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Hello Flower Friends! 
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Campanula, also known as bellflower (obvi) and Canterbury bells, is in my shop this week. It comes in pink, purple and white and is available for just a few weeks - typically at the end of May and beginning of June. Like everything else this year, it's early. Although its availability is short-lived, it lasts a long time in the vase. This one's a keeper.
Most of my farmers grow the Champion series, either Champion or Champion Pro. Champion has a bushier stem which is good for wrapped bouquets. Champion Pro has smaller flowers and is easier to use in centerpieces. There is also a double bloom campanula called Flore Pleno. Hillen Homestead and Two Boots both tried to grow it over the last few seasons without much luck. I'm happy to stick with the singles.
I love using campanula in wedding designs because the unique size and shape of the blooms get people talking. Years ago, I did flowers for a couple we fondly referred to as "the Julies." I put campanula in both of their bridal bouquets and in all of their centerpieces. They and their families still remark to me today about how much they loved the flowers and how the campanula stole the show.  
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Last year, Maya from Hillen Homestead brought us an orange variety of geum for the first time called Totally Tangerine. I fell in love. It's back this week. The stems are tall, and the color is a pleasing contrast to my pink peonies. We have some fun asking customers to try to say the flower's name.
How do you pronounce “geum?”
Here's a link to Merriam-Websters. Click the phonetic spelling with the speaker icon to play a recording of the pronunciation. How did you do?
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Last week, I speculated on potential florists for King Charles' coronation. Well, I should have put some money down. (Did Vegas take prop bets on the coronation?) I was thrilled to learn on Thursday that Shane Connolly was chosen. Shane (we're tight like that) was the florist for William and Kate's wedding and is a sustainability leader in the floral industry. Just like my shop, the king's florist is committed to designing with local flowers. 
Shane sourced flowers for the coronation from 80 UK farms as well as foliage from the five Royal Horticulture Society gardens. (The bloody Dutch be damned!) Flowers from the Farm, an organization of UK flower farms, worked with Shane on logistics. Buckingham Palace put out a lovely video capturing the idyllic effort. Everyone involved wanted to show that local flowers and sustainable floral practices could be elevated for the most special of occasions when all the world was watching. 
Did I mention Shane occasionally comments on my Instagram?
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Maryland Governor Wes Moore approved legislation this week to authorize local officials in the state to regulate or prohibit people growing invasive running bamboo without containment. I was pretty sure before learning about this law that bamboo wasn't native to Maryland, but everything else I hear about bamboo is good news. It is a fast growing and sustainable crop that absorbs carbon dioxide and creates oxygen. It can be turned into building material and textiles replacing less eco-friendly alternatives. Plus, have you ever seen a panda chow down on some shoots? Totes adorbs. Unfortunately, there are harmful effects when bamboo and other plants grow wild outside of their native environment.
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The United States Department of Agriculture defines invasive plants as non-native or alien to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction can cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health. That's not good. Invasives are often overlooked by floral designers and flower farmers. I have bought and designed with many plants I didn't know were invasive over the years. I founded my business on selling local flowers as a more sustainable option. I didn't realize some of my locally grown product were antithetical to my mission. Ignorance is not an excuse.
I started to become aware of the issue a few years ago when I posted a picture of some bull thistle I used in a wreath. One of my Instagram followers commented that it was invasive. At the time, I had a general understanding of what an invasive was, but I didn't think it was a concern to me as a florist. The thistle was dry when I bought it. It had been foraged from a grower’s property. I thought, what could the harm be, but I stopped using it to quell any controversy.
My ersatz invasives education continued piecemeal via social media when Bittersweet blew up on a private ASCFG message board. This vine, a staple in my designs for years, could propagate unwanted through its seeds when composted. Ok, bittersweet was out. Next to go was fast spreading autumn olive which I learned was a problem by listening to The Ethics of Foraging from the Sustainable Flowers podcast. Tansy then bit the dust when another Instagram comment informed me that it is poisonous to cattle. I was starting to realize I was part of the problem.
