It’s hard to believe that a whole year has already flown by, but at the same time it seems like just yesterday that I was signing the mountain of advanced copies in our garage.So many wonderful things have happened in the last year and the book was a big part of it all. To celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the book release, we’re throwing a little party here on the blog. I’m taking a look back at the past year, giving away some Cut Flower Garden goodies and giving thanks to the many people who helped make the book possible.
First, let me share a fun little infographic summarizing some of the incredible statistics related to the book:
I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to see that the book has been translated into German and to learn that a Korean and Russian version are in the works too. And it’s incredible to see the many far-flung places across the globe that this little book has traveled. That’s all thanks to you and this amazing international seasonal flower community!
The book also inspired an entire line of Cut Flower Garden gifts created in partnership with our publisher, Chronicle Books. Known as ancillary products in the publishing world, this beautiful collection of paper goods includes a daily planner, a wall calendar, a 3- pack of notebooks, notecards, an inspiration journal and even a fancy puzzle.
Longtime blog readers will likely remember that we decided to pursue a somewhat nontraditional route for promoting the book. That was not always the plan though. The Floret Team and I originally had cooked up the crazy idea of loading everyone up in the camper (including Jill and Susan’s toddlers) to do a wild cross-country book tour.
We were going to turn our RV into a bookmobile on wheels. We even got the washi tape out and a plotted our course on a map, and planned to visit a ton of flower friends along the way.
Reality soon set in and we realized that there was no way we could pull that crazy idea off. So we scrapped our original plan and came up with a new plan that some people thought was even crazier: a book promotion tour…but without actually going anywhere. We focused the bulk of our marketing efforts on pre-release promotions.
Then, once the book was released, we launched a “virtual book tour,” and didn’t do a single in-person promotional event. Incredibly, and thankfully, our strategy worked! In fact, it was so successful, that our publisher has used it as case study.
Looking back, the entire process of creating the book was such a roller coaster of emotions.
There were so many highs. Like, the initial euphoria of inking the book deal with Chronicle Books. The excitementwhen ordering thousands of bulbs to grow exclusively for the book. The relief when turning in the final manuscript. The joy in holding the book in my hands for the first time. The excitement upon learning that the book had most pre-orders of any book, of any genre in Chronicle’s history. The thrill of seeing the book on the shelf of local bookstores. And the surprise when it was listed as a top seller on Amazon in the garden book category.
But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t quite a few lows too. Like, the dread of spending a beautiful day in front of the computer rather than in the garden. The fatigue and sleep deprivation during big editing deadlines. The frustration when Amazon displayed the book as backordered the day it was released because they didn’t order enough copies. Writing, planning, producing, editing and promoting the book was such a massive and difficult undertaking. But in the end, all of the late nights and 4 a.m. wake up calls were totally and absolutely worth it. No question.
But the most rewarding part of it all is learning that the book has inspired so many people around the world to get their hands in the dirt, plant more flowers and cultivate more beauty in their lives. I love hearing how the book prompted readers to grow cosmos for the first time or to try their hand at arranging summer blooms for party or to bring a little nature indoors to enjoy with friends and family.
A huge thanks to all of the independent book stores, garden shops and libraries for making this book available to local communities. Thanks especially to all who sent kind words, posted heartfelt reviews, shared personal stories, tagged #floretbook on Instagram and simply sent virtual high fives. Your enthusiastic support truly means the world to me.
In celebration of the 1 year anniversary around the farm and Shop, here’s what we’re doing:
All copies of Cut Flower Garden sold via the Floret Shop this week will receive 5 free packets of seeds plus a special surprise! To get the extra goodies, orders must be placed by Friday March 9th.
We’re also giving away three goodie boxes filled with Cut Flower Garden treats including a signed copy of the book, a deluxe assortment of Floret seeds, our brand new 3-pack of Cut Flower Garden notebooks (one is lined, one has graph paper, and one has blank sheets) plus lots of other surprises. To enter, simply leave a comment below. In your comment, share your all time favorite flower. We’ll randomly choose three winners next Sunday and announce them here.
Thank you for your steadfast support and for joining me in this celebration!
The days are finally getting noticeably longer and the change in seasons is on the horizon. I’ve had a terrible case of spring fever this year after spending the winter dreaming and scheming about all the possibilities for the acreage on our new farm.
On a recent morning walk around the property I spotted a few brave blooms pushing up through the cold earth: my treasured hellebores! As some of the very first perennials to bloom in my cut flower garden, they are always joyful sight and a sure sign that spring is on the way.
For years, come mid winter, all of my gardening friends would be crawling around in their flower beds, heads cocked to the sky, admiring the pretty nodding flower of their prized hellebores. I would usually get down in the mud too and halfheartedly admire the crop. But for some reason, they just didn’t have the same effect on me that they did other gardeners.
That was until I started growing my own. Now every winter you’ll find me crawling around like a fool in my shade garden, oohing and aahing over the delicate nodding blossoms too. If we have company, I’ll make them get down low and experience the magic with me. Then I’ll hack off a handful of flowering stems and send them home a big ole bouquet. I admit, I was late to join what I call the Hellebore Appreciation Society. Are you a member yet?
Hellebores, also commonly called lenten rose, are super easy to grow and extremely long-lived. These little beauties bloom from mid to late winter all the way through early summer. Hellebores come in a gorgeous array of colors in array of shades including pink, mauve, an almost-black burgundy, green, buttery yellow and creamy whites. Some of my favorites include those frilly double and those with delicately freckled blooms.
These perennial plants prefer well-drained, rich, organic soil. Hellebores thrive in the shade, making them a great choice if your garden doesn’t have full sun. Their rough, serrated leaves also make them resistant to deer and other critters. Hellebores take a few years to become established, so don’t plan on harvesting a lot of blooms the first year or two.
