How to Buy Flowers in Winter

It's not spring yet, and you're craving some floral beauty in your life - I hear you! But what's a conscious consumer to do when flowers aren't in season? 

Vermont flower farm local flowers

It can be approached a bit like you do your grocery shopping. Suppose you buy local whenever possible, but can't live without coffee and avocado toast (me either). By looking for the Fair Trade label on your coffee and a Certified Organic sticker on your avocados, you feel confident you're doing your part to consider the environment and labor practices in the checkout lane. 

With flowers, it's a little more tricky. There are very few labeling requirements for flowers sold in the United States. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to even discern where in the world that grocery store bouquet was grown. 

Still, any labeling or signage is the best place to start.

Vermont flower farm local flowers

1. Read the labels (if there are any)

  • Certified American Grown is the best choice, considering a whopping 80% of flowers consumed in the U.S. were grown overseas. 
  • Veriflora labels promise that growers strive for fair working conditions, eco-friendly practices, and a reduction in chemicals used.
  • Florverde labeling means blooms were produced in consideration of water conservation, pollution reduction, and reduced pesticide use.
  • Familiar Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance labels convey the same standards to flowers as they do to qualifying foods; namely fair wages for workers and environmental responsibility, respectively.

If you don't notice these labels where you're shopping for flowers, make sure you let the store know. Supermarkets, natural food stores, and boutiques all make their buying decisions based on what customers want. 

Vermont flower farm local flowers

2. Consider the season - and redefine "flowers"

You might think there's not much for locally grown botanicals in winter, but if you're a bit creative with your definition, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Evergreen and dried-flower bouquets and wreaths are often available in November and December. And as early as February, you can find pussy willows and other branches that have been forced into bloom.

Vermont flower farm local flowers

After all, your main goal is to bring a bit of nature indoors and evoke joy (and, make you forget about the ever-growing snow piles).

3. Delay gratification just a bit longer

Vermont flower farm local flowers

Look forward to spring's arrival by perusing seed catalogs in front of the fire, or sign up for a Spring Flowers Subscription. Once you know you have blooms to look forward to, it will help pass the last gray days of winter. 

Wedding Flowers: A la Carte

Vermont flower farm wedding flowers

Does any of this sound like you?

  • I like the idea of making my own simple wedding flowers, but I'm worried about how much time it will take, and I don't want to stress about that 
  • I'm on a budget, but really want to incorporate as many local and sustainable elements as we can into our Vermont wedding 
  • I'm ok with simple reception flowers, but I'd really like to walk down the aisle with the bouquet of my dreams
  • There are 10+ people in my wedding party

If so, our A la Carte wedding option might be the perfect fit.

  Kelly Fletcher Photography

Kelly Fletcher Photography

With this option, you can purchase buckets of blooms to make your own centerpieces and other reception decor, and leave the more complicated pieces like bouquets to a professional designer. 

You'll get to use incredibly beautiful local Vermont flowers while staying within your target budget, and not have the stress of doing it all. 

Sound good?

Get in touch and we'll help create a custom package that works with your style and budget. 

Wedding Flowers: Do-It-Yourself

Your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life. Couples typically spend nine to 12 months planning their event. When it comes to flowers, the majority of couples will work with a floral designer to take care of all the floral and styling details. 

   Jarvis Chen

 Jarvis Chen

There is another option, and it's one that I've seen growing in popularity for a couple reasons, and that's DIY (do-it-yourself) wedding flowers. 

Why choose DIY flowers?

Most of my DIY clients choose to do their own wedding flowers in order to meet their budget needs. There's no shame in this. Weddings are expensive! My DIY clients are often over the moon to learn they can incorporate high-quality, locally-grown Vermont flowers at their wedding on a small budget. Win-win!

Vermont DIY wedding flowers

On the other hand, some of our brides are just really excited about creating arrangements with their close friends the day before their wedding. If you've got a gaggle of creative friends willing to help you tackle the task, it's definitely doable. I love hearing about the fun my DIY brides had playing with flowers while sipping champagne with their besties!

Then there are the couples getting hitched backyard barbecue-style with only a handful of guests, and they just want some vintage jars and bottles filled with summer blooms to decorate picnic tables. 

