Riding down Sound Avenue on the North Fork this time of year, it is uplifting to see the large expanses of sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, gladiolas and dahlias by the side of the roads.
Rows of vegetables are flanked by flower fields, often grown and harvested by the same farmers to sell in bouquets at their stands. Some are ordered and planted in advance just for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries and graduations.
Farmer Paul Reeve, owner of Bayview Market and Farms in Aquebogue and Sound Shore Market and Farms in Jamesport, says he deliberately plants the sunflowers close to the street as a roadside attraction.
“I don’t need to advertise and they always sell out,” he said.
Patty DiVello of Patty’s Berries and Bunches in Mattituck has been growing for over 20 years. She sells mixed bouquets, single variety bouquets and offers arrangements for special occasions. Her creations for “country themed” weddings are very popular right now, she said.
“I’m so thankful for the popular mason jar arrangements on the reception tables right now,” she said.
This year she planted over 10,000 gladiola bulbs in addition to sunflowers, salvia, cosmos, dahlias, snap dragons, celosia, bells of Ireland, coreopsis, baby’s breath, lilies, peonies and cornflowers (to name a few.) Oh, and gomphrena in pink, purple and white for dried bouquets.
In Riverhead, Joanne Zilnicki and her daughter Jackie take care of the cut flowers at their family’s Sound Avenue farm stand Zilnicki Farms. Both agree that sunflowers are their favorite. And at $5 a bunch, their bouquets are reasonably priced.
“I want people to enjoy the flowers that’s why I do this,” Joanne said.
However, she noted the dry summer has been difficult.
“The drought killed us,” she said. “The weeds loved it but we couldn’t keep up with the watering.”
And last but not least, Keith Pierpont owner of Pierpont Blossom Farm in Baiting Hollow, went all out this season planting over 8,000 dahlia bulbs on just over 3 acres. The most popular is the Café Au Lait, he said, but people also seem to love his Sherwood’s Peach (they’re the size of a dinner plate), Otto’s Thrill, Balthazar, Thomas Edisons and Palpitations varieties.
The dahlias will bloom until the first frost, Pierpont said, usually sometime in October. His flowers are sold five stems to a bouquet for $10 and can be found at farmers markets in Montauk on Friday, Westhampton and Springs on Saturday and Sunday in Southampton. You can also purchase them at the farm by special order. Find Pierpont Blossom Farm on Facebook and send him a message: https://www.facebook.com/PierpontBlossomFarm/?fref=ts.
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Your North Fork Sunday Scene features weekly snap shots of life on the North Fork of Long Island.