Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Hello from Maine and Happy Fall!
It was great to meet so many of you all here at our farm in July at “In the Thick of It”. Thank you for coming out and making that meeting a success.
All of us have been scurrying through the summer and we are looking ahead to frost and end-of- season plans. I always feel a combination of pressure and relief when the frost is on the way.
In years past I generally waited until fresh flowers were ending to really start designing with and marketing dried flowers. Last year I noticed demand for dried flowers extending to other seasons besides just autumn, so this year we have been selling dried flowers whenever possible, and people have been buying!
At our earliest farmers’ markets in the spring we sold our remaining 2018 dried blooms while we waited for our slow spring crops to emerge. We edited our dried bouquets for spring by removing the more autumnal grains to save for later. I was very pleased with that decision because as our summer crops started to ripen we dried whatever was ready, especially Ammobium or winged everlasting, statice, craspedia, marigolds, a few armloads of winter rye seedheads, even some blown-open peonies. Once these were fully dry, we mixed some of the grains with them to add bulk and weight to the bouquets, sleeved them, and sent them to market. I liked having some materials on hand from previous years because these early crops are fairly special and valuable but don’t necessarily “fill out” bouquets, so it was nice to have some less precious material to round them out. I like the seasonal mash-up for July and August, and we are still using some of last year’s sorghum in September as we wait for this year’s crop to dry. The bouquets have been selling steadily!
Often around Labor Day people start looking for harvest décor, but I’m not ready for them yet as we are still scrambling to harvest fresh flowers. We have found it rewarding to make time for dried flower design work through all of July and August, whenever we can fit it in.
Because I planned to expand our dried flower offerings as we entered this year I have planted more helichrysum than ever, and have felt very comfortable over-producing some straight bunches for market to make our display look nice and full with the intent of drying any leftovers.
I’m sure many of you already work dried materials into Christmas designs. We planted more red celosia this year with that plan in mind, as well as adding back in red gomphrena, which was not popular enough as a fresh cut in the summer and fall to keep its spot. We have also been steadily drying dusty miller to add that silver sparkle and make our bouquets look more like winter when that season rolls around.
I suggest for those of you who sell to designers to ask your customers if they might be interested in mixing dried ingredients into their arrangements, crowns, and boutonnieres. Many folks are looking for millets when our fresh millets have passed and I’m thrilled to offer them dried product. Some designers are looking for textures with a bleached-out appearance, and that can be achieved with some crops by drying in a sunny greenhouse.
If you’re not already drying some of your flowers, 2020 might be a good year to give it a try! It’s fun to have plenty of ingredients for value-added designs. And dried materials are a great way to round out your offerings for both your retail customers as well as to other floral professionals. None of these ideas are new, of course. I’m just writing to remind you that markets are shifting and prioritizing everlastings might suit your business model.
This marks the end of the writing part of my term as your Regional director. It’s been a pleasure serving you all and sending dispatches as the seasons pass. I look forward to seeing you at conferences and wherever our paths cross.
Warm regards from my farm to yours!