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August, 07 2019

Hunnid Bands Bucket

Tags: Farmers, Flower Profile

We got the Money Plant. It has a lot of names and a lot of stories. And it's weird: how it looks, how it grows, how to harvest it, how we prep it, how we use it. Even how we get it. All of this makes it one of our favorites.

Lunaria (from the Latin meaning moon-shaped) is the botanical name. Money Plant is the most popular common name. It is also called Chinese Coins, The Pope's Money, Silver Dollar and Coins of Judas. Obviously, the unique silver color and flat round shape of the seed pods are what gives Lunaria so many monetary nick-names.

Not to be outdone by Jess, Stacy grew ours. It's a biennial. Stacy planted the seeds last Fall and it sprouted up this Spring. Lunaria is easy to naturalize - it reseeds itself. Set it and forget it. When they're young, they flower and their seed pods are green. As they season, the seed pods brown and the stem turns a pied purple. The signature silver color of the pod is achieved by letting the plant age in the ground. But that is when the work begins.

After cutting the plant, each of the pods has a dull husk that needs to be peeled back, like gold foil on chocolate coins, to reveal the shiny silver disks. Do that 100 times per plant and it's finally ready to go. It's a real money shucker.

That's one reason so few people are growing it, but the response we get from customers is worth all the hassle. One Lunaria lover stopped by Open Studio because she remembered it growing in her grandmother's yard. The nostalgia even prompted her to pack Lunaria as her carry-on to share the memory on a trip to visit her mother in California. Yeah! Maryland flowers going to the west coast.

According to Feng Shui, the Money Plant is to be placed in the Bagua area of shop to enhance the energy of wealth and prosperity. We just display it among our other seasonal local flowers. It's a treasure, even if we are still looking for those hunnid bands.

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July, 28 2019

Flower Club

Tags: At LoCoFlo, Friends, Nerdy AF, Flower Club

The first rule of Flower Club is: You MUST talk about Flower Club.

But, before you talk about Flower Club, you have to know all about Flower Club.

Former Bloom Battlers Jen and Meredith were gabbing at Open Studio one Spring Wednesday night. They missed the competition of Bloom Battle and wanted a new challenge.

Meredith: "What if LoCoFlo had a 'Chopped' style competition, where we wouldn't know what the flowers were and we would need to include unusual elements in the design!"
Jen: "Ooh, that would be fun. Or like 'Nailed It', where we would try to arrange a complex floral installation."
Meredith: "Yeah, that would be fun!"
Jen: "Yeah!"
Meredith: "Yeah!

Ellen then put her MBA training to use and recognized the customer need.

Ellen (internal monologue): "I bet I could get this floral shop cookin' with a new LoCoFlo event: Flower Club! It would be a fun floral activity night for our flower MVPs and new friends. Wow, I'm really good."

Ellen workshopped the idea with some other Bloom Battlers, Heather and Liz, and, boom, the ideas kept flowing: floral bingo, large group project, speed dating flower edition, flower trivia night... The possibilities, and flower fun, are endless.

If you love flowers you're already a member of the club. Some meetings will be drop-in, some will require registration. All will be awesome. Look for the schedule on our Classes and Events page, social media and our email.

Join Flower Club. You probably won't get punched in the face.

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July, 21 2019

Sat@LoCoFlo: Your Weekend Routine

Tags: Sat@LoCoFlo, At LoCoFlo, Friends

Saturdays at LoCoFlo has become our favorite event. It's the bomb. We get to talk about flowers, show off our weekly local display from the farms and our dope shop, hang out with friends, meet new people, have kid and animal visitors. It's chill. It's different. It's its own thing.

We didn't even plan it. Sat@LoCoFlo grew out of customer demand from the 32nd Street Farmers Market.

When we first moved into our space our entire business was wedding flowers. We were the florist to over 100 weddings a year! The studio was perfect for us: we built a big cooler, we had lots of space to design, storage for everything. We didn't give much thought to the market down the street each Saturday morning.

With our bay doors open, wrapping the wedding bouquets and packing up the van with centerpieces, we started getting market-goers peering in. Then a few questions. Then some people hanging out. Ellen, with her MBA training, recognized the opportunity: we should sell flowers out of the shop.

