Ok... it's been a bit busy around here... and it's going to get busier

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Hello, flower lovers. As many of you know, I have been quite lax with blog posts and have been relying on my newsletter to keep you all up to date with flower happenings here at Butternut Gardens. I don’t exactly have a stellar record with getting out many newsletters this year, either, but that is another matter. I hope to get back to blogging because I miss it, and I have heard that many of the Butternut Gardens flower lovers “out there” also miss it. Time is always the limiting factor. Well, this year, rain was a bit of a limiting factor as well. I am not sure I am ready to talk rain just yet. Today had to be one of the first sunny days in months. Boy, did I love it! I have been soggy all season, except for a few weeks sometime in the mix.

So, what’s new here? I did not install the drip irrigation this year. Oh, that’s right, I wasn’t going to talk about rain, but it was such a big factor this season, I seem to have ended up on the subject again. Moving on.. we ventured into corporate pop up shops this year, and had such a fun time bringing wonderfully fresh flowers to a workplace. Imagine walking into a corporate conference room or cafeteria and seeing tables of flowers blasting color and fragrance in every direction! Yahoo. Even better, as purchases were made, gorgeous blooms “wandered” into personal office space and, after work, into homes. I loved it! Totally made my heart soar. Sharing flowers really makes me happy. I keep saying, if others did not enjoy Butternut Gardens flowers and designs as much as I do, I could not have nearly so much fun growing nearly so many flowers or varieties of flowers. So, thank you, one and all, for your continued support (and for your great taste in flowers). If any readers in the Butternut Gardens region (say an hour’s drive to hour and a half’s drive or less) want to have a pop up shop at their work space, please contact me through the contact us page of this website.

A recent pop up shop came with an extra bonus, as new autumn wreath designs were debuted. In the next week or so you will find some totally awesome handmade wreaths - with dried flowers and “silk” - available for purchase through the Butternut Gardens website, and also at some of our retail partners. Each one will be unique. We can ship anywhere in the United States. This is truly exciting from my end as it enables another area of creativity to emerge. Items will be limited this year as we gear up this area of design, but many of you know already how beautiful they are through workshops we have given. Check the website in another week or so for offerings. Also, on Sunday, October 14th, Butternut Gardens will be a vendor at the Fairfield CT Fall Harvest Festival at Fairfield Town Hall Green (10 AM to 4 PM) and these gorgeous new wreaths will be a big part of our display, and will be available for purchase.

Also new this year, Butternut Gardens will again create beautiful handmade winter holiday wreaths. It has been several years since we offered these. Some of you still have magnolia wreaths created by Butternut Gardens years ago. i am most happy to offer these again. Like the autumn wreaths, these will be available online through this Butternut Gardens website and also through some of our retail partners. Please check back here in a week or so and, hopefully, we will be up and running. A few other surprises are also in the offing - can you say, “winter bulbs” to brighten those short-day months? Yes!

Piggybacking on the corporate flower popup shops, Butternut Gardens is working on some in-home flower parties as well. Stay tuned for details.

This year, we have added several “flower partners” to our little flower operation. That means more flowers being grown and more customers having access to our farm fresh flowers. Needless to say, that takes time and lots of hard work. Definitely fun and worth it, but definitively cut into blog time this year. Weddings, too, kept up pace with former years, and kept my communications limited.

All in all, it has been another wonderful flower-filled growing season. It is not over yet. The dahlias are blooming their little heads off right now, and some specialty mums are just about ready to get started. It is, however, coming to a close sooner than later. That does not mean the work ends. It simply means the work changes. Lots of garden cleanup lies ahead. There will come a day when the season officially ends, and I always meet that day with very mixed feelings, but that day is still a couple of months away.

I want to wish you all the best in your gardens for the rest of this season. Enjoy the time in the sun, fresh air and soil. It is very special to have this all at our fingertips.

Tulips and Poppies for Spring

We have blast off, folks!  

As I am busy trying to get things set for retail sales at The Little White Flower Cottage here at Butternut Gardens, I am also working my "real job" of getting seedlings planted, and, yes, actually cutting flowers.  

Here are some of the goodies bursting into bloom right now.

Tulips are going to my local retail partners for the weekend! Some bright, and some more subtle. 

Slow Flowers movement continues to grow

 As it says, "Love a Farmer!"

As it says, "Love a Farmer!"

I am thrilled that Debra Prinzing invited Butternut Gardens to be part of her wonderful article on the local cut flower movement - or Slow Flowers movement - that is included in the recently-released issue of Southern Farm and Garden magazine. Debra is a major advocate for American flower farming and locally-grown flowers. For years, among other things, she has offered weekly podcasts related to the Field to Vase movement. Southern Farm and Garden is an absolutely gorgeous publication - one you want to read and view time and time again. It is available through subscription or at Barnes and Nobel stores. Please look for it.

