Chapter 3: Local and/or Native
Mega-flower-farms are situated in areas where temperatures remain stable year round. Generally, that means those farms aren’t on the East Coast, where we experience distinct seasons that are increasingly unpredictable (has anyone else given up on weather.com?). Luckily, there are plenty of gorgeous flowers that grow here in Maryland in the spring, summer, and fall– and even some in winter!
Native vs. Local
Those are wild mustards, and look lovely in a bouquet. Mustards are native to the East Coast; the Mustard family includes broccoli, radish, turnips, and even the lovely, spicy-smelling flower called stock:
Check out this awesome map for lists of native plants by state. There are a ton that are native to Maryland!
Many cut flowers can be grown in Maryland, even though they’re native to other parts of the States or even other countries. Dahlias are native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia:
Zinnias are also native to Mexico:
Dianthus, or Sweet William, is native to southern Europe and Asia:
Here are some flowers that are neither native, nor local…Ugh. Dyed flowers!:
instead of opting for the scary chemically treated stems.
The Whole Foods Conundrum… or, How Can I Tell if these Flowers are Local?
Does anybody else notice that Whole Foods is sneaky with labeling? For example, do we know whether the vegetables used in their salad bar are organic or conventional? To be fair, that would make for a VERY long label, but still. Also, they often have a “Local” sign next to certain produce items, but whether those farms use pesticides or not is a mystery. Same goes for their flowers. A very few are local, but for the most part, it’s hard to say exactly where they came from.
So, that brings us to the Whole Foods conundrum: you’re in a pinch, you’re passing right by Whole Foods, and you need a bouquet of flowers for your daughter’s recital, your best friend’s baby shower, your boyfriend, yourself. You’d love to have gone to the farmer’s market this week, but you forgot/slept in/were busy. You pull into Whole Foods, go straight to the flower display, and feel the niggling guilt coming on that you’re buying flowers from who-knows-where. What can you do?……….
1) Buy the flowers that are in season. Opt for daffodils and forsythia in the spring, zinnias and gomphrena in the summer, dahlias and asters in the fall. The flowers might not be local, but at least there’s more of a chance that they are.
2) Buy a potted herb plant instead!
3) Wheel right around, walk defiantly past the cash registers, back the car, and go to the farmer’s market! It’s way more fun, and you’ll see things like ranunculus, which are grown locally and are hard to find in stores:
This website helps you locate your nearest source for local vegetables and flowers. For flowers growers specifically, you can try this search database, but know that many flower growers aren’t in it because it’s a bit costly. You can also just use the great and powerful Google: “flower farm” and your zipcode should do the trick.