Dreaming of Spring Blooms – New Varieties For 2018

It amazes me that even while we’re working hard on fall clean up, trying to beat the weather, that the excitement over next year’s blooms is so incredibly high! It seems I never get too burnt out to become excessively excited about new flowers. Getting ready for the next season while finishing up the last is a challenge and dreaming of the flowers to come sure helps!

The weather has been so fabulous this fall. I am really happy how the fields are shaping up, but it’s time to get a start on the endless indoor chores – one of which is finalizing seed/plant/bulb/tuber orders. If one more lovely, gorgeous flower with new attributes jumps out at me, I will have to make more space. (Hubby’s always very nervous if I even glance in the direction of the hay field)

One of goals is to spread bloom time out over a longer period for as many flowers as we can. There are a couple of ways to this – succession sow or to plant different varieties. “Different varieties” are what gets me into trouble. My database already has 399 different varieties not counting dahlia, tulip, peony or lisianthus -those each have their own database.

Another goal here is to plant enough variety that we can supply even the largest weddings throughout the season and give our customers a good selection. (Can you just hear the justification going on?) And if we diversify heavily, when something doesn’t do well one year, another variety (that word again!) will get us out of trouble, right? But my biggest justification is that I just love flowers.

So back to the seed catalogs…. I place our largest seed/bulb/tuber orders in August and September to assure the best selection. Those orders are somewhat a rush job and contains our old standbys and a few new varieties. Then what happens is the days get shorter, I spend more time poking around on the internet, finding this and finding that. The hard copies of seed catalogs also start pouring in. Before you know it my plot maps don’t work any longer, I’m out of room, I need to order more trays, add more propagation shelving, till more new ground, buy more plastic and irrigation, drop a few trees…. and I’ve just bit off more than I should chew. It’s an obsession and I admit I need flowers anonymous. That being said, we intend to add 56 new varieties and/or colors for 2018, some of which are listed below:

Stock – I love stock. I love its shape, the colors it’s available in, the earliness of her blooms, the vase life, it’s ruggedness, and there is nothing like the scent! A few stems in a bouquet are just paradise! So this year I went a bit nuts and I do believe I ordered every color available. I also swear I will get a fall planting in this year.  I can just smell them as I type!

Larkspur – We sold out of every stem of larkspur last year and so, like stock, we’ve really upped the number of plants and colors going in. It’s a fine, early flower, giving vertical height to bouquets without being overbearing. It also dries well which is an added bonus for those interested. The colors expand every year.

Sunflowers – One of my favorite flowers (I know, they are all my favorites!) however, the vermin love them as much as I do. This year Charlie (the dog) and I vow to do much better! And, oh my gosh, I found some new to-die-for beauties ….drum roll! Plus the gazillion varieties I’m already in love with. I’ve narrowed the list down, but it was really difficult!

Anemones– Another favorite spring beauty. We’ve added two new varieties this year- in a color mix of both types.

Blue Mist

Caryopteris incana is another favorite of mine. Although we grow some amazing Longwood and Grande Bleu blue mist shrubs, this variety is grown here as an annual. It has a more intense blue color and a bit of a different stem design. The seed has been hard to find for a few years now and I was so excited to see it available again! I just have to figure out where it will go….

Hairy Balls – I think I just have never grown this because of the name! It is a very unique looking plant that has the added benefit of feeding the monarchs. So despite the somewhat obnoxious name (it’s also called “family jewels”), I think we’re going to have fun with this one! I may just call it “Balloon Plant” on the website. (0:

Hyacinth Bean – I stopped growing this years ago because it doesn’t flower heavily for us. It’s worth trying again and, even without blooms, the vine is lovely.

Lisianthus – Every year I say I’m going to cut back on the lissies; if not the number of plants, at least the number of colors. They are very labor intensive and slow, slow, slow to start….. but oh my gosh, they are my favorite! (Really this time….?) What other flower is truly as beautiful, other than a garden rose?  So, of course, we have added a few new varieties for 2018. Flowers anonymous here I come!

No automatic alt text available.

Ranunculus – Super Greens and Amandine. Our weather is not very conducive to growing ranunculus since, like all of us, they like it not too hot and not too cold. But being stubborn, we’re going to give it another try this year. Love!

Peony – We’ve got around 160 peony plants now, so I behaved sanely and only added Red Charm this fall. In anticipation of an abundant harvest this coming spring (70 of our newer plants will reach their 4th year), we have also lowered the price!

