We have such an amazing mix of new and established flower growers joining us from all over the world for the vancouver flower shop
As excited as I am to share all of the information we’ve so carefully put together about plant propagation, succession sowing, and marketing with them, I’m equally excited to watch as students cultivate their own flower community and form friendships with other participants in the course.
When we transitioned our workshops from on-farm, to online, I worried that we would never be able to replicate the same deep personal connections that took place in person. But after hearing from so many people who participated in our online workshop gush about how valuable and meaningful the connections they made through the course, I’ve realized that all of that worrying was for nothing.
One participant wrote, “I think the most unexpected thing was how close the community of support would be in the Floret Online Workshop. It has been so much fun! There’s so much encouragement here and I’ve made some of the sweetest friends. It feels like I’ve known them for years. Lots of kindred hearts! Flower farmers really are some of the kindest people around.”
Over the last year, Floret Online Workshop students have organized their own meet-up events across the country, including a tulip planting workshop in Pennsylvania last fall.
In Melbourne Australia, two students who met online through the workshop, later met “in the real world” and have since collaborated on Floral Acts of Kindness, a project that sources unsold flowers from wholesalers and enlists volunteers to make bouquets for charitable causes and senior citizen homes.
We’ve also heard from attendees who have arranged visits to meet other Floret students and tour their farms while they traveled across the U.S., Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. It’s been such a thrill to see these flower friendships develop and deepen and I’m excited to watch as this year’s class connects.
Along with the many celebrations, there has also been some sadness. We recently learned of the untimely passing of Marion Eckel (pictured below), an active member of the Floret Online Workshop class of 2018. She was described by others in the group as “that voice of unbridled enthusiasm for everyone. She shared in our joys and failures, beautiful blossoms and root rot.”
Marion and a small group of other workshop participants connected both inside and outside the class. She and fellow student Mary Mitchell Turner formed an offshoot group of Floret Online Workshop students described as “19 BFFs who share something together almost every day. We live far from each other…Missouri to Massachusetts…and have never met, but Marion’s death may change that.” Indeed, it did.
Following Marion’s memorial service, Mary wrote that she and another BFF from their Floret Online Workshop attended Marion’s memorial service in Boyds Maryland. Mary made a hydrangea and lisianthus bouquet (pictured below) for the lobby and another BFF from the workshop made two dahlia sprays for either side of the altar.
Following the service, the flower friends met Marion’s family and toured her carefully tended gardens. “Dahlias, zinnias, celosia and snapdragons, all planted and supported as we were taught, were a testament to the learning experience Marion took from the Floret course,” Mary shared.
“I am not sure anyone outside the Floret community could really understand the bond of support we feel for someone we have never met, whose voice we have never heard, whose hand we have never touched…but it is a real bond.” Mary shared. “We have experienced our first year as fledgling flower farmers individually, but together. This wonderful experience is certainly not something I expected when I signed up.”
Marion’s family donated her collection of gardening books, magazines, and seeds to the small group. Mary is now in the process of mailing Marion’s books and seeds to the BFFs from the Floret Workshop in Michigan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Each of the BFF’s will be planting flowers in Marion’s memory this coming spring. What a beautiful tribute to Marion and the perfect example of why flower friends are the best.
Biennials are a unique group of plants that produce only leaves the first year, and in the second year they flower, set seed, and die. This group includes sweet William, foxglove, sweet rocket, and other beloved cottage garden favorites.
What makes these varieties such treasures is that they fill the wide gap between the last of the tulips and the first of the hardy annuals in the garden. Also, the more you pick these blooms, the more they flower. They are real spring workhorses.
Start seeds later than most, at the end of spring, and plant seedlings in the garden at the end of summer. Ideally, plants will have at least 6 to 8 weeks to establish before the first autumn frost.
Plant delivery vancouver, each variety will produce a large clump of foliage before cold weather sets in and then sit dormant through autumn and winter, reawakening to bloom during the later months of spring. Seeds and plants for all these varieties are easy to grow and generally hardy down to 30°F (-1°C).
