Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'm in Lisi Love ( Lisianthus)

You know that feeling when you first fall in love? Yeah, it happens with flowers too. Oh yes. It's real. The REAL DEAL! I'm in Lisi love! I get all giddy and nervous inside with first season flowers. Every thing's a mystery and there's so much to learn when you trial a new flower. Anticipations and expectations are high in the beginning until the doubts set in. Will this new addition grow deep roots with my love and care or will it not? In other words, how will this relationship end? We only have a short time to get acquainted after all. We're either going to get on or, we're not.

 I'd never tried growing Lisianthus because I always thought our coastal New England season was too short and I'm not set up for starting seeds properly so I did what every flower farming, love-sick Lisi lover does. I bought plugs. ( wrote about it here)  and prayed they would take root and grow outside in my raised beds. 

Pretty Rose Lisianthus with apple blossom snaps in the background.
And they did just that! They are tricky little flowers though. They form buds that stay small and tight for a few weeks then it takes about another week for them to finally unfurl, but when they do it's heavenly. The Rose pink were the first to bloom. Stay tuned for white and pale yellow!

I was so anxious to design with them once they were fully opened but I didn't have much else blooming at the time except for the apple blossom snapdragons which couldn't have been more perfect with their creamy white and pale pink petals. They are the sweetest smelling flowers too!

Apple Blossom Snapdragons
Bouquet Recipe:  Hydrangea foliage, early budding sedum, nine bark, deep burgundy dahlia, and dusty miller,

 The greens off the pale pinks set my heart a thumping and the deep burgundy picks up on the deep red center of the Lisi which adds drama and elegance to the over all pallet. 

But don't let those delicate paper-thin petals fool you into thinking she's a delicate flower though. These beauties can take a light rain and still stay looking fresh. They get an A+ for vase life too.
It was well over a week before they finally started to droop a little.

We enjoyed them on the dining room table while they lasted. And I took a few mason jar arrangements into Crystal Lake Garden Shop where I work play part time.

I absolutely adore Lisi's even more than I thought I would.  I can't wait to try some of the other shades and varieties next season.

Here's what I learned about my first season growing Lisianthus.

Planting:  Lisi plugs can be planted very close together. I planted mine at 5 inches apart and I'll go even closer next season for more blooms and so they'll lean into each other as they get tall. Some varieties can get up to 28 inches. You can net them so they'll stay upright as well. It's a personal choice. Some flower farmers are huge fans of netting while others find it difficult to harvest around.

They are slow growers and bloomers. They like consistent watering especially during the early growth period right after planting. This helps them grow strong, tall stems that are great for cutting later.

 Designing:  Lisi's are very popular for weddings and make a great substitute for roses. They're all the rage for the garden fresh, organic flower styling that's all the rage today.

Over all they are slow but fairly easy to grow and I had no issues with disease or pests. Weeds love to grow right near the flower stock so be careful when weeding that you don't pull the plug right out along with the weeds. I've also read that if you plant them out as early as April ( even in colder climates) you may enjoy a second flowering in September. I don't think I'll be that lucky this season as I planted the first week of June but, there's always next year!

I encourage flower growers of all levels to try Lisianthus.

Visit Farmer Bailey Plugs for a beautiful selection of  Lisianthus for your farm or cutting garden. Order early for best selection and I bet you'll fall in Lisi love too!

Stay tuned for my next post about my first floral workshop here at Dandelion House!

Put down some roots and BLOOM~

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July in a Jar

 How is July almost over already? July is my favorite month for flowering perennials and this month everyone is putting on a show. 

 This jar is filled with endless summer hydrangea, fire and ice hydrangea, day-lily's, cone flower and scented geranium.

The cut flower beds are lush and green and the dahlias, lisis and snap dragons are setting buds but it feels like it's taking forever for them to open up. I wonder if the 66 degree temperatures the last couple of days have anything to do with it? I mean, it is summer, right?


I planted a gazillion Amaranth seeds in one bed and they are doing quite well! I haven't decided it I'll thin them yet. Oh, I tucked some sunflowers in there too! They take up so much room on a bed of their own I figured I'd sew them in with something else. I'll keep you posted on how that experiment works out. 

The lisianthus are almost ready to pop. I think they are anyway? You know what they say though,  "A watched flower never blooms"...

