A bouquet from two sides of Washington State

Love this color combo – a chartreuse vase that brings out the contrasting blues, purples and wines of local flowers.

With flowers gathered from Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon and Sunshine Crafts and Flowers in Pullman, I here present you the beautiful, LOCAL, fresh-grown floral bounty of the Pacific Northwest. 

Thank you to Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm, who pulled together a dazzling selection of cut ingredients for me to pick up from their cooler at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market last Friday as I was rolling out of town. When I stopped by, there was a veritable candy-store selection of blooms, curated by Diane to include mostly dark reds, corals, pinks and peaches. She had included a few bunches of peonies, including the awesome ‘Peppermint Twist’ (it looks like it sounds!), as well as the unusual-looking verbascum and strands of broom, with raspberry flowers rather than those garish yellow things that line the highways. 

My companion: writer and speaker Lorene Edwards Forkner. Our destination: Living in the Garden, a specialty nursery and display garden in Pullman, 296 miles to the east. We would be joined that night by writer and speaker Mary Ann Newcomer, who had just about the same mileage to cover, but she left Boise and headed westward. At the invitation of LITG owners Suzanne St. Pierre and Scotty Thompson, we would be speaking as a trio the following afternoon. The three of us cooked up this event, “Garden Writers in the Garden,” with Suzanne. It was the result of more than a year of an email and phone friendship, so the actual meeting face-to-face seemed both natural and a little surprising, but thoroughly delightful with hugs, kisses and laughter. 

We arrived at Suzanne and Scotty’s around dinnertime (Lorene and I were a ‘little’ late, thanks to my reliance on the GPS rather than the map Suzanne emailed me. . . let’s just say it had something to do with a dirt road and a nearly-empty tank of gas!) 

Here's the low-key marketing that has brought much success to Jane Stratton, a Pullman, Washington flower farmer.

Bright and early the next morning, after a yummy breakfast cooked by Carla Wesson of the Wesson Bunkhouse, with her husband Richard, our innkeepers (and friends of Suzanne and Scotty’s), we headed out to meet local flower farmer Jane Stratton of Sunshine Crafts and Flowers.

Suzanne had suggested I meet Jane and procure some of her fresh-cuts for my talk and demonstration that afternoon. We drove a little way out of Pullman down Old Moscow Road and arrive at a mailbox that read: Sunshine Crafts. Yes, this was the place!

Greeted by Jane, who has an easy smile and a sparkle in her eyes, we hopped out of the car and gazed at the orderly fields of perennials and annuals, some ornamental shrubs and grasses, emerging beauty in every row. The wife of a farmer (yes, she is married to Farmer John), Jane began a dried flower craft business in 1986 in order to stay at home with her children rather than keep her office job at Washington State University. Her switch to growing fresh flowers and starting a bouquet subscription service began about five years later. Jane took a pretty bouquet into a local supermarket and started her “pitch” to the flower buyer: “I can offer you locally-grown flowers and create cottage bouquets,” she told the woman. “Great, I’d like 20 bouquets now and 20 every other day,” was the reply.

I loved visiting Jane and learning about her growing practices, design sensibility and the way she connects with customers.

Needless to say, Jane tapped into an unmet demand for seasonal, local and beautiful blooms. Between May and October, she serves 100 customers on her weekly delivery route, taking $8 bouquets to businesses and offices on Mondays; and to residences on Thursdays. Think about the old-fashioned milk  route and you pretty much can imagine how Jane manages those door-to-door deliveries!

I’ll write more about her story soon, but for now, I just had to share this bouquet.

It’s created from the wonderful array of excess blooms that I didn’t use in my demonstration last Saturday. I brought these stems home with me in the car, back across the state, crammed into my Subaru with the cool “junque” that Lorene and I snagged at Farm Chicks, a giant tag sale and antique show we took in last Sunday after leaving Pullman.

When I pulled out this chartreuse vase and starting playing with the flowers (revived with a fresh cut, clean water and overnight storage in my cool garage), I noticed that the vibrant blue, purple and plum floral palette looked quite awesome against the vase color. So here is the recipe, from my best sources, east and west:

Get close and appreciate the luscious variety of color, form and texture.

From Sunshine Crafts and Flowers:

Dark purple lilacs, Blue perennial bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus), Reddish-pink ‘Nora Barlow’ columbine (Aquilegia hybrid), with a sweet double bloom

From Jello Mold Farm:

Purple ornamental alliums and Merlot-wine burnet (Sanguisorba sp.)

So beautiful! I have an editor, who shall be nameless, who believes that a flower pot or vase should contain no more than three types of plant or flowers in order for the “readers” to understand it. I beg to differ. Don’t you see all five of these delightful ingredients, and together, aren’t they exquisite?

To buy your own flowers from Jello Mold, visit the Thursday Queen Anne Farmer’s Market (3-7:30 p.m.).

To buy your own flowers from Sunshine Crafts and Flowers, visit the farm’s U-Pick program. 1653 Old Moscow Road, Pullman (1.7 miles on Old Moscow Road, off Johnson Road). Call: 509-332-2306 or email: moc.reitnorfnull@nottartsenajnhoj.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne June 12, 2011 at 8:23 am

I for one believe that more is more when it comes to flowers!
Your East meets West bouquet is gorgeous and a perfect echo of your beautiful pillow. Your flowers held up so well after traveling, a testament to the quality from these two growers.

Dee/reddirtramblings June 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm

That my friends is a bit of purple heaven. Mwah!

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