Using 'seasonal' flowers for your event - pros and cons

It's the most wonderful time of the year for a flowerista!  Spring is when the earth wakes from a long slumber, and the first signs of life are already with us - the witch hazels are done blooming, the first crocus are here, the miniature iris in full swing, and the hellebores just starting to show buds.  And love is in the air!  Engagement season is here, with holiday brides beginning to search for venues and photographers, and bridal shows every weekend.  Inevitably, almost every single one of my potential brides asks, "What flowers will be in season for my wedding?" and "Can I save money using local and seasonal flowers?"

In bloom today in my garden:

'Tutu' hellebore

'Spring Beauty' crocus
'Gordon' iris reticulata

Because of the miraculous network of transportation in place around the world, the concept of 'seasonal' flowers is almost non-existent.  We can get tulips in July and peonies in December.  The question to ask yourself is what those flowers will look like having flown from the other side of the planet, where they are in season since it's summer there.  And will the cost of that plane ride fit into your budget?

Using local and seasonal flowers is a wonderful idea, but it may require a readjustment in your expectations.   For example, December through February, brides in Northern Virginia might expect to carry a bouquet of magnolia leaves and holly berry, with pine and spruce, coral colored dogwood branches and perhaps an anemone or two from a greenhouse.  Blossoms this time of year are small and delicate, not lending themselves to use in any but the smallest and most delicate of bouquets.

March sees the first daffodils and tulips, April is the month of more blooming bulbs, ranunculus, poppy,  and then WHAM! May hits and the world of flowers opens up its arms and wants to hug you.  Peonies, lilacs, alliums, the first roses, early bloom perennials are everywhere, and the party continues into June. When our heat really gets going in July, the sunflowers and zinnias heat up as well, and the herbs come online, rosemary for remembrance, basil for warm thoughts, feverfew for cheerfulness.  August and September through frost sees a second flush of perennials and the dahlias.  Oh the dahlias!  October and November see grasses and other dried materials boosting bouquets, and the hoop houses come back into production to extend the season.

Some of the most beautiful designs I've ever assembled have been products of seasonal flowers that I grew, or picked up at one of our local farms.

Duchess de Nemours peony, feathery astilbe, the bells of leucojum, and freesia all framed                                               with June hosta leaves and all from local gardens,  with variegated pittosporum from Florida

blue bachelor's button and 'Cosmopolitan' miscanthus grass from my garden and                                                                     the common weed, peppergrass, from the rocky strip in front of our house

local zinnias, dahlias, gomphrena, craspedia, northern sea oats and St. John's wort, with a touch of California roses in a beautiful orange and clear yellow (Tropical Amazon and Skyline)
Isn't local beautiful?

So what are the pros?  Supporting local growers, unbelievably fresh and bright product, lower overall cost (you're not paying for the plane ride!), and the ability to have an organic and sustainably produced material.  Does anything taste better than a tomato pulled from your own garden?  It's the same with flowers.  **A note about lower cost**  Most locally grown seasonal product is a less expensive alternative than something shipped from California or South America, but high cost flowers, peonies for example, are a more expensive product whether flown in or grown here.

Cons?  The biggest is your choice of flowers and greens is limited to what's in season and available.  But if you want the freshest, most vibrant flowers with a completely natural feel, choose local and seasonal.  If you're not willing to completely hand over your flower plan to what's seasonal where you are, mix and match with what's commercially available, combining the best of both worlds.