend and phenomenal floral designer, Sue Prutting of White Magnolia Floral Designs. Sue truly is one of the kindest, most giving women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on this wild and wonderful flower journey. From the moment we first met at the Ariella Chezar Workshop in 2013, we bonded almost instantly. Soon after, we were inseparable. Sue and I started as “flower friends,” and have become “real-life” friends as well. Sue was right there beside me, lending a patient, supportive and encouraging hand at last year’s wildly popular Seasonal Bouquet Project workshops and again at all of our on-farm workshop this year. She and I are going to team up again on a road trip this fall to do the floral designs for a fellow farmer florist’s wedding in North Carolina. It is going to be epic! Sue is a fantastic floral designer and every time we’re together I learn so much. Sue’s beautiful, abundant designs have brought graceful elegance to weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, book signings and big events in the Washington D.C.-area and in select venues across the country.

sue1212
Erin: Sue, can you share a little bit more about your business and your design style?

Sue: Sure! I guess I would describe my design style as garden inspired. It has a formality…or maybe an elegance to it because of the product I love to use, but also has a bit of a natural and wind blown look. Layers and layers of texture, branches, berries and vines, are some of my favorite elements. I primarily design weddings and events and my proximity to Capitol Hill has lead to some pretty cool assignments: really meaningful fundraisers, photo shoots, events for dignitaries etc.

sue
Sue: One of the things I love about owning a business is that I have been free to morph my business model and reinvent myself as my responsibilities at home have shifted. As my kids have grown, I’ve been able to travel more and help other designers behind the scenes at their workshops. Teaching is a real passion of mine – sharing what I have learned and helping others grow is the best! Also, getting to hang out with some ridiculously talented people and continuing to learn from them, isn’t too shabby either. Working with you on the Farmer Florist and the Floral Intensive Workshops, meeting all of the attendees and getting to see them spread their wings has been a real highlight for me. Plus, I never laugh as hard as when I am with you Sister!

2014_Flowerwild_Pippin_Hill_0152_2
Erin: Garden and yard space is at a premium in D.C. With limited space, what flowers and foliage get prime real estate in your cutting garden?

Sue: It is really hard to get the foliage and flowering branches I love to use, so lately I’ve been focused on planting all sorts of bushes and even a few trees. I have about an acre to play on and have planted crab apples, viburnum, two types of nine bark, way too much spriea (if there is such a thing), mock orange, winterberry…all sorts of goodies. Developers in my neighborhood have been great about letting me dig up plants before they raise a house and clear the lot. I have lots of peony, hydrangea, grasses and some mixed perennial beds. Also, living in the DC area means you must have cherry trees and azaleas in your garden. The first week of May is an absolute color explosion in this area, and both do surprisingly well in arrangements. Next up on the planting wish list…garden roses.

sue33
Erin: I know that no floral designer likes being asked their favorite flower, because we all have at least 40 favorites. (Plus, our favorites change depending on the season–or the day, for that matter!) So, instead, tell me about a few of flowers and foliage that you’re smitten with this summer.

Sue: This summer, I have gotten a ton of use out of my ornamental plum tree. It has been great to cut the sweetness of the blushes and pinks that have been so popular. Some other favorites are beach tree foliage, thornless blackberry and this crazy wild rose that grows in my area. After an unfortunate poison ivy incident, I now look like a hazmat worker when foraging it. Finally, I’d say that my little shade garden has been a real workhorse for me this year. I’ve been loving Solomon’s Seal and especially Epimedium. It’s foliage lasts forever when cut and those little heart shaped leaves are soooo good in bouquets.

sue2
Erin: Like so many great floral designers, you switched careers to pursue this “creative operation,” as you describe it. I would imagine your background as a Clinical Social Worker helps in working with (shall we say) “discerning” bridal clients. How has this training influenced your business?

Sue: I think more than anything, I have empathy for the brides and the amount of work it is to plan a wedding. If things get a little crazy, I try to hear them through that filter and help them manage their stress. I think one of the most frustrating things you can ask a bride is “What is the vision you have for your wedding?” It really helps to break that question down into smaller bites – “How do you want your guests to feel when the enter the reception; like they are coming home? Blown away? Pumped up? Peaceful and serene?” It is my job to translate, and put to words what they are picturing in their mind. I think my training has also helped me to separate other peoples stress from my own and most importantly, I can keep a straight face no matter what someone says to me. 😉

000021200013
Erin: You’ve traveled all over the country as a freelance designer. Can you share a favorite memory (or two)?

Sue: I worked on a wedding in Tennessee with Kate Holt of Flowerwild this summer. Climbing through the woods foraging with Kate and her team (which included Kim Sanders and Janelle Wylie) was a hoot! One night we went out to catch fireflies because they don’t have them in California. It was pretty magical. Noticing the beauty and the gifts that are right there in front of us each day is key.

