When you introduce yourself as a florist, people have questions. One of the first questions is usually, “Where do your flowers come from?”
The answer is a lot more complicated than it was in the 1950’s, when my Dad, Bill Martin, personally knew and visited all the farms where his flowers were grown. There were only a few kinds of flowers, like carnations, roses, stephanotis, gardenias, gladiolas and violets. The seasons dictated the varieties that were available.
Fast forward to the 2000’s and we are sourcing our flowers from all around the world. Carnations mainly come from Columbia, and the best roses are from Ecuador. But there are still growers in Ontario producing beautiful chrysanthemums, freesia, lilies, even anthuriums and callas! Our gerbera grower has greenhouses in the Brampton area. Walking into his greenhouse in the winter is like an instant vacation – so peaceful, colourful and bright. Our seasonal plants, like Easter lilies and poinsettias, are all grown in the Niagara region. And the beautiful phalaenopsis orchid plants are now grown here.
Other flowers are imported from Holland, Thailand, Michigan, California and Florida as needed. At Christmas, we’ll be bringing in cedar, pine, noble fir and holly from BC. The west coast rainforest grows beautiful greens.
We are no longer limited by the seasons. For example, tulips are available year round now, one way or another. So it’s possible to carry 25 or 30 different varieties of flowers and have a great selection all the time.
How do you know which flowers to buy? There are some general things to look for: the foliage should be healthy and green, there should be some blooms or petals still to open. The stem should be firm. The florist should be able to tell you how fresh the flowers are and how long you can expect them to last.
Once you know what type of flowers you want, have some fun with the colours. Sometimes it’s nice to use flowers that are different shades of the same colour. Other times, you may want a colour explosion! Add some berries or unusual greens to give your bouquet some interesting texture. As you experiment, you’ll become more confident in your ability to choose a bouquet that is soothing, uplifting, comforting or cheering.
Of course, the floral artists at Martin’s are always ready to create an arrangement that says exactly what you want it to. They are the experts who can choose just the right combination from all the flowers on hand. Let our flowers express what words alone cannot. Like they said in the 50’s: Say it with flowers!