January 2014

by Bob on February 17, 2014

Two years (is it possible?) have passed since I last gave a “State of The Farm” update, so there is much to report.  Since it is 10 degrees with snow and a stiff West wind outside, this is a good time to reflect – and stay inside.

For those reading for a specific bit of information, after much thoughtful navel gazing, we have decided to proceed full steam ahead next year.  Look for us in Market Square and Ligonier farmers’ markets, and around the wedding circuit.  Most of the seeds have been ordered and we planted lisianthus just before Thanksgiving.

The big event is and has been since the end of October, the repair of the main barn’s foundations and structure.  The farm has been in the family 200 years this year and the barn is believed to be about 150 years old.  Foundations had shifted, sills rotted or termite eaten, mortar crumbled into sand, there was movement because of modern heavy loads and a lack of bracing, etc.  The contractor lifted the barn onto wooden cribbing, pulled the center back into alignment, removed and replaced structure, built a major new foundation down the middle of the barn, and on and on.  For a structural engineer (me) it has been most interesting and entertaining.  Some pictures are included.  This year marks 200 years the farm has been in the family and we are applying for bicentennial recognition.






We have enjoyed an ever increasing number of weddings over the past few years.  In 2013 we provided the flowers for about 40, including events in Philadelphia (our second in that city), Altoona, and Pittsburgh as well as in the Ligonier-Latrobe-Greensburg area.

Our largest wedding to date was for 250 guests on September 1 at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.  It was entirely tropical flowers – orchids, anthurium, Birds of Paradise, calla lilies, ginger, protea, and exotic foliage.  With the generous use of orange we intentionally transformed the rooms from Art Deco to something out of the Caribbean.  It was a Jewish ceremony and we built a chuppah (wedding tent) using 2 and 3 inch diameter bamboo from California, lashing it together with sisal rope using Boy Scout techniques learned many years ago.  Bob now claims to be the only chuppah builder in Westmoreland County.



The Philadelphia wedding, for two architects, was interesting because of the location (a barely repurposed cold storage building) and the couple’s ideas.  There were five long tables seating about 160 guests.  The family made runners for the tables using long lengths of wide cloth which they cut into strips and hemmed.  On each table we had four larger square vases with predominantly green flowers and 10 smaller vases with predominantly yellow flowers.  Table numbers – miniature blackboards on stakes- were held upright by inserting the stakes in bowls of lemons and limes (more green and yellow).  In spite of the heat it was a fun day for everyone.


Locally we had several weddings at Oak Lodge outside Stahlstown, close to home, at Green Gables in Jennerstown, on the other side of Laurel Mountain, as well as several other venues.   We got involved with winding LED lights around columns, hiding columns with branches (with leaves for one wedding, without leaves for another.  Go figure.), building a 7 tier stand for 200 cupcakes, binding mason jars together with burlap and ribbon, making wooden votive candle holders, hiding miniature flower pots in wood cubes, and building wooden devices of all sorts for use on dining tables.  We also work in glass, making vases of varying heights, diameters, and colors from wine bottles.  We use the top sections of large wine bottles to make candle shields for outdoor locations.


We annually try to reinvent ourselves using the Purple Cow model of Seth Godwin (for those interested in marketing look for his book – Purple Cow– Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable).  So, where are we going this year?

  • New flowers – with luck anemones and ranunculas, marigolds  (big time), more amaranths and celosias, new and different snapdragons and zinnias, new dahlias, more and different sunflowers, more and different colored lisianthus.
  •  New sizes, presentation, and containers
  •  Possibly a new appearance to the booth (but the same curmudgeon behind the table)

Collectively these probably make up a “Purple Calf” but not a cow, so look for even more changes before June.  In the meantime, enjoy the pictures and stay warm.  Please excuse me, I have to call the propane supplier.


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This is Spring?

by Bob on April 24, 2012

I’ll have none, thanks.


Happy Holidays

December 24, 2011
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Thanksgiving 2011

November 24, 2011

Well, once again I did a miserable job of writing. The last post was about five months ago! So much for this year, I’ll try to do better in 2012. The weather this year presented an abnormal challenge – or did I say the same thing a year ago? Spring was cold and wet, and […]

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Update – Early Summer 2011

June 13, 2011

Wow! Mid-June already. Peonies are done, lupin is done, baptisia has bloomed, lilac is history, and hydrangeas are just starting. Four Ligonier markets (out of 20) and two Pittsburgh/Upper St. Clair markets are behind us. On the other hand, much lies ahead. Peony harvest was a Chinese fire drill. To be stored the peonies have […]

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Spring 2011

April 22, 2011

Today, Good Friday, is much like the past several weeks – wet and cold.  Seems like a good day to update the news part of the site. Cold and wet equals nothing done in the fields.  If we were still growing oats it would be time to panic.  Oats needs to be established in cool, […]

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Winter Update 2010-2011

March 7, 2011

Late winter 2011 (or is it 2010 – how do you figure these things?) New England has five seasons.  To the more usual four you add “Mud”.  That’s when the frost is coming out of the ground and nothing is solid – just “Mud”.  We are now in season 4 1/2 – rain and then […]

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New Gallery

January 8, 2011

It’s winter, the days are short and I have a new computer monitor (bigger IS better) so I’ve been working on marketing materials and organizing images. One card had images on it dating back to the purchase of the camera but that’s a whole other issue that I won’t bore you with. We now have […]

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October 3, 2010

We’ve been covered up this year and I’ve had little time to add material here but thought I’d share a few images.  Once things slow down a bit I’ll spend some time updating.  Click to enlarge the images.

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Winter 2009-2010

December 1, 2009

Usually in this space I talk about flowers, but this time I want to be more philosophical.  In December I bought a machine that will transcribe my vinyl records (anyone remember them?) to CDs, and I’ve started the process.  One old record that I especially wanted to hear was the soundtrack to “Barnum”, an unfortunately […]

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