IMG_4527
Sue: A few years ago, I started traveling to train and work with other designers after I had what felt like a huge setback. I started to doubt what I saw as beautiful and needed to see my work through a different lens. Learning from designers I admire and trust, and then working with them has allowed me to do that. It has been so empowering. I think the climate in our industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. Professionals like you, Erin and Ariella Chezar, Sara Rhyanan and Nicolette Owen, Kate Holt, Françoise Weeks, Jennie Love and Holly Chapple, to name a few, have been so generous with their experience and information. That willingness to share what they know, be transparent and to connect growers and designers around the world through their workshops and social media has changed the face of what we do, and how we do it. This is a tough job and can be a little isolating, but now thanks to these women and others, it doesn’t have to be.

sue22
Erin: This column has become the place to confess floral foraging “adventures.” Any you’d care to confess?

Sue: Ok, here goes. My mom swears that I have been picking “roadsideia” since I could first walk, and she is probably right. I was forever coming home with a little bunch of wild violets, or black eyed Susan’s. Walking home late one night in college, I stopped to admire some bearded iris and made the mistake of picking one. I swear a woman must have been hiding in the bushes two feet from me, because as soon as I made that cut, I heard “Do you always take what you want” in a old craggy southern drawl. She seriously scared the crud out of me. I ran so hard and fast that I crushed the poor iris. Serves me right. I avoided that part of campus for the rest of my time at school.

sueee
Erin: I am counting down the days until we get to meet up in D.C. and then make the drive down to North Carolina to Sassafras Fork Farm, foraging along the way. We are going to create the biggest, baddest bouquets ever for Stephanie Hall’s wedding. I can’t wait! While we don’t want to spoil tooo many of the surprises we have in store for sweet Stephanie, would you like to share perhaps a little preview of what we’ll be doing down there?

Sue: It is going to be epic! Stephanie is building the most beautiful reclaimed wood, post and beam barn on her family farm. It will be an amazing venue for events in the future, and we get to decorate the heck out of it for her wedding. She is a sweet and trusting soul, because she has given us carte blanche to “do what we do best”. With 350 guests expected, dinner will be served family style on long vintage farm tables. Lots of platters and bowls on the tables means not a lot of real estate for flowers, so we are going vertical! We will be using all American grown flowers – from our own gardens, from Stephanie’s farm and from a number of flower farmers we will pass on our drive down to North Carolina. Plus, we will get to use tons of foliage from her farm, and maybe even a little roadsideia. I’ll be sure to pack you a hazmat suit.

film_bride_editorial_michael_carina_photography_(306)

Autumn at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Autumn is once again a receding memory, growing dimmer everyday as we continue the inexorable slide into the darkest depths of winter… But try hard enough and it’s still possible to cast our minds back to a time when the trees still had leaves; when warm shades of gold, orange and red coloured the landscape; when the mercury didn’t sit so low in the thermometer.

I moved up to Edinburgh from Sheffield at the end of September. (I lived here for the best part of four years previously, while I studied ecological science at the University of Edinburgh.) My flat is no more than a ten minute walk from the outstanding botanic gardens, which are one of my favourite things about living here. I paid the gardens three visits with my camera in one week soon after I moved in. How about some autumnal photographs then?

 

This towering deodar (Cedrus deodara) grows close to the East Gate. It is a beautiful and imposing tree, one of the finest in the gardens.

Looking up into the hefty crown of the deodar – how many branches? How many growth points? What tonnage of timber?

A neighbouring big, old sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) seems sadly to be in serious decline. The tree was rather sparsely foliated at the time of this visit, but at that point in the autumn natural leaf loss would have been premature. It’s a shame because it’s another fine tree. A major branch has a few old wounds on it, one of which sported a nice bit of fungus. It’ll be interesting to see how the tree looks in spring.

I came across these Pholiota squarrosa mushrooms growing at the base of a big European beech (Fagus sylvatica). They were also growing around the base of a nearby heartnut, a variant of the Japanese walnut (Juglans ailantifolia var. cordiformis). P. squarrosa is a parasitic white-rot fungus that attacks a wide range of host trees.

This mushroom was growing under a pine tree… …along with its wee pal.

This dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in the Chinese Hillside part of the gardens was positively radiant. The needles – here so vibrantly illuminated – are now long gone, this being a deciduous species.

29th September 2013

This oak really stood out from the crowd!

A nice cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) growing in front of the 1960s glasshouses. At least this tree will keep its leaves all winter long.

3rd October 2013

Autumnal maple leaves.

On this visit I was quite keen to get some photos of the mushroom population. There weren’t so many of a big enough size to stand out as I strolled along, but if I just stopped for a moment to study the mulch that surrounds the base of every tree, there were far more mushrooms to be seen than most people would have realised. Perhaps these are waxcaps of some sort?

The distinctive spiny cupules of sweet chestnut. Apparently the nuts can’t attain their full size in the British climate, so the roasting chestnuts that appear in the shops for winter are imported from the continent. I had a bag of roast chestnuts at Edinburgh’s European Christmas Market last week – they were enormous and very tasty!

I’m fairly sure this is a hare’s foot inkcap (Coprinus lagopus). This mushroom is quite interesting; according to Wikipedia, “As the mushroom matures, the shape of the cap becomes more conical or convex, and finally flattens out, with edges curved upward. The veil is initially whitish, then turns to a silvery grey or grey-brown; it eventually splits up, becoming hairy (fibrillose). … In maturity the gill edges dissolve (deliquesce) into a black liquid. These mushrooms are evanescent, lasting only last a few hours before death…”