Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Botanique Seasonal Subscription: Week One

It was at least two years ago when I originally had the idea to start a weekly floral design subscription. At the time, I thought I would source flowers, foliage and other interesting seasonal elements exclusively from my gardening clients yards, based solely on whatever needed pruning, had been knocked down by the wind, or otherwise would have been removed for maintenance purposes. Needless to say, this plan had some major flaws: gathering vase-worthy materials SOLELY from garden scraps for one, and figuring out how exactly to explain what I was asking of my clients for two. Imagine how this conversation would have gone: "Can I cut flowers from your garden, but only the ones you don't actually want, I mean, the ones that have been blown over? Or if I am pruning a shrub, I could just use the clippings..." Hmmmm.... I imagine I would have been met with some very doubtful looks.
This idea germinated before I had really started designing flowers professionally. Now that floral design has become one of the primary foci of Botanique's services, I am fortunate to know where to source these local blooms without raiding anyone's garden in the process! ( In addition to the Botanique Cutting Garden, that place is the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a collective of flower growers in the Pacific Northwest who set up a weekly market where they sell their gorgeous blooms directly to florists- it is quite an amazing and inspiring place!)
I am so excited to mark today as the first day of the Botanique Seasonal Subscription! The original idea has come a long way. I have held on to the desire to source everything as local as possible- at the heart of the subscription lies the commitment to source flowers exclusively from farms in the Pacific Northwest- nothing imported! This is a big deal in the floral industry, as a commitment to exclusively local product connotes a certain level of compromise: you can't get any flower, any time of year- whether in season or not. Additionally, local blooms often cost a bit more than imported ones- but as with any commodity, if you trace back the roots of why the imported blooms cost less than the domestic ones, you will find a host of unsavory truths: poor working conditions, massive pesticide use, jet fuel pollution to fly the blooms worldwide... flowers are political, people! (If you're interested to read more about this, I would recommend two amazing books: A Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart, and the recently published The 50 Mile Bouquet by Debra Prinzing, which features many of the local flower farmers whose blooms I use on a weekly basis.)
I would prefer to know EXACTLY where the flowers were grown, under what conditions and by whom, to get the freshest flowers available because they come directly from the farm (no air travel!!!), and to stay in touch with the natural rhythms of the season. By far my favorite way to design is to go to the market and be inspired by what is freshest, most vibrant and most exciting that day- and that's what I love about the subscription. Subscribers are surprised each week with a new arrangement that is created from the best findings in local flowers that week- this means that you can't request a certain color or flowers, but it also means you truly get the BEST that the season has to offer.
This week's arrangement includes hellebores from Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, WA, Snowball Viburnum from Oregon Coastal Flowers in Tillamook, OR, Parrot Tulips from Choice Bulb Farms in Mt. Vernon, WA, and Huckleberry foliage from Paradise Found Forest Products in Olympia, WA.

Thanks to all the subscribers for riding the very first wave of this business endeavor, and for trusting me to create something magical each week! It is literally a dream come true.

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