Related image

Tulips – We sold out before the end of Mother’s Day last season, so we tripled the amount of bulbs planted this fall. Oh jeeeeeez. How do you even decide? I narrowed it down to 18 varieties. I think am most excited about having more La Belle. These were a huge hit. Or no, maybe Charming Beauty. Or maybe Orange Princess….

Some of our newly added (2015 and 2016) flowering shrubs should begin giving us blooms this season. Almond, Kerria, Mock Orange, Quince, Allspice…… (0:

And although this list isn’t complete, we also plan to add:

Bachelor Buttons – Pink
Campanula – Champion Pro
*Culver’s Root – Purple and white
*Penstemon – Husker’s Red & Prairie Jewels
*Jasione laevis -Sheep’s Bit
*Clematis recta purpurea
Pumpkin-on-a-stick
*Germander

(*perennials take a few years to establish)

There are a few flowers we are not growing this coming year for one reason or another:

Baby’s Breath – annual (we can order baby’s breath in for you)
Bee Balm
Blanket Flower
Cosmos
Delphinium (a good replacement is larkspur)
Lamb’s Ear
Marigold
Statice

So until spring, we can dream in flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budgeting for Your Wedding Flowers

Bridal Bouquet by Elizabeth Kushnereit
Bridal Bouquet and photo by Elizabeth Kushnereit

Budgeting Your Wedding or Event Flowers

Buying flowers direct from the farm for your wedding or event can be extremely cost efficient.

To budget for your wedding flowers you will first need to know how many arrangements and bouquets you will need. A lot of factors go into this equation such as vase size, flower size, etc.  A rough estimate and starting point is 20 stems per quart size vase for a full arrangement, but again this can depend a lot on the size of your flower choices and the look you are after.

There are some amazing floral design videos on U-tube and some extremely wonderful books out there on floral design. There are also classes you can take on floral design prior to your wedding. Any of these resources will help you to decide on the look you desire and how many stems it will take to accomplish that look.

Helpful resources on our website include our Price List and guide to Approximate Bloom Times. If you would like to schedule a wedding or event, please see our Wedding and Event Page for more information.

Sometimes couples would like flowers we do not grow or are not in season here in Michigan for their date. For flowers ordered in, we can get estimates from our supplier. Unlike our pricing which tends to stay pretty consistent throughout the season, pricing for flowers that we order in, much like groceries, can fluctuate depending on the market.

What’s Happening On the Farm – November 2016

The list in November is full with fall cleanup, planting and tucking the flowers in for winter. All of it is important for healthy flowers next season. We have less daylight hours to get it done, and we’re always trying to stay one step ahead of the weather. Order of importance seems to be the theme this time of year as inevitably some things we’d like to see done will need to be put off until spring.

We were extremely blessed with our dahlia tuber harvest. I was so afraid we would lose them this year. With the gorgeous weather, our plants didn’t die back until very late. The first frost hard enough to kill back the foliage came October 28th. If the tubers don’t cure long enough after a hard frost, or if they freeze in the ground, they will rot.  Mother Nature blessed us with a window of perfect weather to get them out! I cut all the foliage back and hauled it off the previous week, then I started digging the tubers the week of November 13th. The weather was incredible! They all get washed out in the field and I end up wet and quite muddy in the process. This year it was as comfortable work as it could possibly be! Without a moment to spare, they are all tucked away in the cooler, with a small space heater, waiting to be labeled and divided.

The peonies in the field all got weeded out and cut back. Compost was added where needed. I still have a few beauties by the flower shed to go. I sure look forward to their lovely, scented blooms beginning in mid-May!

The sunflower field was a huge mess and got severely gutted, tilled and a cover crop of wheat and oats planted.

The old lisianthus beds are almost ready for next year. The hoops, stakes and plastic are put away, the ground tilled, and now it’s just waiting for a nice layer of compost. The new lisianthus area is also cleaned up and almost ready for next spring. I like to get the lisianthus in the ground mid-April, so having the beds ready in the fall is a big help.

A new area for flowering shrubs is in the works. It’s cleared out and tilled. I dropped a few trees to let more light in and that still needs to be cleaned up. The new shrubs come the first week of December and the hope is to get as many planted out as possible and pot the rest up for spring planting. We might be chipping through a layer of frozen ground.

3300 new bulbs got planted and they still need a layer or two of mulch now that the ground is thinking about freezing. The brodiaea needs hoops and frost cover to try and winter it over.

Half of the baptisia is weeded out and cut back. This is a lovely lupine-like flower that blooms at the same time as the peonies and looks gorgeous alongside them in a vase.

