May 22, 2020

The In-Betweens

Apple blossoms

Just delivered week 3 of my Spring Subscriptions. One more week to go! This has been such a fantastic experience—I am loving it! It makes me so happy to share my flowers with people who appreciate them and are excited to receive them every week. It makes me very tuned in to what is blooming each and every week, as well, and where I have gaps to fill. Just for my own note-taking, it’s time I make a list of what I have had blooming each week so far, along with ideas for filling in more of those gaps.

I’m going to list the date from each Thursday, as that’s when I have been and will be cutting blooms for subscriptions. I put in all caps what I had the most of in a given week.

Week of:

April 9: Earliest daffodils (too small to harvest for subs)

April 16: Frittilaria meleagris—still pretty short, 8-10” (kept growing taller each week, until eventually 2+ feet!)

April 23: DAFFODILS (most in gooseneck stage probably 4-5 days earlier.)

April 30: Early tulips, fully open. (Would need to harvest earlier if to be used for subs/cuts—so maybe 4-23?). Still daffodils, hyacinths, and also grape hyacinths. Camassia? (Picked some week of 5-14, but most were done by then.)

** May 7: TULIPS—mid singles (all my orange, red, and yellows,) and early doubles (my purples). Lilac buds—just swelling and turning a pretty purple color. Last of the daffodils.

May 14: LILACS. A few late tulips, including parrots. First of the perennial bachelor’s buttons and early alliums. ORNAMENTAL PLUM, apple blossoms, pie cherry.

May 21: PERENNIAL BACHELOR’S BUTTONS. (Harvested 1 bucket, could have cut 5 or 6 more buckets full.) ALLIUMS (these were the big purples, most of the smaller haven’t quite bloomed yet but have buds.) Ornamental plum foliage (blossoms all dropping,) ninebark foliage. 1 early iris blooming (not enough for subs.) Catmint—too short for subs. (I planted ‘Junior Walker’ to fit into the allotted space better, but if I plant the regular ‘Walker’s Low’ next time, I’ll bet they would be long enough to cut.)

Speculation for next week: (May 28): Bearded irises—they all have buds. More perennial bachelor’s buttons. Hoping for wintered-over annual BB’s to start up production. Right now have 2 blooms open on those. Possibly the smaller white alliums, although their stems are still so short! Will try pulling them, like tulips, and see if that gives me long enough for subs.

Spring subscription leftovers: lilacs, ornamental plum, and a couple of short camassias!

A couple of thoughts:

Maybe next year I should offer a 4-week Spring Flower Subscription from the last Friday in April to the week after Mother’s Day, then give myself a break during this gap. I’m really hoping my irises will come through for me next week, but I’m going to be combing through the rest to find stuff to put with them. I may have to purchase from a fellow farmer to fill out the bouquets.

All of my peonies have many buds on them (!) but the only ones that even stand a chance of being ready for next week’s subscriptions are the Coral Charm out front.

Other flowers with buds right now: columbine (out front), salvia (still very short), clematis

Flowers I need to plant more of to fill in this gap are: bearded irises, alliums, and flowering shrubs. I have leaned pretty heavily on my flowering trees and shrubs for filler during these early times. I haven’t cut any of the fruit tree branches to put in, although I would consider it if we had several trees.

I also want to try again at growing anemones and ranunculus next year, in hopes of them filling in this mid-May gap.

My cool flowers have pretty much just sat in their rows and done nothing for the past 6 weeks. I need to figure out what’s going on with them, because I think they should be blooming right now to help fill in as well. At least some of them should be. That’s the point of planting them in April, isn’t it? So I’ll be very interested to see when they actually start blooming. They are getting bigger and finally look like they’re growing, but no flowers yet. I think those really hard freezes mid-April may have set them back quite a bit.

Also, when are my hundreds of Dutch irises going to bloom? Seriously! I was counting on them to help a sister out right about now, but I don’t even see buds on them yet. Maybe they’re waiting for an invitation.

p.s. We are heading out of town in a week. If my peonies and Dutch irises all bloom while we’re gone I will be fit to be tied!

** Spring Subscriptions started. Also, Mother’s Day weekend (5-10).

May 13, 2020

First and Last

Last of the daffodils for this year.