We will be expanding our range of biennials in the future and would love to know which varieties are your favorites.
Sweet William: Of all the biennials I grow, these sturdy plants are the most productive in the spring garden. While they aren’t a huge showstopper when it comes to looks, they add nice color and fragrance to mixed bouquets and have an extremely long vase life. They also are easy to grow, hardy, and usually quite healthy even with minimal care.
Harvest when just a few flowers are open on a head. This prevents the blossoms in the garden from getting damaged by rain and will give the stems a 2-week vase life.
‘Super Duplex Mix’, an old-fashioned favorite, is both beautiful and hardworking. Highly fragrant, dense flower heads have a hydrangea-like quality and are perfect for mixed bouquets.
This diverse mix includes a high percentage of double flowers in shades of rich maroon, magenta, rose-pink, blush, and white.
Foxglove: There is so much to love about this beautiful and graceful flower. When I was a little girl it was scattered throughout our garden, and I loved watching the hungry bees nestle inside the freckled blooms to gather pollen.
The trick to getting the longest vase life from foxglove is to cut it before the bees find it. When the blooms are pollinated they drop from the stems, so harvest early, when just a few blossoms are open. Expect a vase life of 6 to 8 days if you use flower preservative.
Please note that all parts of foxglove plants are poisonous if ingested. Wear gloves when harvesting and use caution around children and pets.
Most foxgloves are varieties of Digitalis purpurea, the wild species. There are many
varieties to choose from, but my all-time favorites are ‘Alba’ and ‘Apricot Beauty’.
‘Alba’ (D. purpurea, pictured above) is a cottage garden favorite well-loved by pollinators. The long graceful stems of this towering variety are loaded with creamy buds that open to pure snow white.
Unlike other foxgloves, this variety does not have any freckles inside its bell-shaped blooms. They are fantastic for wedding work and displaying en masse.
‘Apricot Beauty’ (D. purpurea, pictured above) is an old-fashioned beauty that pumps out masses of towering stems loaded with freckled peachy-apricot blooms for a solid 2 months from late spring to early summer. We often find bumblebees sleeping in the blooms.
‘Sutton’s Pam’ (D. purpurea) blooms during the same period as ‘Apricot Beauty’. Its stems are smothered in white bell-shaped blooms with striking plum-colored throats. Hummingbirds love this variety!
While most foxgloves are biennials, two new hybrids, ‘Dalmatian Peach’ and ‘Camelot Cream’, flower the first year from an early sowing of seed and will also produce the second year if left in place.
I discovered ‘Dalmatian Peach’ (pictured above, left) a few years ago and have grown it abundantly ever since. The towering stems boast soft peachy-apricot blooms that glow from the inside out. An excellent addition to bouquets and wedding work, this salmony beauty is a must-have in any cutting garden.
‘Camelot Cream’ (pictured above, right) produces masses of towering stems with creamy, freckled blooms for 2 months from late spring to early summer.
‘Cafe Cream’ (D. lanata, pictured above) is loaded with creamy, hood-like blooms brushed with golden mustard yellow and intricately detailed with chocolate veining.
Dark, upright stems look as if they are covered in miniature lady slipper orchids—the effect is absolutely mesmerizing. This long-lasting cut is perfect for bouquets and flowers later than most of the D. purpurea varieties.
‘Excelsior’ (pictured above) is a classic, old-fashioned mix of rich purple, lilac, lavender-blush, and white spires with freckled chocolate and white throats. It looks identical to wild foxglove. Stunning in the garden and when arranged en masse.
‘Obscura Sunset’ (D. obscura, pictured above) is a gorgeous, unusual variety. Thin, sturdy dark chocolate-colored stems are covered in rusty red bells with glowing orange-copper throats.
Knee-high plants are on the shorter side, but what they lack in stature they make up for in their versatile coloring. This variety is perfect for flower arranging and is extremely long-lasting.
Sweet Rocket: This cottage garden staple comes in white, violet, or a mix, which occasionally includes a pretty mauve pink. Easy to grow, it’s one of the first flowers in the spring garden not grown from a bulb. Blooms are highly scented and look fantastic in bouquets.
