Full Moon Blooms where hydrangeas rule

By Page H. Gifford

Murray Buckner’s farm rests on 35 plus  acres in Palmyra and is home to over 800 hybrid hydrangeas as well as ducks, and chickens. The sprawling acreage is covered with standard white hydrangeas known as Limelight which begin as a lime color, turn to white, and age to an antique French pink. The farm also features the lemon-lime variety he calls Limoncello.

On a hot day, a variety of domesticated ducks may cool themselves in the pond or seek shade under the abundance of hydrangea blooms bobbing above their heads. Meanwhile, Buckner engages with his chickens while they hunt and peck for food.

Buckner believes, like many local farmers, that it is important to use sustainable farming practices. He uses only natural pest management and no pesticides. A very sensitive person and one who cares about the natural world and the fate of his environment, he and his wife do everything they can to support a healthy ecosystem.

Buckner began his career as an architect after graduating with a degree in architecture at the University of Virginia. Eventually, he ended up working as a landscape architect.

“I enjoy many types of design including everything from houses and gardens, making special frames to hold tools, bridges, furniture, wine boxes, and stained glass. Anything that combines some art with design,” he said

Buckner explained how he got involved in growing hydrangeas.

“When I built a new house about 20 years ago there were no plantings only grass. Over the next ten years, I put in hundreds of trees and shrubs which included a half dozen hydrangea paniculatas. This is the species of hydrangea that gets large and has hundreds of flowers. People call them PG hydrangeas. The most familiar one is a cultivar named Limelight,” he said. “One summer there was a thunderstorm and part of one of my large hydrangea shrubs broke apart. I took a broken branch to a local florist and asked him if he could do anything with the flowers. He said yes and from there the six hydrangeas have turned into several thousand.”

Buckner decided that he would specialize in these hydrangea paniculatas because they produced so many flowers and the older they got the more they produced.

“It seemed like “money would grow on trees” when I cut them and sold them to florists. But everyone knows money doesn’t just grow on trees except maybe me,” he smiled.

He says he had been growing hydrangeas for cut flowers for about 12 years. Six years ago he partnered with Dr. Randy Lanford and decided to try farming as a commercial venture.

“It turns out farming cut flowers or for that matter, any kind of farming isn’t all that easy. Just like growing grapes for wine, growing hydrangeas for cut flowers takes several years before the plants are large enough to produce good flowers.”

He adds that in the time between watching the plants grow and harvesting the flowers several years later there is a little work to do such as planting the plants, fertilizing, pruning and all the other things involved, including putting up fences, weeding, and building a greenhouse.

“A lot of this is done in our wonderful 95-degree temperatures and under a cloudless sky, He said. “But I’m not complaining. Even though I work seven days a week and almost all of the year, I have found a real bond with the earth and am in the best physical shape of my life. Plus I’ve learned a few things along the way.”

Last year with COVID, he donated more flowers than he sold.

“This made me emphasize my real passion of hybridizing hydrangeas as a way to diversify the business. I now have thousands of new and unique hydrangeas that I have hybridized and hope to be selling some of my new plants next year. I have even had visitors from all over the country look at the new hydrangeas that I developed.”

Buckner’s business sells most of his cut flowers to florists in Charlottesville and Richmond for events, primarily weddings.

“I have a few wonderful florists that buy hundreds and even thousands of flowers. I am planning to sell potted hydrangea plants to garden centers and on the internet.” In the next five years, he says he would like to be known around the world for hybridizing some of the most beautiful and unique hydrangeas available.

For most people, their passion gets them up and out of bed every day, Buckner looks at it as his passion but one that requires constant attention, including feeding the ducks and chickens, and an ongoing list of jobs he tries to get done as much as he can.

“In the growing season it can sometimes be overwhelming, but I can always talk to the chickens and ducks who have turned out to be very good listeners. I spend a lot of time in the forest during the winter working on a hiking trail which makes me appreciate the natural beauty of Fluvanna County.”

For more information, contact Murray Buckner at fullmoonblooms.com.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138