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A Bouquet for You!

Oakbrook West Farms

A colorful bouquet of fresh flowers, perfect for perking up our home, give to a loved one, or receive! Whether it's a little bunch of dandelions picked in the yard by our kids, or an elaborate arrangement, flowers have that superpower of making us feel good. I'm Judy Wagley, this is “From the Ground Up!” Kathleen McCoy and her daughter Megan West know all about the magic of flowers. Since 2016, they've been growing lots and lots of flowers at Oakbrook West Farms in Clare. Kathleen and Megan, thanks for joining me today.

Thanks for having us today. We are so happy to be here.

Kathleen McCoy and her daughter Megan West grow many varieties of colorful flowers for bouquets at Oakbrook West Farms in Clare, Michigan.

Some flowers are better than others for cutting and making into bouquets or arrangements. What are some of the best or maybe easiest flowers to grow for cutting?

So, a lot of the varieties of flowers that we grow for Oakbrook West Farms would be cosmos, different varieties of zinnias that we have, and of course, sunflowers.

Those are pretty easy to grow. We're just kind of mentioning the really easy ones that you can just get the seeds, put them in the ground and have your own cut flowers.

Kathleen, would you suggest your maybe top three for growing and cutting?

My favorite-- not easy-- is dahlias. That's my number one favorite. Zinnias are my second, and my third--I'd say bells of Ireland.

Megan, do you have a top three favorites for growing and cutting?

Yes, I've always liked the pro-cut sunflowers, they are very nice. And then cosmos are now becoming my newest favorite. Another favorite of mine, I would say baby's breath.

If we do grow our own flowers, and we go to cut them, is there a best time of day to cut the flowers?

Oh, yes, the best time of day to cut flowers for us for the market would be in the morning. So right before the sun's start shining or when they do is still on when it's still cool. In the morning is the best time, so that's when they're the healthiest to cut.

So we have our flowers, maybe we've grown them or purchased them at a farmers market. And we get them home. Then what?

So, thank you for buying flowers from us! First of all, most flower growers they do this already, but if not, if you have leaves on your stems of your flowers, I would say that you should remove them first. That helps prolong the life of your flowers in the vases. Make sure that you have a clean vase to put them in, wash it out, make sure it's clean. Make sure that you have fresh water. Another thing I suggest is to cut the bottom of the stems again, to make sure that they're able to drink the water in the vase. A good way to do it is you're cutting it at an angle under running water. This will help them stay alive for a longer period of time.

Kathleen, do you need to add anything to the water?

Well, there's a lot of home remedies out there. Some people will say I add bleach, some people say I add sugar. Some people say I add aspirin. It's really a preference of what you want to do. At Oakbrook West Farms, we use a commercial flower food that we suggest to add to the water. And it's really important that you change the water every day, because bacteria will form, and it will kill the rest of the flowers. So, Megan, what else do we do? We also say to take out the dead flowers out of the bouquet.

Yes, especially for cut flowers. There's different vase life for certain flowers. So like lilies-- if the petals start falling off, I would remove those. Zinnias usually stick around for a long time in a vase. So if you start to see flowers that are wilting in your vase, just pluck them out, and that will prolong the life of your bouquet.

Do you have some suggestions for creating some really stunning bouquets? Like maybe a few combinations that you like?

Yes. Over the years, we've made lots of different bouquets. We kind of go with the terminology of “thriller, filler and spiller.” So, examples of a thriller would be one of the big flowers like a dahlia, a sunflower, a lily. And then you start with that in the middle. So we pick our favorites, and then you would do a filler. Sometimes we like to use mint. We have mountain mint, or we use beryllium, different things. And then we also use zinnias. matching. We try to stick with the same color scheme, you know, same tones of colors when we're doing that. And then lastly, the spillers would be that makes the bouquet bigger. And then there's amaranth-- that drapes down the bouquets and makes it look really nice.

Kathleen, why do you think flowers have that superpower of just bringing a smile to everyone's face.

For starters, flowers are just visually beautiful, their colors, but they also have a fragrance that just seems to make people happy. When you see a smile spread across someone's face after receiving a bouquet, you can't help but feel happy too. We always feel happy when someone buys our flowers. The gift of flowers has the power to make people feel loved, appreciated and connected.

Well said Kathleen! Kathleen McCoy and Megan West from Oakbrook West Farms. Thank you for growing all of those flowers, and for making the world that much more beautiful. And thanks for joining me for “From the Ground Up!”

Yes, thank you for this opportunity. Thank you very much!

Additional Resources: Find Oakbrook West Farms on Facebook, Instagram and Threads.

Judy Wagley is WCMU's midday host, and is the producer of <b><a href="">The Children's Bookshelf</a></b> and <b><a href="">From the Ground Up!</a></b> She guides listeners through their weekdays from 9am to 3pm.<br/>