We added to the to-do list by having some trees around the storage shed and garage dropped. We hired an expert to climb the trees and take them down piece by piece as they were dangerously close to the buildings. The brush needed to be cleared away quickly so we could get to the buildings. The rest will have to wait until later this winter.

November isn’t over yet, but the list is still long. Today I need to get the heated waterers to the ducks and chickens, trim the horses’ feet, tidy up the cellar to make room for the dahlia tubers and finish winterizing the irrigation systems. Tomorrow I’ll start dividing tubers and get ready for our Thanksgiving feast. We sure have a lot to be thankful for and need to remember to count every blessing – there are many.

 

 

New Varieties for 2017

 Garden Rose Golden Celebration
2016 Garden Rose – Golden Celebration

Part of the fun of flower farming is trying new things. Every season we add new plants to our extensive grow list. Even though every year I vow to cut back, the excitement of growing, literally and figuratively, draws me in. Do we really need over 300 varieties? Probably not, but for a lot of reasons, it’s nice to diversify. Someday I may cut back and only grow our top 10 best sellers, but for now I spend a lot of time researching new plants for us to try!

Not all are keepers. Some just aren’t worth the trouble and space despite their beauty. But one that is, so far, is the garden rose.

I love garden roses. I could easily become a garden rose addict. Mid winter of 2015, after swearing I would never, ever, ever grow roses again (mainly due to the heartbreak of the Japanese beetle problem here) I allowed the dreamy catalogs to pull me in. In defense of my weakness, on that bitter, cold, dreary afternoon, I looked at the stunningly beautiful photos and I could actually smell the roses. We managed to, for the most part, keep the beetles and disease at bay. And so, with little hesitation, I ordered several of a few more delightful varieties to add to the ever expanding grow list for this spring.

We get a nice bloom period on both sides of the Japanese beetle hatch. In-between it’s constant battle, but we find the joy they bring is worth the effort. One whiff of their delicious fragrance and you will be hooked too!

This year we’ve added the following garden roses to our collection:

Garden Rose
Garden Rose – ‘Jubilee Celebration’. Described as “Salmon pink with tints of gold underneath with a fruity fragrance”. Photo credit: David Austin
Garden Rose - Lady Emma
Garden Rose – ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’. Described as “Tangerine orange with a fruity fragrance”. Photo credit: David Austin
Garden Rose- Munstead Wood
Garden Rose – Munstead Wood. Described as”Deep velvety crimson with a strong old rose fragrance”. And, as one would describe a fine wine, “warm and fruity with blackberry, blueberry and damson”. Photo credit: David Austin

Flowering Shrubs
We’ve been adding flowering shrubs a few at a time, but for next season I went a little nuts. I am still not sure were they are all going to go, but we always seem to tweak out a little more space here and there. With 60 new shrubs ordered, I better do some serious tweaking!

Kierra japonica 'Pleniflora'
Kierra japonica ‘Pleniflora’. Small 2″ double yellow flowers early spring to May with a good vase life. I am very in love and a little afraid of this wild beast which reaches 12′ high and has a “sprawling, spreading” habit. Photo credit: Missouri Botanical Garden
Flowering Quince
Flowering Quince – ‘Toyo Nishiki’. This has been on my wish list for quite some time. Photo credit: Missouri Botanical Garden
Carolina Allspice
Carolina Allspice – Reddish brown 2″ blooms produce an intensely fruity fragrance during spring/summer. I love it’s unique blooms. Photo credit: Missouri Botanical Garden
Flowering Almond
Flowering Almond – “Prized for heavy flowering in early spring. Branches literally covered with densely packed double pink blooms”. This shrub seems to need a lot of pampering and I sure hope we can do it justice.
Mock Orange
Mock Orange – lovely fragrant white blossoms in late spring/early summer. We are hooked on this one!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tulips
Tulips are one of those must have spring flowers and we try to grow unique varieties. We’ve been getting a lot of requests for peony flowering and green tulips. Our early bloomers always give us so much hope spring will actually come!

tulip-aveyron
Peony Flowering Tulip – ‘Aveyron’. “This fluffy, flouncy newcomer is deep rose with paler rose petal edges and prominent green feathering on strong stems”. Photo credit: Van Engelen
Peony Flowering Tulip - "Blue Spectacle". It is deep violet-purple with a blue sheen and a fully double form resembling that of an actual Peony. Photo credit: Van Engelen
Peony Flowering Tulip – ‘Blue Spectacle’. “It is deep violet-purple with a blue sheen and a fully double form resembling that of an actual Peony”. Photo credit: Van Engelen
tulip_peony_mount_tacoma
Peony Flowering Tulip – ‘Mount Tacoma’. “A fully double, glistening white, this 1924 award-winner has subtle green markings on its petals. Fragrant”. Photo credit: Van Engelen
tulip_greenland
‘Greenland’ – “Also known as Groenland, this award-winner is a charming old rose color with soft green stripes from the flower’s base to its tips”. Photo credit: Van Engelen

