I think often about trying new varieties on the farm. Part of my fascination with testing out new plant types has to do with being on a new farm with conditions unlike any I have known before. Another reason must have to do with something innate within me that loves to experiment - the opportunity to do just that is one reason I also loved teaching art. A third reason is that experimentation is just part of this "work." The plant world is so expansive. It seems to grow exponentially the more I learn about it, too.
Here are just a few of the new varieties that we'll welcome this spring and summer. We look forward to sharing them with our wedding and event clients and market customers. They'll be here before you know it!
- Camas Lily: 'Cammasia' or 'wild hyacinth' are actually from the asparagus family. They are perennial plants that grow from small bulbs to a height of 12 to 50 inches. Camas lily are native to the Northwest, where they can fill entire meadows and prefer moist, but well-draining soil. They don't require lifting in zones 4 and higher, bloom in mid-to late spring, and they are a deer-resistant plant. I'm hoping that they will take well to our perennial beds. I planted them nearer to the tree line, where the soil is better draining.
- Scabiosa Scoop: The Scabiosa "Scoop" series is a newcomer to the American-grown flowers scene. They are difficult to find, because their seeds are not available for purchase. Bred vegetatively, by a commercial cut flower nursery operation in Israel, the Scoop series flowers offer larger flower heads and longer stems. The plants all have berry or dessert/candy-related names. We're going to trial "blackberry" and "red velvet" as started plants (plugs) on our farm this summer.
- Lisianthus (also known as Prairie Gentian and Texas Bluebell): These slow-to-start annual flowers are known to be difficult to start from seed. We're trying our first 8 varieties as seeds and as plugs to see how both do (and whether or not we can even get some going from seed!). Image from Johnny's Selected Seeds.
- Mask Flower (Alonsoa): We've added Coral Beauty, Shell Pink, and Red Mask Flower to the line up for next summer. Mask flower is a 4ft tall annual plant that produces lots of 1-2inch blooms and adds whimsy to bouquets. This is a quick growing plant that also serves as a hummingbird magnet. Mask flower is also a tender perennial in zones 9b and higher - good news for you Floridian readers out there! You can find Mask Flower seeds at Baker Creek's website, through Sunshine Flower Seeds, and at Plant World Seeds.com.
- Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate: Seeds for Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate are coming to us from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a company started on the West Coast by Jere Gettle at just 17 years of age in 1998. It is now the largest heirloom seed company in the U.S., with over 2,000 varieties. Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate grows up to 6 feet tall and has trailing tails of bright pink flowers. Despite its height, the plant rarely needs to be staked. Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and is now coming back into favor with growing interest in heirloom seeds. It is known to self-seed well, so I'm hoping that our work to get it started this spring will eventually yield an easy return crop in successive years. This plant does best with direct sowing in the fall or late winter. Freeze the seeds for two weeks prior to spring sowings. Images from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
- Semi Trailing Nasturtium: We're adding two types of semi-trailing nasturtium to the plan this summer. These varieties require a trellis, or a hanging planter to accommodate their roughly 5 feet of growth. We're growing 'Gleam Salmon' - made popular recently by cut flower growers the likes of Floret Flower Farm - and 'Purple Emperor' this year. Our seeds are coming from Sunshine Flower Seeds.
- And then there are the 17 varieties of sweet peas from England! Click here for photos and next year's trial growing method.
As always, thank you for reading and sharing in our love for flowers and growing. Please don't hesitate to share a comment or question below. I love hearing from you!