Canadian flower farmers II

Posted by Glennis Byron on November 22, 2022

Main image: Some of the flowers available from Special Effects Flower Farm.

Images reproduced from the respective websites with permission and remain copyright of the owner.

Carrying on from my previous post about Canadian flower farmers who also supply bulbs, tubers, seeds and plants to the home gardener, here are three more I would encourage you to check out: two in British Columbia and one in Manitoba.

Special Effects Flower Farm, Vancouver Island, BC

Special Effects Flower Farm with some of the speciality delphiniums in the foreground

Liz Dick is the owner of Special Effects Flower Farm in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. The farm grows over 150 varieties of dahlias, many of which will be available Canada wide as tubers for pre-ordering in mid-January. I should say that Liz's dahlias are very popular on the island, and they sell out quickly, so you need to be ready to move fast when spring orders open.

Some of Special Effects Farm's popular dahlias: 'Salmon Runner' (left) 'Labyrinth' (top right) and 'Shiloh Noelle' (bottom right)

Liz began to create her farm in 2018 with the specific idea of growing flowers that were different from those available in garden centres. And so one of the things that sets Special Effects apart from most other flower farms is that Liz grows a number of speciality flowers which the home gardener can acquire as starter plants. There are, for example, delphiniums that have been bred in Ecuador, Scotland, and New Zealand available as starts in four inch pots. You can see some of the ones that were on offer last year here.

Some of the delphiniums grown at Special Effects: 'Pagan Purples' (left) Paramo 'Celeste' (top right) and 'Double Innocence' (below right)

I'm a great fan of the New Zealand (formerly Dowdeswell) New Millennium delphiniums: 'Pagan Purples', 'Morning Lights' and 'Double Innocence', all performed beautifully in my Victoria garden this year. They flowered far longer than any other delphinium I've ever grown and stood up exceptionally well to the weather. This year I have my eye on 'Cinderella', another patented variety out of New Zealand. Generally considered one of the loveliest and most sought after delphinium cultivars, 'Cinderella' won the Gardeners' World 'Best New Plant' for 2019. It's compact for a delphinium, at about 4 foot, with sturdy stems and very pretty pale pink flowers with a white eye. It's apparently great for cutting too.

The highly sought after 'Cinderella'

Of course, there's also Paramo 'Celeste', a delicious looking pale blue with white eye, and the Highlander and Guardian series also look interesting. These have a compact habit with sturdy stems and rarely need staking.

This is not just the place for delphiniums and dahlias, of course. Check out the spring sale to see what will be on offer for 2023. Amongst other things, Liz is hoping to offer tree peonies this spring. The sale will be opening for pre-orders in mid January.

Lily Stone Gardens, Rosenort, Manitoba

Kelly Tellier, owner of Lily Stone Gardens

Kelly Tellier is the owner of Lily Stone Gardens, a year-round floral design shop and seasonal cut flower farm. They sell flowers at her own shop and through various florists in Winnipeg and through rural Manitoba. They also have a U-cut garden during the summer months, sell plants from their greenhouse for local pick up, and operate a shop and cafe. Recently they've increasingly specialised in wedding work, and have a fabulous wedding venue on their flower farm. I can't imagine a more beautiful place to get married, and their bouquets are just exquisite.

Their online shop sells a selection of flower seeds which, in preparation for the introduction of their 2023 seed line, are on sale as I write at great prices. And they have recently restocked their ranunculus tubers. Check what they have under corms, here. I ordered some of the Amandine series that I'd been searching for, including 'Porcelaine', 'Purple Jean' and 'Chamallow'.

Some of the ranunculus sold as tubers at Lily Stone Gardens

Being based in Winnipeg, Kelly knows all about growing in adverse conditions, so for those of you also gardening in zone 3, check out her advice about planting ranunculus. And if you're looking for Christmas presents, I noticed there are some pretty things available in the online shop. I was particularly taken with the 3-piece clay table vase set, but my husband claims my vase collection threatens to take over the house so I restrained myself.

Five Acres Flower Farm, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Amanda McAllister of Five Acres Flower Farm

Amanda McAllister and her husband Ryan run this small-scale family farm in the beautiful setting of the Fraser valley in British Columbia. They specialise in sustainably grown cut flowers, have a flower stand and run a variety of workshops during the summer and autumn. Some of these workshops look like great fun. You can see an example in the video below.

The farm also sells a selection of unique tulips, heirloom narcissus bulbs and peony roots to Canadian home gardeners in the autumn.

Left: the speciality narcissus bulbs, a mix of ruffled and double fragrant narcissus in gorgeous colours. Right: the speciality tulips bulbs, a mix of fragrant double peony and parrot tulips.

I purchased the speciality narcissus mix, and given that I almost never purchase a mix of anything, this gives a good idea of just how tempting they are. And I splurged on fifty of them. You'll be beginning to understand why I need so many vases...

The autumn shop is now closed, but starting in January, Five Acres Farm offers a selection of dahlias, some which are very hard to find elsewhere. Last year this included limited quantities of the much sought after collarette 'Appleblossom'. I've wanted to get my hands on one of these ever since I saw it in Floret Farm's Discovering Dahlias, so I'll be hoping it will be offered again next spring.

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