While walking around the garden center each morning, I see the outside area filling up with all the new arrivals. Among my very favorites are the roses. Of course right now they are not much to look at but you just know that, before long, their beautiful blooms will bring color to the area--and, walking past, we will smell the sweet fragrances.
Last year, our company’s president, Alfred Millard, had another one of his wonderful ideas! For the past few years, he planted beautiful sunflowers along our US 1 entrance. But last year he decided that, in addition, we should try some zinnias. What a sight they were! Once they started budding up, he asked Jennifer Park, our corporate office manager, what she thought about selling small bouquets of them in the store. Jennifer has long handled cut flowers for her church and is very talented at doing this sort of thing, so right away she told Alfred she would take care of it all! With the success of last year’s flower sales under her belt, this year Alfred planted even more! Now you can find her most mornings out in the zinnia beds cutting the flowers after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day causes the petals or leaves to wilt or curl slightly.
This morning while she was out there, her husband took this wonderful picture of her. I thought you would enjoy seeing just who makes these beautiful arrangements! Jennifer also takes care of the bonsai that we have at the garden center with the help of her happy husband who waters for her. She runs the bonsai as a side business and sells them here on consignment. Later, around November, you will find her helping in the Christmas shop and running the custom wreath-making and porch pot department.
Jennifer makes the bouquets by selecting zinnias that have begun to open but aren’t quite in full bloom to ensure the longest vase life. She then quickly puts about 15 in a bunch and wraps them up with a bow. They are for sale in the small cooler by customer service.
Annual zinnias make a long lasting colorful display in your garden, but they will also provide you with beautiful, long-lived color in your home. After you get your bouquet home, put them in a vase and place it in a cool area where the flowers receive bright but indirect sunlight. Overly warm temperatures or direct sun can cause the zinnias to wilt prematurely. You will want to replace the water and preservative in the vase every two days, or sooner if it becomes cloudy or dirty. Throw away any old zinnia stems as soon as they begin to wilt to prolong the life of the remaining flowers. You can also go out in your garden and add other flowers to your bouquet. Most of all, enjoy!
by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President