Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden Book Giveaway

Benzakein with Julie Chai. Book Giveaway

Guess what!

I’m doing another book giveaway with the help of Chronicle Books and Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm I love Erin’s work. Don’t know Erin? Well, where have you been? She’s an extremely popular flower farmer, cut-flower style setter, mother, seed purveyor, and so much more. Erin’s Instagram account boasts 389,000 + followers. Can you say, “Wow!?

I was so happy to help out with her blog book tour. I mean, just looking at these photos is like taking a vacation to Skagit Valley, Washington, one of my favorite places on Earth.

“I have found tremendous joy in growing and sharing seasonal flowers and foliage. My hope is that my book will help others discover this joy and provide practical information to grow the garden of their dreams.” Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books and Erin Benzakein.
“I have found tremendous joy in growing and sharing seasonal flowers and foliage. My hope is that my book will help others discover this joy and provide practical information to grow the garden of their dreams.” Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books and Erin Benzakein.

Since my blog is very photo driven, I asked for a photo essay, and Chronicle Books sent me some beautiful photos of Floret Farm’s flowers and Erin, along with her quotes.

Sit back, grab a cup of something, tea, coffee, a cocktail and peruse the beauty. This is just some of what you can expect to see in the book which I have read.

Sit back, grab a cup of something, tea, coffee, a cocktail and peruse the beauty. This is just some of what you can expect to see in the book which I have read. Note: I was given a copy of the book for review from the publisher. 

“In the book, I share all my tried-and-true techniques for growing great cut flowers. Whether you want to grow flowers for pleasure, as food for bees and pollinators or as a potential side business, you’ll find step-by-step instructions alongside beautiful photos from my garden for inspiration.”
“In the book, I share all my tried-and-true techniques for growing great cut flowers. Whether you want to grow flowers for pleasure, as food for bees and pollinators or as a potential side business, you’ll find step-by-step instructions alongside beautiful photos from my garden for inspiration.”

The book does give detailed instructions for growing your own cut flower garden. The instructions are clear and concise, and I loved the photos. They are scrumptious as you can see.

A summer day full of zinnia harvesting at Floret Farm.
A summer day full of zinnia harvesting at Floret Farm.

I’ve bought zinnia seeds from Erin several times and other beautiful flowers for my own cut flower garden beds. I am especially fond of the ‘Oklahoma Salmon‘ variety. I love cutting gardens. They are such fun to create and grow. Just don’t forget to cut your flowers and bring them inside to enjoy.

About zinnias

Erin says, “No cut flower garden is complete without these versatile, easy-to-grow blooms. Just be sure to look for cultivars that are made for cutting gardens (versus bedding plants) such as the appropriately named ‘Benary Giant’ series, the massive magenta ‘Uproar Rose’ and the ‘Persian Carpet’ mix.”

About dahlias

Erin is also a big fan of dahlias as am I.

We grow more dahlias than any other flower here at Floret.  Dahlias come in a rainbow of colors and are nearly unmatched in terms of flower production. I’ve been bitten by the dahlia bug and have so many favorites that it would be impossible to narrow it down to 20, much less three.”

Dahlia 'Golden Scepter' Floret Farm
Erin holds an armful of Dahlia ‘Golden Scepter.’

Erin also suggests that you let plants do double duty in your garden.

About foliage

“A lot of beginning gardeners focus on growing flowers with big, showy blooms and forget to plant enough foliage to round out your summer bouquets. If you already grow herbs and vegetables in your garden, many of your plants can serve double duty.  Here are a few favorites that can be used for food or foliage in a summer bouquet:

“Mint: I was advised to never plant this vigorous spreader but am so glad I ignored them. Mint is available early in the season, has a great vase life and adds a lovely fragrance to bouquets. My favorite varieties are Apple, Peppermint, Pineapple (white variegated) and Spearmint.

Basil, especially one with red or purple foliage is great in bouquets too. Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books.
Basil, especially one with red or purple foliage like ‘Aramato,’ is great in bouquets too. Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books.

