SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Growing Hardy Annuals with “Cool Flowers” author & flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 159)
September 17th, 2014
I’m so pleased to share today’s conversation with you, recorded in August at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Pittsburgh.
My guest is Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop.
Lisa’s organic flower farm is located in the midst of Newport News, in southeastern Virginia, on a little less than 3 acres. What began as a small cut flower farm in 1998 has grown into a vibrant operation: The Gardener’s Workshop produces over 10,000 stems a week in season (mid-April to mid-November) and sells to upscale florists, to nearby Colonial Williamsburg, to area supermarkets and direct-to-consumers with a Garden Share program.
Lisa spends her time out of harvest season teaching others about organic gardening and growing cut flowers through lecturing and writing. Her lectures have reached from Texas to New York City—far beyond any dream she ever imagined. In 2005, Lisa added a shop to her business, offering the tools, supplies and seeds that she uses in her own garden and cut flower farm.
I first learned of Lisa when I stumbled upon her self-published book, “The Easy Cut-Flower Garden,” a handy 92-page guide to growing a season of fresh-cut flowers from a 3-by-10-foot garden that Lisa wrote and produced in 2011.
I ordered the book and often refer to it, especially when I’m fantasizing about tearing up some of my lawn and add more cutting garden real estate to our yard.
Not too long ago, Lisa’s name popped up again, when my publisher Paul Kelly, owner of St. Lynn’s Press, told me that she was writing a new book for their list.
That’s one reason we were able to connect in Pittsburgh, our publisher’s home base. Lisa’s new book, Cool Flowers, is all about how to grow and enjoy hardy annuals. In it, she shares her 16-years of growing experiences and the sheer joy of this group of flowers that are often left out of gardens.
Cool Flowers is all about how and when to plant hardy annuals so that spring in the garden will be nothing short of sensational.
Once their needs are met, this diverse yet easy group of flowers will change spring in the home garden forever. The most important thing is to allow them to get established during cool weather. Plant them in the right spot at the right time, nestle their roots deep into rich organic soil, and stand back. When happy, these hardy annuals need little intervention, other than having someone gaze on their beauty, or perhaps to cut a few for the kitchen table. Some of Lisa’s favorites include snapdragons, Bells of Ireland, sweet peas and sweet William.
Every flower gardener needs this book! Lisa Ziegler’s Cool Flowers brings to flower gardening a brand new point of view that introduced me to all sorts of possibilities for my floral palette – as a gardener and floral designer. Her valuable tips for success with hardy annuals will extend your garden’s blooming season, no matter where you live. If you want to make the most of all seasons in your garden, Cool Flowers is a must-have.
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My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net