Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Gift of Tulips in Winter

It was the coldest day of the year so far (23°F, with a low of 1° overnight) in mid-January, when our doorbell rang. Our house faces west and it was windy, so you can imagine the blast of cold air that greeted me as I opened the door to receive a box from the FedEx delivery man.

I knew when I saw the box that what was inside it was going to be like a breath of spring - just what I needed.


These flowers were packed very well, with a zip-tie around the flowers
and through the box so they wouldn't move around during shipment.

I'd met the folks from Stargazer Barn when I was at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm in Arkansas last May during the 5th Annual Garden2Blog event. They provided oodles of gorgeous fresh blooms for our Field to Vase Dinner we had at the farm on our last night there. It was a magical evening...

One of the best things about the event was getting to wear flower crowns.
Here, I'm with my co-writer and best bud, Jenny Peterson.

Stargazer Barns is a California-based grower of fresh-cut flowers, which ships throughout the U.S. Most of our cut flowers in this country come from South America, but in recent years, American growers are taking back as much of the industry as they can by raising awareness that we can and do grow gorgeous flowers right here in our own country.

The Slow Flower movement has Debra Prinzing to thank for getting the ball rolling, with her publication of both The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers (2012 & 2013, St. Lynn's Press). I encourage you to read Debra's explanation of what "slow flowers" means.

Now that you have an idea of the goal and purpose of buying American Grown flowers, just take a look at the flowers I got - 24 'Ile de France' long-stemmed tulips - complete with a galvanized French-style vase, three Tulip Perfume fragrances, along with a bar of Dick Taylor craft chocolate!

This is how the tulips looked when they arrived. In just a couple of days
they opened up, and lasted more than a week.

These are what you get when you order the Sensory Seduction Collection. The flowers are beautiful enough, but with the other items it makes for a really special gift.

Stargazer Barn grows their own flowers in Humboldt County, California, and the other two gifts in the collection are also Humboldt County businesses. I love how they've collaborated to create an All-American gift package.

The chocolate bar is almost too pretty to eat! Almost...

'Lemon Sugar', 'Mandarin Peony', and 'Coconut' spray bottled scents
come packaged in their own ribbon-tied box.

Stargazer Barn is certified by Veriflora™, a third-party organization which uses a strict set of standards to govern sustainable growing conditions, protection of local ecosystems, energy efficiency, waste management as well as worker wages and conditions.

There are many other options for sending a gift of flowers (and more), and through March 1, 2016, you can use the promotion code flowerhouse to receive 15% off your order (excluding tax and shipping).

I'll be back in a few days to share more luscious flowers and gifts from Stargazer Barn, but for now, enjoy the spring cheer of these tulips!

I received the Sensory Seduction Collection from Stargazer Barns free of charge. No other compensation was given and I'm happy to share these beautiful flowers with you. Perhaps they will be something you might want to send to someone else or enjoy in your own home.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Amaryllis - These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

If you follow me on Facebook or have been a long-time reader of Our Little Acre, you know that I'm crazy for amaryllis. I long ago lost count of how many bulbs I have, yet each year I buy a couple of new varieties just to see if that will garner a new favorite for me.

It's really difficult to choose just one, because there are now so many different ones available to us. I like 'Blossom Peacock' because the gradual shading from white to red accentuates its double blooms.

'Blossom Peacock'

Another favorite is 'Rembrandt'.


Yet another is 'Solomon'.


And 'Royal Velvet'.

'Royal Velvet'

'White Peacock'...

'White Peacock'

Oh yeah, 'Charisma', too.


I haven't even touched the cybister amaryllis yet. You know, like 'Bogota'.


See the problem here?

But when it comes down to it, if I had to choose just one amaryllis to take with me to that deserted island, the honor would go to 'Papilio'.

It was 'Papilio' that introduced me to amaryllis in 2005, and it was love at first sight. As I learned more about this species, it's no wonder it was the one that captured my affection.

'Papilio' is not actually a cultivar name, as denoted by single quotes. The true botanic name is Hippeastrum papilio, with its species name derived from the Latin for "butterfly," due to the resemblance of its blooms to a butterfly in flight. It differs from other amaryllis blooms in this way, and 2D photography doesn't capture the unique placement of the tepals.

Hippeastrum papilio

H. papilio was first discovered in 1967 in the tropical forests of southern Brazil. It is now considered to be endangered in its native habitat, due to increasing numbers of sugar cane and coffee plantations as well as urbanization.

This is an evergreen type of amaryllis, growing year round in USDA Zones 8-11. Its foliage and blooms are able to withstand brief exposures to frost. It readily produces offsets, although once separated from the mother bulb, may not bloom in its first year.

The 2016 incarnation of H. papilio is now in bloom. And I am in love all over again.

*Botanical history of H. papilio attributed to Pacific Bulb Society.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Plan Now to Attend "VAN WERT BLOOMS with P. Allen Smith & Friends" in Van Wert OH - April 16, 2016

There's excitement brewing in Northwest Ohio. All the behind-the-scenes preparation that goes along with a major event is happening right now and will culminate on April 16, 2016 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert.


On that day, landscape designer, author, and television celebrity P. Allen Smith will take the stage and share his experience with those of us lucky enough to have a ticket to Van Wert Blooms with P. Allen Smith & Friends. (You can get yours here!)

