A bouquet from Felder Farm purchased at Hillcrest Farmers Market.
From Field to Vase
Demand for Locally Sourced Flowers Blooms Across The Natural State
By Samantha Scheiman
Few simple pleasures rival a bouquet of flowers, and the freshest, most sublime blooms you can buy are those grown locally. Wrapped in paper and artfully tied with twine, local flowers are fixtures at Arkansas farmers markets from April to November, and they’re dazzling in their diversity, representing sought-after heirlooms, specimens too delicate to ship, or even responsibly foraged wildflowers. And their beauty is more than petal-deep: The flowers of local farmer-florists are sourced mere counties—not countries!—away, at the farthest, requiring less fuel to reach you, and many are grown sustainably, with pollinators in mind. It is no wonder, then, that locally sourced flowers, also known as slow flowers, are rising in popularity, elevated by the success of the local-food movement and a modern desire to downshift and enjoy everyday beauty. By bringing local flora into your home, you will not only brighten your table but also discover a deeper connection to the seasons, your neighbors, and the land you live on.
At the spring farmers market, daffodils declare the end of winter in cheerful shades of pale yellow, orange, and cream. Look for double-flowering varieties such as ‘Delnashaugh’ or ‘Tahiti,’ which exhibit layers of petals and a light fragrance. Daintier daffodils such as ‘Poet’s Daffodil’ are lovely in snow-white and make a sweet statement en masse. As the daffodils start to fade, tulips debut in common colors of scarlet and school-bus yellow, but you can also find them in light pink or the deep moody purple of ‘Queen of the Night.’ Ranunculus, which resembles a rose, is another springtime treat, and if you live in northwest Arkansas, Dripping Springs Garden offers ranunculus alongside tulips and lilies in sensational mixed bouquets.
Another quintessential flower of spring is foxglove, whose bell-like flowers clustered along tall stems look incredible in a vase all by themselves! If you are lucky, you might find Icelandic poppies with papery petals in lush reds, yellows, and whites. Keep tabs on Delta Sol Farm in eastern Arkansas if poppies are a must-have for you.
Summertime offers an unparalleled abundance of blooms in a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. Without question, zinnias are the star of the summer farmers market: They are the most common flower you can find and available in every color of the rainbow! Keep an eye out for cactus-flowered zinnias, which exhibit unique quilled petals. Other varieties of note include the aptly named ‘Peppermint Stick’ and ‘Queen Lime’ in a wonderful shade of chartreuse. Zinnias shine in mixed-color arrangements, but if understated elegance is preferred, hydrangeas in cream or robin’s egg blue might fit the bill.
Another flower with a decidedly elegant look is lisianthus, often found in yellow, violet, and white and available in central Arkansas from Wye Mountain Flowers and Berries. Dramatic and tropical-looking, gladiolus is easy to find in summer, and bi-colored varieties are especially striking, such as those grown by Whitton Farms in eastern Arkansas. Though not as common as the zinnia, dahlias are summer’s other darling and a favorite of brides. Seek out dinnerplate types such as ‘Café au Lait,’ which display giant show stopping blooms in dreamy pastel hues!
Autumn is the season for sunflowers, which offer a rustic beauty that pairs nicely with Mason jars or French flower buckets. Unique bi-colored varieties in shades of plum and gold are available from Bell Urban Farm in Conway, while other farmer-florists are growing teddy bear sunflowers, which look as adorable as they sound. In mid-fall, when many flowers are fading, heirloom chrysanthemums ramp up production, yielding whimsical flowers with spidery petals in a spectrum of pinks and yellows. Felder Farm of Little Rock blends chrysanthemums with end-of-season dahlias, creating exquisite bouquets that are truly works of art.
As autumn progresses, the season’s last flowers are increasingly accompanied in bouquets by non-floral elements such as grasses, herbs, or even okra pods, which add interesting texture. When the last flowers finally succumb to frost, do not despair: Celebrate the holiday season and purchase a handmade wreath from your favorite farmer-florist and give thanks for a wonderful year of blooms and beauty!
While your local farmers market is your best starting point for finding local, seasonal blooms, other avenues exist for purchasing slow flowers. Some local-food cooperatives such as New South Produce Cooperative (newsouthcoop.com) and online farmers markets like the Arkansas Local Food Network (littlerock.localfoodmarketplace.com) offer options for customers to purchase locally grown flowers, and increasingly, such bouquets can be found at specialty stores or pop-up community events.
Wherever you find them, slow flowers are bound to help you cultivate more joy in the moment and richer relationships with local people and places dear to you. They truly help you live your most beautiful life, firmly rooted in community and sustainability.