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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Growing, Gathering and Designing with Organic, Locally Grown Cut Flowers

The 50 Mile Bouquet, Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers. Debra Prinzing, David E. Perry, St. Lynn’s Press

For the same reasons that we try to buy locally grown organic food, Debra Prinzing suggests that, when buying cut flowers, we look for those that are organically grown no more than 50 miles away.

Most of us pay little attention to the fact that, over the years, cut flowers bought from florists and supermarkets have become less fragrant, and that their colors appear increasingly artificial. There are technical reasons for this. Most commercial flowers are grown overseas, at a great distance from markets and the harvest must be vigorous enough to sustain both long distances and the time necessary for their distribution.

By breeding to produce this level of vigor, odorless flowers with a lifeless appearance is the usual result. To insure the viability of these crops, the large commercial growers around the globe resort to using pesticides and manufactured fertilizers. Furthermore, with the breeding of these preferred strains has come the ability to change the appearance of the flowers so that they are more attractive at retail. However, upon close inspection, they look unreal.

Those of us who prefer our plants to be pesticide and chemical free, who care how much energy is consumed in bring the blooms to market, and who expect a fragrant flower that touches our soul, are urged to patronize flower growers closer to home. Nothing can compare to a fragrant, old fashioned, freshly harvested bloom.

Throughout the USA, but mostly on the West Coast and sprinkled around the country, dedicated flower merchants are delivering  locally grown, fragrant, cut flowers, nourished with sustainable practices. The results have been touching.

The focus of this book is to identify the growers and distributors of newfound but old style cut flowers; to encourage readers to buy them when they are local and organically produced, to grow their own, and to suggest that the florist industry strive for organic practices.

Readers will discover farmers who are producing and harvesting organic flowers all season long. They will meet representatives of the new breed of florists who source and create with environmentally respected techniques while using uncommon, fresh, and sustainably grown plants. The inspired among us will learn how to use these preferred cut flowers to create foraged bouquets and elaborate centerpieces, by sourcing from farmers markets, back yard cutting gardens, and semi-wild locations.

The theme of the publication rounds out with a list of US flower growers, floral design tips, seasonal ingredients, a floral glossary, sustainability terms, as well as a directory of farmers, designers, and other experts introduced by the writer.

After reading this book, I find it difficult to revert to buying odorless, artificial-looking cut flowers. Happily, some retailers now post a sign when their floral inventory is locally grown. Thanks to the dedicated people we meet in Debra Prinzing and David E. Perry’s inspiring work, we are making progress.


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Reader Comments (2)

Very interesting information. I never buy cut flowers but will keep it in mind if I do.

Allan, I love cut flowers in the house (especially if they're fragrant!) and often bring them in from the garden at this time of year. But this post reminded me of my years living in southern California right after I graduated from college. We lived in an agricultural area, and there was a flower farm just outside the city limits with a 24/7 honor-system flower stand. I used to love to stop there late at night, pick my flowers from the tubs of them in the stand, cut the stems with the paper cutter provided, wrap my bouquet in newsprint and leave my money in the tin. I think these flowers were the "seconds" that did not meet the standards for the florist trade, but I just thought they were wonderful. -Jean

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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