I had arranged to meet with Lee Carlton the owner/operator/farmer/grower/weeder of Goldenrod Gardens a few days earlier. She told me to meet her at 6:30am on the F.I.G. Farm in Valle Crucis - a privately owned tract of land set aside for aspiring young farmers.
Lee walked me between well defined rows of flowers snipping and collecting bright stems as she went. Here a long bed of zinnias....
There a bi-colored bed of Gomphrena.
Lee explained that she grows her flowers for mixed use. Flowers for fresh bouquets of course, but also selecting colorful and interesting varietals that dry well for use in her Fall wreaths. These purple scabiosa were extraordinary.
And how about these little green star flower spheres!
I spent quite a bit of time moving and shooting amidst the petaled finery. These dahlias had me entranced for a good ten minutes before Lee snipped and set them in a jelly jar vase.
Besides flowers Lee also grows a healthy stock of vegetables. A number of different kinds of beans.
I loved the delicate peach colored bean flowers that bloomed above the stalks with bees floating between well pollen-ed stamen.
One long row of peppers included poblanos, jalapenos, serranos, bell varietals and the hot but fruity scorpion pepper. Lee worked her way down a row filling a basket with their fiery treasure.
Finally we trooped to the interior of the farm where towering rows of sunflowers reached for a bright but overcast sky. I spent some time getting lost in the rows enjoying their fine tendril-ed splendors with my macro lense.
Lee culled a number of long stems before we headed back to the barn.
Big buckets of bloomage were well underway from the mornings harvest.
And a young assistant washed and sorted through heaps of baby carrots.
All in all a beautiful morning in the Valle despite the foreboding skies. And those dahlias.....!
Lee sells her flowers and vibrant edibles Saturday mornings at the Watauga County Farmers Market.