Life at a Flower Farm
Meet the women behind the blooms at Petals Flower Co., Purple Hill Lavender Farm, Stonewell Farm, Broadside Flowers and Caledon Hills Peony Farm.
If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Earth laughs in flowers,” then our corner of the planet is having quite the chuckle. Happy flower farms are sprouting throughout the hills, following the trail blazed by the slow food movement and inspiring us to buy local according to what’s in season and what grows in our backyard. The growers leading the way have in common a profound sense of place. The plants they grow bind them more deeply to land they already love – and express a floral version of terroir for those of us lucky enough to enjoy their blooms.
Some of the flower farmers have lived in these hills for years, others are more recent urban transplants. Many have one eye on the industry’s current patron saint, Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm in Washington State’s Skagit Valley. Benzakein has parlayed her love of gardening and the trend toward loose, informal arrangements that look (and are) freshly plucked from a perennial garden, into a mini-empire of educational workshops, books, half a million Instagram followers and, more recently, her own harvested seeds for sale online.
The floral entrepreneurs in Headwaters offer their wares at local farmers’ markets, work behind the scenes at weddings and in florist shops, and invite customers to buy blooms or rootstock at their farms. Three favour single species: lavender or peonies. Two are more catholic in their tastes, growing English-garden stars such as foxgloves, sweet peas and dahlias, as well as foraged farmland greens, such as raspberry, for a hint of the wild. As spring tentatively emerges, they are all stepping outside, spreadsheets and field plans in hand, to check their work and plant, weed, mulch and continue building their businesses literally from the ground up.
The Peony Pro: Diana Hillman of Caledon Hills Peony Farm
The Florist Farmer: Amber Swidersky of Petals Flower Co.
Sister Act: Emma Greasley and Jessica Ridding of Purple Hill Lavender Farm
The Green Thumb: Amanda White of Broadside Flowers
The Doer: Lee Anne Downey of Stonewell Farm
The Peony Pro: Caledon Hills Peony FarmMar 19, 2019 | | Farming
Looking for a rare peony variety? Diana Hillman’s got you covered with rootstock from North America and the Netherlands.
The Florist Farmer: Petals Flower Co.Mar 19, 2019 | | Farming
Melanthon’s Amber Swidersky creates lush bouquets with blooms just steps from her floral studio.
Sister Act: Purple Hill Lavender FarmMar 19, 2019 | | Farming
How Emma Greasley and Jessica Ridding transformed the Creemore farm where they grew up into a lavender dream.
The Green Thumb: Broadside FlowersMar 19, 2019 | | Farming
Terra Cotta landscape gardener Amanda White’s own garden is brimming with foxgloves and dahlias.
The Doer: Stonewell FarmMar 19, 2019 | | Farming
At Lee Anne Downey’s new lavender farm in Erin, small-batch products and intimate retreats are in the works.
Spring Garden Clean UpMay 10, 2015 | | The Flower Farm
No time like the present to start working in the garden! Use these tips to clean up and get ready for new plants.
Attracting Butterflies to your GardenJan 15, 2015 | | The Flower Farm
It is especially important to have flowers in mid to late summer when most butterflies are active.
Matches Made in HeavenMar 21, 2016 | | Leisure
How Lorraine Roberts conjures up dreamy landscapes using colour, shape – and an appetite for surprise.
Plant Paradise: A Little Piece of ParadiseMar 21, 2009 | | Leisure
Two self-taught Caledon gardeners have created a kind of boutique garden centre, where the emphasis is on natural, organic, drought-hardy – and gorgeous.
A Purposeful GardenMar 23, 2015 | | Leisure
Misha Dubbeld’s gracious Mono garden is a testament to 20 years of love and labour. With all that she’s learned, her latest project is conceived on a grand scale.