Written by Catherine Morba
A bouquet of cut flowers will brighten a room and the mood of anyone who lays eyes on them. “It is easy to talk about local and seasonal food, but it is very exciting to see people turning on to flowers again, reclaiming a local craft that essentially skipped a generation since trade policy put flower farmers out of business in the early eighties” muses Robin Holland. Holland is the owner of Goode Farm, a flower and specialty vegetable farm located in Ballston Spa.
Goode Farm is shaking up the local flower business with their unique Flower Club subscription service, in which members get 6 centerpiece arrangements whenever they want them throughout the course of the season. “Designing with honest materials and their innate surprises and quirks has always been a constant fascination. I was never drawn to flower design until, in my attempts to landscape, I found myself surrounded by healthy and fragrant flowers, coordinated and in balance with season and place.”
Several market vendors offering a selection of cut flowers graciously offered tips for choosing the stems, arranging, and preserving freshness for days on end.
“My favorite flowers change as the seasons change,” says Suzanne Haight of Balet Flowers & Design. In the spring, peonies are stunning in bouquets and have an amazing fragrance. In summer, my favorites are Sunflowers and Zinnias for bright colors. In fall, Gomphrena and Hydrangea, fresh or dried. Succulents and Narcissus in winter, for their texture and because they can still be forced as a cut flower.” Haight also suggests Snapdragons, named for their resemblance to a dragons head when the sides of the flower are pushed together. Another aptly named flower, Chelone or “Turtlehead” is unique for its turtle shape and native origin in eastern North America. Both are whimsical and especially fun for children.
“Fillers or accents for bouquets are what steals the show,” says Erin Luciani of Lot 32 Flower Farm. Luciani gravitates towards Scabiosa or Scabiosa Seed Pods, Gomphrena, Poppy Pods, and Ammi, otherwise known as False Queen Anne’s Lace. If arranging a full bouquet seems intimidating, Debbie Stevens of Butternut Ridge Farm suggests sticking with Sunflowers. “They speak for themselves,” says Stevens. “Just intermingle the dark-colored with the light-colored, and you’re set.”
When asked for the best way to keep flowers looking fresh, one tip was widely agreed upon. “You should change the water every other day, if not every day,” says Burger Farm’s Andy Burger. “Not many people think to do that, but it’s important to prevent the stems from deteriorating.”
The type or quality of the water can also play a role in flower longevity. “Zinnias do not like city water, but Sunflowers and Gladiolas don’t mind it.” Says Linda Gifford of Gifford Farms. “If you have city water, use distilled or filtered water instead.”
“Recut the stems at an angle, underwater if possible for maximum absorption,” adds Haight from Balet Flowers & Design. “Also, place flowers in a preservative solution such as 2 drops of bleach, 2 drops of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar.”