Summertime in Willow Creek



The last time I was in Willow Creek it was winter.  It was cold and the majority of the farm was pruned, flat, and waiting...But now, smack dab in the middle of summer, our Willow Creek Farm is crawling with activity, growth, and color! 
Sun Valley Willow Creek Farm all seasons
Willow Creek: Winter to Summer Transformation
So, what's hot in Willow Creek? Well, right now we are pulling in tons of our Fuji rosehips, whose berries resemble small green apples with a little bit of red, hence the name, Fuji. Designers love these red-and-green-hued rosehips which are perfect for the summer color palette. 
Sun Valley Fuji Rosehips
Fuji Rosehips in Willow Creek

Rosehips develop after their wild, pink flowers are pollinated and the petals drop off.  Once the bloom is gone, the seed pod (or hip) begins to form.  The species of Rosa we use are specifically bred to create big, beautiful hips, which is why regular rose bushes will not produce anything quite like them (to learn more about how we care for Rosehips, click here).

Rosa and rosehips
Rosehip Flower and Subsequent Berries
As the season progresses, so will the Rosehip's color, transforming from the fresh, summertime green-red combination into an autumnal reddish-orange hue (perfect for fall!) and finally, developing into a saturated cherry red.  What's really cool is that their changing complexion stays in line with each season's color scheme, keeping rosehips in high demand for fashionable, seasonal arrangements. 
Field of rosehips Willow Creek
Rosehip Field


So, now is the time to act on the Fuji variety; soon, the berries will morph into autumn's red-orange hue, and as the foliage drops off, the berries will turn to red, and before we know it, the magical rosehip season is over for yet another year.


Orange rosehips red rosehips
Seasonal Rosehip Color changes

And what else is happening in our Willow Creek Fields besides the Rosehip Harvest?  One of my favorite crops to explore is our plots of ten-foot-tall Cotinus.

Royal Purple Cotinus Sun Valley
Ten-foot-tall Cotinus

The Royal Purple Cotinus in Willow Creek has grown well over my head and towers above its neighboring rosehips.  Its burgundy-purple sheen absolutely glows in the afternoon sunshine and its height makes quite the impression.

Giant Royal Purple Cotinus Smoketree

royal purple cotinus leaves While the upper side of each leaf is a bright burgundy, the underside is a muted silver-green (as you can see in the photo to the right).  Each leaf is framed by a bright red, iridescent edging, giving the entire branch a unique, dramatic, and contrasting presentation.

And how it loves to grow! Royal Purple Cotinus is drought-tolerant, extremely resilient to pests and fungi, requires minimal fertilization, and performs magnificently!  We start harvesting the stems around June and continue to pick through summer, usually stopping by the end of October. 


...and it gets better.  In the last couple years Sun Valley has added a new Cotinus variety, Golden Spirit, which I like to call the "wicked green Cotinus," and taking a look at the photos, you can see why.  This variety of Cotinus is brilliantly colored and gorgeously green.

Golden Spirit Green Cotinus
Golden Spirit Cotinus
They act similarly to the Royal Purple cultivar, though because they are so light in color, we have had to make a few practical changes.  Royal Purple Cotinus is grown in open fields, allowing its dark leaves to really soak up the sunshine.  But, like any fair-skinned friend, Golden Spirit needs its complexion protected with shade cloth, otherwise the leaves will burn.
 
Golden Spirit Cotinus green Sun valley
Golden Spirit Cotinus under Shade Cloth

Ilex winterberry
Last but definitely not least, I took a peak at our extensive Ilex crops which are well on their way.

Come September, our orange and gold varieties will be ready to rock fall floral arrangements; followed closely behind by the harvest of our red Ilex (perfect timing for Thanksgiving and December Holidays).  Stay tuned, as we'll be giving you another Ilex update as these "winterberries" start rolling in the following months.





But, wait! It's still summer!  And while Fall and its autumn-hued Rosehips and Ilex are around the corner, 'tis the season for fresh Fuji Rosehips, giant Royal Purple Cotinus, and glowing Golden Spirit.

Until next time, this is Lady Aster signing off in beautiful Willow Creek.

Sun Valley Willow Creek Farm Gardner




 Lady Aster Flower Talk


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