Thursday, December 27, 2012


This morning it snowed, and didn't stop, as I listened to an episode of Radiolab that pointed me toward the work of Wilson Bentley, a VT farmboy photographer in the mid-19th century who documented hundreds upon hundreds of individual snowflakes. Like this one, and like these:

These tiny flowers are beyond my powers of instagramming. Especially because I haven't ventured out into them yet, preferring the ever-changing view below.

Notice how the snow is sticking to the bottom of that metal railing? Must be wet and somewhat warm then, right? I'm going out there right now.

"When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind." -- Wilson Bentley

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Winter solstice henna application

On this solstice, with its rainbows and windstorms, power outtages and the long, dark, damp morning, I felt tucked quite literally into the deepest part of the earth. (I do live in a basement, but that isn't what I mean.) I woke before 6 am, in order to be awake for the actual solstice at 6:11, and couldn't help envisioning myself as a bulb of sorts, readying as placidly as possible for whatever comes next.

I've been thinking about the solstice of 2012 for over six years, ever since encountering Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, in which he writes the following:
Perhaps undertaking the quest for prophetic knowledge, in itself, causes reality to shiver and shift, as new possibilities open like the petals of an extravagant, multidimensional flower.
As a species, we've long invested our powers of "prophetic knowledge" in plants. We trust that as we dig in compost or plant a seed or check the soil's moisture or watch the skies, we also guarantee the continuation of patterns we trust and rely upon. I know many of you will agree when I say that folks in the global North have generally divorced themselves from these patterns in recent history, and that many of our fears and our tragedies stem (yes, that is a pun) from the wound of that separation. That the patterns themselves have become less trustworthy is certainly salt in the wound, but I believe at base that we are an adaptable people.

. . . there's so much to write about this, but I'll rein it in and affirm my intention to remain attuned to Pinchbeck's "multidimensional flower" as it unfurls, and my excitement that so many individuals in my life are doing the same, in a multitude of ways.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Waiting for Wilder

After months of mailbox silence, I finally received my copy of Wilder Quarterly last week, and it's every bit as beautiful, as color-saturated, and as delightfully curated as I hoped it would be.

There's an article about the gardens of the original Catwoman, a poetic description of the famous moss gardens at Kokedera Temple in Kyoto, details about all the classic sweater types and a recipe for burnt oranges with rosemary. Not to mention the photos.

Wilder is not necessarily an exhaustive source of information, nor is it trying to sell you anything particular. It's not glossy, or matte, but somewhere in between. And it taught me just how geodes are made, which I think I've repeated to at least four people.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Plants of the House

On Wednesday I skipped out of the co-op in the middle of my shift and excitedly trailed Gayle through the aisles of Doran's, the wholesale florists' shop where we source our houseplants and cut blooms.

a perfect lady slipper with a big purple tongue

We inhaled a good deal of fresh chlorophyll and scooped up a big cart full of kalanchoe, ivy,  lady slippers, croton, little lemon cypress trees, ferns and a few wily bonzai, in addition to other things I've since forgotten. 

a lovely little kalanchoe

In this drab time of year, more temperate climates (like the one we seem to be moving toward) retain their green hues in mosses and grasses, but generally the outside world is gray//brown//beige during our Decembers.  Although everyone has killed at least one house-or-apartment-plant, they are really generally easy, and taking care of something so simple and beneficial certainly helps me feel more alive in wintertime.

one of these plants is currently receiving therapeutic care

If you're in need of some plants-of-the-house, let me know! I'll happily troll the aisles of Doran's for you, and I have a small stockpile of fancy pots as well. Email with any inquiries or exclamations.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Scout & About

: : the first installation in a series in which I begin to scout for color the way a dog sniffs out . . . well, the way my dog sniffs out toast in the morning. With a voracious, hyper-active appetite, and lots and lots of crumbs.

This grainy portrait is none other than local friendliness enthusiast Raurri Jennings (two links there for your clicking), posing with a bouquet found in his own home during this week's Friendsgiving party. It contains some Gerbera daises, which are actually in the sunflower family, and a big sprig of cultivated goldenrod.

Goldenrod is a fantastic filler and, though you may have heard otherwise, will not make you sniffly or sneezy. Many people believe that they have an allergy, because goldenrod appears at the same time as its more subtle (and infinitely more evil) cousin, ragweed. So please, appreciate it without fear! G-rod doesn't get enough love.

