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November 12th 2015

Why flower friends are the best

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One of my team members recently told me a heartwarming little story that I just had to share here.

For more than a decade, Tammie Stanley has grown gorgeous flowers on her small farm in Southwest Ohio to sell to Cincinnati-area florists.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer last year, Tammie contemplated the future of her business, Mockingbird Hill Flower Farm.  Most people would have considered it perfectly reasonable to scale back production in order to accommodate her vital cancer treatments.  But those people probably don’t know how tenacious Tammie is…or they simply haven’t seen her dahlias.

What happened next is worthy of a film screenplay:  Tammie’s friends, family and florist clients all rallied around her to support her and sustain her little flower operation that season.  When she was too weak to work, an entire crew went to her farm to plant over 600 dahlias for her.  Many of them kept coming back to help with weeding, harvesting and even delivering her flowers.  One of Tammie’s best florist clients came every week on her day off to harvest dahlias and take them back to her shop in Cincinnati.  A few days later a check from her would arrive in Tammie’s mailbox.

Tammie shared that—despite all the health challenges she faced—it was one of her best years ever.  She measured it not in the bottom line of her bank account, but in the richness of the relationships formed over the course of that season.

I love this story, as it illustrates how giving and gracious this flower community really is.  I also love learning about the many professional relationships that have morphed into real life friendships between flower farmers and floral designers and even amongst fellow flower farmers and fellow floral designers.  I believe it is just one more beautiful side effect and outcome of this seasonal flower movement.  Seeing the #communityovercompetition hashtag spread from the creative crowd into the flower crowd is further proof that this is a community effort.  In a time where the news is dominated with so many soul-crushing sad stories, I love being able to turn to this incredible flower community for support, encouragement, strength and beauty.

I’d like to think that kindness can be contagious.   I also believe that we shouldn’t hoard all this beauty here just for ourselves–we need to share it with others and support others that share our passion for flowers-whether they are are planting their first flower patch or are still trying to figure out how to pursue their flower-filled dreams.  The support and sharing within this community is really remarkable.

This week on the blog I’m pulling together a few posts based loosely on the theme of creative collaborations, partnerships and new flower friendships.

Yesterday, I posted a little feature and interview with my flower friend, the phenomenal floral designer Steve Moore. Tomorrow I’ll share some photos and interviews from a few of the flower farmers and designers involved in one of the biggest and most ambitious creative floral collaborations ever.

Have you developed any new or deeper friendships that formed because of flowers?  Or have you been involved in an interesting creative collaboration related to flowers?  I’d love to read your stories in the comments below.


  1. botanica floral on

    Great post! We love the challenge of creating something unique and special to make your event one of a kind.


    […] one post highlighted the work of my flower friend & designer, Steve Moore.  I also shared a little story about florists rallying to support a flower farmer battling breast cancer.  And today I’m highlighting […]

  3. Heidi @ Rustic Barnyard on

    My first year of growing will be 2016. I stumbled upon a gracious woman named Joanne out of Saskatchewan, Canada. She has answered many of my questions about growing and since her growing conditions are very similar to mine (Alberta, Canada) I will hopefully take a trip to see her in the spring. She sold me my first dahlias this fall and they are all tucked in for the winter in my cold room. I’m a horticulture grad that hasn’t worked in the industry since getting married and having babies. I’ve been feeling rusty but Joanne has encouraged me to just start out and have fun.

  4. Dreaming Big in Detroit - Floret Flowers on

    […] one post highlighted the work of my flower friend & designer, Steve Moore.  I also shared a little story about florists rallying to support a flower farmer battling breast cancer.  And today I’m highlighting […]

  5. Madeline Frankel on

    After over 30 years of working for a very large technology corporation, I “retired” to become a flower farmer. Now planting for my fourth season, I’m starting to come out of the fog of “OMG!-What-am-I-supposed-to-do-now?!” I found a mentor, Kate Sparks of Laughing Lady Flower Farm. We met in a floral design class and I was inspired to learn that she grew all the flowers that she used in her design work. Kate has been such a tremendous help to me; always ready to share techniques, experiences with different varieties, resources for seeds and plants. I take notes whenever we have a conversation. I never knew this kind of willingness to share knowledge when I worked in the corporate world. There, information was power and few people were willing to share any. Flower friends really are amazing!

