Week 1: Pods, Greens, and Blooms

For the first week of Learn the Flowers CSA the field was abundant with pods, greens, and blooms.  Many of the flowers that were abundant in the spring days of May and June are tapering off and the colors of those most tolerant of July and August heat are beginning to bloom now.  During this transition we benefit from the perennials whose seed pods and foliage add varied texture and form to our bouquets.  As I walked through our field of annuals early this morning, I was happy to see what things would make their way in to your CSA bouquets this week and excited for what is yet to come!

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In this beginning week of July, I introduce to you those heat-tolerant warriors who are blooming now and for the most part, beautifully tolerate the hot days of July and August:

Lily- the biggest, yellow or orange blooms (Some of the lilies may still be closed but will open up the first chance they get!)

Hydrangea- The large, mostly white (may have hints of light pink) pointed bloom. (This variety is called Quickfire and starts out white in the spring, then a lighter pink in the summer, and eventually a deeper antique-looking pink in the fall.)

Rudbeckia- The yellow and orange/red blooms with dark centers 

Baptisia greens/pods- Greens with small, rounded leaves and some may have little light green pods still attached

Monarda- The red/pink blooms that look a little like jester hats

Love-in-a-puff Vine- The long, light green vines with small green puffs (Some of the puffs may be pretty tiny still.)

Amsonia greens- The fluffy stem of green with hundreds of small elongated leaves attached 

Sweetpea flowers- The sweet smelling, delicate, purple stems of magic. This was a growing experiment for me this summer and I’ve been able to harvest them in small waves.  This week, the Germantown site pick-up folks got to take a few stems home and next week, Wild Fox Farm folks will be able to take some home.

Red Twigged Dogwood- The woody-stem of white berries

Delphinium- Blue, cascading flowers on one stem

Veronica- Purple stalks with thick foliage attached

Calendula- Orange or yellow blooms with very soft petals. (I’d recommend ripping some petals off in your hand and rubbing them in like a lotion!)

Ammi- Delicate, white blooms (similar to Queen Anne’s Lace)

Physocarpus- Lovely, dark foliage

Poppy seedpod- The alienpod-looking one

Today’s journal will focus on the Poppy seedpod, Love-in-a-puff Vine and Delphinium. The Poppy seedpod in your bouquet is the seedpod of a Pom Pom or Peony variety of Poppy.  This was a growing experiement for us at Laughing Lady Flower Farm and did not turn out so well.  All the heavy rains of June caused this variety of Poppy to rot pretty quickly, but we decided to keep them in the ground until they made their unique-looking pods.  Here’s a look at the pod right before the petals are about to fall off…

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Poppy pods are pretty popular to use in both dried and fresh flower arrangements. Historically, they’re also pretty popular to get high off of since Opium Poppies (Papaver Somniferum) contain ingredients such as Codeine and Morphine.  We don’t grow that variety! We also grew a couple other varieties this spring including the Pom Pom Poppy, the Falling in Love Poppy and the Hummingbird Poppy.  The Poppy is such a special locally-grown bloom because they really don’t ship well.  So if you’re in the market for some Poppies, definitely seek out a local grower.

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I was introduced to Love-in-a-puff vine last fall when I visited a flower farm in upstate New York.  She was able to start her vine by seeding directly into the ground in the spring.  We decided to start seeds in the greenhouse and move them outside so they could get established a little earlier.  The vine is also called Balloon Vine or Heartseed.  Not all of the puffs on your vines are larger, but if you have a large puff, go ahead and break it open and you’ll see three small black seeds.  It’s namesake comes from the tiny, white distinctively-shaped heart on each seed!  Unfortunately in many southern states where Love-in-a-puff survives as a perennial, it is considered an invasive weed.  Around here though, it’s considered an awesome vine that grows well for flower farmers, works beautifully for floral designers, and then is killed off in the wintertime.

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Lastly, our Delphinium (or Larkspur) is something magic to behold.  This season was the first season I grew it successfully and when it first came into bloom last week, I got a little choked up.  In the world of flower growing, there are so few true blue flowers that one small bed of blue, blooming Delphinium is really magical to see!  What I love about this flower is that because it has so many delicate-looking blooms on a very sturdy stem.  The sturdiness of stems is definitely a quality I look for in my most favored flowers to grow and use for in design!  The blue Delphinium in your bouquet is a medium height variety which I like in particular over the tall, stalky Delphinium. (which you might be used to seeing more often when you pass a perennial garden in the park or in someone’s yard) This variety has a more flexible stem and drapes beautifully in arrangements as opposed to the very tall and straight stem of Pacific Hybrid varieties. The seeds of Delphinium are toxic and shouldn’t be ingested.  The toxicity of the plant decreases as it ages.  So if you want to have some Delphinium in your garden and happen to have a dog like Boone who will put anything in his mouth once, make sure it’s out of reach of munchers for the beginning stages of its life!  The namesake of Delphinium, dolphin in Latin, derives from the tall cone-shaped (or fin-shaped?) sepal at the top of each flower head.  The combination of the blue color also seems like it could be related to the gray-blue color of some dolphins.  Maybe that’s a stretch.  What you should remember is that Delphinium is magic.

So overall the first harvest day of the CSA went smoothly, with the exception of forgetting to save my journal draft when I was almost finished and then accidentally deleting it and re-writing most if it again.  Lesson learned.  I’m really looking forward to next week and to sharing more flowers with you.  In the next few weeks you may see a couple repeats and will become familiar with their names and faces.  You’ll also see some flowers you may not have seen before and some that you already know.  I just hope you’ll love them all as much as I do and will put them in a spot where you can look at them each morning to savor and enjoy.  I will leave you with one little sneak peak at a very special flower that is just starting to make an appearance at the farm. You’ll see her in many different sizes and colors in weeks to come…

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