Check back for more Scout & About in the near future. . .

Friday, November 23, 2012


So it's been Thanksgiving, one of the holidays that make up The Holidays, and here I am with a belly full of multiple plates of reheated harvest foods, happy for a number of reasons.

In the Flower Scout department, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to mess around with some vases and flora over the past few days.

It's nice to do some arranging, after a brief hiatus, and now that I'm back in town I find I'm eager to begin trolling the woods and streamsides of Troy for bushes and branches. Already I've stolen some bittersweet, the red berries pictured above, which frame the entrance to my new home at the CAC Woodside.

New home, old home: This coming-back is a chance to spend time in my childhood house (too much time?!), and also to return to a wonderful job in the produce department at the Honest Weight Food Coop, where on Wednesday Gayle hooked me up with the ingredients for this second bouquet, which includes two kinds of decorative "politically correct" (as she says) eucalyptus, mums, African Boxwood, and a gorgeous spiky grayish filler that I can't remember the name of.

I really don't like mums, but beggars can't be choosers in late November and these are actually kind of lovely ones. If you're in Troy//Albany//hereabouts and want to go search the forests for seasonal shapes and colors, email me at, or comment on the Facebook page, or just call me if you have my digits. Let's get out there!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Bulbs Abide

Yesterday I scored a lot of bulbs--a whole boatload of bulbs--at local gardening store, for half price. Half price! This is a great boon to Flower Scout's limited budget, and a sign that bulb-planting time is present/past tense. So today, in an effort to soak up sunlight and avoid the internet, which unfortunately cannot tell the future, I'm planting all of those bulbs in my parents' sandy front garden.

I've got some narcissus, tulips, giant grape hyacinths, two kinds of alliums, and an unbelievably beautiful fritillaria. And I've got a giant tub of ground cayenne, to keep the squirrels away.

I'm spacing them carefully with this trusty ruler, and I'm singing and digging and working to ward off nerves.

Please vote, everyone! 

Just think, by the time my fritillaria curl up out of the ground, we'll be in the future. We'll have seen some consequence of today's great decision-making, we'll have passed the historic solstice of 2012, will have braved winter storms and heretofore-unforeseen life-changing decisions, and all that while they'll be chilling out, patient and abiding, if the squirrels don't get them first,

which is a major reason why I heart farm.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricanes are no time for outdoor scouting.

However, Sandy did arrive at a fairly opportune point in farmlife: All the harvests are done, plants are pulled out of the ground, and most of our growing spaces are covered in a thick, wind-blown layer of rye or oat cover crop. The garlic is in the ground, and the chickens are in the barn, which is battened and closed as tight as its ancient frame will allow.

So last night, as the wind shook the spaceship (our affectionate name for the apprentice living room) and the pellet stove pumped a warm glow, I got to work on the last steps of a season-long process.

Earlier this summer, I cut and hung certain blossoms to dry, and tacked them on the spaceship's wooden walls. I chose standards like statice and gomphrena, sage leaves, salvia blossoms, amaranth and celosia, and added some stranger shapes like dried Queen Anne's lace, bergamot, various grasses, and antler-like lily stalks. 

They all quickly blended into the background, figuratively and literally, as various projects and obsessions occupied my limited free time. But in the past week, as I've packed and readied to leave, I yanked the crispy bunches from the wall and started to think about what they were capable of.

The above is my favorite picture in Flower Scout's short history; it seems to show the semi-blurry  fervor of a messy new project. What you can't see are the pieces of leaf and petals all over the floor, or the pile of yarn next to the table, or the apple cores, or half-cup of whiskey, or the many blankets. 

These little half-wreaths will come along with me, back to Troy, where I'm planning to keep making them (and many more things, besides). If you're interested in having a wreath made for you or someone you love who loves hand-made things, drop me a note at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Antidote / Update

My good friend Kayta made this for me today, while I was feeling rather pouty and glum.

You see, there aren't any flowers right now. Or, to be more accurate, there are some wild white yarrow stems by the roadside, some red clover hanging onto the field edges, and the chickweed bear some tiny white stars, but really. We pulled the gomphrena out today, and gomphrena are the toughest of the tough.

