Flower Subscriptions going strong

A spring subscription delivery with tulips, allium, iris and lilac, among others.

A spring subscription delivery with tulips, allium, iris and lilac, among others.

One of the joys of flower farming is following all the changes that take place during the course of a growing season and seeing "what's going to come next."

Through the Butternut Gardens Subscription Service, many loyal customers also share in the joy of new flowers every week and the joy of anticipating "what's going to come next."

I am happy to offer several types of subscriptions to meet individual interests and budgets. 

An early summer selection.

An early summer selection.


Quite a few subscribers receive flowers every week.

Some choose to have fully-made bouquets delivered.

Others choose the 'bucket' option and create their own arrangements from a mixture of loose flowers.

I often hear that a number of flowers make it into the second week, although others, we know, are expectedly more fleeting.

There are many times when I would love to see how  the 'bucket' subscribers choose to display their floral bounty.

Bi-weekly subscriptions are also popular. As just mentioned, a number of flowers last longer than a week, although I would not count on that for the majority of blooms.

Flowers delivered every other week can also come as fully-prepared bouquets or as 'bucket' subscriptions.

One of the most fun parts of subscriptions is that you really do NOT know what is coming next!

Sure, it might be the time of year when Phlox is bountiful, but with what will it be paired? Will it be a monochromatic offering with all lavender or all pink or all white blooms? Will it be sheer Phlox ecstasy - purple, pink, white, deep pink, pink and white swirled phlox all bunched together? What special little accent flower shall I add this week? Mountain mint, perhaps?  Flower subscriptions are truly gifts and surprises!

August bouquet

August bouquet

The third season-long subscription option is the monthly option. Every month fresh flowers arrive at your doorstep.

This seems to be the perfect floral pick-me-up for many subscribers. It is also a very popular gift item - just enough, but not too much - and a full season's worth! For many, it makes their month.

Going from one month to the next, subscribers see the biggest difference in blooms, because what a difference a month makes in the gardens.

It is the difference between peonies and tulips to phlox, iris and daisies; the jump from sunflowers and zinnias to dahlias and chrysanthemums. 

For those who are not certain about receiving flowers regularly, I also offer a one-month trial of four bouquets. This is another perfect gift item. Generally, the biggest concern about flower subscriptions is, "What happens if I want to take vacation?"  I try to be as flexible as possible, and change delivery weeks or double up on flowers other weeks, to best accommodate.  Somehow it all works! Many thanks to my flower subscription customers. I love growing your flowers and surprising you with what comes next.

Tuberose is here!

A singleTuberose stem.

A singleTuberose stem.

To those of you who have waited so patiently for this year's crop of Tuberose, it is time to celebrate!

The 2014 Tuberose is a-bloomin'.

Many of you have said the fragrance of this beauty reminds you of Jasmine.  

Many have said it reminds you of Hawaii.

Others think Gardenia.

For those of you who do not know Tuberose or its allure, prepare to fall in love! 

Though not large in size, each of the waxy flowers packs quite a wallop of a scent as the blooms spiral open up the stalk. 

Some have called this the secret lily, owing to the fact that a number of lily varieties also have such a strong fragrance.

Tuberose is not a rose and not related to roses. Tuberose is related to Agave plants.


In the field, I leave a number of flowers so I can enjoy the scent for quite a few weeks in late summer and early fall. These few flowers send off fragrance, which wafts through the entire front garden. During the heat of the day, I smell very little of it. Come late afternoon and dusk, however, the fragrance is intense. This is because Tuberose is a night bloomer. In its native Mexican habitat, the Tuberose is pollinated by nocturnal moths. 

Tuberose in bloom. Also showing are the relatively short leaves, which form the bulk of the plant for the better part of the season.

Tuberose in bloom. Also showing are the relatively short leaves, which form the bulk of the plant for the better part of the season.

Tuberose is not hardy here, but it is quite easy to dig each year and store. So, that is what I do. I plant in the spring in late April or May.  To allow for the best drainage, I mound the soil a bit so as to actually plant the tuberose very close to the natural soil level. I add a dash of bone meal. Then I cover it with only an inch or two of soil. After watering in, I wait. Fortunately, I do not have to wait as long as one waits on tulips or other spring-flowering bulbs. For the bulk of the summer - some 90 to 120 days - the Tuberoses remain as tufts of light green foliage less than 6 inches tall. Then the magic happens. Flower stalks grow to 3-4 feet tall. I could extend the bloom time by staggering plantings in the spring, but I generally find some variability in bloom time from plant to plant. 

August 23, 2012.10.JPG

Many of my Farmers' Market customers line up for bunches of Tuberose 'straight up' - no other flowers needed. For several weeks these customers return faithfully for the fragrance, which they report fills their entire apartment or home.  My weekly subscription customers can look forward to either a bunch of Tuberose added to their order or a few stems mixed into their bouquets. As you can see here, I also enjoy tucking Tuberose into arrangements.  Their clear white flowers and sweet fragrance are highlights of each growing season.

When the season comes to a close, I cut back the foliage and dig the Tuberose. For several weeks I let them dry in the sun on sunny days, and bring them inside if precipitation is on the way. Once fully dry, they will be good to go until next spring. Gems! Absolute gems!

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 means Sunflowers

My grand dog is proud of her gorgeous bunches of sunflowers.

My grand dog is proud of her gorgeous bunches of sunflowers.

Summer is here.  

It is sunny and hot (sort of).

The beach gear is ready.  

You are turning your sights to summer entertaining.

All you want to see is a sunflower! 

For many, sunflowers are the go-to summer flower.

With their bright yellow flower heads, they brighten your day in an instant.



In the early summer, and for nice contrast in the fall bouquets, the light-centered sunflowers are quite popular.  In the heat of the summer, in July and August, the dark-centered suns are a favorite year after year.

I sow sunflowers from spring to about mid-summer to ensure I have them available from about July to almost up to frost. Different varieties have different light requirements for optimal growth, so I change varieties as the season progresses.

This week I had both dark-centered suns and light-centered suns. They were grown with the goal of having large heads for sunflower-only bunches. For bouquets, I like to grow smaller-sized sunflowers instead.




Here's a nice close-up of a couple of light-centered suns...





... and here is one of the dark-centered varieties.




This one I'll leave in the field.  

Once a bee pollinates a sunflower, I leave it to develop seeds for birds and little ground critters, and that's just fine by me. 

As a general rule, I strive to cut sunflowers before they are fully open to ensure the longest vase life. 


For bouquets and arrangements, my goal is to grow smaller sunflowers, rather than larger ones. They seem to work better because they do not take over the whole bouquet. Don't these look great in this bouquet of bright summer colors?

To help keep sunflowers on the smaller size, I grow them closer together.  It's like having a single tree growing near an old stonewall, soaking up all the sun, water, nutrients and having room to spread out versus a group of trees growing closer together, which have to share all the good stuff and tend to grow upward, but not as much outward.



Cutting sunflowers and prepping them for your bouquets and arrangements takes a bit of effort. By the time you see them, I have removed many large leaves from the length of the stem. I usually try to strip the stems in the field as natural compost.

At the end of the day, a nap is usually in order for my number one helper.