You can sometimes find hellebores at garden centers, but expect to pay premium prices. Most varieties will reseed, but since they are hybrids, you never know what you’ll get. Barry Glick (aka the Hellebore King) at Sunshine Farm & Gardens is a great source for hard-to-find hellebores.
Years ago I planted 50 baby hellebores on the north side of our greenhouses. It’s the perfect shady spot, protected from harsh wind and temperature extremes.
Each winter, before the flowers emerge I spread a thick layer of compost around the plants as an amendment. It also doubles as mulch, keeping weeds down for the remainder of the year. When new growth starts to emerge in mid winter, I go through and remove all of the tattered, ugly leaves so that floral display is more visible.
The number one question I get asked by flower lovers and designers, is how to get the blooms to last longer in the vase. Have you ever cut a handful of near perfect blossoms, brought them inside where they looked amazing, only to find them completely wilted and dead the next morning?
Well, here’s the secret for getting your cut hellebores to last in the vase: it’s all about practicing patience and harvesting them at the proper stage. I know this is hard! Trust me, I’ve broken this rule a lot, but every time I harvest them too early, the beautiful flowers rarely last more than a day. If you can just wait a little longer you be handsomely rewarded with long lasting cut flowers.
The key to telling a ripe hellebore from an unripe one is by checking the center of the flower. You’re looking for blooms that have dropped their stamens and started to produce seed pods. The more developed the seed pod, the longer the flower will hold.
You see the blossoms on the left side of the photo above? Those guys are “ripe” and the flowers on the right are not. I know, the ones on the right are prettier; but don’t be fooled, they won’t last like you think the will. The next two images show more examples of blooms at the proper stage for cutting.
I’ve heard from so many florists that the cut stems they get from their wholesalers are almost always unripe. Many have reported that they’ve had the flowers crash more often than not, and no longer want to use them in arrangements because they are too nervous.
Meanwhile, some farmer-florists swear by a method of post-harvest care for unripe flowers that involves cutting a long, shallow slit along two sides of the stem. Have you tried this method or do you have any special tips or tricks that you use to lengthen the vase life? Have a favorite hellebore cultivar I should add to my garden? I’d sure love to hear your experience with this flower in the comments below.
Earlier this week, I shared a newly expanded list of my top DO’s and DON’Ts when it comes to starting seeds. Today I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite hardy annual flowers that can be sown early inside to get a jump start on the growing season.
Among the many other benefits of transplanting plants that you started from seed indoors (versus direct seeding in your garden or field) is that it enables you to transplant strong, healthy plants exactly where you want them. Plus, established plants generally experience less pressure from weeds and pests.
If you have access to a greenhouse or an indoor space where you can rig-up some simple grow lights, there are a number of flowers that you can start indoors. For many varieties, you won’t want to start seeds until 6-8 weeks prior to your last frost. (If you are not sure of your area’s frost-free dates, you can enter your zip on Dave’s Garden site which will provide you with an estimate).
There are a number of hardy annual flowers, however, that you can start indoors even earlier, which is great for gardeners itching to get their hands back in the dirt this time of year. Hardy annuals (also called cool season or cold tolerant flowers) generally prefer cooler growing conditions and young plants can tolerate a light frost. Most can be transplanted prior to your last frost, typically as soon as the ground can be worked. Just don’t forget to harden-off your baby plants prior to transplanting.
Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella papillosa): This versatile plant produces both beautiful flowers and unusual pods. Designers drool over the the black pods while I adore the green in mixed bouquets and arrangements. Pods can also be dried and look lovely in fall bouquets. Nigella seeds are most often direct seeded, as they dislike having their roots disturbed, but they can be started early indoors and carefully transplanted into your garden. Because their bloom window is relatively short, I recommend multiple succession sowings of these beauties. A few of my favorites are ‘African bride’ and ‘Cramer’s Plum’ and my Starry Night custom blend (pictured above). Another must-have for the cut flower garden is ‘Transformer’ which features airy, wispy foliage and small, golden yellow flowers.
Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis): Each and every Bells of Ireland plant churns out masses of beautiful, fragrant stems that make bouquets look lush and vibrant. Bells of Ireland seeds have a reputation for being hard to germinate, but the key is providing a cold treatment. To grow, we pre-chill the seed in the freezer or put freshly sowed trays outside for a few weeks before returning them to the heat. I know some growers that have great success starting their Bells of Ireland by first placing their seeds on moistened paper towel in a ziplock bag and then they stick the seeds in the refrigerator for a few weeks before sowing them in trays. Whichever method you choose, germination can sometimes be slow and erratic, so be patient.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus): For many years we would thousands of snapdragons for natural grocery stores and sell every useable stem in the patch! Madame Butterfly snapdragons are among my favorites. This gorgeous group of ruffled butterfly-type blooms is one of our most requested and best loved crops of the summer! Our buyers would always jump up and down clapping when the first bunches were delivered.
Snapdragon seeds are pretty easy to germinate and grow, but be forewarned: the seeds are teeny tiny and can make you feel like you are going crosseyed. Sowing them takes a steady hand and a bit of patience, but it is totally worth it when you see the pretty blooms later in the season. Be sure to barely cover them and water them from the bottom (see our Seed Starting 101 photo tutorial for more details) until they are big enough to withstand a heavier overhead drink.
Sweet Peas: These sweet little blooms hold a huge space in my heart and an even bigger space in my garden. My longtime favorites have been ‘Nimbus,’ ‘Mollie Rilstone’ and ‘Erewhon’ (pictured above). After recently expanding our line of specialty sweet pea seeds, my favorites list has grown considerably. New cultivars that stole my heart include ‘Mr. P ‘, ‘Promise’ and ‘Sir Jimmy Shand‘. A while back I wrote an in-depth Sweet Pea Roundup post with tons of information on how to grow sweet peas, so be sure to read it for some serious sweet pea inspiration.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea): My two favorite foxgloves are Camelot Cream and Dalmation Peach and unlike biennials, these two cultivars will bloom without any cold which means they can be grown as an annual. Like snapdragons, foxglove seeds are tiny and can be washed away easily, so be sure to plant in pre-moistened seed starting or potting mix or bottom water to protect this precious seed.
