Did You
Yves Piaget can substitute for peonies in a bouquet.
April 26, 2008
Blog PictureA mesmerizing day - the sun was out and it wasn't raining. That's not a repetitive statement because lately we've had every kind of weather combo - sun and rain, sun and hail, rain and hail, rain and snow, etc.

A bumblebee buzzed out of nowhere in the backyard and I was reminded of a conversation I had on Friday with Tim from Sweet Oregon Berry Company, who grows and sells produce in Dundee.

Somehow we got on the topic of bumblebees, I guess because he was mentioning how cold it was this year, and I asked if he had any bees to pollinate his fruit.

He said a lot of the heavy lifting in the pollinating department is done by bumblebees. Did I know that they lived in the ground, such as old mouse holes. No, I didn't know that - he went on to tell me that his late Dad, Jacques, was trying to encourage the bumblebees, so he set aside an area of the farm and put out trashy looking stuff such as old mattresses to encourage the mice! Then Tim came and starting to clean it up until his dad told him to cut it out, that was his bumblebee area...

I do know that we have had mice in the back yard, so there are definitely old mouse holes there. And I do know that we've had bumblebee nests. So I hope my recent digging and planting didn't disturb them. I like bumblebees because they are big & slow and they don't seem so touchy as other bees. You can have peaceful interactions with them, whereas honeybees and yellow jackets just seem prickly...

Yes Its Photoshopped
April 25, 2008
Blog PictureGosh, Norm called me at the market today and said there was interest in the cymbidium picture I had posted on the blog - the one with the blue dotted lip -

How embarrassing I DID photoshop that - it was a fun picture not intended to be an advertisement. Maybe we should start dying stuff blue - there sure does seem to be a lot of interest. Give us your opinion down at the market!!!!!

I know at the recent Greenleaf show J Schwanke told us that even though it seems totally tacky to dye flowers the customers do like it and are willing to pay for it.

Let us know!!!! We're here to serve!!

Talked with Todd from Adams today who told me about a restaurant he went to last night, an Italian place called Pizza Fino on N. Denver. Even though it was 6 a.m. my mouth was watering with his description of the spaghetti with anchovies, the antipasta, etc. I went online to check it out and it has a LOT of good reviews from patrons. In the Kenton neighborhood.

Today in the market it was what I like to call a "white rose hell" day. White roses for wrist corsages were scarce, if you ordered ahead you MIGHT get something but those who didn't were not doing very well. Probably got asked more than 10 times if we had white spray roses. Nobody in the market had white spray roses...

April is the Cruellest Month....
April 24, 2008
Blog PictureT.S. Eliot - The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

Not to mention taxes.

April is poetry month!!!!!!

Last Week for Cymbidium Special
April 23, 2008
Blog PictureOur cymbidium special ends this week - on Saturday April 26. The special is for five or more stems, or ten or more stems - mixed colors no green. To order and find out more about prices, call (503) 628-1005. Wholesale only please...

Mother's Day is getting close. You might want to figure out your order - pink is very big. We are also offering mixed color dozens this year. Call Norman!

What's new in the market - Jack Stokman has been starting to come in (Rosto Garden) but no sign of Mike from 4-T Acres yet. Still pretty darn cold, nothing wants to grow outside.

I planted some kohlrabi and broccoli seeds a few weeks ago and they have come up but the little seedlings are just sitting there shivering...

Balloon Couture
April 17, 2008
Blog PictureA friend sent me a photo series of these dresses made from balloons - I am bowled over by how beautiful they are. This one in particular is kinda like a wedding dress but the huge "thing" in the back (probably some kind of term for it which I don't know) in the iridescent colors makes it look like a Mardi Gras costume! I love it!

My only question - how do they cope when it pops!!!!!

This reminds me of a "my most embarrassing moment" article I read in a magazine about a woman who bought a very sexy latex dress to wear out to a romantic dinner with her husband.

All was going well, they were sitting at the table when she thought the micro-mini dress was riding up too much and she reached down with her manicured hand to pull it down, when her long nail made a hole in the dress and it popped! She went from suggestive to totally nude and her embarrassed husband had to cover her with his coat and lead her away!!!

That's what you get for being on the cutting edge of fashion I guess...

Random Friday Nite Thoughts
April 12, 2008
Blog PictureSitting at the counter at Fife watching Marco and his group cook - made me think of what it means to be "in the zone" - they are coordinating an incredible number of dishes, large groups who all need to be served at once, etc. - sometimes in working with the flowers and everybody's order it is like that.

But not always!!!

Anyway it was a wonderful dinner...

Meanwhile out at the farm the akebono cherry trees are blooming along the driveway. Dad grafted the trees from a flowering cherry he admired, onto wild seedling cherry rootstock. Some of the trees have already succumbed to old age and weather damage, but new ones have taken their place.

