Why No Roses?
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it’s the biggest day of the year for flower sales across the country. I know that you’ve always been told to buy roses on Valentine’s Day. Roses are supposed to say “I love you. I want you. I need you.” You think you would be perceived as a bad Valentine if you didn’t send a big bouquet of red roses. Right? WRONG.
What’s So Bad About Roses?
Approximately ninety percent of the flowers given on Valentine’s Day are imported, and nearly all of those imports originate in Colombia and Ecuador. As you can imagine, there are all kinds of issues that come with shipping flowers across the world. First, there is large environment footprint created by shipping flowers from thousands of miles away. Fossil fuels are burned in transport and in trying to keep flowers cold so that they don’t die before they the get to their end destination. Next, there are the lax environmental and employment standards in many of the countries where the flowers are being shipped from. This makes it easy for companies to exploit the land and their workers for the largest financial gain. Since flowers are perishable, many companies will douse their flowers, especially roses, with chemical preservatives to help them stay fresh until they reach you.
Buy Local Instead
But don’t despair. There is an alternative that I think you’ll like. Buying locally grown flowers is better for the environment because locally grown flowers only travel a short distance (in the case of Local Color Flowers, less than 125 miles from home) to get to you. This means, there is a minimum amount of fossil fuel used for transport and holding. Local flowers are truly a better, fresher product. Many flowers shipped to the US have been out of water for over a week when they arrive at your florist or grocery store. Local flowers have usually been picked within a day or two of when you purchase them, allowing for a much longer vase life. Besides getting an amazing product, locally grown flowers gives you an opportunity to support farmers in your community. It’s a lot more fun buying from a farmer you know than a generic grocery store chain.
So if not roses, then what? In the mid-Atlantic region we’re so lucky to have dozens of flower farmers within an hour’s drive. Many grow in the winter allowing us to have some of the most beautiful options for Valentine’s Day including tulips, paperwhites, snapdragons, stock, anemones, all kinds of flowering branches including quince, peach, forsythia, witchhazel and crabapple. We’ve also got amazing “sticks” including pussy willow, curly willow, fantail willow, red twig dogwood, harry lauder’s walking stick and more. Finally, we’ve got a huge selection of foliage including several types of magnolia, boxwood, evergreens and succulents. Not sure what these flowers look like? Check out our guide to local flowers by the month they are available (in the mid-Atlantic region).
Where to Buy
If you want to buy local this Valentine’s Day, there are lots of options. If you’re in the Baltimore region, you can contact Local Color Flowers. If you’re in DC, you can check out the new local florist Little Acre Flowers . If you’re not close by, search out locally grown flowers at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes. You an always ask your local florist if they have any locally grown cut flowers. If they don’t, let them know that locally grown is important to you and see if they’ll start sourcing some of their flowers locally. Finally, although it’s not going to be ready for this V-day, a new resource is on the horizon. Slowflowers.com will be an online directory that will allow you to search for a florist in your hometown, across the country, that uses locally grown flowers.
This Valentine’s Day, choose locally grown cut flowers! You’ll be happy you did!
Ellen is the founder and owner of Local Color Flowers, a Baltimore, Maryland-based floral design business that creates personalized arrangements and bouquets from fresh, seasonal, and sustainable flowers cultivated by local specialty growers.
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- Sorry, I Am NOT Giving My Spouse Roses on Valentine’s Day - February 6, 2014