Design class with my Amish friends

It was that time again in the fall, when my favorite local flower growers are just days away from the first frost.  They are cutting armloads of Dahlias, Lisianthus, Snapdragons, Sunflowers and lots of foliage for our yearly design class with their young school girls.  Every week in the summer months they make colorful bouquets to sell at produce auctions, farm stands and farmer's markets.  They put together a beautiful mix of colors and textures.  The only thing is, they all look alike.  My friends are Amish, and they are flower lovers.

  I have so much fun when I visit their farms.   It's one of my many 'happy places' and it's hard to leave once I'm there.  Emma, Liz and Sylvia have become very dear friends.  I've learned so much from them about simplicity, hard work and looking on the sunny-side of life.

Since my relationship began a few years ago, I've enjoyed working with their daughters as they come running out to see me and watch as I'm admiring all their gorgeous  flower fields.  They always offer to carry my buckets, and ask me to make a bouquet for them so they can watch.   Recently I took a bag full of flower magazines and design books to see if they would like to have a look at them.  You would've thought it was Christmas! I don't think they will ever offer them give them back to me.  There was so much excitement as they gathered around on the grass and poured over the pages with such delight.  They were asking  "How did they make this?" and " I wish I could make one like this!"  and "Oh look, we have all the flowers in this picture!" ...and that's how my Amish Design Classes began.  Last year we made fall arrangements using pumpkins, cherry tomato vines and Concord grapes from their pristine produce gardens. If you've ever visited their gardens you would be amazed at the weed-less, perfectly straight rows that are bordered by colorful marigolds to attract the pollinators.  The gardens that magazine pictures should come from.

The girls and their mothers walked with me through the meadows, fields and wood's edge with stem cutters in hand, as we foraged for Bittersweet, seedpods, Rosehips and Privet and Porcelain and Choke Berries. They hadn't realized these autumn treasures were hiding in the thickets and brush within walking distance of their homes; nor had they ever thought they were suitable to use these beauties in their bouquets.

  This fall we made hand-tied bouquets and tiny nosegays.  They quickly loaded their wagon with all their creations and took them to sell in their roadside flower market.  They were so pleased with what they made.  Emma and Liz agreed to a few pictures of their girls as long as I didn't include their faces. 



 Saved from the frost just in time- the popular Cafe' au Lait Dahlias. I love those curly center petals.



The fragrance from the Scented Geraniums and Silver Dollar Eucalyptus is all over our hands...and I don't want to wash it off!



  Color, texture, line, focal and cross-hatching.  It was a great day in the warm autumn sunshine playing with flowers and  learning new things. I had a long drive home with buckets of colorful Dahlias to put in every room of my house,  a sunburn and a smile on my face.  It was another very good day!

 I'm so looking forward to more beautiful times in my Amish friends flower fields. Spring seems much too far away.......


Have a beautiful and Merry Christmas everyone!

Kris Mae Weiss