Slow Flowers –
Petition for a new floristry

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Sustainable flowers grown locally instead of mass-produced overseas

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Nowadays it is a matter of course for us to pay attention to where our food comes from. That our vegetables are not sprayed with pesticides. And everyone knows that fruit in season tastes much better than fruit harvested unripe from other continents.

But hardly anyone worries about where our flowers come from. No one wonders about roses in February and ranunculus in autumn.

These days, florist shops often look like small, rural manufactories, but they are not. Nearly 80% of the cut flowers sold in our country come from abroad. In countries like Colombia, Ethiopia or Kenya they grow in huge farms and are harvested early. They are sprayed with products that are actually banned here in order to survive the long transport route. They are grown under ethically questionable working conditions, child labour is not uncommon.

What then arrives with us as a “flower” grows unnaturally straight, wilts quickly in the vase and is usually without any fragrance. In short: flowers have lost all their sensuality, they have become cheap, uniform mass-produced goods. Anyone who has ever seen the inside of a wholesale flower market knows what I am writing about.

The Making of the Slowflower Movement

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Luckily, there are idealists who -inspired by the Slow Food movement- set out to restore flowers to their sensuality.

The Slowflower movement originated in the United States. Instead of vegetables, cut flowers are grown organically on small farms and sold at weekly markets, to florists and wholesalers. Many of these new flower farmers are career changers who wanted to combine their love of nature, their sense of aesthetics with a clever business model. The yield per square metre of cultivated area is much more lucrative for cut flowers than for organic vegetables. Writer Debra Prinzing can be considered one of the founders. She published the book “Slow Flowers” in 2014, laying the foundation for the movement, which has been growing at a rapid pace internationally ever since.

A decisive part of this has certainly been played by Erin Benzakein, who with great passion and terrific marketing has turned her small “Floret Farm” into probably the best-known cut flower farm in the world. Her books are all bestsellers, she’s a star on social media, and her followers are training to become flower farmers themselves through her online courses to follow her lead.

Meanwhile, the movement is also growing in Germany and more and more small and large flower farms are sprouting from the ground. There is a lively exchange in the social networks and just as many garden bloggers have discovered the topic for themselves in the last two years. Homegrown flowers have become a megatrend!

The New Aesthetic of Slow Flowers

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Personally, I was particularly captivated by the aesthetics of these flowers and the new diversity of varieties. Bouquets made from Slow Flowers look wilder, softer and at the same time much more modern. The flowers have organic shapes, crooked stems and even the fading in the vase is a spectacle that I love. The rooms are filled with fragrance. They are a piece of nature that suddenly breaks into our orderly interior world. I’m really addicted to the new varieties: cosmeas are no longer pink, but appear in delicate rosé-caramel, the corn poppy no longer blossoms in red, but in mystical grey-purple. And zinnias are now available in every conceivable pastel shade. And to rave about the incredible new varieties of tulips, daffodils and dahlias, there is unfortunately not enough space here.

Slow Flowers from your own garden

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Now what is the easiest way to get these gorgeous flowers? Just grow them yourself in the garden! It is unbelievable how little space is necessary for this: already on three to four square meters you can cultivate so many plants that you can harvest bouquets all summer long. With 10-20 square meters you can call yourself a cut flower gardener. And with 100 square metres, nothing stands in the way of professional cut flower gardening. But the best thing is: growing flowers is definitely easier than growing vegetables and even beginners will have quick success if they follow the most important rules.

It is important to choose mainly plant species that produce flowers incessantly. Perennials or bulbous plants such as tulips produce flowers only once a year. In contrast, annual flowers or dahlias can sprout a hundred flowers from one plant! The trick is that the more often you cut them, the more blooms will follow. And they usually do until the first frost.

Through the year with Slow Flowers

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The nice thing, though, is that growing flowers in the garden is really addictive: as soon as fall starts, I’m already thinking about and researching great new varieties that I’m dying to see in the garden next year. Winter is then shopping and planning time. Varieties are assembled, seeds are purchased, plans are written. And as soon as the first hint of spring is in the air, the sowing begins. By now I’m sowing into June, you can’t have enough flowers. And in summer and autumn you are rewarded with a rich duck and a beautiful flower garden. I dry some of the flowers for floral projects in the winter. Is there a more beautiful way to garden? Definitely not!

10 reasons why everyone should grow Slow Flowers in their garden:

1. The flowers are not sprayed and do not have to travel long distances for transportation, they are not grown in unethical conditions

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2. They turn the garden into an enchanted sea of flowers

3. The effort required to grow and care for them is less than for vegetables, and the flowers are much less susceptible to pests

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4. The flowers retain all their sensuality: they are fragrant and their organically grown shape is aesthetically exciting

5. They last much longer in the vase

6. They allow everyone to be creative and artistic

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7.With the seasonality of flowers, the changing of the seasons can be experienced and enjoyed

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8. They are much cheaper than the purchased flowers from the florist

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9. You always have the perfect gift on hand for friends and family

10. Varieties can be cultivated that you would never find in a flower shop, as their delicate flowers would never survive transport: Poppies, cosmos, vetches, for example.

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