I hope you're all enjoying some pretty blooms this summer and spending time with your loved ones.
I'll be back soon with a farm update! I have a new flower cart on the way and some other exciting farm and floral news to share! Stay tuned!
And if you're on Instagram follow me @dandelion_house for daily updates and news!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Goodbye Soggy, Foggy Spring ( I hope )

Grasses, Knockout roses, sedum, lavender, winter berry shrubs and weeds.
Howdy friends! As I titled this post I thought maybe I should call it the Dandelion House Quarterly, since that's the last time I posted. Forgive me? Spring, 2017 has got to be the soggiest, foggiest spring I can recall in all of my 16 years in Plymouth, MA. It's been a challenge to get everything in the ground around the cold temperatures and perpetual rain.

 The top photo shows the sun shining, but it didn't last long. However, the perennial gardens are loving the cooler, misty weather we've been having. Me, not so much. May 31st is my cut off date for getting in the dahlia tubers and seeds. But, if it's too wet they can rot so I put it off another week and a half before finally planting them. It proceeded to rain for 4 of the following 7 days afterwards and it seemed like it took forever for green sprouts to pop up out of the soil.  Now that I've gotten some planting done, I'm excited to share some progress, even if it's slow as molasses. My apologies for sounding like a whiny backyard flower farmer.

 I planted 120 tubers all in one day. They are beginning to poke through in their own sweet time but one raised bed filled with Cafe Au Lait dahlias all broke through the soil at the same time and appear to be growing at the very same speed! It's like they choreographed it that way. Five, six, seven ,eight, and GROW!

Cafe Au Lait's plays well with brighter flowers as well as similar pale tones.
 I also ordered in some new varieties of Chrysanthemums from Kings Mums.  
this year. I like to space them a couple of feet apart. Once they're about 12 inches tall, I'll cut them back to encourage more growth and buds for late summer and early fall.

  They come in as healthy plugs with at least 4- 5 inches of growth on them. You can specify your delivery date when you order so they arrive when it's safe to plant in your zone.
You can order them in early and pot them up in small pots, then plant them out after they harden off. 
 Or, you can throw them to the wolves like I do and just plant them straight out into the garden after the danger of last frost. 

Most mums are October and November bloomers which I just love because they truly extend the growing season in a beautiful way. 

Annie Girl, Coral charm, Seton's J Dore, Seton's, Ashleigh. 
 They don't look like much right now, but these cute little Apple Blossom Snapdragon plugs will be lovely in about 6 weeks. 

The same goes for the Lisianthus plugs below. I'm excited to see how it goes with them especially with the cool spring we've had. Fingers crossed! My friend, Monica of  Prince Snow Farm Blog and I shared a plug order from @farmerbaileyplugs.

Rare Seeds also sells seeds for Apple Blossom Snapdragons. 

Lisianthis Seedlings.

Rose Lisianthus Johnny's Selected Seeds
 I have some messy trees nearby and with all the wind we've been having things are a bit messy 

looking but I'll get it all shaped up eventually! Needless to say, I have lots of weeding to do still in the larger gardens as well.
No wonder I feel so soggy, foggy and behind this spring! 
Here's to brighter days and blooms this summer!

In other news, the New England Farmer Florist Facebook Group has grown by 100 members since our first meet and greet in March. Stop by and say howdy! And join if you like. While the focus is on New England growers and designers, we enjoy all types of flower connections. :) 

I hope your flower farming endeavors are coming along. Every season brings new challenges, whether it be the weather, garden pests or diseases, or slow sales. Spending time in the flowers in never a waste of time.  Pray for sunshine and warmer days ahead. The flowers and I need it! 

Put down some roots in bloom! 


Resources: Kings Mums,   
                 Eden Brothers 
                        Longfield Gardens 

*I don't receive any compensation for including links to these wonderful flower websites. I've ordered from all of them and they all have great product and wonderful service. I'm happy to share. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

