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Wild Rose Flower Farm

Danielle Smith at her Wild Rose Flower Farm both at the Farmers Market

Danielle Smith at her Wild Rose Flower Farm booth at the Farmers Market

While shopping at the Greenfield Farmers Market last year I met Danielle Smith at her Wild Rose Flower Farm booth. I found the name of her farm, Wild Rose, irresistible, of course, and she was always surrounded by a bounty of lovely spring bulbs, and later an array of dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, delphiniums and all manner of other annuals. At the Winter Market I bought a wonderful wreath to hang on our new front door.

All this summer we tried to set a date to talk about her gardens, but we never pulled it off until the fresh flowers were pretty well frosted and she was concentrating on her dried flowers which are equally a delight. We finally got to meet in her studio where she puts together bouquets and arrangements for weddings and other events, as well as for farmer’s markets and other outlets like food coops.

Wild Rose Flower Farm studio

Wild Rose Flower Farm studio

Looking at the bright sunny room with dried flowers hanging from racks and the floor covered with containers of dried flower bouquets waiting for the final Farmers Market of the year, it was hard to imagine that she had ever turned her face away from the color and excitement of the floral world, but she said she came late to flowers.

After graduating with an environmental degree from the New College of Florida in Sarasota, Smith began her career on organic vegetable farms. “I really thought it was not okay to love flowers. I disdained all frivolity,” she said. Even after a stint working on a flower farm Smith had to fight what she came to call her internalized misogyny and kept “my attraction to all things bright and soft and frilly to myself like a shameful secret.”  It took years to acquiesce to her delight in flowers.

That acknowledgement led her to the founding of Wild Rose Flower Farm. She rents land in Florence, not far from the Art and IndustryBuilding where she has her studio. Although she was ready to give up her total devotion to organic vegetables and embrace “the magical and miraculous, sensual and seasonal, riotously colorful and abundant world of flowers,” she was not willing to give up her principles about growing plants organically and healthily.

Like any farmer Smith works in her field, weeding and pruning, and then harvesting on early summer mornings. She then brings her harvest to her studio where she has a cooler. On a really hot morning she may have to make more than one trip so that the blossoms don’t have time to wilt. Once the flowers have cooled and drunk their fill she can put them together into arrangements.

Danielle Smith of Wild Rose Flower farm

Danielle Smith of Wild Rose Flower Farm

Smith is an organic flower gardener because she is thinking about the larger need to grow all plants, not only edibles, without poisons. She is thinking about protecting bees and other pollinators, about protecting the water systems, and about protecting workers from the effects of dangerous chemicals on flower farms operating on a much larger scale than acre of land she rents near her studio.

I first became aware of the threats Smith works against when I read Amy Stewart’s book Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful in the Flower Business. Many flowers on florists’s shelves come from half way around the world where they may have affected pollinator colonies and water sources. They have also used immense amounts of energy to fly to our shores and around the world.

My Peace Corps daughter Betsy Reilley served in Kenya (1987-89) and was stationed near LakeNaivasha, a large freshwater lake that now provides water to 127 flower farms around its shores. These farms produce 35% of all flowers shipped to the EU, plus they ship flowers to Russia, Japan and the U.S. Our Valentine roses probably come from Kenya. Just think of all the watering those roses and other plants require. These farms take an enormous toll on the environment.

All of which is to say it is as important to buy local flowers as it is to buy local vegetables and meat. Local organic flower farms like Wild Rose are protecting our local environment and the world environment as well. Wild Rose Flower Farm is a part of the nationwide Slow Flowers movement.

Slow Flowers is the name of a new movement that promotes flowers grown in the United States and sold locally. The flowers will reflect the seasons, although through the magic of greenhouses there can be blossoms even in December. December also means evergreens and colorful natural ornaments like winterberries, red and gold.

Right now Smith is preparing garlic and flower braids, small terrariums she planted with succulents that she has been raising since the spring, more dried flower bouquets, and starting to think about the wreaths she will make like the one I bought last year.

