Apr 7

Using Local vs. Seasonal Flowers :: Part 2

Recapping back to the first part of this post, local flowers are always seasonal but seasonal flowers aren’t always local.  I think there’s a lot of confusion within those terms as many designers use them interchangeably (I’m guilty too!)  Here are some ways that I would further like to differentiate, why I don’t rely solely on local blooms and how I use flowers from around the world, plus right here at home in my designs.

Local is Risky (and you might not get what you want)

“You can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.” Any excuse to quote classic rock, right?  I’m pretty sure the Rolling Stones were talking about flowers when they wrote this song.

I’ve never actually seen anyone post about this.  I touched on a little in part 1 of this post, but think it’s a really important point to make.  If you’re getting married in June for the purpose of including peonies in your bridal bouquet, that’s wonderful. Hopefully I can find another $5 roadside stand or similarly priced local grower.  But that really was a fluke incident and a stroke of luck on my part.  However, if we have a cold spring they might not be ready until the end of June.  If it gets warm really early, then we could have peonies the first week.  Northern Michigan can be 2-3 weeks behind southern Michigan’s growing season.  So when you’re done gambling on the weather and trying to figure out all of that math, realize that locally, right here, where I am, I have about a 2 week window of my own peony blooms.  Hopefully that aligns with your wedding date.  If not, I’m going to have to find something else or hope that someone else’s bushes are on a different blooming schedule.

Secondly, there are few large production flower farms in Michigan.  Those few that do exist are definitely not near me.  While farms around the country may also deal with weather affecting their crops, when I source through a wholesaler they have a network of farmers supplying their roses, or whatever bloom I need, so if it isn’t available from one grower, they have many backup sources.

For these reasons, I never promise certain flowers but always do everything within my powers to get you the most amazing blooms.

Dahlia Centerpiece | The Day's Design | Katie Grace Photography

Michigan grown dahlias from Field & Florist & foraged berries

Photography: Katie Grace Photography & Videography

Where do Local Flowers Come From?

“Local” is a very generic term, meaning it could mean Michigan grown, West Michigan grown or they were grown right here in my town (which isn’t likely because as I previously mentioned, there aren’t any large flower farms near me).  So, this question will be answered differently by each and every florist.  Certainly, there are local flowers farms accessible across the country.  I’ve gone to u-pick gardens and sourced blooms small amounts from various farmer’s markets.  Some local growers even sell to wholesalers, who in turn, then sell to florist providing them with local flowers.

My approach is slightly different.  It was born out of necessity and I wouldn’t say is the normal thought process from a floral designer or flower shop.  My nearest, local wholesaler is an hour drive away.  When you’re on a time crunch for a wedding, that two hours (there and back) adds quickly.  For this purpose, I have many of my flowers flown in and Fedex sets them right on my doorstep.  However, that never satisfies my floral needs for a couple reasons.  First off, because I was unable to hand pick the bunches myself, sometimes colors are just a little off.  Which leads me in search of a replacement.  Sometimes as I start designing, I realize I need more texture.  And sometimes the product arrives in poor condition so I have to find something else, quick.

So my local flowers, often come from Lowe’s nursey or Menard’s garden section.  I’ve been known to cut up hanging baskets in a pinch.  And often I find the most perfect tidbits growing in my own woods.  The truth of the matter is, I started doing this just to get me out of a pickle here and there, but have found that this creates my favorite pieces.  I’m now addicted to adding nursery plants to my arrangements and wander the greenhouses and nurseries just for fun.  I’m able to add colors, textures and unique details that I wouldn’t find otherwise.  My floral proposals often reference “seasonal flowers” in addition to the ruffly roses and staples that I know will be available.  But really I could replace that term with local treasures or nursery plants.

Begonia Centerpiece | The Day's Design | Samantha James Photography

This little number is filled with roses from my California wholesaler along with foraged autumn olive and begonia clippings from a potted plant.

Photography: Samantha James Photography

Foraged Flowers are Free Flowers

If I’m able to pick flowers or greenery for free, it should be really cheap to work with a florist who takes this approach, right?  Sorry to say, this is not the case and here’s why. Foraging takes a ton of time.  As does sourcing flowers from various local farms because chances are, unless you shop at a wholesaler market, you won’t find all your floral needs in one place.  So either I have to allot enough time in my own personal schedule for special treasure hunts and foraging adventures or I have to pay an assistant to do it for me.  I did that once, it was all going well until she saw a snake.  Game over and I had to go do it myself.  Because of all the extra time, care and planning the benifit of using foraged gems is the variety, the texture and how creations became truly unique.  It’s not used as a cost saving technique.

Fern Bouquet | The Day's Design | Samantha James Photography

Incorporating foraged ferns into Crissie’s bouquet made it feel right at home in the woods of Northern Michigan

Photography: Samantha James Photography

I’ve used the terms local and seasonal flowers so often that they almost seem cliché.  Its trendy right now and so everyone is doing it, even if they’re just grabbing a few local blooms via their wholesale markets.  However, my hope is that this will help you understand where flowers really come from and why they cost so much.  Regardless of how you get them, love and care is taken in crafting each recipe, each bouquet and in delivering them to you on your wedding day.


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