Dusty Miller (Cineraria maritima): One of the most productive and unique foliage plants around, this special Dusty Miller features tall, thick stems with large, smooth-edged silver leaves. Seed is sometimes slow to start; bottom watering is recommended until plants emerge. Seedlings do not look silver when very young but color up as they mature.
Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule): The brilliant silk-like petals and citrusy scent of these beauties are intoxicating and they add a romantic element to any bouquet. There are lots of poppies to choose from, but some of my favorites include Champagne Bubbles, and Sherbet Mix. Poppy seed is tiny and can be washed away easily, so be sure to plant in pre-moistened seed starting or potting mix and bottom water rather than overhead water to protect this precious seed from being washed away.
Chinese forget-me-nots (Cynoglossum amabile): This unique crop is worth considering both because of their delicate flowers and the fact that they can be successfully grown as annuals. Best known for their blue hue (like ‘Blue Showers’, above left) they also come in a lovely soft pink color,(‘Mystic Pink’, above right). Be sure to get new seed every year since freshness is vital to good germination with this crop. Also, sow twice as many as you’ll need because germination can be quite irregular. Read my past Flower Focus post on this great flower.
Larkspur: This is of the easiest hardy annual varieties to start from seed. I particularly love ‘Earl Gray’ and our new Summer Skies Mix, a Floret custom color blend. Last summer I fell in love with Larkspur ‘Smokey Eyes‘ (pictured above) which has icy pale lavender petals delicately edged with green. I generally direct seed it into the field in the fall and then follow with two rounds of transplants that I start indoors, one in late winter and then one in early spring.
Dianthus: This workhorse of the garden is such an import crop for us that while it isn’t a personal favorite (too bright!) I still plant and pick row after row all season long. The Dianthus ‘Amazon’ and the ‘Sweet’ series are both consistent performers with great stem length and nice sized blooms. Unlike biennial Dianthus, neither require cold temps to set flowers so they can be grown as annuals.
Stock (Matthiola incana): One stem of stock in a bouquet provides a delicious spicy scent that will stop hurried customers dead in their tracks. Stock comes in a wide range of colors and will withstand cold temperatures, making them a great choice for late winter seed starting, even in cooler climates. This is a great flower for small scale flower farmers with season extension structures such as a hoophouse, high tunnel or caterpillar tunnel. Because stock blooms early in a protected structure, it can greatly expand your spring sales window. Stock comes in a wide range of colors, but my favorites include ‘Apricot‘ and ‘Malmaison Pink’.
Bachelor’s Buttons (Centaurea cyanus):I have a love-hate relationship with these guys. I love their pretty wildflower blooms in early summer bouquets but I confess that I really hate picking them. I love them. I hate them. Then I love them again because they bloom when most of the rest of the field is still bare. No cutting garden is complete without at least a little patch of Bachelor’s Buttons, especially ‘Classic Fantastic’ or ‘Classic Magic.’
In you live in a mild climate, many hardy annuals can be direct sown in the garden in late summer/early fall, typically 6-8 weeks prior to your first frost. The plant will form foliage that will overwinter and then send up flower spikes in the spring and bloom much earlier than tender annuals. If you live in a cold climate and have limited space to start seeds indoors, I recommend learning more about winter sowing techniques.
If you love hardy annuals, be sure to snag one of our special Hardy Annual Seed Collections available exclusively in the Floret Shop (but hurry–there are only a few left!). This special collection is packaged in a cute reusable gift tin and includes a great grouping of six easy-to-grow cool summer annuals.
Whether you are ready to start seeding today, or simply looking for inspiration to round out your seed order, be sure to add a few of these favorites into your fields and cutting gardens. After the dark gray days of winter, your spring harvest of beautiful, bountiful blooms will be that much sweeter!
Every year around mid February, I am ready for winter to be over and I yearn to get my hands dirty and to dig in the soil again. While most of the field work is still several weeks away, there is plenty to do in preparation for the season ahead. First and foremost on the late winter to-do list: sow seeds.
Starting your own seeds is a great way to get a jump on the season. It also gives you access to hundreds of specialty flowers that you won’t find at your local nursery or big box store. Plus, it is the most affordable way to fill a cutting garden fast.
I start roughly 90 percent of my seeds inside the greenhouse. If you don’t have a greenhouse, don’t worry. A simple wire racking system rigged with lights will work just fine. The first few years I grew flowers, I didn’t have a greenhouse and I started all of my seeds in the basement, on shelves, under lights. It was easy, inexpensive and a great way to grow lots of plants in a small space.
Starting seeds indoors allows me to transplant the flowers as larger plants once the weather has warmed. It also helps cut down on weeds, since I’m planting established plants that have a better chance of contending with the weeds and crowding or shading them out.
I’ve learned a lot about seed starting over the years and I’ve found some pretty lame ways to waste expensive seed and lots of creative ways to kill baby plants. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing trays of beautiful little baby flowers go downhill before my eyes because I overwatered, underwatered, or got too excited about transplanting and didn’t properly harden them off. Learning the hard way isn’t the most fun way to start seeds, so hopefully you can avoid making these same mistakes.
I’ve put together a list of some Do’s and Don’t when it comes to seed starting. This list of quick tips is meant to complement other resources we’ve created (be sure to read to the bottom for links) plus help you learn from some of my greatest seed starting blunders.
