The name on our storefront reads Ottawa Flowers. And we wear it with pride, we're in love with our city. The thing that our city does best, the best day of the year, the biggest event on our calendar is Canada Day. Our downtown cobblestone streets swell with over half a million visitors awash in a sea of red clothes, and maple leaf painted faces. Music seems to float in the air from every restaurant and patio. While up and down the Rideau Canal, amazing events are taking place for delighted crowds. And the heat of July makes everything just a little bit better. It's when Canada's capital city really blossoms, and we're in the business of celebration.
Every single village, town, city, and province joins together to represent a nation that is more than the sum of its parts. And in our world, one facet that has always fascinated our florist sensibilities is the flowers that each province has chosen to represent it:
Alberta: Wild Rose
Indigenous tribes used the wild rose as a healing plant to boost the immune system and cure a wide range of ailments. The fruit it produces is called the rose hip and has high vitamin C content and is now used in health supplements. The wild rose was chosen by school children in 1930.
British Columbia: Pacific Dogwood
Beautiful white clustered flowers of the pacific dogwood were the flowers, chosen in 1956, represent Canada's Western-most Province. Indigenous tribes used the dogwood's hard and heavy wood to create bows and arrows, and used the bark and roots to make tanning agents. If you see it in the wild, leave it alone as it is a protected species, but don't worry, it can be purchased as an ornamental plant.
Manitoba: Prairie Crocus
In 1906, school children chose the prairie crocus as Manitoba's provincial flower. It is the first flower that blooms in spring, and is the symbol to residents that the long winter is finally over. However, don't touch it or even worse eat it. The Prairie Crocus is incredibly toxic. So much so, that Blackfoot tribes used it to terminate pregnancies and induce childbirth. The symptoms are bad, really bad, so trust us when we say: look, but don't touch.
New Brunswick: Purple Violet
The Purple Violet is a perennial that flowers from May through to July. It's the herald of spring in this maritime province. This plant has been used historically in jams, syrups, and teas, not only for its sweet flavour, but also for its digestive and cough suppressing qualities. The Purple Violet was chosen as the official flower of the province in 1936, guided by a campaign between the Women's Institute and school children.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Purple Pitcher Plant
Newfoundland and Labradors' official floral emblem is a wonderfully eccentric choice. The Purple Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous plant that feeds on insects! It was chosen by Queen Victoria herself, so that it could be engraved on the Newfoundland penny. It was used on the islands coins until 1938 when the maritime province joined the confederation.
Northwest Territories: Mountain Avens
As with many other territories and provinces, the Northwest Territories chose a flower that represents the first blossom of spring. But it stands alone with its choice, due to the dramatic scale that the Mountain Avens has in blanketing the barren arctic landscape. The crisp white of snow is transformed into a sea of soft flowing cream coloured flowers. A member of the rose family, even in the depths of winter its leaves stay green.
Nova Scotia: Mayflower
The Mayflower or Trailing Arbutus, took its place as Nova Scotia's official flower in 1901. However, as far back as the early 1800's it was used on the front page of the Nova Scotian publication, on postage stamps, and even on the buttons of the militia members. From the same family as blueberries and cranberries, this flower ranges from pink to white, and takes its name from the Massachusetts pilgrims and ship that brought them to North America. The Mayflower is also renowned for its delicate scent.
Nunavut: Purple Saxifrage
The Purple Saxifrage, aside from it's amazing name, is once again a prelude to spring in the frigid arctic. It is a hearty plant, that blossoms in purple, providing an amazing contrast to the grey rocky landscape. In the Indigenous Inuktitut language, it is called Aupilaktunnguat, which translates to "something like bald spots." And it holds a very special place among the tribes of the North. The full blooming of flowers indicates the birthing season of cariboo. And when eaten, it can aid with digestive issues when brewed as a tea.
Ontario: White Trillium
The trillium, a subfamily of the Lily, takes its name from the floral arrangement of petals and leaves into threes. It blankets the forest floor during the spring to early summers, and it's roots have notable astringent qualities. The trillium plant stands out, as it is primarily spread by ants. The insects are attracted to the protein rich seed casing, so when the ants bring the seed back to their colonies, they eat the casing and dispose of the seed unharmed, allowing it to grow in a different location. Also, it is the favourite food of the white-tailed deer, and provincial park scientists use trillium surveys to measure deer populations.
Prince Edward Island: Lady's Slipper
Chosen as the small island province's official floral symbol in 1947, this orchid gets its name from the shape of its petals. As with all orchids, it is very delicate, and rarely survives being transplanted from place to place. A truly beautiful flower, as it's under petals are pure white, with pink petals folding over to give the bloom its resemblance to a slipper or moccasin.
Quebec: Blue Flag Iris
This beautiful flower is found in wet low-lying areas and blooms during the height of summer. It produces a lot of nectar as well, which makes it a favourite for bees. Due to a mix up in legislation, it didn't become Quebec's official flower until 1999 when the error was discovered and rectified. This flower has a large root system which makes it vital in maintaining the shorelines by the lakes and riverbeds where it grows.
Saskatchewan: Western Red Lily
This striking lily grows to a stunning 120 centimetres tall! They flower over the summer months, and due to their height are famous for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. This flower is prominently displayed on the province's flag. Its bulb is quite popular in Asian cuisine, and is used to flavour soup, with a flavour comparable to potatoes.
The Fireweed was chosen by Yukon as its official symbol in 1957. You can find its bright pink to purple blooms in season all summer. It is a resilient plant, and often the first to appear after a forest fire. It is also popular as an ingredient in jams and other preserves, and can be used to give honey a spicy tone. The sap from its stems are also used by Dena'ina peoples to treat cuts and injuries.