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.  


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.


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.  



Distinctly interesting.

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

Now that's a dahlia!

Beautiful dinnerplate dahlias sure do catch the eye.  Here were have a stunner!  Even though I have to dig hundreds upon hundreds of dahlias every fall, because they are not winter-hardy here, it is always worth the sore muscles when they come into bloom the next season.

 Imagine this one in your bouquet! Add some amazing greens and you have nothing short of pure magic.

Imagine this one in your bouquet! Add some amazing greens and you have nothing short of pure magic.