I feel like all I have doing this winter is staring at spreadsheets, as I plan this upcoming season, and staring at snowflakes. Add in a bit of shoveling to make pathways for the dog, and that just about sums it all up. This is what makes it so hard to believe that in only 4 months I will likely be looking at some amazing rows of zinnias - true summer flowers. One of the hardest things for me to do is to wait to start all of the seeds. Some seeds, including zinnias, simply do not take very long to get going. Starting seeds too early is counterproductive. There is no benefit to having a seedling waiting unnecessarily for warm enough weather to be planted outside. It is best to be patient (and finish up the paperwork while you still have time to think). Once the season starts, thinking time is all but nonexistent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!