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GRATITUDE

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Gratitude, it’s the word that comes to my mind when I think of last season. 2015/16 exceeded any of our dreams or expectations.  When mum and I were first starting out we didn’t really have any set goals or grand plans. We hesitantly stepped into it, our love of flowers leading the way. I often think back to those early days, the excitement and fear.
We pulled out all of mum’s old garden books and started listing varieties of roses that we loved. We spent week’s and months pouring over every website or book we could get our hands on. Paper was strewn through out the house with rose names and field plans scribbled each side.
Our knowledge of roses was limited to say the least. It consisted of 5 rose bushes in the garden, all of which were neglected and mostly stripped by pesky possums. However saying that the few blooms that did survive always took our breath away. “Souvenir De la Malmaison” with her heavy scent and double pink blooms, “Charles de Mills” who rambled down the hill out of the possums reach and graced us with deep magenta blooms each spring. And finally my most favourite, hidden under a canopy of trees, spindly from lack of light, “Ash Wednesday”, with her lilac grey petals.
I can’t imagine what this season will bring. What new doors will open, hurdles we’ll come up against and people we’ll meet. But here’s to another season in a field of roses!

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FLORET INTERVIEW

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This past season we had the honor of being interviewed by Erin Benzakin for her blog .
I’ve been a long time reader of Floret, first stumbling across her blog during our first year growing roses. It was such a source of inspiration to us. Her blogs were filled with endless advice and her beautiful photos would instantly transport you to her little farm in Skagit Valley. She offered us a little glimpse into the potential of what we could achieve with our little plot of dirt.
Whenever I found myself in a place of self-doubt I would revisit one of my favourite post’s of hers about a trip she took to a friends flower farm, a fellow rose grower “All my Thyme”. Who like us “followed her heart and intuition and planted hundreds and hundreds of roses”. I would read those words over and over. I had it bookmarked, and constantly returned to it (sometimes in the middle of the night!) to remind myself that what we were doing wasn’t completely crazy!

Thank you Erin and Dawn.

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SOIL & STEM WORKSHOP

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This past January Nicole Land of Soil & Stem flew all the way from Wintery Utah to host a workshop amongst the roses during our abundant summer flush. It was a full on two days where she taught her beautiful style to a group of talented creatives. We picked flowers straight from the field and gardens, and spent the day arranging and creating with new found friends. It was an experience I will never forget. I gained so much confidence, not only in my design work but personally. It opened up our little world and gave us the incredible opportunity to share this special place.
Thank you Nicole.

All photos by the talented Celine Chhuon

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THE STEMS THAT BIND

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I know I’ve been quite here of late, but I’ve been working on a little project with my dear friend and flower grower extraordinaire Jeanine of Verve.
The Stems That Bind, a journal between two friends, sharing openly and honestly the highs and lows of flower growing.

www.thestemsthatbind.com

 

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LESSONS

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With winter setting in, I find myself looking back at the season that was. It was another year of roller coaster emotions, but I’m happy to say more highs then lows.
Heading into the season I spent any free time I had over the winter trying to learn the art of flower growing. I scoured every book, blog and website. I planned things out to a tee, this year I was going to get it right, take from all the experienced growers out there, simply implement their techniques on our farm, then Wah Lah best season ever!!

blog2015-7Unfortunately farming is not as simple as following a set of guidelines. What I quickly learnt was that our growing conditions were very different from the farmers I was taking notes from. What worked really well for them had us running around battling disease and pests. By mid March I had put my hands up, waved the white flag and admitted defeat! It was a big learning curve for me, and one I wouldn’t change, because you really don’t know till you try. In all the failures I learnt a lot about our farm, I really learnt the nature of our soil, our climate and how to better battle pest and disease on our little patch of dirt.

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I now know heading into this next season that I’m not going to get it right. Even with all that I have learnt this past season, some things are going to do well, while others not so much, and a lot of that has to do with circumstances that are out of my control. I feel so much lighter knowing this fact. Already this season is starting to look very different. Last year our cornflower flourished, this year it’s really struggling. Half of our pink cornflowers got knocked back by a combined slug/bird attack. But rather then get upset, I sowed seed into the gaps, and came to a peace that we’re going to be a bit short on cornflowers come spring, and thats ok!! It all seems so obvious, but for me a self proclaimed control freak/perfectionist, this has been a lesson I’ve had to learn. So here’s to 2015/16 and not getting everything right!!!

