Guest Contributer: Anita Cheung
Two years ago when the pandemic hit, I decided that life was too short to wait around for my boyfriend to buy me flowers. I took matters into my own hand and purchased Perennial Gathering’s spring and summer floral arrangement subscription. I figured if we were going to spend the foreseeable forever in our tiny 650sq ft apartment, it might as well be beautiful.
Fast forward one year- last January- and my flower craze blossomed into enrolling in Floret’s course. (There was even a brief daydream about being a flower farmer until I spent one afternoon in the garden and realized my tender squishy muscles weren’t made for large scale farming.) I spent much of the winter sprouting hundreds of seedlings in a little grow-operation under my kitchen counter. With my sister purchasing her home in 2020, it meant we had land to play with for our cut-flower-gardening adventures.
2021 was the start of a beautiful journey in the garden- learning about soil (get your soil tested folks!), sun, shade, and the names of different flower varieties.
- Call it beginner’s luck, but we were able to sprout dozens of Iceland poppies in our first year! These tiny dust-sized seeds required a lot of patience and care but they were so worth it once we saw the first crack of colour peeping out from the bud.
- Sweetpeas— they smell incredible and are super simple to grow once you have the structures all set up. I’d say their scent is one of my all time favourites.
- Diversity! We had over 20 different varieties of annuals tucked in to the garden. This made for a lot of fun in bouquet arrangement and plenty of fresh flowers all spring and summer.
- Aphids GALORE. This is our first time working in this garden and it’s clear that the ants rule the garden with the aphids by their side. We’re not sure what the plan of action is for this coming year but we’ll hopefully be better prepared.
- Accidentally pulling out a mature Cress Bubblegrass plant in the midst of a weeding frenzy. (In my defense, my iphone plant app mis-identified it— but truly, there’s no excuse for poor plant parenting.)
What we learned:
- It’s a marathon- not a race! It’s easy to get burnt out midway through the season. Did I brew compost tea as often as I should have? Definitely not. I also stopped sowing seeds in April (should’ve been July- woops) which meant by September our season was basically done-zo.
- Take the time to plan the plot. Whether planning by height, colour, or type of bloom, we definitely had a “meadow” look with some poor slow growers being over-shadowed by their taller neighbours.
What we’re looking forward to this year:
- It’s a touch ambitious but I’m getting married this year and one big goal of mine is to grow all of my own flowers for the wedding. Can it be done? Sure. Will it be on my mind everyday until September? Most certainly.
- Diving into compost! Not literally of course. There is so much to learn about soil health and truly, the garden starts there. Pending permission from the Teixeiras, I’m hoping to start a little compost pile so we can have it in-house.
- Growing other varieties. Last year we had a lot of classics- Asters, Cosmos, Snapdragons, Statice, Poppies, and greens like Mignonettes and Cress to name a few. This year, we’re adding Dahlias, Sunflowers, Lisianthus (wish us luck), Stock, early spring blooms (ranunculus and anemones), and more.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated with what’s going on in the garden each month!