“Grown not Flown,” an American-grown Valentine’s Day

Design by Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals, Santa Barbara, California :: Plant your Valentine’s Day gift, inspired by this sweet succulent heart: Start with a heart-shaped terra cotta pot (make sure there is a drainage hole). Plant with assorted succulents, such as these sourced from B&G Color Nursery in Carpinteria, California. Top-off the soil with foraged pink pepper berries, sprinkled around each succulent. Alternately, you can use pink gravel or sand. “This gift will continue to live on long after the holiday,” she says. This idea is adaptable to other regions, such as a moss-planted heart where winters are wet.
Design by Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals, Santa Barbara, California :: Plant your Valentine’s Day gift, inspired by this sweet succulent heart :: Start with a heart-shaped terra cotta pot (make sure there is a drainage hole). Plant with assorted succulents, such as these sourced from B&G Color Nursery in Carpinteria, California. Top-off the soil with foraged pink pepper berries, sprinkled around each succulent. Alternately, you can use pink gravel or sand. “This gift will continue to live on long after the holiday,” she says. This idea is adaptable to other regions, such as a moss-planted heart where winters are wet.

If St. Valentine gave a floral posy, no doubt it was plucked straight from his garden and packed with fragrance and sentiment of the moment. This Valentine’s Day, after years of believing that one-dozen long-stemmed red roses equals “true love,” more sweethearts are gifting local and seasonal floral bouquets and home-grown arrangements from America’s flower farms.

The cultural shift taking place means that more floral consumers are asking: “Where were these flowers grown?” The conscious choice to buy locally-grown, domestic flowers has gained momentum in recent years, paralleling the Slow Food Movement.

Tammy Myers, First and Bloom Issaquah, Washington Grace and elegance: Roses, ranunculus, Queen Anne’s Lace, seeded eucalyptus, delphinium and scabiosa – all west-coast-grown and sourced from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative – will light a romantic spark for Valentine’s Day dinner for two. Designer Tammy Myers selected a low, footed compote and utilized a chicken wire form to stabilize the stems. © Missy Palacol Photography with table scape by Holcomb Weddings & Events
Designed by Tammy Myers, First and Bloom, Issaquah, Washington :: Grace and elegance with Roses, ranunculus, Queen Anne’s Lace, seeded eucalyptus, delphinium and scabiosa – all west-coast-grown and sourced from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative – will light a romantic spark for Valentine’s Day dinner for two. A low, footed compote and utilized a chicken wire form to stabilize the stems. © Missy Palacol Photography with tablescape by Holcomb Weddings & Events

This year, there are more local and American-grown floral choices than ever, says Debra Prinzing, founder and creative director of Slowflowers.com, which educates consumers about American grown flowers.

“We surveyed 700 members of Slowflowers.com, an online source for American-grown flowers, and discovered an abundance of creative — and sustainable — ways to give flowers this Valentine’s Day,” she says.

Tobey Nelson, Tobey Nelson Design & Events “This romantic arrangement combines cool-toned silvers, lavender and plum with the warmth of a lovely gold glass pedestal vase,” Tobey says. Luscious California-grown garden roses and decadent double lilies from Oregon are nestled amid begonia foliage, succulents, and lacy Dusty Miller. “This palette is perfect for someone who likes a lavish and romantic style with an updated twist. Utterly romantic, yet feels less of a cliché!” (c) Emily Wandres Photography
Designed by Tobey Nelson, Tobey Nelson Design & Events :: “This romantic arrangement combines cool-toned silvers, lavender and plum with the warmth of a lovely gold glass pedestal vase,” she says. Luscious California-grown garden roses and decadent double lilies from Oregon are nestled amid begonia foliage, succulents, and lacy Dusty Miller. “This palette is perfect for someone who likes a lavish and romantic style with an updated twist. Utterly romantic, yet feels less of a cliché!” (c) Emily Wandres Photography

America’s Number One floral holiday calls for flowers packed with a message about your values, say members of Slowflowers.com. “Have integrity about where those Valentine blooms come from,” suggests Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Events & Design in Langley, Washington.

Creative flower farmers and florists single out fresh and unique seasonal options for Valentine’s Day, such as flowering branches, spring-blooming bulbs, succulents and air plants tucked into bouquets or wearable gifts like floral crowns and botanical jewelry. Even wreaths are moving beyond the Yuletide season to become a creative and timeless Valentine’s Day gift.

Living in a climate with a short window for fresh locally-grown flowers means getting creative with what is in season, according to Foxglove Market & Studio’s Christine Hoffman, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Take a look at the materials on hand and explore different ways to use them. Willows are incredibly flexible (literally) and lend themselves to a variety of designs,” she says. For a thoroughly Minnesota-style Valentine’s Day, give a flower crown made with willow branches and dried flowers. © Kristine Erickson photography
Design by Christine Hoffman of Foxglove Market & Studio :: Living in a climate with a short window for fresh locally-grown flowers means getting creative with what is in season. “Take a look at the materials on hand and explore different ways to use them. Willows are incredibly flexible (literally) and lend themselves to a variety of designs,” she says. For a thoroughly Minnesota-style Valentine’s Day, give a flower crown made with willow branches and dried flowers. © Kristine Erickson photography

In snowbound states floral designers deliver local romance with what they can harvest regionally. Christine Hoffman of Foxglove Market & Studio now offers a 100% Minnesota-grown pussy willow heart-shaped wreath, while Lisa Larsen of Sunborn Farm in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, grows, harvests, dries and assembles pretty-in-pink wreaths that sweethearts will enjoy long after February 14th.

