September 28, 2019

Roses and Sedums--Is This Goodbye?

Lately, I just can’t get over how beautiful my roses and sedums look out front. It seems the cooler weather brings out more vivid coloring in the roses, and the sedum (variety ‘Autumn Joy’) is just doing its awesome thing where it starts out a dusty pink then gradually keeps getting darker and darker pink/coral/rusty red as the temperatures drop.


I have been trying for several weeks now to catch a picture of the way my miniature rose echoes the colors of the sedum behind it in my front corner bed, but somehow the camera isn’t picking up what my eye can see. Lack of skill on my part, I’m certain.

After a rainy, windy day today, the temperatures are supposed to drop down into the 30’s here in the next couple of days. After taking some pictures of them in their flowerbeds yesterday, I cut all the roses and rosebuds I could find and brought them into the house to enjoy in an arrangement. I can see it from where I’m sitting right now, and it is making me so happy!

If the frost isn’t as deep as expected, they may last outside another week or two, but remember we had snow last year in the first week of November. 

So even with a possible reprieve this weekend, the end is near.

What will you miss most from your gardens this winter?

Plant Files: Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

This plant is the star of my front flowerbeds right now!

Scientific name: Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'
Common name: Stonecrop

Cold Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9
2 feet tall and wide
Full sun and prefers sandy/well-drained soil.
Very drought tolerant.
Blooms in fall and florets stay colorful through until killed by hard frost.

Much loved by pollinators.
If you go out on a warm day, these blooms will be just covered by bees and flies. 

Sedum, particularly this variety, is great as a cut flower as well.
You can cut the fleshy stems any time from when the florets first form and are green, all the way through the last color change.
They last practically forever in the vase and sometimes will even start rooting or growing in there.

I love the colors of the blooms!
They start this dusty pink color and then keep deepening until they become a rusty red.
They also bloom and provide long-lasting color in the late fall, when color can be hard to find.

They will die all the way down to the ground in the colder zones, like mine.
Don't worry, though, come spring they send back up little rosettes, and they're off and growing again in no time!

This is a tough plant! 
Let me tell you a little story.
One time in Washington, a friend of mine gave me some sedum starts from her garden. 
I neglected to plant them and alas, they sat out on my front garden wall in their tiny 4" pots the rest of the summer...AND fall AND winter. Yep. I'm not proud, but it's what happened.
Come spring, I was going to just throw them away, because any other plant would be dead and long gone by that point. Guess what? I saw green shoots coming up! 
Well, you'd better believe I took those starts back and got them planted that very day!
They each grew over the next few years into sizable clumps of beautiful plants.

I have 3 clumps out front, and just added 3 more to my back cutting rows.

This one is a winner!

September 23, 2019

We Found a Bunny

Just a short post today to tell you that we found a bunny in our yard this week! Now in Washington, this would not have been news. We had entire bunny families in our yard at any given time. Here though, I have yet to see a rabbit or a squirrel. I don’t know if it’s because we are just rural enough that the predators keep them in check, or what. I do know there is an eagle’s nest in the trees along the river just up the road, and a mink farm at the other end of the road, and plenty of dogs that are not fenced. So… you know. Predators.

Anyway, when my kids came in and told me that there was a bunny in our front flowerbeds, my first thought was—really? How did this ONE escape? The Bunny Who Lived. Then I saw it. Oh. Yeah, not a wild bunny. Take a look at this guy!

So we didn’t have any kind of a cage for it or anything and put it in the back of my husband’s truck with some food and water overnight, while I posted on Facebook to see if anyone was missing their pet bunny. Crickets. No answer. Well, okay then. Apparently this was a pet that someone got tired of, maybe, and just decided to “set it free” on our street. Lucky, lucky us.

Also, it managed to jump out of the truck and escape overnight, so it turned out we wouldn’t have had the bunny to give back anyway. Except, dear friends, it has adopted our yard—or so it would appear.

We have since seen it nearly every day, and it seems to hang out either under our trailer, or under the deck, or sometimes under the car that’s parked back there. Yesterday I let the chickens out, not really thinking about chicken-bunny relations at all, and boy were those chickens upset! It was funny! I heard them making all kinds of noise and the bunny had the audacity to snack right next to one of their favorite snacking places. They were letting it know, in no uncertain terms, that this was THEIRS, and he better just get out!

Then the plot thickened even more last Sunday. I was talking to our neighbor across the street and he said they had seen TWO bunnies in their yard! And folks, we all know what that means—there will no doubt be a colony before we know it.

My kids are begging to keep it as a pet. So far we have held them off by saying—it’s like a pet already, except one we don’t have to clean up after and buy food for! You get to see it regularly and in the meantime, it just takes care of itself. I don’t know what we’ll do as winter sets in. I mean, wild bunnies survive the winter, but would a tame one? I really don’t want a pet bunny—or 2, or 10. My husband says they’re pretty good eating. Ha! We have not come to that point quite yet.

So…does anyone want a bunny of their very own? I would even help you catch it! 