How to be successful doing your own wedding flowers

A fair amount of forethought and planning are necessary to pull it off. Consider the following:

  Jarvis Chen

Jarvis Chen

1. Your vision

What do you want your wedding flowers to look like? If you envision simple, rustic, or wildflower-themed florals, DIY wedding flowers might be a good fit.

Are you more of a Pinterest and wedding blog bride? Do you envision classic, lush, or elegant wedding flowers? Better leave it to the professionals. You're only setting yourself up for a lot of stress and inevitable disappointment otherwise. 

Vermont DIY wedding flowers

DIY brides typically make their own reception decor (centerpieces plus arrangements for the bar, dessert table, and guest book or gift area). If they are comfortable with the idea of a simple, wildflower-inspired bouquet, they may also make bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding party. If not, they may purchase professionally-designed bouquets and wearables a la carte.

If you're interested in floral installations like arches or chuppas, you'll probably want to reconsider the DIY route. 

2. How much time and help do you have?

DIY weddings with 150 guests and 6-8 helpers typically spend a minimum of 4 hours on their flowers the day before the wedding. 

Vermont DIY wedding flowers

Remember that beforehand, you will also spend time sourcing your supplies and vases, ordering your flowers, and picking them up from the flower farm. 

Be sure to delegate the task of set-up on the big day to a couple of trusted friends that are not part of your wedding party.

3. What are your venue's storage options?

Some venues will have space in a walk-in cooler to store your flowers, but this is rare - and sometimes risky (ie. centerpieces knocked over in a crammed cooler the morning of the wedding. It happens). More typically, venues may be able to offer a shaded outdoor area or air-conditioned room to stash your creations. 

4. Flower seasonality

When purchasing blooms from a local farm, you will be treated to the absolute best of what's in season. Be sure to inquire about what flowers are typically in bloom at that time. If peonies are your favorite flower but your wedding is in August, you'll need to be flexible and embrace seasonality. While peonies are long gone by high summer, we will have a dazzling selection of dahlias! 

Vermont flower farm DIY wedding flowers

You may also need to be flexible with your colors. While I can certainly provide you beautiful blooms in shades of pink, white, and green,  I cannot promise significant quantities of perfectly swatch-matched hues of dusty rose, ecru, and sage green.

If you desire an exact color match, choose the full-service option in order to work with us so we can assemble the color palette you desire.

5. What type of vase will you use?

DIY flowers are best suited to Mason jars, bud vases or vintage bottle collections, or plain glass vases available from craft stores. 

There's a lot to consider when thinking about DIY wedding flowers. If you're feeling at all overwhelmed by the choices and considerations, my best advice is to go with full-service design so that we can attend to all the details and let you cross this big item off your list.

If it sounds manageable for the most part but you're not totally confident about making your own bouquets, or perhaps you have a large wedding party, our a la carte option might be a better fit. 

If you're more excited than ever to dive into making your own wedding flowers after reading this, then give us a shout to request an information packet and reservation form! 

  Jarvis Chen    

Jarvis Chen


New Year, Radical Perspective

It's the season for new beginnings, and while I don't typically create resolutions per se, I do take time to set goals at the dawning of each new year. More than ever, I'm aware of the desire many of us have to simplify, slow down, and create more joy in our lives.

Finding joy in a Vermont sunset


"Healthy by Design" is the title of an article in Eating Well magazine this month. It lists how one might "match your kitchen layout to your New Year's resolution." Author Lucy M. Casale suggests posting a weekly meal plan in a visible spot, and displaying a bowl of fruit for easy healthy snacking.

The piece also encourages displaying fresh flowers as a way to "brighten your room and outlook." The article cites a Rutgers University study which found, "flowers have a positive effect on mood, lowering feelings of depression and anxiety, and elevating enjoyment and satisfaction."

Vermont flower farm florist

I couldn't agree more. In fact, it's why I started Tanglebloom - to bring joy. So, why don't I - one whose life is literally filled with flowers - do so more often?

It's the classic cliche. The cobbler's son has no shoes. The mechanic's car is unreliable, and the carpenter hasn't finished the kitchen cabinets he began for his own home a year ago.

It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, isn't it?

