Signs of spring are starting to appear on our little farm. It seems early but temperatures are headed in the right direction and spring bulbs are beginning to peak through the soil. With all this pent up spring excitement we had to give you a sneak peak at what we have planned. This year we are trialing many new flowers to offer in bouquets. When I start looking at seed catalogs I have a problem with wanting to try them all. Everything looks like it belongs on our farm and we simply have to try it. I have told myself that I am officially done buying seed for the year, but every week or so I always seem to find something else I can’t live without. I have even been known to snag a seed packet or two at Wal-Mart. There are several problems with this, the biggest probably being the limited space we have to grow all of these plants… but I NEED that celosia, I have to try that Mignonette, and my Facebook friends say Phacelia is a nice filler. Every time a package arrives in the mail my wife gives me that look, “Really? You have gone a little crazy with the seeds this year don’t ya think?”
So as I try to practice restraint from buying any more I have compiled a few of the weird, wonderful and rare flowers that we plan to offer this year and hope to spark a little interest to bring these beauties back from the Victorian era. With Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook allowing people to share new ideas and trends faster than ever I predict that unusual and unique flowers are going to make a comeback in the near future. Old time flowers are beginning to reappear, reminding us of what our grandparents or great grandparents used to grow. Maybe you will recognize some of these flowers as being a part of your personal or family history.
#1- Mignonette, this ugly duckling is a classic flower that used to be found in every 18th Century florist’s shop. It may look a little boring and um… ugly but it supposedly has the most incredible scent. There is something about the old fashioned flowers that give a bouquet a story to tell. What is the story behind this bouquet? Where was it grown? What is this flower called, I have never seen it before? We hope smelling the same flower that proper gentlemen gave their respectable ladies 200 years ago means something more than another red rose from South America. We hope to tuck a bloom or two down in the center of our bouquets so they are not focal flowers but you will still be able to smell the delicious fragrance wafting from within. Mignonette have creamy white clusters of flowers on a tall spike. The scent is said to resemble sweet raspberries.
Chrysanthemums Photos from mums.org
#2- Heirloom Chrysanthemums are starting to regain the interest they once had 100 years ago. Mums can still be found in every flower shop across America but they are nothing compared to the heirloom varieties gardeners used to enjoy. The unique shapes, forms and colors that make chrysanthemums so special have been lost to industrial production and the need for long distance travel. Chrysanthemums used to be a very popular garden and exhibition plant and a fossilized specimen might still be found in your great grandmas porch planter. Sadly, as the years have passed fewer and fewer people are interested in growing exhibition chrysanthemums. (Its those darn Millennials again) Gardeners of today are more likely to choose the fast easy continuously blooming varieties over the humble chrysanthemum, but I’m here to say it is a worthwhile task to grow these amazingly diverse group of plants. Many heirloom varieties have been lost forever, but there is one company trying to preserve what we still have left. King’s Mums in Oregon offers the remaining heirloom varieties that can no longer be found anywhere else. We received some and can’t wait to share them with you this year.
#3- Sweet Peas are another flower that were popular a century ago with home gardeners. Their sweet aroma, beautiful array of colors and prolific flowering ability made these a must grow for us. (I probably should mention these are not edible peas and are actually poisonous) Sweet peas require a long cool establishment period in order to put on a great show in late spring and early summer. They hate the heat and are usually done flowering when mid summer arrives. Last year we were unable to plant our sweet peas until mid may which was far too late for them to get established. This year we will be better prepared! We planted our seeds in November and they have been slowing growing along all winter. The Japanese have been breeding and growing some unbelievable sweet peas in the past few years as they are one of their specialties. If I could only get a hold of some of their seeds! Unfortunately, Japanese sweet pea seeds are currently not available in the U.S. that I know of. The English are are also excellent sweet pea growers and we have acquired seed from them for this year.
#4- Anemones look so delicate with their crushed velvet petals but don’t judge them by their looks, they are actually very tough plants. Our anemones survived in the unheated hoop house all winter long with lows reaching -4*F. Our current average daily temperature is still hovering around 40*F and they are putting on considerable growth. With a few tweaks in our cultural plan next year I think we could have locally grown anemones for Valentines Day. Amazing I know but I can’t take all the credit. Anemones now come in many shades of pink, red, blue, white, cream, pastels and bicolors. If you want to grow these in your own garden you can follow our anemone growing guide post. It is best to plant them in the fall and allow them to grow roots all winter, but they can be successfully planted in early spring as well. Anemone corms (roots) are available from Floret Flower Farm.
#5- Nigella isn’t all that rare but we still think its the cat’s meow. Also known as Love-in-a-mist, these white, blue, pink and yellow flowers are so unique and interesting they are sure to get the neighbors talking. They are also easy to grow so grab some seeds and get ready to plant when/ if the snow ever melts. These guys like cool weather so plant them as soon as you can work the soil in your flower beds. When they start to bloom cut the stems and bring them in the house to enjoy, you deserve it! They will keep on blooming into summer and will eventually produce some interesting pods that can be used in fresh and dried arrangements.
Hopefully these old fashioned flowers will bring back gardening memories from your past. If you have grown any of these varieties please let us know, we would love to hear any memories or growing advise you have.
Thanks for reading,