weeder’s digest by sarah ryhanen

After much consideration, I think my favorite name for this column is Weeders Digest. So lets go with it…Thanks for all your suggestions. Each comment is like a little gift, and I’m so excited to read them as they come in. You all have been so kind to voice your support and enthusiasm! I am so grateful.

I wanted to say something today about winter, since it clear it’s never ending.
Although I can tough out the winter as much as the next Finn, seasonal doldrums effect the best of us, and I fall victim every year. This is about the time when it starts; I’ll catch myself casually scanning through Cormac McCarthy novels, or googleing things like “nuclear winter” or “root canal.” Last night I watched a dozen live Janet Jackson videos to see if there exists one in which she’s not lip-synching. No luck – and my depression deepens. Eric may try to cheer me up; “Want to eat combos for dinner and listen to Rumours on repeat?” Sigh. This is serious.

In the world of flowers and plants January is can be a dead zone. The wholesale market is half-empty. Vendors stand around discussing traffic on the Long Island Expressway, or the latest narc stake-out on 28th street. I buy a handful of stems and hail a cab. On the way home I see a new tag near Chambers Street; someone has scrawled in big yellow cursive “ROD STEWART LOVES THE HAMPTONS.” Times are tough I think.

I look at the roots that have grown out of an old jar of curly willow branches by my bedside. They provide a subtle reminder of natures latent winter progress. Then I find a clover growing out of an old empty pot. It’s almost insulting.

Later at home I brainstorm what to have for lunch. I settle on ice cream. Then I proceed to watch 5 old episodes of Gossip Girl*, move all my plants to the tub**, turn on the shower, and get in with them. My bathroom has become an asylum for all things left living this winter. This is nice I think. Did I have a meeting today?

Later, at dinner we discuss grey flowers. Aaron thinks they should breed more grey flowers. He’s a hybrid enthusiast.

Aaron: I think you should consider genetic modification more seriously – like if you hired someone to grow you a square flower.

Me: What would be the advantage of a square flower?

Eric: Designers would love it, you could put them together like pixels…

Aaron: Plus, you’d be the first florist in the United States to have square flowers. I think it would be worth it just for the notoriety. Of course you’d have to trademark it, or someone would steal your idea.

I get up to clean the dishes.

Today I opened an old book in our work room and found flowers Eric must have pressed last summer. They are papery specimens, worthy of cataloging. I pin them to the wall. His foresight to do such a thing makes me feel proud.

In our business, one of the saving graces of January is the start of budding season. Branches that are brought inside to force the blossoms open early. After ages of nothing but evergreens and magnolia leaves, Quince blossoms start to appear just before Chinese New Year. White, pink and red. Next thing you know the market floods with forsythia, magnolia blossoms, spiraea and dogwood. Most flowering branches are beautiful, long lasting (often they will leaf out after the blossoms die) and dramatic. Hammer the stems to split the ends – they’ll be able to drink more water – and place them in a sunny window. Change the water once a week or so.

For me, its the best time of year for flowers. So much promise amidst all the antifreeze and sniffles. Lets clean the house and bring something small and green indoors! Lets plan a bigger, better rooftop garden! One where we don’t have to risk our lives carrying buckets of water up a iron wrung latter! I have to remember to take it one step at a time. First, I’ll remove all the dead flowers from my apartment. Clean all the vases, and bring in something new.

* If you didn’t know, flowers play a big part in the show. Blair Waldorf always has fresh flowers in her foyer. They tend to match her outfits. Also, Lilly, Serena’s mother is always having a wedding, or planning a benefit and has to deal with the florist. She says things like “Too funerary” or “I asked for Cymbidiums not Hyacinths!” I don’t need to tell you that this is valuable research material for me.

** This is actually a really excellent remedy for your plants in the winter time. Almost all plants can take a good soaking this time of year, even succulents. For our sensitive plants, we leave them in the bathroom for the winter months – the moisture does them wonders.

  1. kristi says:

    where can i find some of those lovely little push pins with the numbers on them!?

  2. dv says:

    Love the name you chose for this column ;) And I’m looking forward to more wonderfully written posts!

  3. Cyth says:

    You ARE a breath of Spring. I feel renewed , just as I was about to hit the wall.

  4. christina says:

    i am so excited about your column!
    winter is such an integral time for flowers/nature and if we don’t look carefully, it can look like very little is happening. winter is a great time to focus on what’s happening inside with plants (and for people, introspection). my house looks a bit like yours – every empty space on countertops/ledges filled with a plant – and the bathroom is home to cuttings sitting on the radiator (a mini greenhouse?). (i work at a florist and am preparing to ‘go back to school’ for landscape design.)

  5. yeye says:

    Yes, more on succulents. In 1 year I’ve managed to kill 90% of mine. My understanding from the local florist is I was watering too much (and i was really trying to pace myself) — the idea of putting them in the bathtub conjures images of a succulent graveyard. plus winter I heard they are supposed to be watered even LeSS!!!

    please clarify why you would say something like this!!?! did you mean, just put them in the bathroom to enjoy a steam treatment?

  6. enhabiten says:

    i know i know, this is an old article. and i must really be procrastinating to come back here to leave another comment. will anyone read it, will anyone care..but i just accidentally stumbled on the blog of the flower girl who is the new guest you know here, and i read more old posts than…well, i feel like a stalker. but she totally, really, cracks me up. seriously. just wanted to share.

  7. linney says:

    i love the column. thanks so much!

    i have noticed the floral trend lately to have pretty and often minimal dried arrangements instead of fresh cut flowers. stuff like wheat, pussy willow or eucalyptus. could you do a column on the best varieties for drying?


  8. kim says:

    Ha, you shower with your plants, I used to take baths with my pet turtles (no foam of course).

    Thanks for the hammering tip, my mom always puts up branches of forsythia.

    And Gossip Girl rules!

  9. fahrrad says:

    Dies ist ein gro


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