Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dahlia Season is Here!

American Dawn and Semi-Cactus Dahlia ( Magic Moment)
 Happy Fall Ya''ll! As we transition from late summer to autumn my heart is happy. Dahlias season is here ( FINALLY). At the same time, my heart is also heavy for those who have been effected by the recent hurricanes in the south and the Caribbean. I pray they will get the supplies, relief and care that is needed to rebuild their communities, and ultimately their lives. The human spirit always prevails in times like these and it does my heart good to see all the outreach that is happening for those who are suffering such great losses right now. 

Because of these storms, many florists have had to scurry to find flowers for weddings and events due orders from wholesalers being cancelled. The upside is that more florists are reaching out to their local flower farmer to source flowers and making new connections for the future. I've been able to personally help a few florists out this past week and the New England Farmer Florist Connection Facebook group has been great for helping florists in the network find flowers in a pinch.

Here in coastal New England, we have been on a tropical storm warning for several days from hurricane Maria. We've had high surf and minimal beach erosion and not much flooding. Compared to the destruction that has happened elsewhere, it's hardly worth mentioning, but it has had an effect on the dahlias. Just when peak bloom time hit, the rain and wind arrived too! Gr.

I've been harvesting like mad to save them! I have some

   new varieties to share with you that are perfect for cutting and floral design. 

 Let me introduce you to American Dawn.

American Dawn
 She's the most beautiful shade of soft coral with pink and purple undertones, making her a lovely companion to deep purples, light pink, yellow and deep burgundy reds too. She's no wall flower either. She throws out blooms right and left.

I found last year that I didn't have enough yellow in the garden for cut flowers.To me, there's nothing that says summer more than a big yellow flower in a bouquet.  Sunflowers are a natural, but they only bloom once and in a small scale growing situation I've learned it's just not a wise use of space when you're going for maximum blooms. 

Dahlias are very giving sending out bloom after bloom until the first frost. If you're growing for weddings or selling to floral designers, you may not sell out of a bright yellow but this little lady is great in arrangements and farmers market mixes.

American Sun 
American Sun has long and strong stems making her ideal for cut flowers. I'm kind of in love with this pink and yellow theme. Yellow is like the sun. It makes everything near it shine!

Boom Boom Red ( below ) is the perkiest little pom pom dahlia ever!

She just fires out blooms left and right. I can hardly keep up with it! 
If I was growing on a larger scale I would definitely include this one. It comes in yellow as well. While red and yellow aren't currently popular wedding colors, the long stems and mid-sized blooms make this variety ideal for market bouquets or event work. 

These easy ball jar bouquets went to a ladies fundraiser luncheon. 

Lastly, I created this mock bridal bouquet with white dinner plate dahlias ( Fleurel ), Magic Moment, Semi Cactus, Arabian Night ( burgundy) yellow lisianthus, white lisianthus, sedum joy, forsythia foliage and fern leaf pine scented geranium. Kinda made me want to say, I do all over again! 

I hope you all enjoy this turn of the seasons. It's always bittersweet for me, but spring is only six months away and I'm already planning for next years cut flower gardens.

Stay tuned for my next posting. We have some fun things in the works for Farmer~ Florists here in New England! 


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Host A Garden-to-Vase Floral Workshop With Seasonal Flowers

 Have you ever dreamt of hosting a garden-to-vase floral workshop in your own backyard? It's something I've had on my goals list for a while now and it finally happened last Tuesday right here at Dandelion House!  I'm so excited to share the day with you and give you some tips on how you can host your own.
 I was fortunate to have some help with promoting my event from Betsy Williams, author, garden writer, teacher and speaker. We met at the New England Farm and Floral Meet and Greet in March.  Betsy was so inspired by all the energy around the slow flowers moment that she reached out to me afterwords to see if I'd be interested in hosting a garden tour and floral workshop for a group trip made up of gardeners, floral designers and other creative gals from a retirement community. I jumped at the chance to make it happen and Betsy took care of sign-ups and collecting monies from the retirement community coordinator.

