Q&A and a GIVEAWAY: The Posy Book

By Shelley Pierce | September 15, 2019
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by Shelley Pierce
September 15, 2019

Teresa H. Sabankaya, a pioneer of the Slow Flower movement, runs the Bonny Doon Garden Company in Santa Cruz, California. She was featured in Michael Pollan’s PBS documentary The Botany of Desire and has appeared on CBS News Sunday Morning. Her work has been featured in Elle magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, and many bridal magazines. In her recent book, “The Posy Book“, Sabankaya shares step-by-step instructions, floral recipes for more than 20 posies and ideas for seasonal variations. Read on to learn more about this W.W. Norton and Company book and enter below to win one of two copies!

I have to admit, I was not familiar with the concept of a posy before enjoying your book. A posy, for those who are unaware, is a small bouquet of flowers, plants and herbs selected and arranged to convey a specific meaning. Why has the language of flowers fallen out of popularity and why is it important that we revive interest in it?

No one knows for certain why the language of flowers has fallen out of popularity, but my own theory is that we have been inundated with mixed messages and meanings of certain flowers for many years, and the result is a confusing array of abbreviated floral dictionaries. What we need is a comprehensive reference that envelopes all the various meanings from a wide array of resources, resulting in one inclusive dictionary. That’s what The Posy Book does, and in addition, gives meaning to several newly hybridized flowers and plants that are commonly used in floristry.

I believe it would be beneficial to revive the language of flowers in both professional floristry, and for the non-florist population as well. Giving flowers, creating bouquets for gifts, gathering flowers from your yard for your home or giving can all be elevated to a much more significant gesture by using the flowers as conveyers of messages and symbolism. It is wonderful to receive a bouquet of flowers for your birthday, everyone loves that, and we should never deviate from giving flowers at any level, but, can you imagine that beautiful bouquet of flowers sending you a secret and sweet message too? Along with their beauty, they have a word or two to say to you!

How did you become interested in creating posies?

I love the nostalgia associated with giving flowers that send a message -a posy. And why have we lost practice of using our beautiful flowers, plants and trees to create heartfelt messages? Isn’t it amazing to look around you at all the flowers and plants and know they have meaning? I have always been fascinated with the idea of conveying sentiments to another person, without having to say a word. And you cannot speak the volumes that flowers speak with an average conversation. Flowers can speak so very eloquently and when the occasion calls for sentiments of sorrow, heartache, overwhelming joy, or sincerity, no spoken words can take the place of the language of flowers.

What was one of the most touching and heartfelt posies that you ever personally received?

I have never received a posy! I’m still waiting”¦(hint,hint!) As of now, I have always been on the giving side of posies. Making a posy for someone I love and care about gives me so much joy. Not only am I giving a beautiful arrangement of flowers, but my message is being sent to the receiver without me having to say a word, and I can never say as much as the flowers can say anyway. I feel so good after sending a posy because what I always get in return is the simple and unbound beauty of the recipients realization that I have put so much thought and emotion into the message of the posy. They are always so grateful!

How does your book help the reader prep and assemble a posy? What features in your book will the reader find most helpful?

The Posy Book includes very, very simple step by step instructions. Things do not have to be complicated! Simplicity is the key when making a posy, but the beauty of the book is that the instructions are very clear and basic, but it also gives tips to kick it up a notch to a more complex floral design.

In the book, there are instructions and tips on general floral design that I believe are extremely helpful. How to cut your flowers, when to cut, and how to condition them are all necessary elements to know when you’re a ‘farmer-florist’, and the home gardener is rarely given these tips of the trade. It’s wonderful and I’m happy to share all this! It’s a wealth of information from 25+ years of gardening and growing flowers for use in floristry.

If somebody wanted to create posies for a personal hobby would they need to necessarily plant a huge flower garden? What are some good choices for flowers to grow in a garden for this purpose?

You absolutely do not need a huge flower garden to make posies! I will take this subject further in a second book, but posies can be constructed of flowers from your patio pots. With the right planning, there are recipes for birthday posies, sympathy posies, and just for fun posies that can all be made from either patio pots, or a small plot of flowers, shrubs, and trees. It’s that awesome?

Some good all-around choices for flowers to have on hand for posies are;
Alstromeria – friendship
Rose – love, beauty, congratulations (so many more meanings for roses according to their colors!)
Basil – best wishes
Scented Geranium – comfort, gentility, preference
Hydrangea – happiness, trust, haven, protection, courageous woman

See www.newlangaugeofflowers.com for so many more ideas! You can search the site either alphabetically, by sentiment, or occasion.

What are some fun and interesting facts about the language of flowers that you would like to share with us?

The meanings given to flowers and plants through the years are based upon either their appearance, their spirit, or their growth habits and inclinations. A good example is the azalea, which in the language of flowers, one of the meanings is temperance (a tranquil mind). The azalea give an allusion to their growing naturally in dry soil only, because they flourish only when planted in poor ground, for when fed too rich of earth and water, they sicken and decay. As the azalea represents temperance; they grow and thrive in desolate environments, with control and sacrifice, which ultimately shows a tranquil mind.

There are more fun facts and interesting notes on the language of flowers included in The Posy Book!

Enter to win one of two copies of The Posy Book!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight (EST) on Sunday, September 22, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

If you were to receive a posy, what flowers would you like to see in it?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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