There is a movement afoot to buy your flowers from local sources, instead of getting that canned arrangement sent out from FTC with the same old chemical laden flowers. Sarah Nixon of ‘My Luscious Backyard‘ made a compelling demonstration that you can grow your own flowers and foliage to make your one of a kind floral arrangements with very little space and time. Plus, create a thriving business out of it.
As a flower gardener, I always have arrangements sitting on my kitchen counter with all my cuts from my garden stuck into a vase. Visiting with Sarah Nixon and learning about her ingenious scheme of using other small neighboring plots to grow different varieties of plants that she couldn’t fit into her small plot, was inspiring.
More and more at farmer’s markets, I see not only locally cut flowers, but for the many who feel inadequate at making a composed arrangement, take-home arrangements.
Just like the slow food movement, the slow flower movement has picked up steam because consumers want to buy from local sustainable farms. At least 80% of the cut flower market comes into the U.S. according to Wikipedia, from distant parts of the globe, but the shift is moving more and more to cut flower growers in the U.S.
With my recent visit to Toronto with the Garden Bloggers Fling, I checked out Sarah Nixon’s operation and her jam-packed small garden in the city of Toronto. She farms her small plot along with cultivating numerous neighboring plots (with the homeowner’s permission!), to provide her burgeoning florist business with a constant in-season supply of floral cuts and treasures.
Locally Sarah delivers many floral designs arranged simply and beautifully in vases, both vintage and recycled. In addition to selling her cut flowers to area florists and creating arrangements for weddings and other events, Sarah has a thriving business that started with just a few jars of flowers at a farmers market.
Growing all of her own transplants from seed, corms, bulbs, and cuttings, using small portable greenhouses, and cold frames, Sarah can grow things that aren’t readily available at the local nurseries.
Dahlia tubers are laid on top of soil to root in early in the season and then she will take these and her other transplants and plant them out in “divets” in the garden. The “divets” make sure that when it rains that the water pools around the plant and goes right to the roots. Planting out the transplants intensively and staking them as they grow, Sarah can pack a lot in a small space.
Sarah tends to the plants all summer, staking, weeding, and watering, and cuts the flowers as they bloom for her arrangements that she composes and delivers to her subscribers to their door or workplace. The bouquet subscriptions can start at $45 plus delivery for a beautifully composed arrangement with cuts that you just don’t see in a regular florist arrangement. For homeowners who donate space for growing, Sarah gives them a discount.
Sarah’s Pointers for a freshly composed arrangement
As a former designer myself, I picked up some valuable advice during Sarah’s demo.
- Condition your cuts by gathering early in morning and placing them in a squeaky clean bucket that has fresh water amended with floral preservatives (follow the directions for best results!)
- Let stems remain in that solution for at least several hours to properly hydrate
- For twiggy branches, slit the cut ends with pruners so that the water is more easily absorbed
- Avoid using floral foam which can clog up cut ends and is a non-sustainable petroleum product; instead add twiggy branches first which will act like a nest to place premium blooms into
- Remove all foliage that will be under water; this can lead to bacterial contamination which shortens the life of the arrangement
- Enjoy your floral arrangement in a cool spot and add water to make sure all cut ends are under water