I love growing flowers (obvious from the overabundance of flower pictures peppering my social media and marketing efforts :). At one point I had hoped to only grow flowers. I would fantasize about long days in my green house tending plants and arranging flower bouquets. In the fantasy growing flowers is really easy, I always look beautiful and unhurried and the flowers are never damaged or overrun with weeds, people weep with joy when they see me and my armfuls of ranunculus, dahlias, lisianthus, and tiger lilies, and there are rainbows and unicorns in the background. Well, ok, not that last part, but you get the idea..
In reality, flowers are hard and dirty. The weeds are unbelievable (mostly my fault not the flowers') and there is SO much to learn. Each variety is amazingly different and complex. The difference between growing lisianthus and rudbeckia is like the difference between growing summer squash and carrots.
However, unlike the summer squash and carrots, I did not craft my business model around the success or failure of the lisianthus and rudbeckia. So, as a result, learning to grow flowers this year has been a total pleasure! I definitely haven't done everything right, and next year I will change many things, but over all we are growing some really beautiful flowers and they make me very happy.
So just for fun this week, here a some notes on a few of the varieties we're growing.
Rudbeckia (aka Blak-eyed Susans). We have wild black-eyed Susans on the farm and they've always been a favorite of my mother's, so I was intrigued to read about some different varieties of Rudbeckia in the cut-flower world. This year we are growing the Denver Daisy, Prairie Glow and Chim Chimese varieties. They're awesome! The Denver Daisies have been blooming for the last three weeks and they are big and bold. The Prairie Glow variety is just really starting to come on and it almost doesn't look like a Rudbeckia. The petals are thinner and spread apart, they have almost a modern architecture flare to them. The last variety, Chim Chimese hasn't come in yet, but the plants are three times the size of the others, so I can't wait to see what beauties they will bare!
Lisianthus. The lisiathus is the most challenging flower that I'm growing this year. I picked them because their flowers are stunning, they are like roses except the plants are much smaller and the have no thorns. I'm growing them for my sister (sort of a make-shift, I'm-a-poor-farmer Christmas present). They remind me of her because they are so strong and stunning, yet delicate and small... When I picked them I didn't know they were going to be such a pain in the a** (no offense Ev ;). The seeds are tiny. They take over two weeks to germinate and the first two times I tried to seed them they didn't come up at all. I seeded them three different times over two months. I planted more than 100 seeds. In total I managed to get 17 plants to come up. I've been nurturing those 17 plants since March and they are still only a foot tall. BUT, they are finally starting to bloom! I'm very excited. The first little blossom is perfect. Elegant and strong, if a bit short :)
Delphinum. My success with the delphinium was a complete surprise. They are a delicate spring flower and I planted them late. They are in the greenhouse and it is HOT in there. I figured they wouldn't do very well, but they have exploded with beautiful pastel flowers, pale pinks, purples, whites, and blues. There are a few different varieties and the flowers are completely unique. Some are clustered and some spread out in single blossoms. Germinating these guys was a challenge. Like the Lisianthus, the seeds are tiny and they took weeks to come up. I didn't get as many plants as I had hoped, but the ones I did get are beautiful! The flowers are delicate though, so they don't tend to last as long in the vase as some, but they are a joy nonetheless.
Scabiosa. What a name! Who did that to such a beautiful little flower?? They are commonly called Pin Cushion Flowers, a little more respectable, but either way. I love this little gem! I'm growing them for my lovely sister-in-law. They are just as sweet and easy going as she is. My germination rates were not great, but the seed scabiosa pods are bigger than some of the other flowers and a little easier to handle. The plants themselves are larger than I would have expected for such a little bud, and the leaves are not remarkable. But, the buds come out on these long elegant stems and the flower is beautiful in every stage of it's bloom. It starts as a tight little bud and then the petals burst out (like pins popping out of a cushion :) and they are just lovely. They also very long vase life and are very forgiving flowers for those of us who aren't always so delicate..
Well I'm out of time, and this is just the tip of the iceberg on our flower endeavors (we're growing—well, trying to grow—over 30 varieties this year!). But, stay tuned more pictures and more flower learnings over the coming months. I'm pretty confident this will be a growing passion and the fantasies of unicorns and rainbows will continue :)