Circle of Love: Handmade Gomphrena Wreath :: Lisa Larsen, Sunborn Farm, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin “Winter is cold in Wisconsin and we don't have heated greenhouses,” says farmer-florist Lisa Larsen. “Dried flowers are the only thing available to us at the time.” Sunborn Farm’s wreaths are made from chemical-free, sustainably-grown flowers. The cut stems are tied and hung in non-airtight rooms dedicated to the drying process. From seed to wreath, this charming pink creation is all home-grown and mounted on a grapevine base.
Circle of Love – Handmade Gomphrena Wreath :: designed by Lisa Larsen, Sunborn Farm, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin :: “Winter is cold in Wisconsin and we don’t have heated greenhouses,” says farmer-florist Lisa Larsen. “Dried flowers are the only thing available to us at the time.” Sunborn Farm’s wreaths are made from chemical-free, sustainably-grown flowers. The cut stems are tied and hung in non-airtight rooms dedicated to the drying process. From seed to wreath, this charming pink creation is all home-grown and mounted on a grapevine base.

The best Valentine’s Day florals begin with the source. Giving flowers is a highly personal way to share your sentiments. Your gesture speaks volumes without words. And that’s why Valentine’s Day is the best time of the year to communicate love with flowers that are seasonal, sustainable, and grown on American farms.

Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide, online directory to American Flowers, surveyed its members across the nation and collected some of the best design ideas for Valentine’s Day 2017. Top romantic floral gifts include:

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  •     Blooming bulb flowers paired with seasonal garden perennials and flowering spring branches, designed by Daniele Allion Strawn, JoLee Blooms, Sonoma County, California :: “I enjoy foraging wild-harvested spring bulbs and fresh greenery, as well as cutting spring bulbs that grow on my farm. I source additional ingredients from my friends’ farms in the North Bay Flower Collective.”

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  •     Footed compotes, hand-tied bouquets and vintage vessels, such as (top image) “Pretty in Pink,” designed by Andrea K. Grist, Andrea K. Grist Floral Design, Lees Summit, Missouri :: This Kansas City-area floral designer has limited access to locally-grown flowers at Valentine’s day. Instead, Andrea K. Grist relies on tulips, spray roses, Orlaya, stock and eucalyptus supplied by California flower farms, to create a pretty, spring-themed arrangement in a vintage milk glass dish. (Bottom image, designed by Teresa Sabankaya, Bonny Doon Garden Co., Santa Cruz, California :: Exquisite blooms in sentiments of love, passion, happiness and more are artfully arranged -Posy style- in a beautiful glass Kensington vase. A selection of seasonal flowers and herbs convey sentiments in the language of flowers. © Danyelle Dee PhotographyIMG_0002
  •     Sultry palettes that go far beyond RED. Apricot, lavender and silver are fresh and new options. Purple and Peach by Erin Shackelford, Camas Designs, Friday Harbor, Washington :: Purple and peach present an unexpected V-Day palette, with Oregon-grown roses, Washington-grown hellebores and California-grown stock. © Robert Shackelford Photography

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  •     Eco-friendly American-grown garden, hybrid tea and spray roses vs. imported jumbo-roses. These wild-textured roses in a vase are arranged by Erin Shackelford, Camas Designs, with Peterkort Roses, grown in Oregon, pair with unexpected textures, all Washington-grown: chestnut pods, fiber optic grass, mint used as foliage and curly willow. A definite nod to the wildness of nature, from the heart.
    © Robert Shackelford Photography
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  •     Succulents and tillandsias (air plants) as cut or planted design elements, Kathleen Barber, Erika’s Fresh Flowers, Warrenton, Oregon :: Lush succulents and exotic tillandsia plants enhance a bouquet featuring Oregon-grown tulips from the designer’s farm. She arranged the bouquets in a vintage milk glass vase, showing three beautiful Valentine’s petal palettes. “The tillandsias, also called air plants, and the succulents, will last years if properly cared for,” she says. Growing information can be found at her web site. © Kathleen Barber photography

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  •     Wearable crowns and jewelry for your beloved. Top: Designer Sandy Figel from Verbena Floral Seattle fashioned a romantic floral crown with pieris, ranunculus, roses, and sarcococca, sourced from her garden and Pacific Northwest flower farms. Photo (c) Wojoimage. Bottom:  Designer Tobey Nelson, Tobey Nelson Design & Events, Langley, Washington, used strawflowers, snowberries, gomphrena, cyclamen foliage, dried hydrangea petals and nigella seed pods as a botanical necklace. (c) Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

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  •     Wreaths as home décor gifting :: Lisa Larsen, Sunborn Farm, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin :: Silvery and soft, Dusty Miller foliage feels modern and fresh. Sunborn Farm’s design starts with partially-dried pewter Dusty Miller foliage, wired to a grapevine wreath in small bunches. The accent flowers are added and allowed to dry overnight.

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  • American Grown Flowers by Mail: Stargazer Barn, Arcata, California :: Top: Spring tulips are a fresh, seasonal alternative to imported long-stemmed roses. This red-pink combination is a delightful, modern take on Valentine’s Day florals. Grown in Northern California, these flowers are available shipped nationwide. Bottom: Fragrant and long-lasting, a bouquet of white lilies and classic pink Stargazer lilies will endure far beyond February 14th. Grown in Northern California, these flowers are available shipped nationwide.

For more ideas, visit our American-grown Valentine’s Day Floral Inspiration gallery here.

Editor’s Note: With thanks to Flowers from the Farm, a collective of U.K. flower farmers, for the inspiration phrase, “Grown not Flown.”

Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is the founder of Slow Flowers and the author of several books.

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Slow Flowers Journal is brought to you by SlowFlowers.com. Slow Flowers is an award-winning online directory created to help consumers find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers that supply American grown flowers. Founded in 2014, the site has grown to 700 members across the U.S.

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