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Community gardens aren’t just allotments — they’re urban farms, great places to share gardening skills and crops.
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Sometimes, during those endless days, I dream of living in Seattle where I saw these buckets of tulips at a farmer’s market. However, I live outside a small town where the only possibility of fresh flowers in January and February comes from my local supermarket. I also look forward to a day when my part of the world has organic and local flower farms, but for now, it’s not a reality. So, I work with what I have.
Whether someone gives you roses, or you buy them yourself, let me share some tricks to make the prettiest bouquets possible with a limited number of choices.
1. Start with fresh flowers. How? Get to know your produce manager and find out when flowers are delivered. Tight flower buds and happy foliage signify fresh. Petals with brown edges and drooping leaves are old and not worth your time.
2. Take a whiff. Although most roses in commerce don’t have much—if any–scent , carnations—another staple of the supermarket—smell great in combined arrangements. If you live near a good market, tuberoses, lilies, Narcissus tazetta (paperwhites) like ‘Erlicheer’ and stock all smell lovely. You can create a monochromatic color scheme of red roses, or add a fragrant flower in white, green or the same color family.
3. Invest in interesting containers. You don’t have to stick with a tall vase. I’ve seen lovely bouquets in Mason jars. If you’re going to regularly display fresh flowers in your home or office, it’s worth good money to purchase containers. I picked up this cranberry vase at our local antique store for $15. Simple flowers in a beautiful vase are elevated above their humble supermarket origins.
4. Once your flowers are home, cut the stems on an angle and place them in tepid water. Cold water closes down flower cells, and water that’s too warm causes wilt. Change water daily to keep flowers fresh. Although the flower food supplied in most bouquets also works, it can be controversial because it often contains chemicals. My opinion? Unless you buy organic flowers, they already have chemicals. Use the flower food and don’t touch it or drink the flower water.
5. Don’t skimp on flowers. Invest in one bouquet of a single flower type. Then, add a smaller bouquet of another flower. For the one above, I spent $9.99 for a dozen red roses and $3.99 for red and cream carnations.
6. Make use of flower frogs and other helps. I collect old flower frogs because I like the way they look along with how they hold stems straight. Florist’s foam also works, but isn’t considered good for the environment so I also sometimes use a ball of chicken wire to hold them.
Although I may long for my cutting garden, having flowers every couple of weeks is a great solace for winter’s cold dreary days. I hope these tips will help you extend your flower season beyond summer too.