Wild Rose Flower Farm studio

Wild Rose Flower Farm studio

She is also preparing to show off and sell her work at the 20th Art and Industry Open Studios Holiday Sale in Florence on November 12 and 13. Smith and 49 other artists and fine crafters will be showing and selling their work, paintings, sculpture and all manner of crafts. There will be music too. From the hours of 10 am to 5 pm you can tour and shop and enjoy the creative buzz. For more information logon to the website

Between  the Rows   November 6, 2016

Is Your Poinsettia an Annual or Perennial?



Do you treat your Christmas Poinsettia as an annual, and throw it way when it finally loses all those beautiful bracts, or do you care for it, baby it, and suffer its dormancy in order to bring it back into glorious bloom next December?

Can you guess which approach I take with a Christmas poinsettia?

I’ll give you a hint. This is my second poinsettia, a gift from my husband. I left my first one in the car. Overnight. Temperatures down to 10 degrees.


A Season of Garden Flowers



Garden Flowers. Gardeners who want a flower garden usually want that flower garden to be in bloom all season long. There are different ways to do this.

One way is to have different flower beds for different seasons.  I have never been willing to try and to put spring bulbs into a flower bed that will have other flowers blooming throughout later seasons. I plant my bouquet of daffodils in a section of grass. When they have bloomed and the foliage has ripened and browned that area of lawn gets mowed down.

Spring blooming bulbs can also be planted underneath deciduous trees beneath a groundcover. Some groundcovers like vinca, tiarella or barren strawberry will add their own springtime blooms. Again, when the foliage has ripened in a bed of groundcovers it will soon wither away and disappear.

Spring blooming bulbs can also be planted in a bed of other spring blooming perennials like bleeding hearts, hellebores, dodecatheon (shooting star), or brunnera with its blue flowers that resemble forget-me-nots. Siberian irises are another easy spring bloomer that comes in an array of mostly blue, purple and white shades.

Peonies are flowers that can take you from mid-spring to early summer because there are so many varieties, in colors from creamy white, to pink, coral and rich red. The lovely thing about peonies is that after they bloom and are deadheaded, the deep green foliage is still a good addition to the flower bed. Peonies are also welcome in the garden because they are such long lived plants and have almost no disease or pest problems.

Achillea 'Terra Cotta'

Achillea ‘ Terra Cotta’

A bed of  summer flowers is easy to fill with the spikes of astilbe, the flat flower heads of yarrow (achillea), Shasta daisies that can be low or tall, the fat flower clusters of garden phlox (P. paniculata),  spiky sea holly, sunny heleniums that bloom for almost 2 months, spikes of liatris or gayfeather, and daylilies with their strappy leaves. I grow my daylilies in a mass planting, but they also work well as individual plants in a border.

There is a host of daisy-like flowers. I have the tall Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’  that has just begun to bloom in hot shades of gold and red, and pink coneflower (Echinacea) but there are golden marguerites, drought and deer resistant gaillardias, and coreopsis.

8-14-13 Helenium 'Mardi Gras'

Daisies themselves are member of the asteraceae family, so of course, we have a number of asters that bloom in the fall. There is the popular shocking pink ‘Alma Potschke,’ the tall ‘Harrington’s Pink,’ lavender Aster frikartii, and ‘Lady in Black,’ which refers to the dark stems and foliage, not the pale pink flowers.

Dahlias grow from tubers that are not winter hardy in our part of the world, but they can be treated like annuals. There are large and small dahlias, tall and short, in many colors. They begin flowering in mid-summer and bloom until frost. They make great cut flowers, and the more you cut, the more blooms you will have.

The iconic fall bloomer is the chrysanthemum which not only comes in many shades from pale to brilliant or rich, but in many forms, button blossoms, dinner plate size, spider, and spoon petals. I have what is called a Sheffield daisy or Sheffie, actually a chrysanthemum, which is a wonderful shade of pink with a yellow center that blooms late in the fall and is a good spreader. I have been able to give away divisions of this beautiful plant.

