This summer I grew a cutting garden. Every winter I get a gardening bug and I start a couple of seed trays, but this year felt different. I wanted to go bigger.
I think it had to do with a mild obsession with Erin Benzakein’s Floret Flowers, a cut flower farm in Washington state that I fell in love with through her beautiful Netflix show, books, and Instagram posts. If you haven’t discovered her yet, you’re in for a treat.
So, I ordered some seeds and got growing. I grew a lot. Too much maybe (at least that’s what my husband says). In all, I had maybe 30+ varieties of cut flowers in my modestly-sized yard.
A few of my flower beds packed with flowers.
You may have seen some of my flower harvests in my Instagram feed, and all summer long there was a mason jar full of fresh garden flowers in every room of the house. It’s been wonderful - a lot of hard work - but the beauty and joy they bring is immeasurable.
An early summer flower harvest and one of my favorite arrangements from the season.
There came to be so many flowers that I started looking for ways to share them. There’s a volunteer group in our community that makes small flower arrangements for nursing home residents. Most of their flowers are donated by local grocery stores - flowers that are a little too old to sell but are still beautiful - and when I reached out and they said they could always use more.
So, one Friday morning in July, my kids and I brought a few bunches of flowers to a meeting of this wonderful volunteer group expecting to drop them off and go about our day. The people were so lovely, mostly retirees who welcomed us warmly and chatted up the kids, that we ended up staying and making arrangements. We had so much fun and left with our cups full, thinking about the joy these little arrangements brought to people every week.
Some arrangements heading to nursing homes in town.
The following week I returned (the kids had to go back to school, but asked if they could skip school and come with me - I said no) and I had such a nice time talking to the group, making arrangements, and thinking about the people that would later enjoy the bouquets that we created with love and care. I’ve returned every week since and, every week, it’s one of the highlights.
Flowers bring joy. To the nursing home residents who receive bouquets, to the volunteers who assemble them, to gardeners like me, to my kids who help me water the garden (or maybe just enjoy spraying each other with the hose), to creatures like birds, bees, and other insects.
Flowers have become a tremendous inspiration for my art this year. I have photographed many of the flowers I grew this summer with hopes of painting them over the winter when I miss my garden.
Below are a few of my recent paintings of flowers, each one inspired by flowers in my garden. I hope one of them will bring you as much joy as it has brought me.