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  • Writer's pictureEmma Dickenson

Winter Flower Recap

It seemed like the winter creeped by s o s l o w l y. . .

Drear and cold and cloud and freeze and more extreme freezing temperatures.

It was pretty tough on the mental health.

Last year I took vitamin D everyday to fight the seasonal depression...I didn't do that this past winter for whatever reason. Maybe I forgot. Maybe I waited to long to start and the SAD got to me before I could fight. Either way, next year I'll try again.

Once the first flowers finally came in late winter, they didn't stop. It has seemed like a whirlwind ever since those first buds of hope formed in the cold field.

My grandmother's 90th birthday celebration was in January and I was honored to make some flower arrangements for that. Let me tell you, sticking to my "local and seasonal flowers only" ethics is difficult in January, but not impossible.

I used tulips and paperwhites from Rainbow Roots, a local flower farmer who focused on forcing bulbs for earlier blooms in the winter. I also used dried celosia and gomphrena from this past summer, hellebore, and cedar berries and greenery from our home.

I didn't take many pictures of the flowers that day. It was my first experience transporting arranged flowers across the state. That four hour drive, I was pretty concerned about them in the back of the car!

In addition to providing flowers for the celebration, I shot some film of most of our little family reunion in Virginia.

Once February rolled around, I actually had some more blooms to work with.

Eventually, bright yellow forsythia and daffodils added some color to the roadsides. I noticed the lenten roses starting to bloom in people's gardens and grape hyacinths sprouting in our own. Even with this new growth, the hydrangea skeletons from last year still rattled on the bushes. I was intrigued by this contrast of old and new beauty, and decided to use them together in a late winter arrangement. The purple of a thrifted handmade pottery bowl perfectly complemented the periwinkle of the mini hyacinths.

I remember photographing this arrangement before I added the experimentally tall forsythia, just in case the addition messed the whole thing up. Even now a few months later, I add those "experimental" accents with confidence.

I see designing in the winter as a creative exercise. If I can create pretty things when the landscape is sparse, surely I can make beautiful things then when the gardens are full. Sometimes it doesn't come together like I envision, but the exploration of unusual ingredients gets my mind working and alive in those difficult winter months.

Finally, late February and early March brought with them the fruits of our earlier labor anemones, daffodils, hyacinths, and a few short tulips.

I think you can see just from these pictures how dreary it was. Clouds don't bring the most creativity to me either. But seeing these flowers blooming in the field gives us hope.

At this point, we didn't know how fast most everything would come in the next couple months. We started selling jars at Honeybee earlier than we ever had before. We planted things to bloom early for our mid-March wedding.

Our anemone crop produced like never before! I think it's safe to say we fell back in love with them. I remember growing them early on in our flower farming journey and I wanted to bring them back for their early blooms and long-awaited color in late winter!

Much to my delight, early Spring means flowering trees. Saucer magnolias are always something my mom and I have admired in other people's yards, but never have bought one for ourselves. We finally changed that this year and have one for ourselves!

There's a couple stunning saucer magnolias in Island Home that I swoon over every time they bloom. I'm curious to know how old those trees are. I've never seen any larger and more magnificent in blooms before.

Not only are their flowers incredibly elegant, their branches are full of interest as well. They curve and twist and even are graced with lichens and color variations to add to their allure. I decided to design something using the architectural shape as my base.

This was my first time playing with fruit styling ... and I'm in love. I have a September bride (hey Callie!) who has given me permission to play around with fruit styling for her wedding. This is even cooler because she's getting married on a vineyard! If we're lucky, I might be able to get ahold of some of the muscadines they grow for some extra avant garde flare!

As you can see in this arrangements, the anemones were incredible this season! The color variations in some of their centers are so perfect they look like a painting. The pinks and purples of the anemones paired with the pinks of the saucer magnolia blooms. Ugh. Unparalleled. The drama of those velvety dark purple anemone petals next to their white and black-centered sisters, also a pair that is to-die-for.

To further the fun of anemones, I made a practice bridal in preparation for our March wedding, just to make sure I still had it! Again, the drama of those black and white anemones next to the cheery daffodils is really interesting and dramatic. Not for everyone, but I think it was super fun to play with the contrast.

Phew, that was a lot to catch y'all up on! All the way from mid-January to mid-March!

Next up, a blog post on our March wedding! Stay tuned!


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