Genius!

Today, we are doing less than half the wedding work we used to and Saturday mornings are our jam. Now we have dozens of regulars who make visiting LoCoFlo part of their Saturday routine.

What is it?

Sat@LoCoFlo is our weekly flower hang out. Bring your Blacksauce. Build a bouquet. Design an arrangement. Pick up your PickUp. Every Saturday 8:00AM-12:00PM the shop is open to buy local flowers.

How it Works

Just drop in. We're only a half-block from the farmers market. We display all of our flowers. You can pick them out by the stem or we can make a bouquet for you. We also have a design table set up. Chat with our knowledgeable team about the varieties, the farms and design. It's the place to be.

Hope to see you there!

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July, 01 2019

Meet a LoCoFloer: Ellen Frost

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

Ok. President Business. The Man. Allen Armitage Winner. MBA. Local only. Whatever. We are finally meeting Ellen Frost, LoCoFlo founder and owner, for the blog. You really think you are the shit, don't you?

Don't be weird.

Is it true that you are so flower famous that you were recognized, like you're frickin' Linsey Lohan, at a botanical garden in Florida?

Lindsey Lohan? Is this 2002! Yes, it happened. It was wicked weird. I was in line to enter the West Martello Tower garden in Key West and they ask you where you are visiting from. When I said Maryland, the woman in line behind me asked if I owned Local Color Flowers! She attended a talk I gave to her garden club. I would say it was more coincidental than fame.

"Wicked weird" - who says that? Where are you from?

Buffalo. You know that.

I'm asking for the reader. Why do you think you are so much better than everybody else in the flower industry?

Come on, I don't! I am sensitive to some people in the flower industry who think our model is a critique of their business. Our local-only approach works for us and gives our customers a choice if that is important to them. It is not possible to do this everywhere in the US. We are not the best climate in the country for flower growing, but we can get fantastic local flowers all year. It isn't easy, but local flowers are important to us and is what the business is based on.

That's where the Allen Armitage award comes in! Yeah, let's get after it Chris Cuomo! This how the BLOG BLOWS UP!

What are you talking about? And why are you yelling?

I get excited.

You know the staff doesn't like it when you come into the shop and start yelling.

I'm not yelling at them. Why can't I get excited about flowers? YEEHAW!

OK. That's enough.

Moving on... What is the nerdiest flower thing you do? It's gotta be that Darwin book club. Not only do you read books. The books are about flowers. Then you add Darwin on like homework.

Why don't you read a book and join us?

I like TV. And video games.

I know. Maybe you could just spend one night reading a book instead.

No. Isn't awesome to work with your husband?

Yes.

So, you have been doing this for like more than 10 years. You don't make any money. What are you doing? What are you doing?

It's fun. And we are making a little money.

Alright. Let's get into the story. How did all of this get started?

I finished business school and was inspired by an entrepreneur class. I knew I wanted to start my own small business but didn't know what the business would do.

MBA. We get it.

My friend Marina, who was in my Master Gardener class, had read the book "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart and suggested a local-only wedding flower business.

MBA and Master Gardner? You slipped that one in pretty easily.

So, I then read the book - it's all about the global flower industry. Most cut flowers sold in the US are grown overseas. It takes a lot of resources and chemicals to ship, store, and preserve foreign flowers for sale in the US.

So you're a flower protectionist. A Trumpian florist?

You're being weird again. We're a small business selling local products. Economic globalization is beneficial for many industries. Our local flowers are a cleaner, greener product that are grown by our friends who run small, family farms. Plus there are so many more interesting varieties with longer vase life.

BORING!

So, Marina and I joined with our friend Jen, who worked part-time with me at Bridenbaugh Farm to start the business.

OK. Marina - the ideas guy. Jen - the farm guy. Ellen - the business guy. What about the skills necessary to do the work. I guess it can't be that hard to put flowers in a vase. Did you just wing it?

No, we didn't just wing it!

Ow! No punching during the interview.

We took a design class at BCCC. We practiced. This was just on the weekends. And, we only designed flowers for friends at first.

