May is my favourite month. The season is still in flux, but can you feel it starting to gain momentum?
It poured yesterday, and all the weather websites are calling for more rain in an hour or so. I'm only halfway through my garden chores but I want to take pictures. I run in to grab the camera and begin stalking the grounds for subjects.
The scent of wet earth is on the air.
I have many memories tied to this scent, but what comes to mind first is a school-aged Allison, hastily shutting the front door and running out to the car in the morning just after it's rained. There is no time to take in my surroundings but that lovely muddy smell hits me anyway. It's 8:11 AM and homeroom begins at 8:50, several stop signs and ten subway stations away. I can see through the windshield that my mom is already gripping the wheel with both hands. I feel a little guilty. She always seems to be in more of a hurry to get me and my brother to the subway than we are...
If somebody is selling this scent of mud, I'll take a few bottles. FYI my chemist friend tells me the scent is called petrichor and is made up mostly of geosmin molecules. Hm...!
Suddenly another scent hits me. It's lilac season. I'm delighted to host a white-flowered tree in my space, but my neighbour's mauve flowers have the heavier fragrance. I inhale deeply while casting longing looks at those luscious blooms just on the other side of the hedge.
Loud rustling from within my compost pile breaks my reverie. A robin emerges with a long piece of straw in her beak. If this is the robin I think it is, then I'm cheered to know she's building again. She made her first nest under my eaves, but she abandoned it last week, around the time I found a blue, broken egg on the ground. Did I disturb her too much?
A grackle lands on the roof, hops to the edge, and peers down at me.
The compost heap looks rather inviting today. I feel compelled to lay down upon it and recite The Lady of Shalott. LOL. I think I have Anne of Green Gables on my mind. See how nostalgic I get, enveloped in a cloud of petrichor and lilac perfume?! That said, even if I were eleven again, the thought of slug slime and sowbugs all up in my hair would probably be too much to overcome.
By the way, that hosta growing at the top of the pile came from a yard waste bag I filled last fall while dividing perennials. Hostas are tanks.
Okay, let's go look at what I'm growing now.
The roses are leafing out and aphids have been snacking on their tender shoots. I've been trying out Ed Lawrence's spray bottle remedy. It seems to have worked. The aphids are not completely gone, but I think I can keep their numbers low this way. Recipe: 1 part liquid soap in 40 parts water sprayed all over; left on for 10 minutes; rinsed and repeated 3 times over 10 days.
More hostas. The one on the left is a giant. I love them best now, as they unfurl, and before the slugs begin their season-long feast.
Oooh, these are hybrid and tiger lilies. New soundtrack for the remainder of this post: Eye of the Tiger (the Jenn Grant cover, not the original).
I was in the middle of planting these dahlias when I started taking pictures.
It's getting a bit dark and drizzly out here now - let's finish up quickly on the far side of the house.
Holly bushes make flowers! I'd never thought about it before, but of course they do! And based on those central green nubbins (ovaries?), I think this one's a female. Despite having no space for anything else, I consider finding her a mate so she'll bear those bright red berries. They would certainly make my winter wreaths more colourful...
Oh no, rain's falling heavier.
Decision to buy male holly deferred.
Okay, gotta run inside now to save my camera..............!
Japanese maple, how do you stay so zen?
Talk soon, Gang!
So Saturday was my first Toronto Flower Market, and I really want to tell you about it.
Two words come to mind: intense and incredible. Thank you to everyone who came out and made the whole market such a success! A bunch of vendors sold out - I know I was down to my last bouquet by 1pm! It's a good thing I physically couldn't have made or stored more, else I would have been mad.
I think my favourite thing about the market was how I got to give many people their first experience of scented geraniums. Strawberry, apricot, and chocolate mint, yes please! I love how people put their heads together and leaned in to sniff - then looked up with delight when they'd caught the scent. It never got old. "How did you DO that?!" was a common refrain. It wasn't me, I swear! I really wish I'd caught one of these exchanges on camera. I'll have to make do with my mental snapshots.
My other favourite thing was when my family and friends - some of whom I hadn't seen in years - came to visit me. I felt so loved! My only regret is that I didn't get a chance to visit any of the other vendors. I was suffering from a major case of tunnel vision.
The hours passed in a flash. Sometimes I'd look up and there would be a wall of people in front of us where there had been none just the moment before. Truthfully, I often feel very shy, and there's no doubt I'm an introvert who likes to spend lots of time alone. But when I'm facing happy strangers and I've got flowers to show off, then I sure do relish a performance. I think it's my Cancer-Leo cusp showing.
When it was all over, I was giddy with relief and fatigue, feelings which were quickly supplanted by weepy gratitude, for all the help and encouragement I've been so privileged to receive. Hey, while I've got your eyeballs here for another moment I'm going to take the opportunity to name a few very important people.
Sas of Floralora Flowers, who gave me my first taste of flower farming last spring and who continues to be an inspiration and great support. Also, as far as I'm concerned, she is the Tulip Queen of the world, and she supplied me with gorgeous blooms when I ran out of my own.
My parents, who mostly took it in stride when I told them I was going to start a flower business, and who I know just want me to be happy and healthy and safe.
My husby, who routinely gives up his days off to help me dig soil and transport fridges, and who indulges my dreams and generally takes good care of me (of course, I take care of him too).
And perhaps most of all, my sister-in-law who said yes without a second thought when I asked her to help me sell bouquets and plants alllll day long. She memorized every selling point and morsel of plant info I gave her. She is such a pro salesman, and a very, very good Unni indeed. When I think about it, I suppose many sisters are game for at least one flowery labour of love, but I don't think I will ask her to do it again. It was a lot. So now watch me pamper her real good.
I'm also realizing that even though I was able to pump out several dozen wrapped bouquets all by myself (super proud; also thank you roster of podcasts and entire seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix), I'm going to need even more help soon. Cuz I heard my business is supposed to be "sustainable" or something. The only alternative is that I keep trying to do everything myself, turn into a flower supernova, and flame out in a big burst of colour and fragrance. Just imagine, nothing left of me but a slow-mo shower of singed petal confetti and smoke.
Actually, that sounds like it would be worth seeing.
Okay I'll do my best to avoid it.
So... that was the only Toronto Flower Market I signed up for in advance. As this is my first season I didn't want to commit to more before I'd been tested, but man, I hope I'm able to go to market again. It was fun! And very stressful. But at least now I have my set up ready to go. I even dyed my own tablecloths and display drapes! The resist effect wasn't a complete success, but I guess it's nice to remember that time I spent an entire afternoon crawling around my kitchen floor, writing out Posy Gang over and over again on a bedsheet with white glue, haha.
Epilogue: I'd planned to take off all of Sunday, but it didn't happen. Tulips wait for nobody! And I made my mama flowers for Mother's Day. I mean, I worked, but it was pleasant, so I guess it was okay.
What's next? Back to seeding, planting, and waiting for the last frost so I can plant out my dahlias and tomatoes. Looking forward to the fruits of those labours! And wedding planning of course - bring it on. Till next time, dears!
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...
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...