Everything here at Lynnvale Farm is lush and green, too green. Zinnias, dahlias and lisianthus continue to enjoy copious amounts of irrigation from record rainfall, yet the lower temperatures, threats of frost and lack of sunshine have delayed our production significantly.  Early June has always been a particularly challenging month for us, dependent largely on the success of our fall-seeded crops: larkspur, bupleurum, bachelor buttons, etc. This year most of these have been disappointing for various reasons. So we find ourselves with more markets than ever and less product than ever. A grower’s conundrum and we’ve taken juggling our successful crops to a new level.
Naturally, peonies are a mainstay for May production, however, with a little hustle we plan to market them through June. We grow ‘Festiva Maxima’, ‘Mon Jules Eli’ and some unnamed bright and dark pinks. Successful at market, with our retail florists, and show-stopping for events, we recognize that there is little way our limited production can meet the insatiable demand. Since most of our markets are “producer only” it’s easy to fall prey to the seasonal mantra “we sell only what we grow”. So, before our first stems are ready for harvest we are buying peonies from a local mail-order nursery (growing them primarily for tuber sales in the fall) and are re-selling ‘Red Charm’ and ‘Coral Charms’, among others, to our retail florists. We are also using them for our events, squirreling away exotic Japanese types and many others even while our first stems are coming in. Keeping track of what’s ours and can be sold at our markets, and what’s purchased can be challenging.
This year we wrapped the heads of our peony bunches in white freezer paper and labeled each with date, variety, source and event information, if necessary. The wrapped bunches are stored dry in boxes in our cooler and are easy to grab and go for market and/or deliveries. The freezer paper stands up to any unwelcome moisture in our market-bound ice chests and the labeling keeps us straight.
    As I write we have only 15 bunches of our own peonies left, with 300 or so locally-sourced peonies awaiting events and florists, and we expect a delivery any day of beautiful ‘Red Charms’ from Third Branch Flower Farm of Vermont. More so than early peonies, the demand is even higher for these beauties in late June and early July. By keeping peonies on our availabilty list for as long as possible we’ve been able to keep our customers happy and more than just our fields filled with green.
In closing, thanks to all attendees, speakers and sponsors of the Mid-Atlantic Regional meeting at our farm this past April. I look forward to seeing you all at our National Conference in November. Good luck this season.