by Flower Duet
Villa Growers wholesale flower vendor at the Southern California Flower Market (in the building between Wall and Maple Streets).
It’s Spring and a beautiful time of year to visit your local flower market. Whether you have a wholesale market like we do in Los Angeles or perhaps a local farmers’ market, spring is full of lots of blooms from all kinds of bulb flowers to peonies!
Field to Vase Flowers
In the April 22nd edition of the Wall Street Journal, journalist Alina Dizik published an article about the latest trend in flowers, from Field to Vase. This trend encompasses the slow flowers movement where florists in the U.S. are designing with flowers directly from a local grower instead of using imported blooms.
Flower Duet is fortunate to be located in California, America’s best source for high-quality cut flowers, and is able to take advantage of the plethora of growers and wholesalers who specialize in locally grown flowers. In fact, California growers account for 75 percent of all domestically grown cut flowers in the United States. Many diverse types of flower growers are located within 100 miles of Los Angeles.
When a consumer purchases California cut flowers, they are buying flowers that:
- Meet the strictest growing standards in the world.
- Were raised in a world-class, year-round environment perfect for growing hundreds of varieties of flowers including roses, orchids, mums and other specialty botanicals like protea and the increasingly popular succulent plants.
- Were most likely in the field only 24 – 48 hours prior to purchase as opposed to 1–2 weeks with imported varieties.
Even the White House was on board with a state dinner on February 18, 2014 when President Obama hosted the president of France which featured food and florals grown in the United States. The floral arrangements displayed at the dinner included:
Flowering quince branch – Mississippi
Weeping willow – South New Jersey
Scotch Broom – Virginia
Iris (blue and purple) – California
Alocasia – Apopka, FL and Zellwood, FL
Equisetum – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
Nandina – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
Green Liriope – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
The floral industry in the United States consists of more than 60,000 small businesses, such as growers, wholesalers, retailers, and distributors. According to the White House, every U.S. state has access to locally grown fresh flowers which supports the U.S. economy with jobs and opportunity. See more at USDA.gov.
In past newsletters, we’ve covered a great many ideas on how to design eco-friendly flowers and just last month, Kit participated in an Earth Day celebration at Mattel’s headquarters in El Segundo (photo of design detail at left; see below for more details). Buying locally is the best way to design in an earth-friendly way. It lowers our carbon footprint and supports our local businesses.
As a professional florists who offer flowers for all celebrations from the smallest birthday party to an elopement on Manhattan Beach to a wedding with 350 guests, we are very fortunate to have our local Los Angeles flower district which offers access to locally grown flowers and hard-to-find imported flowers. When we can buy local flowers, we do. Often they are of a superior quality and a great price. But sometimes our clients request something special that is not available locally (like Peonies in December), so we turn to our vendors.
During our tours of the Los Angeles Floral District, we are often asked by members of the tour group, “How do you know who is the best vendor?” We reply that every vendor is great and what matters is which vendor has what you need for your design or your client! Of course, we’ve established favorites over the years. Many times, there are vendors who always seem to come through for us in a crunch with a specific flower.
Last summer, Kit needed 45 extra stems of conditioned white Hydrangeas and found a bucket at Villa Growers (see photo at top). A few weeks ago, Shibata Floral saved us with some special Dendrobium orchids. Over the years, Gilbert from Gilbert Wholesale has personally gone out with the local grower to cut Dahlias for us.
Shibata Wholesale at the Southern California Flower Market in Los Angeles.
Japanese Sweet Peas Photo by: Mayesh.com
We always start our tours at Mayesh Wholesale Florist, Inc. and the supplier is carrying some amazing sweet peas from Japan these days. The floral industry is very strong in Japan. Fresh cut flowers are coming to our shores from artisans of their ancient trade. Japan’s fresh cut flowers are pristine (even after being shipped overseas). Due to many barriers, exporting Japanese flowers has been extremely difficult in the past.
Locally Grown Peonies! There are some new vendors we’ve been purchasing from lately with great results because they’ll deliver to our studio and they are very nice in customer service. Next time you are in the district, stop by Milagra Growers Wholesale Flowers, which is run by a team of brothers. They carry Peonies, Hydrangea, Roses, Cymbidums, Vanda Orchids, Hypericum berries, Hyacinth, Ranunuclus, Dahlias and a large variety of other botanicals including Green Trick Dianthus. Here is a video they created last year at this time of year to promote their Peonies.
Next to Milagra is Fluerametz, a flower wholesaler based in the Netherlands, a recent comer to Los Angeles and established veteran in New York City. The product is perfect and they always display prices which is nice and convenient. The photo at left is a Perfect Game Tulip that they provide for clients.
All vendors carry some locally grown flowers, but the vendor with the largest variety of California grown flowers is Mellano and Company located on Wall Street in the original Los Angeles Flower Market’s building. They have a very large walk-in cooler that is open to the public, so you can get up close to their Ranunculus, Rice Flower and vast locally grown Protea and greenery selection.
Tropical USA is the place to go for a variety of Protea, Orchids and other tropical flowers. If you are looking for something special or large volumes of Anthuriums, call ahead to place an order.
Dan Stamis specializes in greenery and branches. This is a regular stop for us at the flower mart.
