As recently reported in the New York Times, the cut flower industry is finally beginning to wake up and smell the roses. There is money to be made selling organic and sustainably raised flowers, which are now available mail order and at savvy supermarkets like Whole Foods.
This is lovely, as far as it goes, but like the organic spinach that goes from California to New York, most of those flowers are going a lot farther than is healthy for the planet.
And like most conventional cut flowers, they tend to be stiff and boring. Dont think youll be able to put together combinations like this:
Bonica rose and old fashioned lady's mantle (in garden, but it could have been in vase)
The solution as usual is to buy local, which is getting easier and easier. Independent florists sometimes offer organic blossoms from fairly close by, and farmers' market growers are increasingly likely to sell cosmos and zinnias as well as carrots and zucchini.
From mid-spring to late fall, an impulse stroll through the market is likely to yield the makings of a first class bouquet. But when you need enough for oh, lets say a wedding some planning will be required. A few green event planners include organic flowers as well as organic food, but in a lot of cases youll have to do the sourcing yourself.
Start asking around as soon as possible; these deals can take some time to set up. Northern growers may not be selling flowers yet, but they will know whether theyre planning to and what theyre planning to grow. If you strike out with local leads, try the searchable database at localharvest.org before you give up.
Using the shopping tips below should help you find the right grower. If you can swing it, make that two right growers and order duplicates of everything. Itll cost more, obviously, but when the event is important its worth having insurance.
Reasons: Most retail flower farms are small; weather is highly variable a hailstorm might hit one location and leave one 10 miles away unscathed - and in real life, manure happens. Worst case, youll have done even more for local farms and will have extras to give away. Flowers for those whove helped with the event is always nice, or you could share your happiness and donate them to your local food bank. People who cant afford enough to eat have probably gone without cut flowers for quite a while.
Flower Farm Shopping Tips:
* Does the grower sell by single variety or single color or, ideally, both? If so, is the price per stem or per bunch and if the latter how large is a bunch?
* Does the grower offer unusual fillers like the ladys mantle above or the artemisia below?
Thats Queen Annes lace being a weed in the artemisia Silver King, an equally pernicious invader. Plant it once, have it for all time.
* Be sure timing is agreed upon. Its best to cut flowers in the morning and keep them cool, but the grower may not have much in the way of ideal storage space. The sooner you can pick them up, the sooner you can get them home for the proper conditioning that will extend their lives by several days.
* Flower-retrieval is not something you want to do at the last minute, so its a good thing that most flowers can be cut well in advance, before they open fully. The right stage to pick for full bloom on the big day will depend on the flowers, so dont forget to discuss this aspect with the grower.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.