For our first six weeks or so in Germany, we’ve been living in a little town one over from the larger one where we found a flat. That means to get things done, including banking, going to interesting shops, or just little adventures, we tend to head into Heidelberg rather than the sleepy bedroom community where our temporary flat is located. The stretch in between the two towns is full of small farms and pastures.
We kept passing this one field with rows of flowers right by the road, and a sign advertising Blumen! with ‘selbst schneiden’ underneath. A quick google turned up details about this lovely practice all across Germany. Blumen selbst schneiden or selbst pflücken are like little u-pick fruit fields but for flowers. They are equipped with some knives hung from a post and some twine, and a secure box for leaving your cash.
I finally had a chance to stop this evening, and there were lovely zinnias and dahlias ready, as well as a huge row of sunflowers. Flowers were priced at a reasonable 30 cents a stem (or so, I think the sunflowers were more), and everything was clearly signposted. But what a lovely idea! This is so common there are websites dedicated to mapping these fields across the country. I’m looking forward to finding more of these around our new home.
Cut flowers. They are everywhere this time of year.
And I have to admit, if I have to read one more instagram blurb about how buying flowers every week is ‘such a great mood lifter’ I will get very cross.
Most of the cut flowers we buy at the average North American florist, or order through one of the big websites, are shipped up here from giant flower farms in South America. The working conditions at these flower farms are not good, often the pesticides used are harsh as they aren’t held to the same standard as agrochemicals used on food crops. It’s well worth reading this Tyee series on floral farms and fair trade.
There’s no need to give up on your floral addiction, just think about it a little differently.
Debra Prinzing, a writer and lecturer based in Seattle and Los Angeles, has written several books on working with local and in-season flowers and foliage. This may seem dismal in February, but a quick scroll through her blog will change your mind. Succulent cutting, clippings from trees and shrubs, and flowers from local hothouse growers combine to make some beautiful arrangements.
Here in British Columbia, we have several options at this time of year – the Fraser Valley has several flower growers supplying incredible armfuls of tulips, and a few local florists also stock locally grown orchids. Choices Markets has both local flowers and fair trade blooms from South America. Nationally, Whole Foods is a good bet, as they have their own Whole Trade relationship with South American flower growers, as well as sourcing local flowers as well. Keep your eyes open when you’re out for a walk, and look for sculptural bits and pieces, though always ask before taking a cutting!
I’m over on Treehouse Parents with this simple egg carton flower craft project. I like this one because you can get as involved as you want – use pens for colouring if you’re not in the mood for getting paints out, cut out the egg cups ahead of time and you’re good to go. Elliot is not always all that keen on craft projects, but he liked this one. I think the fact that egg carton cups look like flowers right away helped.