It all started with her. The dahlia. And not just any dahlia-- the Cafe au Lait. It was three and a half years ago when I moved to Minnesota and, after a life of moving around the globe courtesy of the U.S. Army, I married my handsome farmer, and started my garden. I was finally stable in one place that I could establish some roots and grow. I use the word “garden” but it was more of an experiment. A few veggies here, a few flowers there... and lots of weeding because I did not prepare the soil. I refused to let my husband give me advise (even though he was a an Agriculture major in college) because while he was a farmer, I loved the flowers. Oh, what a fool I was!
But I learned my lessons and improved upon them. Yet even that was not enough to fuel a dream. You see, I did not know I had this dream-- to have a flower farm, until I did some introspection. I actually thought I wanted to be a flower shop owner, but after meeting with a few florists who were selling their business or simply giving advise, I realized what I loved was the growing process-- taking a seed, tuber or bulb, and seeing grow until it blooms. That miracle of nature—parts nourishment, part gambler’s hope, is what I love.
As I went through the process of growing a little garden, I was still wondering if this was for me. After all it is hard work and my husband called me "black thumb" jokingly because a few tropical plants in the home died (hello, this is Minnesota and I was not used to this weather!). But the moment that filled with the fire of growing— my aha moment— came when I decided to grow Cafe au Lait dahlias. If you have seen bridal magazines, you have seen one of these delicate dahlias at one point. Now, looking back this was the most foolish decision ever; not the growing dahlias but rather picking one of the most unreliable and unstable dahlias in the world. This is a diva flower.
In my blissful ignorance, I took the plunge and in the tubers went. I patiently waited and they started growing. For some reason I planted two tubers on pots and they grew beautifully. Then disaster. One of the adjacent dahlias (a different variety) started getting a pest. It looked like tiny beetles (read here for more on my nemesis). I tried everything, and they destroyed my dahlias especially the Cafe. When the blooms finally opened, all the petals were eaten. I was heartbroken. But momma raised one stubborn girl and so I took matters into my own hands, and moved the two potted dahlias. I cleaned them well, got all the bugs off, and into my garage they went sitting by a window where they could get sun. And there I patiently waited for them to open, hoping the petals would be intact. And after a long wait, they bloomed and it was almost perfection! They were smaller than a dinnerplate size, but I think it is because it did not have enough light. Still they were saved for the most part.
And this determination to grow and save it from the pest, felt like a true labor of love. I cared for them like babies, and the reward once they bloomed was indescribable. That feeling surprised me. After the season was over, I started planning for next year, and I knew that the Cafe au Lait will have a special place in my heart. In 2018, I did not grow Café au Lait because after 2016, I needed a break from how unreliable it is. But it is coming back this year— I missed it too much! In the winter, while I was going winter crazy I spoke with my husband about sectioning a small area of the farm to grow flowers and told him about my dream. And he did not laugh-- which I thought he would do. I explained my plan, concept and timeline. And his answer was: let's do this. And I love him for that.
And thus, here we are... starting a diary of this mermaid's dream to be earthbound and grow flowers. So I hope you will follow along here on the blog and on Instagram (@blooms_at_no_45).