Miles of Flowers

Who doesn't love bunches of flowers? I do, but they make me uneasy. Flowers accrue carbon miles just like food does, and most of them are flown around the world, acquiring frequent flyer miles like nobody's business. But why this lust for flowers out of season? A local tulip farm exports tulips to Holland in our spring, their autumn. But do the Dutch really require tulips in Autumn? Could they not acquire a taste for chrysanthemums and rosehips instead? And isn't it rather unimaginative to need to decorate with say, roses, all year round?

However, when a dear friend turns up at the door with a bunch of flowers, do I rant madly at them? Hardly. I thank them profusely, and then husband the precious things to eke out their pretty lives as long as possible. First, I add a teaspoon of sugar to the slightly lukewarm water in their vase, to keep them fed. I trim all the lower leaves, so there are none in the water to go slimy. I cut an inch from the bottom of their stems to give them a fresh, uncalloused surface to drink from.

Every few days I change the water, and remove the spent blooms. Eventually, I have to take out a number of stems, recut those that are left, and put them in a smaller vase. I even remove individual brown petals if the rest of the flower is still nice. The flowers in the photos are the very last remnants of a lovely autumn bunch brought by a friend when my grandpa died, so they have lasted 22 days now, and they are still making me happy, albeit much reduced in number, and in much shorter vases!

And, excellent news - one of the greengrocers I go to is stocking bunches of local flowers. I can have any colour I want - as long as it is a chrysanthemum!


what a lovely post. i adore flowers too. i should take better care of them, as you do! i get some from the local CWA shop (if i'm early enough) or rescue half price bunches from the supermarket. but i love the seasonality of flowers so am like you, i cannot fathom the appeal of tulips out of tulip season, for example; there is somethign to be said for anticipating the 'first'.
Jo said…
As you say, that sense of anticipation that the slow food movement describes so lyrically in regards to the 'first' strawberry or tomato of the season would be wonderful to apply to flowers too - yes, I would love to be able to walk past the florist, and get a jolt of pleasure from the first roses of the season, rather than being blase about the constant rose parade.
Anonymous said…
Jo, thanks for this post. I never thought about the travel miles or the anticipation of different seasons of bought flowers. Seems so obvious now I think about it. I have always anticipated flowers in the garden - love the freesias that grow wild (I know they're a weed) in my area, and summer is so much sweeter for the gardenias that scent the neighbourhood. And I knew cheap flowers were coming in from China but will be more aware when, on the rare occasion, I buy flowers.
Jo said…
Let's say that freesias are 'naturalised' - I love them too!
I also worry about flowers from third world countries - a cash crop replacing food, and diverting water that is needed by local communities. Handing over money for commodities is such a political action. No wonder I don't want to buy anything!
Heather said…
22 days! That's fantastic. I almost never buy flowers at the store. If they don't grow in my garden, I kind of feel like they are a waste of money. I do love chrysanthemums and peonies, though. I just lust after them when I see them and appreciate their beauty from afar.
Jo said…
I don't tend to buy flowers for me, but I like to for friends, so I'm so pleased to find local ones. I also buy them from school fetes and markets, usually daffodils in spring. Who can resist?

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