WEATHER ALERT

Cut above the rest

Flower farm exhibits mastery of bouquet crafting

Advertisement

Advertise with us

There is something breathtaking about the rows and rows of flowers at cut flower farms.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

There is something breathtaking about the rows and rows of flowers at cut flower farms.

To a gardener like myself, it’s an impossibly gorgeous and enviable display — a flower garden writ large. To flower farmers like Marianne Bergmann and her mother, Carol, the long rows of flowers represent much more than floral abundance.

The Garden Path Flowers is a seasonal flower farm and florist specializing in cut flower bouquets and dried arrangements. It is the longest-running single-ownership cut flower farm in Manitoba. When Marianne was nine years old, she suggested to her mother, Carol, who worked at Bartmanovich Greenhouses at the time and enjoyed growing her own cutting flowers and making bouquets, that she sell her flowers at a farmers market.

Will Bergmann photo

Flower farmers Carol Bergmann (left) and Marianne Bergmann are the mother-daughter team behind The Garden Path Flowers.

Today Marianne, who is now in her thirties, has taken the lead in running the thriving flower-farming business, which is in its 25th season. The combined experience and know-how of this talented duo, along with their signature style, brings many pleasures into the everyday lives of their customers.

The growing demand for locally grown cut flowers is twofold, says Marianne, who sells directly to consumers as well as flower shops.

“There is a push towards supporting local flower farmers as well as a global shortage of fresh, imported flowers. Freight costs are high. This is also a boom year for weddings,” she said.

Weather-wise, she said, 2022 has been a challenging year with spring flooding and constant wet weather following on the heels of last year’s dry conditions and below-normal precipitation.

On the day of my recent visit to The Garden Path Flowers, which is located at 1859 Lord Selkirk Hwy., Glenlea, in a picturesque setting, the flower fields were too wet for a walkthrough. But let Marianne and Carol walk you through some of what’s involved in growing high-quality, long-lasting cut flowers for market and making dried flower bouquets, as well as key garden lessons they have learned that can help you grow your own cutting garden.

Marianne Bergmann photo

Enjoy local flowers year-round with dried flower bouquets.

Lisianthus with their multi-petalled, rose-like flowers has a seemingly insatiable appeal. “There’s no shortage of market demand,” says Marianne. Lisianthus is started from seed and is notoriously slow growing.

Carol started this year’s crop indoors last Boxing Day and grew the lisianthus under lights.

“It is very finicky,” she said. “Moisture levels in the soil must be consistent. It is an itty-bitty plant for the first few months.” Maintaining consistent soil temperature and air temperature during germination is an important factor as well. It is essential to pinch the first crop of lisianthus to encourage bushiness and more blooms, says Carol.

In spring, the lisianthus plants were moved into their on-site greenhouse but could not be planted in the ground until early June because of wet field conditions. “Once lisianthus is in the field, it’s not high maintenance,” says Carol. Tall varieties need to be staked. Lisianthus is well-suited to cool conditions, but warm temperatures are needed to initiate blooms. The first cutting was in the third week of July, and lisianthus will be available right up until frost.

The earlier you pick lisianthus, the sooner it reblooms. Lisianthus is tolerant of cooler temperatures and continues to bloom until frost. Lisianthus has a vase life of 10 to 14 days; seeds should be ordered early to ensure availability, says Marianne, who orders her seed from Johnny’s Selected Seed in Maine. If you would like to grow lisianthus in your home garden, choose the shorter varieties, she says, and plant several close together for the best show.

Marianne Bergmann photo

Lisianthus may be tricky to grow, but the fresh-cut flowers are second to none.

Ranunculus is very tolerant of cold temperatures. “Once temperatures go above 24 degrees C, ranunculus shuts down and quits blooming,” says Marianne. “In spring of 2021, temperatures soared to record highs early on, so we did not have many ranunculus blooms. With the flooding we experienced this year, we weren’t able to get ranunculus into the ground early enough otherwise this would have been a great year for ranunculus because we have had such cool temperatures.”

Zinnias are the workhorses of the garden, says Marianne, and more people should be growing them. “Zinnias are a staple in most of our mixed bouquets because they are such reliable bloomers. Zinnias are easy to grow and a long-lasting cut flower (seven to 10 days). “We have 50 50-foot rows of zinnias,” says Marianne. “We plant them in a colour wheel starting with white varieties, then yellows, peaches, oranges, reds, and purples. They are so colourful. You can do everything from muted tones to bright and cheerful or dark and moody.”

Dahlias have a short vase life but are a spectacular flower in the garden and for events such as weddings. The popularity of dahlias is second only to lisianthus, says Marianne, who planted 700 dahlias in spring. Dahlia season starts in August and lasts right up until frost. Each fall, the tubers are lifted and stored for the winter. “We divide the tubers in spring and plant them in the greenhouse to give them a head start,” says Marianne, who is growing close to 30 different varieties this year.

“Café au Lait continues to be one of the most popular varieties but it’s more the assorted colours that people are going for,” says Marianne. Dahlias with peachy-pink tones are high in demand.

Dried flowers are a specialty of The Garden Path Flowers. “Dried flowers are incredibly popular with a younger demographic,” says Marianne. Gen Z and Gen Y snap up dried flower bouquets in part because they have a bohemian look, but also because dried flowers are local and can be enjoyed year-round. Marianne and Carol grow several annual flowers specifically for drying such as straw flowers, globe thistle, statice, ammobium, and more.

PHOTOS BY Marianne Bergmann photo

Look for The Garden Path Flowers mixed flower bouquets at De Luca’s South Landing.

Timing is everything. “We pick the flowers in their prime which depends on the variety,” says Marianne. The spiky, spherical blue flowers of Echinops globe thistle, for example, is dried before it is in full bloom and puffed open. “It’s the same thing with straw flowers,” says Carol. “A straw flower will continue to open once it has been picked and is beginning to dry, so we pick straw flowers before the centre of the flower shows. The best time to pick straw flowers is when the flower is barely open.”

“Statice flowers, though, won’t continue to open once they have been picked,” says Marianne. “It’s important to not pick statice too early.” The flowers are dried in a workshop building which is dark, dry and airy. In dry conditions, the flowers can dry within a week and a half, but high humidity can cause dried flowers to become soft and limp. A dehumidifier helps.

The Garden Path Flowers offers weekly and biweekly flower subscriptions available at the farm site by appointment or De Luca’s South Landing. You will also find them at the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market. For more information as well as details about workshops, visit thegardenpathflowers.com.

colleenizacharias@gmail.com

Colleen Zacharias is writing a monthly newsletter for the Free Press that is loaded with advice, ideas and tips to keep your outdoor and indoor plants growing. Sign up to have Winnipeg Gardener delivered conveniently to your own inbox at wfp.to/wpggardener

Zinnias are the workhorse of the flower garden, says Marianne Bergmann, flower farmer.

Report Error Submit a Tip

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Life & Style

LOAD MORE LIFE & STYLE