Me, Micayla and Ben at Bramhall's Country Store in Plymouth, MA. 
 My zinnias weren't quite ready for harvesting on the day of the workshop so I purchased some from a local flower farmer at Bramhall's Country Store in Plymouth. Ben and Micayla are in their first year flower farming and very excited to grow things they can turn into food to sell at their farm stand. Their zinnias stole the show at my workshop giving us just the pop of summer color we needed. 

Before the workshop I gave a short walking tour of the gardens and cut flower raised beds and answered questions. Then we took a short break for some cool lemonade before getting busy at the table.
My first class. They were first class ladies!
We limited the number of participants to 10 and that was a good number. With Betsy's help we were both able to assist the ladies during the design process.  I honestly can't say that I instructed them all that much. I prepared a flower bar of flowers for them to choose from and they just dove in and had fun. I labeled the buckets and jars with the flowers name on it with post it notes for reference.

My new flower cart came in handy for holding extra jars, buckets, flowers and greenery.

  These ladies came with energy, smiles and were ready to create! 

They really inspired me. Some day, I'll be this age too. I can only hope I'll be as gracious, wise and FUN as they are. We only had a short hour and a half together. I wished we could have had more time to sit down and visit. I would have loved to hear their life stories.

Here are a couple more bouquets from the workshop. 

Betsy had the idea to have each person study their arrangement on a table set apart from the other bouquets to look for structure, balance, texture and color. This exercise helped the participants see if and where they wanted to make any changes.

I think they did a beautiful job, don't you? 

 Garden to Vase Floral Workshop Supplies  
  • fresh local flowers ( from your own farm or garden or sourced locally if possible)
  • buckets (  plastic or galvanized )
  • vases ( I used wide mouth mason jars )
  • scissors ( medium sized )
  • name tags
  • business cards
  • tables/benches
  • burlap runner 
  • camera  
  I provided only locally grown seasonal flowers from the garden. Zinnias, black-eyed susan's, apple blossom snapdragons, lisianthus, sedum, hydrangea foliage, forsythia foliage.

I was able to find a large selection of colorful plastic buckets at the dollar store. I also picked up name tags, small scissors, plates, napkins and drinking cups. It's canning season and mason jars can be found at your local grocery store, feed store, or craft store.  I chose mason jars because the ladies arrived on a bus and I needed something simple for them to carry home flowers in, but any type of vase would be fun at a floral workshop. You could use vintage pitchers, vases, tea pots, pewter, milk glass, etc.

 I also purchased 9 feet of burlap for 4 dollars to cover the plywood tables we put over sawhorses.  I say " we " because my husband and our son helped me with the set up and our son also took some of the great photos in this blog post! With a short event like this you don't need to go crazy with food. Offer something refreshing to drink like, citrus water, or lemonade and put out some cheese and crackers, grapes, and cookies.

The idea behind a garden to vase floral workshop is to have fun while educating your guests about the benefits of growing flowers and supporting local flower farms when ever possible. Once they step foot into your beautiful garden they'll never look at a grocery store bouquet the same way ever again!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'm in Lisi Love ( Lisianthus)

You know that feeling when you first fall in love? Yeah, it happens with flowers too. Oh yes. It's real. The REAL DEAL! I'm in Lisi love! I get all giddy and nervous inside with first season flowers. Every thing's a mystery and there's so much to learn when you trial a new flower. Anticipations and expectations are high in the beginning until the doubts set in. Will this new addition grow deep roots with my love and care or will it not? In other words, how will this relationship end? We only have a short time to get acquainted after all. We're either going to get on or, we're not.

 I'd never tried growing Lisianthus because I always thought our coastal New England season was too short and I'm not set up for starting seeds properly so I did what every flower farming, love-sick Lisi lover does. I bought plugs. ( wrote about it here)  and prayed they would take root and grow outside in my raised beds. 

