There is nothing quite like a fresh bouquet of flowers. I always have flowers on my kitchen table. There is something about slipping each flower in the vase and just focusing on the beauty at hand. Even my simple designs garner a smile and a hug when I share a bouquet with others.
Did you know that about 80% of cut-flowers purchased in the U.S. come from South America and other countries? Concerns over the carbon footprint of this standard has spurred a "local flower movement". Just like produce, locally-grown flowers stay fresh longer, help the local economy, and support your local farmer, or farmher in many cases. When it comes to sourcing local flowers, Debra Prinzing literally wrote the book on the topic and created an organization, Slow Flowers, that brings U.S. flower farmers together and provides a listing site so consumers, like you, can search and connect with a nearby flower grower--how cool is that?
Some of our customers happen to be cut-flower growers and we thought it would be fun to find out more about their passion, and if they had any tips for new cut-flower growers.
Meet Vicki and Jack from Flower Hill Farm in Missouri. It was clear when we talked to them that beautiful bouquets aren't the only product that came from the vision that Vicki and Jack had for their farm. The farm brought community support and loving friendships that have bloomed along with the rows of flowers. The flower business allowed them to live the rural, sustainable lifestyle they had always wanted. When we asked which flowers they recommend for a new cut-flower grower Vicki suggested, "Start with some easy annuals like cosmos, zinnias, celosia, and sunflowers. These can all be directly sown in the garden when the soil warms in spring. Don't forget the greenery! Basil and mint are excellent for adding fragrance and greenery to bouquets."
When we spoke to Carrie from Dalton Gardens and Blooms, in Idaho, she told us she had "NO CLUE what I was doing, both in growing and in marketing." She built a flower stand with an honor system money box attached. While she considered it a flop, on the last day (of the season), she had people stop by or stop her at the store and ask if she was doing it again next year. The positive response snowballed into the cut-flower enterprise that she has now. "People get SO excited when the first bouquets come out!", Carrie says. "It's like a reunion at the little farm stand with returning customers after our LONG winters!" When we asked Carrie what her customers are most drawn to, she told us sweet peas, 'Utrecht Blue' wheat, celosia, and strawflowers get the most attention at her stand.
This last cut-flower grower is part of the Botanical Interest family. Since 2011, Judi Werling has been our National Sales Manager. She and her husband started their cut flower business, Fleurish Flower Farm, a couple of years ago. We asked Judi what inspired her to start her business and flower farm from seed. "I always start with a seed because, for me and my husband, it goes beyond beautiful bouquets and delicious homegrown, organic veggies. Gardening on our family's Fleurish Flower Farm, grows memories with our grandchildren, relationships with friends and neighbors, smiles from sharing the harvest, and serves as a wonderful, creative outlet for us and anyone who wants to join in the fun."
I love hearing about what can be started from a little seed—memories, connections, and shared beauty— that is what gardening is about. I am inspired to grow more cutting flowers next year and visit my local cut-flower grower's stand more often. We hope you are inspired to bloom bigger, brighter, and bolder in 2019 also.