In the garden center business the half year coincides with the finish of the second quarter and the virtual conclusion of the planting season when the largest proportion of revenues are generated. At Redbud Creek Farm we have worked mostly seven days a week since early March to ride the planting and growing wave and we view its dissipation with a mixture of emotion. Initially there is a sense of relief that this most intensively active period is over. It is nice to rediscover the simple joy of resuming tasks around house and leaving the Garden Center before it is dark. We have met many new people and have seen what seems to have been a healthy increase in activity despite a not always very cooperative climate. As I am thankful for increased revenues, I am also asking what we could have done better to attract more folks to the Farm and make their experiences more fulfilling for them and more financially rewarding for us.
Because of the nature of the year with lots of weather events beginning in late winter with a very cold and wet spring, much outdoor activity was curtailed and then pushed into very small windows of opportunity when semi -decent weather was at hand. This gave the early season a sense that we were always running to catch up and never quite getting there.
My most vivid memory of the early season will be the very wet cool Friday, April 19. I spent much of the day in Acorn Hall warmed by a lively fire blazing in the stove, assembling new wagons and repairing old ones while rain drummed on the roof and the radio brought alternative stories of local flooding and vague details from Boston where the city was locked down as police searched for the younger Marathon bombing suspect. Though April was a lost month, somehow those wagons finally began to roll in May and while the weather often presented issues, it has remained relatively comfortable and in response people have been doing a lot of planting.
Due to the more than adequate moisture and fairly cool temperatures this has been a great growing year. Many customers called to ask about blooms on trees they never recalled seeing in previous years. With much longer bloom periods many shrubs and trees were especially noticeable this year. Through June we enjoyed the locust and discovered the pendulous wisteria-like white bloom of the yellow- wood—a not very well known but quite handsome larger native tree—followed by Japanese tree lilacs which have bloomed for weeks. Lately we’ve been admiring the lindens, noting that their blossoms like the lilacs are lightly but sweetly scented. Almost everyone has noticed the “flower power” of the roses this year. Some of our suppliers have already exhausted their stocks of roses grown for this year.
My favorite trees, which like the daylilies define this time of year and proclaim summer with panache, are the tart cherry trees now hanging low with copious amounts of perfect red fruits. Last year after most fruit trees bloomed very early and were then hit by successive heavy frosts, most produced few if any fruits. Sages said that the trees were getting a rest and that this year would be spectacular. Well, for cherries it is. Our three Montmorency cherry trees have a produced a crop that is stunningly pretty. I love looking up at loads of clusters of bright red cherries, shiny and unblemished, framed by green leaves under a cloud-streaked blue sky. The cherries are natural thirst quenchers, juicy and tart with a hint of sweetness, great for picking and eating and the finest in a pie. Could the cherries be an omen, predictors of a sweet and satisfying summer and remainder of the year? Well, probably not—but cherries are a nice way to begin the second half.