I am a florist and urban flower farmer, I grow my flowers sustainably in underused and neglected areas in my North Portland neighborhood. I make floral designs for all sorts of occasions and also peddle flowers at the local flower market.
Flowers need bees and bees need flowers, a beautiful symbiotic relationship that has endured throughout the ages. For as long as we know pollinators have come to the flowers in search or nectar and pollen and in the process of feeding, they pollinate the flowers and thus ensure the plants’ and their own continuation.
The perfection of Mother Nature’s ways seems so apparent, and yet humanity took it for granted. Now it seems we have come to a point where the bees are disappearing.
If you want to help the bees and other pollinators, it is best to provide a range of plants that will offer a succession of flowers, through the whole growing season, early bloomers, late bloomers and everything in between.
Following is a list of plants that are attractive for bees, starting with the natives but also some more exotic plants are listed, for as a floral designer, I need as much variety as possible. Keep in mind though that many popular plants are hybridized and these often have reduced nectar and pollen production, so look for ‘open pollinated’ varieties if you can.
Spring cleaning has been in my bones since I was a little girl, helping my mom drag the old carpets outside to give it a good flogging with the ‘mattenklopper’ (carpet beater). I loved that job! I was not always particularly helpful with the way I used the devise (my family will tell) however there is something about starting afresh, cleaning out the cobwebs, letting in the air, that brings out the best in me, so naturally for me spring cleaning in the garden is like an orgy.
I love how spring is so promising, still so full of potential, so flawless. It entices me to daydreams of graceful Lilies, perfectly straight; Snapdragons and lots of it; voluptuous garden Roses and intense magenta Peonies. Things don’t always work out the way I imagine and any advise the reader wants to share with me on growing tall strong flower stems, I’ll be all ears and love to learn more.
I’m exited to rake away the layer of leaves (that I deposited there in the fall to protect against the elements as well as weeds), and find out which plants have survived the hard frosts we’ve experienced last winter. There are still many plants that are not at all ready to poke their heads out of the ground but many can’t wait to stretch their plant bodies up into an April world.
For me the best time of the year is right now. March takes me inside my tiny but wonderful little greenhouse and I plant hundreds of seeds.
The system I improvised is set up with rope lights, fastened with twisty ties under a repurposed office ceiling grit, found at the Rebuilding Center at 3625 N Mississippi Ave. Such a great place to find stuff.
The rope lights keeps the soil warm enough to start many delicate seeds, the soil temperature gets up to a toasty 80F. When seeds need less heath, I stack more pieces of ceiling grit under the tray, this also brings it a bit closer to the light fixtures above the seed trays. For additional temperature control I can open or close the plastic curtains since the whole system is build in my old plastic-covered-shelves greenhouse that did years of duty before my sweet man build this tiny greenhouse for me.
This has been a long-wished-for-addition to my business infrastructure.
Petal Passion has grown “organically” over many years in and around the family home. Stuff the kids outgrew, came in handy in my business. For instance an old red wagon that was handed down to my kids is now used almost daily for plant and bucket transportation. The playroom became my studio.
And so the greenhouse was build on the footprint of the old trampoline that was disassembled and the parts were used in one of my garden beds.
The area under the trampoline already had housed a chicken run during the years it was in use, so it made sense to build the greenhouse in such a way that the chickens could still use the space. the deck comes apart when we need to get some of the chicken-pooped-on-soil for the gardens.
Thanks to my family for supporting my flower passion for so many years already.
Local & seasonal flowers continue to be the hottest trend in the floral industry—check out this new book, Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers which featured designs by Petal Passion. http://freshfromthefieldweddings.com/
Interested in using bulk flowers from Petal Passion for a DIY wedding or special event? Be sure to get a copy of Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers which includes great photos plus video tutorials on creating corsages, centerpieces and more: http://freshfromthefieldweddings.com/
Last fall I knew I needed to move my lilies so I dug them up and put them in a washtub for the winter. The washtub had loose soil that was a nice combination of top soil and peat. I added organic matter to nourish them throughout the winter and watered them every now and again.
(Lily bulbs are usually always alive. If yours are dry, plant in a container of damp sand or peat moss until they sprout new roots)
This spring when I was ready to plant my sleeping Asiatic Hybrids they were plump with fresh green roots and ready to hit the ground running! I have a perfect spot where the roots stay cool and the warm sun is filtered through a large airy shrub. My regal colored lilies with look beautiful in my “Audacious Bouquets”
Growing flowers for beautiful bouquets is a year long commitment. Success requires a huge dose of “if ‘x’ then ‘y’.”
This is especially true in the fall when gardens need to be “put to bed” for the winter. If beds stay uncovered all winter the gardener is then faced with cranky, weedy beds in the spring that require additional time and work.
As messy a job as it can be, I make sure all my beds are tucked in with wet leaves, thoroughly covering the soil. I choose wet leaves as opposed to dry as they stick around on a windy winter day. Luckily there is an abundance of deciduous leaves in the urban neighborhoods of Portland as trees have been an urban priority throughout the years. With the October rain piles of soggy leaves are easy to find. I volunteer to rake neighbors’ leaves (much to their delight) and sometimes rake them up at a nearby park. I avoid walnut tree leaves as they contain juglone, a soil toxin. Small leaves are my favorite as they are easier to manage.
Beds tucked in!
The result? Weed free beds in the spring! Ok, “weed free” is impossible but the decrease is significant! As I spring into April gardening, it is a joy to spend time getting my hands dirty waking my soil instead of pulling an excess of pesky weeds!