It’s the fifth week of Learn the Flowers CSA, and the last week for some of you! To the 5-week members, I hope you have enjoyed your weekly bouquets, learned more about what’s in them, and felt inspired by the beauty of local, fresh flowers. I will keep you all posted on details for next season! To the 8-week members, I am excited for the remaining 3-weeks-worth of flowers to share with you. It’s August already and I’m feeling a little fatigued, in need of a massage or a day at the beach, but also extremely satisfied with the work I’ve been involved in this spring and summer. August is a special time because it’s a month of celebrating the last of the summer sun and most importantly, it is when our dahlias start blooming in full force. I look forward to sharing their magic with you very soon.
Now I’d like to introduce you to those late-summer beauties of the field who make the transition with us from summer into fall:
Cosmos- White or burgundy bloom, yellow center (single, double, or hollow petals)
Ammi (Graceland)- Large white-headed blooms with an umbrella-shaped spray of tiny flowers.
Nicotiana- (Bella variety) Multiple flowers on one stem, with a pastel pink flat flower that tapers back into a hollow tube (pronounced ni-ko-she-ah-na)
Millet- The tall, thick, seeded head
Frosted Explosion- The grass that looks like it exploded at the top
Celosia- The burgundy/pink/green, spiky blooms, some with large, red-veined leaves
Rudbeckia- (Henry Eilers variety) The multiple-flowered stems of yellow flowers with small, hollow, spoon-like, yellow petals that spread upwards away from the stem
Zinnia- (Zinderella Peach) Bright-colored flowers with a single layer of larger, outer petals and a tiny mound of petals forming out from the center. This particular variety was marketed hard this past year, but unfortunately many of the flowers did not develop fully.
Zinnia- (Persian Carpet) Small-headed, bi-colors in red, mahogany, yellow, chocolate and cream
Cinnamon Basil- shorter-stemmed purple and green basil, with its own unique spice and fragrance
Eucalyptus- Blueish-green stem with round leaves surrounding the stem
Eustoma or Lisianthus- (pronounced Li-see-an-this) Antique pink or creamy yellow bloom, slightly resembling a rose-shape.
I’ll focus on the Cosmos, Celosia and Lisianthus in this week’s journal.
I really like this particular photo because it was early this morning and I caught the moon still visible in the sky behind the cosmos… the moon and the flower both in the same cosmos. Cosmos is so special because it comes in many different colors and petal shapes and sizes. It also grows really well in a lots of places. If you have a small garden space outside, I would highly recommend buying some seeds and planting them. Most likely, they’ll do well. Cosmos is the genus of this plant and it shares the same family as sunflowers, asters and daisies. (It’s a huge family.) The varieties of cosmos that we grow at the farm are the double-click and sensation mix. The double-clicks sounds like the name of a band but the flowers are the ones with hollow petals squeezed tightly up against one another. They are my favorite variety right now and today I found one single huge one and I took it home so it can live out its last days with me.
This past winter while I was dreaming about the warm days of work doing this CSA, I did some little paintings of flowers and Cosmos was one of them. I thought I should share my interpretation of its charm.
Celosia, which I’ve heard pronounced cee-lo-she-a or cee-lo-see-a is beautiful and wonderful because it has “that fiercely wanting” just like the nicotiana and spreads it seed, growing abundantly no matter what. (If you want to know more about this, check out last week’s journal.)
I also painted Celosia because I knew that it would be nice to have a representation of all three types of Celosia. In the painting the far left stem is an example of cockscomb celosia, the middle stem represents plumed celosia and the far right is spicata celosia. Spicata sounds like a type of pasta and is also one of the varieties that made it into your bouquet this week along with the plumed. We’re not growing the Cockscomb this season, but it’s a cool looking variety that seems to resemble a brain.
Celosia is in the same family as Amaranth which we are also growing at the farm. Celosia translates as “burned” or “burning” and seems to refer to the bright red and orange flame-shaped varieties of the plumed and spicata types. Similarly as the Cosmos, I would recommend getting some Celosia seed and trying them out if you have the space. They add a pop of color and texture and do really well in different conditions. Both cosmos and celosia are annuals so they will completely die over the winter, but you can save seeds from both and plant again next season!
On to one of the great staples of cut flowers, Lisianthus…
Lisianthus is a great cut flower because it lasts a long time in a vase after it’s cut (sometimes up to 2 weeks or more depending on when it’s cut) If you have any small buds on your stem of Lisianthus, and the larger bloom fades or dies, cut off the dying head and leave the small buds to see what they will do. A couple seasons ago in the fall, it was time to pull out our Lisianthus to make space for fall planting in the hoophouse, but there were still some Lisianthus buds that had never bloomed. They were small and green and I cut them and kept them in water for a couple weeks. By the end of the first week, most of the buds had opened up fully and then lived for another week or so looking beautiful! In my experience so far with Lisianthus, it’s a great cut flower to grow in a hoophouse and worth the investment to buy plugs. Growing it under cover and controlling the irrigation allows for tall, strong stems and since the number of days from germination to full bloom are high, investing in plugs make it easier to get started.
If you didn’t notice already, Lisianthus has a very similar resemblance to a rose, but is much easier to grow and less of an investment than roses. It’s been a wonderful flower to use in summer and fall design work in place of imported roses. It’s so satisfying to cut and prep Lisianthus for bouquets and design work because the stem and leaves are so soft and smooth. In contrast, flowers like Rudbeckia always give me rashes and scratches on my arms and face because I’m so sensitive to those types of textures. I also appreciate Lisianthus for their monetary value which is slightly higher than other cut flowers which I assume is based on its beauty, stem length, and longer growing period (from germination to bloom).
I hope you like the flowers I chose this week! Consider setting them up in a new spot somewhere in your home where you can see and enjoy. I like to put some of my favorite flowers in one particular window of my house, which also happens to be one of the sunniest. As a result, they usually die a little faster but I love seeing them each time I walk up and down the stairs. With longevity in mind, maybe the spot you pick will be a bit shadier. I hope you AND your flowers stay cool this week!