What we do have, in droves and windrows and scratchy little piles, are fallen leaves. From a variety of trees, in a variety of colors. And Kayta, genius creative inventor, courageous prairie stateswoman (that is a George McGovern reference, may he rest in peace), took some leaves from our birch and big-toothed aspen trees and put together this perfect mood-saver today. 

So though you won't see many lush bouquets from Flower Scout in the next few months, you will see some found and given objects, some creative projects, updates on the development of the Flower Scout CSA project, and other sundry things yet-to-be. Thank you for checking in! Thank you for your implicit enthusiasm! (I'm assuming you're enthusiastic.) Hello! Hello!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dead Flowers

Both a beloved song and a reality of life right now, dead flowers are more and more ubiquitous every day. Last Friday night, the temperature dipped to 23 degrees, causing me to wear a hat and jacket to bed, and causing this in the greater out-of-doors:

Which brought about this:

And then the sun came back out, and the wind picked up, and all the flowers in vases indoors suddenly seemed very bright and strange. 

Though they may not look as lovely in an arrangement (believe me, I'm trying) these stalky remnants of summer are really breathtaking, in a special creepy way. 

So you can send me dead flowers every morning, send me dead flowers by the mail . . . 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Multiflora Rosehips

The Multiflora Rose is an invasive vine in these parts, one we battle against with large loppers, thick gloves, and hungry goats. I'm pretty sure it was the inspiration for the thorned vine in Sleeping Beauty, which you may recall is littered about with the bones of those who've tried crossing it. 

(not the hottest, Prince Philip)

In June, the vines that had pricked and grabbed at me all spring suddenly burst into cascades of flower. 

And then later (as these things go) they matured into some hips. 

I caught them on a walk through the woods the other day, and marveled again at how much has changed in the seven months that I've been farming at Caretaker. We're in the season's final stretch now, which will surely wrap right around to next season's beginning.

Aren't these some beautiful hips? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Desk Bouquet

The pellet stove in the background of this photo is ON. 

It is COLD. And yet, Rudbeckia hirta, the Black-eyed Susan, still has enough young blossoms for me to cut this long-lasting bouquet to decorate my messy desk with. 

There's something especially charming about gathering a lot of flowers of the same variety and throwing them together without much choosiness. It allows their innate architecture (look at the horn-like openings in the petals above!), various hues (so much green in that yellow) and textures (you may not be able to tell, but they are very fuzzy) to become more obvious. Stay tuned for more same-same bunches to come.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Scarlet Runner Beans

They were completely unassuming green pods all season, and then this.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Box of herbs

I put together last Thursday for the Berkshire Food Project:

The BFP provides free lunches 5 days a week in North Adams, MA, all of which utilize produce from Caretaker Farm. This beautiful box (which must already have been part of some tasty lunches) contains cilantro, parsley (curly and flat), dill, oregano, garlic chives, thyme, sage, lavender, marjoram, lemon balm, orange mint, and chocolate mint.

Flower Scout will definitely be tucking some herbs into bouquets come spring.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'm in charge, for this week at least.

For a CSA whose membership crests around 260 members (approximately 1,000 mouths), the distribution area is a marketplace-without-money, a bustling community center full of the farm's major outputs. For me, those outputs necessarily include our floral friends, and so when it's finally my turn to manage distribution for the week, I make sure to tuck some bouquets into various corners of the barn amongst the squash and greens.

The above vase was left behind by a member last week: It's a gorgeous cone-shape made of thick glass, with a small spout on one side, and is molded to include the words "URINE SPECIMEN BOTTLE" on one side and liquid measurement lines on the other. If it isn't claimed in the next few days, you're likely to see much more of what is now officially my new favorite flower-holder.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Late September Wilds

Today was a gorgeous, classic fall day. The nights are as long as the days now, and we wake long before the sun. But the limited light-time focuses my attention, and I made time today to walk a bit (to the raspberry patch, for some face-stuffing) and collect wildflowers along the way.

Some of the flowers included in this bouquet are nemeses when in the fields. After these photos were taken, I even slipped in a few stems of Galinsoga, a plant I've spent more time pulling out of the ground this summer than I care to remember. Despite their voracious appetite for our good farm soil, most of these plants will grow just about anywhere, and when they aren't in competition with beets or spinach, I find myself noticing how incredibly beautiful, complex, and delicate they are. 

Not to mention tenacious.