A Report from Cut Flower Central


It’s been many years since I grew Flowers for the sake of bouquets as well as for the sake of making Flower Essences. But this summer with a wedding on the horizon, my preoccupation with nosegays is noticeable.

How does everyone here at the farm know that this summer I am fixated on Flowers in a different manner than usual?

The first clue is that every flat surface in the house and office has a bouquet or two or six or eight on it, as well as a vast and motley collection of smaller vessels with rogue stems of various Flowers.

An official Flower traffic jam is well underway.


Here in this photo, the day’s collecting has begun. In the background the Sheehan men are looking “stressed” while chilling with their computers.

Pretty much every Flower not intended for a Flower Essence now gets cut, plunked in one vase or another and scrutinized for longevity of bloom.

I harvest the annual Flowers in order to keep them blooming in the fields, BUT I also need to keep track of what happens to them and their perennial sisters after they are harvested.

How fast do they wilt? Under what conditions will they be robust enough to make it from harvest to wedding festivity? What temperature water do they prefer after harvest? Do they need special conditioning like having their stems seared with a flame or bashed with a hammer? So many questions to ask. So many experiments to run.

All the Flower filled containers have sticky notes attached to them with remarks like, “8pm Tues, boiled 2” stem 2 mins w/towel wrap – tepid water ‘til am”

This is all code for my experiments in conditioning the Flowers so they will last from when I have to cut them on Thursday night/ Friday morning of the wedding weekend to when they have to strut their stuff on Saturday night.


In any given growing season I have a thick folder of photocopied seed orders, notations about plants started in the greenhouse, designs for each garden, an enormous list of Flowers I need to make Flower Essences from and elaborate planting schedules.

This year the folder is weighed down by several hefty documents about how to condition i.e. preserve cut Flowers after harvest.

You’d think I could keep it to one’s experts list of specifics for Flower conditioning. But no, I noticed that experts disagreed about the best way to condition many varieties of Flowers, so I have several lists. Like everything else in our age of information, there are a lot of vociferous differences of opinion about how to handle various cut Flowers (and even what constitutes a cut Flower).

For example one document suggests cutting Dahlias in the cool of the morning then placing them in 160 -180 degree water for an hour wrapped in a towel to keep the heat off the blossoms. Another document suggests putting the stems in boiling water for a few minutes then plunging them into deep cold water.

Through all my many decades in the garden, I mostly left Flowers to bloom right where they grew, then deadheaded them when they went by. This conditioning stuff is all new territory for me, so I am experimenting with all suggested methods.


Here a small bundle of Zinnias get the quick stem boil technique before a night in lukewarm water.

Of course, I ask the Elementals for advice. They seem more relaxed about the whole thing than me and suggest I water and feed the plants per usual and the rest will take care of itself.


Their specific message is that there will be plenty of Flowers for the 10 bridal bouquets, the 25 table arrangements, the 12 boutonnieres, the 6 corsages, and the outdoor arrangements where the wedding is happening AND that pretty much all the Flowers will be fine for the 36-48 hours between when I pick them and when they are displayed. Okay, okay. Easy for THEM to say, but none of them are the mother of the bride!

So I keep to my overly elaborate testing process. At lunch yesterday Jim moved a couple of bouquets to make room to actually use the kitchen table to eat his sandwich, and a post-it fell off one of the vases.

“Do you need this?” he asked in his mild mannered way.


Let’s just say, I wasn’t as mild mannered in my answer as he was in his question. The poor man slunk out of the kitchen to eat his lunch SOMEWHERE far, far away from all my experiments. Was it the toolshed or the barn or another outbuilding where he retreated? I have no idea. I was trying to figure out which experiment had been jeopardized by his careless desire to eat lunch at the kitchen table!

Really SOME people!

The Big Day


In the early years here, there was more of a hayfield feeling to the gardens than a formal garden feeling. This really wasn’t too much of a surprise, since we built the farmhouse smack dab in the middle of  a hayfield.

The Angels and Elementals chose the spot for the farmhouse, and much as the excavator and cement man tried to move the footprint up and away from the chosen spot, circumstances conspired to leave the farmhouse just where the Angels and Elementals wanted it planted.

Receiving further guidance from the Angels and Elementals, I divided the land around the farmhouse into garden rooms and began to plant trees and shrubs to delineate these garden rooms. I bartered my weeding services at a plant nursery in exchange for these early tree and shrub purchases. I learned a lot from the nurserywoman who made this trade with me. She was a bit of an Elemental herself and had a magic way with plants. Her nursery selection was rather unusual, something I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Now I relish that because of Mrs. Joly I have some lovely, rare specimens. And I am grateful to those brilliant Elemental networkers that brought me to Mrs. Joly’s door.

