I asked, “If you could do anything you want that is full of beauty and happiness, what would you do?”
Noni thought for a minute and said, “I’d like to grow flowers and sell them at a little roadside stand.”
I replied, “I know. We’ll grow flowers and sell them at a little roadside stand. I have tons of blue sweet peas.”
Despite the fact that both of us had recently moved to un-landscaped properties, we started taking little bouquets to the corner and offering them for sale for $1. Our idea worked.
We studied about how to harvest and condition flowers and how to start seeds in the greenhouse. We learned where to buy rosebushes and which roses thrive in our climate. We had a few lucky finds in shrubs that would thrive and bloom. Another friend gave me a carload of starts from her garden.
Our business grew. Selling on the honor system at a street corner posed some challenges for keeping the flowers fresh. I built my vendors cart with a roof for shade. Noni wanted to put individual bouquets in individual cups of water to help keep them fresh. We talked and finally decided on what we call our To Go cups, using 16 ounce plastic cups with lids. We cut a large X in the lid, fill the cup with water and flower food, snap the lid on, and arrange a bouquet in the cup. Customers can slide the cup into the cup holder in their car and get their fresh flowers home without spilling.
We’d been in the flower business about two years when I noticed flowers on the front of a Martha Stewart magazine. They looked as if they could have come from my flower stand with natives mixed with English roses. I told Noni and we both laughed it off. When the new magazine came out the next month. Noni took a look and found something that looked just like the lily bouquets she put out earlier. We started looking for hidden cameras when we put out flowers. Would Martha copy us again?
Today Noni picked up a new book on flower arranging. Yes. Martha is thankfully still copying us to the point that more people are making bouquets with native plants including grasses. We are seeing more old-fashioned flowers and even vegetables in bouquets. Gone are the horrid, unnatural flower-bomb bouquets in favor of a more natural open style with plenty of variety in the bouquet. Using natives started as a financial issue for us but has become our signature and a national trend, as it should be.
Is Martha Stewart really lurking at the intersection in Burton WA to spy on my flower stand? Or was the growing demand for more natural elements in floral arranging a movement she followed after much market research? Nah, she has someone lurking to take pictures of my flowers.