violet hour

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hillingblooms

Loveliest couple this this weekend- they met through Twitter. While she was cracking her friends up with her devastating wit, he began following her and fell under her spell. She was in Chicago, and he in London, so he made up and excuse to be here and flew in just so he could see if her fantastic wit was matched by her beauty, (which it most certainly is!), and the rest is history. Instead of a guest book, they had their attending loved ones sign this vintage globe. Here is a peek at some of the violet blooms we filled the Ivy Room with, gladiolas, sweet pea and clematis from our farm…

globey!

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Magical deliciousness

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bigtable chefs

Last weekend was a double header/ town AND country farm dinner weekend! We had the honor of bringing flowers we grew to Green City’s last Big Table dinner of the season celebrating urban farmers in Washington Park. We brought vermillion dahlias with lacy touches of  Cottoneaster berries and lemon basil. Pictured above are chefs Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass and Jared Batson of the Nomad Food Co. who, together with chefs from Farmhouse and Dream Cafe, prepared produce grown in the city with mind-boggling brilliance.

nasturtiums!

washington park fieldhouse

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Out at Five Row Farm, our dinner was a little less polished, but we made up for any rough edges in ambition and enthusiasm! Hazel, our bartender par excellence, served guava fresca-ginger-mint cocktails while guests cut their own bouquets,  enjoyed hay rides, made ice cream and toured the farm.

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KP!!

farm table with flowers

Neva's bouquet

hazel on hay

trouble in paradise

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lilac sweet pea

dead cosmos

All has not been sunshine and happiness at Five Row recently.  100 of our cosmos plants developed root rot and have pretty much all died. They were such a sight in their glory; 6 ft tall, with so many blooms it was almost a bore! Root rot is irreversible but I tried to contain it, thinning the sick ones out and quarantining them in a massive pile in the outer field.  Being the Greenhorn that I am to farming, my despondency knew no bounds.  I felt like I was carrying sick kin out on to the veldt to die. The beautiful plants didn’t know they were dying and were still blooming like mad.

hydrangea elderberry stairs

The farmers I work with tell me that farming is manic, one moment can be golden and the next beyond black. They also tell me that that’s often just what Cosmos do, they get huge and then they rot. Next year we will plant in rotation, and hopefully have them into fall. I think I’m pretty much over it now, and the pile in the field looks like it might make a good home for gophers.

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hydrangea elderberry

True Romance

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When I tell people that I do flowers for weddings, many times they wince and say “Oh, but you must have to work with such awful Bridezillas!” It’s funny, I explain, but on the contrary we are lucky enough to somehow attract some of the most wonderful, low-key, chic clients and their eyes widen.

farm workers

What’s more is that I often get to witness, in such vulnerable and intimate moments, irrefutable evidence that gorgeous, breathtaking, true love actually does exist!  Yesterday,  we got to watch a couple in their 50’s nervously practice their first dance before guests arrived. It was electrifying. The groom was so intent of getting it right: quick-quick-slow…. quick-quick-slow…while holding his bride so close.

dahlias tipped

We have been “tipping” the dahlias at our farm,  taking off the uppermost, first and burgeoning blooms to encourage lasting, stronger, taller ones.  Jessica who farms the plot adjacent to ours and her husband Nick helped us tie up our dahlias last weekend. Seeing him work to support her dream of farming, as she successfully farms an entire acre of land is awesome in the real sense of the word.

tying up dahlias

malibu centerpiece

homolla arch

Summer Citrus at The Ivy Room

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studio citrus

Absolutely unafraid of color, this beautiful bride chose a sherberty pallette in shades of coral, tangerine, lemon and lime. We employed fresh citrus including limequats in the bouquets and centerpieces as well as dinner plate dahlias and cosmos from our farm.  In the gorgeous sanctuary that is the courtyard at The Ivy Room, our designer friend Anja worked her floral magic on the chuppah…

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Scandinavian summer at the Shedd Aquarium

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blue blue lake

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The Shedd Aquarium called us last minute for flowers and decor for their summer trustee party with Chicago’s best view. As sustainability is such a priority for the museum, we were happy to provide organically grown flowers from our farm to brighten up the space. I was shooting for a summery, Scandinavian vibe with palest blues and yellows…

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Notes from the Flower Field

paws and rose of sharon

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centerpiece lilac and orange

Midsummer is here and we are dividing our days between hyper-manicured floral photo shoots and the wild imperfection of our flower farm.  Sunstroke can be mildly exciting but today I had my first, “let’s-find-the-car-keys-in-the-field-day”.  Thank goodness that game only lasted 15 minutes!  We’ve begun battling pests organically and I applied my first super batch of compost tea today…hopefully the insects will find the fragrance an unappealing as I do.

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up close rose of sharon

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Big Table Dinner at Garfield Park Conservatory

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Some clearly brilliant women from Green City Market’s junior board are hosting a series of farm dinners in honor of urban farmers this summer in Chicago’s most incredible parks.  Our friends from The Chicago Honey Co-op were on the list of course and by donating flowers from our farm we were lucky enough to tuck in the napkin alongside them. Standouts included wildflower honey candy in the Growing Power salad and poached whitefish garnished with Queen Anne’s Lace from Farmhouse as well as Bang Bang pie shop’s biscuits.

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Built in 1907, Garfield Park conservatory is a cathedral for nature worship which lost two if it’s main show-house spaces tragically when in 2011 a freak hailstorm shattered most of the glass. Just this month, after years of fundraising, the show house repair was completed. This was my first visit to the re-opened space and the energy was electric!

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whipped frosting flowers for sale!

closeup of dahlias

Dahlias have started at the farm! I feel as if I must be some kind of wizard, like I need to shop for a trailing navy blue robe with golden crescents and stars on it, and don a pointed hat to match. DAHLIAS!!! I can’t even spell the word!! They are my all time favorite flower because when you say that they are your favorite flower you are essentially cheating…. they come in every color under the sun, and in a million different shapes and patterns.  They literally sparkle, AND they look like whipped frosting, there simply isn’t anything more you can ask for…

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Mud madness

 

staking flowers

Our plants were all knee high by the fourth of July! Some of them were so tall that they were snapping off at the base and a mad staking party in a flooded field was held. We started out with mallets up on ladders, then post drivers and finally figured out that the ground was wet enough to just sort of hang on them using our body weight, then finish with a few masterful strikes with the post driver…

mischel sample

kristin staking

rained out farm

Our brilliant Summer internship is ending soon and it is so sad.  The greatest thing about this business, even greater than the flowers themselves, is the kind of people attracted to it and the collaborative nature of our process. Adeline, (pictured above), transitioned effortlessly from sewing french lace for chuppahs to swinging post drivers knee deep in mud. Mariana, ( harvesting white cosmos below) effortlessly charmed her way through hotel load-ins, securing refreshments and carts with a wink as well as tirelessly de-thorning garden roses, trellising clematis and hipping us to the best Columbian music. Hopefully, they will return as free-lancers as we have a lot more to learn from each other…

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