Transition to Fall Flowers

From late spring until this week most of the cut flowers I used for events came from my own garden or Bob Wollam who has a farm in Virginia. Every morning I survey my own garden to see how everything is growing and if there are any flowers to be cut. I talk to Bob or others at his farm several times a week to see what they have available. It has been a good season that started with bulbs and then progressed to roses, peonies, fig branches, herbs, hydrangea, phlox, zinnia, dahlias...

This weekend as I examined my own garden there were only a couple of phlox, herbs and some late season roses to be picked. Similarly Bob's list had many items marked as limited and I know that the end of the local flower season is near. For so many reasons I enthusiastically use local flowers when they are available they are bright and beautiful, you can use flowers that are fragile since they do not need to travel far and ecologically it makes so much sense.

Luckily I have great non local flower options. During the months when I cannot get local flowers many of my flowers come from the Dutch Auction in Holland. Years ago I told my broker who bids on the auction for me that I was interested in getting only flowers that were grown with sound environmental and labor practices. He laughed at me and said, "Obviously". I did not know it at the time but the auction is actually a farmer owned cooperative. The flowers sold there are certified for both ecological and labor practices. Unlike in the United States where many of the flowers available still come from farms that use chemical pesticides and poor work conditions Europeans have long been able to buy organically grown flower and roses from farms with good labor practices.

The Dutch also happen to grow amazing flowers many of which cannot be gotten from anywhere else in the world. Since the late 1500's Holland has been obsessed with flower growing. Today there are still many varieties of flowers that you can only get from Holland.

This weekend I am doing a wedding at the Palomar Hotel in DC using deep oranges, greens, berries and lots of texture. I will get some flowers from Bob Wollams farm such as dahlias and hydrangeas but I will supplement them with my first recent shipment from Holland which will include asclepias beatrix, brezilia, snowberries, mango calla lilies, hypericum berries, kangaroo paws...

Just like seasonal cooking ingredients I look forward to the change of season when new varieties of flowers become available. Asclepias Beatrix and Brezillia are two of my favorites that I look forward to seeing when they arrive from the airport early Thursday morning. I am able to order Dutch flowers on Tuesday morning and have them arrive at my front door before I awake on Thursday. Although they need to travel from far away it is heartening to know that there are not additional environmental and labor costs associated with them.