First Frost 10/21/22

First Frost 10/21/22

Posted by Mandy + Steve O'Shea on

In the flower farming world, some folks call it Frostmas.  I guess the idea is that it’s a gift of sorts to have nature force a break on you, by killing all of your flowers.  Sounds emotionally confusing to read that sentence.  It really is.

  There are some years that I’ve felt the relief from it…. a lot of years actually, but this year I’m sad to see them go.  Generally people think of a flower farm as fields of beautiful flowers and butterflies and bees and birds and beauty flowing in the wind.  

  It's not like that.  Except, lately it has been. 

  We have a plot of cosmos that we have blown wide open and haven’t touched, because we are growing them for seeds instead of for flowers.  If you are selling flowers, that means you are always cutting them, so you have fields full of flower plants, but no flowers.  Letting them go to seed though, means you actually have that bucolic field of blooms that people always imagine a flower farm to be.

  Last Sunday, we laid in the middle of it and just soaked in the warmth of the sun, while all the winged creatures were actively pollinating by our heads, the baby guinneas slowly pecking their way around us, momma dog stopping by to visit and taking a break from the demands of all her puppies.  We just watched as the cosmos swayed in the breeze and got close up views at the thick yellow powdered legs of bees that were covered in pollen. We lit a few dried sticks of lavender and stuck them in the ground and let the smoke from the natural incense drift around us. We even grabbed a few puppies (the neighbor’ dog had her pups here!) and brought them out to lay with us in the flowers to complete the cuteness overload.  Why do something halfway?

  Just below that are fields of dahlias.  Many of which we haven’t harvested, because we are again growing them for seed.  Not to sell, but to cross pollinate our favorite varieties so we can create new varieties that are not only beautiful and unique, but hopefully have the hardy traits of their parents that will allow them to be productive, strong, and resilient in our hot climate.

  So, huge puffs of multicolored flowers were populating the fields and were absolutely filled with the most monarch butterflies we have ever had at our farm… a long shot.  If we see a handful in a normal season I'm smiling, but this last couple of weeks we had hundreds of them fluttering about the dahlias.  I was truly giddy with delight.

  I’d be driving by on the tractor doing something that seemed urgent and keep finding myself jumping off to take photos and videos of them.  They are now an endangered species, so having so many of them filling up their tummies on the nectar of our flowers during the North Georgia part of their long migratory journey was just unbelievably gratifying and felt like I was receiving a gift just to be in their presence.  It made such an impression that Mandy declared that we’ll be saving a variety of dahlias that we don’t like and can’t sell, just because the monarchs seem to prefer them to some of the other dahlias.

   Monarchs are such a fascinating species and if you aren’t familiar, you can check out this previous blog I wrote about them. 

   So, on Sunday, we were officially livin the dream. 

   And now I’m sad to see them go as we drift into autumn and what lately has kinda felt like we just fell straight into winter.  Yet, the absence of colorful fields and leafy trees will make Spring all that much more delightful.  In the meantime, we managed to get a last minute harvest in and put a whole bunch of dahlias in the coolers, so the store will still be stocked with fresh dahlias today and tomorrow.

  From that point, we’ll be moving onto our heirloom chrysanthemums which are progressing nicely in our tunnel.  

  We thank you all for the tremendous enthusiasm and support you have shared for our dahlias.  They are such magnificent flowers and we love all the feedback we get about how they’ve brightened your days.  

  For those asking about tubers, they will be something that we sell in the spring, both at our plant sale in March and for a more dedicated dahlia tuber sale in May.

  This weekend is looking to be glorious in our area! Temps in the 70’s everyday! I hope you locals get a chance to step outside a bit and enjoy this sweet spot in nature’s transition as much as you can.  Have a great weekend.