Where have all the flowers gone? OR Vote for Variety!

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“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Right beneath our noses something sneaky is happening. Our choices are becoming more limited, even as it appears that there is greater diversity in the marketplace than ever before. Some things aren’t even what we think they are anymore.  Like milk. Milk has become a manufactured product, rather than a natural one.

Test me out, and see if I’m right.  Take a walk through your local supermarket. Are some of your favourite foods no longer being stocked?  Have many of them become available only as home-brand or generic brand items?

The truth is that fewer and fewer companies are producing and controlling more and more of our consumer take-home items. Small companies are absorbed into the larger ones and many of the brands we know and love disappear forever. Why, even my local lolly hangout, The Mullumbimby Chocolate Shop, is finding it harder and harder to source the old varieties of sweets.  Many of these companies produce their candies by hand, on equipment from the 1800s and 1900s. As owners die, or the companies are taken over, these old lines are phased out in favour of mass produced sweets. Goodbye Lemon Sherbet Bombs and Raspberry Twists, hello Skittles and Snickers Bars.

Add to this the global giant Monsanto, which dominates seed production and distribution throughout the world, and my world is painted a little drabber.

But I digress, because today I want to talk about flowers.  There is a link between the two themes though, I promise!

There is a dairy farm not far from mine where two elderly brothers tend a flower garden.  It’s not just any flower garden; they grow dahlias, and enter the blooms into the local Agricultural Shows every year.  The brothers grow an enormous variety of types, and they sell the excess flowers for ten dollars a bucket.  The buckets are placed under a tree on the side of the road, with an honour system, so that you leave your money under a rock in their letterbox. They ask that you bring the bucket back when you’re finished…

dahlias 1

At the end of each season the men collect the seed from their plants, including any variations from type or new crosses.  The seeds are then painstakingly placed into  labelled envelopes, catalogued, and stored in boxes in the shed until next season.

Some of the seedstock goes back to the men’s own grandparents.  Relatives brought a veritable garden in their luggage when they came out from England by boat, in the form of saved seed.  Other seed has been traded locally with neighbours who got their own seeds from family in Europe or America. And of course seed is often exchanged at shows and garden fairs.

dahlias

Every time I look at these dahlias now I wonder about the story behind them. I think of the people who tended the plants, saved the seeds, passed them on.

It saddens me a little. Most people get their gardens from the Nursery section of a supermarket or a mega hardware store these days. There’s so little choice – a predictable selection of propragated plants, multiple cheerful punnets of a few common annuals, one or two special varieties being plugged by TV personalities.

Few modern gardeners save seed.  Most people don’t even know how to plant or care for a garden anymore. So many simple skills for sustainability being lost. I do consider growing flowers to be about sustainability – sustainability of our soul and our creative heart, and sustainability of relationships and ties throughout history. Sure we need fruits and vegetables for survival, but an existence without flowers would be so much less satisfying.

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Perhaps there is some small pocket of space where you can create a friendship garden or help keep heritage varieties of plants in existence. Join a garden club, or talk to the oldies in your local area!

You can also buy heritage plants and seeds from the following places:

The Diggers Club – Australia

Eden Seeds – Australia

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – America

Landreth Seed Company – America

The Real Seed Catalogue – UK

Thomas Etty Esquire – UK

It’s gardening, not rocket science.  Truly it’s not hard, and it can be very rewarding.  If you’re time poor, or have no space to garden, at least buy produce from your local farmers markets, and support the growers who care about biodiversity and quality food.

And while we’re at it, why not vote with your dollar, and support the many other small businesses that provide us with variety, quality and employment in other areas of our lives? Avoid the large and no-name generic brands.  Ask for your favourite brands by name. Your purchasing power keeps these businesses alive, and allows us to enjoy freedom of choice.

At times you may feel powerless in this world, but as a consumer your dollar counts.  Use it to vote for variety! Bless ♥ xx

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22 thoughts on “Where have all the flowers gone? OR Vote for Variety!

  1. We get the privilege to vote 3 times a day with what we put on our plates and in our mouth…I try to make those votes count! Thanks for the reminder about flowers Nic, we need flowers, but we need the bees especially. X

  2. wow 95% gone. I am the same as Laurie, I had no idea either. Every home I have lived in, in goes a flower garden, I just don’t feel the same without flowers around me. The one flower of so many that reminds me of my Nana would be alyssum, my Dad would be blue hydrangeas. My son pansies and my daughter marigolds. When my kids were little they would get to pick out seedlings they wanted to flower. seriously, I cannot believe 95% gone! I truly hope you feel better and better every minute of the day, blessings xo

  3. oh this is one of my pet bugbears, when i go into the two main supermarket chains and see their generic brand products, usually there are two options, their product and one other, it makes me so sad to all the smaller producers who have been moved out of the market as these bullies dominate. monopolies kill small entrepreneurs and diversity – love love love this post! sx

  4. When my Grandma Rose passed away I dug up some of the flowers she had and planted them in my gardens. There is one very tall beautiful yellow flower that I may never know the name of since I can’t seem to find them in any flower book. They are about 6 foot tall with plenty of large mum like flowers on them. They’re now my beautiful treasures from the past that will always make me think of her.

  5. Hello Nicole was just thinking during a quiet time on Sunday morning that I must rescue the old cultivated primroses that my granny always grew as well as some, an old neighbour gave in a box when she had loads and I was a young bride with a garden and home to sort. Two types that are old (very old) and out there in the garden somewhere. Must rescue them, cherish them and propogate, propogate, propogate.x

  6. Didn’t realize this either! It is just another very sad reminder of where our world is headed. Your posts usually give me an energized and uplifting feeling. This one has just made me sad. I live in a small place with no real garden, but have set up concrete boxes on ledges outside to grow my flowers in. I MUST have flowers in my life. And I DO save seeds and reuse them each year. Never realized this is not the norm. I will also FB this in the hope of bringing this awareness to others. Thanks for sharing this important information with us. Hope you are doing well!
    with love light and JOY 🙂

  7. When I walk the woods and view the multitude of wild flowers that grow hither and yon, I am reminded that humans are so silly and so much of our attempts to control are futile. Mother Nature will have her way, with or without us along for the ride.

  8. Yes, don’t despair – Northey Street style City Farms can be found in all our capital cities, and probably the smaller ones too. There is a lot of activity in this space with people relearning gardening skills and gardening passion. There is also this wonderful ning group – a large network of sustainable gardeners in the South East Corner:
    http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/

  9. Wonderful post, Nicole. It is so sad that it’s not just flowers, but tomatoes, beans, lettuces, squashes, apples, well, just about everything available is only a fraction of what there used to be.

    Bravo to those brothers for growing and saving such beautiful, beautiful flowers.

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