Local Blooms

By Lisa Keslowe

By now we have all heard about the stranded travelers unable to fly to (or from) Europe due to the volcanic activity, although it wasn’t until recently that I really grasped the myriad effects of all those grounded planes. As usual for a spring Saturday in April, we had a wedding booked that we and the bride planned for far in advance. With our help the bride selected her blooms from a collection of flowers that I was sure I could get my hands on. The flowers were ordered, containers and accents were ready, and an eager bride was waiting for the day of her dreams. Then the volcano erupted.

With all there is to do in planning a wedding, I’m sure she hardly paid attention to the news reports. She never dreamed that it could have any effect on her wedding. But, since the flower industry has become so globalized we heavily rely on a steady supply of imported items. With flights grounded, the European shipments couldn’t make it to the NY flower market, which was the barest I have ever seen. I even received a message from one wholesaler who jokingly questioned why he hadn’t seen me at the market. Wasn’t I interested in seeing their bare shelves? My friend Meredith, who owns Belle Fleur in New York, was interviewed for one of the local news programs. She said, “How do you tell a bride in a ‘fragile’ state of mind, that her peonies weren’t going to be available?” There was not a single peony, tulip, or anemone to be had! That’s when my panic set in. I knew that I needed to find a viable solution. I traveled from greenhouse to greenhouse to find blooming plants from which the flowers could be cut. Unfortunately it is just too early for peonies, but I did find a plethora of beautiful, usable flowers. I usually try to find the most unusual flowers and plants to incorporate into our designs, but this went beyond that. Peonies were replaced with rhododendron blooms. Tulips were replaced with the first local lilac blooms of the season, and pieris and maidenhair fern all intermingled in beautiful harmony. The result, although different than the original plan, delighted the bride and the wedding was as lovely as we had planned!

For right now it seems that product is starting to arrive as scheduled, but this has also opened my eyes to items I didn’t previously think about right in our own backyards. With Mother’s Day right around the corner I have planned bouquets using all local flowers and foliage for our orders in the shop and encourage you to do the same. Take a look in your own yard for flowers on some of the early blooming perennials and trim some pretty foliage. Additionally, visit a local garden center and buy some blooming plants for cutting. You can trim the flowers and many varieties will continue to bloom. For varieties that only bloom once you can enjoy the flowers again next year. Just plant them in a spot that isn’t as noticeable in your garden. Experiment with different flora and fauna and realize that it will take some trial and error. For instance, those beautiful wisteria blooms that are so plentiful right now will not last as a cut flower. So take just a few clippings and see how it goes. Use a mixture of your cuttings to make a pretty bouquet for yourself or to give as a gift. Sometimes the most special gifts are the ones that the giver has put a little thought or effort into. So have fun and happy cutting!

Lisa Keslowe is the owner of Boxwoods, a Lambertville-based floral and home decor boutique located at 54-56 Coryell Street. For more information Lisa can be reached at 651.465.4251 or by visiting boxwoodsnj.com

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