Sheffield Daisy

Sheffield Daisy – Sheffies

Another late summer, early fall bloomer is the Montauk daisy. There you have a description of the flowers, but the plant itself is actually considered a sub-shrub. It can reach a height of three feet with an equal spread and the foliage is heavy and almost succulent.

Since I mention sub-shrubs, I want to point out the benefit of including blooming shrubs in your seasonal flower bed. Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia) is a surprising plant with fragrant flowers that blooms in April and May before it has much foliage. It is a low maintenance plant that will grow only two or three feet high and just as wide.

Clethera alnifolia (sweet pepperbush) ‘Ruby Spice’ is a summer bloomer that welcomes a little shade, and prefers a moist site, which makes it perfect for a rain garden as well as a summer flower bed. The fragrant pink six inch long bottlebrush flowers bloom in July and August.

Hydrangeas are a flowering shrub that will have bloom well into the fall. I have let my airy-blossomed ‘Mothlight’ get away from me and I am trying to gradually prune it down to a more reasonable height. I also have a fairly new ‘Pinky Winky’ hydrangea with loose pyramidal flowers that become darker and darker pink as the season progresses. So far the deer are helping me keep its size limited, but it can grow to eight feet tall and as wide. Very hardy and trouble free.

While I have concentrated here on perennial plantings, I have to say that one sure way to have lots of flowers in a bed is to include annuals. Who can resist petunias, annual salvias, verbenas, lobelia, cosmos and osteospurnums. The local garden centers have a full range of annuals in spring, as well as perennials.

Some local garden shops will be having sales of their perennial plants soon. This is a chance to get some bargains as you are thinking about next year’s flower beds.

Between the Rows   July 26, 2014

Five Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

Five plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

I’m just starting to read Five Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra and I find it such an encouraging book.  The book is divided into two sections, one section for sunny gardens and one section for shady gardens. She begins with one color gardens like the Bright White Garden for a sunny location. She suggests ‘David’ phlox, ‘White Swan’ coneflower, ‘Snow Fairy’ caryopteris, lambs ears, and candytuft, but gives alternatives and a planting plan.  It is her planting plans that make Five Plant Gardens a really useful book. It is all very well to know tall plants in back, and short plants in front, but that doesn’t take into account plant spread or the differences of foliage.

White gardens are beautiful in the moonlight, blue gardens are peaceful, but should be closer to the house, and yellow garden are pure gold!  Nancy beautifully illustrates the many ways of looking at color in the garden and the myriad ways of arranging or expanding a flower bed.  I’ve just started, but you will be hearing more about this book soon.  I’m ready to think about flowers! And Nancy is the person to give me some new things to think about.  Nancy also has an excellent and very informative blog at

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – August 15, 2013

Ann Varner Dayliliy

On this Garden Bloggers Bloom day there are some surprises.  The weather should not surprise anymore, but it does, and often causes gnashing of teeth. In June we had a glorious 12 inches of rain. In July there was no rain! It was hot! An official heat wave. In August it has been much cooler and we had 4 inches of rain so far. Still there are lots of blooms in the un-irrigated flower gardens. The Daylily Bank is drawing down but Ann Varner is still magnificent.

Helenium “Mardi Gras”

In spite of the dry, and now cool weather the Helenium  is a colorful clump.

Black Beauty lilies

I have to lie under them to get a shot of the Black Beauties. The blossoms of the lilies and the adjacent crimson bee  balm are not very big this year. Note to self. More compost in this spot. The other lilies are also still blooming by the house.

Artemesia lactiflora

Artemesia lactiflora has much less dramatic blossoms,  but they are dainty, and much taller than usual this year.

Achillea ‘The Pearl’

Achillea is another dainty flower, but a strong grower. The only other yarrow blooming now is the sulphur yellow variety. Nameless.

Joe Pye Weed

This new Joe Pye Weed has just come into bloom.  I don’t know if it is a miniature, or just not fully feeling its oats this first year.