The more you harvest, the more these plants flower. After blooms fade, stems are loaded with pretty seedpods resembling thin, shiny green beans. I like to mix them into bouquets as well.
Note that stems do lengthen a bit in water after harvest, as tulips do, so if you’re using these in bouquets, snug them down a little lower than seems right at first to allow for elongation. Sweet Rocket will look good in the vase for a week or more and needs no special care.
We’ve been growing ‘Pale Lavender’, a hard-to-find variety, for many years, and it’s one of the most beautiful biennials that blooms on our farm each spring. Towering stems are loaded with billowy flowers that are well-loved by pollinators.
This old-fashioned favorite is the palest lavender-mauve with a slightly darker eye. Blooms have a sugary candy scent that lingers in the evening air.
Canterbury bells: It’s easy to see why this classic is still a must-have for any cut flower grower. Both the single and the double varieties produce huge stems loaded with balloon-shaped blooms in white, pink, lavender, and purple.
The plants are quite bulky, so stake them with netting at planting time to keep them upright in heavy spring rains.
Pick when the top bud is colored and just opening. It is not unheard-of for these stems to last 2 weeks in a bouquet.
Money plant: Grown primarily for its beautiful seedpods, this spring treasure thrives in less-than-ideal conditions, including shade and poor soil. Though flowers can be harvested in early spring, the window of bloom is so short that this isn’t a reliable flower crop.
I love to use the seedpods when they’re green; as they age a little on the plant, they take on a purple cast. In addition to the typical white-flowering plant that produces green pods, there is a purple-flowering type that produces darker pods. We plan to add both to our seed inventory in the future.
Each plant produces 20 to 30 long stems that are loaded with seed cases. The pods last for well over a week when fresh and need no special treatment.
The stems of seedpods also can be dried for later use in autumn wreaths and bouquets. To dry, hang freshly cut stems upside down in a warm, dark place for 2 to 3 weeks or until they are firm to the touch.
Be gentle when handling them after they’ve dried because the seedpods are fragile and can fall apart easily.
Columbine: Although these are perennials, I have found that treating them as biennials and replanting fresh stock each season means a much greater harvest each spring. Older plants succumb to disease after a year or two, and their self-sown babies aren’t numerous enough for a meaningful crop.
For the longest vase life, cut the flowers early in development, before any begin to drop their petals.
There are many, many varieties to choose from, and almost all are good for cutting. We plan to add all of the following varieties in the future.
The ‘Barlow Series’ is a lovely group of tall, double-flowered plants that often produce 7 to 10 stems each if grown in rich soil. The unusually shaped flowers are about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide with pointed petals, and they don’t carry the spurs typical of columbine blooms.
‘McKana Giant’ resembles the native mountain columbine, with flowers 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide or even larger. They come in blue, red, pink, yellow, and white, with centers white or pale. ‘William Guiness’ is similarly shaped, with dark reddish-purple spurs, outer petals, and center.
The aptly named ‘Tall Double Mix’ produces double flowers in a range of colors on stems up to 4 feet tall (1.2 m).
‘Chocolate Soldier’ is a gorgeous, unusually shaped flower with greenish-white petals and a reddish-brown center. It grows up to about 16 inches (40cm) tall, sufficient for cutting. What makes it exceptional is that it really smells like chocolate.
The highly regarded seed house Jelitto in Germany now carries seed for all of these varieties except ‘Tall Double’ and will ship in packets to the U.S.
I would love to hear your experience with this wonderful group of plants. Do you grow biennials or plan to add them to your garden this coming season? If so, what are your favorite varieties, or what new treasures are you adding to your wishlist?
Lastly, if you find this information is helpful, I would love it if you would share it with your friends.
Readmore: Easy-to-grow Hardy Annuals
When we traveled to England last June, I had the pleasure of meeting Henrietta Courtauld and Bridget Elworthy of The Land Gardeners. Our visit to their home and garden was one of the highlights of our trip. Their warmth, enthusiasm, and hospitality was so inspiring. I was given a peek at the early proofs of their book, which felt so indulgent. I’m excited to learn more about the making of their book, The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers, which releases in May, and to dive into their approach to healthy soil, a passion we all share.
