The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local And Sustainable Flowers, by Debra Prinzing
I must admit that this book had the potential to be of interest to me and failed at it somewhat miserably. I happen to know quite a few people who are involved in designing floral arrangements for our local church congregation, and at times I have even been involved in choosing some flowers for arrangements. In general, while I do not consider myself to be particularly knowledgeable when it comes to matters of gardening, I am at least somewhat interested in the subject . That is to say, there is definitely a way, many ways in fact, for books about plants and flowers to be of interest to me. Yet this book somehow failed, and its failure is instructive. I enjoy books about gardening, but one thing I do not enjoy is books that are stridently political in their tone, especially when that tone is leftist. This book, as one might imagine, is definitely aimed at a leftist and progressive audience, and that is definitely not an audience I can be included in. There are even ways to cheer on localism that are not politically offensive, but this book fails, and can serve as an object lesson in what not to do.
In less than 150 pages, this book seeks to provide a great deal of example in how people have managed to find success in growing and using seasonal, local, and sustainable flowers. Perhaps it is the word sustainable that presents the most difficulty, in that it sets up the book’s problem with political grandstanding. The book itself is made up of four chapters after a foreword and introduction that seek to encourage the reader to follow their flowers from the field to face. The first chapter gives a look at various flower farmers who are seeking to grow flowers for sale in the midst of tough and cheap international competition. After that there is a discussion on various eco designers, who take the locally sourced flowers they find and turn them into high-dollar designs for their clients. After that there is a discussion about the do-it-yourself bouquet and how people can make wedding bouquets (and other floral arrangements) from various local sources, including gathering in semi-wild places. After this comes a look at various celebrations and festivities that focuses on a wedding, before the author gets into an appendix that provides flower and foliage resources for the reader.
The author has some good points to make, but unfortunately politics and the author’s mistaken belief that the reader will care for people that she cares about simply because she cares about them make this book less enjoyable to read than it would otherwise be. Among the good points to make is that it is a good thing to enjoy local flowers that grow in local conditions and that reflect the natural seasons. The author provides some worthwhile flowers that grow in the West Coast during different months of the year as well as local foliage that can expand a bouquet beyond flowers alone. While this is definitely a good thing, unfortunately the author wastes far too much time insulting foreign farmers, praising people on political grounds, and advocating some downright backwards ways of encouraging people to grow flowers, while bemoaning the fact that many growers have a hard time making a good deal of money. The author certainly does not romanticize being a small-o organic grower, but the author’s political tone alienates as many people who appreciate creation and working with flowers right than it does encouraging fellow leftists to unite in taking care of the land.
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