As soon as I finished writing my last Regional Report I remembered one of my favorite new perennial cuts from past season.  I received plugs of Geum ‘ Fireball’ from Terra Nova Nurseries (www.terranovanurseries.com) in the spring of 2004.  I planted them out and they flowered the first year, but I was not impressed.  However, they were fantastic the next spring.  They flowered in the early spring on 18-inch stems and were very prolific.  They had a very delicate look, but were very rugged and had a 7-10 day vase life.  The color was a delicate earthy orange color. The flowers are great in straight bunches or arrangements.  Customers often commented that they thought they were poppies or anemones.
    
During this time of rest and planning for next year, I review my book that I take to the markets to see what great visions or thoughts I had during the season.  I always carry this book to the farmers’ markets to write down orders and questions people have and to communicate with my employees about the market.   One of my current and exciting ideas, which was also reinforced from the Lancaster Conference, is going to be mini-bouquets.   By offering a very simple and small bouquet in the $3.00 – $4.00 range you can use shorter-stemmed flowers that otherwise wasted.  These smaller bouquets could be a great gift, a great desk arrangement and could also be a great impulse item set by the cash box.  Just like the big retailers.  I am sure they will be a hit with children.  I plan on finding a small glass jar to sell with the arrangement in and offer the vase for a small extra cost.
    
After a five-year break, I have again started selling sweet peas, which always sell out and help to inspire this marketing idea.  I will let you know next summer how it goes.  If anybody has any similar ideas or experiences please share them and I can include it in my next column.
    
There have been some significant changes to the ASCFG Cut Flower Trials program. First, many thanks to John Dole who has administered a lot of the paperwork.  If you are interested in trialing seed, contact Judy at the ASCFG office and she can sign you up.  The perennial trials will be available for a fee and offers a great opportunity to trial small quantities of plants without having to meet shipping minimums.  Once again let the office know if you are interested.  I would like to see more Northeast representation in these valuable programs.  As specialty cut flower growers we need to stay on the forefront of introducing new varieties and help our plant vendors with valuable feedback.
    
Be on the watch for a Northeast Regional Meeting plan.  Enjoy the winter and if you are in the area come on by to ice fish for smelts.  A lot of fun and important information have been shared in the confines of a ice  shack.