Labor Day might signify the unofficial end of summer for us humans, but our many-petaled friends know better than to think we've entered fall just yet. In New York, September means farmers' markets full to bursting with dahlias, zinnias, and sunflowers—not to mention a slew of tinier cutting flowers. Wearing riotous shades of fuchsia, magenta, green, and gold, September's farm flowers are not for the color shy.
I stopped by the prettiest stand at the Greenmarket last Friday and bought one of the expertly arranged bouquets made by the farmers at the Queens County Farm Museum.
Above: The Queens County Farm Museum sells at the Union Square Greenmarket every Friday. You can expect similarly beautiful arrangements to be available for the next few weeks before the bouquets will take on decidedly more autumnal hues.
Above: What makes a beautiful farm bouquet? In this case, a rainbow of color and nearly as many textures.
Above: I decided to take home a bouquet and perform something of a dissection to determine the secret to farm bouquet success.
Above: At home, I snipped the ends off my bouquet to refresh the stems and to encourage them to drink water.
Above: First up, the bouquet relied on a smattering of focal flowers—larger varieties meant to steal the show—namely sunflowers, zinnias, and dahlias. These flowers are brightly colored for attracting attention, but they also grow on long, straight stems which make them easy to arrange. If you're planning next year's garden, these are similar varieties:
- Sonja Sunflower Helianthus annuus, $3.45 from Johnny Selected Seeds
- Benary Giant Wine Zinnia elagans, $3.95 Johnny Selected Seeds
- Dahlia XXL Vera Cruz from White Flower Farm.
Above: Next up, and no less important than the showstoppers, were the filler flowers: goldenrod, celosia, gomphrena globosa, gomphrena fireworks, and cosmos greens. The feathery texture and range of colors in the goldenrod, celosia, and gomphrena make them perfect for adding a pop of visual intrigue without looking too heavy. A stem or two of the airy leaves of cosmos will bulk up the bouquet and provide support for the larger stems without weighing them down. Here again, similar options to think about for next year:
- Gomphrena fireworks, $4.99 from Summer Hill Seeds
- QIS Purple Gomphrena globosa, $3.45 Johnny's Selected Seeds
- Ruby Parfait Celosia argentia spicata, $3.95 Johnny's Selected Seeds
- Versailles Mix of Cosmos bipinnatus, $3.45 Johnny's Selected Seeds
- Goldenrod (Solidago), $4.99 Outside Pride.
Above: Added together, the bouquet makers focused on creating volume by varying the heights of the stems. Stems with tinier flowers poke up from the top, while the heavier blooms were kept toward the bottom of the arrangement.
Does the gomphrena look familiar? That's because it's in the same family as our beloved superfood.
For tips on growing your own cutting flowers see 12 Tips for Growing Cutting Flowers from Barberry Hill Farm.