Local Flowers in Winter?
The reality of being a flower grower on the Canadian prairies is that the earliest blooms come in the last half of May with the spring bulbs and the frost takes most of the unprotected blooms by late September. That’s a short season to be able to provide flowers, and a short season for flower lovers who want to access locally grown blooms.
One way to enjoy local flowers the rest of the year is with dried flowers, grains and seedpods. Harvesting and drying throughout the growing season allows for a whole other way to enjoy florals in the cold months – these are the seasonal flowers of a prairie winter!
Dried florals offer the same range of colour as do fresh – both vivid and neutral colours are possible without any dyes or chemical treatments. This is good news for those of us who value sustainable practices, and it allows us to safely compost our flowers when they have reached their end. It is not uncommon for dried florals and grasses to be dyed and/or bleached, so be aware if you are purchasing and ask at the store.
You might even want to try drying your own flowers! Most of them dry well by simply hanging upside down by the stem in a dry, dark space. It’s fun to experiment to see what dries well and how they turn out. Some of the easiest to dry are statice, strawflower, gomphrena, nigella pods, amaranth, and grasses like bunny tails. There are so many options for drying. While some of the more commonly available dried varieties, like pampas grass, may not an option to grow in Saskatchewan, we can grow many other beautiful grasses and grains. Check out some books or online resources for ideas and to figure out when to harvest to get the best results.
Though we have a short growing season, our dry climate is an advantage as it makes drying and displaying dried florals a bit less complicated. While some dried florals can last for years, I’d suggest you don’t keep them that long! They do eventually get dusty, and they fade. Like fresh flowers, it's good practice to remove the stems that look tired and replace your bouquets regularly.
Besides bouquets, there are endless creative ways to use dried florals – for wreaths and other wall art, event installations such as arches, and for décor. They really do offer a fun way to bring nature into our spaces – especially during the cold months. So it turns out we can have local, seasonal flowers during a Saskatchewan winter!