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WINTER REFLECTION

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We’ve been doing a lot of planning this month, the first month of winter, frosty mornings, grey days and a chance to catch our breath…kind of, theres still a lot to be done, but without all the pressure. Its a great time to reflect on the past season and draw up new plans with those lessons in mind.
Wet weather usually leaves me with to much time to sit in front of the computer, scrolling through endless seed catalogues and nursery plant lists, or looking for inspiration from other flower growers and florists, its so exciting to find such an amazing community of flower enthusiasts like ourselves.
Pretty much any money we made this year went straight back into the farm. New plants, seeds, irrigation, tools, weed mat, buckets etc. We were not set up at all last season, we had no idea what we would need, and the few things we did have we didn’t have enough of, 10 buckets, 20 boxes….seriously what were we thinking. So we were always running on a back foot, rushing around having to grab or order something in last minute. It was such a huge season for learning, and I’m sure the schooling hasn’t finished!
Our extra roses arrived this week, just in time for a huge storm. we weren’t able to get everything we had ordered so we’ll be getting more next year, and then hopefully that should do us…maybe. I’ve nearly finished ordering all our seeds and plants. We’re planting more Sweetpeas, Nigella, Achellia, Cornflowers, Scabiosa, Cosmos, Chinese forget-me-nots and Foxgloves, I can list these because I know we can grow them, I have a whole lot more plants that I’m trialing this year..but lets see if I can get them to germinate first! Also we’ve ordered in some Bleeding hearts and Chocolate Cosmos plants. I’ve drawn up my plans and I can’t really fit everything in…but if i have to dig up the unused tennis court I will! Some things we grew last year didn’t do amazingly at the flower markets, but I loved growing and picking them so much, that I couldn’t not plant them again, Foxgloves for example not very profitable but so so so gorgeous that I really have no hesitation about planting a whole load more! I think if the only reason you grow flowers is to make money…well this might not be the job for you. I just love flowers, I love picking them, arranging them, looking at them, smelling them..you get the picture I LOVE FLOWERS!

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AUTUMN

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As we wait impatiently for the final flush…which surly should have happened by now! We are reminded of how little we know, we are treading on ground thats completely unfamiliar to us, our diaries are filled with notes “no roses” “FLUSH” “Aphid attack”, so that hopefully next year we can be more on the ball, better prepared. Well thats what we hope.
We’ve begun our plans for next year. Walking across the area we’ve mapped out looks incredibly daunting, but at the same time so exciting! I’ve just finished ordering seed, and am thinking we may need to extend just a little more….I can’t say no to a seed packet, especially new varieties I’ve never grown before. I have to see them in real life, goggle images only goes so far.
The amount of sweet pea varieties I’ve ordered is well…a lot, I keep telling myself this is your last packet, then you see a colour, and you picture it in a bouquet and you just know that without that coloured sweet pea, well that bouquet would be incomplete, so before you know it my shopping cart is looking very full!  I’ve had to source overseas to get the real gems, fingers crossed they don’t get seized at the border, I have been reassured that all will be alright.

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SECOND FLUSH

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We’ve been flat out with our second flush, which came a week too early for the markets, but hey what can you do. We had a huge amount come on and nowhere to send it, so we had to take one for the team and just fill our house with gorgeous roses…. it’s a hard life. Unfortunately these flushes really have a mind of there own, with the early arrival of spring this year, it meant we were a week ahead, which was one week to many, but thats what comes with the territory, when you work with the land, you hand over control and have to roll with the punches. Whether thats an early flush, an aphid/stink bug attack, rain when you least want it, or not enough rain when you need it, severe gales snapping your water shoots, 31+ degree heat bringing everything out at once…. yip the list goes on. It comes with the territory, sometimes its hard not to lose heart, these roses have caused me and mum to have more ups and downs then we can count, but we always go back to the fact that we really love what we do and feel truly blessed when we look out at that field of roses.

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A NEW YEAR, BRINGS CHANGES…

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Well what a year 2013 was! It’s been a real learning curve, you don’t know till you try, and well we’ve been doing a lot of trying and even more learning.  I’m so eager for this season to end, and start a fresh, with the new knowledge we have gained over these last couple of months.When we first set out and started planning this little business, we had all these grand ideas and dreams, some of which we now laugh at knowing what we know, and some we excitedly watch playing out in front of our eyes.
Even though we are still a couple of months out from the end of our first proper season, we now have a clearer direction of what we want to grow and expand, and what we want to perhaps step back from for the time being.
One area that we are wanting to grow is the cut garden, which will be turning less into a cut garden and more into a flower field, but it seems like less work if I use the word cut garden! We are really wanting to focus on growing those old time classics, and providing florists with that beautiful wild and free look that those classic cottage flowers provide. We are making room for more roses, not a huge amount but just a top up on the varieties that we have come to love and really rely on for their life and beauty.

Bring on 2014/2015 season!!!

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