© 2019 Alberta Girl Acres

Seasonal Bloom Guide

"Why only seasonal?"

Seasonal blooms are sustainable blooms. While it's absolutely possible to grow many of the dreamiest varieties of flowers right here in Alberta, it isn't possible to grow them year round without costly, energy-hungry heated greenhouses. Every flower has a season, just as fruits, vegetables, grains, and every other sort of plant does. Unfortunately, the industry of imported flowers has eroded our sense of when flowers are naturally available, which has led to a demand for chemically-enhanced, factory perfect wholesale blooms, often produced through exploitative and environmentally damaging means. Reference

Is an imported flower more valuable than a local flower? No. Both are labour intensive and require exceptional care in finding their way from their fields into your home or event. But what are you paying for?

 

Imported blooms are often farmed in large scale facilities where labour laws are minimal, wages are low, and chemical usage is common. Shipping them halfway around the world uses massive amounts of fuel, and many arrive weeks later, damaged and unusable, pumped full of preservatives. There are some wholesale farms that implement organic and sustainable practices, but the importation process still adds fuel usage and loss of freshness.

When you buy local flowers, you're paying for sustainable practices, fair labour, and the freshest and healthiest blooms available. You're supporting the local economy, building community, and making an environmentally friendly choice. You may not be able to get peonies in November, but you're contributing to a much healthier industry.

Supporting local flowers means understanding and respecting the seasonality of our pretties, and doing away with idea of "on-demand" blooms. There's also an inherent harmony that comes with supporting local product, as flowers take on a whole new meaning while signalling various chapters of the seasonal year. Springtime peonies, mid-summer dahlias, early fall sunflowers... sustainable flowers go so much further than "those are my favourite and I want them". Respectfully tuning into the earth and its cycles, and celebrating what it gives us when it gives, is a very satisfying way to love flowers.

Below is a handy guide to the seasonality of our blooms, according to our growing zone (4a). We ask that anyone interested in our blooms takes a peek at this guide first, so we're all on the same page in terms of what is available when. *Please note that the listed varieties are not guaranteed, and this guide is not meant to function as an order sheet,*

Spring

April, May, June

In our climate, we technically count April as "spring", but more often than not it gets swallowed by winter. Until we establish more high tunnels on our farm, it's very unlikely we'll begin any substantial spring harvests until mid May. 

From mid May to late June, some of the blooms we look forward to are (in order of appearance):

Tulips, daffodils, ranunculus, anemones, fruit blossoms, lilacs, allium, early roses, irises, peonies, poppies, calendula, yarrow, alfalfa, snapdragons, nigella, wild sunflowers, lupin, daisies, delphinium, foxglove, sweet peas, wolf willow, alfalfa, raspberry greens, mint, and some perennial sage.

Summer

July, August, early September

Early summer blooms consist of many varieties listed in "Spring", and most summer flowers don't really start producing until mid July.

From mid July until early September, the blooms we look forward to are (in order of appearance):

Ranunculus, anemones, lupin, poppies, calendula, yarrow, alfalfa, snapdragons, nigella, sunflowers, daisies, delphinium, foxglove, marigolds, zinnias, dahlias, strawflower, scabiosa, gladiolus, cosmos, laceflower, bells of ireland, rudbeckia, godetia, lisianthus, balloon flower, broom corn, ornamental grasses, amaranth, basil, mint, raspberries, sage, wormwood, dill, lavender, larkspur, asters.

Fall

Mid September to Late October

Fall is when all the beds begin going to seed, and the cooler nights start slowing bloom production. This is when we rely heavily on our cold-hardy varieties to pull through light frosts while providing a gorgeous autumn palette.

From mid September to late October, the varieties we adore are (in order of appearance):

Snapdragons, yarrow, sunflowers, asters, daisies, delphinium, larkspur, lavender, strawflower, scabiosa, laceflower, bells of ireland, rudbeckia, godetia, lisianthus (covered), dahlias (covered), broom corn, ornamental grasses and grains, amaranth, basil (covered), mint, sage, wormwood, cattails, sedum, crab apples.

Winter

Early November to Late March

In our zone, it's a tragic fact that we must endure long winters while others in balmier climates continue to grow gorgeous blooms. Such is the nature of growing sustainably. Because of our short growing season, we double down on flower preservation efforts throughout the year, and in the coming years we will be providing beautiful dried and pressed blooms throughout the cold months. 

 

Winter also affords us a wonderful stretch of quiet to plan and learn, and during this time we offer cut flower business courses. Making our fleeting warm months as productive as possible takes a lot of careful planning and strategizing, and in many ways winter's forced sabbatical is gift. It's also okay to slow down and accept the beauty of dormancy. It makes those cheery blooms all the more precious when they reappear.