  6. Tina Del Purgatorio on

    I love this post because it speaks so closely to our experience this past year. This was the first year we were brave enough to market our flowers after dreaming of doing so for a long time. There are two people who we could not have possibly been successful without- Rachel at Taproot Flowers and Lillian at Mimosa Floral, both in Brooklyn. Both women have been so so so generous with their knowledge and experience and have been an invaluable supportive of our fledgling business. We learned so much from them in such a short time while they expected nothing in return. We continue to be blown away by the generosity and kindness within the flower community- it is so refreshing, exciting and inspiring. We feel lucky to be a part of it!
    Tina and Joncy @teensaflowers

  7. Hedda Brorstrom on

    When I started my farm, Full Bloom Flower Farm, I tried to visit every other flower farm in my area. I attended all the local Farmer’s Guild meetings and started building my farm friend community. Most the people I meet, however, grew vegetables or had gone out of the flower business in the 90s. I stayed at it and kept looking for all the other “flower people”and invited them over to have a tour of my farm and to share a meal. I believe we only had about six people, but we chatted with excitement about best varieties, pricing, post-production handling and best scents until it got dark. We agreed to have monthly meetings at other farms and stay connected. A year and a half later we have about 30 people in the North Bay Flower Collective. We are collection of talented growers, floral designers and general flower nuts who share a vision of working together. Our collective spirit of fostering growth and community over competition is what makes this group as vibrant and beautiful as the florals we grow and arrange. We have gotten a lot of local press, share in on plug and bulb orders, buy flowers from each other and hosted the first annual flower festival this last year. I know personally this group has kept me going, kept me creative and made it so I only bought 2 bunches of flowers from outside the group this entire wedding season. I love each and every member! A key to our success has been to have a core group who works on nitty gritty details and a larger fun group for farm tours. The basis is farm support and we keep the meetings great by having great pot lucks and making it fun! Erin, you are always welcome to come join our table!

  8. Jamie Sammons on

    This is a beautiful article. I love the support from the flower community. This past year I reached out to all the local flower farmers near me and asked if I could come for a visit. I wanted to network and make those lifelong connections. One of the farms graciously invited me to her farm and showed me me everything. So willing to give any information! We are not each others competition, we are a community. We are now wonderful friends and have been splitting orders on things and planning our dreams for next year.

  9. Vivienne Lowe on

    BEAUTIFUL photos Erin and Chris! Thank you for the post.

  10. Sajina Sunil on

    Hi Erin,
    There are few lot like me who offer prayers when we read that a flower farmer is ill, for their well being …. :)

  11. Sarah Ervin on

    This is so weird. Today I got an email to join in on a large project with some flower friends in our community to create awareness of creative collaboration as opposed to competition. We met and discussed details and I am beyond excited. Then I see your post! I love it!

    • Floret on

      I’d love to hear more about it, Sarah!

  12. Carolyn Thompson on

    This has been my first year as a farmer florist. I started planting some seeds this spring and waiting in anticipation to see what would happen. Wow what a year this has been! Not only have a provided and designed flowers for three weddings this summer but I have made the most amazing friends though this new adventure, and with them we are collaborating on many ideas. From CSA programs to include flowers, wedding and event ideas and more recently selling flowers in aid of #Rescuse Freedom and the icing on the cake – I have a place on the May Flower Farmer workshop at Floret!! My life is very full & rich and just a tad busy. (I still work a regular job and have two teenagers…but I keep chasing the dream)

  13. Michelle Shackelford on

    I have made many wonderful friends because of flowers. It was flowers that led me to finding new friends in a new city. It was the first time I’d ever moved away from home so I was homesick. I wasn’t working and I didn’t even have a car but I found friends because of flowers. Back in Michigan now, I’ve made even more wonderful flower farming friends. I treasure them all.

  14. Susan C on

    My dream of growing flowers for market will not come to fruition until spring of 2017. I am currently researching, planning and organizing. I have reached out to a few farmers via instagram and have had such warm responses to simple one line questions. I recently reached out to Farm At Oxford. Mara was beyond generous in the answering of the questions I posed to her. She went above and beyond. It would have been much easier for her to just ignore my email and go about her busy life, but she chose not to. I am so very grateful to her for her input and insight. It made me feel that I soon will be part of a large online community of flower farmer friends.


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