THERE’S NO DENYING a flower’s power. Whether it’s the lush extravagance of a bride’s bouquet or the sweetly fragrant posy celebrating a child’s birth, the twang on our heartstrings is real.
Flowers even have a language of their own, developed by poets, lovers and the occasional passive-aggressive lout. A quaint practice begun in the Victorian era allowed shy suitors to send secret messages by means of a carefully chosen bouquet — be it one of affection (composed of carnations, red roses and heliotrope, denoting faithfulness, love and devotion), or a cleverly disguised social dagger (snapdragons, yellow roses and zinnias, with their implicit message of revenge, jealousy and absence!).
All sentiment aside, flowers are big business, and spring is high season for the floriculture industry, largely driven by Mother’s Day and the traditional wedding season. But did you know that the vast majority of all flowers sold in the United States are imported? We might aspire to a local, organic and sustainable diet, but very likely, our blooms come from thousands of miles away, consuming great quantities of fuel en route to the corner market. Which begs the question: What sort of environmental message are we sending along with our lovingly chosen bouquets?
What’s in your vase? Just ask: Where did these flowers come from? Who grew them? And how? Fortunately, there are multiple ways to find locally grown, remarkably fresh blossoms, stems and foliage.
A Seattle-based writer and a lifelong gardener, Debra Prinzing is a passionate advocate for American Grown Flowers and the people who grow and design with them. “The market for flowers is growing. People hunger for blossoms as a way to infuse their lives with beauty and nature,” she told me.
In an effort to support the domestic flower market, Debra created a nationwide online directory at SlowFlowers.comas a way to connect flower farmers, floral designers and consumers with local flowers. Tune in to her weekly “Slow Flowers” podcast, a lively platform for voices in the local-flowers movement throughout the country; it will have you craving blossoms and blooms.
Right here in the flower-friendly growing climate of the Pacific Northwest, you can find buckets of blooms at your neighborhood farmers market as local farmers diversify their crops in response to the growing demand for cut flowers. Beyond the farmstand, local growers also are opening their fields to you-pick, offering bouquet subscriptions and including floral crops in their CSA programs.
Local flowers are even finding their way to the grocery. Town & Country Markets, Inc., a local chain that operates throughout the Puget Sound region under Town & Country or Central Market banners, is dedicated to stocking and supporting local producers, and that includes flower farmers.
Located in a large warehouse in the floral district in Sodo, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market is a farmer-owned cooperative and a community hub for Northwest floral producers and consumers alike. Primarily serving the wholesale trade, the market is open to the public on Fridays. Prepare to be dazzled by our local floral bounty.