Echinacea and Miss Lingaard phlox

The big clump of Echinacea purpurea will need to be divided but it is gorgeous this year. The white phlox is Miss Lingaard and it should have bloomed in June!  The Russian sage on the other side of the Echinacea is also blooming well.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

‘Limelight’ is the only one of the three ‘new’ hydrangeas to have recovered very well from a good browsing from the deer, but ‘Pinky Winky’ and the oakleaf hydrangea do have a few small blossoms.

Thomas Affleck rose

A visiting friend sighed that there were probably no roses anymore. Well, not quite. Thomas Affleck, as usual, is putting out a strong second flush, and other roses put out an occasional bloom


Folksinger, a Griffith Buck hybrid also put out a good second flush. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of his delicate decline. I do not think he has much strength left for this season.

Also blooming are the tall veronicas, very tall and deeply blue aconite, cimicifuga, a few zinnias and  gomphrena. Not too bad, and there is still more to come which makes me happy.

To see what else is  blooming across our  great nation go to May Dreams Gardens where Carol hosts Bloom Day. Thank you Carol!

X is for Xeric – and Drought Resistant Plants

X is for Xeric. Xeric plants are those adapted to an extremely dry habitat. While the weather/climate in my area is definitely changing with periods of drought, and  heavier rains when they come. I am paying more attention to those plants that are drought tolerant, if not really xeric.

Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’

These Gaillardias are a wonderful perennials that have done beautifully in my garden.  After checking a list of drought resisant plants I was happy to see that I have a number already in my garden: echinops, yarrow, heliopsis, veronica, baptisia, dianthus,and perovski otherwise known as Russian Sage.

Pink Grootendorst rugosa rose

There are also a lot of drought resistant shrubs including Rugosa roses, of which I have a few, and they are tough in all weathers. Other drought resistant shrubs include the common forsythia, spirea, junipers and the wonderful fothergilla. For a larger list click here

We are all tryimg to adapt to the challenges of our weather, but adapting doesn’t mean a painful limit. We might just have to look at different plant families.

To see what else begins with x click here.

Bloom Day February 2013

Paper White Narcissus

On this Bloom Day the ground is covered with snow and the plow drifts are still  substantial. My indoor blooms are modest. These paper whites, a bonus from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, have been blooming for over a month. A couple of the stems collapsed, but I cut the blooms off and they continue in a little glass vase.


This little pot of primroses was a door prize at the annual meeting of the Greenfield Garden Club. I will plant it  outdoors when the snow is gone. We’ll see if it has enough vigor to survive after  all these indoor days.

White Cyclamen

I found this little pot of white cyclamen in a forgotten corner of the piazza in the fall when I  brought the houseplants in. I began to water it again and that is all it needed. It began to bloom before Christmas and will continue for a little while longer I think. They are beautiful on my bedroom windowsill.

I thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens every month for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and giving us all a chance to show what we have blooming. This is a great gift for us all, especially those who have so few winter blooms. Click here to see all those other blooms.


Speedy Vegetable Garden Giveway

Speedy Vegetable Garden by Diacono and Leendertz

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how fast does your garden grow? The 208 page Speedy Vegetable Garden by Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz (Timber Press) will give you a whole new view of how fast you can grow something to eat. This means we can keep some food growing all year long, if only on our windowsill. Impatient children will find that they can harvest some greens in less than two weeks.

I have grown sprouts in my kitchen for years using jars or a sprout bag, but this book opened up whole  new world of quick harvests. Diacono and Leendertz take the reader and gardener all the way from ‘soaks’ to quick harvest vegetables like zucchini and cherry tomatoes. I had never heard of a soak. Did you know  that  soaking pumpkin seeds for only 1-4 hours will wake up the germination instinct and even before the nascent sprout is visible you will have  buttery crop to sprinkle on your salad or sandwich adding potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, and D? Peanuts can be soaked for 12 hours, until the root just breaks through. Lots of vitamins and minerals. Almonds can also be soaked for 12 hours and eaten with gusto.