September 14, 2019

Welcome Fall

 We’re already into the middle of September, and I keep expecting that first frost to come any night now. It’s not just cool in the mornings now—it’s cold! My fingers were going numb as I cut flowers this morning, and that was around 8:30am. That makes it perfect flower-cutting weather, by the way! They do much better when you cut them cold.

I have continued working on clearing out the garden and planting what I’ve purchased. Just today I was able to get the last coneflowers and the 3 sedums planted. I am getting my color rows filled up! I’ve still got quite a bit of room in the white row—I want to get some daisies this week to put in there, and maybe some phlox or penstemon. The yellow/oranges have about half a row left, and the pinks are down to about 1/4 row. I need to start and fill up a blue/purple row, as well.

My cosmos are finally blooming! I just cut a whole bucket of them this week.

I’ve also still got quite a bit of transplanting I want to do—moving some of the perennial bachelor’s buttons out of the Oval Bed and planting all of the lilies in crates into the garden itself, as well. We had some awesome thunderstorms this week that really helped my transplants survive! I’m pretty sure our secondary water will be turned off sometime in the next couple of weeks, as well, so any rain we can get is a blessing!

The garden is so full of weeds. It’s discouraging, to say the least. The purslane has gone crazy with the extra moisture and has formed a mat of green covering the ground. The red root pigweed is all over, as well as another one that I don’t know the name of, with very wiry tenacious roots. Plus the other usuals: bindweed, grass, goathead thorns, mallow, etc. Too bad those weeds aren’t worth any money. I could make a fortune! Instead I just battle them, always and forever. There were some monster-sized weeds in the front flowerbed that I managed to pull out, roots and all. That was satisfying, let me tell you!

We pulled out our fall decorations the other day and now a rather eclectic collection of pumpkins sits on top of my piano. During the summer time I want clear surfaces, but come fall, I’m ready for a little whimsy and something new to look at again. I’m craving apple cider and wanting to find an orchard (or a friend!) with an apple press, like we had going for us in Washington. Apple cider. Yum.

One year at the orchard in Washington, this is what we picked! We weren't planning to get very much.

Last year at this time, I was canning everything in sight, but I’ve really only done one round of canning this year—apricots. I may still do peaches in the next week or so, or we may just eat what I canned last year. The veggie garden was pretty much a bust this year—we have a handful of green tomatoes on one of the vines—so I am anxious to just get it all cleared out and prepped for winter.

Is it sweater weather where you live? What are some of your favorite fall traditions?

September 7, 2019

List Making for the Greater Good

I have been thinking quite a lot this week about the direction I want to take my business. There are so many options out there—particularly as a Farmer Florist—and so far I feel like I have trying a little bit of several different things. However, I think for my business to grow and really take off, I need to get very specific with my vision for it. Where I want it to go, what I want to specialize in—find my niche and put all my efforts toward making it work. 

Hence, the list making. Yesterday I sat down and wrote out several Pros and Cons lists, regarding different areas I could focus on. Do you want to know the titles?

Okay, here they are:

Every Day Flowers

Wedding Flowers (floral design)

Farming Flowers (in general)

Wholesale Flowers (me growing them and selling them to florists wholesale)

U-pick Flowers

Landscape Design

* * *

To start with, I’m trying to figure out where I am on the Farmer-Florist spectrum. Mostly a grower who does floral design to support my plant habit? Or mostly a designer who grows my own flowers to give my designs that special something? The past year and a half I’ve been trying to just do both—all of everything. To be really honest, I feel like a lot of things have fallen through the cracks that way.

So another list I need to make is one that includes all the things that need to be done for this business to run well. I’m talking everything from seed starting to Instagram posts, from sending out invoices to refreshing my booth at the Morgan Mercantile. (The booth is actually a whole list of its own right there. I feel like it’s sort of a separate beast and I need to figure out how best to use it as a support and marketing tool for my flowers.)

Then with that list in hand, figure out which stuff is the best use of my time and then…what to do about the rest of it. Hire it out if I can, or narrow my focus, or possibly hire an employee.

I am only one person, doing this part time while also mothering 4 kids. I am realizing more and more that this business I have taken on is really 2 separate full-time jobs, and trying to figure out how to mesh them together has been a challenge for me at times. For instance, last month when I was working on wedding flowers, most of my outside chores pretty much got put on hold. I did the very basics, but most of my free time was spent doing wedding flowers—planning, pricing, purchasing, prepping, creating, etc. This month I have spent more time outside in this first week than I did all last month.

Another consideration along those lines: farming is very seasonal—around here it’s April to September. So if I am going to focus on mostly farming, then that has got to be my go time, with some rest/slow down throughout the winter months. The problem is that summers are also when all of my children are home from school and need supervision, outings, refereeing, attention, all the food, etc. As a floral designer, however, most of the bigger events that people want flowers for are in the winter months: school dances, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc. Floral design goes all year, but tends to slow down in the summer—if you’re not doing weddings.

So, a lot to think about. Once I make a few decisions along these lines, I need to update my business plan and narrow in on my ideal client, then make my marketing and day-to-day use of time follow suit.

Do you write lists to help you figure things out? Tell me about a recent list you’ve made!