How well do your dahlias multi-task?

Are your dahlias good multi-taskers?  Of course they are!  Look at what they are doing above soil level -- lots of great foliage coming out and flower buds on the "to do" list. Now consider what is happening below soil level -- roots, roots, roots... Yes, your dahlias are GREAT at multi-tasking. 

As a flower farmer, I want this multi-tasking to continue SORT OF.  From now until frost I get a lot of requests for dahlia FLOWERS but not so many requests for "roots". As a result, I am out pinching my plants to push them into bloom and flower mode.  So, what is pinching? It is simply cutting off the tip of the growing shoot. As a result, the plant sends out two new shoots on the sides and just below this pinch point, and starts to put more interest in leaf and flower growth. Hurray. Success. In all actuality, the plant would get to the bloom stage without my doing a thing, but this gives me two potential flower stems instead of one at a low point on the main stalk. This helps ensure good sturdy flower stems as well. So, here at Butternut Gardens LLC, "Operation Dahlia Flower Production" is on the front burner and it won't be long now until you can pick up some amazing dahlia blooms here at The Little White Flower Cottage or at one of my wholesale customers. Why not give your dahlia plants a pinch as well?

The Little White Cottage is Beauty in Motion!

So, The Little White Flower Cottage isn't ACTUALLY moving, but what IS in motion are the flowers and the growing season. I think of the flowers that were in the ground and bouquets just a few weeks ago and a month ago, and I consider what I have for you now - today - and it amazes me how fast this growing season is going past me. Hellebores, daffodils, forsythia - long gone. Tulips... anemone... out of here...  So right now, the peonies are just getting ready to flood the gardens with their blooms. I grow a number of varieties so I can extend the bloom time. My first ones are always coral. I have started tucking scattered blooms into some of the bouquets. A number of white, blush and pink varieties will follow, along with the "reds" which are more a purply-red than a bright orangy-red. Finally, I have a bicolor one, which is fuschia-colored and white. Peonies aren't the only thing going on here, however. I go outside and suddenly the iris, false indigo, geum, columbine and so many others are staring me down as if to say, "Watch me now!" I don't feel so on top of things. 

If you want to see what a year in the garden looks like, please stop on by at this rockin' Little White Flower Cottage, my new little retail space right here at Butternut Gardens. You can find it, and so many amazing flowers, at 1120 Hulls Highway, Southport. Come by often, even just to look, to see what's growing. I think you'll love it.

When Pigs Fly....

The Little White Flower Cottage here at Butternut Gardens is open for retail flower sales. Come by to pick up some fresh flowers right where they are grown. 

The Little White Flower Cottage here at Butternut Gardens is open for retail flower sales. Come by to pick up some fresh flowers right where they are grown. 

The Little White Flower Cottage at Butternut Gardens had its big day today as it opened for retail flower sales of my farm grown flowers. I loved showing off TLWFC to so many of my flower friends. Thank you to all for stopping by.

In case you couldn't make it today, you can try to beat the Nor'easter and stop by tomorrow - Saturday, May 13 between noon and 6 PM or come on by with Mom on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 14 between 10 AM and 4 PM. Maybe best to wait until Saturday, so Mom doesn't blow away?

Within this magical little cottage you will find amazing (don't mind if I say so) flowers keeping cool in their nice cool, temperature-controlled cooler. You don't know how happy this makes me. I hate, yes, strongly dislike, working so hard to grow awesome flowers and then not getting them to you in as cool a fashion as possible. So, cue the cooler. And cue the huge smile on my face! To think, I used to bring ice to put into the buckets at the farmer's markets! I know my flowers are super fresh when I cut them, but ninety-five degrees is 95 degrees, folks, and once that flower is cut 95 degrees is NOT ideal. Neither is wind.

Going forward, the Cottage might need a day off after Mother's Day weekend, just to rest up a bit. After that, you will be able to visit this magical little cottage whenever it is best for you. It will be open and full of flowers pretty long hours every day of the week. So, forget about racing to the Farmer's Market before it closes. Forget about having to drop the tennis racket, or pack up the beach gear to meet market hours. Take a casual little drive over to the cottage whenever it suits your schedule. The Little White Flower Cottage will be holding some sweet flowers just for you.