Moving on from soaks and sprouts, micro-greens come next. Full directions are given for seeding and watering. Little plastic seed flats can be used, but metal guttering cut to an appropriate size can also make a good planter for intensely flavore crops like cilantro, fenn, radishes and oriental greens. A micro-green is really just the baby stage of the shoot and this is a time when nutrients are at a high level. You wouldn’t make a whole salad out of micro-greens, but they add vibrant taste to your regular salad. Harvest in about two weeks. If you grow microgreens you’ll want to keep successively planted containers going all the time.

Other chapters detail cut and come again salads and quick harvest vegetables, again with good directions for keeping the harvest coming. The illustrations are beautiful, as are these young healthy plants, but the chapter on edible flowers makes you understand how easily you can make a salad suitable for the cover of any food magazine. And if you don’t quite know what to do with any of these crops, Diacono and Leendertz provide you with 20 quick and easy recipes. The Spring Garden Tart with spring onions, spinach, peas, beans, herbs and cheese would give my family a very happy lunchtime.

I always say you can’t hurry in the garden, and that is very true. However, there is no harm in letting vegetables ready themselves for the table as quickly as they like.  In the Speedy Vegetable Garden Diacono and Leenderts show us how these speedy vegetables can lead us to a longer growing season, and extremely nutritious vegetables without the usual back-straining labor.  If you would like to win a copy of this book and start your own speedy garden just leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday February 13. If you want to tell me about the quickest – or longest crop – you ever grew so much the better I am all ears. I will randomly choose a winner and announce it on Thursday, February 14. Because Timber Press and I love my readers.

Glory in the Morning on Bloom Day

Grandpa Ott morning gloryGood glory in the morning on these August days. Things are looking a little fresher after the 2-1/2 inches of rain we had this past weekend. And another inch last night.  At first I didn’t think I had much in bloom – and then I took another look.

Aconite and Moth Light hydrangea

I didn’t expect the aconite would be embracing the Moth Light hydrangea – or vice versa.


I bought a bag of acidanthra bulbs on a whim and them forgot where I planted them, and even that I had planted them

Arizona Sun Gaillardia

Arizona Sun Gaillardia are doing well – after a slow start – and so are the Oranges and Lemons gaillardias in the other bed.

Shastas, echinacea, Russian sage

The Switzerland shasta daisies are really just about gone. Deadheading needed.

Other plants in bloom: an occasional rose, Cana agastache, bee balm, daylilies, phlox, Black Beauty lilies (much smaller this year I think because of the drought), impatiens, and pots of million bells,  petunias and fuschia. Tigridia bulbs in pots also still putting out a bloom a day.

For views of what is blooming in other gardens across our great land visit Carol, our host, at May Dreams Gardens.

If you want to  look at other beautiful photographs check out Wordless Wednesday. I am only mostly Wordless.

Benefit Plant Sales Galore

Solomon's Seal and azalea

Benefit plant sales are a traditional spring event. Gardeners can spruce up their gardens and benefit various community organizations. Which will you choose? Or will you choose them all? Have you thought about giving your mother a gift certificate (one way or another) so she can pick out  some flowers herself?

This Saturday, May5 the Greenfield Library will open its plant sale at 9:30 am on the front lawn. It will close by 12:30, unless everything is gone earlier, of course. The book sale will also be going on so you might find some helpful garden books as well.

St. James Church will hold its ‘Come Grow With Us’ plant sale from 9am – 2pm on  the church. There will be many perennials for sale as well as heirloom tomato plants. Two trellises, one bamboo and one hickory, will be raffled off the day of the sale. There will also be children’s activities.

The Bridge of Flowers will hold its Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 19 at the Trinity Church’s Baptist Lot on Main Street in Shelburne Falls from 9 to noon. There will be nearly 1000 perennials for sale, from the Bridge and area gardeners, specialty plants from Hillside Nursery (a rare opportunity to buy these) and scores of annuals from LaSalles. Many vendors will be selling garden related items from note cards, tools, glass beads, books, sculptures, and more!

Bleeding heart

Nasami Farm in Whately, the New England Wildflower Society‘s nursery, is open on weekends now. Buying their beautiful plants will benefit the New England Wildflower Society, one of the oldest conservation organizations in the country, your own landscape and the environment.  Three for one!