Want to learn how to make a gorgeous Spring Centerpiece?

Last night's workshop was jam-packed with gorgeous spring flowers and, boy, was I ever amazed by the finished designs my "students" put together.  When teaching, I take a step by step approach and then stand back and let the creativity and experimentation take over.  There is always, always, always a moment when I look at the designs and freeze because the beauty and individual expression of design simply overwhelm me.  Happened again last night!

With the upcoming holiday weekend in mind, I challenged workshop participants to craft a design which could be lightly freshened up for next weekend if they are hosting a gathering. We put in bonus potted pansies which enhanced the designs and can be planted outside for months of enjoyment. Thank you, wonderful flower friends, for the courage to give this a try. I hope you are proud of your creations. I know I sure am! I hope to see you again at a future workshop.

Spreading some more Spring Flower Fairy Dust

 Pansies - harbingers of spring

Pansies - harbingers of spring

In early spring everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon for pansies. You find them for sale everywhere - plant nurseries, grocery stores, building supply companies, farmers markets.  And, why not? They are so darn cheerful. Even though I do not grow them for cuts, it is very hard for me to resist putting a few in the window boxes sitting on my deck railings. So, here to spread some springtime cheer, are pansies. Enjoy!

Secret Pleasures of a Flower Farmer a.k.a. the Perks of the Job

 Could use a whiff of lilies right about now.

Could use a whiff of lilies right about now.

It's that time of year when every seasonal flower farmer is truly missing the flowers. Sure, there are seed orders to fine tune, equipment repairs to be made and all the rest. It is not as though I am not busy every day. In fact, there is little time off in this job, especially for a farmer florist, who also does floral designs, weddings and events, as well as grow flowers. As I think back to the season past, I feel the need to reveal some of the perks of the job - weird as they may be - and which I so miss as I look out the window on a rainy December day. Today I'll just point to a few. 

In no particular order, here goes. I am in my flower rows everyday of the growing season and many days before flowers appear, as well as after they are gone. It doesn't feel right to not be out there. Maybe I don't love it when it is raining on me or super cold or really windy when I am trying to do some jobs, which in do not in any way, shape or form require wind as a helper, and I don't love having my hair whipped around my face and totally messed p by wind, but I love being outside. I love smelling fresh, clean air. I love smelling air after it rains. I love smelling air on hot, humid summer days. I love smelling warm soil inside a plastic low tunnel when there is snow on the ground outside the tunnel. I hugely love the many fragrances of blooming stock and tuberose and lilies. How can flowers have so many different scents? Even chrysanthemums, which I have typically considered somewhat acrid-scented, have a very soft, subtle, sweet scent when coming out of my gardens.

 Five types of scented geraniums shown here. Boy, do I ever miss these, but makes them even more special when in season.

Five types of scented geraniums shown here. Boy, do I ever miss these, but makes them even more special when in season.

Speaking of scents, I love, love, love running a hose to spray the basil!

Have you ever been totally surrounded by basil fragrance?

I mean TOTALLY surrounded, as in infused?

Grow some basil (or a few rows of it) and give it a hand watering! Wow!

The really cool thing is I grow a bunch of different varieties and they all have unique fragrances! Wahoo. I am in Heaven. I know I am.

And, by the way, anyone else around here missing the glorious scents of our scented geraniums? Ummm, yeah.

 

 Love the smell of honey these hydrangeas drag in!

Love the smell of honey these hydrangeas drag in!

 

 

Here's another scent I really like - the scent of

honey. Yep, honey. When my hydrangeas are

blooming and bees are visiting, standing next

to these great big balls of flowers is like

sitting on the edge of a honey jar. It

practically bowls me over.

 

 

 

The same thing happens with goldenrod. One cultivated variety, in particular, blooms a bit later than all the rest so is a star bee attractant. the great thing about the great honey caper is the scent comes with the flowers.

 Three bumble bees loving the goldenrod.

Three bumble bees loving the goldenrod.

 

So, when I cut them for an arrangement,

people's houses and event spaces can smell of

both flowers and honey. So sweet!

 

The big black blobs in the goldenrod photo to

the left are bees. It does make cutting a bit

awkward! Usually have bumble bees, honey

bees and others at the same time.

 

 

 Perfume factories!

Perfume factories!

