Notes from the Field: Spring 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 latest installment of Notes from the Field, we’re taking a peek at life on a local flower farm when spring is in full swing. 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: The sun is coming up earlier and earlier these days, so I'm up and rolling by around 6 AM.
terrain: What color is most prevalent in the fields at the moment?
Jennie: The grass is finally lush green, so the field looks alive again. All the spring flowering trees are bursting with colors. The cherry, apple, and pear trees are all pink and white, while the dogwoods that surround the field are a buttery yellow at the moment. The tulips are at their peak, adding even more color, including cheerful yellow, intense coral, and the palest of blush and spring green. The hoop houses are bursting with anemone and ranunculus blooms in deep orange, vibrant blue-purple, rich merlot, plum, and soft peach. The fritillaria and hellebores are in smoky purples and antiqued greens. Long story short: we are in living color these days!
terrain: What's blooming right now?
Jennie: So much! Tulips, muscari, hellebore, fritillaria, flowering branches galore, ranunculus, anemones, narcissus, hyacinth, and the very first hummingbird poppies. No matter how many seasons I've been doing this flower farming thing, I'm forever amazed at how quickly we can go from zero to sixty with blooms in spring.
terrain: What's about to bloom?
Jennie: The poppies are just starting to bloom. This is one of my favorite crops! We are growing a genus called Icelandic poppies and there are several varieties within that group, including Champagne Bubbles and Hummingbirds. Who wouldn't be excited about flowers with those fascinating names? They have tissue paper thin petals that are translucent in the sunlight, so they seem to glow as they sway on their long, slender stems.
terrain: What are you planting right now?
Jennie: All the seeds we sowed in the greenhouse in late winter are now plump, green babies that have been transplanted to the field in long, tidy rows-- hundreds of feet long with a thousand or more plants in each row. April is the time for transplanting annual crops such as agrostemma, Queen Anne's lace, dianthus, scabiosa, cerinthe, sweet peas, snapdragons, lupine, daucus, buplerum, cardoons, lisianthus, calendula, feverfew, and more. We are also planting some perennials to fill in holes from anything that died out last season or over the winter. We're refreshing our aquilegia and lunaria beds right now with a fresh batch of seedlings.
terrain: What did you enjoy most about today?
Jennie: Simply feeling the warm sun on the back of my shoulders while I was planting. There's been a string of perfect spring days lately, which has been pure heaven for working outside in the field. The breezes are still a bit chilly, which is a great foil to the heat of the bright sun. Later in the summer, I will not be enjoying that sun on my shoulders nearly as much!
terrain: What proved to be the most challenging?
Jennie: After a morning of gorgeous weather, an intense thunderstorm rolled through in the afternoon. We got hit by 70 MPH wind gusts plus severe downpours. Storms like that can be really scary when you're working out in a big, wide-open field. The wind was coming from a direction that is very dangerous for our greenhouses, which are essentially giant sheets of plastic over metal frames. Wind like that can get under the plastic and twist and snap the rigid steel frames like toothpicks. So my crew and I had to run around frantically to close all the doors and sides and throw ropes over the tops to keep the plastic from lifting up. It was intense and got our adrenaline pumping. Fortunately, the storm left as quickly as it came, and we were back to bright blue skies an hour later, even if we were a bit soggy.
terrain: Name 5 flowers are you thinking about the most right now.
Tulips: Because when they are in peak bloom like they are now, we have to harvest them literally every hour since they open so fast. It's exhausting.
Pieris japonica: Because it's our go-to green/filler this time of the year, and I never have enough of it. I'm wondering how many more bushes I should plant for next year so I'll finally have enough!
Flowering shrubs: Because I'm placing an order for a couple thousand more plants to add to our already-extensive collection.
Fritillaria: Because it's blowing my mind with how fast it has gone from dormant to full bloom and how beautiful it is!
Dogwood: Because it's just starting to bloom and it's one of my favorite flowering branches for design work.
terrain: It's the end of the day. How do you feel in 1 word?
terrain: What is tomorrow going to bring?
Jennie: More of the same, in the best possible way. The weather looks perfect again for planting, so we'll just keep getting more and more transplants into the ground. And we'll continue to harvest tulips by the thousands!
terrain: What's the next big project on the farm?
Jennie: Besides getting baby plants into the ground, building a covered, yet open-air, design area under the tall pine trees at the farm. During the summer, it gets pretty warm inside our design cottage, so I want to have a space outside in the shade where the natural breeze will cool us as we work. We'll use it for our popular floral design workshops too, and maybe some intimate farm dinners. I have this vision of hanging recycled old brass chandeliers (like the kind you find in a 1970's dining room) all over the place -- from the ceiling and from the tree branches -- and letting them age in the elements until they're the perfect patina. Stay tuned!
Want to see more from Love 'n Fresh Flowers? Follow Jennie on the farm via Instagram.