As bleak as things may appear in the third week of February at Blue Gables Farm, little plants are happily growing in our flower field.

Back in the fall, we planted six varieties of “cool flowers,” which are hearty enough to survive Maryland’s winter. We covered the beds where these flowers are growing with fabric sheets known as rowcover to protect the tender plants from wind and snow. The fabric lets sunlight and water through, but each layer of it gives 2 degrees Fahrenheit insulation. We doubled-up the fabric to provide 4 degrees of warmth.

The species of flowers that we planted tend to go dormant on cold days and “wake up” on warm days and grow a little bit. This slow growth over the winter gives them a huge head start in the spring when the weather gets warmer. They tend to outpace and crowd out weeds, and, more importantly, they provide blooms earlier in the season when demand for local cut flowers is high and supply would be otherwise next to nil.

Bachelor Buttons

Some of our best performing cool flowers are bachelor buttons. These little flowers provide abundant blue blooms and sage-green foliage that look nice in arrangements and bouquets.

The diversity of life is so impressive, isn’t it? Plants have evolved to gain competitive advantages in their environments. It’s a marvelous thing to witness.