Top Flower Picks for Hot Summer Weddings
The summer of 2012 was a scorcher in Southwestern Ontario. As a florist, I’m always in tune to the season, what’s available, and which flowers have staying power for weddings and events. Most brides begin choosing their flowers in winter or early spring, when the heat and humidity of July and August are a distant memory. Many varieties of flowers, both locally grown and imported are available year-round, but not all stand up to the hottest days.
Here are some of my top picks for heat-busting blooms;
Orchids, especially cymbidium are excellent choices for bouquets and corsages. They are often removed from their stems and wired into designs, and are one of the best performers in hot temps. White orchids are popular for modern classic bouquets, but shades of burgundy, green, yellow, and rust are right at home in garden-style and rustic bouquets. Smaller Mokara orchids in pink, yellow or orange last well, and are great additions to fun, mixed bouquets, or several can be bound together for a stunning mono-bouquet.
Callas. The large white flute shaped calla was long a favourite for arm bouquets and tall arrangements, but “mini” varieties have taken over, and are hugely popular both as a cut flower, and as a wedding flower. They are often used solo in bouquets for a clean, modern look, but also add interest to garden bouquets as well. Deep eggplant and two-toned ivory and purple varieties are wonderful with many purple themes, while mango and rust shades add drama to late summer and fall bouquets.
Roses. Whether the classic tea rose, or the current star on the wedding scene, garden roses, either are great choices for summer. The newest varieties offer sturdy stems, and a gorgeous array of colours to suite any colour palette. Spray roses, which have several smaller blooms on a stem, come in wonderful colours, and when combined with larger roses, add a garden feel to bouquets.
Seasonal, locally grown flowers; Of course! Southwestern Ontario is blessed with tons of beautiful flowers that are at their peak from late July until early frost. Dahlias, zinnias,sunflowers, everlastings such as globe and hanging amaranthus, and hens and chicks are just some of the heat busters that new favourites for summer bouquets
Some blooms to avoid;
Tulips, freesia, iris, and lilies are my top flowers to avoid in the heat Bulb flowers are at their peak in spring, and although they are readily available in summer, they struggle in hot conditions. Lilies fare the best, but if they are stressed, they will quickly wilt. The large petals of lilies also break or bruise easily, and may be best suited to arrangements rather than bouquets.
In general, flowers that have few petals, should be used with care, as flaws, wilting and missing petals are quite obvious. You want perfection for pictures! Flowers with many petals, such as roses, and hydrangeas (yes, hydrangeas!), when properly conditioned, and are at their peak, are great choices because of their density. Even when they begin to feel a bit of stress, it will take much longer before it is noticeable.
There is no way to absolutely guarantee how flowers will hold up in extreme heat. Keeping them out of direct sun, and in air conditioning as much as possible will be a big help to them, as will misting throughout the day (especially hydrangeas).
When talking with your florist, give them your dream list of flowers, then let them guide you along for perfect blooms on your wedding day.
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There's a new Floral Boutique in Town
There’s a new boutique, and it’s mine! Flourish Eco Floral Boutique. I’ve been known as an eco-florist for the past seven years, while operating from a home studio, and I’ve embraced the challenges of those practices moving forward into a retail setting.
The location I chose is in the the heart of Downtown Kitchener. I’ve always thought my shop would be in a small space, in the centre of town. I chose Kitchener because I remember what it was like when there were flower shops,(at one point, 6 on the stretch between Water St. and Market Square) clothing stores, coffee shops and movie theatres, and wanted to be a part of the rebirth of a vibrant, hip community. Each day, I’m treated to enthusiastic people, who either live close to downtown, or who work nearby, who stop in and express their joy at having yet another new place to visit, and that another area is being rejuvenated.
I want the boutique to reflect a strong sense of community as well. Besides the flowers, chosen from suppliers who share a commitment to the environment, as well as a social responsibility to the communities where the flowers are grown, both here in Ontario, and around the world, I want the gift items that fill the store to reflect a sense of community too. There’s a whimsical line of greeting cards, from a fantastic company in Winnipeg, who recycle paper from local companies, then infuse the card stock with seeds, creating pretty plantable cards, fun wine glass tags and whimsical confetti. The warm scent of bees wax is in the air, thanks to the wonderful candles from Your Time Boutique, a Kitchener company that makes a range of beautiful, high-quality tapers, pillars and tea lights. We’ll be playing host to works by various local artists, and we’ve kicked off with the bold work of well-known Kitchener artist Jennifer Gough, of Minds Eye Studio Art
I’m so fortunate to share the space with the fabulous PJ from nomnom treats, who creates tasty cookies, perfectly branded with event and corporate logos. There is always a fresh supply of Flourish cookies on my counter, so stop in say, hi, take home a treat, and sign the 8 x 9 foot guest book! Oh, and of course check out the beautiful blooms and Flourish creations!