DO tamp down the soil into your containers or cell packs. Then pack it down a teeny bit more. By pressing down on the soil, you not only eliminate air pockets that little rootlets don’t like, but you also make it so much easier to remove your baby plants once they are ready to transplant. I remember mangling a whole mess of baby snapdragons because I had been sloppy about filling the flats with the soil. When it came time to transplant, instead of popping the plants out with a nice solid chunk of soil attached, the soil separated from the roots and I ended up with a crumbly mess and traumatized plants.
DO use fine vermiculite to cover seeds. Rather than use regular potting mix to cover seeds that need darkness to germinate, I prefer to use fine vermiculite. Potting soil often forms a crust on the top of the tray, which can wick water away, rather than soak down in.
DON’T forget to moisten the seed starting mix prior to adding your seeds. If you add your seeds to dry potting mix and then try to overhead water, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll send your seeds floating to the corners of the container. If they are really tiny like Iceland poppies or snapdragons, it is easy to wash them away.
DON’T start your seeds too early. In the rush to get growing, it is easy to fall into the trap of starting all your seeds all at once. If you read the seed packets or catalog descriptions, you’ll note that it is recommended to start some slow-growing flowers earlier (10-12 weeks before your last frost) than others (4-6 weeks). If your frost-free date isn’t until mid-May, for example, you’ll want to start your foxglove now, but hold off on fast-growing, heat loving zinnias until later. One year I totally jumped the gun and planted zinnias way too soon and I had plants busting out of their pots, becoming root bound because they had no where to go. They were ready to be transplanted outside, but the spring frosts hadn’t yet passed, so I had to throw them all away.
DO use bottom heat to get your seeds started. It is amazing how much faster and how much better seeds germinate with a little heat at their feet. Propagation mats work great for this. If you are a home gardener or small scale flower farmer you can get by with just one or two mats. Leave your seed starting trays on the heat mat only until they germinate. Once sprouted, move the tray off the heat and make room for the next seed starting tray(s).
DON’T seed more than one type of flower in the tray, especiallyif you plan to use a humidity dome. Germination rates vary by variety so it is best to have all the cells filled with the same flowers, that way you won’t be forced to remove the dome too soon for a row of early germinators or too late for those slow to germinate. Plus, having variable plant heights in the same tray makes adjusting the height of the lights over the trays difficult (shorter plants within the tray can get leggy when light is adjusted for the taller plants).
DON’T forget to label your seed tray. Avoid the curse of the “mystery plants” by making sure to always write the name of the flower you are sowing and the date it was sown on the back of a waterproof plant tag (avoid wooden popsicle sticks) with a pencil, grease pencil or super-duper strength Sharpie marker. I always stick the label in the same corner of every seed tray, so they line up uniformly.
DO remove the plastic humidity dome after your seeds germinate. Domes are really only used on the trays until the seeds germinate, which for some varieties may be as few as a few days. Once your plants have popped up, they need lots of air and light. Left on too long, domes can kill seedlings. Note: some gardeners recommend “weaning” their trays from a humidity dome by propping the dome open for a day or two before fully removing it. Similar to the process of hardening off more mature plants, this gradual acclimation to the heat and humidity outside the dome can reduce plant shock.
DO water your plants from the bottom when possible. Standard seed starting sets contain three pieces: a humidity dome, a cell pack layer with drainage holes, and a tray that serves as a liner for the cell packs. By nesting your cell packs (or whatever container you choose to use) in the waterproof tray, you can then add water to the tray which allows the soil to essentially siphon or wick up the water. This keeps water off of your leaves, helps prevent problems with fungus and disease, plus it focuses water where it is needed most, at the root level.
DON’T underestimate the amount of light tiny plants need to grow. If you use grow lights, be sure to adjust them so that they are no more than three inches above the tops of your plants. When I was a newbie, this was not intuitive to me. At all! As a result, I grew lots of gangly, leggy plants because they weren’t getting enough light.The bulbs were simply too far away from the foliage canopy. Once I realized my mistake, I adjusted the lights to about an inch or so above the top of the leaves (it seems really close, but trust me this is better for the plant). Once I had the lights adjusted, I found that the plants grew so much better, with nice strong stems.
DON’T underestimate the amount of attention your young plants need. Like a newborn baby, your baby plants are going to need more care, feeding and attention than you anticipate (but without the dirty diapers or late night feedings). Going away–even for a short weekend trip– will likely mean finding a reliable “plant sitter” who knows how to properly water your plants, remove humidity domes if necessary and otherwise care for your babies while you are gone.
DO invest in automatic timers. If you are using grow lights to start your seeds indoors, you’ll want to invest in an inexpensive timer that will automatically turn on the light for a preset amount of time each day. Otherwise it is too easy to forget to turn on your lights and turn off your lights at the same time each day. Ideally, you’ll have your lights on for 14 to 16 hours each day.
DO “harden off” your plants before you transplant them. I am embarrassed to admit just how many plants I fried because I didn’t do this key step. In my excitement to transplant my baby plants into the field, I didn’t give them any chance to acclimate to their new outside environment. “Hardening off” is simply a process of allowing your plants time to gradually adjust to their new environment.
Think about it: your little plants have been in a warm and cozy, temperature-controlled environment for weeks, or months. If you suddenly take them from that space and expose them to bright sun, wind and temperature swings in the open garden, it is stressful to the plant. This step often requires lots of moving plants around, but trust me, transplant shock is real and deadly and taking the time and effort to allow your starts to adjust will make for happier, stronger plants and more flowers.
DON’T beat yourself up if you make mistakes. This is probably THE most important tip. Seriously, unless you are super lucky or already have a magical green thumb, you’re probably going to kill some plants. $#!+ happens. It is totally ok! If you follow these tips, you are sure to make FAR fewer fatal mistakes than I did during the early days. Just know that mistakes are inevitable. That is part of the joy in gardening is learning what systems work well for your situation, growing system and your climate.