Erin: Henrietta and Bridget, thanks so much for taking time to share your story with Floret readers. For those not familiar with your work, can you share an overview of your story, as well as an overview of your new book?
The Land Gardeners: We established The Land Gardeners in 2012 to research plant and soil health through growing, cutting and designing. We design productive gardens—wild, romantic and joyful—and restore walled gardens and historic gardens in England and abroad. We grow organic English cut flowers in Oxfordshire and run workshops, exploring healthy plants, healthy soil, and biodiverse, living gardens. Our research into soil health led us to launch our new business, Climate Compost, working with farmers and gardeners to coach them to make high-quality, microbially active compost, and selling our own compost for gardens and farms.
Our business is based at Wardington Manor, a rambling Jacobean manor house in Oxfordshire, England, set within Arts and Crafts gardens which once provided cut flowers for the great and the good of London society. We have revived these cutting gardens, growing and gathering glorious flowers for London florists and homes, and bringing the manor and gardens alive with their floral circus. Our buckets of blowsy dahlias, silky peonies, long trails of roses, metre-tall tulips, and generous blooms evoke an almost other-worldly era of glamour.
In our book, we hope to inspire others to create their own cutting gardens in which they share their favorite flowers, their knowledge on how to grow and what to gather by season. We tell our story and share our beliefs on growing organically, and on soil health, which is central to all our work.
Erin: Your book is just stunning, and it is very well-rounded: part history, part flower arranging, part gardening. It is very thorough, and it must have been a serious undertaking. Can you tell us about the process of making this book?
The Land Gardeners: It was obvious to us that there were already two brilliant, definitive “how-to” books on growing cut flowers by you, Erin, and by Sarah Raven in England. We hoped, instead, that our readers would be interested to learn our story of restoring and reviving the cutting gardens at Wardington Manor whilst also giving them inspiration and ideas for what they could gather and grow themselves.
We were keen to help other gardeners connect with the seasons and their gardens, and to grow their own cut flowers. Gathering photos for the book took several years; over time we took photographs of the garden as it developed and of our favorite flowers—and we were lucky to be visited by some of the most talented garden photographers: Clive Nichols, Clare Richardson, Miguel Flores-Vianna, Andrew Montgomery, and Hugo Rittson-Thomas. However, writing the book was a whirlwind. We sat down together over the winter months, drank countless cups of tea by the fire and talked and talked, and wrote and wrote.
The Land Gardeners: Wardington Manor was built in the the 15th century as a nunnery, reconfigured in 1665, and then added to in the early 20th century first by Clough Williams-Ellis, and later by G. H. Kitchin and Randall Wells, both of whom were advocates of the Arts and Craft traditions of valuing craftsmanship over mass manufacturing and the romance of the medieval over the modern.
The house now rambles over different levels; staircases appear from behind curtains, and mullioned windows look out onto green terraced lawns. The gardens weave around the house: a meander of rooms in the Arts and Crafts tradition, backed by rust-colored Ironstone walls and high yew hedges. In summer it erupts in a profusion of willful flowers, soaring up out of the beds and seeding in the walls and paths.
What is perhaps most extraordinary is that there is a long tradition of growing flowers at the Manor, which we have revived. When John Pease and his wife, later the first Lord and Lady Wardington, bought the house in 1917, the bones of the garden were already in place. Lady Wardington in particular loved the garden, and along with other ladies of large country houses, was cutting flowers during the 40s, 50s, and 60s from the borders and driving them down to London to eminent florists: Constance Spry, and Poulbrook and Gould.
Audrey, the second Lady Wardington, continued her mother-in-law’s tradition of cut flowers, filling her car full of flowers and children, much to the children’s discomfort! However, cut flowers were not her passion, and after 5 years she decided her time was better spent elsewhere. The cutting gardens over the road were turned into pony paddocks and a riding arena for their children and years later into allotments for the village.
