Spring Blooms

Early May is one of the best times for locally grown flowers. All the good stuff intersects in a beautiful 2 week period: peonies, garden roses, sweet peas, ranunculus, poppies and many more. I took my fancy camera into the field the other day to capture some of the beauty and I thought you’d like to see!

White Sweet peas in the tunnel

White Sweet peas in the tunnel

It’s the first year we’ve had a hoophouse and it has made a massive difference in the quality of our sweet pea crop. Those blooms hold up so much better if they don’t get trashed by every rain storm.

White Campanula

White Campanula

This is campanula or Canterbury Bells. Better known as — “What is that? It’s gorgeous!” I’m still surprised by how many people don’t know this flower. It looks beautiful in an arrangement, a bouquet, and large scale installation pieces. Also, it has a vase life of almost 2 weeks!

White Chantilly Snaps

White Chantilly Snaps

Chantilly snapdragons are my all time favorite snap! Their open face design makes them seem so much fluffier and I always like anything a little unusual.

Orlaya

Orlaya

This is orlaya, she’s kinda like if Queen Anne’s Lace and a Lacecap Hydrangea had a baby. She’s sweet and delicate looking but with a strong stem. Also this is one of the toughest plants I know in regards to cold hardiness. You sow these in the fall and they grow all winter with no cover and they are just fine!

Abraham Darby Garden Rose

Abraham Darby Garden Rose

This is Abraham Darby. One of the best peachy pink garden roses. It’s not quite ready for production cutting yet but still one of my favorites to admire!

Purple Clematis

Purple Clematis

I’ve been working on clematis for about 3 years now and finally have enough of them to share with all my wonderful customers. This is a purple variety that grows in a herbaceous fashion. It grows more like a bush instead of a vine which makes it way easier to cut! You’ll find these in a lot of our Mother’s Day bouquets. They have gorgeous foliage as well as blooms.

Nymphe Peonies

Nymphe Peonies

This little cutie is called Nymphe. It’s one of the few peonies I can still identify. Six floods kinda reaks havoc on your markers in a field! She’s a great producer, loads of stems.

Butterfly Ranunculus

Butterfly Ranunculus

These are butterfly ranunculus. We grew them for the first time this year— in lt pink and creamy yellow. They are definitely a keeper- high stem production, don’t seem to mind our heat too much, and totally beautiful!

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You’ll find a selection of these beauties and more in our Mother’s Day Bouquets. So ladies, don’t be shy— forward this post onto your special someone and let them know you want locally grown flowers this year!

The story of the little peony field that could....

Four years ago I took stock of our land and found the perfect spot for some peonies. It had good fertile soil, afternoon shade from the big oak tree, and was centrally located to be a beautiful focal point on our farm. So we set our pigs to work clearing the land- this took no time at all because pigs are very quick at plowing. Then I gave the plot a shallow till, hand-built over 400 feet of raised beds, hauled in tons of compost, and then sowed a cover crop to hold the soil until fall planting.

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Fall came and I took a weed eater to the cover crop. Our peonies arrived in October along with a sweet treat from our supplier. I planted and then I waited. All winter I stared at a patch of dirt. Finally in early spring, green shoots began to push through and pretty soon the field was awash with green. The weeds got a little out of control but we vowed to do better next year. In fall of 2017 we doubled our planting and then we waited again…

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Then winter 2018 came.

The rains began in February and came and came. Little did we know they wouldn’t stop for over a year. The field flooded for the first of 6 times that year. Our field was underwater by about a foot for several hours. All our beautiful compost was carried off never to be seen again. We had a river 20’ wide and 2 feet deep flowing through our field. I’ll admit I kinda freaked out. I pulled out a pump as soon as it was safe and began removing water as fast as I could. But that first flood was just the beginning.

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We had 5 more torrential downpours that flooded the field for more than several hours at a time causing the peonies to sit in wet soil for days at a time until it dried out. The flood waters also brought every weed seed for a 10 mile radius (ok maybe I’m exagerating but that’s how it felt - and looked!). We weeded and mulched twice in the spring of 2018 and twice it flooded shortly after and carried off all the mulch. By fall of 2018, I was pretty discouraged about our little peony field. It took a few hours with a weedeater to knock back all the weeds. As I was going through, I kept seeing empty holes where peonies should have been.

