Last Sunday was muddy and dreary but the group that gathered in front of the blazing fire at Curtis House in Ashfield was as bright and sunny as a summer day. We had all gathered to have Jeff Farrell, Gloria Pacosa and Lisa Newman, the newly formed Trillium Workshops, teach us how we could all have cutting gardens to fill our houses with fresh flowers while leaving our flower borders intact.
These three friends came together hardly more than a month ago to share their collective knowledge and experience and to have some fun. It all began when Pacosa, a floral designer and owner of the multi-faceted Gloriosa and Co. (www.gloriosaco.com), called Ashfield friend and neighbor Jeff Farrell and asked him to help with a cooking event. He said he couldn’t cook but he could help with gardening.
Hmmmmm. That started the wheels turning and they quickly called Newman and before they knew it they had a name, a list of programs they could offer, and a website, where they could promote them. “This is kind of guerilla organizing,” Newman said. “We have no shortage of ideas! We decided to just do it.”
The list of workshops calls on skills they all possess. Farrell is a skilled professional gardener and garden consultant. He currently tends 12 gardens including the garden in Heath that belongs to Northampton artist Scott Prior, previously owned by Elsa Bakalar. At the beginning of his career Farrell worked for several years with Elsa Bakalar and he has arranged three tours of that garden giving gardeners a chance to see the interesting and varied progression of bloom beginning on June 20, and later in July and September.
I met Gloria Pacosa years ago when I worked at Artspace (then called the Arts Council) and was impressed with her sense of design and exquisite craftsmanship, all in evidence at the cutting garden workshop.
The vivacious Lisa Newman grew up gardening and has spent her professional life in publishing, but often connected with gardens, scouting for gardens and organizing photo shoots for various publications like Horticulture and other magazines and book publishers. She gets to test and review new tools and equipment. A good person to know!
I wanted to attend this workshop because flower arranging has never been my forte. I put a bunch of peonies or autumn branches in a vase and call it a day. I needed Trillum.
Now I already know that perennials have a fairly short period of bloom, and I know a few annuals like zinnias and cosmos, but I never seemed to be able to put together a pretty bouquet or arrangement. The Trillium crew anticipated my ignorance and handed out lists of annuals, perennials, herbs and shrubbery and even vegetables that can be used in flower arrangements. Suddenly I realized I had many more plants in my garden that I could use, without even buying more seeds or starts, but I am never one to pass up a chance to buy more plants.
Some good annuals for arrangements are Bells of Ireland, pot marigolds, cosmos, delphiniums, love in a mist, snapdragons, snapdragons, sunflowers and salvias. You can use any perennials that are in bloom at a given moment, but I had never thought of pea vines, kale, chard, and dill from the vegetable garden as bouquet material. Foliage from oakleaf hydrangea, cotinus, and Diabolo ninebark which have dramatic dark leaves are useful additions.
After getting answers to our own garden problems, and a delicious tea time, Pacosa put together a beautiful arrangement in a pretty little tag sale bowl. That was an important tip for me. If you have inexpensive containers you can make an arrangement and give it away without worrying about reclaiming the vase.
I also learned from the demonstration that I haven’t been using floral foam correctly. It needs to be soaked ahead of time! I never knew. After the foam was in the bowl she topped it with moss from the lawn she had harvested last fall and stored in her basement. Branches of dark leaved azalea and pink stocks from the supermarket were the main ingredients. “I love pink and brown in arrangements,” Pacosa said.
After she even more quickly put together another very different arrangement in a tall vase it was clear she is never stymied.
For full information about additional workshops, April 25 – Container Design and Planting; May 16 – Daffodil Workshop; and May 22 – Creating an Outdoor Garden Room for Entertaining and relaxing as well as short demonstrations in the Curtis House garden on Saturday mornings while the Ashfield Farmer’s Market is in operation logon to www.trilliumworkshops.blogspot.com.
Other interesting and informative meetings are coming up. The Franklin County Giant Pumpkin Growers are meeting on Tuesday, March 30 at Turner’s Falls High School at 7 pm in Room 206. If you are interested in competitive pumpkin growing this is place to learn how to do it. Call Lu or Sue Chadwick, 773-3283, for more information.
Ed Himlan, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition, will be at the Greenfield Public Library on Tuesday, April 6 at 6:30 pm to give a free presentation about the benefits of rain gardens, and how to plant and create one of your own. This program is organized by Greening Greenfield, and co-sponsored by many local organizations. ###
Between The Rows March 27, 2010