"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

The JOY of FLOWERS

By on September 23, 2019 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
As Mary Rossing holds up a fistful of dahlias, it’s clear why they are a premium flower for weddings.

Story by Marlene Farrell

Photos by Kevin Farrell

Mary Rossing surrounds herself with beauty on a daily basis. 

Before and after work, she’s in the garden of her newly launched Wunderbar Farms. Sunflowers, marigolds, cosmos, asters, phlox and other floral gems abound.

Mary got to this point by hard work. She moved from the Midwest to the upper Wenatchee Valley because, as she said, “I was ready for a big change after turning 50.”

Farming, while a new business venture, is rooted in Mary’s visual art and retail management background, combined with a love of gardening. The first step was location.

In 2015 Mary, along with her partner, Joel, bought an abandoned home and acreage in Cashmere. 

For the first two years, they worked on the structures. Mary recalled some of the issues, “There were vines growing in the bathroom, the electrical had to be redone, the exterior paint was the color of peeling flesh, everything needed to be reroofed.”

Then they began to transform the land. Seeing it today, it’s hard to imagine that there used to be, as Mary said, “not a speck of green.” 

Now her land bursts with life, flowers, vegetables, a large flock of chickens and newly turned soil for more to come. 

Inside a large and airy hoop house, snapdragons and dahlias thrive. “Dahlias are very trendy, very Pinterest right now,” Mary explained, as she walked by towering stems and blooms the size of an outstretched hand. Some are dark and vibrant; many others of blushing creams and pinks are known as Café Au Lait. 

The snapdragons clinging to their stems, remind one of a school of tropical fish swimming through eelgrass.

These flowers aren’t there just to please the eye. Mary, a self-described pragmatist, said, “Having something productive fits my personality. I want to make a good product and share it.”

Mary’s first crop of customers love these varieties. Some DIY brides buy them by the bucketful. 

This is just the beginning for Wunderbar Farms. “I’m using this season to take good notes on what does well, what varieties need tweaking to produce a high quality product and figuring out how to do more succession plantings so we have product throughout the season.”

Mary is also an astute observer, learning from mistakes and successes alike. For instance, she’s seen how a horizontal netted structure helps the snapdragons stand tall, so next year she’ll add them to all her flowers.

Next up, she’ll start planting thousands of tulip and narcissus bulbs, as well as peony starts.

Wunderbar Farms, whose name gives a nod to the local Bavarian theme and also matches Mary’s sense of joyful purpose, is already on Facebook and Instagram, with a website in the works. 

“We’ll use social media to announce what’s blooming, special events and also information about subscriptions.”

  Mary has already held some events this season, giving people a chance to play with flowers as an art medium. She’s hosted popular Flower Bars at Anjou Bakery, where participants create exquisite bouquets while sipping a glass of wine. “I like to nudge people toward creativity. It’s fun to see what color combinations they like. Also form, texture, movement, style.” 

In addition to gorgeous flowers, Mary lets people use nontraditional plant parts like hyacinth pods, dill, carrot tops, basil and amaranth.

Mary’s ideas are as organic as the materials she uses. This fall, Mary will sell hand-made wreaths and host a Wreath Bar, again trying to open people up to unique materials like vines, rose hips, yarrow seed pods, dusty miller and feathers donated from her flock of chickens.

As the Slow Food movement taught people to look to their farmer’s markets and fruit stands for local fruits and vegetables, Wunderbar Farms is part of a growing Slow Flowers movement, helping consumers shift to buying local, seasonal and ethically sourced flowers.

“It’s hard work,” Mary said of this work in progress. “But it brings so much joy. How can you not love bringing things to life?”

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