Friday, September 26, 2014

A Visit to a Flower Farm

Though Oldham's no longer have a farm in Huttonville, we still see our old neighbours each Saturday when we visit the Brampton Farmer's Market.

A few weeks ago I stopped by the family's busy market stand to buy a bouquet of dahlias and got an invitation to go out to see the work they had done at their new farm near Rockwood Ontario.

What gardening enthusiast would down such an invitation?

And so it was that I found myself standing chest deep in a big field of dahlias one 
beautiful Sunday morning.

This is a busy time of year at the flower farm.

The dahlias are at their peak and it was all hands on deck at corporate headquarters (a.k.a. the barn).

There was the odd slacker (this is Maya asleep on the barn floor), but everyone else was busy cutting and packing flowers for a big order when I stopped in to visit.

Out in the field, the dahlias were looking spectacular.

Dahlias range widely in height and foliage color, as well as bloom size, variety and shape. "Dinner plate" varieties may have blooms as large as 12" in diameter.

Dahlias tuberous-rooted perennials native to Mexico and Central America. They tolerate a wide range of soil types, but like well drained conditions (too much moisture will cause the tubers to rot). Always grow dahlias in full sun. 

Tubers should be planted in the spring after all danger of frost has been passed. The proper planting depth for dahlia tubers is 10-15 cm (4-6 inches). 

Taller varieties may end up needing to be staked later on. If you are not careful however, the stake can damage tubers so it is a good idea to position your stake at the time of planting.

Place your dahlia tuber horizontally in the planting hole with the eye pointing upward. Dahlias are heavy feeders so it is a good idea to mix in some organic matter and a handful of bonemeal when you plant them.

To promote a compact, bushy plant, pinch back your dahlia once it has grown about a foot high. It is also a good idea to feed them every two weeks before they begin to set bud with water soluble, bloom promoting type of fertilizer.

Side buds at the end of each branch can be removed if you want to encourage larger flowers.

The farm also produces other flowers like these zinnias and snapdragons.

Gladiolas used to be an important flower crop, but the family 
tells me that they are not as popular in recent years.

Growing Lavatera as a cut flower was an experiment tried
for the first time this summer.

Lavatera trimestris: Lavatera are annuals that are easy to grow from seed. You can start them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost or sow them directly outdoors two weeks before the last frost date. 

Lavatera dislike being moved, so avoid moving young plants if possible. Grow them in moist, average soil (rich soil will lead to lush foliage and fewer flowers). In growing them myself, I discovered that full sun is best. These are tall plants that may require some staking. Height: 2-4' Spread: 2-3' USDA Zones: 2-9.

Dahlia, 'Wizard of Oz'

Pompom dahlias have a ball-shaped flower that makes me think of a honeycomb. Pompoms come in a rainbow of colors and have nice long stems that are perfect for flower arranging.

Dahlia 'Yellow Pow'

Dahlia 'Jess'

Dahlia 'Jess'


In an upcoming posts, we will look at "Dinner plate" dahlias, as well as a few of the other flowers grown on the farm. I will also have some tips for storing dahlias over winter to pass along.

More Information:

Butt's Berry & Flower Farm

5838 5th Line
Rockwood, Ontario
(519) 856-0270

You can't beat the freshness of locally grown flowers!

Delphinium, dahlias, and a variety of other flowers are grown on the farm. Orders for special events such as weddings are welcome.
There is no catalogue at this time, but dahlia tubers are available for purchase each spring. 
The farm also produces a wide range of vegetables, pumpkins and berries.

Visit the Butt's Berry& Flower Farm Facebook page


  1. So much beauty and richness in every single shot! What a beautiful place and what a joy it would be to be among all of these amazing blooms! Sort of like having an amazing dessert....such a treat! I bet you had a blast and what extraordinary selections they have! A lovely weekend to you friend! Nicole xo

  2. Wonderful, would love to visit on day. Great pictures!

  3. What a gorgeous bunch of photos! Love the colours.

  4. Wow talk about pure flower heaven here on earth! Beautiful!

  5. Lavatera is one of my favourite flowers. Flower farming is, no doubt, as difficult as any other farming but to me it seems a glorious way to spend one's life.

