Hey hey y’all!
Busy as usual out here. This week we have cut back the old leaves of thousands of hellebores peppered throughout our two acre woodland, divided thousands of dahlia tubers in stacks of crates in the basement, weeded the peony plants on one of the terraces down below the store, finished painting the cabin, built tons of racks and started making preparations in the propagation house for all the mum cuttings we’ll soon be taking and worked on various other odds and ends in the fields and tunnels.
We’re also running around taking inventory of all the billions of bits and bobs we need in order to be prepared to get through the busy, busy spring. Of course there’s the glamorous side of it too, where we’re constantly interacting with the Dept of Revenue, accountants, insurance agents, Fedex agents, Department of Ag, IRS, USDA, UGA, vendors, other farmers, extension agents, customers, answering interview questions, or searching the web for new items to stock the farm store.
For you growers out there that have been asking about our hellebores, here’s the scoop. We’ll be shipping out numerous varieties of the Ice n' Roses series. Ice n' Roses are our absolute favorite for a ton of reasons and Mandy has been really on top of getting the newest releases of the series, which are hard to come by.
Part of their appeal is that they are incredibly vigorous and grow at a rate that appears exponential relative to other hellebores. After 1 year in our woods, they were 3 times larger than other varieties planted at the same time. That means more stems and more flowers much quicker. Every grower’s dream. Not only that, but the colors are fantastic and they grow with outward facing flowers! Many varieties have nodded heads. Once fully mature, it’s said that Ice n' Roses stems can produce upwards of 100 blooms per stem. Honestly, I can’t quite picture that, but they sure have been long stemmed, outward facing, gorgeous in color, and heavily productive for us after only a couple short years, so we are definitely huge fans of this flower.
Other major attributes are that they are fairly drought tolerant once established. They are also easily grown in part or full shade and are deer and rabbit proof. That’s why we have them spread over 1-1/2 acres in our woods. What other cut flower could you do that with? They just turned the under story of our woods into a little wonderland, while also providing us with some of our earliest flower harvests each year and require almost no maintenance from us, other than to cut them back once a year. No irrigation, no weeding, no scaffolding, no deer netting…nothing. They are just the best. If you are hoping to grow your own, you can find them here!
For those that donated to our neighbor Debora, she has secured a reliable vehicle, paid off a bunch of overdue payments, and is going to get a new roof put on her house starting next Monday. The old one was literally sagging in between the rafters, so it had to be completely re-done. Fortunately our friend Fidel of Martinez Services is doing the work and giving her a good price. She mentions her gratitude for y’all every time we talk.
We are also reviewing job applications, conducting interviews and planning how we are going to approach Spring training with 5- new staff members.
In addition to the 2 seasonal staff members we planned on hiring, we got a late surprise and are having to temporarily replace Naw and Marry with 2-3 part time employees for a few months. Many of you may remember contributing to help their Mom and her village escape a genocidal campaign by the Burmese military 2 years back. The sisters have not physically seen their mom in at least 15 years and are determined to fly back to Thailand, walk for a week through the jungle, and pay her a visit at their sister’s village where she has been ever since the evacuation. We all wish them a safe and very happy return to their homeland and to their mother and sister.
Lastly, of note, we shipped our first 2 bundles of flowers for the year yesterday! Gorgeous bundles of anemones. They are such an amazing flower. I cut a purple one the other day for the house. We haven’t started a harvest routine at this point in the season, so it had progressed further than usual (we harvest at early stages, so customers get the longest vase-life) and it stopped me in my tracks it was so stunning! It was 6 inches wide, gorgeously iridescent, and all around just breathtaking.
Anemones are so unique in that not only do they open and close every day and night in your vase, but the flowers actually grow bigger every day in the vase. It continues to lengthen and expand. It’s kind of miraculous. They can go from one inch wide when you get them and wind up 4-6” wide 8-10 days later. We don’t grow a huge amount of them, because we haven’t always had the greatest success growing them, but this year's plants look fantastic and the flowers are really and truly one of my top 3 flowers to just stare at.
As the days keep passing, more and more flowers will be blooming, but we are still at the very, very early stages and won’t have much to offer for quite a while yet. It’ll just be a couple of boxes here and there quietly put on our website. When it really starts happening out in those tunnels, we’ll definitely let you know.
Have a great weekend!