Last week we planted some Tamango spray roses. It's a dark red spray which Oregon Roses grew while they were still doing roses. Our cousin Katy had these plants made and after the heat was off in the greenhouses she saved them in her warm office. She generously offered them to us so we decided to plant them, because we don't have a dark red spray. This rose will be appearing on our variety list soon...Thank you, Katy.

Norm is gone visiting growers in the San Diego area, such as Dramm & Echter. He reports that they replant 20 percent of their roses every year - that's a lot! I wish we could say the same. Right now we are concentrating on converting from in-ground growing to hydroponics and lights.

What could be better than a beautiful spring Friday night in Portland? When we got home and got out of the car - I was waiting for Jim to unlock the back door - a single spider web glowed over my head spun by some spring-drunk spider. I thought, this is the perfect moment.....

Chinese Garden Stroll
April 10, 2008
Blog PictureMom and I went to the Portland Classical Chinese Garden recently. We did a little shopping (she needed shoes and a purse) and so it was nice to visit the tea house there to rest and have some tea.

Little did I know they have an extensive menu of tea! Also little dim sum treats.

It was a beautiful day (remember when the sun was out that ONE day a couple weeks ago???) and the carved screen was open so we could breathe the fresh air and look out.

I have been nuts about Chinese stuff for many years, and I just love the garden. The plants there are so interesting, many of them familiar but also some new discoveries coming out of China. For instance, the evergreen hydrangea whose botanical name I am forgetting but which has skinnier leaves than the hydrangeas we are familiar with. The flowers are not as showy (attention hybridizers!) but there are blue b-b like berries after the flowers are gone.

Also unusual camellias such as Jury's Yellow, which you can see if you drive by the NW Everett Street side of the garden, against the wall outside. It actually has light golden yellow flowers. So of course I bought one for the back yard! It's particularly nice since it doesn't get huge...

Norm is in San Diego at a flower grower's conference - we'll see what news he returns with when he's back on Sunday.

Meanwhile, weddings and proms are starting to happen. Small white roses are in great demand. Let us know if you need something - but it is going to be hard to get Eskimo roses.

See you at market! - Sandra

J Schwanke Wedding & Prom Show
April 6, 2008
Blog PictureJust walked in the door from the J Schwanke show at Greenleaf. What fun - he is a great speaker with a million stories and has been in the flower biz since he was born at a florist's convention!!!

For details and pictures of today's show, please click on "News" on the left!!!

Clematis and the Polish Brother
April 5, 2008
Blog PictureI picked up a copy of the Spectator magazine recently. It's a British magazine for wealthy conservatives! Or at least it seems that way from reading...They hate Tony Blair, for sure. Lots of super ironic British commentary and humor.

The March 22 issue contains a garden column by Ursula Buchan called 'Clematis Heaven.'

Apparently in the UK you can buy varieties of clematis with Polish names (probably not available here), all named after Polish R.C. figures such as Pope John Paul II, or famous Poland historical military events.

They are all bred by a Jesuit monk named Brother Stefan Franczak who lives in Warsaw.

This caught my eye because our family had also had a Brother Stefan, a Jesuit monk, who lived in Germany, the brother of our grandfather Joseph. He had a colorful past and probably would have been interesting to know. He joined the army in WWI (German army, nicht wahr), and apparently was caught up in all the horrific battles of the war. My impression is that the things he saw, or did, or had done to him, caused him to become a monk after the war. He worked in the monastery's gardens until he died in the 70s.

Anyway, so this Polish monk. He is an amateur clematis breeder, very enterprising and active, but now retired and in a nursing home. According to the article, "his clematis are remarkable for their bright colours, good form, and profuse, extended flowering, as well as disease-resistance and hardiness. He would observe seedlings for up to 12 years before being satisfied enough to register them officially; to date, there are more than 60 registered."

In the tradition of another famous monk plantsman, Gregor Mendel, who began the science of genetics by observing dominant and recessive traits in pea seedlings!

Brother Stefan also spent time working with iris and daylilies.

Amateur plant breeders are often meticulous, solitary and obsessed with their particular genus. If you read the book, "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart, you can read about the guy who developed the famous Stargazer oriental lily.

When we were kids a rose breeder, Kent McDaniel, had a test bed in the rose greenhouse. He taught us about grafting, bud wood, eyes, and all the things that go into the production of a new rose plant. The varieties "Golden Wave" and "Cara Mia" were varieties he developed. He wasn't a solidary man, in fact he was very social, but he was very meticulous and kept good records. He also lived in Hawaii for a time and knew Doris Duke!!!!! Recently portrayed by Susan Sarandon on TV. So much for name dropping.

Back to Brother Stefan, apparently you can view some of his creations at www.clematis.com.pl.

Pictured above is the clematis species, Clematis armandii. It is evergreen, has fragrant white flowers in the spring, and is located in my back yard!!

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