Finally, since I am speaking of scents, I'll share another secret obsession of mine: opening the cooler door when it is full of flowers. Well, I don't mean opening too often because I DO want to keep them cool, with that being the idea of the cooler afterall. Any visitors to Butternut Gardens definitely get "the open door" treatment, which consists of my opening the cooler door, standing back and partaking, with my visitors, in the glorious cool waves of mixed flower "perfume." Ahhhh. could do it forever.  In fact, I think I'll take a walk now in this nor'easter of a rain storm just to see what it smells like out there, see what's growing, and give myself some hope for spring. 


Ageratum - my go-to blue for summer and fall

Now that we are into August, one of my favorites - Ageratum - is hitting the bouquets big-time. I just love this soft, powdery grey-blue gem. What a heart it has! Keeps on blooming until frost, but makes a very immediate departure at that time. My mother used to grow Ageratum. Every summer, to complement her beautiful perennial beds and rock garden, she also planted an annual garden around our grass courtyards.  Every summer she went with a red, white and blue theme, using the low-growing white Alyssum, the medium-sized blue Ageratum, and the taller spikes of red salvia. Lots of planting. Lots of summer color. No mulch. At the time, mulch was not used nearly so much as it is today.  I cringe at the thought, but she was from Iowa, and whoever mulches their acres of corn?

The Ageratum I grow is hardly my mother's Ageratum. While puffy mounds of color were perfect for her garden beds, what I am looking for is far greater height.

My varieties of choice are either 'Blue Horizon' or 'Blue Planet.'

Every year I have roughly 300 Ageratum plants, from which i cut thousands of gorgeous stems of flowers. The touch of blue is a wonderful accent for the many bright summer - blooming flowers, but also goes beautifully with the softer tones, such as the rose, peach, and white zinnias.  It looks equally nice with some lime green zinnias.

 

 

 

As we move later into August, and on into September, Ageratum adds a lovely touch to many dahlia-centric arrangements and bouqets.

It looks fabulous with white, lavender, peach, and almost any color at all.

 

Come fall, when we find the gardens moving into the more bronzy tones, I find Ageratum continues to shine.  It so very often adds just the right touch of contrasting color to make everything else really pop to life. From October Dahlia bouquets and arrangements into November Chrysanthemum presentations, Ageratum makes a welcome splash. While this gathering of autumn color would be marvelous on its own, doesn't it gain from the little hints of blue afforded by a sprig or lavender statice and some of that powdery blue Ageraturm?

 

 

Summer Bouquets

Ah, the colors!  Soft pastels of spring are transforming into summer's brighter hues.  One of the things I love most about working with flowers from the gardens is they are always changing. Lilies are a staple of the Butternut Gardens flowers throughout the growing season, but I mix things up by growing different colors and types from March to October.  This golden yellow sure sparkles with some of our early summer beauties.  

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Here we see a wonderful double white shasta daisy, along with bright pink dianthus and the beautiful deep purple drumstick allium nestled against the lily. Peachy yarrow, stock and snapdragon add filler and spiky accents respectively, while several of the early zinnias lend a nice accent. 

 

Here's another view.

 

Can't you just imagine all those bright green lily buds popping open!

 

The snapdragon variety in the foreground is called 'Apple blossom.' A real winner with its perfect white and pink bicolor florets!

 

 

 

 

One of the best parts of early summer is being able to combine some of the best of the late spring pastels, like the feathery soft pink astilbe in this one, with the magnificent summer flowers such as this soft, periwinkle blue ageratum and this stunning green-eyed Black-eyed Susan, called 'Prairie Sun.'  This year seems to be a particularly good year for both.  

In this close-up you can also spot the bright pink dianthus and the peachy yarrow again. The Ageratum will continue to bloom its heart out well past summer, all the way to frost.  Oh the bouquets it will make! At the end of the season, I'll give you the numbers on how many cuts I got.  For now, I am just trying to keep up!

 Lovely summer colors at the Farmers' Market.

Lovely summer colors at the Farmers' Market.

 

So, what do you think of this lineup at the New Canaan, CT Farmers' Market?

It is such fun seeing all the colors of the seasonally-changing bouquets en masse.  

Boy, do I feel spoiled getting to play with all these beauties every day.  

 

Hard work?  Of course!

 

So, these seem to be perfect flowers for mason jars and weddings looking for summer elegance on the farm tables.

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I thought you might like to see "splendor in the grass" with these lovelies.  So fun to have a few of those striking blue delphinium to add a spark here and there.

And I bet you would love to join the party when they hit the table.

 

 

 Mason jars full of gorgeous blossoms look great on burlap or on linens with burlap runners.

Mason jars full of gorgeous blossoms look great on burlap or on linens with burlap runners.

 

Setting up for an outdoor rustic chic summer event.  These beauties add such a perfect touch.  

Colorful.

Beautiful.

Distinctly interesting.

So many different blossoms to catch your interest while you are dining and conversing.