Pretty Rose Lisianthus with apple blossom snaps in the background.
And they did just that! They are tricky little flowers though. They form buds that stay small and tight for a few weeks then it takes about another week for them to finally unfurl, but when they do it's heavenly. The Rose pink were the first to bloom. Stay tuned for white and pale yellow!

I was so anxious to design with them once they were fully opened but I didn't have much else blooming at the time except for the apple blossom snapdragons which couldn't have been more perfect with their creamy white and pale pink petals. They are the sweetest smelling flowers too!

Apple Blossom Snapdragons
Bouquet Recipe:  Hydrangea foliage, early budding sedum, nine bark, deep burgundy dahlia, and dusty miller,

 The greens off the pale pinks set my heart a thumping and the deep burgundy picks up on the deep red center of the Lisi which adds drama and elegance to the over all pallet. 

But don't let those delicate paper-thin petals fool you into thinking she's a delicate flower though. These beauties can take a light rain and still stay looking fresh. They get an A+ for vase life too.
It was well over a week before they finally started to droop a little.

We enjoyed them on the dining room table while they lasted. And I took a few mason jar arrangements into Crystal Lake Garden Shop where I work play part time.

I absolutely adore Lisi's even more than I thought I would.  I can't wait to try some of the other shades and varieties next season.

Here's what I learned about my first season growing Lisianthus.

Planting:  Lisi plugs can be planted very close together. I planted mine at 5 inches apart and I'll go even closer next season for more blooms and so they'll lean into each other as they get tall. Some varieties can get up to 28 inches. You can net them so they'll stay upright as well. It's a personal choice. Some flower farmers are huge fans of netting while others find it difficult to harvest around.

They are slow growers and bloomers. They like consistent watering especially during the early growth period right after planting. This helps them grow strong, tall stems that are great for cutting later.

 Designing:  Lisi's are very popular for weddings and make a great substitute for roses. They're all the rage for the garden fresh, organic flower styling that's trending today.

Over all they are slow but fairly easy to grow and I had no issues with disease or pests. Weeds love to grow right near the flower stock so be careful when weeding that you don't pull the plug right out along with the weeds. I've also read that if you plant them out as early as April ( even in colder climates) you may enjoy a second flowering in September. I don't think I'll be that lucky this season as I planted the first week of June but, there's always next year!

I encourage flower growers of all levels to try Lisianthus.

Visit Farmer Bailey Plugs for a beautiful selection of  Lisianthus for your farm or cutting garden. Order early for best selection and I bet you'll fall in Lisi love too!

Stay tuned for my next post about my first floral workshop here at Dandelion House!

Put down some roots and BLOOM~

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July in a Jar

 How is July almost over already? July is my favorite month for flowering perennials and this month everyone is putting on a show. 

 This jar is filled with endless summer hydrangea, fire and ice hydrangea, day-lily's, cone flower and scented geranium.

The cut flower beds are lush and green and the dahlias, lisis and snap dragons are setting buds but it feels like it's taking forever for them to open up. I wonder if the 66 degree temperatures the last couple of days have anything to do with it? I mean, it is summer, right?


I planted a gazillion Amaranth seeds in one bed and they are doing quite well! I haven't decided it I'll thin them yet. Oh, I tucked some sunflowers in there too! They take up so much room on a bed of their own I figured I'd sew them in with something else. I'll keep you posted on how that experiment works out. 

The lisianthus are almost ready to pop. I think they are anyway? You know what they say though,  "A watched flower never blooms"...

I hope you're all enjoying some pretty blooms this summer and spending time with your loved ones.
I'll be back soon with a farm update! I have a new flower cart on the way and some other exciting farm and floral news to share! Stay tuned!
And if you're on Instagram follow me @dandelion_house for daily updates and news!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Goodbye Soggy, Foggy Spring ( I hope )

Grasses, Knockout roses, sedum, lavender, winter berry shrubs and weeds.
Howdy friends! As I titled this post I thought maybe I should call it the Dandelion House Quarterly, since that's the last time I posted. Forgive me? Spring, 2017 has got to be the soggiest, foggiest spring I can recall in all of my 16 years in Plymouth, MA. It's been a challenge to get everything in the ground around the cold temperatures and perpetual rain.

