It's sad, but not surprising, that cut flowers went the way of fresh food, turning what used to be a local enterprise into a $40 billion global network of industrial floriculture producing "factory flowers" every bit as uniform, unappetizing, and fake-looking as their gustatory counterparts.
But as Debra Prinzing explains in her new book The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers (St. Lynn's Press, $17.95), the "slow flower" movement is catching up to "slow food," bringing flowers back to local fields and, in season, into our homes. You see ample evidence of this already in the flowers sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Sam's Club.
Amy Stewart, who wrote the foreword to this interesting book, is the author of Flower Confidential, the 2007 best-seller that examined the flower industry and changed the way many of us looked at those tulips at the Acme or the holiday centerpieces from — if you can find one — a local florist.
Jennie Love of Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Mount Airy, whom I've written about, is mentioned here. She's joined by flower buyers for supermarkets, farmer's market vendors, creative DIYers and others, including Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm outside Seattle. She and her husband, David Westphall, sell "uncommon" cut flowers, such as cardoons, crabapple, false indigo, and globe thistle in warm seasons, along with winter-blooming camellia, witch hazel and willow.
The couple, Prinzing writes, bring "passion, playfulness and a sustainable business philosophy" to their work.
Prinzing, of Seattle, is the author of five other garden books. She worked on this one with photographer David E. Perry, whose images remind us that there's nothing quite like an organically grown flower. It's beautiful, and it's perfectly fine to touch it — with abandon.
Just like meat, vegetables, and fish, fresh, local flowers are a great idea.