December 28, 2019

Planning for Next Year's Flowers

 I feel like the whirlwind that was December may finally be subsiding, just a bit. I’ve caught up on a few projects that got left in the dust. My hope is that I will have a few moments to breathe in this coming week and I can actually sit down and start planning my flowers for next year.

This is something that is so fun! My dreams usually outpace my skills, unfortunately, so inevitably I face a certain amount of disappointment. I am working on getting my farming skills up to speed so that my optimism will pay off glorious dividends of beauty. 
One of the things I need to do is finish watching my online Flower Farming course. 
I’ve already picked up so many valuable lessons from it—I need to finish it off!

One thing Lisa Mason Ziegler shared in the course—something she really just mentioned in passing—was that for succession planting, she has what she calls her “summer recipe.” So in essence, she plants the same mix of flowers for her cool flower successions, and then has a different mix she does for the warm-weather lovers. I mean, she may plant different colors or substitute one in for another at times, but overall it’s the same. This has inspired me to start thinking about what should be my “recipe” for cool flower planting.

Another point she had—your zone and growing conditions determine how many successions of cool vs. warm flowers that you put in. So where she lives, it gets hot by May, so she really can only fit in 2-3 successions of cool flowers, then she does more like 4 or 5 rounds of the warm. We had a frost in mid-JUNE last year! I had already picked up on the fact the cool flowers should be my mainstays, but this just brought it home even more. I need to be putting in 3-5 rounds of cool flowers (also known as hardy annuals), and may only get 1 round of the hot weather flowers in my garden.

There’s a reason my celosia failed last year, and my zinnias didn’t do much better. They hate the cold! She usually waits even 3 weeks after the last frost date to plant them, just so the nights are warm enough for them as well as the days. If I’m going to do that, it’s going to be the end of June before I get any of those heat-lovers in. See what I mean? With frost coming in mid to late September, there’s not going to be time for multiple plantings of those!

Okay, so all of this is just to say, I want to figure out my own planting recipes, then get to work this spring to put them in! If I could make the space to do 1 row of filler and 1 row of bigger flowers for each round, that would be ideal. Then, maybe by the end of June, the first round of cool flowers would be done, and I could till that under to put in my warm-weather flowers.

Spring fillers that I love include: ammi (Queen Anne’s lace), feverfew, and pennycress. I also want to try buplureum, atriplex, and chocolate Queen Anne’s lace. For my cool flower focals: snapdragons, scabiosa, Black-eyed Susans, Bells of Ireland. I would love to figure out how to grow sweet peas, and get some Icelandic poppies going as well. Of course, I will have all my spring bulbs and landscaping shrubs, etc., to help fill in as well.

If I only get 1 or maybe 2 plantings of warm weather flowers, I want to make them count! Zinnias and sunflowers are definitely on my list, along with cosmos. I would love to figure out how to grow celosia successfully. Their forms are so unique, I think my customers would get a kick out of them.

I started over 70 varieties of seeds last year! This year I want to really narrow that down. Focus on getting really good at growing a handful of varieties that will perform well under my conditions, and then maybe I can branch out some more later on.

However, I haven’t even looked at the seed catalogs yet. That is where the true test of my resolve comes in!! I always want all the pretty things! This is why I need a plan first—preferably written down—so that I’m not sidetracked into unprofitable paths.

Are you getting your 2020 garden all planned out? Do tell!

December 21, 2019

Merry Christmas!

 We are coming into the home stretch on Christmas now! This is the weekend of family parties. My family got together today and we’re going to see my husband’s family tomorrow. Fun times! It has been nice to close enough to get in on these fun events!

In addition, I’ve had several flower orders keeping me busy! Some florists really don’t care for the traditional red, white, and green of Christmas, but I’ve had fun with it this year. I am buying nearly all my flowers from the wholesaler during this season, and it’s great to have a big enough volume of orders to be able to get a nice variety for the arrangements.

Depending on the color of the vessel I’m using, I may switch up the dominant colors in the bouquet.

I loved the Christmas colors on my strawberry pitcher!! It matched so well!

Here’s what I’m loving in my Christmas arrangements this month:


Evergreens—that’s kind of a given, I guess. Pine and cedar with just a bit of the seeded eucalyptus thrown in for some added interest. I ran out of pine this week and still have several orders to fill on Monday. The Christmas tree may be missing a few (lower, unimportant, barely noticeable) branches come Monday morning!

Red pepperberries—I just can’t get enough of these! I bought out the last bunch at the wholesaler, and when I went back a few days later for more, all they had were the pink. Love those too, but now I’m in the red/green phase. The ones they had were so perfect to tie together my arrangements! Each stem had some bright red berries and some immature, green berries—all of them tiny and clustered on the same stems. I have a couple of stems left—I’m going to divvy them up very carefully on Monday.


Hypericum berries—I’ve got some in white that I’ve used, and just bought some smaller, red ones. Love how they look in the arrangement!

White alostromeria—these were so gorgeous! Just big, beautiful healthy blooms. Love them! Also, very long vase life.

Paperwhite daffodils—I grew these inside. Actually, time to start another round of them! I actually even like the green seed pod that is left once the flowers die!


Red Carnations—That bright pop of red, plus their famous longevity. Win-win!

Deep red Ranunculus—I put a stem of this into every arrangement, just to add some depth to the color tones and for their beautiful form—rose-like, but with much better vase life than most roses.

For my centerpiece arrangement, I’m going to add some pinecones as well and possibly some wood slices with the bark still on. Going rustic!

Tonight is the winter solstice—the longest night of the year. So that means starting tomorrow, we’ll be on the upward swing! YAY! I believe in Jesus Christ, who lights my way through darkest, longest nights. So grateful to be celebrating his birth this week!

Merry Christmas!

December 17, 2019

Giver's Gain


A fun Thanksgiving centerpiece I did for one of the BNI group.

Over the past year, I have attended a business networking group that meets here in my town once a week, called BNI—stands for Business Network International. The first time I went as a guest. I was impressed by the camaraderie amongst all the regular attendees, and their friendliness to me.

Since then I have gone several times (8 or 9?) as a substitute for one of the regular members. Every time it has been the same experience: a room full of positive, supportive people, who enjoy being around each other. More than that, people who have built up relationships of trust, such that they feel good about giving each other referrals. That’s the point of it, after all. To help businesses grow. Yes, to make money.

However, the way they go about this goal is different than the norm. Their philosophy is “Givers Gain.” I don’t know how other chapters implement the philosophy in their groups, but the group I have been to really means it. They’re more interested in helping you be successful with your business, than they are in their own. They seem to rest assured that what goes around comes around, and helping you will end up being good for them too, in the long run.

I wanted to join right away, but there were a few things standing in my way. First and foremost—the cost. It’s not cheap to join, and when I first attended, I was just into my 2nd year of business. The cost to join was just a few hundred dollars shy of what I had made my entire first year. Granted, I didn’t make a lot (less than zero when expenses were added in), but I didn’t feel like I could make that leap just yet.

Another obstacle: I hadn’t really decided yet which direction I wanted to take my business in. Would I do weddings? If so, one wedding referral would pay back my membership fee. Was I going to primarily do everyday flowers? That would take a whole lot more to make up the difference. I have spent quite a bit of time over this 2nd year, pondering about those questions and figuring out what I want to focus on, and what direction I will be headed.

It’s also quite a time commitment—weekly meetings, some training, and one-to-ones—which are meetings set up individually with the other business owners in the group. How I would I fit that in to my existing schedule?

A final obstacle has been the uncertainty of our family plans. There is a job change coming in the future for my husband, and we weren’t even sure we would be around next year. I didn’t want to join up, pay the money, only to have to abandon the group halfway through the year.

Well, after talking with husband about it last week (I’ve attended twice this month as a substitute), I’ve decided it’s time to join. The investment still seems big and a little scary. It’s going to be a leap of faith, for sure. But, I also feel ready for this. I’m ready for where this will take me. With my husband’s support I can make the scheduling work.

I’m excited to be part of such a positive, supportive group! I will pick up my application on Thursday and go from there!

December 7, 2019

Flowers in Bloom--Week by Week

This post falls under the “record keeping” category. It’s good to have a record of what I had in bloom each week—partly for evaluating what worked and what didn’t, but also for planning out next year’s flowers. What can I offer each week? When can I expect flowers to cut from the things I plant?

I did quite a bit better this year at taking harvest photos each week. There were a couple I missed, but overall, I did all right. These are not always the best-looking photos. They were not staged at all, for the most part. Just what I had in my buckets. Upping my photo game? Next year’s goal! :)

One thing you may notice: for most of this season, I was doing my main harvest every other week. My big days were every other Friday, because that’s when I had all 3 business subscriptions coming due, with a total of 4 arrangements. I cut other stuff in between for smaller orders, and supplemented some with purchased flowers—both from other local farms and from the wholesaler.

So, want to find out what flowers I had in bloom from one week to the next? Come on, let’s do this!


April 11: A handful of daffodils and 1 short hyacinth.

April 18: Hyacinths growing taller and more colors blooming! Another small handful of daffodils.

April 25: Just daffodils, all sorts. I love the doubles and the pink-cupped ones!

April 29: The first of the tulips, more daffodils, some phlox cut from purchased perennials I was about to plant in my flowerbeds, and some green feathery wildflower leaves. (Okay, okay, they were weeds! They held up very well in my arrangements, thank you very much.)


May 2: Oh, those daffodils! Coming on strong now! Plus a few more tulips.

May 17: Lilacs in their full glory! Plus in bucket #2: flowering plum, ninebark foliage, alliums, pink salvia, and perennial bachelor’s buttons.

May 31: More alliums, perennial bachelor’s buttons, plum foliage, honeysuckle, and a few bright orangey-red geums tucked down in there, as well. 
(The second photo is just a closeup of the geums—same date.)


June 13: We’ve got peonies, folks! Oh, they were gorgeous. Most of these were cut from a friend’s garden. Mine should be ready to begin cutting from next year!! Can’t wait!

June 21: Annual bachelor’s buttons, that did me the favor of reseeding themselves from the year before. Plus, a handful of blue Allium caesium (I planted more of those this fall.)

Also, in the second bucket are catmint, more allium, scabiosa, a late peony, and 2 little roses. That last pic is just a closeup of the scabiosa—they were so big and beautiful in June!


July 2: Mixed bucket here. Let’s see if I can see it all—Bells of Ireland, annual bachelor’s buttons, scabiosa, the pinkish-red one in the back is Jupiter’s Beard. It looks like there may be a rose tucked way down in there as well.

One of these days in early July I had 2 or 3 full buckets cut, including one full bucket of around 40 stems of Bells, but I didn’t get a picture. So add that to your mental list.

July 10: Bells of Ireland, annual bachelor’s buttons, drumstick alliums, scabiosa, the first of the snaps!, first of the lilies, roses.

July 11: Bells of Ireland, annual bachelor’s buttons, snapdragons, feverfew

July 12: Bucket of Bells…and 1 snapdragon!

July 12, #2: spray roses, lilies, scabiosa, drumstick alliums

July 19: Snaps!! (Can you tell I love snapdragons?) Bells of Ireland, dill, one sunflower

July 25 x 2 buckets: (top bucket) Snapdragons, Queen Anne’s lace, dill, weed? foliage

(bottom bucket): Yarrow, Bells of Ireland, bachelor’s buttons, white echinacea, roses, drumstick alliums, sedum, ninebark foliage, poppy seed pods


August 1: sunflowers

August 9: Yarrow, Bells of Ireland, white echinacea, zinnias, roses, Queen Anne’s lace, a couple of snapdragons, and a big weedy flower that I thought I could use and shouldn’t have!

August 16: Hydrangeas, zinnias, yarrow, white echinacea, feverfew, pink statice, pansies, perennial bachelor’s buttons, scabiosa

August 30: Hydrangeas, pink yarrow, scabiosa, zinnias, echinacea, roses, statice, mint, first of the cosmos + cosmos foliage, sedum


September 6: Echinacea, cosmos, roses, zinnias, tansy foliage

September 12 x 2: Zinnias, scabiosa, yarrow, sedum, catmint, Jupiter’s beard, mums, columbine foliage, ‘Milennium’ alliums. 2nd picture: cosmos galore! + a handful of mums, it looks like

September 20: Cosmos, mums, New York asters, pink statice

September 26: Just mums

September 27 (last 2 pictures): Cosmos and more cosmos.


October 4: Hyrangeas and plum foliage

Well, that about wraps it up! Even just going through this exercise made some things become quite obvious to me—improvements to make for next year.

The biggest thing is: I need to get my production levels up! I made it through, but nearly every bucket was a couple stems of this and a handful of that. If I’m going to grow this little flower business of mine, I need to GROW more flowers!

By this time next year, I want to see full buckets of 1 type of flower, consistently!

Seeing as how I put in nearly 800 more bulbs this fall, not to mention several varieties of perennials, I’m on my way. I am taking Flower Farming School online right now, as well, with Lisa Mason Ziegler, and that has been great at giving me the tips and information I need to really make this into a commercial operation. The basics—like figuring out the watering, making beds, keeping weeds out. You’d think I would already have all that mastered, 2 years in, but I still have a lot to learn.

I have to say, though, it was a great year! For the most part, I had all the flowers I needed for my customers this summer. I fully expect it to just keep getting better every year.