Looks like this might be the last installment in the bucket series for the year. It's almost October, and things are winding down. There sure where a lot of fun varieties grown this season! What was your favorite bucket?
I've just got gobs of lilies, celosia, and zinnias right now.
My favorite celosia so far this year has been forest fire from Fedco. The bucket pictured doesn't even do justice to the huge orange/red plumes this mix throws out. The seed is cheep too! The Cramers' burgundy I ordered from Johnny's turned out to be more fuchsia than burgundy. I think they may have sent me the wrong seed in the packet labeled burgundy because there is another one in the Cramers' series called Rose, and it looks very similar....
For zinnias, Benary's Giant wine and scarlet (from Fedco) have been spot on, but I have been the most impressed with the Giant Dahlia orange from Johnny's. It is keeping up in the doubles race!
Not all of my lilies have come into bloom, but so far Original Love and Nashville are winning because of their vibrant color and long stems.
It's August already! It's amazing how many flowers have already come and gone, and that some things are finally blooming. I've been waiting a long while for the lisianthus to bloom. It takes its time to mature, but boy is it worth it for these gorgeous rose-like blooms! The sedum pictured is Autumn Joy. Normally you see it in landscapes with its red/dark pink color, but I like to pick it when it looks like broccoli to add greenery to the bouquets.
You can see as the season has progressed, the flowers have switched to some very bright and bold colors. I absolutely love it! There is so much blooming now, it is hard for me to get everything picked. Summer Bounty if here!
I am starting a blog series throughout this growing year of buckets of flowers. Arrangements and mixed bouquets are great and I love to make them, but normally I find flowers the most beautiful right after I pick them and they are all together in their own bucket. They are easier to look at, and they have a much more powerful statement by themselves.
As you can see, the beginning of this year has not been bursting with color. Lots of whites, greens, and pale pinks. This makes me want to enjoy the flowers as a straight bunch even more.
This was the first year I've grown tulips seriously (well, kind of seriously). I planted around 1200 bulbs last fall to experiment with them and see if tulips are something I would like to invest in again in the future.
One of the reasons I even tried out tulips in the first place is that they are a great cut flower for the springtime. They have given me a ray of sunshine this past month and a sense that there will be more blooms to come. However, the main reason I grew them is because I found an organic bulb company (the only one in the U.S. I believe) called Eco Tulips. While I was on their website, I noticed they sold wholesale tulips at a very reasonable price (.26/bulb!!). I thought it was too good to be true, especially since they are organic bulbs, and organic bulbs are very hard to source. I want to give a shout out to Eco Tulips because they offer such a valuable resource to organic growers. In addition to tulips, they also sell gladiolus, dahlias, and Iris that can be used as cuts.
I've realized that I do love tulips, and now I have a better idea of what they are like! For instance, they continue to grow a few inches after you cut them, so you can arrange them perfectly one day, and the next morning they have grown out of your design! I am still learning about the appropriate stage of harvest for longest vase life, but i have the best luck when color is showing, but not all color, and the bud has not opened (see bottom right photo). In addition, they are not the most cost effective flower since you only get one bloom per stem, but they give you something to offer and make you a little money in the end if you make the most of every flower.
Happy Spring! It certainly is taking it's time to feel like spring consistently, but hey, at least it is officially here and that gives me hope! There was no better motivation for me yesterday to get moving and actually plant something.
We don't have a greenhouse to start seeds in, but we do have a grow table that I use to start a few extra things I want to try. Most all of what I transplant (snapdragons, feverfew, statice, yarrow, ageratum, rudbeckia, dianthus, gomphrena) is bought from a nearby organic farm. They grow amazingly healthy and hardy transplants, and it is hard not to rely on them. It's a nice system that we have worked out, but eventually it will be nice to transition to starting more things myself.
Yesterday I planted a green and white nicotiana, frosted explosion (a grassy filler), and butterfly weed. I have plans to start some asters, verbena, and a few others within the next week or two.
At the beginning of last growing season, a woman asked me if she could buy buckets of fresh flowers that were dry-able. She was going to take the fresh flowers home, dry them, and then arrange them for her daughter's wedding in the fall. I had not done much with dried flowers, so I was looking forward to seeing what she would come up with. She came out, walked the field with me, and told me what colors and flowers she was interested in. Beginning with larkspur and ending with broomcorn, I provided buckets of flowers (and rye) whenever they were available and she set to work drying them.
It was nice having feedback about how they dried, which flowers worked well, and which ones were a pain to deal with. Recently, she emailed me some pictures of her arrangements. Wow! She had an amazing vision to begin with, and did such an excellent job executing it! I had not given much thought to dried flowers, let alone dried flower weddings, until this opportunity came. It was a fantastic and beautiful idea, and I would love to be a part of another one again.
There is not too much that can be done outside when I wake up and it is -8 degrees, and my morning walk to the gym a few blocks away is ENOUGH for the day. It has been so cold for the past weeks, I can't believe I am even planning on a spring to arrive. However, right now, there is nothing better than thinking about a warm, springy day and what flowers I will be planting.
I draw inspiration from many different places: pictures, blogs, conference notes, last year's records, magazines, catalogs, and books. When I am unsure of what perennials or annuals I want to buy, I look through my catalogs and then reference the cut flower books I have such as The Flower Farmer and Specialty Cut Flowers. I am a member of The Association of Specialty Cut Flowers and there are fantastic online resources available too. I am constantly going back and forth when I am coming up with ideas. I pick up a catalog, Google an image, look up the flower in a book, get distracted by a different picture, make a mark by that picture, and then remember to keep looking up that other flower, find out the flower would be good, and mark it on the catalog. It's actually a lot of fun, just sometimes confusing.
On the other hand, I try to make seed searching a more thoughtful process, especially since my family's farm is certified organic. I need to make sure I buy organic seed when possible and document what seed I purchased. When I first go through seed catalogs I look for the organic seeds that are offered, and make a note if I am interested in them as a cut flower. I also have some varieties that I fall back on every year. I grow a certain sunflower called Zohar that is wonderful because it makes a strong, upright stem, and organic seed is offered from multiple companies. Another of my favorite cuts is red flame celosia, and I can get this organically as well. Although I work hard to find organic seed, I end up purchasing non-organic seed when there are varieties I want and cannot find organically. In these cases I ensure that the seeds are not treated or genetically modified.
So far I have purchased all of the seeds, bulbs, and perennials for the new season,but I still have quite a bit to do before I am ready to put them in the ground. There are some exciting developments in the works if we get some warmer weather! I will be helping construct That Girl's Flowers' very own walk-in cooler and hoop house!