Happy mid-season craziness to all! It’s that time of year when markets are in full swing and crops are in full bloom. I hope at least most of you are taking a moment here and there to appreciate the bounty of your farm and the freedom of being able to work in a natural setting, rather than being bound to a desk all day. And, there’s already light at the end of the long, hot tunnel…the National Conference! By the time the Reston Conference rolls around, many of us will be winding down our season and in need of refueling our passion for farming. From the looks of the lineup, this year’s conference will be the inspiration we all need.

The Growers’ School at Andrea Gagnon’s farm will again be hands-on and covers everything from what to grow, how to grow it and how to sell it. I’ll be spending the day there and am really excited to have a chance to gather information and learn from others. After almost 10 years of growing, I am still hungry to learn better ways of working smarter. At the same time, the Alternative Energy program will be held back at the Sheraton (all the more reason to bring a cohort to the conference to divide and conquer). This program is the first of its kind, and truly bound to be a breakthrough for many growers, as each speaker will be sharing cutting edge ways to make your farm more sustainable AND more profitable. Always the industry maverick, Ko Klaver (of Zabo Plant and ASCFG Board Member) put this program together with cut flower growers in mind. However, it is mainly geared to the small farm and much of the information (such as “Running an Efficient Greenhouse off the Grid Sustainably and Profitably) would be valuable to any type of grower.

Other exciting aspects of the Conference include industry insight from a floral designer, the ever-popular Floral Design competition, new varieties report and an awesome lineup of farm tours. I encourage you all to make the effort to attend. Although it can be tricky to find the time or the energy or the money to make it happen, one new idea or inspiration can make it so worth the trip. And this year’s program looks like it may be packed with new ideas.

As I write, my new English rose collection is in full bloom. Although I have grown a few of them in the past, they weren’t babied the way these new plants are and, man, are they stunning. I have been conservatively harvesting stems, trying not to overdo it as they get established, and with each new bloom, I am again confused on which is my favorite. ‘Pat Austin’ and ‘Carding Mill’ are neck and neck in the lead for today. Both are in the orange family, although the colors change as they open, ‘Pat Austin’ looks like a sunset with touches of yellow and ‘Carding Mill’ sometimes looks more peach than orange. Both have strong stems and are covered with blooms that last well, even for Austins. ‘Abraham Darby’ is one that I have grown in the past and still love. Also a prolific bloomer, the flowers are a pinky-peach blend and large and fragrant. I met with a bride in the gardens yesterday and she ruled out the dahlias and other garden flowers she had wanted to include in her September bouquet and centerpieces after falling in love with the roses. Look for a full report on varieties in the next Quarterly!

Becky Devlin

Roost Flowers & Design

Becky Devlin Roost Flowers & Design [email protected]