Dreams of flower farming

 Dahlias in the wonderful Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, which I visited in 2016.

Dahlias in the wonderful Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, which I visited in 2016.

I want to grow my own flowers. Definitely not all of them that I would need as a floral designer, but certainly some of the fragile ones that have a short vase life and don't travel well. Dahlias come to mind. I love the great big ones the size a plate, but all of them are great in bouquets and other floral decoration. Most advice I see online or have heard in flower school recommends buying dahlias locally from a farmer. There are some wonderful flower farms up in the Hudson Valley, but I need some closer to home for the foreseeable future.

One of our neighbors in Armonk grew dahlias last year for his daughter's wedding. They were gorgeous, and he let me have a few for an event at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. Some of his dahlias were over my head, and I'm six feet tall! They were breathtaking; he did a marvelous job. This gives me hope: we have had success in our neighborhood with dahlias. I am going to give it a try next spring, even if it's just a few.

 A variegated dahlia grown by my neighbor for his daughter's wedding

A variegated dahlia grown by my neighbor for his daughter's wedding

The floral equivalent of farm to table (farm to bouquet?) has traction in certain parts of the country, but it isn't widespread, in part because of cost (local flowers are more expensive) and in part because of variety (a NY bride who wants orchids and roses is not going to get them locally except at very precise times of the year). Thanks to modern transportation and agriculture, roses, orchids and a good many other flowers are available year around. Of course that comes at a price: carbon footprint, chemicals, water-intensive, etc. 

So I dream of farming a little plot in our backyard with some wonderful flowers that I can use in designs along with other US grown flowers and supplemented as needed by imported flowers. I dream of having a client with budget big enough for all local and US grown flowers. And there, my friends, is the rub: flowers grown in hot houses in Ecuador are more cost effective. Don't get me wrong, I'm not snooty about rose grown in Ecuador. In fact, the rose industry has transformed certain parts of the country that were previously dirt farms marred by poverty and lack of access to education. Roses and other flowers have changed that for a lot of people.

 A hellebore in my garden in NY

A hellebore in my garden in NY

I'd like to offer clients the option of having my garden-raised flowers in their bouquets and vases.  Fresh from the garden, I-picked-this-today dahlias, anemones, poppies, hellebores, ferns and other wonders.

What do I know about flower farming? Nothing. But two years ago I didn't know anything about floral design. So, baby steps and we'll see what happens. Besides, I like digging in the dirt!