Everything outside is white. Except for the leafless trees. How patiently they wait for spring. A lesson to teach. Blizzard 2015 has come and gone, leaving less snow than predicted, but a sizable cover nonetheless. Nestled among the snow I have five low tunnels harboring Anemone and Ranunculus. Today's Fleur du Jour - Anemone - should be coming along by mid-April, if not sooner. Sometimes when it is frozenn outside, the soil under the plastic low tunnels is still in the 50's. Last year I only planted red Anemoe and red and white bicolor Anemone. This year I have added some more subdued colors as well - perfect for weddings. Enjoy the snow, if you have it. Only 70 days to Anemones. Not long at all.
While new peonies are introduced every year, some of our garden favorites, and most popular cut peonies, were introduced in the the late 1800''s and early 1900's. Sarah Bernhardt, a favorite pink variety was first introduced in 1906, while Duchesse de Nemours was introduced in 1856 and remains a sought after white. Some of the popular coral varieties were more recently introduced - Coral Charm in 1964 and Pink Hawaiian Coral in 1981. I am sure they will remain popular for centuries to come. This spring I expect to offer another very interesting old-timer called Gay Paree. It is a pink and white two-toned peony, which I think will be absolutely spectacular for event work and everyday bouquets and arrangements. Gay Paree was first introduced in 1933. Imagine the changes our world has seen. If peonies could talk! Only 120 days, and many, many snowflakes to peonies 2015!
As the snowflakes shush to the ground here with a soft chorus and our Blizzard 2015 unfurls, I call upon Peonies for today's Fleur du Jour and thoughts of spring. It is magical watching peonies develop from the tightest round buds akin to pin heads, to hard, marble-like buds, and then slightly-open marshmallow buds, which finally burst open into breathtaking blooms.
Throughout, it is common to see ants marching up and down the stems to garner the sweet sugars, which peonies secrete as their buds develop. Peonies can live for decades, and some for even more than a hundred years.
Some of the most lovely spring flowers, which everyone wants in their bouquets - Anemone and Ranunculus - are tucked in the ground here at Butternut Gardens, hopefully well-protected from the coming winter cold.
The Anemone run the gamut from striking red to red and white bicolor to lovely pastels and more subtle dusky blossoms.
My Ranunculus will cover the absolutely delicious sherbet palette of colors - peach, salmon, orange and pink.
Neither of these bulbs overwinters well without a bit of added protection, so the low tunnels are up! Also called low hoops, short for hoop houses, or caterpillar tunnels, these low hoops will keep the soil at more moderate temperatures, and enable these two fabulous flowers to flourish.
Before I plant either the Anemone or Ranunculus
in the ground, I let them develop a good root
system in a moist medium under more controlled
temperatures. That way I give them a good head
start. They do want to grow.
After a good period of time, you would be amazed
by the wonderful roots that both Anemone and
I am always amazed by
Here's a shot of the little octopus-looking
Ranunculus with all of its wonderful white roots
ready to be put into the ground under the low
Into the tunnels they go. Five low tunnels are currently harboring a wonderfully-warm (relatively) climate for all of these beauties. On one recent day, my visiting grand dog, who has helped me all summer with the flowers, decided it was necessary to enter one of the tunnels to inspect for mice and voles. I escorted her out, and thanked her for her loyal efforts! Took out the leaves as well.
Never-ending inspections taking place here!
So many wonderful couples came my way through two recent wedding expos in Connecticut. The welcoming Fox Hill Inn in Brookfield recently hosted a Wedding Steps Expo and was followed by another Wedding Steps Expo held at the gorgeous Water's Edge Resort in Westbrook. Wedding expos are a great place for couples to meet vendors, get ideas, and begin planning for their wedding day.
I love meeting with couples, often with families and friends, to talk flowers. While I don't have a lot of time to go into all the individual details of each wedding, I am able to answer a number of questions specific to a good number of wedding visions and also to comment on issues which most couples face. In addition, of course, I am able to talk about Butternut Gardens and how my Evelyn Lee Floral Designs often differ a bit from designs of others. I am the only flower farm in Fairfield County. My designs are definitely garden-inspired. They incorporate so much rich material fresh from the field and showcase a wildflower, or simply wild look. While tighter arrangements can be made, the looser, more natural feel is definitely what most brides seek when working with me.
As I design in the late weeks of autumn, I love
working in some of the best of the local vegetable
At both shows I decided to create an interesting
mix of blooms and veggies around a hurricane
lantern. You can see it here in the lower right. Kale,
carrots, peppers and more, including a soft plume
of broom corn sparkle among the mums, dahlias
Here it is closer up.
I was also able to bring a sweet arrangement showcasing a rustic look with zinnias and sweeping Baptisia foliage in a fabulous green vase.
Didn't you know, one of my delphiniums joined in!
It is not unusual for some of the spring-bloomers to send up fall blossoms.
You might notice, in your own landscape, for example, that the azalea near your house offers up a few blooms at this time of year.
Nature has its wonderful own way, and I am absolutely willing to work with it.
Hence, a striking blue accent to this lovely grouping.
Brides dream of their bouquet.
So, how could I go to an expo without some hint of what a bouquet might look like?
For both shows I took a lavender and white combination which popped with dahlias.
Deep purple, ivory and lavender ribbons flowed, and how could I help but sneak in some totally awesome ornamental kale with its soft green and lavender-pink lacy leaves.
To add to the softness of it all, dusty miller nestled in quite nicely as did one of my favorites - the grey-blue ageratum.
Peonies, of course, are superstars in spring weddings. Stock and Iris make them shine. Congratulations to Lis and Russell. Thanks for trusting me with your flowers on your special day at Fox Hill Inn. I sure had fun putting them all together!
Loved the simple elegance of the bridal bouquet, with long string of pearls.
Attendants carried posies individualized for the amazingly beautiful hues of each gown.
Two rows of shepherds hooks framed the ceremony. Soft pink peonies, lavender, cream, and pink stock, and lovely purple iris shined.
A very dear way to showcase the ceremony, which took place in front of Fox Hill Inn's dramatic fountain. Rose petals lined the outdoor aisle.
A wrought iron urn graced with peonies welcomed guest into the Inn. Feathery Astilbe added a dreamy softness.
Curly willow branches leant their artistic magic. Dusty rose petals and votives graced the mosaic table.
Dining tables also showcased the lovely spring palette of dusty rose, heavenly pink, irresistible lavender and soft creamy yellow.
Lily of the Valley offered a fragrant finishing touch.
Loved the wine bottles the bridal party used for numbering the tables.
All in all a very nice evening for a wonderful couple and their families and friends.
Thanks to Lis and Peggie, for sharing a lovely cup of tea together and making floral planning such a fun, exciting, and pleasant experience. Thanks also to Patty Finnigan, General Manager of Fox Hill Inn and to Ewa Ojarovska, Event and Hospitality Consultant extraordinaire of Epicurean Worldwide. Love your photos, Mike Evans, of CT Photo Group.