This was a great week for us here at Bluebird Flower Farm! Our Spring Subscription started last Friday. YAY! I’m always watching for what’s blooming, but last week I was watching everything like a hawk, I tell you! Particularly the tulips—as I mentioned, tulips blow open very quickly in the heat, and I knew we were going to have some warm days mid-week. I needed every tulip I could get my hands on for the subscriptions (x 3) plus 7 Mother’s Day arrangements.

So I was going out a couple of times per day to pull up any tulips that were ready and get them in the cool garage. “Ready” meaning “still closed but showing a hint of color.” I also cut lilac buds and harvested the last of the daffodils, and the first of the perennial bachelor’s buttons. Fun times. I did end up purchasing some flowers from a flower farm in Ogden that sells wholesale, which was great too! Tom grows such beautiful flowers and I was happy to be supporting a fellow flower farmer. I purchased a little bit of greenery from the regular wholesaler as well. I had a good mix that was mostly locally grown blooms. Just a note: as my subscriptions are a harvest share, I used all my own flowers and filler for those!

I had a lot of fun putting together arrangements again. I missed that in April! I put together a few for myself last month, but there’s nothing like making them for someone else and then seeing the joy they bring to that person when you deliver them.

This is the exact stage my alliums are at right now—just breaking open. This was taken last year, on May 19. We are a full week ahead of last year!

This week I’m looking forward to subscriptions again. It’s going to be a purple week! I’ve got 2 different types of alliums in bloom, both purple, plus blue violet camassias, baby blue camassias, and purple perennial bachelor’s buttons. I may even find a few grape hyacinths (purple and blue as well!) to add in there. My daughter and I experimented last week, tugging the grape hyacinths down at the base, so that they come off the bulb itself underground. That gave us another good 6” of stem, so I think they would be long enough for the subscriptions. For foliage, I will probably cut the ‘Dart’s Gold’ ninebark that’s so pretty right now, as well as some of my ornamental plum branches which are flowering.

I want to add in lilac blooms, but I need to experiment first and make sure I know how to keep them hydrated. So maybe this week I’ll cut some and try some new tricks I’ve learned along those lines, and see how long they hold up. Then I can add them in next week if they don’t wilt in 2 days. The lilac buds were awesome in last weeks’ bouquets.

We are working on getting permanent irrigation installed in the garden (pvc pipes underground that connect to removable drip tape in the beds). That will be amazing, once we get it going. Then we can leave on vacation and not worry about everything dying off while we’re gone!

All the starts I planted out the first week of April are growing, but very slowly. I’m going to give them some fishy fertilizer this week and see if that won’t give them a bit of a boost. I need those flowers! C’mon ladies—get a move on! I’ve got dahlias hardening off, and phlox and statice still inside, that I need to bump up to 2” blocks this week as well, so I can start hardening them off.

I have found, in our dry and windy climate, that the 3/4” blocks just don’t do well at all in hardening off stage. If I want anything to survive past that, they have to be in bigger blocks, or in a plastic cell that will retain the moisture. I have a bunch of starts in peat pots, as well, but I’m not a fan. They dry out so quickly, and I think they are wicking moisture away from the roots of the starts, since the peat pot doesn’t stay moist. Again, wind. So I have decided from here on out, I will just collect the plastic 4” pots to reuse in that instance.

Lastly, I need to purchase some Wall O’ Waters for my kiddos’ tomato plants. They are hardened off and need to go in the ground soon, but we are still having cold nights. Again, I don’t want one night of frost to ruin weeks of work keeping those beauties alive!

Always more to do, right?

What do you have growing right now?

May 2, 2020

Spring Blooms Update

Do you love fancy daffodils? Do tulips make your whole day brighter? If so, we could be friends!

Spring flowers are some of my most favorite blooms ever! Maybe it’s the long winter of nothingness, but when I see those bright colors and frilly edges, it just makes me so happy!

This year has been an interesting one for spring bulbs here at the farm. First of all, with COVID-19, I closed my floristry business for most of the month of April. April is daffodil and hyacinth season here. I had Daffodil Alley all to myself. I much rather would have shared the bounty with all of you! 
Such is life.

I mean, I enjoyed seeing those pretty little flowers every day, don’t get me wrong. I cut a few to bring inside, but for the most part, I just let them bloom on their own. Most spring bulbs do better—as far as coming back the next year—if you don’t cut them.