So in late fall of 2018, we had a company come in and fix our drainage issues that contributed to the flooding. We put in a road and a few catchment ponds to catch and re-direct run off. But all winter, I wondered what I would see come spring. I feared the worst; I really thought that I had lost around 40-50% of my original planting.

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But as the weather warmed and spring came, sprout after sprout began to push it’s way up through that heavy clay soil. Even in the areas with the worst flooding and washout, there are still plants! I definitely lost about 15-20% which is significant when you think about how long of an investment in time you have until harvest of a peony. But I have been absolutely amazed at how many plants are still there and even more so by how many are producing flowers!

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But wait— it doesn’t end there. About 10 days into our first year of harvesting, our shade shelter was picked up by 20+ MPH wind gusts and dumped onto our peony field! I’ll admit I kinda freaked out, called my husband to come for help and he thought someone had died! We had to completely dismantle the shelter to move it. I got lucky in that 2/3 of the area where it had landed, I had already harvest 90% of the stems out of that area.

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So this Mother’s Day, I am thrilled to have some peonies to share with you. Theses peonies have seen it all. They are strong, resilient, yet tender and sweet smelling kinda like mom. We are mixing our peonies into bouquets of our farm fresh goodness!

We have two specialty bouquets and a seasonal mixed bouquet. Our grand deluxe bouquet is called Ethereal Beauty. She has peonies, garden roses, sweet peas, and snapdragons or campanula. She’s made up of the most luxurious flowers we grow.

Ethereal Beauty Bouquet

Ethereal Beauty Bouquet

We also have a Pink Lady Peony bouquet that includes our two favorite pinks: Nymphe and Monsieur Jules Elle.

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Our seasonal bouquets include a mix of peonies, sweet peas, campanula, snapdragons, ranunculus, and many other beauties. This bouquet comes in two sizes.

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These bouquets are only available for farm pick up on Saturday, May 11 from 10-12pm. Bouquets must be ordered in advance. There are a very limited number of the Ethereal Beauty and Pink Lady Peony Bouquets so don’t wait!

Can’t make it to the farm? We will also have bouquets available at the Boco Art Show, Wed-Friday located at 2 Meyers Dr, Greenville- doors open at 9am. Also Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse will have petite bouquets available Thursday through Sunday. If you live in the Greer/Taylors area you can find our flowers at Urban Petals Lifestyle Boutique. They have online ordering available here.

Winter 2018-2019- Farm Update!

I love the bewildered look on people’s faces when I answer “busy” when they ask how the farm is during the winter. You see, there is this illusion that farmers don’t do much when it’s cold. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Growing in the South is a year round job. Our climate is such that we can work outside the majority of the year and have things growing year round. This is a blessing and a curse. It means you have to create your own down season. Although this past winter, the rain has created plenty of down time. It’s the first winter that I’ve run out of inside work to do during the rain. I’m usually looking for rainy days so I can finish my crop planning and paperwork!

So what have I been up to this winter: I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. October began our hardy annual planting, better known as “cool flowers.”

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Foxgloves

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Snapdragons

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Sweetpeas

November brought loads more planting— 1000’s of ranunculus, anemones, and poppies!

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Poppies

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Ranunculus

- followed by anemones

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Tulips!

December roared in like a lion with the first snow storm of the season (and only snow storm so far). Spent lots of time crop planning, ordering seeds, plugs, and plants!

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January finally brought about some sunny days and we started building our first hoop house on the farm. It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting there!

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February brought the first flowers of the season-sweet little anemones. We sold a few for Valentine’s Day!

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Spent a good part of February sick with the flu but managed to get well enough in time to attend the ASCFG “Business of Flower Farming” Conference in Denver.

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And that brings us to here, the first day of March. It’s pouring rain outside as I write this but hopefully after a brief cold snap next week, the sun will shine and the flowers will burst forth!

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If you’d like a chance to play with these beauties, sign up for one of our Spring Workshops!

So Way Back When....

Everybody starts somewhere. My experience with cold hardy annuals began back in 2012. (By the way, cold hardy annuals are just that--- plants you seed in the fall that have enough cold tolerance to make it through the winter and bloom in spring). This was before the term "cool flowers" became popular. But I began seeing other farmers north of me that had flowers in May and early June. So i figured if they could do it in their cold climates, why couldn't I? 