From our very first season in the gardens together, the Angels and Elementals told me that this day, the Summer Solstice was the big day. Not THEIR big day but THE big day.

The longest day meant the most light in the gardens and the most life force in the earth and plants. But why exactly did this make it the big day?

The Angels and Elementals explained that it was the day in which the partnership between the three kingdoms, Angelic, Elemental and Human and all we could BE together was celebrated.  And they noted that it wasn’t so much WHAT we created as that we created it TOGETHER that mattered.


Midsummer’s Night’s Eve.  Until I began my life in these gardens working with the Angels and Elementals, I thought this night was a hootenanny for the fairies, and a night in which humans could cheer on the sidelines or risk ending up with a donkey’s head.  But here were my Angelic and Elemental friends tell me that this day and night wasn’t about them blowing their own horn separate from people, but instead celebrating and welcoming human community into harmonious creative endeavors with them.

Much as I didn’t believe it, the Angels and Elementals told me again and again, that the thing that mattered on this day was ALL of us.

Back in those beginning years surrounded by tiny trees and young perennials, it was a little hard for me to see that what we were doing was significant. I listened attentively and followed guidance very carefully because I wanted this partnership, but why did it matter? The most beautiful things on Earth seemed to be separate from the creations of man.  I loved my Angelic and Elemental friends and I loved Nature, but I felt they could do as well without me.

The Angels and Elementals made it clear this was not the case. They spoke of this often. The partnership was everything.

As we worked together, moments of garden wonder snowballed. The tiny broken Larch tree that six year old Ben planted in the backyard outgrew the splint that held its snapped body straight and soared unexpectedly fast and true to the sky. Vegetables and annuals that I would later learn were tricky to grow grew immense and luxurious. Everything was bigger than life.

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In this photo taken this week, Ben’s Larch tree is just to the right of the rising sun.

Somewhere on the website is another photo of a very young Elizabeth holding a head of broccoli about 2 feet in diameter. She doesn’t look very thrilled by the exuberant size of this brassica, but I was. Everything whispered and sometimes even shouted, enjoy this adventure.

Things that went wrong also were revealed as meaningful and important.  Oftentimes I was throwing too much of a hissy fit to get the significance of the challenges and defeats when they occurred.  But year after year the harvest season gave me the chance  to see that I learned as much from the garden disasters as the bumper crops.  The bumper crops were just more fun!

Regardless of what went well and what did not, I began to know for myself that the best harvest was the partnership. The working friendship with these joyful, steadfast, humorous and infinitely kind and loving partners was beyond precious. It was a constant and also an evolving deepening experience of oneness.

Thirty years in, the gardens have the mature specimens to celebrate this day and our partnership with spectacular beauty.  It is breathtaking to walk in a garden that once upon a time was just twigs in the ground.


I went out at dawn this morning to shout out my thanks. I can never quite believe the glory of Roses on the Solstice, but as I whirled around like Maria Von Trapp ( perhaps with not quite the skirt or the voice), I remembered having the very same feeling of joy when I first walked onto this land and there was no garden at all.  There was wholeness and love, unity and wonder in both moments.

I love knowing that even when the garden was only a dream, the partnership mattered as much to the Angels and Elementals as it did to me. I love that for all of us, the Angels and Elementals welcome us deeper into partnership with them, not because of what we can accomplish together (though it is truly amazing), but because we are part of each other.  No matter where we are on this precious planet, they want to deepen our experience of oneness with each other.

And no matter the circumstance of any of our lives, coming into deeper community with the Angels and Elementals of Nature is possible.  A houseplant lovingly cared for, a tree that receives our love and kindness as we pass it in park or woods, a spontaneous Maria Von Trapp moment of gratitude, any gesture of comradeship and togetherness lifts up ALL of us and our shared  world and lights us all up like the rays of the sun on this first most radiant day of summer.


We Got Hacked!

Dear friends!  So sorry about the strange blog posts that were here a few minutes ago- We got hacked, and someone put up a bunch of very odd posts.  I think I found and deleted them all.  Let us know at green.hope.farm@valley.net if you find any that I missed or more crop up.  Thank you!

This weekend as I weeded the gardens, slugs were a particular preoccupation.  Our Irish type weather with its wet, cold and overcast conditions has brought out the slugs in full force.

In particular, the slugs are feasting on the baby Flowers. No surprise there. If I was a slug I would like the tender baby plants too.  But those are for the wedding NOT the slugs, so I am patrolling non-stop.

