Greetings from sunny and warm Conway, South Carolina! We are thrilled to be writing this as Charles begins his term as the Southeast Regional Director. We live in Zone 8b in Conway which many people know as “the town you drive through to get to Myrtle Beach.” We actually live in a rural community called Cedar Grove, where we have lived all of our married life…almost 29 years. Charles was raised on the farm we live on, where his ancestors have farmed for generations. His grandfather was a tobacco farmer, back in the day when tobacco was the primary crop in South Carolina.

We never dreamed in a million years we would end up farming, but it all started when Patty read an article in our local paper about Lisa Zeigler, who began flower farming in Virginia on family land. That got us to thinking, since every year we planted zinnias with our yearly vegetables and were always amazed at what prolific bloomers they were. We decided to give it a shot and began researching, which led us to the ASCFG and the amazing world of cut flower farming! Now, neither of us have any horticulture background whatsoever. All we have endeavored up to now is through trial and error, and wisdom gleaned from other flower growers and the ASCFG.

Early on, we visited the farm of Donna and Tim Mills in Lexington, South Carolina. Donna and Tim were (and continue to be) unbelievably gracious and generous with their knowledge and advice. We also met another couple at the ASCFG conference in Orlando, Sybil and Gary Calder from Clayton, North Carolina, whose farm we also visited. They are also awesome, kind and generous folks. There is just no way we would have been able to build our cut flower business without the vital information we have obtained from friends like these in the business and many others through the ASCFG and the wonderful Bulletin Board.

We are in our 6th year of growing a total of 2 ½ acres a year. Three years ago we put up a 30×96 hoophouse, which is still a work in progress. We grow mostly annuals and a few perennials. Our crops include delphinium, sweet peas, larkspur, bachelors buttons, lilies, Karma dahlias, sunflowers, celosia, zinnias, sedum, amaranthus, star of Bethlehem and grasses. We also specialize in greenery including eucalyptus, smilax, curly willow, and bamboo for weddings and special events. We are blessed to have an abundance of offerings from Mother Nature herself, as smilax and bamboo grow prolifically in the wild here. We sell directly to florists primarily, with the occasional retail sale. We are very fortunate to sell to florists who appreciate the unusual and do very creative flower work.

Charles farms full time. Patty works as a school psychologist in a nearby school district, but is able to farm full time when she is “off” in the summers. One of our sons is invaluable help in the summer when he is home from college. We have three grown sons, a squirrel dog named Bubba, and a Chihuahua named Peanut who adopted us.

This was the first year that we participated in the ASCFG Seed Trials. Since this issue reviews the trials, we thought we would share our top three favorites, which we definitely want to grow again.

Number 1 is the Amaranthus caudatus ‘Green Pearls’/‘Mira’. This bicolor hanging amaranthus mixed the best of the typical red and green. Germination was excellent, with some plants growing to as tall as six feet, which required staking. The ropes were not uniformly “bicolor”, but overall the florists loved it, and it was a top seller. We definitely want to grow this again.

Number 2 is Setaria ‘Red Jewel’. Germination was quite good. Strong stems and very attractive seed heads made this a big winner with the florists. Similar in looks to ‘Lime Light’ millet except with a reddish color; it was popular this fall.

Number 3 was a surprise: ‘American Pagoda Yellow’ marigold. Germination was almost 100%. This flower was long-stemmed — up to 36″ —  with very strong stems. The color was nice and bright. Yes, there is the marigold smell, but the smell lessened after picking. The long stem length and long vase life made this a winner. (Note: we trialed a number of marigold varieties; some were short and not as easily saleable, but they were prolific bloomer — literally hundreds of flowers on a short row. After a rain, the flowers filled up with water, making very nice “water balloons” for a water balloon fight in the garden between Patty and son Kelly.)

As we write this, it is the beginning of December when our florist customers are starting to place their greenery orders. Later in the winter, we will have time to begin to think about a Regional Meeting for the summer of 2011. We have an idea or two we are thinking about, but would love to hear from members in our Region of what you would like to do and where! Please email us or call. We would love to hear from you!

Charles Hendrick

Yuri Hana Flower Farm, Inc.

Charles Hendrick Yuri Hana Flower Farm, Inc. [email protected]