Every year my friends and I say something stupid like “this is going to be the BEST summer ever!” and then high five, maybe pull out a stick of Juicy Fruit and run through a fire hydrant or something. Every year except this year. Some packed up and left town. They adopted pets. They’re fasting.
Like clockwork, on the first of July I sit down with my favorite pair of jeans. We have a heart to heart, and then I carelessly snip them into shorts. Regret sets in 20 minutes later…”What have I DONE?!”
I sit inside on my day off and stare at the dog listening to Arthur Russell, postulating on gay singers who sing about girls. In a state of confusion I call some of my brides to see if they want to hang out. “We need to discuss boutonnieres! Wanna meet up for a drink? What are you going to wear?” What little professional edge I had just fizzled.
Lately I’ve been on the wedding chain gang. (Which is not a bad place to be as a florist; ye shall make hay while the sun shineth so to speak.) But I’m about to get off – the heat of summer deters many brides. With my extra time I’ve been able to fully appreciate some of summer’s first flowers. My mother’s garden is a racket of daylilies, foxglove and yarrow. Zinnias are starting to show up at the farmer’s market. Amaranthus, sea holly, asclepius, summertime hydrangea line the street in the flower district. Some of these make it into our designs at work, some are just admired in passing.
We all talk a lot lately about Seasonality in reference to food and flowers. Many of my clients are concerned with things being seasonal for 2 reasons: they want to be eco-friendly with their flower budgets, and they want to keep those budgets low. Our flower world is far from seasonal. Yes, we have peonies in spring, dahlias in summer, hydrangea in fall. But we also have roses, freesia, tulips, orchids, stock, snapdragons, and lilies year-round. To make a flower arrangement in February seasonally we would be limited to evergreens and maybe a locally grown anemone.
To complicate things even more, consider a popular flower like the peony. We’re about done with peonies on the East Coast this week, the last coming in from Vermont, and the north. But they’re still available from Holland, and will be for another 2 weeks. In mid winter we’ll get 6 weeks of peonies from New Zealand. Expensive and somewhat second rate, these peonies bear a hefty carbon footprint. Another example is the Ranunculus, a greenhouse flower that has enjoyed the spotlight for the last few years. Ranuncula are typically eclipsed by May due to warmer temperatures. Now we get them through the summer grown in the Kenyan highlands. Despite the long travel – (most African flowers make a pit stop in Holland and are sold through the international flower market in Aalsmeer before landing in New York) – these flowers hover at the same price regardless of their origin. Your Jersey Ranuncula in April is the same price as the Jet-Set Kenyan in July. Go figure. It makes the conversation about Seasonality ever more complicated. You don’t always save money when you ask for seasonal flowers.
My dilemma is this: I like to use a big mix of different flowers. Always. July, November, March. So often I sacrifice my ethos and snag the Japanese clematis because they are so damn beautiful, and at the end of the day, it’s my job to make things beautiful. But I would like to do my job in a greener way.
And that champange wasn’t local either BTW…