Putting the farm to bed for the winter…

October is kind of a bittersweet month, no pun on bittersweet, that gorgeous, noxious, invasive vine intended!


October means frost, which means the end of most of my flowers, including the dahlias, ageratum, and zinnias that populated so many of my fall-themed bouquets and arrangements.

October means the end of my summer farmer’s market.

October means I only have a few more weeks to make sure everything I want to overwinter has its best chance of making it. This means lots of digging, planting the stragglers, mulching, snipping, and covering.

October means apples and pears the various jams and butters I make.

October means wildcrafting wreath making supplies and dried bits and pieces for winter bouquets.

October means planning for the late fall and winter craft fairs and markets.

And this October means getting my 4-season store open for business! Which is a beast of a different sort!

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Dark and lovely bouquet for a boho bride!

 

To create this bouquet I used all the darkest flowers I could find! Five kinds of dahlias in burgandies, reds, and purples, 2 kinds of foliage, and lots of it, to create a lush look, and lots of limonium, which adds texture and a hint of purple/blue/grey. I also added as many of the darkest spray roses I could find. I don’t really grow roses (at least not in the quantity I’d need to guarantee them for a wedding), but I really love them in a bouquet for their dusky matte tones and in this case, a dark pop of color.

Photo courtesy of Heather Connors Photography.
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Year 2: flowers I’m loving, flowers I’m not

This is half a note to myself for next year, half a blog post!

Now that I’m smack dab in the middle of year 2 of my little flower farm, I’ve developed some clear favorites and discovered some flowers that simply were not worth space or money. Some are too fiddly and not very impressive, some are kind of ugly, and some simply aren’t worth the bed space.

Plants I grew this year that I could do without:

delphinium. I know! It’s gorgeous! Its blooms make a nice flower crown. But in the kind of arrangements and bouquets I’m doing right now it’s too tall to use effectively and it flops over. Plus, when I started the seeds a mouse ate all but 10, then out of the 10 only 2 did much, then the ones that grew were gorgeous, but like I said, not practical for what I do.

statice. I have really mixed feelings about this stuff. I think it’s ugly, but it provides good stiff structure for some of my floppier flowers. It grew really easily from seed, though, so that’s a plus.

celosia. I bought celosia plugs and they’re doing awesome, but they are very, very ugly. Maybe I bought the wrong kind (Sunday mix) but every single one is orange or red. There was supposed to be pink and salmon in there, too, but there isn’t. Maybe once the zinnias and dahlia start popping and I have more hot flowers I will like them, but for now they don’t go well with anything I have.

allium. Gorgeous, I know, but the chipmunks or whatever garden rats are out there ate every single one. Same with the anenome and the ranunculus. They are expensive but if I have to grow them in individual wire cages they are too fiddly for me.

Things I love (new this year, besides the obvious dahlias and peonies!) or wish I’d grown again this year:

orlaya. Brilliant overwintered hardy annual. Will definitely plant again in the fall.

garland chrysanthemum. I didn’t grow it this year but really wish I had. It was such a nice little flower to add to arrangements, it smelled sweet, and it grew from seed super easily. The foliage was pretty, too, and added some airiness and green to bouquets. I might start some now to try to get some for fall. I had hoped I would get volunteers but I didn’t.

ageratum. Blue! Study stems! super easy to start!

clary sage. So easy to grow and while the flowers are small, they add a really nice pop of color, they started early, and the foliage was one of the earliest fillers I had.

nigella. I don’t know why I fight the nigella! I should just give in to its hoop house domination and grow as much as possible. The flowers are gorgeous as are the pods, and the only thing I’ll change for next year it to provide support, because flopped over and bent it’s not much use.

More filler! And preferably something perennial. I’m definitely investing in some mountain mint plugs for next year, and while I like the scented geranium it is not holding up well at the roadside cart as it sometimes gets full sun.

There’s a pattern here: more small, useful, hardy filler flowers and greens, especially those that I can easily grow from seed or find in plug form, and fewer fiddly, expensive corms and bulbs and focus flowers.

 

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