Notes from the Field: Late Winter with Love 'n Fresh Flowers
Have you ever received a bouquet of flowers or bought fresh cut blooms at the market and thought about where those flowers came from? In our new series, Notes from the Field, we’re taking a peek at life on a local flower farm across the seasons. Specializing in “seed to centerpiece designs,” as well as workshops and a budding Plant Share program, Love 'n Fresh Flowers is not only a thriving florist, but a full-fledged flower farm as well. Owner Jennie Love will be checking in with us throughout the year to share what life on the farm is really like. Read on to learn more about what Jennie is up to this time of year!
terrain: What time did you start your day?
Jennie: I almost always start my days when the sun comes up. Lucky for me, it's still winter so I got my work day started around 7:15 today. While the kettle heats for a big mug of tea to warm my bones, I hop on email and review my to-do list. Then it's full-tilt the rest of the day.
terrain: What color is most prevalent in the fields at the moment?
Jennie: Brown. Well, white really. They're covered in snow!
terrain: What's blooming right now?
Jennie: We're just entering the flowering branches season, so we’re seeing French pussy willow, Fan Tail willow, quince, pieris, and forsythia.
terrain: What's about to bloom?
Jennie: The first buds are pushing on the ranunculus and anemones. They'll be blooming in just another week. Also, the hellebores are starting to come on nicely. Once we start warming just a bit in March, the narcissus and muscari will come on fast, followed by tulips.
terrain: What are you planting right now?
Jennie: Everything! We are filling up the greenhouse to the brim with seedlings. It's the biggest push of the year for sowing seeds and since our trademarked tagline is "from seed to centerpiece," we mean serious business when it comes to seeding! The list of what is being planted right now is literally pages long, but some of the highlights are agrostemma, Queen Anne's lace, dianthus, scabiosa, cerinthe, sweet peas, snapdragons, tweedia, calendula, and feverfew.
terrain: What did you enjoy most about today?
Jennie: Definitely my time in the greenhouse. It's so cozy in there with the sun streaming through, even if it's a frigid 20 degrees outside. Such a great dose of much-needed Vitamin D this time of the year! Plus I really enjoy the thoughtful work of seeding trays and all the promise they hold. It's very meditative for me, working in the greenhouse in February. Hours go by without me even noticing!
terrain: What proved to be the most challenging?
Jennie: This may sound odd, but finding the focus needed to tackle all the wedding design plans. I generally have 5-8 design proposals that I need to do each week during the winter months. While I love the creativity of weddings, having to do so many design proposals can feel daunting. But I remind myself that it is the first, and very necessary step, to working with amazing clients on their beautiful vision, so it's a challenge worth overcoming!
terrain: Name 5 flowers are you thinking about the most right now.
1. Hellebores, because I'm anxious to start cutting them and the deer have been gnawing on them. (Yes, we have deer in the city, and they are ravenous enough to eat hellebores!)
2. Icelandic poppies, because we'll be planting those in the hoop house soon, and I'm dreaming of their colorful, papery blooms to get through these cold, dark winter days.
3. Dahlias, because I just ordered some newly-released varieties to try this season. My obsession with trying new dahlias is bordering on a clinical condition.
4. Ranunculus, because they are about to bloom and there's a critter chewing their leaves. Trying to figure out what that might be and how to stop them.
5. Anemones, because they are about to bloom too and the crop is looking superb!
terrain: It's the end of the day. How do you feel in one word?
terrain: What is tomorrow going to bring?
Jennie: Tomorrow I'll be in consultations all day with prospective wedding clients. But I'll still make time to stop by the greenhouse to water the seedlings, and to check in at the farm. That stop includes feeding and playing with our Khaki Campbell ducks, who are currently living the high life in one of the hoop houses.
terrain: What's the next big project on the farm?
Jennie: Spring is coming. We had a very wet and cold autumn, so we didn’t get a chance to prep beds in the fall like we normally do. Without that leg up, this spring will be very busy with trying to squeeze a lot of field work into a short window of time so we can get all the seedlings planted on schedule. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a mild and relatively dry spring so we can work the soil. To be prepared for getting beds ready for planting, I have to get soil tests done, get the tractor looked over by the mechanic, have the tiller tines sharpened, and order organic fertilizers, amendments, supplies for drip irrigation, plastic mulch for weed control, and compost for spreading.
This time of the year, it feels a lot like being a runner at the start of a marathon. You're jittery, shaking your legs and arms to keep warm and loose in the early chill at dawn, anxious to get started but a little fearful and uncertain. The pent-up energy nearly drives you crazy, but you know there's no way to start before the gun goes off, so you try to relax. Once that gun does go off, though, it's GO time and the finish line is a long, long way away!
Want to see more from Love 'n Fresh Flowers? Follow Jennie on the farm via Instagram.
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What a great idea of following the farm all year! I can't wait to see what is happening on the farm in February.