Time sure flies. When our children were in school, our year was marked by what sport we were playing since they were in one sport and then off to another. The year went from volleyball-football to basketball to softball-baseball, depending which child was playing. Now our lives go from winter to spring to summer and finally fall flowers. In school no planning was made to go from one season to the next.

It’s not the same with flower growing. A well-laid plan leads to success. Without a well-written plan you will never remember to order bulbs when their availability is at the highest so that you get what you want. Order too late and you have to settle for what’s left or none at all. Keeping detailed records of when you plant seed, germination times, transplant dates, and first harvest of crop can sure help when someone wants to know when you will have a crop available. Weather does play a part in the timing but you will have a good idea of availability.

This year was so different than last year’s spring. Frost in Texas at the end of April was a first for our farm. We actually enjoyed so many of our spring crops a lot longer this year than I can ever remember. I was thinking is this what growers in the North experience and thinking wow, I like this. Other growers like Tanis Clifton, not so much. Lilies are a big part of her business, and the cold weather left her in a pinch because none bloomed in time for Mother’s Day. When it finally warmed up, she had 1000 lilies bloom at one time and that’s just too many for her markets.

Our flower business has been awesome this year. The economy in our part of the region has been booming. Lots and lots of weddings this year and great flower sales have kept our crew hopping. Doing a full market sale and two weddings on some weekends have really showed me the strengths of having a great work crew.

From Folsom, Louisiana, Nancy Bartlett reports record Mother Day’s sales and is excited about growing again. So happy for her as she took a hit from the hurricane after last year’s Regional Meeting at her farm.

Almost every day my husband, who works off the farm (the real money-maker in our family), leaves the house saying “You don’t know how good you have it. What I would give to do what you do all day.” I believe he thinks I sit on my rear and listen to the birds sing all day and put cute little flowers together. Deep down I know he knows what I do is hard and he is just kidding but yes he really believes that I have it good. Well it is good and I thank God everyday that I get to do what I do.

Last week I had to keep one of my 3-year-old granddaughters with me while trying to pick lilies. We made it fun for her by riding on the golf cart from patch to patch, and by the time we got done she knew how to strip the leaves off lilies and put them in the bucket while learning to count. Those are the special memories. I’m very lucky to have the support around me that allows me to spend a lot of time with the flowers.

That support team goes out farther than just my husband. Recently myself and two young ladies who work for me spent 11 hours putting together two weddings, and we were trying to finish up to get out of town for a long weekend. I could see it was not going to happen if I didn’t call in the troops. I happen to have the best sister in the whole wide world and I made a call to her because I knew she was off and right down the road and over she came. Next I call my daughter, who was coming to pick me up to go out of town and said you better come a couple of hours early to help me get finished or we are not leaving as planned. Well, she comes over with a couple of the kiddos and we put them to work, too. The eight-year-old and my daughter went to pick tomatoes, and then put flowers in water piks for the wedding . My sister makes a cake topper and a memory vase and runs those out to the site and comes back to help the girls make 22 floral bowls for a brunch before leaving for a softball playoff game. My niece and one of the girls working for me are taking detailed notes of where all these flowers go and when while I’m trying to finish making 12 wrist corsages and a halo. My nephew who is working for me for the summer is also standing by for a detailed list of what to pick and water while I’m out of town. Thanks to an awesome family, an iPhone with instant messaging and photos, we were able to be away from the farm and make it all happen. I told you this story to show how teamwork can make things happen. Yep and you are probably wondering where is my husband through all this. He’s already at the beach enjoying the good life with some of the other kiddos and now you know who really has it made.

Flower farming has its ups and downs in production, and keeping a full-time crew is a hurdle when it comes to being able to pay a person what they need to make to keep them working for you and still make a profit. Finding that level of production and diversity versus income to make a profit is different on every farm and that has to be worked out by each grower. There are many ways to market your flowers and you just have to figure out the perfect recipe for your farm.

The “buy local-grown” niche has really been catching on in our area. Many brides are sourcing local growers to grow their flowers, and I’m very glad when that grower is myself. A Houston-area flower wholesaler is sourcing out Texas-grown flowers for a large chain to push the local bouquet, and is currently working with a couple of our Region’s growers to start making that happen. Hopefully in my next report I can tell you how all that is going. Right now it’s all in the beginning stages and I hope them the best. I think the future for cut flowers is very bright and there are a lot of opportunities out there. You just have to hustle and they will come. I’m finding out that even event venues are looking to source out local flowers because we have picked up two new ones and a new wedding planner by just word of mouth and social networking in the last month.

There are two more super regional meetings left to attend this year. I hope you choose to go to one or both because I think they are going to be really good. Check the ASCFG web site and make your reservations now. Happy growing and enjoy your summer.

Rita Anders

Cuts of Color

Rita Anders Cuts of Color Contact at [email protected]