A Grand Backdrop for a Garden Wedding in Waterloo
A gorgeous backyard, perched on the banks of the Grand River, was the scene for this beautiful Waterloo, Ontario wedding. Matt and Ainslie chose a simple palette of dove grey and pink, then filled the day with personal touches of glam and touches of fun. Ainslie’s dress was a mermaid style, with simple details, and her lush bouquet set it off perfectly. Heavenly scented garden roses and peonies set the tone for this beautiful garden wedding. All was beautifully captured by the very talented Debra Eby
Dreamy white David Austen garden roses and peonies were a lovely compliment to Ainslie’s gown.
Pink O”Hara garden roses and Pink Majolica spray roses for the bridesmaids.
Hydrangeas, roses and hot pink dahlias added a punch of colour on the guest tables, with a hint of rustic charm from the menu cards set into wooden frames.
Pink flip – flop fun!
Matt and Ainslie were such a pleasure to work with, and I love all of the details of their wedding day. Many Thanks to Debra for the wonderful photographs!
Photography; Debra Eby Photography
Fun details; The Bride and Groom
Three Plant Picks for Non-green Thumbs
So, now there’s a device that can be inserted into the soil of your plants, and it will send a tweet when it’s time for watering. The leaf-shaped gadget is available for $100. If you need a $100 gadget to tell you when to water, maybe you should re-think your plants. Here are some easy-care – if you kill these – just give up, suggestions;
This will survive just about anything. Likes to be ignored. Shove it in a dark corner, or a sunny window, and it’s happy. Throw a little water on it, when you think of it. It’s slow growing, so re-potting isn’t a worry. It can be easily divided into smaller plants, or stretched out into a window box for a more modern display.
A popular plant for hanging baskets, but is nicer when kept compact, and can be purchased as a small plant and set on a desk or table. There are several varieties, but the nicest, hippest one is limelight, a bright shade of lime green. They tolerate sun and shade, and put up with a willy-nilly watering approach, and are great air cleaners. Don’t be tempted to train it to go across the ceiling or window frames. Please. Don’t.
Yes, orchids. Phalaenopsis, or the butterfly orchid is the most prevalent and is the easiest to care for. And by care for, I mean ignore. Place in a bright spot, out of direct sun, and ignore. Sure, look at it and admire it’s elegant blooms, and marvel that they’ve lasted for 2 or 3 months, but please don’t over water it. Orchids typically grow out of tree trunks, or anchor themselves to the side of a cliff, and take moisture from the air, rather than their roots.
If you feel inclined to give lots of TLC, misting is best and this can be done daily. Orchids are usually double-potted, meaning they are planted in plastic grower pot, and then set into a more decorative one. Hold the plant in the grower insert over the sink, and let the water run through, no more than once a week. Usually, I don’t bother with that, and just dribble small amounts of water on top of the roots. Never let it sit in water, and always make sure that the moss or mulch it’s planted in is a little dry between watering. Be sure to purchase orchids from plant professionals who know how to take care of them. Grocery stores and other mass retailers carry them at cheap prices, but the care they receive , length of time on the shelf, or how they are packed when you take them home can mean a dead orchid a week later. Invest in the best and you’ll love your blooms for months.
There’s a pattern in the care tips of the plant suggestions; don’t kill them with kindness. Frankly, most plants die from over-watering, which causes the roots to rot, rather than from under watering. Improper lighting is also a factor. Few plants can tolerate full, direct sun, so make sure they’re not getting a sunburn.
Plants to avoid
This is my hit list of problem plants.
Any ivy. They are spider-mite magnets. Without constant attention, and misting and watering, and removal of dead leaves, they quickly become a haven for the tiny web builders that suck the life out of plants, leaf by leaf.
See ivy plants.
A favourite for business gifts. They usually contain ivy AND deifenbachia. If you manage to find a planter that doesn’t contain these, chances are that the plants are still incompatible, and will slowly die, one by one. If they manage to live for a few months, they will need to be separated and re-potted, as one of them will start to take over, and it will start look unruly and messy. Send an orchid.