Starting your own seeds can be intimidating for new gardeners, but once you get the hang of it there’s nothing to fear and it can be great fun. One of my goals here on the blog is to provide you with the best information, to help you grow great flowers and hopefully dispel the notion that success is only possible for professionals.
In addition to some of the tips I’m sharing today, I want to make sure you know about a couple other sources of info here on the Floret site:
For many local flower lovers, Valentine’s Day can be frustrating. The mountains of generic red roses imported from faraway lands that flood stores this time of year are uninspired and toxic for the planet and the people that harvest them. Meanwhile, early February is a time when most small flower farmers are focusing on getting greenhouses and grow-lights set up for the season ahead. Few have flowers in bloom at this time of year.
But thanks in part to the increased awareness and interest in seasonal blooms, consumers have a number of creative ways to get their flower fix or otherwise show their love of local flowers…even in February.
The Floret Team and I put together a few seasonally-inspired Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the flower lover in your life:
A bouquet subscription is a great way to support local flower farms and shower someone you love with locally-grown blooms all season long. Similar to a community supported agriculture (CSA) share that veggie farmers have used successfully for years, a flower subscription or bouquet CSA involves making an upfront investment in a flower farm’s harvest for the season. As a subscriber, you receive a weekly, biweekly or monthly bouquet from a local flower farm during the growing season. Most bouquet subscriptions are available for pick-up, but some flower farms even offer delivery. Subscription rates and dates vary by region, but most run June through September. To find flower farms or floral designers in your region who specialize in seasonal flowers and offer bouquet subscriptions, be sure to check out Floret’s Farmer-Florist Collective (viewable on a desktop computer) or the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.
How to Window Box by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit. The duo behind the award-winning blog, The Horticult, now have a new book out on creating outdoor–and indoor– window boxes in colorful, fun and inventive ways.
While not a flower book, the upcoming book Craft the Rainbow by the talented blogger Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built is sure to inspire. What started as an Instagram hashtag has grown into a new book full of colorful rainbow-inspired projects for the home.
Sweet Pea Seed Collections for your Sweetheart
Seed packets combine beautifully with other gifts or tuck easily into a card. The promise of future flowers are sure to warm any flower lover’s heart.
In honor of Valentine’s Day we’re offering a limited number of special sweet pea seed collections.
Each collection includes five varieties and enough seed to plant a 15-20 foot long double row of sweet peas in your garden. Featuring subtle ombre shades of color, each collection was designed to look beautiful in both the garden and the vase and comes in a beautiful reusable metal tin. Quantities are limited, so be sure to snag some for your sweetheart.
Any flower lover will love to show off their seasonal blooms in a beautiful hand made stoneware crock or vase from the talented artists at Farmhouse Pottery. Perfect for the kitchen counter or dining room table these custom vases were designed specifically for flower arranging using garden grown flowers and lend themselves to lush, loose, organic arrangements. Each hand thrown piece was created using old world techniques, by our friends Zoe and James Zillian in their studio in Woodstock Vermont.
Finally, another great way to get a flower fix in February is through a Grown in the USA bouquet from Farmgirl Flowers. Based in San Francisco, Farmgirl Flowers sources seasonal flowers, wraps them in reclaimed burlap and delivers them throughout the Bay Area (sometimes via bicycle or scooter) and now ships nationwide. I sent myself flowers for my birthday last year and was blown away by the quality and the impeccable care that went into the bouquet I received. Their dedication to supporting domestic growers and sustainable sourcing of flowers is inspiring both as a creative entrepreneur and as a woman in business.
With so many creative and beautiful options, there’s no need to resort to boring red roses. Instead, shower your sweetheart (or yourself) with a gift that shows your love of seasonal flowers.
We have grown thousands of different flowers in search of the very best varieties for cut flower production, particularly those that are easy to grow, have long stems, a great vase-life, unique coloring, and a delicate appearance or fragrance. The flowers featured in the Floret Shop are all ones that we grow, love, and highly recommend.
The response so far has been beyond our expectations and many products sold out immediately. We quadrupled our dahlia tuber quantities from last year but many have already sold out. I am so sorry if you missed ones that you were hoping for!
**Please note that we are unable to ship dahlias outside of the United States.** No exceptions. If you live outside the United States and check out with dahlias in your cart, you’re entire order will be refunded. Dahlias do not ship until April in order to protect them from cold damage in transit. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate requests to ship early.
Floret Seeds can be shipped to Canada, all countries in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Iceland. Australia has a 50 packet limit. View our Shipping pageformore details.
Lastly, products that are listed as “Sold Out” will not be restocked in 2018. Products listed “Coming Soon” will be available later this winter. Be sure to click the “Notify Me” button on any Coming Soon product that you are interested and you will be the first to know when it’s back in stock.
After so many months of hard work, we are so excited to finally be able to share these incredible varieties with you. Here’s to an abundant and flower-filled 2018!
It’s a rare treat to have the entire Floret team all in one place, since a few of our members work remotely. Susan lives in Ohio, Ellen is down in Texas and Jill is up in Bellingham. Everyone came in for the final days of launching our new Floret Online Workshop and it was wonderful to have the whole gang together.
Getting to sit around the table and actually work together has been such a gift. Over the past few days we’ve been reading aloud so many of the wonderful emails pouring in from all over the world surrounding our online course launch. The enthusiasm, the gratitude, the positivity and the excitement has been food for our souls. Husbands gifting the course to their wives, grandparents surprising their grandchildren, strangers sponsoring other growers in need, institutions and colleges training their staff, the list goes on and on. I know I speak for the entire team when I say we feel so honored and blessed to do this work.
