Finding Flora in Midwinter
a post by Fest creator, Bryn Isaksen
In late November I knew the chances of finding flowers at Pike Place Market may be slim, but as Mr. Fisherman works in town I asked him to check anyways. The thought of one last bouquet before winter sunk in sounded really uplifting. Sadly, the last of the beautiful purple and green cabbage bouquets were done, but Mr. Fisherman did not let me down. He came home with a gorgeous red, white, and silver dried bunch of flowers and grasses. I had completely forgotten that they switch to dried flowers in the winter. A wonderful surprise!
Why flowers, you ask? Is there anything more temporal or frivolous than flowers?
The way I see it, there are few items of décor as important as a vase of flowers. They dispel staleness, add dimension and myriads of color to a room, invite conversation, create an atmosphere of life and vibrancy, and if done one way or another, can create intimacy or grandeur. Flowers can tell you what season it is without changing your drapes or dragging out seasonal décor. Flowers can tell your guests that you appreciate life, that there is a place for the small and delicate and green in your home, that there is a place for them and their conversation in your home. They draw the eyes and bring a smile to the lips. They bring back memories. Many of the important periods or dates in our lives are framed with flowers. Weddings, funerals, births, sickness and recoveries, competitions and tournaments. We give flowers to show or win affection. Why is that? They must be important to us. They must have some great effect. They must give us joy.
If that is all true then why not try to make them a part of your home? Some people are recognized by their perfume or cologne before you even lift your eyes and see their face. When someone walks into your living room and sees flowers it could give the same effect. “I know this home.”
Of course, flowers are not always cheap, which is a shame. That may add to their value for some, but I try to find ways to get around that. I’ve planted a few roses and many other perennials. Cutting a single bloom and placing it in a shallow bowl of water or slipping it into something a little unconventional, like a soda bottle or gravy boat, or using the good ol’ bud vase, can instantly uplift your room. “Shop” your yard throughout the seasons. Adding sticks and greenery can add dimension or can also make a great display on their own. Some flowers that grow on bushes last forever (mums, carnations) and some cannot last beyond a day (rhodies, lilacs) but they are all worthy of the lime light. Personally, I bring lilacs in their entire season. Yes, that is a lot of tossing and vase cleaning (another way to keep flowers from wilting too quickly= bacteria free vase) but their smell is so amazing. There is no air freshener on earth that can replicate that true lilac smell!
Not everyone has a green thumb, but for even those with the lightest shade of green on their fingers, consider this: buy a potted plant just for the season. You may not be able to keep it alive more than a month but many flowering bushes are available in miniature at your local grocery store. If it can survive in a grocery store floral department it can survive on your mantel. They choose their plants based on how easy they are to keep alive considering they may or may not get watered. So, geraniums, impatiens, even hydrangeas, they can all add some life to your living quarters, for as long as you are able to sustain them, for usually under $20.
Another alternative, avoid the grocery store bouquet stand and wait for your local market day to come around. Two great things about buying your flowers at the market: you’re supporting local growers, who are usually selling in person, and you are saving big moola. A wimpy bouquet at the store can run up to around $17 but a robust floral arrangement at the market can come home for between $5-$20. Around the Sound, the $5 ones are bigger than a dinner plate and the $20 ones are huge and could be arrangements at a wedding (not a bad idea). I love any reason to visit Pike Place Market. When someone from out of town wants a tour of Seattle I am secretly giddy at the thought of seeing all those rows of blooms, not to mention fruits and nuts and fish and pasta because, it’s a given that we will go there. Never gets old for me. 🙂 My neighborhood also has a market and most neighborhoods here do, but if not in yours, do a little research to find out where the nearest farmer’s market is. Even if it’s a drive away it may be worth a little weekend outing anyways. We even went out to the islands for the day last August to shop-hop the local markets. Just don’t forget the flowers before getting on the ferry home.
One last tip before I send you out to reap the beauty of the earth. Ok, actually two things. First, although world pollination may not rely solely on your garden, it is a good idea to reap gently. Only gather a few blooms at a time from any particular bush, branch or bed. You don’t want to “shave” your garden. This will give your plants a chance to recover and replenish. And if you are gathering wild flowers, another economical choice, remember that these belong to the birds, bees, and butterflies so apply the same rules. Unless of course they belong to a park or someone else in which case, don’t pick at all. Phew. Now that that is out, let me now give one last tip.
For those with pets that have the habit of destroying all inside greenery, don’t give up hope. I suggest buying/finding/building one or two vases that can be hung on the wall. I’ve seen heavy duty clay ones that have been sealed and can hold a handful of buds. I’ve seen bucket ones that lay flat against the wall. I have a wooden bud holder I found at a thrift shop. If you think outside of the box I’m sure a little E-6000 glue and some household items could hold flowers for you (a mega office clip around a few stems hung on a hook?). If your lily lovin’ hound happens to stand at 6′ on his hind quarters, consider spritzing your flowers with lemon juice or a mix of cayenne pepper. This should only be needed a few times before they get the picture. My wolfhound literally got the picture off the wall once but after wiping the wood of a few frames with cayenne pepper it happened once more and then never again.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope this brightened up your winter day. Don’t worry! Spring is on the way. It’s just taking it’s time to get all dolled up for us. I hope you find something extraordinary blooming in your life in the meantime. 🙂
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27