October 16, 2016

Recreating Seattle's Amazing Dahlia Wall To Close Out The Growing Season

We recreated the famous dahlia wall originally created at the Seattle Wholesale Flower Market - although we never intended it to look exactly like the original - it did.
Sometimes things just don't go as planned, and last weekend we learned a lesson about how influence  can sometimes backfire. Just a week before our first frost date, a casual conversation with Grace Lam from FiveForksFarm (a flower farm that many of you have seen featured by Erin on Floret Farm's blog), and myself were talking about how this years serious drought here in New England. Dahlia crops across the northeast have been terrible, due to the extreme heat and the record breaking drought. 

I went to visit Grace to see if she could donate some dahlias for arrangements at the Dahlia Show at Tower Hill, since I was afraid that we would have only a few entries. Grace was talking about this dahlia wall that she had seen at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and She thought that maybe her farm and the members of the Dahlia Society might like to create something like this, but we didn't have enough time to get something designed in 2 days, but that maybe we could create something their fall festival on Columbus Day weekend. 

What happened next was magic.

October 2, 2016

Training Japanese Chrysanthemum Cascades

Now that it is officially autumn, our thoughts often turn to chrysanthemums, but as you probably know already, my opinions on chrysanthemums is a bit different than those of most people. It's become one of my missions as a plantsman to keep alive so techniques and traditions with chrysanthemum culture, which has almost been lost in our mass-market obsessed culture. 

For a about 15 years now, I have been collecting heirloom and new (but so hard to find) varieties of exhibition chrysanthemums, those mums that look nothing like the ones you see at your local garden centers sold for fall displays. Instead, these are varieties which are more suited for conservatory display - raised in the most traditional methods which were once practiced in most every North American conservatory or botanic garden pre-20th century, and a method which is still used in Japan today, where the chrysanthemum is still revered.

October 1, 2016

The Living Historical Collections of Amy Goldman-Fowler

Last month Joe and I paid a visit to author and seed saving evangelist Amy Goldman Fowler's amazing home, farm and were able to tour her garden. Amy lives about 7o miles north of New York City in Rhinebeck, NY, not far from the Hudson River. Her 18th century farm house, which she lovingly restored sits on many acres of woodland, pastures with stone walls, where she planted immaculate formal gardens, constructed an English-style greenhouse, and acres of farmland where where she raises not only heirloom breeds of beef cattle, but perhaps one of the worlds most comprehensive collections of selected food crops.

Amy (and her husband Cary Fowler) are dedicated seed preservationists, and they treat their property as both a living laboratory, as well as a museum of studio. Projects are everywhere as are works-in-progress. In some gardens, only ornamentals are planted, Amy is an artist too, so things much look good, but one doesn't need to go far, to find little hints of little research projects. Some heirloom pea varieties in pots, set in the protection of the greenhouse only had reference numbers - something about protein values - but just another secret research project that one doesn't see everyday in our home gardens. Join me for a tour of Amy's wonderful secret gardens.