By Trilby Becker, Legacy volunteer and Co-owner of Sunseed Farm
Also see Trilby’s previous guest post about planting the bulbs that, happily, yielded these flowers!
Wow! I admit I had my doubts, but spring has worked its magic and raised a riot of color from the heavy soil I was sure had smothered my flowers. In mid-February the plants were wee and wan, but I dug up a few and the roots seemed healthy so I dared to hope.
Sure enough, the anemones bloomed in late March. The first flowers were sweet but tiny and useless to a florist. I thought the whole thing was a bust, but after the first flush and a few days of sun, they came back tall and vigorous. I can easily see why people love the pure white petals, shaped like butterfly wings and offset by a large, blue-black eye in the center.
The ranunculus were next, in everything from eye-popping orange and maize yellow, to delicate apricot and speckled rose. They are as soft and round as marshmallows at first, opening into dozens of tightly layered petals with a bright citrusy scent.
And then the “renown unique” tulips shot up like fists on two-foot stems. Often mistaken for peonies, they are hot pink, green, and ruffled like chubby ballerinas.
The florists tell me I am the only local grower who has anything right now, so basically all I have to do to sell them is show up. But showing up day after day is a lot of work, and I am feeling more like a delivery woman than a grower lately. It’s a problem for all growers in high season.
So, a couple of women I know have hatched a plan to start Michigan’s first flower cooperative and have pulled me in to help get it off the ground. The Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative will open in June at Passionflower, a floral design company owned by Susan Mcleary, in her lovely new studio. Members will bring their fresh cut blooms to the space every week, and professional florists and floral designers will arrive with checkbooks in hand clamoring to buy us out…we hope! In the meantime it’s a labor of love and it’s exciting to dream of what it may come.
Having a wholesale market where I could take most of my flowers once a week would certainly make it easier than coming into town and making multiple drops per day. I decided to simplify my operation in another way this season as well. In years past I have grown dozens of varieties and spent countless hours making beautiful bouquets for my CSA members. While this was a wonderful way to spend my time, if it paid for childcare I was lucky. This year I am zeroing in on a few varieties I adore that fetch a good price and betting I can sell them all to florists and a handful of CSA members who also love them. And finally, I am planning to plant a perennial pollinator garden that may also yield some blooms for me in years to come. I’ll circle back mid-summer to give you an update. Until then, Happy Spring!