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! 

Love,
Deb 


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~
Deb 

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