There's always so much we "should" do, so we do those instead of sitting down with a cup of tea. Work on a farm is  n e v e r  done, so I try to squeeze in one more task rather than take a half-hour to put together a simple arrangement for my own enjoyment.


Another farmer-florist, recognizing the absurdity of this senseless situation, recently compared the solution to the instruction you're given on an airplane:

You have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

Most of us have a tendency to postpone joy. Perhaps it feels selfish, or so simple that we reason it's not worthy of our non-renewable resource of time.

I suggest this year we resolve to turn down the volume on the guilt we may feel when choosing something that makes us happy over something we think we "should" do.

Earth will continue to spin even if we don't tackle the laundry pile tonight. The weeds will be there tomorrow (oh, will they ever!).

We have to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first. We deserve joy.

Vermont flower farm | Vermont wedding flowers

How to Care for Flower Bouquets

With summer's arrival, fresh cut flower bouquets are available in a riot of colors and varieties from farmer's markets, shops, and gardens.

Locally grown flowers already enjoy a longer vase compared to imported stems. Local blooms will be harvested at the correct stage for consumers, and have never known life without a water source.

Ranunculus from Tanglebloom

By contrast, flowers flown in from other countries are usually picked early, packed dry into boxes for easy shipping, and then fumigated when they arrive in the U.S. It can be weeks from flower field to your vase, compared to days (or hours!) when locally grown.

 By following a few simple tips, you can enjoy the maximum vase life from your locally grown flowers.

Start with a clean vessel. Bacteria shortens vase life considerably, so make sure you wash your vase between uses. If it's dishwasher safe, that's a great way to sanitize it between uses. Otherwise use warm soapy water, and a bottle brush to clean any hard to reach spots.

Give stems a fresh cut. Sharp scissors or garden pruners can be used to cut stems at an angle when you bring them home. This exposes fresh stem area to allow flowers to "drink" water from the vase. Cutting at an angle gives you maximum surface area, while also preventing stems from resting on the vase bottom, which can trap bacteria. Be sure to also remove any leaves that will fall below the water line.

Use floral preservative. Typically this will extend the vase life of your blooms by a few days - a plus in my book! Our bouquets will always come with a packet of floral preservative. 

Display flowers away from heat and produce. A sunny window or other heat source (like the top of a refrigerator) will shorten the vase life of flowers. Ripening produce like bananas on your countertop give off ethylene gas which also shortens their life. Avoid these locations for maximum enjoyment. 

Refresh. Change the vase's water every 1-2 days, and remove any spent blooms. Ephemeral treats like poppies may grace your bouquet for a few special days, while satin flower and lisianthus remain fresh 10-14 days later. 

Spring blooms from Tanglebloom

Enjoy! I like to place vases of flowers where I'll see them frequently: my desk, nightstand, dining table, and bathroom vanity always host vases of various shapes and sizes. Decorating the fireplace mantle makes a great focal impact in a room, and the covered porch is another good place to add fresh flowers during the summer. 

Honeywort's delicate flowers

Sign Up for the Spring Flower CSA!

April showers are in the forecast punctuated by overdue sunshine. The first swollen buds are almost ready to burst open in the greenhouse. We're getting close to the start of our Spring CSA. We'll continue taking sign ups for the next few weeks - or until we sell out!

Our new spring share features the first flowers of the season. You'll receive a weekly bunch of blooms that may include specialty tulips, fragrant narcissus, hyacinth, anenome, and rose-like ranunculus. Some weeks may highlight a single variety, while others may be a mixed bunch.

Spring flower CSA

One of my favorite things about spring flowers is the impact a simple bunch can make.  Place stems in a Mason jar or ceramic pitcher for a casual arrangement, or try an ornate vase for something more elegant. Blooms like tulips with float and bow, creating a naturally effortless arrangement.  

Spring Flower CSA

You'll receive flowers for 6 weeks beginning in May. Flowers can be picked up in Brattleboro or at the farm in Brookline. We'll contact you by email with all the details. Let us know if you have questions, or would like to suggest a new pick-up location.

Spring flowers CSA tulips

We hope you'll join us in greeting spring and the start of the growing season.

Click here to sign up today! 

Spotlight on Spring Flowers

Our most anticipated season is upon us. Not only are we eager to plant out all the seedlings growing rampant indoors, but New Englanders can't wait to have fresh flowers on their tables again after a long gray winter.

