SLOW FLOWERS: Week 20
May 19th, 2013
A Softer Side of Green
May 19th, 2013
May 14th, 2013
Forget flowers grown far from home. You’ll find the best blooms right in your own neighborhood – straight from a local flower farmer.
The growth of local farmers’ markets is staggering – up 17 percent nationwide in 2011, according to the USDA (USDA Farmers’ Market Data). And as more farmers’ markets establish in communities across the U.S., you can be certain to find more beautiful flower stalls, which is great news for the DIY floral designer, hostess and nature- lover.
When you shop at a weekly farmers’ market, look for fresh, seasonal and uncommon floral crops – you’ll be wowed by the selection and quality. Yes, it’s fun to meet the people who grow these blooms. But you can also learn from their experience and knowledge — ask your flower farmer for tips on how to care for their beautiful stems at home. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy farmers’ market flowers and extend their vase life:
Selection: Most farmers harvest their crops as close to market day as possible, ensuring very fresh varieties – straight from the field. Shop early in the morning for the best choice (plus, flowers are always happier when it’s cooler!). If the market is in an uncovered location, expect to see large awnings or umbrellas to keep the floral products out of direct sun. Look at the stall’s hygiene – are the buckets clean and filled with fresh water? Be sure to ask “Where is your farm?” and “Why type of growing practices do you use?” – let the vendor know you appreciate sustainable practices.
What to look for:
When choosing a mixed bouquet, look at all the ingredients to see that they are equally fresh. The focal flowers, softly-textured delicate elements and foliage should feel plump; not wilted or limp. When selecting a straight bunch, often called a “grower’s bunch,” check that all the stems are similar in length and all the blooms are similar size.
May 12th, 2013
10 stems red peonies, grown by Ojeda Farms
7 stems each ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Cowanii’ ornamental alliums, grown by Choice Bulb Farms
12 stems lady’s mantle foliage (Alchemilla mollis), harvested from my garden
9-inch tall x 5-inch diameter hand-blown glass vase
Create a collar: You can use flowers or foliage to ring the base of a bouquet or arrangement as a finishing detail. This technique is usually done as the bouquet’s last step. For this arrangement, I pre-cut the greenery and then added it beneath the peonies, slightly overlapping each stem as I worked around the circumference of the bouquet. Here, the lady’s mantle visually separates the dark red peonies from the wine-red vase.
May 9th, 2013
Lots of news to share, including this very timely interview that Seattle’s NPR station KPLU-FM aired today. Environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp contacted me to discuss “sustainable flowers for Mother’s Day,” and thanks to her incredible interviewing and editing talents, a 25-minute conversation turned into a 4-1/2 minute segment. You can listen to it here.
The interview gave me a chance to talk about the excitement at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market – a just-launched supermarket bouquet program called “By the Bunch.” The beauty of this program is that it produces a sizeable income stream for every farmer-member at the SWGM Cooperative. Together they are so much more than the sum of their parts (or their flower fields, for that matter).
Today, the Thursday before Mother’s Day, was perhaps the most insane work day ever experienced by the Bouquet team, including managers Kristen Parris and Nicole Cordier, along with their new design team members, Carly and Michelle.
But in order to produce a staggering number of bouquets today – something like 700 bunches – flower farmers Diane Szukovathy and Vivian Larson had to show up and volunteer their time as bouquet-makers. I stopped by at around 9:30 a.m. to catch the activity.
Oh, bouquet-making sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? But by 7 p.m., when I had to bring by supplies for a special event tomorrow morning, Kristen and Nicole were still there, finishing up the final 100 bunches. Ever-positive, but clearly exhausted, these women believe so much in getting sustainable and locally-grown blooms into the hands of Seattle area consumers that they are willing to go without food and breaks just to achieve the goal. As I told them: If you can get through Mother’s Day, you can do anything. (They probably didn’t need to hear it from me!)
Read more about the By the Bunch program here. The brand development, graphic design and packaging is supported by a USDA Multi-State Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
My photos from today’s visit will wow you. If you haven’t figured out what to give Mom for her special day on Sunday, May 12th, stop by these outlets for LOCAL, SEASONAL Bouquets – straight from Northwest fields: PCC Natural Markets, Town & Country Markets and Madison Market.
My camera snatched some of today’s delicious springtime beauty to share:
For every mother out there, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ~ and may you enjoy your garden, your flowers and your families.
May 5th, 2013
10 stems lilac (Syringa vulgaris), grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers
12 stems Ranunculus asiaticus, including ‘La Belle’ and ‘Super Green’ varieties, grown by Everyday Flowers
5-inch tall x 5-inch wide x 3-inch deep vase (overall height is 5½ inches)
From the Farmer
Extending the vase life: For decades, it’s been the conventional wisdom of florists that woody shrubs, such as lilacs and hydrangeas, benefit from a second cut, a vertical slice up the center of the stem, to increase the surface area that can absorb water. But according to professors Lane Greer and John M. Dole, authors of Woody Cut Stems for Growers and Florists, a research-based reference, the practice “has never been proven to extend vase life.” The best thing you can do is to use clean, sharp pruners and refresh the vase water every day or so.
April 28th, 2013
12 stems fuchsia anemones (Anemone coronaria ‘Galilee Pink), grown by Everyday Flowers
8 stems pearl bush (Exochorda x macrantha), grown by J. Foss Garden Flowers
6 stems bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus), harvested from my garden
7 stems white tulips, grown by Alm Hill Gardens
8-inch tall x 6-inch diameter round vase with 5-inch opening
Color wheel lesson: The flowers and vase combination illustrate an analogous color palette. Analogous colors are adjacent to one another on the color wheel. Fuchsia, purple and indigo are pleasing when viewed together because they each share varying quantities of the primary color blue. White floral accents offset the black centers of the anemones, adding a graphic punch to this composition.
© Debra Prinzing, all written and photographic content. Website design/development by Willo Bellwood/Metric Media