The Flower Project

An artistic representation of the Flower Project by Katie Greger

An artistic representation of the Flower Project by Katie Greger

by Katie Greger

The Flower Project began in January 2016 as part of an internship through Clark University and The Living Systems Lab. My time during the semester was spent doing web design work, writing articles, and researching and preparing to grow 24 varieties of flowers that would be transplanted into selected areas, and sold in the Worcester/Grafton area in order to bring attention to the LSL’s work. That was the goal, things turned out a little differently in the reality of life.

I had a three point plan for the success of the Flower Project, which was as follows:

…First I will be growing 24 varieties of flowers (you can find the list in the table below) in the LSL’s greenhouse, and using the eco-machine process to water them. Second, some of the flowers grown in the greenhouse will be transplanted in the surrounding park, and a field across from the park will be rotatilled, and insect/pollinator friendly wild flowers will be planted. Third, flowers grown in the greenhouse will be sold at the Grafton Farmer’s market and other local venues in order to bring awareness to the work the LSL is doing on the Blackstone River.

I enlisted the aid of three student volunteers to help with the execution of this project. Our goal was seeing to the successful maturity of all 24 varieties by tending to the flowers (this includes a watering schedule) and testing the pH of the water and nutrient level of the soil. The volunteers will also be helping out at the farmer’s market and selling to other venues. I will both oversee the successful growth of the plants, and be working on establishing a dialogue between the community and the LSL. An important aspect of how this will be achieved is through the packaging and marketing of the flowers. I will be working on creating a new sign that will be on the greenhouse door, creating a pamphlet and tag to be used in the sale of the flowers, and continuing work on the website, as well as doing social media outreach…

I wasn’t able to see to the full completion of my original plan this summer. Sadly, I didn’t have the resources available to see to successful completion of my project. However, I was able to successfully grow flowers! I only received the seedlings from Jonny’s Selected Seeds, which contained 12 varieties. I began the seedlings starting with the sunflowers. Then I organized the seeds into groups based on length of maturity and over two weeks finished the first set of seedlings. About half way into the summer I lost about half of my seedlings due to a mix-up in the watering schedule. In the slideshow below you’ll see the progress of the flower project.

As the flowers continue to grow I continue to think about how to sell, and market these flowers. I hope to engage community members with concepts of sustainability and regrowth. I want to emphasize the process through which these flowers were grown and encourage people to examine how beauty can be created from desolation, and how we can be involved in making our local habitats better for us all.

This year I started something that I care deeply about. As the Worcester area has become my home, I’ve become interested in finding a hands on way to provoke positive environmental change within the community. What began as a simple opportunity to explore my interest in farming/plant biology has evolved into a question of community engagement with ecology and sustainability.

Table of the 24 Varieties of Flowers plus 2 packages of wildflowers, the first 12 are from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and the last 12 (including the wild flower mixes) are from American Meadows.

Flowers Common Name
Amaranthus caudatus Love-Lies-Bleeding
Dianthus barbatus Hollandia Mix
Setaria italica Highlander
Helianthus annuus Starburst Lemon Aura
Helianthus annus Strawberry Blonde
Salvia farinacea Victoria Blue
Ageratum houstonianum Tall Blue Planet
Panicum elegans Frosted Explosion
Matthiola incana Quartet Yellow
Celosia argentea Ruby Parfait
Celosia argentea cristata Chief Persimmon
Tanacetum parthenium Magic Single
Rudbeckia hirta Black Eyed Susan Indian Summer
Aster dumosus Aster Alert
Monarda bradburiana Bee Balm
Dicentra cucullaria Dutchman’s Breeches
Buddleia davidii Butterfly Bush Black Night
Hemerocallis Daylily Spacecoast Early Bird
Echinacea purpurea Echinacea Magnus
Matteuccia struthiopteris Ostrich Fern
Digitalis Foxglove Dalmation Peach
Iris louisiana Louisiana Iris Bold Pretender
Lavandula angustifolia Lavender Hidcote
Leucanthemum superbum Shasta Daisy Snowcap
Northeast Wildflower Seed Mix
Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix