Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FEARLESS Flower Farming ( plans, goals and dreams 2017 )

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Elizabeth Appell

Happy New Year, friends! Are you one of those people who chooses a word that inspires you at the start of every new year?  A word that will help you stay true to your path? I love the anticipation of claiming a word that motivates me to get moving in the directions of my dreams, even if it means not playing it safe. I don't mean diving in with reckless abandon and ignoring important priorities in life for the sake of success alone. I'm talking about puzzling your way through how to bring your plans, goals and dreams into fruition and plowing through the fear one small step at a time.

I often think we make things much harder than they need to be so we sit on ideas much to long before taking action in exchange for waiting for the perfect time to start something new or finish something old. I have been guilty of this, but heck, I'm 55 now and I don't have that kinda time anymore. That's why I chose the word FEARLESS for my touchstone word for 2017 and I meant to hold myself accountable. Here's how I'm gonna do it. Every time I have an idea I'm going to write it down, then I'm going to puzzle out how I can make it happen with pen and paper right then and there instead of waiting an thinking, and thinking and waiting. I'll make a short list of steps I can take to get the ball rolling. I'm a firm believer that we all have the power to work in unison with the universe to manifest whatever it is we desire in life but it takes practice and practical application to get results. We must be dedicated, passionate, AND FEARLESS!

Here are a few things I plan to be 100% fearless about in 2017.

First of all, I'm going to continue to listen to my flowers. You read that right. I LISTEN to my flowers. When I trust the direction they take me in I always feel as if I'm being true to my path even if it's scary because I'm trying something for the first time. There's a bit of thrill in throwing yourself into the unknown which I admit I kind of like sometimes.

 WRITING~ I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm writing a book about my backyard flower farm.  I've queried (and been politely rejected) by some of the top book publishers in sustainable farming and gardening genre's. It's frustrating to be rejected over and over especially when you believe you have something you want to share and you know others will benefit from it.  So I'm just gonna self-publish the darned thing because I believe in it that much. So, my first " Fearless Flower Farming act will be to take action on completing and publishing my first book.
I'll share how I started farming my backyard in 2012 with lots of nitty-gritty info to get you started on your way to an ever expanding cutting garden for your own personal enjoyment and steer you into small scale backyard flower farming for profit. My hope is that you'll find it to be an inspirational,  useful guide in your gardening endeavors for years to come. What  topics would be of specific interest to you?

DESIGNING~Make that two little secrets. I've had the urge to dabble in painting my flowers for some years now, but just hadn't gotten around to buckling down and making it happen. I've always thought it would be neat to design products for home and garden use. The world is your oyster when it comes to mediums for creating art and how you blend them to make it your own. I've discovered a fun way to paint flowers like I've always wanted to.

This is one of my all time favorite images of an arrangement I made one afternoon while just playing around with different vases and flowers. In this image I was experimenting with using a vintage glass flower frogs for stabilizing flowers with shorter stems.

And the finished acrylic painting of the same image below. I can't tell you how gratifying it was to get that out of my system! Now I'm ready for the next one and the next one after that! I can see this on the cover of garden journals, paper goods, fabric, scarves, stationary, note cards. Some of my facebook friends suggested tote bags and bed linens too!

TEACHING~ For me, the growing part of flower farming is easy. I love to be outside amongst the flowers wearing God knows what, no makeup, sweating up a storm without a care in the world. I'm happiest that way, but there's a part of me that longs for sharing what I've learned and helping others achieve their dreams too. No more hiding behind the flowers! No more waiting for the perfect place or time.This is the year I'll really start my workshop series. Plans are in the works for a series of workshops here on the farm in my newly constructed studio. I'll be recruiting some local flower farmers and floral designers to co-host with me. Interested in collaborating?  Drop me an email!

Backyard Flower Farming 101, Dahlia Days, Mums and Me Workshop, and one or two more if I can squeeze them in. ( fingers crossed it's up and ready by the first of June). If not, we'll put up an Easy-up tent and do it anyway! I'll keep you posted on dates and times.

Naturally I'll be trying new varieties of cut flowers this coming season and I'm anxious to share my planting list with you in my next post!
In the meantime, go out there and be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams!
Put down some roots and BLOOM! 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Living Gifts for Christmas

 Howdy friends. I'm popping in for a short farm update and to share some great last minute " living gift" ideas with you. Some of you may remember that I went to work part-time at a local nursery back in April. It's been a great compliment to my own flower farming endeavors and quite an education to go through the growing season from a garden center's perspective.

 One of my favorite things about this time of the year at the garden shop is still being surrounded by seasonal living plants.  Paper whites and Amaryllis bulbs are some of the easiest bulbs to force. Paper whites will grow in pots, jars, tubs, bowls, soup tureens, what ever you have on hand.

Amaryllis bulbs take about 8 weeks from planting to bloom time and make a lovely, bold impression indoors during the holidays. Once dormant you can store them away until the following year and start all over again! 

I may be showing my age here, but do you recall the taste of Wintergreen gum? Did you know that it's the Tea Berry that gives it that wonderful sweet flavor? You can taste it immediately after popping one in your mouth. They are darling in a small container inside until the ground thaws then they can be planted outside after the danger of the last frost in your garden zone to be enjoyed year after year  in your garden.

Christmas Cactus is always the perfect living gift for indoor gardeners. This winter flowering plant comes in a variety of bright tropical colors and will brighten a windowsill like no other plant can.

 They are happiest placed in indirect sunlight with temps between 60 -70 degrees. Christmas Cactus are easy to propagate which makes them a great plant to grow and share.

 Working at garden shop has opened my eyes to the other side of the growing industry making me all the more grateful and passionate about my backyard flower farm endeavors. I love guiding customers in the early design stage of planning their gardens and assisting them with plant choices and you can bet your last pack of zinnia seeds there will be more of that happening in the coming year. 

That said, I'm so ready to go inward now that my own little farm has been put to bed. 
I'm excited to have some quiet time to plot out what's next for Dandelion House 2017. 
Please stay tuned! In between blog posts you can find me on Instagram @dandelion_house

Merry Christmas and thank you all for growing with me! 
Put down some roots and BLOOM.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November's Flower

 Back in March I blogged about starting a new romance with the old-fashioned, Chrysanthemum and I'm here to report that for a first year romance there were very few bumps and blips with plenty of beautiful moments in the sun. This infatuation with November's Flower of mine isn't going away anytime soon! In fact, I think I'm falling deeper and deeper in love with these late fall bloomers. 
I first noticed them on the covers of vintage seed packets like this one from Pinterest, below.

I absolutely adore vintage seed packet and botanical prints. They provide the perfect visual as to how I feel about flowers in general.

I started with an order of about 12 plants ( 5 varieties ) from Kings Mums  to plant outside in one of my 4 x 12 raised beds. The plugs arrive about 5 inches tall. I planted them in late May after the danger of the last frost.

By late August they had grown quite a bit and were starting to set buds. I didn't cut them back before hand, nor did I pinch or dis bud any of the plants. I just let them be this first go round. Next season, I'll cut them back in July to about 8- 12 inches in height before they set buds. This will make the plant fuller with more buds as it continues to grow. They do need staking as they get quite tall! Next year I'll bring out the 5 footers.
 Mums aren't like other flowers that set buds and bloom soon afterwards. They set buds when the plant is fairly short and continues to grow taller sending out side branches with more buds.They didn't actually bloom until October and November, which is their true bloom time.  Fast forward to November and they are blooming like crazy!

Here's a sampling of what I harvested last week. 

Bronze, obsession, seatons j dore, seatons ashleigh and seatons ruby
I decided to use some of my vintage milk glass to make some simple backyard bouquets. I think it shows off the mums beautifully.

I love that they overlap with the bloom time of dahlias and I'm crazy about the fact that they extend my growing season by 4 weeks. I don't have much in the way of seasonal flowers for sale fro, April - July. New England spring weather is very fickle and I just don't have the space to devote to finicky early bloomers but I can see making room for more mums in the future. Besides being hardy plants, the amount of blooms per stem is off the hook, making them perfect for garden bunches, farmers markets, farm stands and wedding work. I'll have the confidence to make it known that I have mums next season, for sure.


Annie Girl
Coral Charm
Coral Charm

Seatons J Dore

Seaton's J Dore

Seatons Ruby
Seatons Ruby
What's not to love about mums? Whether you're growing one or two varieties in your garden or a field of them for masses of blooms to sell and design with nothing beats a vase of freshly cut mums on the table in late November. And did I mention they last forever?

Kings Mums offers a wide range of books for every level of grower from amateurs to advanced gardeners and those who cultivate and show. 

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