I began to question every unfamiliar flower on my growers' availability lists. Japanese sprirea? Definitely suspect. A quick Google search revealed it's also an invasive. This type of spirea has very small seeds that can easily get established in undisturbed areas. It grows densely and can outcompete the native plants wildlife require as food and habitat. The list goes on. There are so many invasives sold by farmers and used by florists everyday. Most are unaware of the issue. I needed to become smarter about invasives and do more.
I joined an international committee of farmers, florists and educators led by Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers dedicated to spreading the word about the dangers of invasives in floristry. We met this winter to learn from invasive experts around the world including Dr. Doug Tallamy. We then made a plan to create educational materials designed specifically for floral industry professionals. I will continue to post our progress in this newsletter. 
Kermit was right. It's not easy being green.
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One of my goals for this newsletter is to give you a look into what my life is like working as a florist. Last week was super busy and one of my designers was on vacation. I needed to bring in reinforcements. Here's a recap:
Monday is usually a day off for me and my staff, but last week I had a rare Monday wedding. One of my neighbors from Red Emma's got married. There weren't too many deliverables, and I did most of the personal flower designing over the weekend. I also brought in Chris for a couple of hours of freelance. He designed a gorgeous arrangement entry display for the reception. It was a manageable and fun job with nothing else going on.
Again, Tuesdays are usually part of my “weekend,” but I never want to turn down corporate work. I had a small retirement party (six table centerpieces and two tall vases) to deliver to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. I also needed to design for a big event (77 centerpieces) for McCormick & Company to deliver on Wednesday morning. I have been a vendor with both JHU and McCormick for years and greatly value our relationships. I had to ask my lead designer, Jess, (also usually off on Tuesday) to put in an extra day. I convinced Irene, a previous employee, to pick up the clippers again for a few hours. I also brought in freelancer Carmen to clean and prep flowers. My husband, Eric, did the delivery. It was a full day.
I packed up the the McCormick delivery early with Eric. I got him out of bed with a promise of donuts at Wegmans when we were done. Jess was at the shop putting together our Wednesday subscriptions and orders. Since I had the van, Jess could not start the weekly deliveries. We also had Flower Happy Hour so we were tight on time. When we got back from McCormick (Jess got donuts too), I sent Eric out on deliveries for the afternoon. Happy Hour was hoppin' and I was very tired when I got home at 8:00. I only made it through a few songs on American Idol. (Iam is my favorite.) 
I had a full studio of designers again getting ready for two more events on Friday in addition to our regular Thursday subscriptions and orders. Jen Majewski squeezed in some freelance design for me after her day ended teaching high school English. Eric, again, needed to replace Jess on deliveries so I could utilizes her design skills in the shop. It was a reasonable eight hour work day.  
Our work on Thursday was for two different alumni celebrations. Both ordered arrangements in their school colors. We made two dozen arrangements in yellow and white for Bryn Mawr, and another two dozen arrangements for Friends in red, burgundy and white. Delivery boy, Eric was at it again for these orders plus our Friday regulars. Stacy, one of my long time designers, spent the day designing over 80 bud vases for two weekend events, while Jess and I worked on personals for a wedding.
As you can see, I am mostly an event florist with some individual orders and no real retail. Flower Happy Hour is fun, but my favorite LoCoFlo experience is Saturday mornings at my shop. I'm open for walk-ins during a farmers market one block away. Last Saturday was a social respite before my afternoon wedding delivery in Fells Point. The delivery was easy sweet-peasy with Eric and we ate tacos to celebrate our (nearly) completed week.
Sunday was the 2nd in a series of fundraising dinners for the Farm Alliance of Baltimore. The Farm Alliance is a organization started my friend and flower supplier Maya Kosok of Hillen Homestead. She founded the organization about ten years ago to educate and support urban farmers in Baltimore. I'm a beneficiary of their mission and serve on the committee to plan these fundraisers. For this dinner, Two Boots Farm donated the flowers we designed on Friday.  
What a week! This was definitely not normal, but I had so much flower fun! It's not even mother's day yet.
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My Baltimore studio has limited seasonal hours for walk-ins: Saturday mornings 8:00AM-12:00PM and Wednesday afternoons 3:00PM-7:00PM. Check our website before dropping in. Here's what's going on in the shop:
You can also visit with me on the farm! I will be at The Gardeners Workshop in Newport News, VA for Open Farm on June 24.

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