And now, if you’ll excuse, me, the pothos is winding it’s way toward the ceiling fixture, and needs to be stopped.
Getting More Floral Bang for Your Buck
I was inspired by this arrangement, thrown together from some of my left-overs, in time for a Boxing Day gathering. The stars of the show are the amaryllis, which were purchased for a wedding that took place on December 17th, a full week before this was created! Not only are the amaryllis more than a week old, blooms that had opened earlier were plucked off and used for the Bridesmaids’ bouquets. In other words, only half of the stems are present, and they were purchased 13 days before this photo was taken! The other flowers are parrot tulips, quite a bit larger and a bit more expensive than regular tulips, but their presence speaks volumes.
So, would you pay $12-$15 for a stem of amaryllis? Before you gasp and say “I would never pay that for a single stem”, consider the size of the flowers, 10-12 inches across when fully open, and the longevity. They are what I call investment flowers.
Cheap flowers are readily available, and easy to buy. Carnations and roses are packaged by the dozen, and are often the same price as our lovely amaryllis. But do they have the same value or visual impact? Those bunches of carnations and roses are often loss-leaders, and are almost always of a lower grade, meaning that the blooms are smaller, and the varieties are the most basic. No stars here, just a cheap and cheerful mass, destined to be arranged hap hazzardly with the filler greens that came with them.
Keep it Simple
Talking with everyday consumers and brides, a frequent comment is “but they’re expensive, aren’t they?”, usually in reference to a flower that is either exotic, such as an orchid, or something with a very large bloom, such as hydrangea. Well, they may cost more per stem than another flower, but it takes several smaller flowers to make up the volume and impact of a single hydrangea. For weddings, the look and longevity of a just a few, carefully used orchids more than justify their cost, compared to the number of smaller, cheaper flowers that it will take to achieve the same size and beauty of bouquet. Having a dinner party? You can try to make something out of a mixed bouquet, with a stem of this, and 2 stems of that, some sort of tall, pokey flower, and some airy, piddly fern, or you can you use one or 2 hydrangeas for a simple, elegant effect. Cut. Plop. Fabulous. The same with a gorgeous stem of amaryllis, or a beautiful stem of orchids.
Dress to Impress
For my corporate clients, I will always suggest a single over-sized, attention-getting tropical flower, like a heliconia, paired with a chunky stem of bamboo, and a large, shiny leaf, over several small flowers for maximum impact. One 12- 15 inch stunner in red or orange beats out a few of this and that. Hands down. Lasts longer too.
I Hate Yellow Roses
At least I used to. Maybe you’re not a fan either, of any roses. Most people I know who say they don’t like roses, or that they don’t last very long, have only purchased or received the everyday, run of the mill types. The ones usually carried by grocery stores, discount retailers, and old-school flower shops. They are varieties that are plentiful, and are usually very basic colours. When, and if, they open, they are smaller, and not very interesting. They are the “B” varieties, and I’m not a fan of most of them. These are not what I use in weddings, or sell to my customers, because they often have low petal counts and smaller heads,and so, once again, they have no impact, no “wow” factor. I’d rather hear “oh my gosh, LOOK at that rose”, than, “oh, roses…”. There are yellow roses to die for! Large, ruffly blooms with hints of green or cherry red. And the same for peach and pink varieties. The rose, revisited. Just a couple glamour beauties are far more stunning than a whole dozen of whatevers. And skip the baby’s breath. Unless you have a whole bunch of it. In a single vase. But that’s another topic.
Oh, and the amaryllis? It’s now day 16, and 3 out 4 blooms are still with me. That’s what I call an investment flower.
A Little Gothic Inspiration
Gothic for a wedding theme? Yes please! I had the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of vendors to put together this inspiration shoot; a purple, red and black steam-punk meets Phantom of the Opera fantasy. We loved the idea of a Gothic theme because of the rich colours and elegant details that we could play with. Gothic style uses rich, dark colours, and lots of textures such as velvet and lace, for a darkly romantic look. It was also the perfect theme to show off the hanging cake from Too Nice to Slice. Yes, a hanging cake!
Our venue, the Walper Hotel, had the fabulous grand piano, the absolute perfect setting for our shoot. Layering on the colours and textures, this was so much fun to put together!
Our photographer, Scott McQuarrie of re:action photography, was amazing, and captured all of the details perfectly. We through lots of puzzles at him, and he was able to roll with them all. I love working with great photographers, and seeing their insights into lighting and how objects will transform in photos. The hanging cake, created by Chrissy Boon of Too Nice to Slice, is the center piece of the shoot, and hangs dramatically over the scene. These amazing cakes can be cut and served!
