Sunday, March 2nd started out pretty much like a normal day in Texas. I loaded up my Tahoe with buckets and buckets of beautiful flowers and started my trip to Fort Worth for the Growers’ School at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. It was a nice 71 degrees; the day before we were wearing shorts and the grandkids were running around barefoot and playing in the sand. After being on the road for about an hour and a half, I noticed a wall of fog up ahead. Driving into I discovered it was the front that was supposed to come in later that evening. I’d driven less than a mile when the temperature went from 71 to 51, and dropped steadily after that. In another hour it was freezing and only got colder.

I pulled into Fort Worth with freezing rain on the windshield, cranking up the heat in the car to increase the visibility. Luckily the rain stopped, and I proceeded to one of the tallest overpasses in Fort Worth. It had ice on it and I drove really slow and made my way back down to the bottom only to sit there in standing traffic because of two wrecks on IH30 a mile up the road, right where I needed to exit. I slowly made it to the exit and to the venue.

I was waiting on Cynthia Alexander, who also was experiencing horrible road conditions, so I sat and viewed the lovely gardens that had daffodils blooming, now covered in the pretty white stuff. The staff drove up to the Texas Garden Club headquarters and I  drove over there to unload. I had barely pulled up when it started raining ice; beautiful little crystals pouring down upon us. I had to stop and take a video because it was so unbelievable. The tulip trees were in full bloom and the next day they were all brown and frozen. That night the temperature dropped to 16 degrees. At home we were expecting barely freezing, and we had 23 degrees with layers of ice on everything making it look like a winter wonderland. One of the doors blew off a greenhouse and all the snaps froze in the front part of the greenhouse and all my African blue basil plants froze in another house. I hadn’t prepared for this because we weren’t expecting this cold of weather.

Despite sleet, ice, delayed or canceled flights, and expensive cab fees (who else would drive in that weather?) we managed to pull off the Texas Growers’ School. Ironic thing is we planned it in Texas in March so we wouldn’t have these hurdles but after this winter, it was pretty much normal.

With the ever-empowering American Grown flower movement a larger crowd than we expected attended the meeting. We apologize for the cramped room but the Fort Worth Botanic Garden was awesome for extending their hospitality and giving us the room for almost free for three days including the setup. Attendees were bombarded with continuous information from the slate of speakers. Market bouquets were made, bridal designs created by Gretel Adams and myself, and all the speakers shared a tremendous amount of information with the attendees. Evaluation sheets revealed that while most were overwhelmingly pleased with the Growers School, there is always room for improvement.

It was so much fun walking around the room watching all the attendees make their bouquets with their style.

A-Roo was on hand to provide various sleeve options to market your beautiful bouquets, and Floralife had their line of postharvest products to improve the health of your flowers once they are harvested. Harris Seeds also sponsored the meeting and sent seed catalogs for all the attendees but due to the bad weather, they didn’t arrive until the day after the meeting. When you order seed from Harris Seed, all the information for starting and growing the seed is on the packet.

Day two was led off by Paula Rice with her Step by Step Action Plan for Success. Paula is the mother of nine children and it sure shows in her work as to why she is so organized. Paula uses QuickBooks and Excel sheets to run her business and her planting schedule and she has it down pretty much to a science.

Gretel and Steve Adams gave two presentations which both held everyone captive to their words. These two really have it going on and I think they will be the next Pam and Frank Arnosky. It was such a pleasure to have them in Texas and they are such a sweet couple and they just feed off each other and I wish them the very best. Gretel suggested watching blogs such as Saipua, Floret, Honey of a Thousand Flowers, and several more. You watch one and then there are several more suggestions for other blogs. Gretel’s tip was to grow more lisianthus.

Pam and Frank Arnosky also presented a couple of segments and were so full of information. I took so many notes myself and I’ve been growing flowers for many years now and always learn from them. Their stories are so interesting and they are so funny when they are both up front telling stories that you don’t want to miss a thing. Frank shared his heated plug table setup. He uses a 6’ x 12’ sheet of insulated foam and buys a cable from Gloeckner and makes a continuous loop over this sheet. Then he puts empty trays upside down, and the seed plug trays go on top of that. It’s just enough heat to keep your seedlings at the right temperature. Frank said this little setup has lasted him 18 or so years. The Arnoskys plant all their plugs in 128 trays and go straight to the field with this size. Frank showed how if you stack the trays zig-zag, they won’t stick together when you try to pull them apart. He also explained that if you order primed seed, it should be used right away because this seed has the germination process started and it won’t last long.

Lisa Ziegler shared her video on the Rain-Flo mulch layer. I have to have one of those. There is a video of this layer on the ASCFG event tab under the North Carolina 2013 meeting. It puts down drip tape and a biodegradable plastic mulch called Bio-TELO, which can be plowed in after the crop finishes, and the drip tape can just be pulled out from underneath it and used again. There are also several YouTube videos that show how to use this useful tool. Lisa has a webpage called The Gardener’s Workshop, and she is currently finishing up her book which will be out in 2014, and is about the best hardy annuals to grow. Lisa used to grow the flowers she loves and now she grows the flowers that make her money.

And then there was Mimo Davis who missed her calling. She should have been a standup comic for agricultural development. Her humor and energy are awesome and she has a love for growing. Mimo is doing inner city work with youth and has a company called Urban Buds. She did her presentation on season extension. Mimo’s visit to Texas started with getting to the airport really late on Sunday night when Fort Worth was iced over and she finally was able to get a cab after about an hour to take her to the hotel for a stiff fee. Welcome to Texas, Mimo, where you can experience all four seasons in one day.

We were blessed to have several members who came in early and offered to help us set up the room, lay out the food and wine and get all that complicated computer equipment working correctly. I thank you so much. There were so many awesome attendees at this Growers’ School and I’m so happy that I got to meet so many of you and thankful for all the relationships started. The networking that goes on at these meetings is so important to become a successful grower/designer. Many segments were longer than time allowed and you should be able to view these slide presentations later on the ASCFG website.

Jennie Love, the ASCFG’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, and grower/floral designer, along with her committee is busy planning the next Growers’ School in conjunction with the National Conference, with a day of tours for October 19-22.

Rita Anders

Cuts of Color

Rita Anders Cuts of Color Contact at [email protected]