Laughing Lady Flower Farm has a new name, a new logo, and now a beautiful logo on my delivery van! The logo, designed by my wonderful and talented friend Arlene Hayden, perfectly conveys the warm and whimsical feeling of the name Laughing Lady. That's me, Kate, the face behind every flower grown on the farm. I do enjoy a good laugh! With the shenanigans going on around the farm I have plenty of opportunities. Look for the van as I drive around Doylestown and environs and give a little beep beep to say hello.
I love my David Austin garden roses! My florists and wedding clients love them too. They smell divine and add just the right cottage garden touch to a wedding bouquet. Since I don't use pesticides on the farm I've had a hard time with Japanese beetles decimating the flowers. Roses are magnets for the little buggers! Last year I didn't get one salable stem. It was so heartbreaking to watch as the beetles snacked on my prize blooms. This season I was determined not to stand by and watch the wholesale slaughter of my roses. Luckily the roses put on their first flush of blooms early in June before the beetle season. The adult beetles emerged from the soil right on schedule the last week of June. The feeding frenzy promptly began. However I don't have nearly as many beetles this year as last. After studying the life cycle of the beetle I hatched my devious plan.
In July, female beetles spend 2–3 weeks laying up to 60 eggs each in the soil. The eggs hatch about 2 weeks later. These first-stage grubs feed on roots for most of August. The grubs are small, feeding close to the surface, and vulnerable to biological insecticides. At this time. spraying beneficial nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) into the soil in August helps control populations considerably. In early spring I applied milky spore powder to the soil which helps kill grubs before they pupate and become resistant. Round two with more nematodes begins in two weeks.
The nematodes and milky spore need a few years of consistent application to give maximum beetle control. Meanwhile, I still have a problem with adult beetles eating my roses. Hand picking helps but I have too many roses and too little time to hand pick more than once a day. I needed a better solution fast. I use organza bags for potpourri and bath salts. They are tightly woven and have a cinch tie. I tied these 4X5 inch bags around my rose buds and hoped for the best.
HA! IT IS WORKING!!! The beetles can't get to the flowers. Their mangy little legs get caught on the bags and I can pluck them off into their soapy water bucket when I have time. The bag trick isn't practical for those of you who grow thousands of roses. But if you have fewer than 100 bushes you might want to give it a try. The beneficial nematodes and milky spore will help control beetle populations no matter how many roses you grow.
Despite warmer temps on Sunday and Monday, there is still a foot of snow on the ground at Laughing Lady Flower Farm. The ranunculus in the green house don't mind. I've been harvesting buckets of them for a week. The anemones are coming on strong too, in shades of deep pink and purple. Spring is here!
my sleep deprived brain
wants its hour back!
it wraps dreamy fingers
around a second
mug of tea.
Outside my kitchen door,
winter in retreat
dropped a final, one two
punch, with feet
of snow, and sleet.
back inside the warmth
mud is on the floor?
Laughing Lady Flower Farm (formerly Lilies and Lavender) is looking for an intern for the 2015 season. This is a paid position with the opportunity to learn flower farming and designing on an established farm. This year the farm is gearing up for some huge changes. We will be selling more flowers to florists and also focusing on Design It Yourself Brides who come to work in our studio. I (Kate) will be working with other local farms to form a flower growers cooperative in the Philadelphia area. Interns will work on planting, harvesting, weeding, and other field work, plus organizing deliveries, marketing, and social media. Opportunities are available to work with other established full service wedding and event designers. If you would like to help us in this season of change and don't mind hard work please contact Kate.
It's March 2 and winter has sent one last ice storm as a kiss goodbye. At least that is my hope as I crunch through three layers of this very cold winter on my way to the greenhouse. The moist air of the greenhouse envelopes me in a warm hug and I remove my coat before starting my seeding chores. As I pick up the seed packets I am reminded of how wonderful last summer's weather was. I am full of hope for the possibilities these seeds represent; excitement about the new varieties I'm planting for the first time and happiness to have the old reliables I depend on from year to year.
I'm starting a new chapter for the farm this season. A change from farmer's market sales to growing and selling to florists and brides. A name change for the farm, from Lilies and Lavender to Laughing Lady Flower Farm, and a plan for forming a flower growers cooperative. The Philadelphia Flower Growers Cooperative is in the planning stages, we have a name and some BIG Plans! I promise to write about the cooperative as it develops.
In the meantime these seeds will be warm and protected in my new germination chamber. Spring will be here soon. It's been a nice break but I can feel the earth waking up under the snow. It's calling me out. A new season has begun.