How to Choose Fresh Flowers
If you want to learn more about how to choose the best flowers from the flower market, take one of our tours. We offer group tours almost every month. Check out our schedule here: LA Flower Mart Tours. Learn more about the “Field to Vase” movement in our book review this month on Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers.
by Flower Duet
Flower Duet’s display table at Mattel’s headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. on Earth Day. Kit participated in the celebration and we donated a floral design we created with locally grown flowers featuring drought-tolerant succulents to one lucky employee.
Our parents provided a good example for us in their support of the communities where we grew up. When we were in the Girl Scouts, (and our brother in Boy Scouts) our parents were volunteers then troop leaders. They provided leadership and guidance when we volunteered at nursing homes, cleaned churchyards and organized our backpacking, camping and rafting outings.
Pictured at left: Our lovely parents in the 1970s as our Scout Troop Leaders. They are responsible for teaching us the importance of helping your community.
Our mother was a volunteer for ten years in our high school Career Center helping students with job opportunities and navigate the college application process.
When our father retired from his forty year aviation career, he volunteered for eight years with Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia. He became a house leader providing instruction and guidance to other volunteers and to the new homeowners who helped build their own homes.
Both of our parents have spent years as election officials for local and national elections for many years. Dad has served for the past nine years since he retired and our mother served as a poll worker for five years. Our parents showed us the value and importance of volunteering our time and skills to assist others in making a better community.
Our Dad at left with Todd Phillips with AmeriCorps on the Habitat for Humanity Northern Virginia staff.
Giving Back to our Community
When we are approached by an organization to donate flowers or a gift certificate to a flower arranging class, we discuss how the organization is benefitting our local community and how it fits into our own philosophy. We have donated to many charities, schools, clubs and corporations since we started our business and feel it’s a wonderful way to give back to our community. If you are a floral designer or an event planner and want another way to meet new people, donating your time to a charity in your community is a great way to network and give back.
We donate flower arrangements, our skills and flower arranging classes to a variety of organizations throughout Los Angeles. Some of our past donations included The Assistance League of San Pedro, The Friends of the Peninsula Symphony, Rainbow Services, Angel Light Academy and Food Finders food bank.
For some of the past few years, we’ve provided flowers for Teen Line, a volunteer hotline for teens to talk to other teens when they need support. Teen Line volunteers have helped other teens for over 30 years. Their mission statement states that no problem is too big or too small. We will be creating over 50 designs for the upcoming Teen Line “Food For Thought” luncheon next week.
Pink and brown floral centperieces we made for Teen Line in 2010 to match the chocolate on the tables that were giveaways.
St. Francis Designs for Dining
In February, we created a table top design for a local church in Palos Verdes Estates. The church, St. Francis, creates a scholarship fund for needy students and we donated our time, flowers and skills to their annual fundraiser, Designs for Dining.
Here is a photo of our Designs for Dining table before we added the flowers.
Casey receiving an award in Girl Scouts from our Mom, the troop leader.
Kit as a Brownie putting on her white gloves! We learned how to give back to our community as Girl Scouts and continue to do so today through our business. We have even taught a few Girl Scout Troops flower arranging workshops to help them complete their Flower Badges!
by Flower Duet
Each month this year we will feature our amazing, talented floral design students and how their relationship with flowers has changed since taking a workshop or two with Flower Duet. Come to one of our floral design workshops and you can share your story with everyone!
Bouquets from Jennifer B., a former student of Flower Duet who did her own wedding flowers and then went on to help her friends with their own wedding flowers.
“Since taking a flower design class at Flower Duet, I have come to love working with flowers!! My friends and I created all of the bouquets for my wedding. Since then, my friends have asked me to do flowers at their weddings! Casey has been fantastic in answering questions for me, and assisting me with new and unique flower arrangements for these special events. Every time I look at my wedding photos, I smile knowing that I had the perfect flowers for the perfect day, thanks to Duet Flowers.”
Jennifer B., Investigator for Department of Justice
More of Jennifer’s wonderful work!
We love the work of flower farmer and floral designer Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers and as co-author of this book along with Lynn Byczynski, a longtime flower farmer, we could not have picked a better book to inspire you during the upcoming growing season. Even though this book is geared toward wedding flowers, the combinations are wonderful for any celebration.
The goal of this book is to make it easy for DIY brides and grooms to use local flowers for their weddings (we do have DIY grooms in our studio, too!). This book is also a great guide to floral designers who may not have tapped their local flower farmer for fresh blooms and for dedicated gardeners who want to know what to grow for a wedding. This book is full of plant variety recommendations as well as growing advice and harvest tips.
Most of all, this book has gorgeous photos of flowers with instructions on how to make bouquets, boutonnieres and other wedding flower designs.
Where to find: Kit ordered her copy of the book on her Kindle, but you can also purchase a softcover copy from Amazon.com — Fresh from the Fied: Wedding Flowers.
Bamboo skewers aren’t just for barbeques. We use them to create a sturdy stem for large headed succulent rosettes. When a floral design calls for a large Echeveria head, we forgo the heavy gauge stub wire and substitue a bamboo skewer.
Here is what you do to use it as a stem:
- Cut the rosette from the pot and clean off the dirt.
- Clean off any wilted leaves under the rosette.
- Stick the pointed end of the skewer into the base of the rosette’s stem.
- Secure with Oasis Bind-it Tape or floral tape.
Now it’s ready to use!
You can purchase bamboo skewers at your local grocery store!