Most growing seasons it is enough to lean on an organic product of iron coated in sugar called Slugo.  In theory the slugs eat the Slugo pellets and then die. This year Slugo seems to be a snack that whets their appetites.  Removing slugs by hand has become necessary. I find slug slime a particularly unpleasant part of handling slugs.  It just doesn’t wash off.

Hackers feel like the equivalent of garden slugs. They are the reason we don’t have a comment section on the blog.  We couldn’t keep up with weeding out the slug spam in amongst your lovely and genuine feedback, so we can’t post any of it. But we all love your written letters to us and the emails you send to the green.hope.farm@valley.net address.  Thank you for the ones today alerting us to the online slugs.

Now it’s back out into the gardens to wrestle with a few hundred more of the outside slugs.


Bustling Around the Spring Garden

Spring is a wild season here. I race around with twigs caught in my hair and dirt on my knees. There is so much to do! Weeds to manhandle- Trees, shrubs and Roses to prune- So many garden beds to cover with bark mulch- Soil amendments to add to all the gardens- Baby plants to tuck into their allotted bit of earth- And the unexpected joy of broken tools and equipment to manage.

I love all the tasks of spring. Well, except for tool problems.

As I race around from job to job, there is always some Flower friend that I am happy to see has returned to its spot. And I’m always so delighted by the various vistas across the beds and the unexpected marriages of plants. It’s one thing to imagine combinations of plants after looking at a million books, but when they blend themselves in harmonious ways well beyond anything I imagined or planned- that is bliss.

Someone commented that the gardens look a bit on the wild side, and I suppose that’s true. I weed everything and know what is planted where, but a lot of time I do let plants jump around and pop up in unexpected places. There is a lime yellow euphorbia that is allowed to pick any spot it wants. It looks so great in contrast to all the Purple Sensation Allium that every baby euphorbia that volunteers in the main perennial beds is cherished and coddled.


There are other plants, much as I love them, that I negotiate with, sometimes aggressively as in, I PULL THEM UP. Like Celandine. Celandine would pretty much like to dominate every bed, so I have to rein it in. I try to remember to apologize as I yank it up, but really! It would like to be the only plant on the property if it had its way! This year our ceasefire sees me leaving it under one big stretch of Lilacs but pulling it up everywhere else. This works for me, but perhaps not for Celandine.

Each spring as I get the gardens organized, there are losses to confront as well as plants that have multiplied. Our winters are so variable that I never know what is going to survive the cold. This last winter seems to have been hard on shrubs I thought were quite tough like all our Spireas. We also had a lovely old Plum tree bite the dust. There are also perennials that checked out. Sometimes they show up elsewhere as was the case with the enormous White Bleeding Heart. It vanished from its longtime spot only to have two other young White Bleeding Hearts appear on the opposite side of the Arbor Garden.

An old gardener friend once said to me that if she had a garden of all the plants she had lost, it would be quite a garden. I know what she meant! Now that I have been here 30 years, I can say the same myself. The longer one gardens, the bigger one’s garden of lost plants gets!

My garden of lost plants would have a lot of Lupine and Bearded Iris in it. I need to give it up on these two plants. I had a dozen Lupine in a lovely shade of pink last year, and this year I have one plant with one Flower stalk. That drift of dozens of yellow Lupine that I cradled protectively for many years? That too is gone with the wind.

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And Bearded Iris! I just can’t resist them in the catalogs, but I should! They just don’t like it here- except for one fragrant pale violet variety that somehow has adjusted itself to the place and spreads like wildfire.

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As far as all the gardens that get planted from scratch each year, I try to start a reasonable number of vegetables and Flowers for these gardens, but I always end up growing extras of everything. Then, I can’t bear to compost any of these babies, so once they are big enough to be planted in the gardens, I scramble to find the space for each little plant.

This year I had lots of annual Flowers for Emily’s wedding in addition to the usual Flower and vegetable friends. I searched the gardens high and low looking for spots for all these babies. There are now baby plants in places where I have never planted anything. If I found a square foot anywhere, it got planted!


It was quite a moment when Sarah Porter and I planted the last flat of plant babies. There had been so many flats in the greenhouse, hoop house, cold frames and on every flat surface in the office and house. It seemed like we would never get them all in. But thanks to Sarah as well as Elizabeth, Molly Sanders and EJ, we did.

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The last of the annuals went in the Venus Garden. The design this year is a Star of David composed of triangles of Zinnias with pom poms of white Flowers at the tips and a ring of Heliotrope and Mehera Marigolds at the center. Each triangle is a different color of Zinnias. It was refreshingly simple garden to plant compared with many Venus Gardens and looks very lovely, even now with just the baby plants in this mandala.


Now we turn our attention to keeping everything watered and weeded. It’s always an adventure to see what sort of summer we are going to have and which Flowers will particularly flourish. Lets hope they will look good in bridal bouquets!

