Organic flowers grown at Tanglebloom, our flower farm near Brattleboro in southern Vermont. Vermont flower farm growing & designing unique, heirloom, and fragrant flowers for our CSA, weddings, specialty retail, and wholesale to floral designers.
It's not spring yet, and you're craving some floral beauty in your life - I hear you! But what's a conscious consumer to do when flowers aren't in season?
It can be approached a bit like you do your grocery shopping. Suppose you buy local whenever possible, but can't live without coffee and avocado toast (me either). By looking for the Fair Trade label on your coffee and a Certified Organic sticker on your avocados, you feel confident you're doing your part to consider the environment and labor practices in the checkout lane.
With flowers, it's a little more tricky. There are very few labeling requirements for flowers sold in the United States. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to even discern where in the world that grocery store bouquet was grown.
Still, any labeling or signage is the best place to start.
1. Read the labels (if there are any)
Certified American Grown is the best choice, considering a whopping 80% of flowers consumed in the U.S. were grown overseas.
Veriflora labels promise that growers strive for fair working conditions, eco-friendly practices, and a reduction in chemicals used.
Florverde labeling means blooms were produced in consideration of water conservation, pollution reduction, and reduced pesticide use.
Familiar Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance labels convey the same standards to flowers as they do to qualifying foods; namely fair wages for workers and environmental responsibility, respectively.
If you don't notice these labels where you're shopping for flowers, make sure you let the store know. Supermarkets, natural food stores, and boutiques all make their buying decisions based on what customers want.
2. Consider the season - and redefine "flowers"
You might think there's not much for locally grown botanicals in winter, but if you're a bit creative with your definition, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Evergreen and dried-flower bouquets and wreaths are often available in November and December. And as early as February, you can find pussy willows and other branches that have been forced into bloom.
After all, your main goal is to bring a bit of nature indoors and evoke joy (and, make you forget about the ever-growing snow piles).
3. Delay gratification just a bit longer
Look forward to spring's arrival by perusing seed catalogs in front of the fire, or sign up for a Spring Flowers Subscription. Once you know you have blooms to look forward to, it will help pass the last gray days of winter.
Your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life. Couples typically spend nine to 12 months planning their event. When it comes to flowers, the majority of couples will work with a floral designer to take care of all the floral and styling details.
There is another option, and it's one that I've seen growing in popularity for a couple reasons, and that's DIY (do-it-yourself) wedding flowers.
Why choose DIY flowers?
Most of my DIY clients choose to do their own wedding flowers in order to meet their budget needs. There's no shame in this. Weddings are expensive! My DIY clients are often over the moon to learn they can incorporate high-quality, locally-grown Vermont flowers at their wedding on a small budget. Win-win!
On the other hand, some of our brides are just really excited about creating arrangements with their close friends the day before their wedding. If you've got a gaggle of creative friends willing to help you tackle the task, it's definitely doable. I love hearing about the fun my DIY brides had playing with flowers while sipping champagne with their besties!
Then there are the couples getting hitched backyard barbecue-style with only a handful of guests, and they just want some vintage jars and bottles filled with summer blooms to decorate picnic tables.
How to be successful doing your own wedding flowers
A fair amount of forethought and planning are necessary to pull it off. Consider the following:
1. Your vision
What do you want your wedding flowers to look like?If you envision simple, rustic, or wildflower-themed florals, DIY wedding flowers might be a good fit.
Are you more of a Pinterest and wedding blog bride? Do you envision classic, lush, or elegant wedding flowers? Better leave it to the professionals. You're only setting yourself up for a lot of stress and inevitable disappointment otherwise.
DIY brides typically make their own reception decor (centerpieces plus arrangements for the bar, dessert table, and guest book or gift area). If they are comfortable with the idea of a simple, wildflower-inspired bouquet, they may also make bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding party. If not, they may purchase professionally-designed bouquets and wearables a la carte.
If you're interested in floral installations like arches or chuppas, you'll probably want to reconsider the DIY route.
2. How much time and help do you have?
DIY weddings with 150 guests and 6-8 helpers typically spend a minimum of 4 hours on their flowers the day before the wedding.
Remember that beforehand, you will also spend time sourcing your supplies and vases, ordering your flowers, and picking them up from the flower farm.
Be sure to delegate the task of set-up on the big day to a couple of trusted friends that are not part of your wedding party.
3. What are your venue's storage options?
Some venues will have space in a walk-in cooler to store your flowers, but this is rare - and sometimes risky (ie. centerpieces knocked over in a crammed cooler the morning of the wedding. It happens). More typically, venues may be able to offer a shaded outdoor area or air-conditioned room to stash your creations.
4. Flower seasonality
When purchasing blooms from a local farm, you will be treated to the absolute best of what's in season. Be sure to inquire about what flowers are typically in bloom at that time. If peonies are your favorite flower but your wedding is in August, you'll need to be flexible and embrace seasonality. While peonies are long gone by high summer, we will have a dazzling selection of dahlias!
