Saturday I cut from the garden what surely are some of the last flowers of the season. In my absence from Hudson the past two weeks, the geraniums and dahlias mistook their forced drought (alas, there has been no significant rain) for a death sentence and are fiercely in bloom right now.
I love having fresh flowers inside, and I relish in them during the growing season. When I first moved to New York, I was smitten with flower stalls everywhere, from in front of the poshest supermarket to the lowliest Bodega. For a long time I wished to have enough money in my budget to buy fresh bouquets each week, as I’d read was a Friday ritual of one of my favorite authors. She would buy flowers on her way home and spend an hour or so arranging and placing them around her apartment. What a lovely fantasy.
Fantasy indeed. I still love flowers, and my budget still won’t allow for their regular purchase. But now I’m okay with that fact, since learned that cut flowers sold in the US are basically an eco nightmare. Consider these *facts:
- Cut flowers are a 40 billion dollar a year industry
- 79% of cut flowers are grown in South America, Africa, or Southeast Asia
- The flowers are grown using fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides
- Some of these substances (DDT; methyl-bromide) are banned in the US
- DDT and methyl-bromide have been linked to rashes, respiratory problems, and birth defects
- DDT has wiped out may bird and animal populations
- Methyl-bromide is associated with ozone layer destruction
- Cut flowers are transported far distances using oil and petroleum
- Cut flowers must be refrigerated every mile of their journey, creating further environmental stress
- Upon arrival at their destination, flowers are sprayed with chemicals to rid bugs and pass inspection
- I could go on but this is sufficiently depressing enough
I’ve realized I don’t want to be part of this particular cycle. My environmental impact is already huge, and no amount of flowers will pretty it up. I’m grateful now to have a garden of my own in which to grow flowers, and I aspire to have a garden like that of Sarah Raven. But I’ve also become fine with the idea of only having fresh flowers half of the year (give or take). It makes the first crocus and daffodil of spring, and the last dahlia and chrysanthemum of autumn all the more special.
*Source: The Scary Facts About Cut Flowers by Linda Ingham writing for The Alternative Daily