 The top photo shows the sun shining, but it didn't last long. However, the perennial gardens are loving the cooler, misty weather we've been having. Me, not so much. May 31st is my cut off date for getting in the dahlia tubers and seeds. But, if it's too wet they can rot so I put it off another week and a half before finally planting them. It proceeded to rain for 4 of the following 7 days afterwards and it seemed like it took forever for green sprouts to pop up out of the soil.  Now that I've gotten some planting done, I'm excited to share some progress, even if it's slow as molasses. My apologies for sounding like a whiny backyard flower farmer.

 I planted 120 tubers all in one day. They are beginning to poke through in their own sweet time but one raised bed filled with Cafe Au Lait dahlias all broke through the soil at the same time and appear to be growing at the very same speed! It's like they choreographed it that way. Five, six, seven ,eight, and GROW!

Cafe Au Lait's plays well with brighter flowers as well as similar pale tones.
 I also ordered in some new varieties of Chrysanthemums from Kings Mums.  
this year. I like to space them a couple of feet apart. Once they're about 12 inches tall, I'll cut them back to encourage more growth and buds for late summer and early fall.

  They come in as healthy plugs with at least 4- 5 inches of growth on them. You can specify your delivery date when you order so they arrive when it's safe to plant in your zone.
You can order them in early and pot them up in small pots, then plant them out after they harden off. 
 Or, you can throw them to the wolves like I do and just plant them straight out into the garden after the danger of last frost. 

Most mums are October and November bloomers which I just love because they truly extend the growing season in a beautiful way. 

Annie Girl, Coral charm, Seton's J Dore, Seton's, Ashleigh. 
 They don't look like much right now, but these cute little Apple Blossom Snapdragon plugs will be lovely in about 6 weeks. 

The same goes for the Lisianthus plugs below. I'm excited to see how it goes with them especially with the cool spring we've had. Fingers crossed! My friend, Monica of  Prince Snow Farm Blog and I shared a plug order from @farmerbaileyplugs.

Rare Seeds also sells seeds for Apple Blossom Snapdragons. 

Lisianthis Seedlings.

Rose Lisianthus Johnny's Selected Seeds
 I have some messy trees nearby and with all the wind we've been having things are a bit messy 

looking but I'll get it all shaped up eventually! Needless to say, I have lots of weeding to do still in the larger gardens as well.
No wonder I feel so soggy, foggy and behind this spring! 
Here's to brighter days and blooms this summer!

In other news, the New England Farmer Florist Facebook Group has grown by 100 members since our first meet and greet in March. Stop by and say howdy! And join if you like. While the focus is on New England growers and designers, we enjoy all types of flower connections. :) 

I hope your flower farming endeavors are coming along. Every season brings new challenges, whether it be the weather, garden pests or diseases, or slow sales. Spending time in the flowers in never a waste of time.  Pray for sunshine and warmer days ahead. The flowers and I need it! 

Put down some roots in bloom! 


Resources: Kings Mums,   
                 Eden Brothers 
                        Longfield Gardens 

*I don't receive any compensation for including links to these wonderful flower websites. I've ordered from all of them and they all have great product and wonderful service. I'm happy to share. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

