When I walked onto Lisa’s land for the first time it felt like I had arrived in Neverland – from the movie Finding Neverland, you know the scene with the magical gardens. What I am trying to say with that reference is that it was truly heavenly. This feeling didn’t budge for the entire month I spent here. Let me just paint a quick picture for you, the slopping garden was high up on a green covered mountain and overlooked the ocean. Flowers on a mountain c’mon!!
Somehow Lisa and her family have grown and cared for enough plants to produce a flower farm quantity of cut flowers while still maintaining a garden feel to the property. The flowers seemed to be more like a piece of the land, rather than a crop. I really really loved that feeling. To my surprise a lot of what Lisa was growing was the same or quite similar to what Sas grows. There were no zinnias, celosia, or gumphrenia as it doesn’t get warm enough for these to fully develop. But some familiar faces included: dahlias, sweet peas, dara, glads, cosmos, feverfew, nigella, sunflowers, roses, and more. Nonetheless there were lot’s of new plants to see and experience but for sure not as many as I had expected. Chincherinchee had to be one of the most substantial new discoveries!
My experience here wasn’t all arranging like I mostly do at home, instead I had the chance to taste a piece of a bunch of aspects of the flower farming business. Including; general garden maintenance, (like weeding, mulching and netting the raspberries) harvesting – heaps of chincherinchee, a bit of arranging for weddings and market, and even wedding set up at some really cool venues. One day our setup was in an old repurposed movie theatre.
The work in the garden was combined with Lisa’s extensive knowledge of plants and running a small business. She was so open to sharing her methods of growing and arranging, even going out of her way to ask what I would like to learn while I was there. Whether she knows it or not she taught with kindness, and excitement for all that she was doing. Once again I was reminded of the kind of person it takes to own and operate a flower farm. It requires passion, commitment, and incredible drive – all of which Lisa has.
Having the chance to learn more about flowers and how a farm works and operates was amazing but this experience was extra special because of the people I met and had the chance to work with. While I was here I stayed in Lisa’s house with her husband and 2 boys. Lisa and Steve have to be the warmest of welcomers around. They made me feel so comfortable and at home. I got to have a true Woodbridge experience. Many of the best parts of my trip so far were had here: I watched chicks hatch, made Christmas cookies in a wood burning oven, went to a music festival with Steve and there son Alex, I had a lesson in how to hand spin wool, spent Christmas Eve with a house full of kind plant lovers, collected eggs, played with chickens, pups, and pigs, took evening walks in the garden and up the Woodbridge hill, went camping and climbed a sea cliff, read books, knitted and so much more.
The group of people they have working alongside them are all really sweet too, it’s quite the mix of people which is great. It made for fun conversation and lead to the days passing quickly. Strangely enough there was another girl here at the same time also from southern Ontario, doing an almost identical trip to mine. We really got along well and I was so happy to have her around. Right now I am on my own but we will be reunited in a couple of days on the farm I am headed to in New Zealand.
Half of my trip has already flown by which is absurd to me, I can’t believe it! Time is flying and I am just trying to soak it all in. I miss everyone at home though and look forward to sharing a bit more with everyone.