The earth laughs in flowers.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet, essayist, and lecturer
For the first time in three years, we had a dry spring. The previous two seasons, which were subjected to rainy springs, my garden underperformed in terms of production and size of blooms. Whereas I used to get three bouquets from one clipping session in the side yard, I was lucky to get one bouquet a week – and those bouquets were anemic looking.
This year, my chocolate cosmos is as tall as I’ve ever seen (I’ve always had trouble getting the plant to last more than a season, so this healthy production is a bonus). My beloved dahlias are towering and full of multiple, strong buds. The dinner plate-size dahlias are living up to their potential. Upon learning that Costco had palettes of big dahlias, I snapped up four plants and tore out a patch of poppies and bachelors buttons to make room in my crowded side-yard garden for more dahlias.
For the past four years, I have donated weekly summer bouquets for our kids’ school auctions. This is the first year I have donated for my son’s middle school. It’s a great and easy fundraiser, which brings money to the schools and only costs me the time to put the bouquets together and deliver them to the winners’ porches. I enjoy sharing my garden’s bounty with family and friends – and auction winners. I enjoy creating the bouquets and delivering them. I delight in the joy that these flowers – the earth’s laughter – bring when I give them to people who truly appreciate Nature. I experience Zen moments when I survey the garden, prune and deadhead plants, clip new blooms, and especially create the bouquets. I’ve celebrated Mother’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries with my flowers. I’ve brought flowers for friends who are grieving losses. When we have guests, I arrange a small bouquet on the dresser by the guest bed in our fourth bedroom. I’ve thanked neighbors who have taken care of our dog Rex with flowers. And I’ve given flowers for no occasion at all.
I learned how to make a bouquet from David, who inherited his home’s garden from the previous owner, Joe, who had a green thumb. The yellow dahlias, which are late summer bloomers, have been in the yard for decades, and faithfully come back summer after summer. David likes more greenery in his bouquets, whereas I have a penchant for “stuffing” the vases full of dahlias and more dahlias. Through the years, I have branched out and planted different kinds of flowers that are long-stemmed and ideal for bouquets. My go-to nurseries are Annie’s Annuals (740 Market Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801, 510.215.1671) and East Bay Nursery (2332 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702), though I’ve snagged dahlias from Trader Joe’s, and, as I’ve mentioned earlier, Costco.
To pay homage to my garden, I’m sharing my bouquets from this summer on my blog. Enjoy! If you have a garden, share it with your family, friends, and neighbors. If you receive a bouquet, give a hug to the gardener. Spread beauty and joy!