New England Farm and Floral " SPRING " Meet and Greet

Happy Spring, friends! I hope this note finds you in good spirits and feeling happy about the promise of a new season. March has been filled with lots of activity here at Dandelion House. Preparations for a new season of backyard flower farming are under way and moving full throttle ahead which is very exciting. Even though I've done absolutely nothing in the way of actual physical preparations outside yet, my seed orders are completed; tubers and plugs are ordered and I've already quoted a few weddings for 2017/18.  What I'm most excited about sharing with you as March comes to a close is the amazing response we got for our New England Farm and Floral Meet and Greet event which took place March, 25th at Salted Root Farm, home of Beach Plum Floral Design, here on the south shore of MA. You may recall my mentioning the event in my podcast with Debra Prinzing last month. Debra was instrumental in helping us get as much exposure for our event as possible. What surprised me ( and my lovely co-hostesses, Jill Landry of Beach Plum Floral Design, Monica Tavares of
Prince Snow Farm and AJ Kocon of Little State Flower Co, was the overwhelming interest in our event from our regional flower farmers and floral designers. All of us are tuned in to the Slow Flowers Movement and are committed to doing our small part to educate others on the benefits of growing and using locally grown cut flowers, but we had no idea how thirsty our NE flower farmers and floral designers were to meet face to face to begin the conversation about how they can work together to provide local flowers to their clients and support each others businesses. Let me just say, next time we're gonna need a bigger barn! We were busting at the seems with over 60 extremely eager guests and unfortunately, had to shut down registration due to the venue being filled to the brim. Every New England state was represented as well as New Jersey. As a result of the event, new connections and friendships have formed and I have no doubt there will be many more NE Farmer/Florist events in the future. I cannot wait to see where this new family of flower farmers and floral designers takes the slow flowers movement both regionally and nationally.

 Below is a shot of Monica and me. Monica is a mom and full-time 6th grade teacher who's approaching retirement and has a love for flowers too.  She farms her small acreage, Prince Snow Farm just a short 30 minutes from where we live. We met on the NE Farmer/Florist Facebook Group I founded last year and we've been following each other's backyard flower farming adventures. When I had the idea to host an event like this my intuition told me to reach out to her to see if she might be interested in helping out, and it was right. Monica got busy right away procuring donations for our raffle. She sent out over 40 emails to farm and garden businesses and vendors which resulted in some amazing gifts for our attendees. Monica was my creative co-conspirator in crime on this event and we both had so much fun with the planning and executing. Her husband, Kevin helped with getting us a projector and screen for the guest speakers. Fun Fact! We also learned that our son's share the same birth date ( different years) and the last four digits of our land lines are exactly the same. You can read all about Monica's flower farming and floral design endeavors at her beautiful blog Prince Snow Farm.

 Monica also created these adorable parting gifts for each of our attendees. It was a mad dash to get the fresh pansies for the berry baskets. She tried three places before she finally found some the day before the event!

 Each one included one of these darling stickers from Sticker Fiend on Etsy

  Our half-day program was simple. Sign in was at 1:00 sharp followed by some words by yours truly about growing the Slow Flowers movement in New England and how the event came to be etc, etc.

 Our daughter came along to help me out with checking people in and handing out raffle tickets for the array of items that were generously donated by various businesses. And when it got to her turn to introduce herself she said some very sweet things about her momma and made the attendees cry. Me too.

Then we did that horrible thing speakers do and asked our guests to stand up and introduce themselves one by one. I know. Pretty cheesy of us but, it was a meet and greet after all. Then it was time for a break and things got loud very quickly. People were beyond excited to finally have a chance to connect. Just look at those faces! I wish I could convey the buzz in the room everyone heard and felt that day. I know it's something none of us will soon forget. It was kind of like the Beatles were in town but the Farmer/Florists were the Beatles and the guests all at the same time, except no one fainted. For whatever reason my phone only captured a loud ringing sound with no audible voices. In a way, that's exactly what it sounded like only in the best of ways!

  We put out some refreshments for everyone to enjoy. Keurig coffee and tea, cookies, cupcakes, cheese and crackers and some fresh grapes with plenty of bottled water. And, fresh spring tulips of course!

 After the break Anna Jane Kocon, of Little State Flower Co. gave an informative, realistic and fun presentation about how she started her specialty cut flower farm and what her vision and goals are moving forward.

