flowers + reading
Feb 17, 2016
Do you use locally grown flowers in your designs? If so, how do you go about sourcing them?
Yes! Well, I am certainly lucky in that not only do I source as much as I can from my large cutting garden, but I also have a very skilled organic farmer on my farm who grows flowers. This year for one of my larger weddings we are growing almost everything locally.
I’ve also worked really hard to create relationships with other local growers and I LOVE these relationships so much. There is so much passion that local growers bring to their work that is lost in the normal sourcing of flowers.
There is still a lot of room for more local product in the industry. For a large wedding, I still end up having to purchase a lot of material commercially (usually product from California) because no-one is growing it here. For example, there isn’t a single grower on Vancouver Island or lower mainland of BC who is growing garden roses.
If you’re interested in growing your own flowers, in March I’m releasing a digital course in cultivating cut flowers called Garden to Vase. The course is designed for small scale growers and is perfect for designers who want to start their own cutting garden. [Botanical Brouhaha will bring you more information on the course when it launches in March!]
Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)
Yes, my designs are heavily influenced by my personal gardens and I would highly encourage you to grow even in the tiniest of spaces. Loose, airy wispy greens are some of the favorite things we pull from the garden. I also work with local growers and each county or area should have a list of hort/ag businesses in your area. I am also happy to barter for cut flowers. I have met many a friend by knocking on someone’s door and asking if they would share their beautiful bounty. If granted the opportunity to cut from a stranger, I typically will give them flowers from my garden, create a design for them, or even bake them bread. In some instances you can offer to pay for the blooms you are stalking. I remember wanting vine and some unique blooms from someone’s garden while I was in London teaching with [fellow Expert Panel member] Nick Priestly. He could not believe I walked right up to the door and asked for the flowers. He in turn gave the owner of the property bunches of yellow roses!! Fun stuff and very rewarding, friends and flowers for sure!!
Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)
Yes, we ONLY use locally grown flowers in our designs at Love ‘n Fresh Flowers. We are first and foremost a flower farm so we grow 99% of what we use in our floral designs. The other 1% comes from other local growers, usually in the “shoulder seasons” when our own farm is not quite up to full production.
A great source for finding locally grown flowers is ASCFG.org. This is a national association in the United States (there are also lots of Canadian growers) that works on educating professional flower growers in best practices. So when you find a grower listed on the ASCFG website, you know they’ve really invested in being a great grower and their flowers are going to be top notch.
While it’s a little more time consuming sometimes to source locally-grown flowers instead of just doing one-stop-shopping at the wholesalers, it’s well worth the effort to seek them out. The locally grown material is much higher quality generally and you can get really interesting elements that set your designs apart from your competitors. You might even want to consider growing some of your own! If you want to know more about how to get started, I teach a master class at my farm each spring called The Designer’s Cutting Garden, which will give you all the tools and knowledge you need to get growing yourself!
Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)
Yes, I use locally grown flowers all the time. I am very lucky to live in the beautiful state of Washington, which happens to have the “Seattle Wholesale Growers Market“. SWGM is a co-op of local farmers and they will source flowers from Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. The dahlias they offer in late summer into the fall will make your jaw drop! Plus, lots of special little lovelies throughout the year – ranunculus, anemones, amaryllis, tulips, etc. Not your average fare. Sorry to say though to those of you outside of the Seattle area, they do not ship. I do hope that one day more cities adopt the SWGM business model, farmers CAN come together, support each other and sell their goods.
(Oh, and I grow a lot of my own Dahlias and foliages/vines.)
I love using local flowers in my work. It is a great way to support your local farmers and it will definitely add to the beauty of your designs because of the freshness and uniqueness of the flowers. I often add flowers that are not available wholesale or don’t ship well. Some of my favorite locally grown flower varieties are Dahlias, Ammi, Gomphrena, Scabiosa, Zinnias, Peonies, Poppies and Chocolate Cosmos. I had a local organic flower farm, Muddy Feet Flower Farm, reach out to me a couple years ago and she has been supplying me with the most gorgeous flowers ever since. I love to give her the color palette of the event and let her suggest what she has available and often have her add flowers or foliage that I haven’t used before to try something new. I also use another organic farm that is located in VT called Mountain Flower Peony Farm. They ship gorgeous Peonies, Dahlias, Lilac, Viburnum, Spirea and other blooms.
Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush)
Yes! I try as much as possible to use locally grown flowers. I get a very little amount of them in my own cutting garden and I buy all the others directly from growers at Paris flower market.
Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)
Yes! I try to work exclusively with flowers and foliage grown in my garden (unless a wedding calls for one billion Cafe au Lait dahlias… then I have to source them from other local growers). Growing all of my own flowers means that I can use more unique, hard-to-find varieties that you can’t often source at markets. I can also create a custom color palette full of fun flowers and foliage. If couples reserve a date far enough in advance, I can literally sow and grow flowers specifically for their special event! Living in Belgium, I have a feeling that the flower farming scene (particularly small-scale flower farming) is a bit different than it is in the US… flower farming in my area seems more geared toward international distribution and auctions. When it came to sourcing additional locally grown flowers for past events, I turned to my local gardening groups and cutting gardens for advice. You may be surprised at the small-scale gems that you can find in your area. Social media is often a wonderful place to start (#flowerfarmer or #farmerflorist). Feel free to ask small-scale flower farmers that you find on Instagram or Facebook for advice… the network is so intimate and friendly that they will likely be able to direct you to a flower farmer in your area!
Emily Avenson (Fleuropean)
I enthusiastically use locally sourced flowers in my designs! I am in Michigan, so my season for locally sourced flowers runs from mid May through October. During the off season, I try to source as much as I can from US and Canadian farms.
I am lucky to have a number of flower farms close by, and many of them send out weekly availability lists. This is so useful for planning- especially for weddings. I can see what’ll be blooming, and adjust my order accordingly. A few of my favorite local farms deliver to my studio. One of my favorite farms, a dahlia farm, is farther away- about an hour and a half- so I hire a driver to pick up these precious blooms. It’s completely worth the time to pick them up- the quality of the locally sourced dahlias is incomparable. I also grow a bit of my own- sweet pea vine, ornamental raspberry, ferns, hellebore, heuchera and succulents. I strongly feel that the addition of local treasures makes all the difference- infusing each design with a richness that speaks to season and place.
Susan McLeary (Passionflower)
Provenance is key to my philosophy & I’m lucky enough to have large gardens in which to grow as many unique and unrepeatable stems and ingredients as I can.
I also have two wonderful local growers with whom I work closely when choosing flowers for my weddings for the coming seasons. These growers are invaluable to my business, ensuring the volumes needed during busy times, support and advice ..and of course catching up for cake.
Jo Rodwell (Jo Flowers)
Images of Jo’s garden courtesy of Modern Vintage Weddings