In celebration of spring, here's a look at some of our favorite early flowers:


Sometimes called windflower, anenomes are some of the first cut flowers available in spring. They're very cold hardy, meaning we can plant them into the unheated greenhouse in February and be cutting the first stems a few months later. Colors range from pastels to deep burgundy and violet. The classic "panda" variety (pictured above) has a black center surrounded by crisp white petals, making it a popular spring wedding flower. 

Anenomes have an excellent vase life of 7 to 10 days. 


Once unrecognized outside of wedding and floriculture circles, ranunculus is gaining in popularity thanks to press from Martha Stewart Living and other prominent publications. Referred to as the "rose of spring," ranunculus is also fairly cold-hardy. It blooms in shades of coral, peach, and pink, plus darker burgundys and violets. Interesting picotee varieties feature a contrasting color pattern around petal edges. We're growing some of each this season.

Ranunculus has an outstanding vase life of 8 to 10 days. 


Not your mother's tulips! This spring flowering bulb is available in a dizzying array of colors and forms. Some have fringed petals, while others are ruffled like a peony in miniature. The blooms can be tall and slender, or short and rounded. Softer, more subdued hues are a welcome contrast to the bright, saturated colors widely available. Some varieties even boast a subtle sweet fragrance.

Tulips should be purchased before they're fully open. They will "bloom" in the vase, taking on an all together different personality when fully open. Expect them to last from 9 to 12 days!


Known commonly as daffodils, this is another harbinger of spring accessible beyond the familiar yellow trumpet. Many of the unique varieties are heirlooms cultivated 100+ years ago, before they were replaced by the handful of varieties we recognize in landscapes today. 

Plenty of the heirloom types are fragrant - a pleasant surprise if you're not used to associating daffodils with scent. They perennialize more reliably than tulips, allowing us to diversify and expand our collection each season on the farm. 

When you get your hands on a mixed bouquet that incorporates narcissus, don't re-cut their stems. Fresh cuts will exude a sap that's toxic to other flowers in the vase. If you must cut them, place them in a separate container of water for 4 hours before mixing with other flowers. If, on the other hand, your bunch contains only narcissus flowers, then you can re-cut them without worry. Expect about 7 days vase life.


A little later in spring, shrubs and trees come into flower. From magnolia and lilac to crabapple and cherry, there are myriad varieties to appreciate for both scent and color. One of my favorite things to do is pause underneath a tree in full bloom and listen to the chorus of buzzing bees. They're no doubt ecstatic about the abundance after a winter devoid of nectar. 

If you've ever tried clipping lilacs to bring inside, you've probably noticed they don't last terribly well. There are a couple tricks  you can try to help them last a little longer:

The florets will not open much more once cut, so aim to pick when the branch is 75-95% open. Next, strip most of the foliage, since it will struggle to hydrate in the vase. Then, using sharp pruners, carefully cut 2-3" up the stem, splitting it in two sections at the bottom. This exposes more surface area for water uptake.

Your lilacs should perfume your room for 5 or 6 days when you follow these tips. 

Happy spring! 

Bringing new ideas to light in 2017

When I confessed "What farmers do in winter" I mentioned that dreaming up new ideas was one of my favorite winter tasks. Each season I look forward to the process of bringing a select few out of my notebook pages and into the light of day.

Spring and fall community supported flowers

Our flower CSA (community supported agriculture) has been invaluable from the beginning. The community invested in our flowers during the winter and early spring that first year, which provided us with the last bit of start-up funds we needed to purchase seeds, compost, and irrigation components. 

Three years later, it's still a model we embrace. Not only does it provide that much needed bit of winter cash flow when expenses are high, it also allows us to plan our crops really well. After allocating the majority of our growing space to CSA members, we can then cultivate for florists, retail, and weddings on what remains. 


Thanks to our new hoop house, we're thrilled to be offering both a Spring and Fall flowers share for the first time, in addition to our popular Summer options. Customers told us they'd love flowers earlier, and later, so we're making it happen!

The spring collection will feature many new blooms including anenome, rose-like ranunculus, and fragrant hyacinths. Our heirloom narcissus and frilly tulips will also be included. 

