Since starting the farm 5 years ago on leased land, I have been slowly adding to my wish list of perennial flowers, trees and shrubs to plant “one day.” Even though it can be tough to be patient while waiting for the right time (and money!) to make long-term investments, its worth being patient to do things right. I talk to many farmers who are in the same position that we were in until recently - growing on land that isn’t their own, commuting for hours a day between home and the farm or working without crucial infrastructure like a packing shed, running water or electricity. Sound familiar to you? Hang in there! Good things will come if you keep making sound decisions and working really hard… I promise.
Over the past year and a half, we have been heavily investing in perennial flowers and foliage. I’ve been dreaming of this phase in our business literally since the day that I took the leap and quit my job to start farming full time. Because we farm on a hill and most of our land was formerly used for growing hay, we’ve had to be very intentional about what we plant and where. While I wish that my budget allowed for me to grow everything on my wish list (and trust me, its a very long list!), I allocate a budget each year specifically for perennials. I have chosen to take the long view and have primarily prioritized plants that take many years to get established, while also purchasing a few each year that only take 1-2 years until they’re ready for harvest and thus generate revenue for the farm.In the fall of 2018, we planted hundreds of bare root trees and shrubs such as hydrangea, ninebark, witch hazel, lilac, mockorange, spirea, abelia, smokebush, snowberry, elaeagnus and many more. I chose to purchase these as bare root because the initial investment was less and I could buy more plants at at time, but the trade-of is that I’ll be waiting several years longer for these to reach harvest stage than if we had purchased these as mature plants. Unfortunately the nursery where we purchased these, Lawyer Nursery in Montana, has since closed so I do not have a new source for bare root plants yet. Please comment below if you know of a good source!
We have also planted hundreds of peonies, hellebores, toad lily, bearded iris, sedum, mountain mint, japanese hybrid anemone, astilbe and so many more flowering plants. Some of these, such as sedum, are ready for harvest in the first year, which others like peonies will be ready in 3 years.