Our most anticipated season is upon us. Not only are we eager to plant out all the seedlings growing rampant indoors, but New Englanders can't wait to have fresh flowers on their tables again after a long gray winter.
In celebration of spring, here's a look at some of our favorite early flowers:
Sometimes called windflower, anenomes are some of the first cut flowers available in spring. They're very cold hardy, meaning we can plant them into the unheated greenhouse in February and be cutting the first stems a few months later. Colors range from pastels to deep burgundy and violet. The classic "panda" variety (pictured above) has a black center surrounded by crisp white petals, making it a popular spring wedding flower.
Anenomes have an excellent vase life of 7 to 10 days.
Once unrecognized outside of wedding and floriculture circles, ranunculus is gaining in popularity thanks to press from Martha Stewart Living and other prominent publications. Referred to as the "rose of spring," ranunculus is also fairly cold-hardy. It blooms in shades of coral, peach, and pink, plus darker burgundys and violets. Interesting picotee varieties feature a contrasting color pattern around petal edges. We're growing some of each this season.
Ranunculus has an outstanding vase life of 8 to 10 days.
Not your mother's tulips! This spring flowering bulb is available in a dizzying array of colors and forms. Some have fringed petals, while others are ruffled like a peony in miniature. The blooms can be tall and slender, or short and rounded. Softer, more subdued hues are a welcome contrast to the bright, saturated colors widely available. Some varieties even boast a subtle sweet fragrance.
Tulips should be purchased before they're fully open. They will "bloom" in the vase, taking on an all together different personality when fully open. Expect them to last from 9 to 12 days!
Known commonly as daffodils, this is another harbinger of spring accessible beyond the familiar yellow trumpet. Many of the unique varieties are heirlooms cultivated 100+ years ago, before they were replaced by the handful of varieties we recognize in landscapes today.
Plenty of the heirloom types are fragrant - a pleasant surprise if you're not used to associating daffodils with scent. They perennialize more reliably than tulips, allowing us to diversify and expand our collection each season on the farm.
When you get your hands on a mixed bouquet that incorporates narcissus, don't re-cut their stems. Fresh cuts will exude a sap that's toxic to other flowers in the vase. If you must cut them, place them in a separate container of water for 4 hours before mixing with other flowers. If, on the other hand, your bunch contains only narcissus flowers, then you can re-cut them without worry. Expect about 7 days vase life.
A little later in spring, shrubs and trees come into flower. From magnolia and lilac to crabapple and cherry, there are myriad varieties to appreciate for both scent and color. One of my favorite things to do is pause underneath a tree in full bloom and listen to the chorus of buzzing bees. They're no doubt ecstatic about the abundance after a winter devoid of nectar.
If you've ever tried clipping lilacs to bring inside, you've probably noticed they don't last terribly well. There are a couple tricks you can try to help them last a little longer:
The florets will not open much more once cut, so aim to pick when the branch is 75-95% open. Next, strip most of the foliage, since it will struggle to hydrate in the vase. Then, using sharp pruners, carefully cut 2-3" up the stem, splitting it in two sections at the bottom. This exposes more surface area for water uptake.
Your lilacs should perfume your room for 5 or 6 days when you follow these tips.