Sparrow in the zinnia beds, Jello Mold Farm

Sparrow in the zinnia beds, Jello Mold Farm

“In any careless combination they delight.
Pure peach-cheek beside the red of boiled beet
by the perky scarlet of a cardinal by flamingo pink
by sunsink orange by yellow from a hundred buttercups
by bleached linen white.  Any random armful
of the world, one comes to feels, would fit together.”
— from “A Bouquet of Zinnias” by Mona Van Duyn

Zinnia field, Jello Mold Farm

Zinnia field, Jello Mold Farm

I love how Van Duyn’s poem celebrates the brilliant multi-colored pageantry of the zinnia flower.  As summer fades to fall, the tenacity of this flower means that we will enjoy their splashes of color when other summer blossoms are spent.  The poem is brought to life in the zinnia beds at Jello Mold Farm.

“How tough they are, how bent on holding their flagrant
freshness, how stubbornly in their last days instead
of fading they summon an even deeper hue
as if they intended to dry to everlasting,
and how suddenly, heavily, they hang their heads at the end.”
— from “A Bouquet of Zinnias” by Mona Van Duyn

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'Queen lime" zinnias

‘Queen lime” zinnias

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Jello Mold Farm in October

October 13, 2013

Sign on van, Jello Mold Farm

Sign on van, Jello Mold Farm

Harvesting some late dahlias, Jello Mold Farm

Harvesting some late dahlias, Jello Mold Farm

Dahlias, Jello Mold Farm

On my recent trip to the Skagit Valley, I stopped in at Jello Mold Farm to see what was happening in the flower beds. Not surprisingly, they were harvesting decorative pumpkins and gourds, but their dahlias were still blooming, too (in great numbers).

Pink dahlias

Pink dahlias

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I love the fall color palette with its golden yellows and rich, jewel-like purples and reds.

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Shoo Fly, a.k.a. Nicandra physalodes

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Rudbeckia hirta ‘Chim Chiminee’

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The ‘Queen Lime’ zinnias are still some of my favorites.

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Queen lime zinnias

And I like to see what other unusual floral fixings catch my eye.

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Monkshood, aconitum sp.

The compost heaps grow large at the end of the peak growing season, an emblem of these plants’ life cycles and regeneration.

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Work area by the barn, Jello Mold Farm

I’ve been to the Skagit Valley many times over the years to visit the large, commercial tulip and daffodil fields and bulb companies.  But this week I was delighted to tour a small, 7-acre farm that grows over 150 varieties of flowers for the cut-flower market.  Jello Mold Farm is nurtured by Diane Szukovathy, one of the founders of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, and Dennis Westphall.

We knew we had arrived at the right place when we saw this telephone pole decorated with jello molds (and spider webs).

Jello molds, whimsical emblems of the farm

Diane and Dennis are passionate about sustainably and locally grown flowers.  The U.S. flower market is dominated by imports from Columbia, and small flower growers are threatened.  The 18 growers (so far) who have cooperated in forming the Seattle Wholesale Flowers Market hope to inspire florists and their clients to buy locally.  To compete in this market, the local growers offer supremely fresh and quality cut flowers, local specialties such as dahlias that don’t travel well, and new products. For example, Jello Mold Farm sells branches with clinging crab apples or quince and chestnut foliage and spiky nut cases, which add interesting textures and colors to floral arrangements.

Chestnut leaves and spiky green nut cases

A basket of chestnuts

 

The carnations at Jello Mold Farm smell like real carnations. Imported carnations have been bred to have no scent.

Diane with carnation and coffee cup, out in the flower beds

After an introductory tour, Diane set us loose on the farm to wander among the fall blooms.  Here are some photos of my favorite Jello Mold Farm flowers:

Pincushion flower (Scabiosa caucasica 'Alba')

Pincushion flower

A bed of Scabiosa 'Dark Knight'

Scabiosa 'Dark Knight'

Dahlias

One of many varieties of grasses grown at Jello Mold Farm

Bed of 'Queen Lime' Zinnias

'Queen Lime' Zinnia

The leaves of this Smokebush plant glowed like stained glass.

The unfurled petals of this sunflower plant looked like Japanese furoshiki (folded fabric gift wrap)

And, this being the start of autumn, decorative pumpkins and gourds are in season at the farm.

Harvested pumpkins

I loved the pale salmon color and warty texture of this Galeux d'Eysines squash.

There were still a few pumpkin blossoms in the fields.

Princess pumpkins

Flower ties, Jello Mold Farm