  "Little State Flower Company is a 5 acre specialty-cut flower farm based on Aquidneck Island in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Little State focuses on sustainable, environmentally-friendly growing practices in an effort to create local, healthy options for the wedding and event industry in and around Rhode Island.Their flowers find their way into the design studios of some of the most progressive and local minded florists with a strong desire to benefit their community and environment by supporting locally grown flowers. "

 After Anna's wonderful presentation  Jill Landry, Owner/Lead designer Beach Plum Floral Design presented the Floral Designer side of working and creating with flowers. She shared the ins and outs of working with brides to create their dream wedding and how having access to local flowers is changing the way she consults with her clients by offering them a local flowers option. This year Jill and her team will create and deliver over 100 weddings in the Boston/South Shore area. Dahlias are a high demand flower among brides and a favorite among floral designers, but any floral designer will tell you that they don't ship well. This is an opportunity for any flower farmer who can grow dahlias in their region. We are fortunate that dahlias love our southern New England climate and flower farmers are adding to their dahlia stock every year as demand increases. Jill placed her entire 4000  stem dahlia order with one lucky local flower farmer for the first time ever this year. 

Flower Farmers take heed! Floral designers want to buy your flowers and they want to be loyal to you. Grow a beautiful product, grow plenty of it and make shopping convenient by setting up your website with a simple pick and click ordering system. List your flowers by the season to further the selection process and you'll be well on your way to increasing your relationships with more local floral designers and fattening up your bottom line to boot. 

Jill Landry Beach Plum Floral Design

Meet Jill
"My craft began at a very young age when I returned from a walk in the woods with a large bunch of Lady Slippers and handed them to my Mother. Yes, these stems are indeed endangered but even at the age of six, I could not resist the urge to pick them.  From here, you could find me picking from our acres of farm gardens or trimming fresh pine and holly berry for holiday swags. I can still smell the lilacs before they are seen, stare at a peony for hours and feel a connection to all things rooted. Never did I believe I could take this love and create it into an actual career! You are supposed to dislike your jobs and complain about them, right? Truth being, there is something incredibly rewarding about meeting a client for the first time, listening to their newborn ideas, becoming familiar with their own uniqueness and within minutes create sketches of their dream day. Seeing the sudden comfort and trust on a brides face after a few photos and brainstorming sessions is remarkable. Creating a sense of ease and growing a personal connection with my clients is important to me. Listening to their ideas and turning them into concepts is the art. The true magic of my job is to create them with my own hands and watch the tears of joy and giant smiles on their day. It never grows old."

Jill Landry, Beach Plum Floral Design

 Jill created this beautiful Beach Plum spring arrangement and donated it to the raffle. Wouldn't you have loved to be the winner? 

 Having our event hosted in Jill's beautiful finished barn was so perfect. We couldn't have asked for a more ideal location for what turned out to be the perfect meeting of the minds we had hoped it would be. We can't wait to meet and greet again with our NE Farm and Floral tribe soon! I promise to keep you posted as more events unfold.

Put Down Some Roots and Bloom!

Generous Donors: NE Farm and Floral Meet and Greet
Debra Prinzing~ Slow Flowers ( www.slowflowers.com )
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds ( www.kitchengardenseeds.com )
Floret ( www.floretflowers.com )
Field Notes ( www.fieldnotesbrand.com)
Thimblepress ( www.thimblepress.com )
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( www.rareseeds.com)
A-Roo Company Floral Packaging ( www.a-roo.com)
Neptune's Harvest ( www.neptunesharvest.com)
Renee's Garden Seeds ( www.reneesgarden.com)
Pith and Vigor Newspaper ( www.pithandvigor.com)

Pencils: Express Pencils LLC on Etsy
Journals: Beach Tree Paper on Etsy
Farmer Stickers: Sticker Fiend on Etsy
Fresh Flowers Tags :folkcity on Etsy
Chair Rental: New England Country Rentals ( www.newenglandcountryrentals.com )

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