Monday, June 29, 2015

Kicking off American Flowers Week with a visit to My Luscious Backyard…

Getting off the bus at the first stop, on the first morning, of the 2015 GBF in Toronto this is what I saw...

This is where we were headed, the home of Sarah Nixon and her business My Luscious Backyard. That's Sarah on the right. She and her family live on the "31" side of the brick duplex (do they call them that in Canada? - Nope! evidently they're called "semi" as in "semi-detached").

Having made our way into her backyard she's about to talk with us about what it is she does...

Sarah's business model is based on using residential yards around Toronto as "micro farm plots" She grows many of the flowers used in her bouquets (which are delivered weekly to flower subscription recipients across the city and done for weddings and special events) in her neighbor's yards (10 of them, to be exact). She does the work (including starting most of her plants from seed) and the homeowner gets to enjoy an intensively planted garden, without lifting a finger. After Sarah answered questions she did a demonstration for us, and then we walked a couple of blocks to visit one of these micro farm plots. But before then (while the questions were answered) I wandered around, getting a closer look at her garden...

I've no idea what this is but it would be lovely in an arrangement.

In the hours and days to follow Physocarpus (ninebark) and Peonies were to be seen all over town. Little did I know this was just the beginning...

I've never grown Baptisia, but do love the foliage.

Sweat peas and Dahlia tubers just getting started...

I also walked back under that great vine-covered arbor to check out her workspace.

Heck even her compost is interesting!

Inside the greenhouse/shed...where it all begins.

How could I not pause to appreciate this sweet ride? Sarah's adorable daughter was at her side most of the morning, I bet this belongs to her, or maybe a younger sibling.

This incredible tool is used to work the soil.

I do love the Physocarpus foliage!

Now we're watching Sarah put together a bouquet with stems fresh cut that morning. She started with the foliage which helps to stabilize the flowers once they go in.

I didn't manage to get a good shot of the finished product, but it was beautiful. Exactly the sort of loose, "fresh from the garden" type of arrangement I love...

Which brings me to the fact this is the first day of American Flowers Week, running June 29 - July 4, 2015. This, the "inaugural campaign to promote American flowers, foliage and designs," was launched by Deborah Prinzing of slowflowers.com. It's a "week-long celebration of domestic flowers to raise consumer awareness and unite America’s flower farmers with the U.S. floral industry." Of course the fact that I'm highlighting a Canadian florist and then talking about American-grown flowers might seem a little odd to some, but what Sarah is doing with My Luscious Backyard is exactly what the slow flowers moment is all about. Cut flowers from your garden if you can, and if not buy local (local meaning from the U.S.) flowers...they're so much better (fresher) than ones flown-in from far away countries, and you're supporting American workers/farmers.

Now we walk, and I snap photos. You know exploring neighborhoods is one of my favorite things to do.

OMG! So much Bishop's Weed. Turns out it's all over Toronto...

Coffee shop? Second hand store? I was intrigued, but it was just getting open for the day.

I've got a neighbor who exercises this level of control over her trees too.

We've made it to our destination, one of Sarah's growing grounds. Sadly spring came late to the Toronto area so things are just getting started here. I wish we could see it in a another month or so.

The divots around each plant are created to capture rain water. The idea of rains in the summer is so foreign to me, but I guess it happens! This little guy is (I believe) Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl', a plant Pam has written about multiple times and I keep intending to grow.

I wandered off from the group (yes, I do that a lot) and discovered this wonderful small tree just down the road. Someone identified it for me and I'm sure I wrote the name down. Can't find it now!

It's got to be in the pea family, anyone know?

Remnants from pruning would look lovely in a vase...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

31 comments:

  1. Such a great idea. I grew Black Pearl one year from seed. Like all peppers, it needs summer heat to really get going, so it was a bit wimpy. If I try it again, I'll probably just buy starts.

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    1. You know me and my non-seed ways. Starts for me too, if I remember to look for it. And IF I can find it...

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    2. I've seen them at Windmill up here, so I bet you could find it at Portland Nursery.

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  2. AnonymousJune 29, 2015

    The house is a "semi" in Canada, as in "semi-detached"

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  3. Nice to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and growing in Toronto. What a nice way to make a living.

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    1. I wish I would have thought to ask about the seasons. What does she do in the winter?

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  4. That's a really neat business Sarah is running, thanks for sharing! And that coffee shop/secondhand shop - awesome, I wish it were open. I think that tree you're wondering about is a thornless honey locust and you are correct, they're in the pea family. As for the semi vs detached, it totally depends what part of Canada you're in!

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    1. Thanks on both accounts! Having spent a lot of time in British Columbia I can definitely see the coastal differences.

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    2. That shop near the corner is an art gallery. If you look closely, you can see an easel. And the shrub (as I think you've figured out) was a really nicely pruned specimen of Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens).

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  5. Takes a high-energy person to have a business like that. Sigh, envy! Heck, I can barely fashion a single flower arrangement. Thanks for the post.

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    1. As someone who regularly reads your blog I can say your gardening adventures definitely count as "high energy"...

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  6. Oh my what a coincidence! Us and Michelle of Veg Plotting was just talking about her and what she an amazing thing she does earlier today :)

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  7. What a great idea! How lucky for the folks who get to enjoy having a garden without lifting a finger. Of course, that's the thing we love but for non gardeners way cool.

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    1. I wish someone would start one of these up in a few of my neighbors yards!

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  8. I'm growing another couple Black Pearl peppers this year, after not for a few years. It's good to have them again.

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    1. With the ongoing heat around here, and lack of spring rain, the nurseries seem to have shut down operations early this year (for bedding annuals, and veggie starts anyway). I am going to remember to look early next year! (and thanks for the link)

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  9. Oh, and if anyone's curious, here's my profile of Black Pearl: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=8141

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  10. A yellow flower with compound leaves in the pea family.
    What is Caragana arborescens?

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    1. Thank you! I got the Caragana part on the Fling FB page, thanks for the whole name. I do rather like its common name (Siberian peashrub) too!

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  11. I can't imagine a business like that getting off the ground in LA but maybe I just have the wrong sort of neighbors. It doesn't help that I'm pretty poor at starting plants from seed too.

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    1. I'd be surprised if there weren't at least a couple tucked in there somewhere. The beauty of a business like this is that it can be hugely successful, while still being very small.

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  12. Such a beautiful, talented, and industrious woman! The visit was an inspired addition to the Fling; very much enjoyed and appreciated.

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  13. That business is an interesting idea! and looks like a very pretty job

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    1. With so many facets! Seed starting, planting, care, harvesting, arranging, delivery, marketing, etc, etc, etc...

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  14. LOVE this idea. Thanks for spreading the knowledge, Danger. Perhaps in Portland someday in some form or another? Hmm.....good idea.

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    1. Oh I bet there are a couple already, don't you think? Or maybe you were planning to start something???

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    2. AnonymousJune 30, 2015

      The yellow leaved plant that you comment would look lovely in an arrangement is actually a fairly cholortic (food starved) rose. Look carefully top center of the photo and you'll see a stem with the telltale prickles (technically they're prickles, not thorns). The usual serration of the leaf edges seems mostly absent, but there are a few leaves with them there.

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    3. How interesting. I do see the leaves with the usual serration which scream rose. Thank you for commenting!

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