lilies and lavender

A little while back, I visited a very unique flower farm in Doylestown, PA called Lilies and Lavender. The head honcho, Kate Sparks, gave my friend Jane and I a tour of her four acre sustainable farm.

Kate Sparks, the cowgirl of cut flowers, amongst the zinnias

Here, Kate and her team grow many types of cut flowers using only organic fertilizers and the least harmful pesticides. Black plastic mulch is used to prevent weeds from growing. I saw many bees buzzing and birds flying, and it seemed to me a very happy place where the circle of life remains unbroken.

Snapdragons growing like gangbusters in the hoop house

Kitchen scraps are fed to worms, creating worm compost that is used to add organic matter to the growing medium

Delicious dark purple calla lily has a happy home

The acreage is long and narrow, but goes on and on. Each time we passed one section, I thought we’d reached the end, only to find there was more around the corner. While the farm is not weeded in a pristine way, each group of plants is clearly thriving under the Kate’s green thumb. She has more energy and works harder than most human beings, you can tell, and I think it comes from the fact that she’s doing something that she loves.

Calendula – an herb for healing but also a beautiful cut flower!

Cerinthe is one of the more unusual selections you”ll find here – I love it.

Bouquet of goodness from L&L contains huge dill flower heads!

Lilies and Lavender sells their flowers at both the Doylestown and Rittenhouse farmers markets, at their farm stand out front, and to select local florists. That’s us, we’re the lucky local designers today!

Melissa, Kate, Jane and Christine after our tour of Lilies and Lavender farm

Jane Godshalk, my wonderful teacher from Longwood Gardens and mentor extraordinaire, took some beautiful bouquets home to create rectangular table centerpieces for an upcoming event. Inspired by Kate’s commitment to sustainability, Jane wanted to keep this design as eco-friendly as possible. She used Excelsior, the non-toxic, biodegradable wood packaging product as the mechanic for stabilizing the stems, wetted down with a fair amount of water. Sure beats using the non-biodegradable, formaldehyde-laden floral foam!

Jane packs the containers with excelsior, then adds water. She begins her design with hosta greens from her own garden

VOILA – Jane Godshalk’s designs using locally grown flowers from Lilies and Lavender

Thanks, Kate Sparks! I know I only scratched the surface of your operation here, but that’s because I already desperately want to come back. PS You could be a jeans model.

Shucks, here’s one more lavender/bee shot for Kate:

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floral offerings from falls flowers

Walking into falls flowers last week, I was greeted by many hues, shapes, sizes and textures, all standing at perfect attention in their containers filled with fresh clear water. No flower food is needed for the display, because we change the water and cut fresh stems fairly regularly.

selection of goodies

So you want to dive in a little closer??? The first thing I noticed was this pincushion Protea – totally out of this world! Also known as Leucospermum cordifolium, the alien flower heads probably come alive at night and party at the shop. They probably like to dance to Bjork.

pincushion Protea

Eager to join the party are the orange Ornithogalum, or Sun Stars, a perennial bulb native to S. Africa.

Orange Ornithogalum starting to bloom

But during the day, the shop is mostly quiet. The flowers stop their dancing and become still enough for us to admire them. In fact, Peicha and I were talking about the cycles of life and death, when a few calls came in for sympathy arrangements. I think it’s nice to send flowers to someone when their loved one dies. It is a vase of life right before you, to remind you: we are not here long, but while we’re here we’ll do our best and brightest work. I chose the flowers and Peicha made the arrangements. We were very in tune on this day.

arrangement using: Finesse roses, hyacinth, pincushion protea, scabiosa seed pod, astrantia

arrangement using: eryngium (thistle), agapanthus (purple) white kale, white hyacinth, blue lace flower, tweedia (light blue)

sympathy arrangements ready for delivery (pussy willow added to the blue/white one!)

And then I got to deliver these. Neither recipient was home, so I left them with doormen or got instructions directly from the client about where they wanted them left. Funny thing, talking about cycles of life, I drove past the house I grew up in as a little girl getting to one of the deliveries!

Tweedia. You're blue, and your leaves are soft to the touch. I love you.