New England Farm and Floral " SPRING " Meet and Greet

Happy Spring, friends! I hope this note finds you in good spirits and feeling happy about the promise of a new season. March has been filled with lots of activity here at Dandelion House. Preparations for a new season of backyard flower farming are under way and moving full throttle ahead which is very exciting. Even though I've done absolutely nothing in the way of actual physical preparations outside yet, my seed orders are completed; tubers and plugs are ordered and I've already quoted a few weddings for 2017/18.  What I'm most excited about sharing with you as March comes to a close is the amazing response we got for our New England Farm and Floral Meet and Greet event which took place March, 25th at Salted Root Farm, home of Beach Plum Floral Design, here on the south shore of MA. You may recall my mentioning the event in my podcast with Debra Prinzing last month. Debra was instrumental in helping us get as much exposure for our event as possible. What surprised me ( and my lovely co-hostesses, Jill Landry of Beach Plum Floral Design, Monica Tavares of
Prince Snow Farm and AJ Kocon of Little State Flower Co, was the overwhelming interest in our event from our regional flower farmers and floral designers. All of us are tuned in to the Slow Flowers Movement and are committed to doing our small part to educate others on the benefits of growing and using locally grown cut flowers, but we had no idea how thirsty our NE flower farmers and floral designers were to meet face to face to begin the conversation about how they can work together to provide local flowers to their clients and support each others businesses. Let me just say, next time we're gonna need a bigger barn! We were busting at the seems with over 60 extremely eager guests and unfortunately, had to shut down registration due to the venue being filled to the brim. Every New England state was represented as well as New Jersey. As a result of the event, new connections and friendships have formed and I have no doubt there will be many more NE Farmer/Florist events in the future. I cannot wait to see where this new family of flower farmers and floral designers takes the slow flowers movement both regionally and nationally.

 Below is a shot of Monica and me. Monica is a mom and full-time 6th grade teacher who's approaching retirement and has a love for flowers too.  She farms her small acreage, Prince Snow Farm just a short 30 minutes from where we live. We met on the NE Farmer/Florist Facebook Group I founded last year and we've been following each other's backyard flower farming adventures. When I had the idea to host an event like this my intuition told me to reach out to her to see if she might be interested in helping out, and it was right. Monica got busy right away procuring donations for our raffle. She sent out over 40 emails to farm and garden businesses and vendors which resulted in some amazing gifts for our attendees. Monica was my creative co-conspirator in crime on this event and we both had so much fun with the planning and executing. Her husband, Kevin helped with getting us a projector and screen for the guest speakers. Fun Fact! We also learned that our son's share the same birth date ( different years) and the last four digits of our land lines are exactly the same. You can read all about Monica's flower farming and floral design endeavors at her beautiful blog Prince Snow Farm.

 Monica also created these adorable parting gifts for each of our attendees. It was a mad dash to get the fresh pansies for the berry baskets. She tried three places before she finally found some the day before the event!

 Each one included one of these darling stickers from Sticker Fiend on Etsy

  Our half-day program was simple. Sign in was at 1:00 sharp followed by some words by yours truly about growing the Slow Flowers movement in New England and how the event came to be etc, etc.

 Our daughter came along to help me out with checking people in and handing out raffle tickets for the array of items that were generously donated by various businesses. And when it got to her turn to introduce herself she said some very sweet things about her momma and made the attendees cry. Me too.

Then we did that horrible thing speakers do and asked our guests to stand up and introduce themselves one by one. I know. Pretty cheesy of us but, it was a meet and greet after all. Then it was time for a break and things got loud very quickly. People were beyond excited to finally have a chance to connect. Just look at those faces! I wish I could convey the buzz in the room everyone heard and felt that day. I know it's something none of us will soon forget. It was kind of like the Beatles were in town but the Farmer/Florists were the Beatles and the guests all at the same time, except no one fainted. For whatever reason my phone only captured a loud ringing sound with no audible voices. In a way, that's exactly what it sounded like only in the best of ways!

  We put out some refreshments for everyone to enjoy. Keurig coffee and tea, cookies, cupcakes, cheese and crackers and some fresh grapes with plenty of bottled water. And, fresh spring tulips of course!

 After the break Anna Jane Kocon, of Little State Flower Co. gave an informative, realistic and fun presentation about how she started her specialty cut flower farm and what her vision and goals are moving forward.

  "Little State Flower Company is a 5 acre specialty-cut flower farm based on Aquidneck Island in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Little State focuses on sustainable, environmentally-friendly growing practices in an effort to create local, healthy options for the wedding and event industry in and around Rhode Island.Their flowers find their way into the design studios of some of the most progressive and local minded florists with a strong desire to benefit their community and environment by supporting locally grown flowers. "

 After Anna's wonderful presentation  Jill Landry, Owner/Lead designer Beach Plum Floral Design presented the Floral Designer side of working and creating with flowers. She shared the ins and outs of working with brides to create their dream wedding and how having access to local flowers is changing the way she consults with her clients by offering them a local flowers option. This year Jill and her team will create and deliver over 100 weddings in the Boston/South Shore area. Dahlias are a high demand flower among brides and a favorite among floral designers, but any floral designer will tell you that they don't ship well. This is an opportunity for any flower farmer who can grow dahlias in their region. We are fortunate that dahlias love our southern New England climate and flower farmers are adding to their dahlia stock every year as demand increases. Jill placed her entire 4000  stem dahlia order with one lucky local flower farmer for the first time ever this year. 