Today after a little rest and a lot of reflection, we wrote up a big list of all the amazing things that our small but mighty team has accomplished this past year. I knew we had tackled a lot, but I had no idea the magnitude of our combined efforts until I saw it all written down in one place.
Here are a few of the high points: In March we released Cut Flower Garden and broke pre-sales records with our publisher, then in April our workshops were featured in The New York Times. Between April and June we hosted 4 on farm workshop and pitched our second book. In early July we came together for our first annual Floret Team summit, then spent the summer re-building a new online shop and expanded our seed line by 100 varieties (wait until you see them!). On October 5th after many miracles we closed on our new 24 acre farm and this past week we launched our online workshop that has been a full year in the making.
This has certainly been our biggest, fullest, most incredible year yet and I’m in absolute awe of everything that our little team has done. I won’t lie, it has been a ton of work. We all put in a lot of late nights, early mornings and weekend time in order to make this all happen. But we did it! And it feels really great to see all of our hard work making a real difference in the world.
We had grand plans of launching our holiday product line early next week. On paper it looked totally doable, but in real life, everyone is ready for (and deserves!) a little downtime to be with their families for the holiday. So we’ve decided to push the date back by a week so that we can all rest up and recharge before diving in again.
As we head into Thanksgiving week, I already have gratitude on my mind. I am so blessed to get to work with these amazing people every day and have the opportunity to pour our collective energy into making the world a more beautiful place.
A huge shout out to Team Floret, the hardest working, biggest hearted, most dedicated crew around. You guys amaze me!
And so much appreciation to everyone who sent us an email, a private message or left us a comment this past week. Your kind words were totally what we needed.
Over the years, I’ve turned to online courses to dig deeper into all sorts of different topics ranging from creative photography to marketing to copywriting. Online courses can be a great way to learn more about a particular topic from the comfort of your own home.
I’ve spent more mornings than I can count perched at the dining room table with my laptop and a strong cup of coffee taking frantic notes as I watched online course videos. I’ve applied so much of what I’ve learned through these transformative courses and my business has benefited tremendously.
When the team and I started putting the pieces together to create the new Floret Online Workshop, I thought back on which online courses were the very best and made a long list the things I loved and wanted to incorporate into ours. I also noted all the things I wanted to do differently for our course. And I’m proud to say that we were able to accomplish all of them–plus more.
Here are a few key things that make the Floret Online Workshop unique.
First and foremost, this is truly a workshop. Unlike some online courses where the instructors upload a few videos and pdf’s and then walk away, the team and I will be right there alongside attendees the entire time. We will be very involved in every aspect of the six week course, sending out weekly lessons, offering live Q&A sessions and posting discussion prompts to engage our flower community.
Complete course packet. This 170 page printed course packet contains a decade’s worth of information and resources on growing a thriving flower farm business.
Even though the workshop is in a digital format, I know how important it is to have a physical copy of the course materials at your finger tips. So we will be mailing out our comprehensive course packets, plus other goodies from the farm so that attendees won’t need a ream of paper and an entire box of ink cartridges to print out the course material.
Lifetime access. The Floret Online Workshop is yours to keep. This is a feature that is really important to me. I’ve signed up for more than a few costly online courses only to learn later that access to the content expires after just one year. In the Floret Online Workshop participants will be able to go back and re-watch the video tutorials season after season, without fear of them disappearing.
100+ Video Tutorials. I am a visual learner and need to see something done, ideally over and over again, for it to sink in. Filmed over the course of a season, we’ll be going behind the scenes to learn all of the key strategies, systems and time-tested techniques that have contributed to Floret’s incredible success. I’ll be sharing all of our valuable small scale flower farming skills, including plant propagation, crop selection, efficient harvesting and packaging techniques, planning the farm and so much more. Each short video tutorial will allow attendees to learn at their own pace, view them in any order and revisit them anytime.
The Floret Learning Community aka “the tribe”. This private online forum is a place where attendees can participate in lively discussions of the workshop content, connect with others in their growing zone or region, post progress photos and ask any and all questions that surface.
Online Support Team. If you have followed Floret for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me talk about Team Floret. I have the immense privilege of working alongside an amazing group of incredibly smart, talented, kind, generous (and hilarious!) teammates every day.
Over the years, I’ve also had the opportunity to have a number of successful flower farmers travel to the farm and join the Floret Team to help teach and support students at our on-farm workshops.
As part of the new Floret Online Workshop, we’ve invited many of these all-star flower farmers to, once again, be a part of Team Floret and share their flower farming experience and expertise with participants. Our team of experienced farmer-florists will be providing additional support, offering guidance and coaching attendees through the six week course.
And what’s so great about this group is that, collectively, they represent diverse zones and climates from the arid desert to extreme mountain elevations to the hot, humid climates of the south. They also bring expertise with various farmer-florist business models, including urban and rural markets in all different regions of the country.
In the new Floret Online Workshop, we pull back the curtain and show you step-by-step how we grow, harvest and sell high quality cut flowers and how we’ve built a thriving, profitable flower business on very little land.
Registration is only open through Thursday November 16th. We would love to have you join us!
Reviewing Floret scholarship applications and preparing this post is one of the highlights of the year here at Floret.
Over the last week, the team and I have been burning the midnight oil as we have poured over all the scholarship essays. The entries were incredibly inspiring and left all of us so excited for the future of the floral industry – on a global level.
We were blown away by the number of applications we received this year. A record breaking 1,996 individuals from 53 different countries and all 50 U.S. states applied for a spot in our upcoming Floret Online Workshop.
This level of international interest this year was beyond anything any of us ever imagined. It came as a bit of a surprise, actually. I am aware of the growing interest in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, but I knew nothing about what has been building in Vietnam, Singapore, Lithuania and so many other countries.
