Favorite Early Spring Blooms

_DSC0953 Spring is officially here and it is without a doubt my absolute favorite time of year. Its beauty is enhanced by its fleeting nature. A blink of the eye, and summer will be here. But for now, I'm doing all I can to soak up the beauty and abundance of blooms appearing all over the landscape and in our fields. Cascading, intoxicating, fragrant purple wisteria blossoms hang from tall trees along the roadside. Fragrant Jasmine vine begins to bloom on fences and trellises. The saucer magnolias, red buds, dogwoods, and Chickasaw plums burst from their winter slumber in dazzling arrays of pink, purple, and white flowers. My Spirea plants put on an amazing show of white flowering branches over the past few weeks and have since faded. Propagating more of these beauties is definitely at the top of my to do list!

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Our flowers have been slow to come on this year after experiencing a "real" winter. In contrast to last season, when we could count the number of times we had to pull frost cloth on one hand, this winter we had over 12 nights of below freezing temperatures in January alone. We've had another handful of frosts since then, and while most of the plants survived, their blooms have been delayed a bit, leaving me anxiously waiting.

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There have been some early winners though, pulling me through our early March weddings and flower share deliveries. We had a nice flush of snapdragons with beautiful, sturdy, long, straight stems come in by mid February. Their buds were since damaged in the last few cold snaps. We have a few more successions coming in behind them, that are growing beautifully and will provide tall spikes of color for our bouquets in the coming months.

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Some of our other early bloomers include beautiful blue Cynoglossum, Nigella Delft Blue as well as Love-In-A-Mist, and several varieties of Calendula. These were all sown back in early October, transplanted by November, and over-wintered for blooms starting in late January. A favorite Calendula variety this season has been Indian Prince from Baker Creek Seeds. They produce deep orange flowers with the most beautiful shade of crimson on the underside of the petals atop tall sturdy stems. We also have a succession of an apricot-peach colored Calendula called Zeo Lights in the ground from Floret that looks promising!

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This season we're trailing some new bulbs en masse that we've experimented with in seasons past in small numbers. One of my absolute favorites are the anemones. We're growing Marianne Panda, Marianne Lavender, Galilee White, Jerusalem Red White, and Carmel Blue from Gloeckner. We soaked the corms over night and planted them 4 rows in the bed about 5 inches apart on December 20th and harvested the first few blooms the first week of February!  The bulk of the flowers came in by mid-late February and we've been harvesting from them for a solid 6 weeks now. Ideally, we would have gotten our first succession in the ground a few weeks earlier, and planted a second succession as well. The flowers are so lovely and delicate, and age beautifully as they unfurl in the vase. As the plants have matured we've observed longer stem length, but some are still a bit short for our bouquet work. Constructing a hoop house for specialty bulb production to encourage longer stems is also on the to do list for next season!

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Another favorite thats just starting to bloom are our ranunculus. We planted 2,000 of these exactly as we did our anemones, and would have liked to have gotten them in the ground a bit earlier as well. Ideally next season they will also have a hoop house to call home. They are absolutely to die for and are growing surprising well here in Zone 9a.

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With temperatures finally starting to warm up, we're expecting lots more flowers to start pouring out of the fields over the next few weeks. Soon we'll be harvesting classic spring blooms like ammi, stock, delphinium, larkspur, foxglove, statice, campanula, asters, and godetia. Some of our warm seasons flowers, like our early plantings of sunflowers are already starting to bloom. We've been busy transplanting other warm season blooms too, including cosmos, zinnias, celosia, marigolds, and some new trails of nicotiana and salpiglossis.   I'm looking forward to bringing them to the local markets, offering daily deliveries, designing with them for weddings and events and offering them again through our Spring CSA bouquets. Cheers to spring! I hope it brings some beauty your way.

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