Weathervane on top of the Butternut Gardens LLC barn near the Little White Flower Cottage.

Weathervane on top of the Butternut Gardens LLC barn near the Little White Flower Cottage.

Closing up for the night, after day 1, wasn't easy, but this flower farmer needs a bit of rest so it was, "Good night Little White Flower Cottage. Good night pig flying over the barn. Good night Moon." 

Tomorrow is another day.

Mixed bouquets, straight bunches, and flowers in vases are all available.

Mixed bouquets, straight bunches, and flowers in vases are all available.

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.

DIY Wedding Flowers - a workshop recap

As mentioned in my last post, I am looking forward to a great season of growing AND an expanded workshop and speaking schedule. I'm totally psyched!  Today was a fabulous day for my first DIY Wedding Flowers workshop for 2016.  Two more are scheduled - one in June and one in September. Please see the Current Workshops page of this website to learn more and sign up. 

Beautiful bouquets put together by some beautiful gals.

Beautiful bouquets put together by some beautiful gals.

You don't necessarily have to be a future bride to participate. Anyone interested in design is more than welcome.  Helping get you started is extremely rewarding and fun for me, whether you are soon to be married, are soon to be starting your own design business, or are simply seeking an educational and therapeutic afternoon with the flowers. Today, I think we covered it all, from flowers, to budget, to scheduling and design. I'd say we really crushed it! Hugs!

Winter Summary


Phlox in the gardens. This year I am branching out a bit more and will offer a nice selection of gardening workshops as well as floral design workshops. 

All in a winter's time-- so much goes on in the offseason around here, it is hardly just to call it an offseason. Starting with the basics, there is seed purchase, creation of planting plans, accounting roundup (who doesn't want to do this one) photo organization and, of course, overall business review and evaluation.

This winter, I have taken a very deep and thorough inventory of myself, as well as the operations of Butternut Gardens, and I am setting a few new and different priorities as a result. I will share with you Revalation #1 here and the first change coming to my operations.  Check back for future posts to see what other exciting and new directions in which I am choosing to go.

Revalation #1

So many times over the years I have been asked to teach others about gardening and basic landscape design as well as floral design. It stands to reason that as a flower farmer I might know a little about growing plants. I have, in fact, been a gardener nearly all my life since some of my earliest chores related to earning  my childhood allowance were garden- (or weed-) oriented. I also studied at New York Botanical Garden, became a Master Gardener trained in Connecticut decades ago, and worked at Oliver Nurseries in the Alpine and Perennial plants department under Priscilla Galpin Twombly. I have come to learn just how much I love teaching others, and how very much I want this to become a central part of what I do.  Face it, growing a whole bunch of flowers (45,000 or so) can become a bit isolating. As much as I love putting flowers in people's hands, I even more love putting knowledge at their fingertips. I also realize it is critical that I find a bit more balance in my life by doing non-farm activities as well as flower-growing. So, this year, I am greatly expanding my workshop offerings. I am also reaching out to groups to provide speaking engagements, and I can't wait to meet so many more gardening and plant fanatics as a result. I will be growing flowers, OF COURSE, but am actually downsizing a bit the amount I grow. I am looking to add to the number of varieties I grow, again, rather than reduce the number of varieties. One of my reasons for doing this is I wish to demonstrate to home gardeners that they, too, can grow a number of flowers for cuts and arrangements, which they likely believed they could not grow. Well, I want them to grow them. Because they can! 

As a result of this one shift in personal and business planning, some of my offseason has been spent updating and fine tuning my course syllabi, as it were, and associated handouts and powerpoint presentations for a host of new presentations and workshops. Boy, has it been both fun and rewarding.  At my age (not old but not young) I reap great joy out of helping others. I am super excited to see how many more people I can reach in my quest to share my gardening wisdom as well as flowers themselves. I am especially interested in working cutting gardens, pollinator-friendly gardens,  and earth-friendly gardens, into others' home landscapes and raising awareness of their value. In the floral design area, I am going to work very hard to hand DIYers the tools to put together most or all of their wedding flowers, and to help others acquire design skills to put great-looking centerpieces on their tables and throughout their homes.  Together we will all grow.

In the next few blog posts I will share more about my other winter revelations and where they will be taking Butternut Gardens and me in the upcoming season and beyond.

For now, Happy Gardening All!