Readers know that Allen and I are buddies and I'm so excited that he's coming to my stomping grounds! Allen supported my book, Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook For Houseplants, that I wrote with Jenny Peterson in 2013, and they're his words that appear on the back cover of the book.
Allen and I film a video in 2012, demonstrating the GrowBox.

In the last five years, I've visited Allen four times at his Moss Mountain Farm home outside Little Rock, Arkansas, as an attendee of Garden2Blog. I can tell you that no one knows how to pack in the fun like Allen and his crew, while helping you learn new things about gardening. His down-to-earth style is inspirational. "For heaven's sake, just grow something."

That's what he'll be doing at Van Wert Blooms - teaching, sharing, and inspiring, in his usual fun way. He'll be joined by several other outstanding garden speakers:

Barbara Wise - Barbara works for Landscape Service, Inc. (LSI) in Nashville, Tenn., as Director of Floriculture. She oversees the design, installation and maintenance of 350 clients’ annual beds and more than 400 containers for the company, a recognized leader in sustainable landscape management, design, construction and water management practices in the southeast.

She also provides educational classes, teaches master gardening courses and works as a gardening consultant. She shares her appreciation for all things gardening on her blog, BWiseGardening. Barbara is also a writer for Tennessee Gardener and has a monthly gardening column, "Garden Compositions," in Nashville House, Home, and Garden magazine.

With the desire to cultivate a culture of gardening, Barbara’s passion for helping new gardeners succeed led her to publish her first book, Container Gardening for All Seasons, in 2012.


Irvin Etienne - Irvin is the Horticultural Display Coordinator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art where he has worked over 20 years. He helps the horticulturists with plant selection and garden design as well as designing and maintaining his own areas. While working in the 152 acres of the IMA gardens and grounds requires knowledge and skill with all manner of woody and herbaceous plants, Irvin lusts for and loves the tropical species most of all.

He is the recipient of both the Gold and Silver awards in Electronic Media Writing from the Garden Writers Association for his blogging at the IMA. He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Public Horticulture.

There is an attempt to infuse humor in all aspects of public interactions whether live, electronic, or in print. In his own garden, everything from cannas to eggplants to magnolias coexist in a lush jungle fed by manure from his own rabbits and chickens. Obviously a product of the Midwest, Irvin could be considered...well...a simple farm boy that likes shiny, sparkly things. And is easily distracted.


Maria Zampini - Maria’s first memory of working in the family business is putting fertilizer pills in pots at age seven. Maria worked her way up the green corporate ladder and now represents LCN Selections and other new plant varieties, researching and developing the plants and introducing them to the market. Under her guidance, UpShoot has expanded its breadth of work to include marketing of garden related products.

Additionally, Maria is also a respected author, speaker and consultant. In 2012, Maria was named Director of Plant Development for the Agricola Management Group, the exclusive licensee of the HGTV HOME Plant collection. Her work includes sourcing genetics for the various plant collections, working with grower and retail partners, as well as networking with garden writers.

Maria writes a monthly column in Garden Center Magazine and a regular column for Nursery Management. Her work has appeared in numerous other publications, including American Nurseryman, Nursery News, Country Folks Grower, Fine Gardening and the northern issues of State-by-State Gardening Magazines. She is also a sought-after speaker, lecturing on new plant introductions, sustainability, native plants, plant patents and trademarks and other plant-related topics.


Amanda Thomsen - Big, loud and fun, Amanda landscapes by day and blogs at night. She has blogged for almost 10 years. She also was a blogger for Fine Gardening magazine. She writes content for Green Profit and is also featured in a monthly column. In 2010, Amanda co-authored Grocery Gardening. She was part of the podcasting team, Good Enough Gardening and now lives in Chicago with her family in a pup tent in the parking lot of the Chicago Botanic Garden.


Pam Bennett - Pam is the State Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator for Ohio and Horticulture Educator and Director for Ohio State University Extension in Clark County.  She has a BS in Landscape Horticulture and an MS in Human and Community Resource Development from Ohio State University.  Her responsibilities include providing leadership for the OSUE Master Gardener Volunteer program consisting of more than 4,000 volunteers and conducting consumer and commercial horticulture programs.

Pam specializes in herbaceous ornamental plant trials and evaluates more than 200 varieties of annuals and two genera of ornamental grasses; she presents programs on annuals and perennials as well as other landscape topics locally, statewide, and nationally.  Pam has also lectured in South Korea and China.  She is Chairman of the  National Extension Master Gardener Committee, a Clark County Park District Commissioner, and is the Past-President of the Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden.  She also provides leadership to the OSUE MGV International Outreach program.

Pam is the co-author of the newly-published book Garden-pedia, An A-to- Z Guide to Gardening Terms, writes a weekly gardening column for the Springfield News and Sun and the Dayton Daily News, authors the bi-monthly "Ask the Expert" column for Ohio Gardener magazine and is a frequent writer for popular gardening magazines as well as trade publications.


The cost of a ticket for the day's event is just $45 and that includes breakfast and lunch. Master Gardener Volunteers will receive 6 CEUs for attending the event, but you don't have to be a MGV to attend. You only need to enjoy gardening.

See you there!

Everyone will be the recipients of horticultural knowledge and a fun time is guaranteed. I know each of the speakers personally, and I can't wait to hear every one of them speak. And then there will be the awesomeness of being in a room full of fellow plant nerds...

As of now, more than 400 tickets have already been sold. Do you have yours?

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