The first five bouquets have been delivered this week for the “Growing Kindness Project.” Two went to ladies at nursing homes, one went to a couple in assisted living who just lost their beloved dog, one went to a shut-in who can no longer visit the daffodils she loved in her woods, and one went to stressed workers who are inundated with tax deadlines.
I’ve already learned a lot about this project. First of all, growing flowers is the easy part! Arranging the beautiful blooms is the fun part. Delivery is the time-consuming part, for many reasons but mostly because the recipients are lonely and want to talk so it’s hard to make it a quick stop. I can see this being a real problem as the number of bouquets increases to 20 or 30 a week, so that’s something I will have to seek help with. This batch were delivered on a dreary, cold, rainy day that wouldn’t have been good for gardening anyway, but I recognize that I will be extremely tempted to postpone having to get cleaned up and deliver on a beautiful sunny day! Delivery is also forcing me to be more “social” than is my nature, and while that’s probably a good thing, I’d really, really rather be in my gardens growing more flowers. But, seeing their smiles is the rewarding part. I’m sure they like the flowers, but realizing that someone cares is what really makes the difference.
The bouquets are mainly daffodils at this point, 20 stems of mixed colors and shapes. Several of the daffodils grown have had their stems folded by the unusually strong winds we’ve had lately. I assume this is going to be a continuing problem in the future, so I won’t be planting any more of the fancy very, very double forms that are more likely to flop and be ruined. The singles and split cup ones are standing up the best. The daffodils are picked at goose-neck stage for the single forms, and slightly more open for the split-cup ones and put immediately into cool water with a couple of drops of bleach added. They sit in the cool garage overnight to condition and seal the ends so they won’t “poison” the tulips. Later on it will have to be the basement as the garage temperature rises.
Some of the bouquets had the very first of the tulips, which are the “Exotic Emperor” variety you can see in the photo above. They are creamy white with some green streaking and a soft yellow center, with very strong, long stems. I’ll be growing LOTS more of them next year because they are performing wonderfully in the Front Garden and Front Island (where I am NOT cutting them!) and were the first to bloom in the Cutting Garden. I put 5 in with the 20 daffys and that seemed just right. The tulips are picked just after they have cracked open and are showing some color. They go into cool water with a bit of flower food added and are conditioned overnight in a cool, dark place as well. Treated this way, both the daffodils and tulips should last 6-9 days, although the warmer temperatures in the nursing homes may cause them to fade faster.
Friends have been generous with providing recycled jars (taller jelly, pickle and olive jars, pint canning jars) and plastic water or soda bottles which I cut the top 2-3″ off. I have dozens and dozens of rolls of ribbon left from having the shop, so adding a bow is no problem.
“Growing Kindness” project.org provides sample tags on their website that one can copy and use, but I’ve already forgotten my password, so I handwrote some tags that read “grown with love in Blackford County for the ‘Growing Kindness Project.’ Hope these brighten your day.”
It’s definitely already been a learning experience. I’m learning more about my community, more about flowers, meeting some wonderful people, and even learning more about myself! We’ll see how I feel about it all after bouquet # 500 has been delivered!!!