“Basil:  Easy to grow, fragrant and abundant, basil is great for both cooking and floral design.  With deep purple flowers, glossy foliage and a fantastic scent, ‘Oriental Breeze’ has been a favorite of mine for years. Other great varieties to grow include ‘Cinnamon’, ‘Lemon’, ‘Cardinal’ and ‘Aramato’.

Dill makes an excellent filler in flower arrangements.
Dill makes an excellent filler in flower arrangements. Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books.

“Dill: With big yellow umbel shaped blooms, dill flowers add an airy textural element to any summer bouquet.

“Shiso ‘britton’ (Perilla frutescens): Common in Asian cooking, this plant also is popular among floral designers who love its contrasting colors.  The serrated, bi-colored leaves of this culinary herb are green on top and a pretty burgundy-purple underneath.

Book giveaway details:

We’re giving away a copy of Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms along with a bunch of Floret goodies: a garden day planner, calendar, and seeds! For a chance to win, just leave a comment in the comment section below. The contest ends at Noon on March 20. I’ll pick a winner on March 24, 2017, with a random number generator. You have to leave your name and email address (unpublished) to enter. I can’t contact you if I can’t find you. Please note this giveaway is only open to continental U.S. residents.

Also, don’t forget my other garden tool giveaway is ongoing. Please feel free to enter it too. It’s an exciting spring!

If you follow along with the whole tour, you will have multiple chances to win!

Visit the other participating blogs below to learn more about the local flower movement and Floret Farms; plus, each blog post will offer a chance for you to win.

Participating blogs:

 

Buy the book here: www.floretflowers.com/book
Follow Floret:
Instagram
Pinterest
Facebook  

UPDATE: Denise Whitehead is our winner. I’ve contacted her so Floret can send her the goods. Thanks to everyone who played along.

 

What does your garden say about you?

Adult Monarch on 'Will's Wonderful' mum is all of its bright glory.

What does your garden say about you? I’m reading a book that made me consider my own garden. It could do the same for yours. I wrote about the book in such exuberant and joyful terms on Facebook that several friends ordered it. I see it’s now a bestseller on Amazon. Great minds and all that.

Gardens of Awe and Folly by Vivian Swift
Gardens of Awe and Folly by Vivian Swift

Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening, by Vivian Swift, is part travelogue, part history lesson. It’s not a how-to book, which is fine by me. I pretty much know how to garden at this point–I can see you laughing–although I can always learn something new. It’s not a plant list book either. In fact, in Swift’s opening she writes:

“If all you ask of a garden is What?
then all you’ll probably get in reply is a planting list
But ask, instead,
Why? How? When? and, most of all, Who?
and then you’re in for a nice, long conversation.”

As Winnie the Pooh might say, Swift’s book made me have a big think.

Back garden in October with Purple Knight alternanthera and other beautiful foliage plants. Dee Nash
Back garden in October with ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera and other foliage plants.

Gardens reflect their designer’s personalities especially if the designer is the gardener, or if you work with someone who really listens. After years of hard work, my garden shows the dichotomy of my personality. It not only reflects my inner self, but also, shows my growth as a gardener. There’s tension in its duality. Before you think I’m bipolar, let me explain.

Back garden with purple chairs. I have 'Ruby Slippers' growing in front of the arbor, but they are still small. On the right-hand side is American honeysuckle. On the left is 'Grandpa Otts' morning glory that is self-sown.
Back garden with purple chairs and Phlox paniculata in late June. The garden is starting to take off and be its Boho self.

In my heart of hearts, I am a free spirit. I adore art that is fluid with great movement. Yet, I don’t like most modern art because it stresses me out. I love billowy, Boho, fashion, but I’m also attracted by a distinct sense of order. I’ve often thought that’s why I’m Catholic. Catholic art and ritual makes my heart sing with pure joy, and its rules give me parameters I try to live by tempered by God’s mercy.

