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As we develop our slow flower farm at HQ (check out our journey on Instagram @flowerfarmstead), I’ve devoured books, articles and watched YouTube video after YouTube video (currently obsessed with Ian and Serina of You Can’t Eat the Grass) to learn the ins and outs of flower growing and flower farming. Of all the resources available to me, books continue to be my preferred resource as you can take them with you as you head out to the greenhouse or gardens, and you can refer back to the same book again and again–much easier than browsing through bookmarked web pages searching for the right paragraph!
So if you’re just starting out as a slow flower farmer or aspire to become one, here are the books on flower farming and flower growing to add to your reading list:
The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers by Lynn Byczynski
Released in 2008, The Flower Farmer is the definitive book on the business of flower farming, running through the nuts and bolts of starting your organic flower farm and exploring everything from variety selection, soil preparation right through to cultivation, harvesting and floral design. The thoroughly revised and expanded second edition of the book includes extensive advice on selling to florists, wholesalers, and supermarkets and provides insights into the wedding industry and farmers’ markets. If you are serious about commercial flower growing, this book is a must read.
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein
Winner of the American Horticultural Society’s 2018 Book Award and written by the world’s leading farmer-florist Erin Benzakein, founder of Floret Farm, this instructional book will get you growing, harvesting and arranging seasonal cut flowers in no time. This is a ‘back to basics’ resource book ideal for beginner flower growers. Erin shares her insights and experiences gained from running her own flower farm in Skagit Valley, Washington. Cut Flower Garden covers the tools you’ll need, essential techniques such as how to start seeds and how to care for your cut flowers, and growing tips for many popular cut flower varieties, including Erin’s favourites. The book comes complete with gorgeous images so you’ll learn how to spot an Orach from Cress in no time. It also includes basic flower arranging recipes so you can try it out for yourself.
Growing Flowers: Everything You Need to Know about Planting, Tending, Harvesting and Arranging Beautiful Blooms by Niki Irving
While aimed at the beginner home flower grower, this gardening book is fit as a go-to reference guide for new flower farmers too. Written by Nicki Irving who owns boutique organic flower farm in Asheville, North Carolina. She shares organic gardening techniques that will help you prepare your soil, implement seasonal rotation and grow lush flowers without toxic chemicals. Growing Flowers also provides advice on floral arrangements and creating seasonal bouquets. Accompanied by gorgeous photography, this is a book that will help hone the horticultural skills of the aspiring flower farmer.
Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques by Lisa Mason Ziegler
If you’re planning to grow flowers in a cool climate where the challenge of frost and snow is real, Cool Flowers written by long-time flower farmer and educator Lisa Mason Ziegler is for you. It offers great growing advice and profiles 30 flower varieties such as snapdragons, sweet peas and Bells of Ireland that will thrive when planted in cool conditions (note: flowers that you can jumpstart and don’t need to wait until Spring to plant!)
Good Bug Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically by Jessica Walliser
Even the most experienced flower farmers battle annoying and invasive insects in their quest to grow perfect-looking blooms and as a beginner sustainable flower farmer, your learning curve will be steep as you try to identify the bad pests from the good ones and all without reaching for the synthetic chemical spray. Luckily, Jessica Walliser has done the homework for you in this book Good Bug Bad Bug. This is an essential laminated guide book that you can take to the garden for easy reference.
Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm by Debra Prinzing
Written by acclaimed garden writer and host of the Slow Flower podcast Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers will challenge you to think ‘slow’ when growing cut flowers. Instead of creating standard bouquets featuring imported and chemical-laden flowers, Debra designs bouquets for each season using flowers, fillers and foliage that can be found in most climate zones throughout the year. While this is more a floral design book than a flower growing book, it will still inspire you to think about your end customer and how you can help them to think outside ‘fast flowers’ and instead appreciate slow flowers instead.
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Cover image by Floret Flowers.