In the fall, we're featuring a focus one of our favorite flowers: dahlias. Members are in for a treat as they explore the myriad colors, forms, and sizes of this autumn beauty. We've been expanding our dahlia tuber collection and can't wait to share these new beauties with you!

Join all 3 seasons, and you'll be treated to luscious local blooms from spring's first warm welcome and beyond fall's first frosts. 

We can't wait to share our flowers with you again.

Challenges of cold and winter

If you've ever planted a garden in the northeast, you know what I'm talking about.

A relatively short growing season translates to occasional challenges. 


This fall, we constructed a high tunnel (also called a hoop house) which is basically an unheated greenhouse. (And in typical biting-off-more-than-we-can-chew fashion, it wasn't finished until January.)

Our goal is to extend our season by a month or two in both spring and fall. We knew from the beginning it would be necessary if we wanted to be successful growing flowers in a cold climate. 

In February we planted out what will become our first spring flowers. It is still blowing my mind that I can plant something in February in Vermont.

Mother Nature's been keeping us on our toes ever since. Unseasonably warm sunny days brought sprouts to the surface quickly, providing some real instant gratification.

As I write this, we're in the midst of the second weekend in a row of sub-zero nighttime temperatures. Cue incessant nail biting.

Cover, uncover, repeat

Those first plantings, they're super hardy, but still require babying. I constructed low hoops over the beds that hold a double-layer of the thickest frost protective blanket I can get my hands on. I cover them late afternoon. The next day, I check the forecasted temperature, cloud cover, and wind to determine when (or if) they will be uncovered, and decide how much to vent the hoop house. 

As wonderful as it will be to have flowers in - April? Maybe! - it does require my days be structured around this...structure. Just the other day I had to rush home before completing errands because the sun came out (it wasn't forecasted to). Even on a very cold day, the temperature would quickly rise to an unacceptable level in the hoop house with the frost blankets still on and no venting. 

Eye on the prize

Flowers. In April. In Vermont. I hope so - and I can't wait to share them with you! 

What do farmers do in winter?

This question comes up a lot! 

People associate farming with working outside (rightfully so), and have romantic ideas about growers kicking back by the fire, or jetting off to a foreign land each winter. While a bit of both are definitely goals I hope to reach one day, there is still a lot of work on a farm in winter. 

Best laid plans

Each fall and winter I begin to map out the field and hoop house with crops for the coming season. I consult the lists I've scribbled all season, and screen captures on my phone of things that I want to grow. A lot of culling takes place after I consider production costs and market demand. 

A hundred here, a hundred there...

This is how my husband, Mike, describes farm spending in winter. The amount of money invested during a time when cash flow is almost zero, is... Well, sometimes you just want to run and hide and ignore that sinking feeling in your gut.

Seeds, plants, and bulbs are ordered and require payment, even if they won't ship for months. Tools and equipment plus repair parts are purchased. Supplies are replenished. Compost is ordered by the truckload, along with our organic fertilizers and soil amendments. Basically we try to anticipate everything we'll need so we're not suddenly without it during the long hectic days ahead. 

What's new?

My favorite part of winter work is developing new products and services. Sometimes they're ideas that have been quietly incubating for seasons, just waiting for the right conditions to hatch. Often they are in direct response to feedback we've received from our customers (thank you!). There's a lot of culling here, too. Sometimes we have to drop a product or account if it isn't meeting expectations.

I'm excited to tell you more about what's in the works for 2017 in a future post!

Catching up

Since farming is so demanding during the growing season (12 to 14+ hour days are not uncommon), there are many things that simply get ignored. Bookkeeping is one of them. I start each spring with the best intentions, but by June, the receipts and other paperwork just become a big mountain on my desk, not to be unearthed until January. 

Balancing act

And yes, of course we do rest more when the mercury drops. We eat a proper dinner, at a normal time. Suddenly we're news junkies, making up for summer's disconnection and skimmed headlines.

And sometimes I go to bed at 9:00. Just because I can. 

Running a farm is just like running any other business, especially when you're in the throes of start-up. While the days are less demanding when the cold winds blow, it's really just an evening-out of intense commitments from the growing season.

A quieter season, where a love of farming is rekindled.