The fall front door decor once it was finally finished.
Fall is truly a time for coming home and sitting by the hearth on those cool nights.

I like to explore, but I also like coming home.

The front border is just beginning to take off in March.
The front border is just beginning to take off in March, and you can see its luscious curves.

Chaos both attracts and repels me. My back garden’s straight lines and its original design reflect my desire for order. While I enjoy the neutrals of green and brown, I also like bright colors that don’t fade in our harsh summer sun. There’s my Bohemian side again. My garden is probably the best visual representation of what goes on in my mind. It’s busy in here.

My love of bright colors might explain my passion for sun coleus and other tropical plants.
My love of bright colors might explain my passion for sun coleus and other tropical plants.

As I’ve grown older–I’m 53–my mind feels more cluttered than it did in my 20s and 30s. Yet, I’m also more at peace. I’m no longer trying to raise my children, and I have more time to consider priorities. I also don’t care about what others think of me quite so much. That’s very freeing. The 50s are a great time. Still, my brain is a cluttered space and often feels like a hard drive that needs a defrag.

If only it were that easy–

Back garden in winter shows the layout. Dee Nash
Back garden in winter shows the layout.

In winter, or early spring, you can clearly see the layout of the garden. It’s all right angles, triangles and diamonds. I think it’s beautiful especially when there’s snow on the ground, or in spring, when everything is just beginning to awaken.

I love the structure. I also like the feeling of small rooms within a larger space. Plus, the lawn–all natural and unwatered–flows away from the enclosed garden and down to a pond. I’d like to tell you I planned it this way. I didn’t though. I just wanted the garden close to the house because it was a kitchen garden, and we carved the it out of the lower pasture. One thing I’ve learned is if you want your garden well-tended, place it close to the house so you see it whenever you look outside. You can’t help but feel the need to work in it.

By July, it's difficult to see the structure in the back garden for all of the billowy plants.
By July, it’s difficult to see the structure in the back garden for all of the billowy plants.

In summer, the space gets much more full and blowsy which is what I want. Because my friend, Helen Weis, owner of Unique by Design Landscaping and Containers, stops by sometimes to play, she reminds me I need more symmetry to keep things in order. Over the years, I’ve followed her sage advice, balancing trees and shrubs on either side of the main border. I also now plant swathes of things like Phlox divaricata instead of collections of one.

Cestrum 'Orange Peel' with 'Pink Preference' autumn sage is one of my favorite plant combos. Both are hardy here. I'm planting them on the other side of the path next spring for symmetry.
Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’ with ‘Pink Preference’ autumn sage is one of my favorite plant combos. Both are hardy here. I’m planting them on the other side of the path next spring for symmetry.

In fact, I planted another Salvia greggii ‘Pink Preference’ autumn sage on the south side yesterday to match the one on the north side of the path. Even when you do this though, things don’t always grow the same way and bloom at the same time. Sometimes, they do though, and then, it’s breathtaking.

What does your garden say about you? The potager in June still shows its structure.
The potager in June still shows its structure.

In the potager, again, I have very formal lines, but as you see, it becomes happily overgrown by late summer. This growth and general bounty make me very happy. It tells me the garden is happy, and I am content.

Potager at midsummer with sweet potatoes. The sweet potato vines take over, but they sure are pretty.
Potager at midsummer with sweet potatoes. The sweet potato vines take over, but they sure are pretty.

I’m so glad I read Swift’s book. All gardens are folly after all, and they change over time which is part of what makes gardening so fascinating.

This weekend, I’ll be in Asheville, NC, speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair about Ten Tips to Start on the Gardening Path to Happiness. If you live in the Asheville area, I hope to see you. Come up and say hi.

Now, if you’re off this weekend and have time, have a big think about your garden too. Does it express your personality? If not, what small changes can you implement to make it yours? After all, as Monty Don, one of my favorite celebrity gardeners, would say, “Gardens aren’t about plants. Gardens are about people.” What does your garden say about you?