For me it started when I was twenty-something, I was obsessed with entertaining and had no money. I had a little vegetable garden that I loved to cook out of, so I would invite friends for dinner. Setting a beautiful table was something I learned from my mother, but I couldn't afford the arrangements that she would order from the florist. My answer was to pick herbs, flowers and even vegetables and stuff them into yard sale finds to make arrangements for the table. It became my "style".
The tradition of clipping from the garden continued when we first opened the Bistro; that never changed, you can still find our servers picking and arranging just before dinner. But along the way something else did. The first time I heard of it was from Trish, my chef friend turned flower aficionado. She, a great hunter and gatherer of all things wild and beautiful, was starting a new business -- farm to vase flower arranging and workshops in finding the beauty in your own backyard - nothing from Holland or South America, just whatever is in season -right here, right now.
Slowly the buzz started to grow, and then we all knew it was more than a buzz, the same movement that was bringing locally grown food to our tables began trending with flowers. This momentum was a gift for my flower bed and for my relationship with Kristen, my gardener, who has been wagging her finger at me for years for harvesting too many flowers from a garden that wasn’t planted to be cutting bed. When Kristen would reprimand me, I would knowingly nod, but I would keep on cutting. I just wanted those seasonal flowers on my table! Now thanks to my growers, Kristen is happy, my garden is beautiful and so are my tables... well, maybe we are snipping just a tiny bit.
This movement isn't stopping at little bouquets for our tables.
At some point the wedding flowers started to change. I would find myself meeting with the bride and groom for farm to table weddings and the natural progression would be that the flowers should also be local and seasonal. And our smart savvy florist and farmers didn't miss a beat in jumping into planting cutting beds. It's a pleasure working with such talented, innovative and hardworking people.
Right now, scattered around the North Country you can find acres and acres of fields of flowers being grown for seasonal bouquets.These flowers can be found in local farmers markets, through a CSA, farm stands and even in some flower shops. If you have the good fortune to be roaming New Hampshire's North Country this summer, consider picking up a bouquet. Or better yet, make a day of seeking out these growers, their shops and farms -- beautiful and inspirational.
~Tarrnation Flower Farm in Franconia, NH
~Dutch Bloemenwinkle in Jackson, NH
~Meadowstone Farms in Bethlehem, NH
~Sherman Farm, Pick your own! in Center Conway, NH
This week's inspirations from the farm
A plate of pickled goodness for the table -Kimche cucumbers, middle eastern pickled ramps and fiddleheads + Japanese pickled radishes and turnips
Argentinian forever braised Beef sandwich -chimichurri sauce, roasted peppers & onions, cheddar cheese house chips
Duck Confit with Rhubarb, port & ginger -a parsnip and potato puree and charred baby carrots with mint and basil butter
Chicken Livers with NH Mushrooms, sherry and creme Fraiche on crispy risotto cake, wilted greens