I am humbled and amazed by the fact that our little two-acre farm has inspired folks from as far away as Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe to start growing flowers!
To see a map of submissions, be sure to check out the map below.
I have to say, choosing winners is both exhilarating and heart wrenching. There were so many deserving applicants and narrowing the list felt nearly impossible. This year I pledged five spots and, thanks to the generous sponsorship of an extremely gracious flower friend and past workshop participant, we were able to offer a total of six scholarships.
Before I introduce the winners, I want to first express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to apply for the scholarship. I am incredibly honored that you so willingly shared your aspirations, your dreams and beautiful life stories with me. All week I have been reflecting on the many thoughtful essays, family memories and personal journeys that I read. Some of the submission made me laugh out loud; a few even brought me to tears.
During the process, I was once again reminded of the power that flowers have to tap into our deepest emotions. The amount of joy they create, the comfort they provide, the happiness they inspire, the memories and nostalgia they stir, and the healing that can occur… it really is amazing.
As the team and I read through the submissions, there were a few common themes that surfaced. Here are a few that we noted:
Cultivating beauty in an ugly world. With the news cycle too often dominated by violence and conflict, our gardens are a place where we escape to find peace.
“Now, more than ever, deeper and meaningful connection is needed. Being rooted, staying present and cultivating beauty in the midst of the swirling chaos of the world is made possible when we put our hands to the earth.”
“Dostoevsky once said, ‘beauty will save the world’ and I believe him.”
Flowers as medicine. Gardening keeps you grounded. And flowers have given hope and provided much needed healing to many battling anxiety, depression, illness or incredible, unimaginable loss. There were more than a few misty eyes while reading about journeys into the garden after losing a baby, a husband, a beloved grandparent, or a life upended and home destroyed by hurricanes.
So many heartfelt applications clearly confirmed the old adage that flowers really DO feed the soul.
“Seeds can grow in more than garden soil, they can also be sown in the human heart. Like soil, they can lay dormant there for many years until conditions are just right & then they take hold to grow. My Grandma passed away this year in the month that Shastas bloom. She went to prune her flowers when she died with clippers in hand in the morning sun. She was 104 yrs old, her name was Daisy. Flore Farms has been the rain & sun for the seed that Daisy planted in my heart.”
“Two years ago after the loss of my mother, I sought a life authentic to my heart. Flowers chose me, and I followed curiously.”
“Farming breaks me in half and fills me right back up at the same time.”
Courage, confidence & pursuing a passion. I read many confessions of anxiety and self doubt. There is a sincere desire to step away from something stable but deeply unsatisfying in order to pursue a dream or to carve out more space for the things that bring you joy and make your souls sing. There is excitement, laced with a lot of fear, about starting a new chapter, taking risks and pursuing dreams.
“I put myself a bit on the back burner while working to give my family all of me. Now I would love to give to myself.”
“I’ve dedicated myself to pursuing MY dreams and have decided to stop working so hard for other people’s success.”
“Doing what you love seems to intensify the whole spectrum of your emotions, your senses awaken, you experience life on another level. It’s scary, it’s raw, it’s real. Creating beauty is the hardest work I’ve ever done, but it’s also the truest me, melding the gardener with the artist.”
Community & camaraderie. Many applicants expressed a yearning to connect with a local community of fellow flower lovers and kindred spirits who face similar struggles and share similar dreams.
“Nurturing the tender shoots encourages us to do the same for ourselves and for each other…Providing conditions for growth takes us on an inner journey, as much as an outer one. And celebrating and sharing the harvest joins us together in moments big and small.”
“Flowers foster very strong connections… connections with the Earth, with ourselves, with each other.”
Giving back. The generosity of the flower community is without bounds. Many applicants spoke to the ways in which they plan to pay it forward or other otherwise dedicate a part of their business to help others in need.
Modeling strength for our children. I was struck by the number of essays that referenced the deep desire to model strength, independence and courage with our children and grandchildren.
“I want to show my four children (especially my high-school age daughter) that the learning, growing, and changing process as a human never ends.”
Re-connecting with nature. Gardening and flower farming beckons many to escape soulless desk jobs, computer screens, long commutes and cubicles.
Revitalization & stewardship. There is a deep desire to keep flower farming alive in areas where it has dwindled or introduce it where it is doesn’t exist.
As in years past, the essays included many inspirational and memorable quotes. A few notable ones include:
“Let the Beauty that you Love be the Work that you do.” -Rumi
“I only have 40 summers left to get this right”
“My family laughs when I tell them, ‘I love you more than flowers.’”
“I think that life gently nudges you towards a path you didn’t even know was there.”
“I finally understood that agriculture need not only be about feeding our bodies, but can also feed our souls.”
“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But most of all, the world needs dreamers who do.” -Sarah Ban Branach
“But the heart is made for longing forward.” – Laura Kelly Fanucci
“Happy is she who has the power to gather wisdom from a flower.” – Mary Howitt
I know the anticipation has been building and it’s finally time to introduce Floret’s 2018 Scholarship winners! As you’ll see, there’s an international theme to this year’s winners. This was neither pre-meditated nor expected. While the seasonal flower movement has caught fire here in the United States, it is still very much in its infancy in other corners of the globe. The need for additional information, training and support in other countries is great and became crystal clear as we read through many of the applications.
With the conversion of our training into a digital format, it means making the workshop information available to our scholarship recipients – no matter where they live – will be much easier and much more practical. I can’t tell you how thrilling this is!
Ok, without further ado, please meet the 2018 Floret Scholarship winners:
(L-R: Christy Ralphs, Farah Altamimi, and Rosie & Oscar Winter + family)
Two years ago a serious cancer diagnosis for Christy’s husband meant she had to leave teaching to be home and provide care. After a year, she began to start to dream again and eventually put in a 5000 square foot trial growing patch, named Nourish Gardens, which has provided her with much joy, learning, and connection.
