Life change, transitions, can be so difficult. But the garden makes change seem effortless. Or inexorable. For all that I love order and executing carefully laid plans, growing flowers will always be just beyond my control - a good reminder that most things can never really be, nor should be, perfect. Wabi sabi, right?
Let's see what's been happening in the Posy Gang garden the last few weeks...
And now for things still to come: roses, lilacs, sweetpeas:
Okay let's keep it moving! Come on inside again:
And because I promised you more colour this blog, let's take a peek at what I've been harvesting.
Till next time, dears. I hope to be back before long to show you behind-the-scenes preparation for the Toronto Flower Market...
Guys, spring is here in earnest! Every place I look there is new life. Today's high: 20 degrees! Time to go outside and stay there. Let's have a tour, shall we?
Meanwhile, seeding continues indoors. It's been a learning curve for sure. With each succession I'm adjusting how deep to sow each variety of seed, how humid to keep them, when to water them, when to move them off the heat mat and under the lights to keep them stocky and strong. As a very small scale grower, soil blocking has definitely been worth the space saving.
It's now time to plant all the hardy annuals I sowed in March, which I've just started to harden off in these warmer temperatures.
One of my biggest hurdles is going to be getting the new big bed prepped in time. I gotta get it done soon. Over the winter I tried my best to make the lawn melt away under layers of newsprint, leaves, compost, and snow, but it turned out to be mostly wishful thinking, ha! So with a few sighs and what I hope is an endless well of determination, I'm going to break ground and remove the sod myself. And double dig and amend with compost. I promise to use my legs, not my back, and take lots of breaks.
That's it for now - I'm certain the next set of pictures will be more colourful! Until then, stay tuned to Instagram as I've got some exciting news for you all in the next couple of weeks!
There's a tulip in my house. What's more - those masses of tulips and narcissus I planted last fall? They're coming up too. Shit's getting real.
Their appearance should be no surprise, since the whole of last week was freakishly warm for February. Temperatures of 9 and 15 and even 18 degrees Celsius?! It's got me on edge though, since they're more vulnerable now to the elements, and varmints. As I was pulling up the hardware cloth and brushing away the blanket of leaves I'd heaped on the tulip beds last fall, I was hoping, hoping, hoping I wouldn't see any green tips. But I did, and lots of them. I gasped, or groaned. Babies go back to sleep!!!! It's not time yet!!!!
I've mentioned it before, but I'm really weirded out by my changing outlook on seasons. It's so unlike me to be anxious about spring. At least I know that underneath my apprehension is pure, itchy-palmed anticipation. Fortunately, everything's gone according to schedule so far. I'll take that as a sign that I'm headed in the right direction. And sure, the season's hardly begun, and everything could still go wrong, but..... It's a good thing I'm a dogged optimist who loves to plan ahead!
Yesterday I took a time-out from wedding work to plant seeds for my winter sowing experiment. Have you ever heard of winter sowing? It's my first time trying it out, but on paper it looks like a lazy-yet-efficient way to start seeds that need a few freeze-thaw cycles in order to germinate. If you do some Googling you'll read that many of the plants that do well when winter-sown are the ones that tend to self-sow.
Basically, you sow your seeds into clear, plastic containers in mid-winter and just leave them outside. Once the temperatures start to warm up the containers act as mini-greenhouses, triggering germination and protecting the emerging seedlings. You do have to keep an eye on the containers in order to ventilate them at the right time, but you end up with stocky little plants that don't need to be hardened off, since they've spent their entire lives outside. Of course I'm hedging my bets (all this week I'll be seeding indoors into soil blocks too) but if the winter sowing turns out well, I'll be very happy indeed.
Happy sigh! Building this little business is all I can think about. Some days I focus on growing stuff, other days I'm corresponding back and forth about weddings, dreaming all the while. Making something from nothing, telling stories (mine and yours) with flowers - talk about flow state!
Signing off, with dirt under my nails once more,
Well I just got home from an incredible week spent exploring London, England. Land of the Queen, David Austin roses, and Monty Don. Spring has already sprung there in balmy zone 9. Camellias and other flowering shrubs are all on the verge of exploding into colour; everywhere I walked there were geraniums, pansies, and mini-cyclamen in planters and window boxes. So, so jelly.
I haven't forgotten that the inspiration behind the Toronto Flower Market was London's Columbia Road Flower Market. Obviously it was one of the highlights of my trip. The market happens every Sunday on a short stretch of road absolutely packed with market stalls, flowers, and people. I walked up and down about 10 times taking it all in. It was hard not to freak out. I freaked out.
I ended up choosing a bunch each of bupleurum, tuberose, and dried lavender. The man I bought the tuberose from had labeled them "Tudor Rose" which I thought was a delightful play on words. I couldn't tell if he really thought tuberose was called Tudor rose but I don't care.
Note to self: congratulations on remembering to bring your clippers all the way to England - next time bring some clear tape, and try to find a better vessel to use than a pot! Also glad you had some self control at the market, but a handful of lilies or roses woulda looked nice nestled in all that bupleurum!
My eyes are full of flowers now. That taste of spring was exactly what I needed to slingshot me into my first season. Back to wedding quotes now - let me at'em!!
Talk soon <3
Lunar New Year is January 28 this year. It’s a really important day, but my mama’s pretty low key about it. After years of her children living here and there, she just wants all of us home for dinner at some point, in the general vicinity of that date. Well, this year, we're all in town, and we’ll be together tomorrow on New Year’s Eve, January 27, as it should be. I can't wait. My mom's an amazing chef. I’m bringing the paperwhite narcissi I planted to bloom just in time.
