You want to the flowers at your wedding to be “local.” But, what does that really mean? And, what does that mean for your wedding in the DC Washington DC area? Is it even possible to have local flowers for a wedding in DC, Maryland and Virginia? So many questions! Locally grown flowers for weddings is something that more and more couples are interested in and are asking their wedding florists about. (I believe the correct term for a locally sourced bridal bouquet is a “locavore bouquet!) We have Bethany from ButterKup Flowers, based in Takoma Park, Maryland, here today to talk to us all about locally grown flowers for weddings in the Washington DC area. Take it away, Bethany…
Photos courtesy of ButterKup Flowers
Brides and grooms, you have been asking some very good questions lately. As a floral designer, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of couples asking if our flowers were “eco,” “organic,” or “green.” For a while, I did not have a good answer.
At the time, some florists answered this demand by pushing “green” flowers quite literally. bells of Ireland, hydrangea, spider mums; “they’re green!” But, as a committed organic gardener, I knew this was more than a fad. Here were customers who wanted them…I wanted to sell them….but where on earth were the sustainable cut flowers?
Most floral coolers are packed with flowers from around the globe, making roses available all year long. Very convenient, but like the tomato you buy in January, often not nearly as nice as what nature had in mind. As detailed in “Flowers Confidential” by Amy Stewart, conventionally grown flowers are bred to withstand long distances as cargo. They are hosed with pesticides in the field, cut, boxed, sprayed with retardants to keep from opening (and also from smelling nice), then flown and trucked to different hemispheres, arriving already several weeks old when they hit the florist cooler.
With this system in place, the market is flooded with commercial flowers. Small farms and delicate flowers left to languish on the margins. And yet, everyone is crazy about the flowers at summer farmers markets and roadside DelMarVa produce stands; their robust petals outshine anything available at a grocery store. How then could I get them to my brides and grooms all year long?
Luckily, florists in the Washington, DC-area were already on the job. The Capital Flower Growers, a co-op of Maryland and Virginia cut flower growers, began as a way to connect famers to clients. One of their largest clients and biggest promoters, Ellen Frost, opened the Baltimore-based Local Color Flowers in 2008, with the sole purpose of providing nothing but locally grown flowers. She has scoured flower farms, taking with her swatches of “hot” wedding color palettes, encouraging farmers to grow flowers that brides currently crave. [Editor's note - see all of Local Color Flowers' real DC area wedding features on United With Love here.]
So now that it is easier than ever to get local flowers, it’s time to start asking those questions again:
Q: Can you get any kind of local flower in the Washington DC area all year round?
A: Probably not. If you absolutely need roses in March, you will be happily served at a conventional florist. But, thanks to local greenhouses, many summer flowers are available year round.
Q: Will these flowers be organic?
A: Again, probably not. But, U.S. growers use far less pesticide than flowers grown overseas, and many use organic pesticides, beneficial bugs and Integrated Pest Management systems to control pests. The smaller carbon footprint and diversity they add to local agriculture makes local bees and local farms very happy.
Q: What local flowers in the DC area can I get and when can I get them?
A: Here are just a few examples, by season:
- Spring: Fragile flowers like nigella, poppies, bleeding hearts and anemones are more than happy to enhance your spring wedding with their intricate beauty.
- Summer: Local hydrangea, zinnias, astilbe, delphinium, and sunflowers last longer on hot summer days because they were picked days, some times mere hours, before your wedding.
- Late Summer: The dazzling array of dahlias, celosia, salvia and veronica; all pack a punch of saturated colors from late summer until the first frost.
- Winter: Winter weddings thrill with the fresh adornment of ornamental cabbages, millet grasses, poinsettias, evergreens and berries, and thanks to Maryland and Virginia greenhouse growers; lilies, tulips, and snap dragons.
- All Season: The wedding work-horses: local roses, callas, peonies and ranunculus – available in season and all the more fresh because they are grown here.
Regardless of when you get married, local and in-season flowers are the messengers that mark your day as no others can. As you walk down the aisle, they leap from your arms to tell your guests the glorious good news: “This is what is fresh and lovely and full of hope right now, in this season, on this special day; from this special spot on a precious planet we all share.”
Now, aren’t you glad you asked?!
Thank you so much Bethany! This is all so helpful! If you are thinking about locally grown flowers for your wedding in the DC area, be sure to check her out at ButterKup Flowers.
For more wedding floral inspiration and bridal bouquet ideas, be sure to view our galleries. We also have wedding flowers listed by season and, of course, the best wedding florist in the Washington, DC area.