Monday, December 08, 2008

Thoughts on cut flowers

When my husband picks up cut flowers at the supermarket (providing I put them on the list), he invariably gets carnations, some type of mum/daisy, or maybe a couple bunches of “filler’ flowers. He’s going by price and his unfailing instinct for flowers that will last a while, thus providing the best value.

I can appreciate this, but after about a week of these invincible flowers I often find myself throwing them into the compost bin, regardless of their unwilted state. One of the reasons I can tolerate winter is that I have a great excuse to buy exotic flowers of all types. But even I have my limits. I try to keep to a middle ground, going for distinctive flowers that will last a decent amount of time. Here are my favorite choices:
1. Oriental lilies. These remind me of the ones I grow in my garden in summer and will always last at least 10 days to 2 weeks.
2. Spray roses. Sadly, no florist rose seems to have a scent these days, but the bunches of spray roses are attractive and have a more natural look.
3. Spider mums. If you must mum, these are very nice, especially cut short and used in squat crystal vessels.
4. Freesia. You have to like the fragrance, but these last a good, long while, and have a nice delicate, yet sculptural quality.
5. Flowering branches. These are not, strictly speaking, flowers (remember Michael Douglas asking for a dozen dogwood in The American President?), but I’m a sucker for just about any flowering branch, and they generally last a good while.

And here are the cut flowers that will just cause you heartache.
1. Delphiniums. Gorgeous. May survive long enough to be put in a vase. Or they may not even make the trip home.
2. Iris. Throwing your money away.
3. Tulips. It hurts me to say this, as I grow these by the hundred, but the ones sold in flower shops are usually pretty bad.
4. Protea. Ew. These look like they should be dead.
5. Gerbera daisies. I love the look of these, but they are apt to drop their heads almost immediately, and often need these dumb plastic straws to hold them up.

I wish there were more cut flowers available. (Snapdragons, phlox, blue orchids, blah, blah) But I also have my narcissus and forced hyacinths and tulips to keep me interested during the winter. Not to mention ordering more plants. The Select Seeds and Bluestone catalogs will be online in January!

Oh right, and I secretly love glads!


Celia said...

I understand what you're saying, but...I adore irises and tulips in part for the experience of watching them slowly silver, thin, curl, dry, and die. It's akin to a poem, somehow. Anyone out there know what I mean?

Most people who are not poets probably like living flowers, though, which is totally understandable.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I used to think of glads as a funeral flower until I met a little old gentleman with a garden full of them. The sight of all of those different colors happily swaying in the wind covered with bees and butterflies changed my perspective entirely.

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Elizabeth, check out Nahiku When winter really starts getting you down, perhaps you can order from them. They're not cheap but they are drop dead gorgeous. I've known the owner for 25 years: he and his dad did my wedding flowers and he's done all our flowers since.

Gail said...

I am going to print this post Elizabeth to give to Mr I...The last two bouquets had everyone of the heartache plants except...protea!


Carol said...

I do love the scent of freesia, and will buy those in the winter, just to smell.

I also think a good orchid bloom on the plant is a good value, as it can last for a month or longer, and then you still have the plant.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

EAL said...

Celia, I draw the line at a bunch of flowers that won't last 2 days, no matter how poetic they are! The tulips I force last much longer, and the ones I grow outside longer still. There is something bad about these florist ones.

Cindy, I will check. Though I doubt they would ship up here in winter.

dr aletta said...

I agree with Carol, it's all about the scent. Aromatherapy is disparately needed this time of year.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I can't have cut flowers in the house because of my allergy to molds, but every winter I ignore my allergy problems & cut a few Forsythia branches to force. It's a good enough reason to grow them. They are so cheery. I've seen florists selling them in January & February. They last pretty well, as the old flowers fade, new ones open.

lisa said...

I don't know why I forget about cut flowers in the winter, that would definately make me happy! I'm kinda easy when it comes to flowers-anything is fine. I agree with you though, if they don't last then they're not worth the money!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I like Glads too. On the other hand, they remind my mother of funerals, and she always mentions it if I have some, so I don't buy them much.

I also like the scent of Freesia, but can't stand the scent of Paperwhites. I find that in Oklahoma, Target of all places has great cut flowers. In February, I don't know what I would do without them.~~Dee