One of my favourite bouquets to create is a “Duchess” rose. Layers and layers of rose petals are put together to make one stunning bloom. This one is set in a long, pointed metal cone, wrapped at the top with a wide collar of black fringe.
The stationery, beautifully crafted in letterpress from James and Vinti of OOXX Invitations, is the perfect highlight to our theme. I love the script, the beautiful garden roses, and the barren branches, with just a few thorns…
A deep purple ” Schwarzweld” calla, wired into a twiggy place card holder.
A pair of wire shoes to hold the bridesmaids bouquets. And rose petals. LOTS of crimson rose petals.
Many thanks to Scott, Chrissie, Vinti and James for sharing your amazing talents!
Choosing Fair Trade Flowers; A no-brainer.
Would you buy from a local store, say a grocer or clothier, if you knew that they mistreated their employees? Would you buy from a local company if you knew that were major polluters in your area? Okay, now maybe they’re not so local, and you can’t see the faces of the workers, or the effects of their company on the environment. What then? Do we need to ask questions about our flowers? After all, flowers bring us joy, beauty and enhance our well being, so why question them?
In 1988, Marta Rodriquez produced a documentary on the carnation industry, “Love, Women and Flowers”, exposing the working conditions and pesticide use on Colombian Farms. I first saw it in 1992, and it was heart wrenching to think that those that supply our beautiful blooms could be treated so badly, and that there was no regard for their well being. While the chemicals that were used on the farms were banned for use in Canada and the U.S., they were most likely produced here in the first place, then used without restraint by many unscrupulous farms. Even more alarming was the apathy I encountered from co-workers and peers in the flowers industry. Very few seemed to show much concern, or felt that there was nothing that could be done. Even corporations who had the power to affect buying practices, both on the florist and the consumer level, seemed to turn a deaf ear to the situation.
Thankfully, about 8 years ago, I came across the Veriflora Label, a certified sustainable grown labeling program for flowers and plants. http://www.veriflora.com/ It ensures, through third party testing, fair labour practices, conservation of resources, ecosystem protection, as well as a high standard of quality. FLP (Flower Label Program), Floraverde and Max Havelaar are also labels having similar standards and test procedures. Unfortunately, awareness of the labels, at both the retail and consumer levels, still seems to be quite low. On holiday occasions, flowers get negative attention in the media, as interest groups point out the failings of the industry to deal with the on-going issues, but it seems few in the industry speak up and let consumers know that they have choices when they purchase flowers.
I market my studio as being “green”, or sustainable, which is what I prefer to call it. To me, sustainable has a more far-reaching meaning, and takes in more than just the typical reusing and recycling practices. When talking about Flourish, I always state that the sources of my flowers are very important, mentioning Veriflora certified imports, the support of locally grown products, and the use of organic blooms when seasonally available. People are generally quite interested, and surprised, both at finding out where flowers actually come from, and that there are often social and environmental concerns attached to something meant to bring joy and beauty. In Canada, Veriflora labelled flowers are fairly easy to come by, but are not promoted at the wholesale level, and therefore, usually slip by retailers and likewise, consumers with no notice. Locally grown blooms often suffer the same fate.
As more and more consumers begin to question the origins of their purchases, as well as the conditions in which they are produced, the floral industry needs to take initiative in addressing these concerns, preferably in a pro-active manner. 90% of all roses, 98% of carnations, and 95% of chrysanthemums sold in the US are imported from South America, with similar numbers in Canada. In Colombia alone, 60,000 workers, mostly women, are employed by Colombian flower farms, making up 25% of rural female employment there. To ensure the well-being of these workers, as well as the land that the farms occupy, we need to pay more attention to the sources of our flowers, and be willing to pay a higher premium.
Larger corporations, such as FTD and Walmart, have started to offer and promote Fair Trade certified flowers, but it should be a part of the focus for small retailers as well. My outlook is that many small businesses together equal the impact of one larger company, and have the power to affect change, beginning in their own community. The first steppingstone to becoming “eco-friendly” or “ green” is to ensure the sustainability of the products that we sell, and the rest of our practices should naturally follow, with the lives of our neighbours and the environment as our prime concern.
