We had our first frost at the farm last Friday and myself (and I think farmers around Wisconsin) exhaled a collective sigh of both relief, grief, and gratitude. Relief that events at the farm will downshift to a more humane pace, grief for the passing of the squash that couldn't ripen, the dahlia blossoms that were cut short, descending into winter's decay, and gratitude for all the fullness, color, and bounty that this small corner of the world could produce such bounty!
I tried to capture all these thoughts and emotions in the last Flower CSA bouquet of the season and hope the pumpkin vase vessel will support the fall colors.
A South Central Wisconsin seasonal bouquet would not be complete without integrating native prairie grasses.
They are the most forgiving stems in a bouquet, outlasting even the hardiest of strawflower and gomphrena (both of which are also in this weeks bouquet). Native grasses are also the most fiery. I love watching the colors change change from green to gold to purple red in our prairies, reflecting their need for fire every few years to regenerate seeds and keep their populations sustained.
I am reminded that grasses on the landscape are key to accomplishing the goals we seek to steward on our farm –producing food, offering habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects, inviting beauty and balance along the edges and hedges of our farm fields and woodlands, increasing water holding capacity, and celebrating the seasons. Native grasses such as bluestems, bromes, and ryes in partnership with grazing animals, do all of these tasks and all the while sequester carbon and build soil.
While grasses have been overlooked in traditional Victorian flower language – for me prairies grasses symbolize perseverance, hardiness, and regeneration.
I hope this weeks and all of your bouquets this season have offered some semblance of regeneration and calm in mind and spirit, perseverance in the form of a long-lasting vase life, and beauty to your day. Enjoy your flowers and have a wonderful 'dormancy' season. I look forward to staying connected and growing for you again in the seasons ahead.
I've added an extra dose of flowers (native grasses included) that work well for drying so you can enjoy blooms into the winter months. Specifically, in this week's bouquet, native prairie grasses, strawflower, gomphrena, statice, sedum, and broom corn.
The following are some tips for experimenting with flower and herb drying:
(for more ideas, visit our flower tips website page)
Pick flowers and herbs at the peak of perfection (generally the same time you would pick for fresh use, which is late morning, after the dew has dried but before they are subjected to the heat of the day).
Bunch flowers and herbs with rubber bands and attach to string and hang upside down from a clothes hanger in a warm, dark place with good air circulation.
Incorporate into bouquets, spice racks, in the bath, or under your pillow to beat the winter blues.