With the help of Oregon flower growers, plant a bouquet in your backyard

With the help of Oregon flower growers, plant a bouquet in your backyard ...

After a suffocating Oregon with rain on Monday, Portland flower hobbyist Kishra Ott was called to rescue lilacs shaken from a century-old tree.

She refilled floral buckets with deep purple flowers and returned to her house and made bouquets, which she later delivered to the tree owner, the worker who hauled away fallen branches and a dozen friends.

Flowers are ready to pack up blossoms and bring them indoors in warm sunshine.

As people gathered up at home sought ways to bring nature's beauty indoors, interest in cultivating flowers and foliage to be used in floral arrangements grew during the COVID-19 era.

Even long-time veggie gardeners are discovering that flowers are stunning and that they may provide pollinator and nectar sources "for their pea patches," according to the founder of the online directory, established in Seattle, to assist customers find local cut-flower farms.

She declares that the divide between home gardening and floristry is falling.

Flower dabblers have become more intense over the past few years, sourcing sentimental varieties and fragrances that were not found in most store-bought bouquets, and Oregon flower farms have started offering workshops and selling starter plants of exceptional cultivars.

"With COVID, our farm stand became a place where people could gather outside and have an activity picking flowers," Bethany Little of in Eugene, adding with a laugh: "After 30 years of being here, a lot more people started finding us."

Charles Little & Company is launching a monthly program that includes a walk through the fields, and Jen Healy of in Albany is educating, both in person and online, about bouquet-worthy flower selection, how to grow longer stems, and succession planting to harvest blooms over time.

Healy, a gardener, landscaper, and florist, loves greenery of any kind. She incorporates foliage from shrubs, persimmon branches, tomato vines, berries, and seed pods in her bountiful bouquets.

"You want to add surprises," she adds, pointing to a strawberry vine arrangement, asparagus foliage, and a "Kent Beauty" oregano.

A single fragrant rose has the capacity to "remind you of your grandma's yard's joys and pleasure," she says.

Easy to grow flowers

Sarah Cantine, a house vegetable grower in Northeast Portland, wasn't aware of the joy of flowering. Several years ago, a guy at her office was noticing catalogs and dreaming of a beautiful summer garden.

Cantine was shocked when she planted a rose bush and shifted her perspective from, "Who would grow flowers if you can't eat them?" to later looking at her vegetable garden and saying, "This is over."

She now mingles raspberries with roses and presents fresh cut bundles of zinnias, lilies, and Daphnes to those she visits. One of her favorite birthday parties is to bring mini homegrown flowers to decorate a dining table.

According to architect Sarah Cantine of Northeast PortlandSarah Cantine, cutting gardens create surplus to be shared.

Cantine has learned the importance of cutting gardens to create flowers:

I've never met a person who doesn't like getting flowers, Cantine said.

Ott, a lilac saver, has a day job as a real estate broker, but for 20 years, she's also energizing to her home gardens near Tryon Creek, located in Southwest Portland.

Her heirloom and old garden roses, peonies, and other flowering plants, along with lady's-mantle and lamb's-ear, are raised here.

Kishra Ott of Portland organizes a bouquet for May Day in a paper doily wrapped in a tie tie tied with a ribbon, to hang on her front doors.

Deliveries of May Day bouquets, a May 1st tradition, were introduced as a child. She and her sister tucked together a paper doily hook and tied with a ribbon, which they hung on neighbors' porches.

Ott hopes to harvest early roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, wild geranium, clematis tendrils, and English bluebells this year. Despite her optimism, parrot tulips may also bloom in time. You can make a bouquet out of anything, she says, but she does not indicate that mint shoot blooms for the bees.

She claims that her mother started the family's May Day tradition, but Ott's knowledge and passion for gardening came from her father, whom she calls a self-taught "cutting garden master."

During the seasons, vinca, camellias, tulips, and daffodils took their toll. He planted specific greenery, including sword ferns, peonies, and roses.

Trees from blossoming dogwood, cherry, and apple trees also filled objects.

Ott maintains a row of roses, chosen for their color, fragrance, or number of petals, growing along the front of her property to encourage passersby to stop and smell them.

Neighbors may request cutoffs, but the greatest scene, she says, is seeing a child choose a flower to give to someone. It's so pure and touching, she says. It's the unimaginable creativity that surprises.

Eugene, where Charles Little and his wife live

In a larkspur neighborhood he was growing, Bethany Little fell in love with her husband-to-be, Charles. Since then, their Eugene flower farm has become where visitors come with a picnic, pick up a bouquet, and send flowers to her home where they can see something mature in quiet motion.

"Tulips are open and open till the last day you bump the table and they all dissipate," Little said.

10 flowers that can be harvested to dry or display freshly cut are featured in each of her classes. "We pull back the veil on what varieties we and other professionals grow here and why these are successful," says Little, who has created helpful Instagram videos on protecting ranunculus with a, making, and.

Class participants learn effective flower arranging techniques, and that "tending a garden is nourishing," she says. "It's a lovely space to slow down at the end of the day, touch the soil, in plants, and remove weeds."

Little claims that there was a generation that didn't get to see where food and flowers came from. Now, people are interested in growing, according to her, "they want to be involved."

J&B Garden Center is located in the heart of the country.

Jen Healy, a flower grower at J&B Garden Center in Albany, has not only encouraged the grow-your-own-bouquet movement, but she's also demonstrating ways to incorporate cut flower gardens with less foliage and more blooms to home landscapes.

She explains how to mix flowers like dahlias and zinnias to make stems stronger for sunlight. She also demonstrates a design in which snapdragons, sunflowers, dahlia tubers, celosia, cosmos, and sweet peas can join a 25-foot-square plot.

Floret Farm, an heirloom flower and seed business in Mount Vernon, Washington, should be read by a farmer-florist.

Don't be overwhelmed by information, but you should have a good soil and starter fertilizer, and you can make many varieties that you and pollinators like.

Katie Frey, a garden department manager, advises hesitant novices to pick one flower, talk to experienced growers, and learn from mistakes.

Frey, who on the nursery's podcast, believes growing is an experiment, according to experienced gardening experts.

Frey's preferred flowers to grow in a garden and display in a house are great for birds and pollinators.

The ferns of early season sweet peas bloom in bright colors to delight everyone. If the sun shines, the seed may bloom. Nigella's also self-seeds.

Offers these tips to harvest a flower garden:

Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072


More information on flower gardens:

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