There are lots of plants with pretty flowers which are also useful edible blossoms, tubers or leaves. Ones that can be used in body care recipes, teas, potpourri, or medicinally. I figure it doesn't matter if I actually use them for these purposes, especially just as I plant them, I want them to establish themselves for years of low-maintenance blossoms. But it's fun to know the possibility is there! Also, just as there are breeds of livestock and vegetables that have been around for generations but are now hard to find and in danger of going extinct, the same is true for flowers. Just as with vegetables, old varieties of flowers fall out of favor, replaced by new and flashier hybrids. Old heirlooms disappear from the catalogs and fade away. These, of course, are what I long to plant. I resisted the siren song of readily available bulbs last fall and searched online for heirloom bulbs, and found a company called Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs. They offer only heirlooms, and like Seed Savers Exchange does for food plants, they are making old varieties of flowers available to passionate planters like me. I ordered 2 kinds of crocus and three kinds of daffodils. (I couldn't pick just one of each!!) I was very pleased with the size and quality of the bulbs last fall, and tucked them into the farm's soil when they arrived and hoped for the best.
This way, I can offer beautiful, heirloom bulbs that do well here in northwestern Pennsylvania to our farm stand customers. It won't be a yearly crop, more like an occasional one. But it's a very low-labor one. I get to just enjoy them without any effort most years, and share the excess when it happens. One of my long-term goals is to make the farm both as beautiful and as useful as I possibly can. And just like the heirloom apple trees I'll be planting next year, this is a project that could well outlive me. When I hike or travel old back roads that pass through what used to be homesteads, they are often marked by a few foundation stones and what blooms. Hardy things, like chives, lilies, fruit trees, iris, or daffodils. The wooden structures are gone, the folks who planted them likely have passed on, but the flowers remain. So I feel I've taken the path that speaks to my heart, and am glad I spent the extra money to be tending antique bulbs rather than any popular thing. And as I stare down the one-year anniversary of losing my younger brother this week, I of course have thoughts of my own mortality. While I hope I'm here for many more years, it brings me a small measure of comfort that even when I am gone, the next year, and many years after, there will still be flowers. Gorgeous flowers, rare flowers, flowers that I may, in some small way, help to steward into the next generation.