Monday, September 28, 2015

Garden Notes: September Snips and Second Flourishes

Mini blooms designed by my girl ( Nicolette)
Hello Blog. Hello Friends. I've missed you! I don't think I've ever gone 20 days without posting. EVER! I think it's high time we get reacquainted, don't you? I confess, I've been posting on Instagram quite a bit and keeping up with my freelance writing work but my Dandelion House writings have been piling up along with the garden waste. Where to begin?

What an amazing season we had. In a span of about ten weeks our little backyard flower farm put out enough flowers for three local weddings, two farmers markets, and plenty of household blooms to enjoy. Adding 5 additional raised beds to our existing 8 made all the difference. Planting seeds at intervals of every two weeks in the new beds allowed us to have more flowers longer. I'll plan things even more efficiently next season.

We had very little rain this season which caused the larger perennial beds to crisp up earlier than normal. Even so, the grass plumes are feathered out and look so pretty in the autumn breeze.

Zinnias and Grass
The dahlias suffered from spider mites which stunted the growth for a few weeks in August. Talk about nerve racking! It was right in the middle of wedding season when I needed them to perform the most. I had to perform an emergency spider-ectomy with Neem spray. Complete removal of several plants was also necessary. I got to them a little too late and they just couldn't be saved.

Second Flourish
They finally perked up with new foliage and fresh blossoms just in time for the last two weddings of the season. My last two brides were DIY brides. I'm still waiting on photos. I can't wait to see what they created with their flowers.

I got to experiment with making flower crowns too! I made one out of silk flowers for one bride so it would be a keepsake for her. I'm anxious to make some with fresh flowers too. I have some lovely mixed pin cushion flowers and purple asters about to bloom which will be fun to create with. I didn't know how I would feel doing wedding work but it turns out I LOVE it. Collaborating with couples   about flowers for their big day is exciting and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

" Having couples out to the farm to see where their flowers will come from and the looks of awe and surprise on their faces when they saw the flowers was validating and inspiring. "

A mix of cultivated and foraged flowers,herbs and berries.
 Of course I made bouquets while we were at the cottage too! I didn't plant anything there this year but I scavenged some volunteer cosmos, mint, goldenrod, quince berries, grape leaves and weed with pretty small white flowers  I don't know the name of.

My daughter scavenged the garden yesterday and came up with this pretty little late September number.

All in all its been such a satisfying and rewarding season on the farm!
 What I've loved the most is doing my part to raise awareness about the slow flower movement and bringing fresh local sustainably grown flowers back home to American soil and America's tables. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #206

 Happy Farmgirl Friday farmgirls!

The first week in September is always a whirlwind if you've got back to school or ( off to college) aged kids in the house isn't it? I always feel like I've just gotten into my summer groove and it's time to start back to school shopping already. With our youngest off to her freshmen year in a local college this year I'll have plenty of time for indoor painting projects and feathering the nest. Luckily it's not completely empty, yet but it's a comin'. Sniff, sniff.

I'm holding on to my baby AND  these last few weeks of summer because I'm still " in the flowers " as my family likes to say.  I'm even dreaming about them at night! 
Take it from this flower farmgirl,

The power of flowers is a strong and wonderful spell to be under.

This is one of my recent bridal bouquet mock-ups created with seasonal blooms from my little backyard flower farm. The combination of the soft pink of the Cafe Au Lait dahlia, deep royal purple dahlias with a mix of earthy greens and lacy dusty miller makes for an earthy, yet romantic feeling. The bride and groom are having an intimate backyard ceremony and celebration with local food, FLOWERS and music.
Tell us, are you seeing more local flowers at events and family celebrations these days? 

My farmgirl co-hostess Debbieand her sweet hubby Mike, are working in the garden and mid-way through a kitchen DIY project. Aren't they ambitious? I can't wait until it's finished. I hope she posts pics.. Hint, hint!!!

I bet your kitchens and gardens are bursting as you work hard to preserve this season harvest. 
Share it all right here with your farmgirl friends from far and wide.
 It's a three day weekend too, so have fun and be safe where ever you are.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Garden Notes: Becoming a Farmer/Florist

This wild and wonderful arrangement ( featuring some hand picked flowers from Dandelion House)  was created by my florist friend, Shawna from Beach Plum Floral Design.
"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."

-   Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885 

September is my absolutely favorite month of the year. The weather is nearly perfect, and the dahlias are putting out loads of blooms just in time for a few more appearances at the Farmers Market and  two more local weddings. I've been so focused on the task of learning to grow beautiful and healthy cut flowers ( annuals ) for the last 4 years it came as a pleasant surprise when I was asked to do wedding flowers this year as well. I am a designer at heart so I jumped the chance to get my hands dirty as a floral designer. And honestly, nothing makes me happier than working with people in a way that elevates their happiness. As a hairstylist/salon owner ( in my other life ) I enjoyed providing the service of creating the perfect style to compliment a persons hair texture, facial features and lifestyle. Designing wedding flowers is very similar I find! 
A happy outcome depends on a thorough consultation with the bride ( or couple ) if both are involved in the planning.

A mid-sized hand-tied bouquet featuring dahlias, zinnias, celosia, queen Anne's lace, sedum and hydrangea greens.

 Here are some quick tips for conducting a successful consultation: 

If you are a Farmer/Florist chances your married couple to be will want to visit your farm to see your flowers, first hand. I like to have a sample arrangement ( or two or three) available to serve as a starting point for design ideas. 

Mason Jar Centerpieces for my first clients, Mr.and Mrs Platz.
 Things to ask your clients about their wedding day on the first visit to your farm or appointment.
  •  Break the ice by asking how they met, how long they've been engaged, etc. It's always fun to get some background about the happy couple.
  • Ask about the venue and size of the wedding party
  • Find out if there is a theme for the wedding and what the bridal party colors are.
  • Find out how many table centerpieces for guests, food, dessert, or gifts will be needed.
  •  What types of flowers and colors does your bride envision? * chances are if she's sourcing local flowers she'll be happy with a mix of brightly colored flowers in a natural looking arrangement which is a perfect match for designing with seasonal flowers.
  • How many bouquets, boutineers, flower crowns, etc will she need?
  • Discuss delivery of the flowers ( time, place, etc )
  • Discuss your invoicing process and deposit requirements.( PayPal works great) So does Square if you have a phone or tablet to take payment with.
  • Tell your bride and groom you'll come up with a price based on your meeting and be sure to have them look it over prior to sending the final invoice just in case there are changes.
  • DIY Brides: Provide a list of helpful tips for brides who will be making their own arrangements and bouquets. 
Here's: What I've learned so far about adding "Florist" to my "Farmer" title this year:

BRANDING is IMPORTANT:  Take your time and create a logo that melts your heart. If you can't make one that you absolutely love then find someone with graphic arts skills to help you. Use it across the board in all of your marketing materials. Banners, business cards, tags, stickers, car magnets, stationary, etc. 

Round label for creating stickers and tags

Business Cards with website address and phone number
Vintage Sink Display for Farmers Market or Bridal Fairs
What will I do when the season ends? Well, I'll write about flower farming, of-course!

Is there something you've been yearning to try? Go out there and work hard through the fears and doubts and ignore the naysayers. It's YOUR BIG BEAUTIFUL LIFE. Make it AMAZING then share it with EVERYONE!

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