17 September 2009

Who Doesn't Love Their Mum?

For the past three months we've been toiling in the classroom, learning - among other subjects - the art and science of Greenhouse Management. The culmination of our growing project was a plant sale to benefit our class and raise funds for our study trip abroad next year (go Team England!!! *cough*).

Er, where was I? Ah, yes! Mums! So we grew mums! Lots of mums! Our former (wah!) Student Coordinator, Mark, helped us build our very own mum field and here's what it looked like at the end of the term:
Each student was assigned a different variety of mum to grow; however, all varieties were no-pinch which, in Longwood-Mum-Speak, was a lifesaver! Pinching mums is a tiring and tedious business calculated to drive even the most stoic grower mad. Thankfully, we had Entomology for that! We did start to address each other by variety names, though, which was always entertaining:

Emma: "Hey Hudson, are you Fiery Barbara?"
Hudson: "No, I'm Crazy Victoria."

We didn't name them, we just grew them. And here they are, in all their colorful splendor:

We held a big sale for all Longwood staff in our classroom since the weather wasn't cooperating but the great thing about our group is that we always manage to make it work. After spending three months viewing our crops as segregated groups, it was inspiring to see their colors and textures mixed together.

Kind of gives a new meaning to "flower bed" doesn't it?

The poor mum field looked pretty sad by the time we were finished loading, and the greenhouse seemed empty and forlorn but we loaded up our trucks and caravaned to the Hort. Building where the artistes in the group proceeded to create a dazzling and welcoming botanical display.

I wish I could say we made millions, but for our first sale I think we did great! With a suggestion from Joyce, our garden instructor, we secured permission to set up a display with our remaining stock outside the Visitor's Center on Saturday and open our sale to the public. The timing was fantastic - Saturday was the last Fireworks and Fountains display of the season and tons of people stopped by. It also gave us a chance to talk up the PG Program and meet new supporters. Even the Mayor of Kennett Square honored us with his patronage!

By far the best part of this story is the sunflowers. Back in July a few of us got this crazy idea to plant a sunflower field. It was late in the season and we weren't sure it would fly, but we decided to do it anyway. We ordered 500 seeds of five varieties of cutting sunflowers and sowed them in the greenhouse. They popped up in record time and were promptly transplanted to the waiting field. After a nerve-wracking summer of stormy, wet weather and having to endure the negative comments of various naysayers, we clung to the hope that the flowers would soak up what sun there was and throw it back in blinding rays of sunny bloom.

Well, guess what? They did!

The field was blazing by the time our plant sale rolled around so the guys set to work harvesting by the bucket-load.

The stems were prepped right there beside the field and loaded onto Gavin's pickup (I shall refrain from making a joke about a bed of sunflowers...).

Our resident floral designer, Steven, made dozens of tied bouquets with the able assistance of Emma and Hudson, who became alarmingly attached to his first bouquet.

When the masses saw the sunflowers they went on in paroxysms of admiration, and we were proud to boast that they were grown by us right here in Longwood's backyard, which inspired more paroxysms and even more sales! The sunflowers alone generated enough revenue to cover our initial investment and then some. Add to that a standing order from Longwood's Floral Designer to buy sunflowers for her weekly restaurant arrangements, as well as orders for the floral design classes being offered through the Extended Ed. dept, and we suddenly find ourselves in the cut flower business!

To the naysayers, I would just like to say this:

We totally rock the sunflower field!

And that is our success story for today. Another feather in the cap of the Incredible, Indomitable, Invincible PG-B Class of 2010! You guys are awesome! (Now, about this England trip...)

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