Nigella (Love in a Mist)

Nigella (Love in a Mist)

In early December, I stamped some soil blocks, seeded larkspur, nigella, feverfew, and bachelor buttons. Then I waited and waited because larkspur takes awhile. But finally in early January, I began to see signs of life. Tiny little sprouts pushing through the soil. I popped the soil blocks under my grow lights and continued to water. In about a month or so, I was ready to plant out. It was mid February by this time and half of me totally doubted what I was doing and the other half said-- what have I got to lose? So in the ground they went, through frosts and snow. By late March, they began to really bulk up. I got really excited, thinking that flowers were coming very soon. Well as it turns out, when you don't plant until February, you don't get flowers until late May. But nevertheless-- they were gorgeous! I'd never had so many beautiful blooms in all my life. I filled vase after vase and then some, gave them away to family and friends and the garden was still full!

Larkspur

Larkspur

I was completely hooked! Ever since then I've been expanding my repertoire of cold hardy annuals. Each year, I push the envelope a little bit and see just how much cold different varieties can take. I now grow ranunculus, anemones, scabiosa, poppies, and loads of other beautiful blooms. You can do it too-- a few seeds, a little patch of earth and nature does the rest. On September 10 and 11, I've got a great workshop at the farm to teach the basics of cold hardy annuals. We'll cover soil prep, how much water your plants need, how your plants handle the cold, and all the beautiful varieties you can have blooming as early as March! Come join us! 

Daffodils- The Darlings of Spring

About 10 years ago now, we spent a year in Scotland. My husband was doing some studying for a master's degree and we were young and a had a bit of wanderlust to see the world. We moved there in fall which is basically like our winter. For this southern girl it was a big adjustment! It was the coldest, darkest, grayest winter I remember. However in March, little green shoots began to pop up all over. Those were soon followed by small cream colored buds that burst forth into beautiful yellow cup shaped flowers. Everywhere we would go- daffodils! I don't think I've ever been more excited to see their cheery faces. Imagine green rolling hills with baby lambs frolicking everywhere and cute pops of yellow flowers swaying in the breeze- yes, it really was like a scene from a movie. 

My rows of daffodils don't quite have the same affect and I often hear pigs squealing in the background but I can imagine I'm back there with just a whiff of their sweet scent. Daffodils have definitely enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past few years. They become more than just the standard yellow cup shaped bloom. Peaches, pinks, and cream varieties are becoming more widely known. We grow a few varieties of specialty types here at Fraylick Farm. My favorite is in bloom right now- Erlicheer. She is a dainty but tough little flower- a beautiful spray of cream colored flowers. She opens with a bit of yellow in her petals but within about 24 hours they turn completely cream. She has a very intoxicating scent and is the strongest of any variety we grow. Each variety is only around for about 3 weeks so you have to enjoy them quickly. 

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White Lion and Mt Hood come next in our succession. Mt Hood is similar in shape to the standard daffodil but completely creamy white in color. It opens with a yellow cup which changes color within 24 hours to all white/ivory.

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White Lion is a single bloom type with a beautiful double ruffly center. It opens with some yellow and then turns all white. (do you notice a theme here?) I definitely prefer the creamy white varieties. We do have some peachy centered types in our later varieties that will be blooming in a few weeks. 

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Some people shy away from daffodils because of their sappy reputation. When cut the daffodil emits a sticky sap like substance. This sap can be bad for other flowers in the vase if the daffodil is not conditioned properly. The bulletproof method for conditioning daffodils: Give the daffodils a fresh cut, place in a vase with clean water with no other flowers. Add flower food or a CVBN tablet (often called a gerber tab), or a bleach solution (1-1 1/2 tsp /gal) for 2-5 hours. This allows the sap to drain out of the stems. At this point the stem should not be recut as the sap will begin draining again. 

Now-- any designer knows, not recutting is just not practical! There is no way to know the exact length you will need it. This is why I only recommend daffodils as an event use flower. Event flowers don't have to have the extended vase life and only have to look good for 2-3 days at most. In my experience I've never seen daffodil sap take down other flowers in that amount of time. A lot of designers love using them in bouquet work. I recommend after you wrap your bouquet and make the final cut to change the water in the vase after an hour or so. This allows the daffodil stem to drain but if you change the water after awhile, you should be good to go. Also including flower food or a few drops of bleach in the water of any vase or arrangement is a good idea when working with daffodils. Remember the sap reduces vase life, it doesn't kill the flowers outright. 

Daffodils scream spring and a few extra steps shouldn't be cause to avoid them. They add that touch of seasonality that is becoming a huge part of modern day design. But they won't be around for long so grab them while you can!