  6. Thank you for this interesting post. I have not tried Dahlia for some years. I never had much luck with them. I suppose I should start them in pots and then transfer them to the garden as summers come rather late in the Bruce.

  7. Simple stunning. Those Dahlia's are gorgeous and that bouqet at the end is just divine.

  8. They are stunning - so many beautiful colors and sizes. Thanks so much for these beautiful pictures.
    Have a great week.

  9. What a wonderful place to visit, so much colour, enough to tempt anyone into growing some for themselves.

  10. Wow - what an amazing place - that first picture makes my heart sing. I grow dahlias every year sometimes successfully sometimes not - but to see them in such abundance is how they should be grown - I wonder if they leave them in the ground after they have finished flowering or lift and store them - imagine the task of doing that.

    1. They do indeed lift and store them over winter Elaine. And I am sure that, as you speculate, it is tons of work!

  11. Oh goodness - these flowers are just wonderful and gorgeous! :-)

  12. How awesome and fun. Gorgeous farm and flowers. Lucky you. Thanks for sharing the adventure.

  13. What a treat, all those rows of Dahlia's ....stunning colors, textures, and sizes...beautiful.

    I never appreciated them until I moved up here, they are a wonderful, colorful addition to my garden.


  14. I love dahlias and the photo of 'Yellow Pow' dahlia is wonderful Jennifer. Your words : 'field of dahlias' go well with your pictures!
    I also love lavatera and one year had many of them but now don't plant them, I should grow lavatera, it's lovely!

  15. So glad you were given, and accepted the invitation, Jennifer.
    What beautiful gardens, and I so love those dahlias!
    Thank you so for sharing here!

  16. Oh, such a marvelous garden, Jennifer!
    Your dahlia photos are one more beautiful then the other! :)
    So much beauty.... wow!

  17. What a lovely invitation, I wouldn't have turned it down either. How good to see home grown flowers being sold rather than imported. I di enjoy the dahlias, I have taken lots of cuttings from mine this year. What an interesting

  18. A flower farm! We don't have anything to compare here. What a fabulous place. I would get lost there and hope not to be found!

  19. What a gorgeous post! The flowers are incredible and it would have been fun to take photos at this farm. I think I'll pick a bouquet of my own Lavatera!

  20. Hello Jennifer girl !
    Wow ... this must have been such a treat to see so many gorgeous flowers on a pretty sunny day.
    It is wonderful to actually see where the market flowers come from like this.
    I would have to have my hands tied to my sides to keep from touching them all, haha.
    You took such pretty pictures of them all .. makes the reader feel like they have been there too!
    My great aunt used to grow the Dinner Plate ones so I have to see what pictures you have of them : )
    PS .. hope you are feeling better ... what ever this "bug" is , it takes forever to get rid of.

  21. Your photographs never cease to amaze me.

  22. Indeed, who could pass up such an invitation--what a beautiful sight! My first attempt at planting dahlias several years ago was a failure, and I haven't tried planting any since. But seeing all these beautiful blooms makes me realize I'd like to try again--on a much smaller scale than this, of course:) I appreciate all the tips on planting them, Jennifer.

  23. Wow, I would be in heaven if I could stand chest deep in fields of dahlias like this!! I don't know of any place around here where you can cut or I'd be there! I do have to say, I'll never ever pinch my dahlias back again. I did it this year and many have not bloomed yet. Maybe it was a combination of our cool, rainy summer & pinching, but it seemed to really set them back (especially when you live where there's a short growing season.)

  24. What a great place! I have never been successful growing dahlias, should be simple but they don't seem to withstand summer in my garden.

    Meant to answer you about the coleus, I use Miracle Gro's Super Bloom fertilizer . It used to be made by Schultz and Peters, but Miracle Gro bought it out.



  25. Simply stunning! Some of these close ups are remarkable and breathtaking...I love me some dahlias!


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