"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."
— Luther Burbank, American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science.
Whether carried by a bride, arranged in a mason jar, tucked in a buttonhole or growing wild in Lostine Canyon, flowers make us smile. The Accidental Gardener has always felt that growing flowers is a celebration of life — grow flowers, and more flowers. Cram them into every nook in your yard.
If you love fresh flowers and love having them near you at home or at work, you will be delighted to learn of Bear Creek Blossoms — a flower farm in Wallowa that will deliver flowers (through the growing season) every week, right to your door. That’s pretty exciting, right? Or, if you fancy a little flower arranging yourself, you can purchase them at locations around the valley — Lower Valley Farmer’s Market, Bee Charmed, and Dollar Stretcher.
Not everyone has the time, the know-how, or the space to grow a flower garden. But Dawn Highberger has all three in abundance (well, maybe not the time part). She also has a couple other important ingredients: a passion for flowers and for spreading the flower love. She, and her husband Mark, have created an oasis of particular beauty here in the valley.
You can take a virtual tour at their website: www.bearcreekblossoms.com. While you’re there, you can let them know you’d like some fabulous flowers delivered…next summer, of course.
The Accidental Gardener sat down with Dawn (Mark was knee-deep in finishing his book detailing the history of the town of Wallowa) and asked about the challenges of growing bouquet-worthy flowers, the ideal bouquet, and expansion.
AG: Besides dealing with unpredictable weather, what has to happen to produce flowers that will look amazing in a bouquet?
DH: They need to have long stems so they can actually be arranged — that means lots of netting and staking. I need to get out to pick them early in the morning, before 6 in the summer. It helps to pick them just as they’re opening. They haven’t been pollinated, which means they’ll last longer in a bouquet. Another aspect is sheer quantity — I will start at least 70 of one kind of snapdragon, for example. And variety is key, lots of different colors, shapes, and textures.
AG: How are your bouquets special?
DH: I want drama, beautiful colors, and so important is the presence of scents. One of the great pleasures of having flowers in the house is the way they make the space smell. I use lots of “scent-ful” foliage as well, like mint, bee balm, hyssop, basil. They add a great deal to the finished bouquet. Usually florist bouquets have no fragrance, the flowers don’t have a lovely smell, nor does the filler material. Because my flowers are grown organically and are not hot-house flowers, they retain their natural perfume.
AG: Would you share with us some ideas for the future, for the farm’s expansion?
DH: Oh, I have lots and lots of plans, projects I’d like to see happen in the next year. This winter I’m going to dry flowers for cold season bouquets. Next summer I’d like to offer flower arranging workshops, particularly for bridal parties. Another idea is to have bouquets available for pick-up here at the farm for “floral emergencies” like birthdays and anniversaries. And of course, more flowers. I’ve just ordered 75 peonies, which is quite an investment, not only financial but the time it will take for them to be making flowers. I’m always looking to increase the number and variety of blossoms! You should see my seed order!
AG: What is the best way for new customers to contact you?
DH: Our website of course. It has links for ordering bouquets, setting up subscriptions or just asking questions. It also has links to our Facebook and Instagram pages — lots of great photos of the farm, bouquets, and us, naturally. I hope your readers will ‘visit’ us soon!
The Accidental Gardener took one of the flower arranging workshops this past summer — it was incredible. Dawn’s instructions were clear and the finished arrangement was very beautiful. Highly recommend this experience, especially if you’ve got a wedding coming up. Get the bridesmaids together and create the perfect bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and centerpieces. What fun!