Thoughts on the Differences between Flower Essences, Essential Oils and Hydrosols

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Someone asked the following question in an email last week:

“Is a flower essence the same as an essential oil? Not once does Molly say anything about an essential oil so I am inclined to believe that a flower essence is more like a water (hydrosol) than an essential oil. If I am wrong about this perhaps Molly would care to email me back with a better explanation??”

I hope to shed some light on this confusing topic and then because it’s me, wander off to other topics too.

Flower Essences are NOT Essential oils. They can be used in conjunction with Essential oils. Room spritzers are an example of a situation in which they are often used together.

Flower Essences do not contain plant material from the Flower as Essential oils do. Flower Essences offer the wisdom of the plant in an energetic form. They are NOT hydrosol products either. Hydrosols are produced when Essential oils are made. The Essential oil floats to the top of the water and the water or hydrosol is a by-product that is used in a variety of ways. Both Essential oils and hydrosols are herbal distillates containing the chemical compounds of the plant. Flower Essences are not distillates and do not contain the chemical compounds of the plants.

When I first made Flower Essences the Angels told me that eventually Flower Essences would be a very key modality, not just because they are the most refined and pure expression of a Flower’s wisdom, but because they are a very ecological way to use Flowers.

With many Flower products, a large number of Flowering plants must be harvested for a small amount of product. With Flower Essences, Flowers are harvested without endangering the plant’s life. Additionally, a small amount of Flowers can make a Flower Essence that will be made into hundreds even thousands of bottles. As with so many things about Flower Essences, volume is not the issue. The electrical pattern or vibration of the Flower is the issue, and a Flower Essence offers this vibrational plant wisdom in a complete and easily utilized form without the harvest of large volumes of plants.

Making a good Flower Essence is a process which requires support from other parts of creation namely the Elementals of the Elemental kingdom (aka Nature Spirits) and the Angels of the Angelic kingdom. As you may recall from my many blogs about these partners, the Angels are the architects of form and therefore hold the blueprint of what a Flower is meant to energetically radiate, and the Elementals manifest all form so they know which Flowers actually do radiate this vibrational wisdom.

When I make a Flower Essence, the Angels and Elementals guide me about which Flowers to choose from which plant as well as which day to make the Essence. This insures that the highest vibration Flowers are chosen so the Flower Essence can hold the highest vibration possible. Additionally, the Angels and Elementals have spend almost thirty years working with me on the energy grid of Green Hope Farm. This work to raise the vibration of the farm opens the way for the Flowers we grow here to make manifest their divine purpose more fully which results in Flowers of particularly high vibrations. With the humans working in concert with the Nature kingdoms, the land of Green Hope Farm gets to express itself more completely as does everything growing here.

The Elementals and Angels are key to the growing of the Flowers for a Flower Essence and also key to the transfer of the vibration of the Flower into the Flower Essence. Without their involvement, there would be no Flower Essence. For this reason and so many more, I give thanks to them every time I make a Flower Essence.

One enormous shift because of our conscious partnership with the Angels and Elementals was changing our Flower Essences from conventional preservatives to a more ecological, higher vibrational and more sustainable preservative. Red Shiso, our preservative, is a Japanese plant from the mint family that we grow here at the farm. This plant receives the same tender care all the Flowers receive. Each year it is grown by us humans in a specific new mandala designed by the Angels and Elementals. These mandalas increase the plant’s vibration as well as the overall vibration of each of our bottles of Flower Essences.


The Angels describe the coming era as the Age of Flowers. As we move into this era, it will be more and more important that we are able to learn from the wisdom of Flowers without overharvesting the Flowers. Right now for example, Wild Ginseng is an endangered species. We have this Flower as a Flower Essence. No plant was killed to make this Essence. The plant with which I made this Flower Essence is still alive. We can share Wild Ginseng Flower Essence and all the plant wisdom of this Flower with thousands of you without harming a plant.

As I have mentioned before, Flower Essences are also very ecological in that one can experience the wisdom of a place and its Flowering plants without the carbon footprint of jet travel to the place. By working with a place’s Flowers via their Flower Essences, one can learn the wisdom held by this place. The Camino Flower Essences are a prime example of that and a true blessing for those of us who do not know if we will get the chance to travel this pilgrimage route ourselves.

I know people travel for many other reasons besides tapping into the wisdom of a place, however it has been a great gift in my life that I have been able to learn and grow from Flower Essences made in places where I have been unable to visit. I am grateful for all the people at Green Hope Farm who, at the behest of the Angels and Elementals, have gone out into the world to far flung places to make Flower Essences to share with us all.


As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!