Brodiaea
Brodiaea is an experiment for us this season. It is a zone 6 bulb, so a lot will depend if we can create a zone 6 environment for it.  We thought them beautiful enough to give it a try.

brodiaea_corrina
Brodia laxa corrina – “Clusters of delicate star-shaped, deep blue-violet flowers with darker midveins and grass-like foliage”. Photo credit: Van Engelen
Brodiaea californica babylon. This gorgeous selection out of B. californica has clusters of star-shaped amethyst flowers adored by the Dutch cut flower trade. Limited supply.
Brodiaea californica babylon. “This gorgeous selection has clusters of star-shaped amethyst flowers adored by the Dutch cut flower trade”. Limited supply. Photo credit: Van Engelen

 

brodia_laxa_silver_queen
Brodiaea – “Silver Queen has airy stellates of delicate star-shaped, silver-white flowers with a hazy silver shadow running the length of each lobe and grass-like foliage”. Limited Supply. Photo credit: Van Engelen

 

brodiaea_queen_fabiola
Brodiaea – “Queen Fabiola has clusters of delicate, star-shaped, blue-violet flowers with darker midveins and grass-like foliage”. Photo credit: Van Engelen

Anemone
Another flowering bulb outside our comfort zone is the spring blooming anemone. We’ve had some success with them in prior years. I love them so much I’ve forgotten the pain of losing an entire crop to early season high temperatures and are going to attempt them again.

anemone-sylphideanemone-mr-fokkeranemone-bride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dahlias
Dahlias are by far our most popular flower. The list of varieties to choose from seems endless. Our most popular colors this past season were burgundy, white, and the soft creamy pink of the Cafe au Lait. This year we’ll be adding Karma dahlias to the mix. Karma dahlias have been proven to have an excellent storage and vase life.

Karma Dahlia Choc
Karma Dahlia – ‘Choc’. A deep red, almost black.
Karma dahlia 'Maarten Zwaan'. A white waterlily type dahlia
Karma dahlia ‘Maarten Zwaan’. A white waterlily type dahlia.
Karma Dahlia 'Goldie' - A warm golden yellow dahlia.
Karma Dahlia ‘Goldie’ – A warm golden yellow dahlia.
Karma Dahlia Naomi
Karma Dahlia – ‘Naomi’. Deep mahogany red.

Additional new dahlia varieties:
Dinner plate:
White Perfection – white
Thomas Edison – purple

Decorative/Ball/Waterlily:
Zas Zas – Orange
Cornell Brons – Bronze
Purple Flame – Purple

We’ll also be expanding our most popular varieties to give us over 1000 dahlia plants.


We’re also adding quite a few new annuals and perennials as usual. When I get that list complete, I’ll add it here.

Peonies in July?!?!?

peony-dahlia-sunflower
Peonies, Sunflowers and Dahlias on July 9th

It’s been an exciting year, to say the least, but I have to say I got really, really excited when our first dahlias and sunflowers came in AND I still had a few peonies in the cooler. So I got to thinking…. Is it possible to have peonies in early to mid, even late July? Quality peonies?

The quality is what has always concerned me. I have always been led to believe that peonies will not store well into July, so I have never even considered offering them this late in the season. I am now happily rethinking and testing that theory.

The peonies I pulled out of the cooler on Thursday still look fabulous 3 days later, even with the 90+ degree heat of late. I have sent some home with a few of my floral designers to test also.

Another great thing I have learned about peonies has to do with the side shoots. After weeks of being stored in the cooler, any buds showing color will still open, and although short, are still very pretty and very usable. (The tightest buds will not open and are excellent for boutonaires)

I have maybe 20 stems to work with and will pull them out of the cooler every week to see how far into July we can actually go. Maybe we can supply the request for sunflowers, dahlias AND peonies from the farm in July!

I’ll try to update this post with our results after I learn – just how late can we go?

Spring Fever 2016!

Over the winter planning takes place. What goes where? How much to plant? What are we short on? What do we grow too much of? Spring is when it all starts to come together.

Over the winter I go nuts with the seed catalogs – ordering new varieties or plants that we haven’t tried here before. Spring seems to be when I get the plant and bulb bug.