Erin: You write, “We always strive to give a garden a purpose, particularly a productive purpose, as a place from which you can gather herbs, fruits, flowers and vegetables.” I’d love to hear more about this philosophy, and about how you select varieties that are unusual, useful, wild, and ultimately very appealing to the London market and high-end designers.
The Land Gardeners: We love making a garden productive, making it a place from which you can gather all year round, whether this is a dedicated cut flower or vegetable bed, or an orchard, or even an edible hedgerow. We are always thinking about what we or our clients can pick. This means that we connect with our garden. It is not just a beautiful place to look at, but a place from which you can gather, connecting with nature and the seasons.
We love the unusual, often buying our seeds from vancouver flower delivery
which sells organic, heirloom, and heritage vegetable seeds. One of most recent finds is black salsify (Scorzanera hispanica); you can eat the roots and use the soaring yellow flowers in arrangements. Similarly with parsnip. This is a delicious vegetable, but we always let a row go to seed so we can use its towering, umbelliferous flowers in tall vases.
Erin: Your garden has several distinct areas including The Walled Garden, The Cutting Garden, The Dahlia and Tulip Border, The Perennials Border, The Pond Walk, The Orchard, and The Church Walk. Can you tell me a bit about your favorite areas of the garden and why?
The Land Gardeners: We find that we tend to gravitate towards a particular area of the garden as the seasons change. We start picking shrubs and bulbs from The Pond Walk in spring, move to The Perennials Border and Cutting Garden in high summer, then back to the Dahlia Border in autumn, finishing the growing year picking snowdrops from The Church Walk in the depths of winter.
However, our favorite area is probably The Walled Garden. Protected by its old walls, and sunny all day long, it heaves with flowers, fruit, herbs, and vegetables, which buzz with bees and insects.
We also love the orchard. This is such an easy-maintenance area from which we gather all year round, both bulbs and flowers growing in the long grass: snowdrops, crocus, narcissi, tulips, camassias, cow parsley, and armfuls of blossom and fruit from the fruit trees themselves.
And our Dahlia and Tulip Border is our circus. It’s filled with riotous color. We gather armfuls of long-stemmed tulips in spring and then huge bunches of dahlias in autumn.
Erin: You are passionate about soil health and really excited about microbes. Can you tell me about your approach to healthy soil?
The Land Gardeners: We stand on the precipice of climate disaster, with dangerously high and rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But as gardeners, designers, and farmers, we have the ability to reverse this process if we all work together with the soil to create an atmosphere-cleansing machine. A key ingredient in this process is aerobic microbe-rich compost. It is now thought that soil microbes work with the soil, plants, and atmosphere to provide potential for sequestration of carbon in the atmosphere, thus allowing our soil to act as a massive carbon sink. If you have the ability to tend your soil, whether you are a large-scale farmer or a gardener, you have the ability to nurture life on our planet. And if you grow fruit and vegetables, you have the ability to improve their nutrient density through improving the soil in which they are grown.
Erin: What are you currently working on, dreaming of, excited about in your life and work?
Vancouver flower shop: We are excited about improving our soil, plant and garden health: minimal tilling, planting green manures, increasing the biodiversity of plants, planting hedgerows, creating areas of agro-forestry, and most important of all, creating microbially rich compost. Our aim is to encourage growers and farmers to sequester carbon in the soil. We want them to be not only carbon zero but carbon positive. Anyone has the ability to do this even if they are just growing a plant in a pot on their terrace!
Erin: Anything else you’d like to share?
The Land Gardeners: We’d just like to say thank you! You are so generous with your information on how to grow cut flowers and we, like so many growers around the world, have benefited from your knowledge and abundant joy.
Erin: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Henrietta and Bridget. I’m so inspired by all that you do, and I look forward to the next time our paths cross.
I’m thrilled to give away 5 copies of Henrietta and Bridget’s beautiful book, The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers. For a chance to win, simply post a comment below. In your comment, please share what spring flower you’re most excited about. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 11th.
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. The winners are: Lizzie Wysong-Schmidt, Carol Peterson, Lorrie Sutherland, Mary Welch and Heather Morrill.