OK. You have your little weekend wedding side-hustle going. How long before you dropped the dead weight and ramped up to be the floral juggernaut LoCoFlo is today.

Those are my friends! Marina moved to the Eastern Shore and Jen had twins, so they couldn't be in the business anymore. And that's not nice.

Whatever. I have done more for LoCoFlo than the two of them combined.

Yeah, whatever.

Double Whatever! So what happened next?

We rented a space to work and I eventually left my job to work on flowers full time.

That's it?

Well, I increased my design skills - took more classes. Joined the ASCFG. Built relationships with farmers and customers. Cultivated our social media. Established our brand. Received reviews and referrals. The business grew, we got some part-time help. We bought a van. And we were booking over 100 weddings year.

That's it? What about when I jumped on board?

What about it?

That was awesome.

Hello.

Ok. What about the building?

That changed our business. We were casually looking for a space for years. We were on the roof of a potential building and a man in the street below called to us. We went down and he said he owned the small warehouse across the street and was willing to sell!

Aw, that was so lit!

You sound so stupid when you talk that way.

It's what the kids are saying.

You're not a kid, and they're probably not saying that anymore.

But, I'm cool.

No, you're not.

I'm trying.

Stop trying.

Just keep going.

Well, we made a deal that night and after renovations, we moved in January 2013. We are doing so many more fun things at the shop like Open Studio, Sat@LoCoFlo, Classes, Book Club, private and community events. Plus some more exciting plans.

Oh, right, the thing?

Yeah, the thing.

Ok. Let's wrap this up. Is there anything else you want the readers to know?

I don't know if they got much out of this.

What do you mean. This was great!

I don't think so. I have to do my actual work.

Just finish this up with something schmaltzy.

I'm so grateful for what LoCoFlo has become. We are the largest buyer of flowers for several local farmers. We provide flexible employment for some of our Mom friends and flower growers. We have created a cool place in Baltimore where people can learn and be creative. I am especially proud of remarks by State Senator Mary Washington who recently visited our shop...

Ok hot shot. Cue music: I had the time of my life...

Don't be weird.

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June, 21 2019

What's Your Statice?

Tags: Farmers, Nerdy AF, Flower Profile

Ours is German. It's unremarkable all alone in a bucket straight from the farm. But Statice, Ellen says, is a floral work-horse. Old Reliable. AD ('All Day' if you are familiar with the confusing nickname of football player Adrian Peterson - sometimes misnomered AP). What I'm getting at is Statice is a hearty and versatile cut we use year-round from Winter wreaths to Summer bouquets. It's a two-way player. It's a multi-instrumentalist. It's a flower for all seasons. It gets the job done!


LB (Statice: sassy) with her Statice

And that's why Ellen loves herself some Statice. She also loves to enumerate:

  1. Statice looks the same fresh or dried (there's your versatility and longevity)
  2. Statice is a competent local substitute for the oft-requested and locally-scarce Baby's Breath
  3. With a name like 'Statice' the jokes write themselves. Baller.
  4. Statice is a staple for arrangements out of water: arches, bouts, head crowns, aisle swags and the such.
  5. Not a lot of growers sell it, so it provides a unique look in our arrangements.

Despite the high regard it holds today here at LoCoFlo, it took a few seasons for Statice to reach its current status (it didn't even get an at-large bid in last year's inaugural Flower Madness Tourney). Our first deliveries came from Greenstone Fields in 2014. After a few weeks, we saw the upside, and went all in. The next harvest, Ellen bought the entire crop.

Statice: flush.

As quickly as Statice came into our lives, it was gone. Hey Lloyd, Ellen was ready to be heartbroken (she really said 'heartbroken'). The Greenstone Statice bonanza lasted only one year.

Statice: sadness.

There were no other Statice growers nearby. Ellen started to recruit. Butterbee accepted the challenge and ordered up the plants from Dave Dowling at Gloeckner in the Fall of 2017. A year and a half later, we bought Butterbee's entire crop.

Statice: back in business.

Fake ending. More Statice. When LB delivered the Statice, local flower OG Bob Wollam came into the studio and said "Oh, you've got Limonium (fancy name for Statice). I used to grow a purple variety."

Statice: so many emotions.

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