Suggested video on Fair Trade Flowers;
Dana & Kyle
Remember that cold, rainy spring? Southern Ontario had more than it’s share of March winds and April showers. Then one day, the sun came out. That was April 30th, Dana and Kyle’s wedding day. It was the perfect day for a country small town wedding; sun beaming, buds popping, birds a chirping. Hauser Hall in Heidelburg was the ideal setting, hosting both the ceremony and reception. With coordinating invites and menus beautifully crafted by Tracey from Little Details, and everything captured by the amazing Anne Edgar , the scene was pure loveliness.
Purple was the color of the day, with touches of spring green and cream. Dana chose an assortment of season flowers, including locally grown tulips, lisianthus, freesia and anemones, all at their peak of loveliness.
Shades of spring; anemones, velvety lisianthus, tulips, and wonderfully scented freesias nestled atop a bed of hydrangeas.
Frilly two-toned lisianthus and mauve freesias made up the bridesmaids’ bouquets, the colors working beautifully with the wedding stationary. and the rich purple of the bridesmaids’ dresses.
A handsome lineup, flanked by trumpet vases filled with hydrangeas, stocks, and towering delphinium.
Dana was wonderful to work with, and it was such a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful day.
"Greening up" wedding and event flowers
Flowers add so much to a celebration, from an intimate get-together, to a large formal wedding, to corporate launch party. They can also be a source of waste, and a producer of a large carbon footprint. With flowers coming from farms worldwide, as well as from our own back yard, making choices that reduce an event’s impact. yet keep it “eco-chic” can, at first, be daunting.
Beyond the flowers themselves, the choices about containers, arrangement styles and accent pieces can mean large amounts of chemicals, and waste headed to the landfill. A simple thought to keep in mind along the way is, where will piece this end up, a week, a month, or a year from now.
Here are some ideas to get started.
Choose locally grown or Fair Trade flowers
Favorite wedding flowers, such as roses, orchids and hydrangeas are almost always imported from other continents, and are grown under varying standards for labor and environmental practices. An informed florist will know which flowers require little or no pesticides, be familiar with countries having fair labor standards, and will use and promote flowers with Fair Trade, Eco-sensitive certification, such as Veriflora. Inquire which locally grown blooms are available, and whether there is access to those that are organically grown. Local greenhouses offer a good assortment of year-round flowers, as well as seasonal field crops that require less energy to grow.
Keep it real
Flowers are naturally beautiful, but they are often dyed or spray painted to match a bridesmaid dress or corporate logo. Insisting that no dyes or aerosol products, such as leaf shine, spray paint, or adhesives are used will not only reduce chemicals, but will ensure the flowers may be composted.
Fresh flowers or plants are much better than artificial stems that are produced in overseas factories, often under poor working conditions. Even though they may be used again, they will ultimately end up in a land fill, and will not bio-degrade.
Choose bouquets styles that don’t need a plastic holder, and opt for ceremony and reception arrangements styles that do not require floral foam, the unfriendly spongy material used as water source in many floral arrangements. Lower arrangements or collections of small containers and candle holder are ideal. Many accents, such as colored lights, are one-time use, or require batteries that are discarded after one use.
Rent whenever possible
Many florists will rent vases for ceremony and reception arrangements, and the containers are often high quality, made of glass or ceramic and will be used several times over. Choose center piece styles that can be hand-tied, and guests can simply lift them out of the container to take home. Candle holders are usually available to rent as well.
Remember, taking even small steps towards a greener lifestyle can make a big difference, all the difference in the world.
Photos; organic peonies and veronica, Captured Soul Photography
Locally grown fall bounty, Two Tone Studios
100 Mile Weddings
We’re all familiar with the 100 Mile Diet, and many of us have even tried it in some form, whether for one special meal or for an extended period of time. 100 Mile Weddings are now a big part of this movement, and flowers have a starring role!
Southern Ontario is blessed with a gorgeous array of flowers, with many choices at the height of wedding season. Many are commercially grown, but there are lots available from organic growers, usually from late spring through early fall. Smaller, organic farms often experiment with more unusual varieties and colours.
A list of some popular locally grown flowers:
- Mini Amaryllis
- Paper Whites
- Sweet Peas
- Pussy Willows
- Lady’s Mantle
- Calla lilies
- Rose hips
- Fall mums
- Mini pumpkins
Available year-round from Ontario Greenhouses;
- Gerbera daisies
An amazing list! With careful planning,and knowledgeable vendors, an event can easily feature the wonderful abundance from Ontario. From food, to beer and wine, to the most beautiful flowers, we have it all, within 100miles!