Valentine’s day is coming! It’s such an odd time of year to schedule such a flower heavy holiday, so I’m assuming someone in the chocolate industry initially lobbied for the February date to ward off competition. There’s barely any domestic flowers this deep into winter, so that’s a large reason why roses, mass produced and shipped in from the equator, eventually became such a signature of Valentine’s day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love whimsical, ethereal, fragrant and explosively beautiful garden roses in all their splendor, but I’m not too partial to chemically bathed, fragrance free, dipped in paint, but still all look the same, grocery store roses.
Being one of the southernmost flower growers in the U.S., we tend to come into flowers earlier than most of our peers. Even so, it’s still hard to get enough blooms for Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or even Palentine’s. Last year we had zero.
This year though, we are going to pull together some magic from our tunnels, our woodlands, and our landscape to make some beautiful bouquets. It’s happening.
Year’s ago, Mandy decided to take our 2 acres of overgrown woods and clear out the understory to make it a healthier ecosystem. I thought she was crazy to add more work to a never-ending sea of work, but it turned out to be unbelievably rewarding. It’s such a remarkably open and healthy space to be in now that it nourishes the soul a bit. I don’t know if forests can have Feng Shui, but if they can, ours does.
A few year’s back, she went one further and started planting the understory with Hellebores in place of the formerly pervasive and invasive privet and eleagnus. It became a bit of an addiction. More and more money went into hellebore plants. More and more of the forest floor became graced with intentional plantings. We now have thousands of hellebores peppered throughout our woods, creating another glorious element to an already fantastical space.
The bonus is that now a fair amount of those hellebores are finally old enough to produce flowers and we’ll be blending them in with our Colibri and Icelandic poppies, Anemones, eucalyptus, lavender, and various other botanical elements from our landscape to create some luscious bouquets for those that would prefer a snapshot of nature over a Cadbury egg as a gesture of love this year.
The slightly exotic nature of our landscape was a big reason that we got so heavy into flowers in the first place. The previous owner had a small nursery here while he also worked at the Athens botanical gardens. For 13 years, he took cuttings from the botanical gardens and grew them all over 2 acres of our farm.
Those mature plants and trees are so gorgeous that when we first arrived, Mandy couldn’t help but blend all the leaves, flowers, stems, and pods with all of our field grown flowers to make completely unique arrangements and the response was huge.
The design world welcomed us in quite quickly with Martha Stewart twice declaring Moonflower Design (3 Porch’s design business) one of their favorite new floral designers. Though Mandy is endlessly creative, some of that credit was due to the beautiful material that we have to draw from on our farm.
In the end, we decided that we preferred being farmers to being designers and have left that world to stay more focused in this one, but on the rare holiday occasion, we still get to play a bit with those elements to create bouquets for our customers.
We are still waiting for flowers to bloom and tell us how many bouquets we can create, so we’ll post a limited amount of availability to start (don’t want to oversell) and will hopefully add more offerings as the week progresses whenever possible.