You may also need to be flexible with your colors. While I can certainly provide you beautiful blooms in shades of pink, white, and green, I cannot promise significant quantities of perfectly swatch-matched hues of dusty rose, ecru, and sage green.
If you desire an exact color match, choose the full-service option in order to work with us so we can assemble the color palette you desire.
5. What type of vase will you use?
DIY flowers are best suited to Mason jars, bud vases or vintage bottle collections, or plain glass vases available from craft stores.
There's a lot to consider when thinking about DIY wedding flowers. If you're feeling at all overwhelmed by the choices and considerations, my best advice is to go with full-service design so that we can attend to all the details and let you cross this big item off your list.
If it sounds manageable for the most part but you're not totally confident about making your own bouquets, or perhaps you have a large wedding party, our a la carte option might be a better fit.
If you're more excited than ever to dive into making your own wedding flowers after reading this, then give us a shout to request an information packet and reservation form!
It's the season for new beginnings, and while I don't typically create resolutions per se, I do take time to set goals at the dawning of each new year. More than ever, I'm aware of the desire many of us have to simplify, slow down, and create more joy in our lives.
"Healthy by Design" is the title of an article in Eating Well magazine this month. It lists how one might "match your kitchen layout to your New Year's resolution." Author Lucy M. Casale suggests posting a weekly meal plan in a visible spot, and displaying a bowl of fruit for easy healthy snacking.
The piece also encourages displaying fresh flowers as a way to "brighten your room and outlook." The article cites a Rutgers University study which found, "flowers have a positive effect on mood, lowering feelings of depression and anxiety, and elevating enjoyment and satisfaction."
I couldn't agree more. In fact, it's why I started Tanglebloom - to bring joy. So, why don't I - one whose life is literally filled with flowers - do so more often?
It's the classic cliche. The cobbler's son has no shoes. The mechanic's car is unreliable, and the carpenter hasn't finished the kitchen cabinets he began for his own home a year ago.
It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, isn't it?
There's always so much we "should" do, so we do those instead of sitting down with a cup of tea. Work on a farm is n e v e r done, so I try to squeeze in one more task rather than take a half-hour to put together a simple arrangement for my own enjoyment.
Another farmer-florist, recognizing the absurdity of this senseless situation, recently compared the solution to the instruction you're given on an airplane:
You have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.
Most of us have a tendency to postpone joy. Perhaps it feels selfish, or so simple that we reason it's not worthy of our non-renewable resource of time.
I suggest this year we resolve to turn down the volume on the guilt we may feel when choosing something that makes us happy over something we think we "should" do.
Earth will continue to spin even if we don't tackle the laundry pile tonight. The weeds will be there tomorrow (oh, will they ever!).
We have to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first. We deserve joy.
With summer's arrival, fresh cut flower bouquets are available in a riot of colors and varieties from farmer's markets, shops, and gardens.
Locally grown flowers already enjoy a longer vase compared to imported stems. Local blooms will be harvested at the correct stage for consumers, and have never known life without a water source.
By contrast, flowers flown in from other countries are usually picked early, packed dry into boxes for easy shipping, and then fumigated when they arrive in the U.S. It can be weeks from flower field to your vase, compared to days (or hours!) when locally grown.
By following a few simple tips, you can enjoy the maximum vase life from your locally grown flowers.
Start with a clean vessel. Bacteria shortens vase life considerably, so make sure you wash your vase between uses. If it's dishwasher safe, that's a great way to sanitize it between uses. Otherwise use warm soapy water, and a bottle brush to clean any hard to reach spots.
Give stems a fresh cut. Sharp scissors or garden pruners can be used to cut stems at an angle when you bring them home. This exposes fresh stem area to allow flowers to "drink" water from the vase. Cutting at an angle gives you maximum surface area, while also preventing stems from resting on the vase bottom, which can trap bacteria.
Use floral preservative. Typically this will extend the vase life of your blooms by a few days - a plus in my book! Our bouquets will always come with a packet of floral preservative.
Display flowers away from heat and produce. A sunny window or other heat source (like the top of a refrigerator) will shorten the vase life of flowers. Ripening produce like bananas on your countertop give off ethylene gas which also shortens their life. Avoid these locations for maximum enjoyment.
Refresh. Change the vase's water every 1-2 days, and remove any spent blooms. Ephemeral treats like poppies may grace your bouquet for a few special days, while satin flower and lisianthus remain fresh 10-14 days later.
Enjoy! I like to place vases of flowers where I'll see them frequently: my desk, nightstand, dining table, and bathroom vanity always host vases of various shapes and sizes. Decorating the fireplace mantle makes a great focal impact in a room, and the covered porch is another good place to add fresh flowers during the summer.