The pussy willows I started last year had the most fabulous pink tinted catkins. They were our first blooms of the season. Other early bloomers are popping out of the ground at a phenomenal rate this year, furthering the excitement. The lupine planted out last year looks so healthy and happy! The new flowering shrubs are beginning to show buds.

While doing research I often come across flowers that make a fabulous cut that we’ve over looked. This fall we will plant brodiaea. How did I miss this flower? It keeps well in the cooler, has an excellent vase life,  and blooms very early. I definitely need these in purple, white and yellow.leuc_aest_grav_giant

And what about these beauties? Leucojum would make such lovely additions to spring bridal bouquets don’t you think?

 

 

And then there is the rose desire……

rose-alnwick

queen-of-sweden-roseAlthough roses are a pain here and the Japanese beetles love them as much as we do, I have ordered more garden roses this year. The plan is to build a structure around them and screen them off with insect netting. I am determined to grow at least one bed well. To me, there is nothing like the scent of well grown roses and I think there is almost no flower more beautiful.

And while we are lusting over early bloomers, I may as well add some more flowering shrubs. That wish list is long! And more coral peonies and maybe should I order some yellow peonies? You can see where this is going. Once bitten with spring fever, there seems to be no cure.

 

rose-golden-cel

Thank you

2/25/16

Thank you for all your get well cards, blessings, delicious food dishes, and well wishes! I am now vertical and above the sod, thank you! Whew.

A caring friend and floral designer gently reminded me “No farmer, no farm”, trying to remind me to take it easy and I assure you all, I am being good. I am happy we chose this time of year for the surgery, I am able to put off the heavy lifting stuff and am getting most of what needs to be done, done. 86 flats of seedlings started so far, (it’s just pure delight to see the little seedlings pop out of the soil!) doing most of my own animal care now, and I even got to shovel a little snow yesterday. (Yes I was careful!) Onward!

So here’s the low down and gory details. I know I’ve been quiet; I tend to crawl off and lick my wounds in private.

I am recovering from the second heart surgery in a year because the first surgery back in April 2015 didn’t work. This time they did it the “non-invasive” way, which believe me, is about a zillion times more painful than having your chest cracked open (which isn’t exactly a picnic). They didn’t get this second surgery absolutely right either and had to open me up a second time to remove the drain tube that they stitched to something they shouldn’t have been stitching to. The sorry thing is they figured that out after yanking on the %&@! thing for half an hour or so, which is no fun, nor would they listen to my complaint something wasn’t right. Just keep on yanking! Genius. (A friend of mine thought it would have been a smart move to just have a zipper put in at this point.) This added a couple of days to my escape plan and I’m sure more time to recovery in general.

I do have to say I had one nurse who shined. Deborah, was an angel and really, really truly cared! (Maybe she could write their nursing manual) Her smiles went a long way, she listened when something wasn’t right, and she always, always remembered to move the call button back to where I could reach it. Otherwise it seemed like no one really gave a damn. Just another patient in the busy day of nurses and docs. I was so happy to get home before something else went wrong!

On a happy note, I was born with this pesky mitral valve problem and otherwise I am blessed with a healthy heart. Can’t wait to be back on both feet, and hopefully go back to avoiding major medical stuff for many, many years. I am looking forward to saying “It’s over, this worked, it was worth it!” and to having my energy back!

 

The Season at a Glance

 

Mouse over to pause

Matters of the Heart & Fragile Phsyche

All farmers feel the pressure of winter coming on, prices that refuse to gain one ounce of sanity, the pressure to “get it all done” before the first frost, the first freeze, the first snow, or the first of the year. After the frosts and freezes, there are endless tasks to be done. Cleaning up the fields and getting ready for next year is no small feat. And tubers need to be dug, labeled and stored before turning to mush. We work until Mother Nature says we can’t work anymore and then still need to get more done.

And added to the endless “to do” list is the fact I have to get my mind wrapped around the frustration of having open heart surgery for a second time this year because somehow “a stitch came loose”. Symptoms are exhaustion, dizziness, visual “disturbances”, shortness of breath (aggravated like crazy by bending over), retaining water until my work boots don’t fit. It’s frustrating to just plain not being able to do some of the things I need to do.  The surgery, as of now, is December 10th. Hopefully between fall clean up and seed starting, which begins late December for us.

With the shorter days, I feel myself making time to have a coherent thought not related to the business. I feel myself taking a step back, taking inventory of things that are important to me, practicing gratitude and practicing saying no in a polite manner, but loud enough that I am heard. We get so wrapped up in the go-go-go of the season, we forget there are other things in life – like sanity and health.

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. ~Lao Tzu