Daffodil Alley was a mix I planted 2 years ago. 
Also, yes, I need to weed and mulch this area very badly!

Of all my hyacinths out back, I had 1 small bloom this year, and for some reason—no doubt relating to the weather—it bloomed on such a short stalk that the florets were basically still in the ground. That seems fitting for life right now, in a way. Blooming in the ground. Anyway, I have found that a lot of what I do during the growing season is hedge my bets against the unpredictability of the weather (as the frost cloth post attests.) I need to learn more about why that happened so that I can prevent it next year, if possible.

So this week has been the week of tulips! During cooler springs, my tulips have lasted for more than a month. I’m thinking I’ll be lucky to get 2 weeks out of them this year. We’ve had several days in the 70’s already. Tulips come and go so fast in the heat. In fact, I’ll show you.

These pink tulips in the picture above are a variety called ‘Sweet 16.’ They are usually my first tulips to bloom. Even so, they aren’t generally in bloom at the same time as those big yellow daffodils—that’s a first this year. This picture was taken about a week ago. Now the pinks probably have only a couple of days left—if that—before the petals drop. The next wave, which are dark pink tulips planted nearby, have also already started blooming. If we get several more hot days, these gals will probably all be done and gone before Mother’s Day.

About the only way I know of to stop that situation from happening is to have a cooler. If you harvest the entire tulip bulb, while the flower is closed but showing color, you can keep it in a cooler for a long time—weeks—and then as soon as you’re ready for it, you cut off the bulb and put it into water at room temperature, and you get the same vase life as freshly cut. Alas, no cooler here yet. Also, I just barely re-opened for business yesterday. (YAY!) So, I may be purchasing my tulips from a fellow flower farmer in Ogden this year for Mother’s Day orders.

I have loved the Snakeshead fritillaries under my plum tree out front. Their flowers are little nodding purple checkered (!) bells. Or white. They come in snazzy purple-checkered or pure white, because they are the flapper girls of the spring bulb lineup. These were underwhelming last year, first spring after they had been planted. Now in year 2, they were fantastic! I wish I had been open and could have shared some with you in arrangements. I had 10 clumps out there, and some of those stems got to be 15-20” tall! It was amazing! In comparison, last year, my tallest stem was maybe 6”. They seem happy there, so I’m hoping they just keep multiplying and dividing. You know, all the math. Flapper math. 
(Is it past my bedtime? Probably. Ha!)

Anyway, what else? Oh yeah—alliums are sending up shoots and my big purples have buds on them again. Excited for those. All the new ones I planted out in the perennial beds in my cutting garden are still just green shoots.

Snowdrops were no-shows this year. I wonder if they got eaten by something.

Grape hyacinths are so cute! Also, way too short this year to use in any kind of arrangement, even the minis. It’s okay, though. My 2 year old keeps picking them and bringing them to me to put in a tiny 3” vase that we have. I’m thinking that once again, the heat wave is the culprit. I want to experiment with planting a whole bunch of them in the shade and see how they do.

My lilac bush is loaded with buds. I have yet to keep those blooms hydrated once cut, even with every trick in the book. Guess what, though? I recently cut some of the budding branches and put them in an arrangement. The buds stayed hydrated! I don’t expect them to open up or anything, but they made for some great texture in my arrangement.

Oh! One more note about tulips. The pale yellow and white tulips I had out front—I think they are ‘Jaap Groot’—finally have some decent blooms this year! Quick recap of their life story: Year 1—eaten by deer all the way down to the ground. Year 2: recovery year, with maybe 2 very short blooms. Year 3: (right now!) Probably 10-15 tulips blooming at a normal height! YAY!!

I know you’re going to ask—what did I do to keep the deer away? I will tell you my secret: plastic forks stuck around the tulip foliage, tines up. I’m not even kidding! The deer haven’t bothered my tulip flowers—they just love to eat that foliage as it first comes up. The forks give them a smart poke in the nose when they try that. So yes, I have forks in all my flowerbeds now, protecting my precious tulips!

**Bonus: find the fork in the tulip photo above! :)

All right friends, I’ve got to sign off before I say something really goofy. Good night! I mean, see ya.