May and June are truly a time to savor the arrival of the fleeting beauty of peonies. They are a seasonal treasure. Floral styling provided by my cat, Dunkin'.
Cut flowers are a true indulgence. And admittedly I am one person who is endlessly fascinated by the beauty of flowers. If Michael Pollan is to be believed, then I am playing right into the hands of these beautiful, scheming plants! I love visiting florists, but still try to adhere to two basics before all else when I am buying...
Buying local and planning with the seasons have always been two good options for taking the environmental bite out of a cut-flower indulgence. As the seasons progress, you will see daffodils in early spring, blossoming branches, on to hyacinths and tulips, then leading to lilacs. And now we are at the end of peony and iris time here in NYC. If you like peonies, RUN, don't walk, because they will be gone soon. You can get them at a florist at other times of the year, but you can bet they are coming from as far away as New Zealand.
- Just because it is grown local or in your garden doesn't mean it can't be exotic. Look at those Gloriosa Lilies! A few tubers bought from Brent and Becky's and you could be growing these beauties as a special yearly tradition. Tropical Canna Lilies are another option for dramatic effect.
I mark my calendar. Yes, it may sound silly to some, but I look forward to certain weeks of the year because I know I can get these certain local flowers. And I make sure to let friends know if I bring them something that is in-season. As a busy city-dweller it feels like you can blink and weeks have passed.
You do not have to keep to the greenmarkets when you buy in-season, these local beauties can and will show up at the delis and bodegas, as well as the florist.
- The world of cut flowers is an addictive, alluring and complicated one. People are so enamored with obtaining ephemeral beauty that we now have an entire industry to supply the world's consumers. In Amy Stewart's book, Flower Confidential, you can read all about this world, its thorns as well as its more beautiful side. Michael Pollan's book, The Botany of Desire (alluded to above), has wonderful passages on the ingenuity of plants in attracting humans and animals to help them survive.
Are there any flowers you are looking forward to? Would love to hear what everyones' seasonal favorites are.
Matt will be writing a weekly column on plants, flowers and gardening. Feel free to e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org