Fast and cheap wildflowers in Chicago?
August 25, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

In the midst of wedding preparations here in Chicago, I have totally whiffed on flowers. We want to Midwest prairie flower corsages and such for our wedding this Saturday based around some milkweed pods we've been saving. We tried Kennicott's to no avail because they only do wholesale. Any ideas for where on the northside of Chicago we could go to cheaply (or even for free, if we're ethically picking something) acquire wildflowers and grasses this week?
posted by HeroZero to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Best answer: If all else fails, my "last minute, wild-look" wedding flowers came from Whole Foods and were gorgeous.
posted by bleep at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Honestly, what you may want to do is drive out to the countryside - past the suburbs - and give some farmer $50-100 to pick freely. The Queen Anne's lace and chicory are still in bloom, as are larkspur, black-eyed susans and some wild-ish roses.

If you can't find anywhere else, get a truck, some five gallon buckets, and drive until you see something. If it were me, I'd go out past Joliet to start. Offer a farmer some cash and explain yourself. It would probably work out well. Everyone loves a romantic wedding story and cash.

I've a friend who is a florist. I just sent him this link. Good luck!
posted by Tchad at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2014

Depends on how ethical you want to be. I got a massive amount of Queen Anne's Lace for a similar occasion by somewhat unethically gleaning a meadow in one of the west-side forest preserves (out near Lamont).
posted by aimedwander at 9:24 AM on August 25, 2014

My brother and sister in law had the same plan for their Labor Day wedding twenty years ago, also Chicago. Wild flowers don't last long typically, so my sister in law and her sister drove out very early on the wedding day to pick flowers in a field that she knew of. There were issues with flowers getting wilted even with their cooler with a couple of inches of water and stems wrapped in wet paper towels. It became too big of a time soak and made her very rushed the rest of the pre-wedding day.

This is just a note of things to keep mindful of, I hope you find a florist.
posted by readery at 9:31 AM on August 25, 2014

He just texted me back! He said you may want to try the Daley Center market this Friday if you are looking for fresh wildflowers in the city. He said you may want to check on other farmer's markets in the city.

The only other thing he mentioned is that you may want to look at New Leaf Florists over on Wells in the Gold Coast. He said she has a lot of wild flowers, but he wasn't sure of more than that.
posted by Tchad at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2014

I'm pretty sure the Daley Center farmers market is on Thursday. Here's a list of the downtown farmers markets.
posted by suprenant at 10:30 AM on August 25, 2014

you might also try farmer's markets
posted by rockindata at 11:10 AM on August 25, 2014

I think you may be pleasantly surprised at what grows along freight train tracks, which depending on the area you can wander down freely and safely/safely-ish. For example, last year we visited the Prairie concrete mixing yard at Chicago Ave and the river (late Sept) and I noticed all the nice stuff growing and blooming along the train tracks right outside their plant. That area is one where I'd want to walk it with a couple of people, or find a different train track area altogether.

Some prairie/naturalized flowers that will not wilt quickly in a vase are queen anne's lace (make sure you know the difference between it and hemlock or hogweed, although it's the most prevalent thing anyway) echinacea and rudbeckia, both called coneflowers. I'm not sure about in corsages though, perhaps google that. You can get flower dip or conditioner, maybe by calling around to florists since there's no time for online ordering.

Some flowers need a day or two to recover from picking, it may be better to get some flowers a day or two before the wedding. Also if you didn't know, you want to stick the stem in water the moment you cut it, and then recut it with the cut in water as soon as you can.

You can fit a LOT of flowers in a 5-gallon bucket, no need for a truck.
posted by Anwan at 12:18 PM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: Keep any flowers you do get away from fruit. Fruit gives out gases that cause flowers to wilt.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:21 PM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: ...and remember that many wild flowers wilt quickly. Keep your stash in a refrigerator till the last minute.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:23 PM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: Mariano's had some really nice stuff. This turned out being much simpler than I thought. Thank you!
posted by HeroZero at 3:11 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

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