Next morning I'll make my husband practice saying “Kung Hey Fat Choy, Sun Tai Geen Hong!” with the proper Cantonese tones. He’s got a good ear for them! Then we'll run to my parents and offer these well-worn phrases in exchange for Li See – those little red packets full of MONEYS! Too bad, this fun lasts only until we have children of our own.
My dad tells stories about when he was a kid in Hong Kong. He and his brother would receive pretty generous sums from some of their father's business associates. The boys would finish counting their cash with wide eyes – just in time to have to hand it all back to their father. “But why??” I ask my dad. “So your Ye Ye could present it to the next business associate’s kids! Such heavy taxes on our Li See!" my dad exclaims back, amidst our gails of laughter. “Oh well,” he finishes, “while the nighttime festivities were going on people always dropped their Li See by accident and the next morning I’d make sure to go around picking them up.” LOL.
Happy Lunar New Year! May this be an auspicious year for all!!
When I got married to my love, I hadn’t worked on a flower farm yet and Posy Gang was still just a glimmer in my eye, but you betcha flowers played a big part in our wedding. Here were my goals: I wanted to do the flowers myself, I wanted the bouquets to look like I’d picked them from my garden that day, and I wanted minimal waste. And minimal stress. Definitely minimal stress.
I knew my own garden would be overflowing with some of my favourite perennials (bearded iris and columbine, anyone?) but the timing just wasn’t going to work out. My minimal-stress clause kicked in and I went looking for other solutions. Ah well! I try to be flexible.
With a little time and effort, I found my solutions and was able to check off all my goals: I hung lavish, overflowing planters of blush and poppy-red geraniums from the rafters, grew little pots of ever-bearing strawberries for table decor and guest favours, and made the bouquets for myself and my one bridesmaid the evening before. Spiky liatris, Dutch iris, and silky mauve godetia; foraged lilac blossoms and bleeding hearts foliage. Actually, the lilacs were from my parents’ yard and the foliage did come from my own garden - they made our bouquets that much more special.
What kind of wedding flowers are you hoping to have? Do you know someone whose wedding flowers are stressing them out? Tell me about it! Click on the comments button to tell me your story, or drop me a line here.
Well, we’re two weeks into the New Year, and I feel it’s time to make some important declarations about what I want for Posy Gang in 2017. Here goes!
Hm. When I look at this list, why do I already know it's number 4 that's going to be the hardest thing to do?! Ha! I'll keep you posted.
Anyway, THANK YOU to the brides and grooms who have already entrusted me with their wedding florals in the coming year; and THANK YOU to all the local florists who've expressed interest in buying the flowers I'll be growing!! I'll be following up with samples once the season gets started. You won't be disappointed when you see them!
Above all, welcome everyone to my blog, welcome to Posy Gang (surprise, I just made you a member!), and welcome to 2017!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSS
It's squalling outside today, and while my thoughts are as scattered as the snowflakes are, they’re also as calm as the thickening blanket of white. I'm feeling reflective. It’s amazing to think how much my relationship to the seasons has changed over the last twelve months - and it's all tied to this transformation I’ve undertaken, into professional flower maven, small business owner. It's a welcome shift.
For much of my adult life I regarded autumn as my saddest season. Fiery maple trees and vats of pumpkin spice lattes couldn't convince me to enjoy what I perceived only as the steady loss of light, the withering of exuberant life. Frigid winter, when it arrived, brought me some relief, like ice on a bruise. Yet by March, the unremitting cold and insipid, grey slush were just spiteful gatekeepers, holding me back from the delights of spring.
Still I always kept faith that the season of rebirth would come! And when it finally did, I was over the moon! Drunk on the scent of mud, the sight of swelling leaf buds, of so much life pushing itself up through the detritus of last year. Lost sleep be damned, I looked forward to the return of daylight saving's time. I LOVE SPRING.
Summer, well summer was okay, being the season of my birthday, a time of abundance... and oppressive heat, and mosquito bites, and powdery mildew on my plants, and...
I think spring will always be my favourite season.
It's definitely been a re-education, through preparing for Posy Gang’s first year, to look at the seasons differently – and I've come out of it with a less lopsided view of them. It’s a long-term goal of mine after all: to be less extreme and more even-keeled, the better to weather any turbulence that life throws my way.
Well, for better or worse, spring 2017 will be GO TIME. For me, for Posy Gang. So as much as I will always look forward to spring, I have to say: this year I’m a little apprehensive! No matter how well I’ve planned the flower-growing side of my business – the seeding, planting, harvesting, selling – I will still be at the mercy of trial and error, weather and pests. Ah well, I'm up for the adventure!
As for autumn, now that I've opened my eyes a bit wider and tried on a different set of frames, it’s begun to look strangely just like another version of spring: a time to plant and prepare for the following year. Pumpkin spice still doesn't do it for me (sorry), but yes, fall definitely has its charms. And snow, by the way, is now also a welcome thing, even if I don’t always want to be outside in it. There's no better blanket for the dormant, underground plant world!
So I’m not unhappy it’s snowing today... Just make sure you drive safely now!
Tell me, what's your favourite season?
I am Allison, intrepid leader of Posy Gang. Let's have a conversation about flowers and weddings and small business and everything else! I'll start with my thoughts...