Monday, August 31, 2009

MUM's the Word ....

September is peeking around the corner and we are overwhelmed with mums.

I must have had a few senior moments when I was ordering the cuttings last spring, because we have about 500 more than usual ... AND it is a bad year for mums. The early cold weather made them set their buds early. We are selling many of them for $3.50 each or 5/$15. The darned pots cost us 50 cents each!

Four greenhouses are filled, as well as any available landscape fabric on the ground.

We buy rooted mum cuttings in late May and into June. They get planted and established in 4 inch pots and then as the greenhouses clear out of annuals we start bumping the mums up into larger pots.

There’s constant watering, pinching and shaping, and fertilizing involved, so it’s probably not worth the effort. But it also seems a shame to have those greenhouses empty when they could be working.

The only true perennial mum around here is Chrysanthemum rubellum ‘Clara Curtis’.

It’s pleasant enough and does provide late summer flowers, but it spreads a bit too fast and tends to bloom unevenly for me.

Blooms of Bressingham have introduced the Igloo series of mums, with a hardiness rating of 5. I chose “Rosy Igloo” because the photo looked like a reddish rust orange, a color which has been popular with our customers in the fall.

The actual bloom here is more of a washed out copper from my perspective and they have disappointed me..

If this mum does overwinter, the trick is to pinch it back right up to July 4 for a bushier fall bloom. We have some in the ground so they will be tested here. It’s possible that they will pick up more color from being planted in “real” soil. If they survive the winter I may try the yello Igloo next year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Great Flowers - Poor Sellers

Oh fickle customers - they do seem to snap up whatever is blooming in the six-packs in the spring, and bypass the “starts” that are still green. I am at fault too, as I should whip up some nice POP (point of purchase) posters to show folks what they will be missing. Every year I offer some “hard-to-find” annuals, and every year I end up with most of them still on the shelves by mid-summer.

For example, blue didiscus (below.) It’s kind of like a smaller version of the white queen anne’s lace, very pretty as a filler in summer bouquets.

Lavatera comes in various shades of pink and a shorter white version and once it starts blooming it is loaded with hibiscus like flowers and makes for a great cut flower. This time of year I am cutting lavatera every day.

Sanvitalia procumbens ("creeping zinnia") is great for hot dry areas.

Tithonia (“Mexican Sunflower”) is a nice splash of color for the summer garden. The stems are hollow and it is not good for bouquets, but it is a show stopper.

While rudbeckia (black-eyed susan) can be a fine perennial (I think the best is 'goldsturm'), there are also many nice rudbeckias that I grow as annuals, including ‘Indian Summer’, ‘Prairie Sun,’ ‘Tiger Eye,’ and the ‘Toto’ series. Next year I will offer ‘Cherry Brandy,’ the first red-flowered black-eyed susan grown from seeds.

I have always thought it would be a good idea to have a “Gourmet Corner” in one greenhouse for the hard-to-find flowers. Maybe This will happen "next year”?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Bouquets for Farmers' Market

I thought it would be fun to take various containers and use them as vases for my flowers for farmers’ market. I chose an old tea pot that had a crack, so it couldn’t be used for tea; a sweet pottery vase; a little brass vase; and an older planter with a chip, among other things.

They were meant to be whimsical and quirky, but I sold them all right away to one person to be used for a wedding! I don’t think they even noticed the containers - she just liked the flowers... and at $7 a bouquet, it was a bargain. (Sorry, the second photo should have been rotated one more time...)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wedding Flowers for a Friend

One of my best friends is also an employe of 14 years, Rose Bothfeld. Her son, Raymon, got married this weekend and I volunteered to make the table bouquets for the wedding as a gift. It turned out they needed 22 bouquets. Rose and I picked flowers Thursday evening at a friend’s flower farm to supplement what I could provide from my gardens.

I am most comfortable making bouquets with oasis, as compared to “loose” bouquets. It’s really easy and most florist are fine with selling you a few containers and a brick of oasis. I take the round container, place in a hunk of oasis and then moisten it thoroughly with water with preservative.

Then I usually make a general foundation of foliage. Astilbe and peony leaves work great for this, but I also use hosta, amsonia and the dark leaves of ninebark.

I can do this a day or two before the actual bouquets get done. One nice thing about giving the flowers as a gift is that I was told any color combination was fine. So some tables got blue bouquets, while others got shades of yellow with ornamental grass and many just got wild mixes.

They came out really nicely and I was proud to deliver them Saturday afternoon. The first photo is the bottom layer of the truck.

The bridegroom is a farmer and he met me at the house in soiled clothes (“I still have to tie up the cows”). He had three hours until the wedding and he said his tux was ready.

This was a real country wedding with potluck dishes and BYO drinks. And then there was this - a Vermont wedding really needs a pig roast!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Daylilies in Bloom August 3

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned for my business is to use a number 2 pencil on a plant tag. This will last longer than any ‘sharpie’ made. I have also learned to mark my daylilies in the field with large wood stakes, the cultivar’s name written with a paint marker on one side and pencil on the other.

Some growers bury the name with each planting as well, just in case the tags disappear.

We grow our perennials in two areas and since we are closed on Monday (today) , I headed to the upper field with my camera to take an inventory and see how the plants are doing with all the rain.

One of the showiest daylilies now blooming is called ‘Brilliant Circle’(below). It produces tons of flowers in the field and in the pot. It has a small bloom (3 and 1/2 inches) but the quantity more than makes up for the size.

Brilliant Circle

Another flower with a smaller bloom, but stellar performance is 'Siloam Doodlebug'.

Siloam Doodlebug

I really like 'Dragon’s Eye' because of the wide rose eyezone.

Dragon's Eye

This one is named ‘Outrageous’ which is a bit of an over statement, as it is very similar to 'Holiday Delight' or 'Bandit Man', but I suppose it is one notch hotter.


'Pink Cotton Candy' is from the breeder, Patrick Stamile, who has a whole series of ‘candy’ daylilies and they all do well for me.

Pink Cotton Candy

'Butterfly Kisses' is an older daylily, but lovely with incurved 8” blooms.

Butterfly Kisses

The following daylily is lovely and blooms heavily each year, but its name has disappeared from my inventory list and I can't find a tag anywhere.

I have No Name

I have a special place for daylilies in pots that have lost their tags. It is the "orphan daylily" corner and they sell for $4.50 a clump. Perhaps I will dig some of these next spring for sale as nameless orphans.