Calendula, a hardy annual
In typical backwards fashion, my first post here is on the last day I'm cutting flowers for 2007. In past years, cold and wet weather has made this a miserable, finger numbing job but this year it is perfect. Sunny and pleasant for me but not so hot that the flowers wilt before I can get them in the bucket. There are still some nice things available for bouquets.
Because this is the last set of bouquets I'm making up this year I get to harvest EVERYTHING and not worry about leaving enough for next time. I'm harvesting all the eucalyptus as filler greens (silvers?). I love that I can grow my own eucalyptus here in Michigan, it seems so exotic. I grow the "Silver Dollar" strain and start the seed indoors under lights in March. By the end of the season they are a little shrub about 2-3 feet tall and wide. If this were a warm climate where it never went much below freezing the plants would become 20 or 30 foot trees.
Eucalyptus at the farm
I've also got pineapple sage. They are not hardy here but the leaves have a great fruity scent and it flowers with scarlet red spikes in October. The flowers aren't that showy but the color is nice.
There are a few dahlias left, too. Usually they are knocked out by frost by now but not this year. We have had frosts - last weekend I had to scrape my car windows on Saturday and Sunday - but for some reason the dahlias survived. After today's harvest I'm going to cut them all to the ground so the tubers can cure for a week or so before I dig them up for winter storage.
Most of the flowers in the bouquets will be chrysanthemums. There are some really great chrysanthemums for cutting that are hardy in Michigan but you have to mail order them. Locally all I can ever find are the cushion chrysanthemums which usually have small flowers and short stems. These are nice in the landscape but for cutting I need longer stems and also want to have a variety of flower sizes and types to keep the bouquets interesting.
Football Chrysanthemum 'Bronze Giant'
Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink'
The flowers on the football mum 'Bronze Giant', pictured above, are about 4 to 5 inches across. There is another football mum one that is more of a golden color called 'Cheerleader' and a dull pink one I don't like much called 'Quarterback'. The quilled mum 'Jonette' is one of my favorites. Besides the beautiful form it is a buff/cream color which looks good with warm fall colors but can also be combined with pinks and blues. The daisy mum at the bottom, 'Sheffield Pink' is a new one for me this year. I put in a picture of it because it looks so fresh, the blooms are just now opening in late October.