It’s been such a thrill to hear from so many people who have recently found us and are interested in filling their lives with more flowers.
I thought it would be helpful to tell you a little more about vancouver flower delivery
and show you all the resources we’ve created to help you grow the garden of your dreams.
In 2001 my husband Chris and I moved to the Skagit Valley, about an hour north of Seattle, to pursue a slower, simpler lifestyle where we could raise our children surrounded by nature.
Little did I know that the small backyard cutting garden I planted so many years ago would eventually turn into a thriving teaching farm and full-fledged seed company. Floret Resources
If you’re new to growing cut flowers, be sure to check out our growing resources. More than 25 photo-filled how-to posts dive deep into specific flower varieties. S
I’ve been documenting everything I’ve learned over the past 15 years on the Floret Blog. In the early days of Floret, I challenged myself to write a blog post every day for a year in hopes of becoming a better writer so I could one day write a book.
The blog takes you behind the scenes here on the farm and is filled with hundreds of helpful posts about what I’ve learned growing flowers and growing a small farm-based business.
In 2017 I wrote my first book, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden. In it, you’ll find easy-to-follow steps for planting, cultivating, and harvesting more than 175 varieties of flowers.
In 2020 my second bo
ok, Floret Farm’s A Year in Flowers, was released. This book picks up where Cut Flower Garden left off and teaches you everything you need to start making your own incredible arrangements, whether you’re harvesting flowers from the backyard or sourcing ingredients at the local market.
In early 2021, my third book, Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias, will be released into the world. This book, brimming with gorgeous photos taken by my husband, Chris, will teach you everything you need to know about growing and arranging with this beloved cut flower. The book also features a Variety Finder showcasing 360 of my very favorite dahlia varieties grouped by color.
Cut Flower Garden featured some of the most stunning cut flower varieties I’ve ever grown, many of which were only available to professional growers at the time. I wanted readers to be able to grow the same flowers they saw in the book, so I decided to develop our own line of Floret Seeds.
In our online shop, we now offer more than 400 hard-to-find flower varieties sourced from the finest seed breeders in the world, as well as varieties bred right here on the farm. We also sell spring-flowering bulbs, gifts, and specialty supplies.
We offer limited quantities of our products at specific times of the year, and they always sell out fast. Be sure to check out our availability schedule to learn when our products go on sale, and mark your calendars so you snag your favorites.
Free Mini Courses & the Floret Online Workshop
Twice a year, we offer Floret Mini Courses, which are free video tutorials that demonstrate the techniques we use to grow and harvest flowers on a small scale.
Our Summer Mini Course will run in mid-June and teach you how to increase the number of stems your flowering plants produce, how to cut and care for your flowers for the longest vase life, and how to make a beautiful, abundant hand-tied bouquet in less than a minute. These videos are free, but registration is required.
And every fall we open up registration for the Floret Online Workshop. This 6-week intensive online learning program is focused on growing cut flowers on a small scale. The Floret Online Workshop is offered just once per year and covers everything we’ve learned about growing great flowers and building a successful flower business on just 2 tiny acres.
Though we no longer sell cut flowers, part of Floret’s mission is to connect growers with people who want to buy local blooms. Our online directory, Floret’s Farmer-Florist Collective, can help you find flowers quickly and easily, both in your area and where your loved ones live.
The Collective is inclusive and accessible on a global level. With more than 1,400 members, it’s the largest local flower directory in the world—and it’s free to use and join.
The flower farms, florists, and farmer-florists listed in the directory are all part of the global seasonal flower movement. Every member of the Collective has pledged to highlight local, seasonal flowers and to use sustainable growing and business practices whenever possible.
Documentary Television Series
Over the past year, we have been filming a documentary series about our farm for the vancouver florist
I am beyond grateful that Joanna and Chip Gaines felt that our story was one worth telling, and I’m so excited to share more about our farm and our journey with you when the new network debuts in early 2021.
Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to stay in the loop and hear about all the happenings on the farm.
I’m so glad you’ve found us, and I’m so excited to share more of our flower-filled journey with you.