It’s summer, local flowers are abundant! From snapdragons to roses to sunflowers, this sunny season boasts a wide variety of floral goodness for any occasion–which means there are plenty of good options if you have a particularly–ahem–red, white, and blue flower color scheme in mind.
Here’s a roundup of what’s blooming now from north to south, east to west at The Flowry:
1) Peonies. These fluffy, cloud-like blooms are the stuff of dreams. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, peonies represent good fortune, longevity, and a happy marriage. Along with pearls, peonies are traditionally gifted for a 12th wedding anniversary! In fact, their vitality goes beyond words alone; peony plants can live to be 100 years old and still produce flowers.
2) Nigella. Nigella is commonly called “Love-in-a-mist” because the flowers are surrounded by a ruff of similar leaves, giving the appearance of the flowers being surrounded by a mist. Nigella represents harmony and love, making it a great choice for gift-giving, and for summer weddings.
3) Hydrangea. These gorgeous, lush bushes, ranging from soft white to vibrant pastels (also blue), can grow quite large–making them perfectly dramatic in arrangements. In fact, hydrangea’s color is affected by the pH of the soil (more acidic soil yields bluer flowers, more alkaline soil yields pinker ones).
4) Zinnias. Arriving in almost every color except blue, zinnias make for a versatile summer stem. Before becoming popular in horticulture, zinnias were considered “ugly” flowers–small and unattractive. Their nickname, “sickness of the eye,” coined by the Spanish, is still used in Mexico to describe this plant today.
5) Roses. The U.S. National Flower, roses are nothing if not a classic. Among the most popular flowers year-round, made possible by cheap imports from Colombia and Ecuador, nothing beats a rose grown in season–summertime.
Why Imports Don’t Belong on the Seasonal Flower Menu
Cherries, watermelon and corn are synonymous with summer. Eating these foods out of season is not only cost prohibitive, but also, a total disconnect, and not always so delicious. So, why would you consume roses when they don’t grow?
Eighty (80) percent of the flowers in the US are grown elsewhere–especially the ubiquitous long-stemmed red rose, the #1 imported flower!
Since forever, imported goods have carried an element of cachet, exoticism, je ne sais quoi. Think olive oil from Greece, French parfum, Swiss chocolates, Dutch roses.
The problem with imported flowers is they: 1) carry a massive carbon footprint (from air travel, refrigeration, etc.), 2) are typically sprayed with toxic, chemical pesticides (unless they are Fair Trade or Florverde certified), and 3) are harvested by workers who are marginally compensated (unless they are expressly labeled Fair Trade certified).
Cheaper inputs translate into a cheaper price tag–making it tough for American farmers to compete. Plus, their ubiquity has tricked you into thinking roses are a perennial, which they are not.
Little Known Fact: Imported Roses Have No Scent
1. One way to tell imported roses from US varieties is availability. Roses thrive in the heat. Their growing season is summer.
In the south and west, American roses may have a naturally longer growing season, and therefore more availability. The only way to be sure is to ask your source where they were grown. A good rule of thumb: A dozen roses available in the dead of winter are likely imported.
2. Scent is another clue. Imported roses, which have been bred to withstand long-distance air travel out of water, by plane and refrigerated truck, have sacrificed their signature scent for longevity and robustness. What you may perceive as their fragrance is in fact the smell of chemical pesticides – so don’t breathe in too deeply if you’re unsure.
I learned this only recently while visiting a wholesaler in the North Bay during the shoulder season (early January). I admired a certain champagne colored rose, popular among brides, and asked to smell it.
She cautioned me as the rose had been sprayed. I appreciated the tip and took a tentative whiff! It turns out the smell I’d come to associate with (imported) roses was actually chemical pesticides! Yikes.
3. Lastly, price. Not unlike fast food, fast flowers are cheaper and come with tradeoffs to our environmental, economic and social health. The fact is: Local roses, grown without chemical pesticides, and harvested by workers earning a living wage, are simply more expensive due to more expensive inputs.
The upside is: A fresher, cleaner, longer-lasting product that smells amazing, supports the local economy, and is better for planet and people.
The Last Word On Local
As for the definition of “local,” it can be a moving target, and it depends on the starting point. Some define local as North American (which includes Canada); others as USA only; and others still, within hundreds of miles or fewer.
Some florists are more vigilant than others about sourcing locally, seasonally and sustainably, 365 days a year. For these, it’s “local” or bust. Others will source from farms outside the USA, but only if they’re “sustainable” farms. Many other florists will source locally during the “growing season” and from elsewhere during winter months.
ALL The Flowry florists are “foam-free.”
At The Flowry, our goal is to support florists who conduct their businesses more sustainably. This includes:1) local and American sourcing, 2) highlighting flowers in season, and 3) NO floral foam, chemical dyes or bleach, 4) minimal packaging, and 5) reduce, reuse, recycle and composting measures.
We also recognize that nature sometimes has other plans and local flowers aren’t always available.
In these instances, we believe vetted imports may fill gaps. We believe in transparency and education around what “local” means so that you can decide what it means to you and your value system–and where you stand along the continuum.
The Flowry directory of eco-friendly florists is united around shared and common values of responsibility, seasonality, design, and transparency.
There is no better time than summer to support local flowers.
Hit The Flowry to connect with foam free florists prioritizing locally grown, seasonal stems, and sustainable design practices. If you can’t find your local, check out our Bloomlistings shipping nationwide: Harmony Harvest, Petalled, and Teresa Sabanakaya.