I’m thrilled to have Jennie Love with us today to answer some of your questions. Jennie is a farmer florist and owns Love ‘n Fresh Flowers. She is so generous with her time and expertise. Welcome Jennie!
I'm curious what advice Jennie would give a prospective flower grower who wants to greenhouse grow cut flowers for winter sales in the Northeast. Where can I go to learn about how to do it? (Everything seems geared to warm season field and hoop house production.) Thanks!
Growing in a greenhouse over the winter in the Northeast is a very expensive undertaking. Our winters are harsh and the cost of fuel for heating is very expensive (several thousand dollars). You really have to be a large grower with a reliable winter market to support the overhead cost of growing in heated greenhouses here. That's why there are not many growers doing it and it's hard to learn about it. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is the place to go to find more information about growing through the winter in a greenhouse. You may also want to consider using an unheated hoop house, which is what we do at Love 'n Fresh Flowers. If you choose crops that are truly cold tolerant and can bloom in the lower light conditions of winter, then you don't need to heat. We grow anemones and ranunculus in our hoop house and they usually start blooming in January. Unfortunately, this year it's been so cold and snowy, the bloom time is behind schedule, but we'll start picking anemones this coming week. No heat required!
I'm a grower and designer but I still have trouble with wrapping boutonnières especially with ribbon. Can you give me step-by-step instructions?
It's hard to explain without pictures, but here are my steps:
1. Gather and design your boutonniere in your hand.
2. Use florist tape (the kind that gets sticky when you stretch it) to securely wrap the stems of the bout so they are just the way you want them.
3. Use cold glue (I use Oasis brand) and dab a tiny bit of glue at the base of stems at the back of the boutonniere.
4. Press the end of a narrow ribbon on the glue dot and hold until it's firmly attached.
5. Wrap the ribbon tightly around the stems in an upward spiral, ending at the back at the top of the stems, where you trim the ribbon to the desired length.
6. Use another small dab of cold glue to secure the end of the ribbon. And you're done! Don't forget to include a pin for pinning it on.
I love the look of dahlias and have been experimenting with growing some for several years. How would I go about finding good selections for growing in the South?
I love dahlias and grow heaps. I don't know much about growing them in the South though. Your best resource for learning more about growing in your specific climate is to find a local Dahlia Society. Usually every state has one. Visit the American Dahlia Society for resources. My favorite source for buying dahlia tubers is Swan Island. They're super helpful and nice so you might want to also call them and ask if they know of any varieties that are particularly suited for Southern growers.
I've been considering making the switch to using brown kraft paper sleeves for the mixed bouquets I sell at farmers' markets and a local grocery store. Because I transport and deliver bouquets in water, and they're on display in buckets of water, I'm concerned that the bottom edge of the paper would get wet and start to break down. Have you had this experience or heard feedback about this from any of the retail locations where you sell your bouquets? Thanks!
I use brown kraft paper for my bouquet wraps at grocery stores. Keep your bouquet stems long and your wraps short and up high, and you won't have much trouble at all with water soaking them. I also keep the water level in my buckets to just an inch or two when I have them in the van for delivery and then when I get to the grocery stores, I top them off with more water after the risk of sloshing water is gone. My floral buyers and retail customers love the paper wrap! If you're really concerned, you can try the wax coated brown paper, which would shed the water.
I've been in the horticulture industry for 15 years (mostly retail sales) and am considering the switch to cut flower farming and/or floral design. As a prospective newcomer in the wedding/event cut flower world where would you suggest I start and what is the best way to go about marketing oneself to prospective customers (wholesale floral and floral design customers). The physical act of growing flowers and designing with them is not new to me. It is more of the how do I get my foot in the door.
You should come to one of our Master Classes this spring! Two in particular would be great for you: The Business of Local Flowers and Weddings From Seed to Centerpiece. We'll cover all of your questions in-depth during those classes. It's honestly too big a topic to cover in a short paragraph in this blog Q&A and is really dependent on your location, your personality, your skill set, etc etc etc. Besides coming to one of our classes, you should get a copy of The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski, which is a great starter reference book for flower farming and floral sales. Lynn also just released a new book about wedding flowers that you might want to pick up (I haven't read it yet, but am sure it's good). Additionally, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is a great resource for new flower farmers. Hopefully that gets you rolling a bit!
Thank you, Jennie! You are welcome at the Brouhaha any time!
What a great way to get this week started. Happy Monday!