We loved her positive outlook and eagerness to support others in her region. She wrote, “Our seasonal local flower movement in NZ also feels in it’s infancy, so I’ve set up a private FB group to make connections for small diverse growers across NZ and it’s been great to share the passion with others. I’d like to expand my knowledge and networks to help support these growers who have also become friends too.”
Farah Altamimi from Amman, Jordan
As a teenager, Farah bought flower bulbs when most of her peers “were buying makeup.” But feeling trapped by a career she described as “dark and disappointing” and in an effort to avoid a slow descent to depression, Farah made the decision to leave her job and follow her life-long passion. She then rented a ½ acre of land, “went through the overwhelming task of importing proper seed varieties from abroad, and tried everything to absorb every single piece of info I could.”
“As I sow my seeds this Autumn, I also sow hope of a brighter future come spring, when I can be the first cut flower farmer/florist in Jordan. Being from a region of the world plagued with war and pain, NOW is the time for cultivating hope and beauty around us through positive energy. Here in Jordan, where 1/5 of the population are refugees, flowers have been thought of as a luxury item for too long. Shipping charges and high import taxation make flowers unaffordable to the average household. I believe that flowers are food to the soul, radiating positive energy wherever they go. My long-term vision is to produce masses of locally grown flowers at a fraction of the cost of imported ones, making flowers a daily treat available to all. Your scholarship will empower me as a woman, so I can achieve financial independency I have eagerly sought after, but never achieved, in a culture predominated by men. Your generous scholarship is a rare opportunity to get a jump-start at my business project, especially that it is now offered online, Given the honor to attend your course is the ONLY personal growth opportunity available to me here in Jordan, and might as well be the breaking point between success & failure.”
Rosie & Oscar had always dreamed of farming. After moving to a small farm in the Piccadilly Valley a few years ago, the couple started a little roadside stall to sell their excess produce. On a whim one week, Rosie cut some roses from the bushes found on the farm, added carrot flowers and hawthorn leaves, and sold them along with the vegetables. Flowers quickly became their best seller and they later expanded their small flower patch to sell flowers at a city market.
“Flowers found us. Daily we see people uplifted by the medicine that homegrown flowers bring…Flowers and farming was just a hobby for a while, but then last year Rosie lost her job and we were faced with an unexpected crisis. It was a blessing in disguise though as it has meant we almost had no choice but to take a leap of faith and make our farm a business. While opportunities have opened up to us like we never expected, starting a business out of necessity has also meant everything we’ve been doing has been haphazard and without efficient systems. Too often we just hastily throw some seedlings in the ground and hope for the best. Your garden planning kit however has been the best resource for getting us on track this past season, so we know your workshops will be just what we need. We’d love to continue to offer our flowers to people in our region longing to connect with nature, and to create a business to support our family; and would love your help and guidance to get us there.”
(L-R: Masami Lavault, Inna Zvezdina, Katie Koch)
Masami Lavault, Plein Air, Paris, France
Four years ago, Masami quit her job in London to intern on biodynamic farms in Morocco and the UK. As part of her experience, she tended a flower patch and made bouquets for the weekly market. She later returned home after 10 years abroad and did everything she could to find land on which she could build the first urban flower farm in Paris. After a long, rocky process involving “countless sleepless nights and emotional roller-coaster rides” she recently received the keys of a council-owned 1200 m2 plot, in the middle of Paris.
“I do everything I can to make this dream come true: I have stripped down my side-jobs to the bare minimum – half of the week – to have just enough money to pay for my most basic needs. Every extra penny goes into equipment or farm-related expenses. It’s exhausting, and almost asocial at times, but I feel blessed to have the opportunity and privilege to fulfill my dream: I want to honor this….if I’m awarded this scholarship, I know that my business will simply not be the same. Getting the unique chance to learn from experts, at such a critical stage of my project, will massively broaden my skill set, and definitely strengthen my mindset.”
Inna and Konstantin Zvezdina, Fluffy Flower Farm, Moscow, Russia
Inna and Konstantin grow cut flowers near Moscow on a 3 acre piece of land, and are one of just a few flower farmers in Russia.
“We have always dreamt of having a spot of land to be able to grow seasonal flowers with respect to the planet and this year this dream has become a reality. It was such a great coincidence – we bought a piece of land and found Floret who gave us so much inspiration and knowledge to start growing our small business…Russia is a blue ocean for flower farming. We have an ambition, attitude and inspiration to grow…we seek for new ideas in flower farming world-wide, we are hard-workers and we want flower farm business to become our life story. We have created good prospect to grow during our first year of flower farming and we see a lot to be happening in future – today we need some guidance to prioritize and really looking towards getting quality advice from Floret.”
A born and bred Wisconsin native, Katie now rents and farms 1/3 acre of cut flowers in the Central Valley of California. Katie is now entering her third season as a farmer-florist, though she has been growing flowers since she was a child.
“I’ve had so much going on in my life right now that I feel like I’m barely holding it together. Within the last 2 months, I’ve become a single mother to my 2.5 year old and had to move out of our family home. I’m actually moving again in a week to hopefully a more permanent spot. These hard life transitions have very recently given me the fire under my butt to really figure out how to make my business profitable to sustain a life for my son and I. This truly is make it or break it time. I’m trying to utilize all the resources I can, and this Floret Scholarship would be absolutely golden. I want nothing more than to be a successful farmer-florist and model that for my son. The Floret Scholarship would be a huge step in that direction and I’m ready to take it.”
Please join me in congratulating all the winners! All of us here at Floret are so thrilled to have this group join us for the upcoming Floret Online Workshop.
I am so grateful to everyone who completed a scholarship application. Your stories touched us, humbled us, and inspired us more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.