After we pull the tulips from the field, we haul them in crates to the workshop to be clipped, stripped, washed, and wrapped. Some go to storage, and the others we set out for bouquets.
We lay the blooms out on the table by color, looking for any hidden dirt or torn leaves.
And then we combine them with ranunculus, anemones, poppies, and daffodils, hopefully to the delight of Clara’s customers.
We planted all of the tulip bulbs in one go last fall. It’s hard work: First you dig a trench 6” deep the entire length of the bed. Then you squat inside the trench and lay the bulbs in a tight grid edge-to-edge. As the trench fills you have less and less room to navigate, boot toes bumping up against bulbs, hips and shoulders tired.
It’s satisfying work, too, the result a tidy ribbon of pale dots stretching across the field. After digging and planting, we shoveled the displaced dirt back on top. And then we waited all winter.
It’s amazing to me that although every bulb went underground on the same day (or near to it), they’re emerging and blooming in waves. It’s like each variety is on it’s own timetable, listening for it’s own cues. Some are tall with slender stems, others are short and stocky. And they come in every romantic shade: deep purples and blush pinks and creamy, pale yellows.
What makes a flower the way it is? Am I any different?
I came home on this afternoon with a headache. The wind had whipped all day and I was tired, chapped, and ready to change out of my dirty clothes.
But I made a promise to myself some time ago that I wouldn’t put off any more photographs. If I have an idea for a shot, I try to execute right away. So many times I’ve thought “Oh, I’ll get it later,” not wanting to take the time to set up my camera or look silly in front of other people or figure out a pose. But later never comes. I got tired of my own excuses.
Headache and wind, I set up the shot, and I’m glad I did.
Learning to keep promises to myself has helped my mental health a lot.
If only I had rotated the camera two feet to the left… you could see the ridiculous abundance that was all of our bouquet material last week. I’ll get it next time.
It felt like hundreds of bouquets. It was most definitely more than several dozen.
I’ve always loved the tangible work of farming—how you can look up at the end of a day and see the results of your work with your own eyes. (So different than the experience of disappearing into a computer vortex for 8 hours a day.)
It’s especially lovely when the results are a porch crowded with dozens of floral buckets ready for market, each one overflowing with color and smell. I go home satisfied every time.
Tulips are so sexy.
Mysterious, silky, plump… all those iridescent petals in shades of blush, beckoning and curling more open in the vase each day…
We’ve been pulling them from the fields green, since they store well out of the ground (we harvest them with the bulbs still attached). After bringing them into the workshop, I sift through the the stems on the table, desperately curious to know what colors they’ll reveal in the vase. I’m excited for the customer who gets to see each one unfold.
I took the ones with crooked stems home—even drooping, they fill the room with riotous color and perfume. I’ve been seduced!