Flower Farmers take heed! Floral designers want to buy your flowers and they want to be loyal to you. Grow a beautiful product, grow plenty of it and make shopping convenient by setting up your website with a simple pick and click ordering system. List your flowers by the season to further the selection process and you'll be well on your way to increasing your relationships with more local floral designers and fattening up your bottom line to boot. 

Jill Landry Beach Plum Floral Design

Meet Jill
"My craft began at a very young age when I returned from a walk in the woods with a large bunch of Lady Slippers and handed them to my Mother. Yes, these stems are indeed endangered but even at the age of six, I could not resist the urge to pick them.  From here, you could find me picking from our acres of farm gardens or trimming fresh pine and holly berry for holiday swags. I can still smell the lilacs before they are seen, stare at a peony for hours and feel a connection to all things rooted. Never did I believe I could take this love and create it into an actual career! You are supposed to dislike your jobs and complain about them, right? Truth being, there is something incredibly rewarding about meeting a client for the first time, listening to their newborn ideas, becoming familiar with their own uniqueness and within minutes create sketches of their dream day. Seeing the sudden comfort and trust on a brides face after a few photos and brainstorming sessions is remarkable. Creating a sense of ease and growing a personal connection with my clients is important to me. Listening to their ideas and turning them into concepts is the art. The true magic of my job is to create them with my own hands and watch the tears of joy and giant smiles on their day. It never grows old."

Jill Landry, Beach Plum Floral Design

 Jill created this beautiful Beach Plum spring arrangement and donated it to the raffle. Wouldn't you have loved to be the winner? 

 Having our event hosted in Jill's beautiful finished barn was so perfect. We couldn't have asked for a more ideal location for what turned out to be the perfect meeting of the minds we had hoped it would be. We can't wait to meet and greet again with our NE Farm and Floral tribe soon! I promise to keep you posted as more events unfold.

Put Down Some Roots and Bloom!

Generous Donors: NE Farm and Floral Meet and Greet
Debra Prinzing~ Slow Flowers ( )
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds ( )
Floret ( )
Field Notes (
Thimblepress ( )
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (
A-Roo Company Floral Packaging (
Neptune's Harvest (
Renee's Garden Seeds (
Pith and Vigor Newspaper (

Pencils: Express Pencils LLC on Etsy
Journals: Beach Tree Paper on Etsy
Farmer Stickers: Sticker Fiend on Etsy
Fresh Flowers Tags :folkcity on Etsy
Chair Rental: New England Country Rentals ( )

Friday, February 24, 2017

Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing

February has been cold, wet and snowy here in New England. Just the kind of weather I like to get down and dirty on clarifying my goals for the upcoming growing season. I'm so excited to get started in the gardens again. There's plenty of cleanup to do and planting lists to complete. The good news is that we are about 10 - 12 weeks away from being able to sow seeds outdoors. To keep busy I've been networking and making plans with my flower peeps from near and far to keep me blooming on the inside until planting time!

Debra Prinzing 
Last week one of my dreams came true when I sat down for a Skype interview with Debra Prinzing, ( author and founder of the Slow Flowers Movement). You may recall my interview with Debra here in February, 2016.  If you haven't tuned in to Debra's podcasts you should really put it on your calendar to have a listen. Whether you're a hobby gardener, master gardener, budding flower farmer/floral designer you'll learn first hand what's happening in the changing floral landscape around the cut flower industry in America. It's revolutionary on every level.

Debra asked me about my brand, and my writing, my cut flower gardens and floral designs and she was especially interested in sharing with her listeners some exciting news about an event I am co-hosting with three other farmer/florists in Massachusetts in March. The New England Farm and Floral Meet and Greet in MA.

I founded the New England Farmer Florist Connection Facebook Group in March of 2016 with the idea that farmer/florists in the New England region needed a place to connect and share their growing experiences online. In the back of my mind, ( okay, not so much in the back) I also dreamt that one day we might meet in person to network and find new ways to help one another in our farm and floral endeavors.

It's happening!!! On March 25th, Flower Farmers and Floral designers are traveling from Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to meet face to face and I couldn't be more thrilled that my instincts were right.

 I'll introduce my talented co-hosts in an upcoming blog post and share more about our dream location for the event. In the meantime, please have a listen to my podcast with Debra Prinzing to learn more! Every episode is educational and inspiring as well as FREE! Stay tuned!

And, remember. Whatever you dream you can do, you CAN do!

Put down some roots and BLOOM!


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! 

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