I choose today's Fleur du Jour - beautiful and bold Zinnias - to brighten up this white, wintry landscape. I cut thousands of Zinnias each year. They are one of the best cut and come again flowers going for summer and fall. Last year's first Zinnias popped open on June 10th and continued to frost, gracing bouquets and arrangements for a good 4 months. In 2014 I cut 3,242 stems of one variety alone (many different colors). It was not the best year for "zins" but I would say that was certainly good enough! Based on last year's first cut date, only 128 days to beautiful show-stopping Zinnias! Wow!
Ok, so we have super cold temperatures, snow on the ground, more snow expected tomorrow and even colder temperatures after that. It is time to pull in the big guns for today's Fleur du Jour. Normally that would mean a fantastic ohhhh ahhhh photo of some supernatural dahlias or sunflowers or ANYTHING to bring Spring to mind. After all, I initially started my Fleur du Jour as a way to bring hope for Spring by figuring out how many days remained until we had certain flowers in bloom based on last year's bloom time. Ah, but what is normal these days, anyway? I think Super Bowl weekend calls for something a bit different, indeed! This cactus bowl has been sitting in my family room for at least a decade. I tend to utterly neglect houseplants so, when one of my children gave me a houseplant as a gift eons ago, the cactus bowl (CB) was a great choice. Upon initial receipt, some God awful flowers had been hot glued to the top of the green cactus in the store to make it look like it was in bloom. Yes, it was colorful, but it didn't fool ME! Not at all. Those flowers were as fake as fake could be. I do believe my child was quite loving in choosing a plant for me. For that I will always be thankful. Of course, I have had thoughts of neglecting the famed CB for good, but it is likely to become one of those things that gets distributed once I am gone. I am loyal to a fault.
So, instead of total neglect, I took a different route. The pink flamingo and garden gnome seemed the perfect additions for this Arizona theme. They have been hanging out in the CB for 4 or 5 years by now. Charming with the southwestern motif on the bowl, n'est-ce pas? Enjoy the winter weather or get yourself somewhere warm and sunny. More bona fide fleurs coming in future posts, I promise.
Since I started Fleur du Jour as a sort of countdown to Spring and fresh garden flowers, I find it necessary right about now to remind everyone of the simple beauty of soil. Is it not the soil which nourishes the plants, holds the roots, houses the microfauna, holds the water, and feels so incredibly wonderful as it runs through our fingers? I don't know about you, but we just had two snowfalls, are completely snow-covered, are expecting more snow in another day, and then one or two more snow "events" (some event, huh?) in the upcoming week, so I am suddenly really missing the beautiful brown soil and welcoming spring green grass, which grows between my flower rows. Since I am in a suburban neighborhood, I try to make my flowers fit in, hence the 4' flower rows separated by about 30" rows of suburban-familiar lawn. Even with the loss of space to lawn cover, this little flower farm that could, known as Butternut Gardens, cranked out nearly 45,000 cut flower stems in 2014. Here's to nice, warm organic soil! Hope to be working it by mid March, which means only 49 days to dirty hands and fingernails. Yahoo!
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.
For those of you in the New York metro region, which includes me, who are prepping for 1 to 2 feet of snow, I can't think of a nicer Fleur du Jour to highlight today than Hyacinth. I will sit here and just dream of Hyacnth's sweet, sweet fragrance. I did, for a number of years, force Hyacinths into bloom for winter farmers' markets, but have since decided to grow seasonally only. I must say, I do miss the forced bulbs. Between hyacinths, tulips, grape hyacnths, paperwhites and narcissi, you really can create a stunning midwinter show to boost the spirts. For outdoor growing, based on last year's first cut date of April 10th, we have only 82 days to fresh cut Hyacinths. When the blizzard expected during the next few days passes by, it will undoubtedly seem like an eternity to these fragrant beauties, but let us enjoy the wonderful winter snow cover while we have it, for it does indeed help the plants in the ground, and let us find patience within us for the grass and flowers to appear once again.
Fleur du Jour is my way of bringing the beauty of fresh cut flowers into our lives as we feel, perhaps, a bit grey to match the winter weather, although today was a real sparkler around here. Yesterday I offered up a marvelous subtle spring tulip. Today a very different approach - vibrant Dutch Iris with equally vibrant tulips, columbines and allium. Dutch Iris are planted every fall. Although I do get some repeat bloomers in following springs, I could not depend on them for the number of blooms I require (or desire). Based on last year's first cut date of May 20, only 119 days to go to those gorgeous deep purple iris. I know that sounds like longer than we want, but that's why we have the likes of anemone, ranunculus and poppies, which burst open even earlier!Enjoy.
Of course I had to put tulips into my Fleur du Jour postings! Spring wouldn't be spring without tulips. While we usually can't wait for bright reds and yellows to give us just the perfect pick-me-up that we need as we slog through the sometimes cold, rainy or blizzard-filled days of March, I chose, instead, to highlight one of the softer tulips grown last year at Butternut Gardens. Oh, the reds and yellows were there, as well. Never a worry about that since some 2400 tulips went into the ground the previous fall. Here for your viewing beauty I present a gem, which adds a really nice, cool feel to spring bouquets, and on its own. Based on 2014 first cut date, we can cross our fingers for tulips in another 93 days. Enjoy!