For as long as I can remember, I have always loved flowers,” Flourish Flower Farm owner Niki Irving writes. ”I have the ability to communicate such a vast array of emotions: romantic love, friendship, self-love, remorse, condolences, celebration, and ‘just because.’” Irving’s establishment of a nine-acre specialty cut-flower farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- and making a successful business for herself of selling flowers wholesale locally and nationally- has given her ample opportunity for the pursuit of her passion for flowers.
Growing up on the coast of South Carolina, some of Irving’s earliest memories include climbing blooming magnolia trees and picking flowers from the family garden. With two plant-loving parents, Irving says she supposes “a green thumb is in (her) DNA.” She pursued a career that included leading outdoor adventure trips and would provide her earnings to finance her own adventure and gardening-focused experiences, visiting Nepal, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Peru. She apprenticed on an organic farm and, yearning for her own plot of land, she purchased a home in Ashville, North Carolina where she settled, eventually getting re-acquainted with and marrying a college friend, then followed through on her dream: establishing a flower farm.
I read every book, blog post, and article I could,” Irving writes, “before starting my career as a flower farmer. I’m grateful for my background and that the actual growing has never been a challenge for me, but I never could find the right information on how to get started… I wanted the nitty gritty details.” And while Irving was able to figure out her own professional road-map for a flower farm via learning from vegetable farmers, it is her hope that this book, Growing Flowers, can be a guide to anyone with a similar interest. “…I learned a lot from trial and error,” she writes. “My hope is that this book will save you a few errors of your own.”
Irving’s enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge and empowering other flower farmers- and inspiring others to flourish- is more than evident. “My hope,” she writes, “is that this book provides the inspiration and path for you to create a flourishing flower garden. Growing flowers brings so much joy and I cannot wait to help you get started!”
Growing Flowers has a foreword by Debra Prinzing, the founder and creative director of Slow Flowers Society, a community of flower farmers. Prinzing shares about using a prompt for her writing students that includes recalling an “earliest memory of encountering a flower, a garden, or nature.” What’s so powerful about this is that the exercise uses all of the senses- especially sight, smell, touch- and so affords a beautifully rich and, often, many layered recollection. Prinzing invites the reader of Growing Flowers to consider the book a “personal workshop that you can return to again and again.”
When not planting, tending, or harvesting, Irving offers workshops and intensives focusing on the importance of local and sustainable flower growing. Her book includes all of the nuts-and-bolts aspects that might be shared during a workshop, with section titles such as “Know Your Climate,” “Choosing and Preparing a Garden Plot,” “Planning What to Plant,” “Seed Starting and Planting,” “Tending the Garden,” “Harvesting and Arranging Flowers,” and “Putting the Garden to Bed.” The book also includes nicely-detailed and illustrated sections on the necessary tools, as well as resources.
Irving’s book also contains a very valuable “Resources” section that includes connections for seeds and bulbs, tools, supplies, online resources, and even pest management. As food for thought, she includes the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Her labor of love is both a beautifully-designed book chock full of stunning photos of fields, flowers, gardening tools, and even plot layouts and an inspiring story of how one woman followed her dream and not only survived but is also thriving- or is, as per the book title- “flourishing”!
Growing Flowers: Everything You Need to Know about Planting, Tending, Harvesting and Arranging Beautiful Blooms is described as “…the most beautiful yet important tool you will need in order to become a master gardener…” It is for anyone who wishes to grow flowers, whether by setting up a farm or simply establishing a micro garden. The tips and tools are all here in Niki Irving’sgenerously shared words and beautifully arranged pages- and so is the inspiration.
Text ©2021 Michele Caprario Images provided by Yellow Pear Press, used with permission
Growing Flowers: Everything You Need to Know about Planting, Tending, Harvesting and Arranging Beautiful Blooms By Niki Irving
Yellow Pear Press
Pretty AND practical gift or personal tool: $26.95