Locally Grown Flowers in the Heart of Chester County

Flower farming. Sounds like a dream job right? Who doesn’t love locally grown flowers? Frolicking in fields of flowers, harvesting armloads of gorgeous blooms, nighttime dreams filled with what will be growing next season. But what’s it really like?

I love working with local flower farmers as much as I can to get the absolute best quality for my brides and events. With the farm-to-table movement, we are lucky in the Pennsylvania and Delaware area to have a good supply of blooms to choose from. So, I asked one of my favorite flower farmers, Mara Tyler of The Farm at Oxford, to give us the nuts and bolts of what she does on her Chester County, PA farm. You might be surprised!

Locally Grown Flowers from The Farm at Oxford - Flower Farmer

Photo: The Farm at Oxford

“I’m a 20-year veteran grower of blooms. Growing up in California where I spent 4/5 of my life, I got used to growing flowers on tiny plots of land, no more than 2,000 square feet of plants. That’s a plot about 100 feet by 20 feet. Seems like a lot, right? But it’s not really, when you consider that here at The Farm at Oxford, I grow in a field about six times that size (and have access to many more acres)! Back in California, I’d often squeeze plants into every available spot I could find and I’d get rid of grass, just in order to keep growing the flowers I loved.

When my husband and I moved to Pennsylvania, we didn’t expect to buy a farm. But we fell in love with our vintage brick house and the large fields. My husband turned to me and said, ‘You have to grow something!’ At the time, I’d been volunteering on a local flower farm in Philly (the talented Love ‘n Fresh Flowers urban farm), so, I said, ‘Yes! Let’s start a flower farm!’ And just like that, I was off and running.

Local Flower Farm - Flower Farmer

Photo: The Farm at Oxford

Just like the local food movement, the local flower movement has been picking up steam the last few years. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people here love the idea of fresh, locally grown flowers cut from the field.

Did you know that many grocery store or wholesale florist flowers are flown in from other countries? And that by the time they make it into your eager little hands, they’ve been off the plant for almost two weeks? And they’ve usually spent many of those hours out of water and cut dry in boxes as they traveled from country to country, receiver to wholesaler, wholesaler to customer. Is it any wonder that by the time they make it to you, they often last only a few days?

Locally grown flowers are often cut from their host plant and delivered to a designer or customer all in one morning. If you can’t buy local flowers, at least try to find American-Grown flowers that support our national economy versus another country’s. Check out our Why Buy Local article to become fully educated on why local flowers do it better.

As for the difference between gardening for pleasure and doing this for a living, you need to consider many more variables: What does your market want, what can your market afford, how large is your market, when does the market need what you supply? I’ve learned it’s helpful to use schedules and ‘days to bloom’ calendar markings to help figure out when I need to seed or buy trays of plugs, and I make commitments to give my designers flowers for their specific events on certain dates. One thing I have to always remember is that bulbs planted in the Fall can have a range of a few weeks’ time to start blooming—so those flowers might not work for one of my designers if they have a wedding just outside that window.

As a flower farmer, you learn tips, tricks, and cheats to try to maximize your time and skip around Mother Nature as best you can. If I need those tulips earlier, for example, I’ll erect a low caterpillar tunnel in January or February to help warm the space and buy myself a week or two of earlier blooms. Growing in a low tunnel or a small greenhouse enables me to put plants out earlier, even before our last frost date and have flowers blooming past our last frost date—sometimes even into December. Season extension can be very important in areas like ours here in the Pennsylvania and Delaware area, and I’m always calculating how I can eke out a few more weeks here and there.

Field of Locally Grown Flowers

Photo: The Farm at Oxford

A fun part of the business (besides frolicking in the flower fields, but seriously, that rarely happens) is when I get to work with event designers who are thrilled to get their hands on fresh local blooms. Not everyone has embraced the idea of going local—it is tempting to get tulips in November or ranunculus in September for events or to pay less for flowers that were grown cheaply in another country. But there are so many wonderful blooms to be had at almost any time of the year, so I really love my local florists and designers who try to buy local whenever they can. I’m always thrilled to see pictures of bouquets or centerpieces at weddings that feature my flowers—talk about gratifying! To see the end result from that tiny little seed that started in our sunroom so many months ago.

Locally Grown Wedding Flowers

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

I’m a lover of flowers at heart; to me, there is nothing more amazing than freshly-cut bunch of flowers, they lift people up and bring happiness like nothing else. I’m grateful that we’ve been able to start this farm and begin to realize a dream I never knew I had. Even though we are only in our second year of production, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us as the love of local continues to expand and grow in our community.”

Find out more about The Farm at Oxford at www.thefarmatoxford.com. Check out one of my styled shoots with gorgeous locally grown flowers from The Farm at Oxford:  click here. If you are considering a wedding or party in the Chester County or surrounding area, talk to me about how I can help you use 100% locally grown flowers in your events! Make your wedding a farm-to-table celebration.


About the Author:  Mara Tyler is a local farmer florist with a penchant for growing a wide selection of unique flowers and foliage, many items not typically available in the floral trade. An avid lover of dahlias and roses, her dream flower farm, The Farm at Oxford, is located in southern Chester County. Mara‘s floral background includes design sessions at Longwood Gardens, with Kiana Underwood of Tulipina, and at Floret Flower with Erin Benzakien. She enjoys supplying fresh from the field flowers to local designers and creating seasonally-inspired arrangements for special events. Find out more at www.thefarmatoxford.com.


P.S. Some of the pictures used in this post are from the talented Leave It To Me Photography.

Locally Grown Flowers in Pennsylvania

Photo: The Farm at Oxford

Delaware Floral Designer: Christmas Tree Dress

As a floral designer, I have been dying to create a Christmas tree wedding gown!  This year I have been working with my friends at Jennifer’s Bridal to create beautiful arrangements for their trunk shows.  While I was talking to Amy one day, we discussed displaying the Christmas tree dress on one of their mannequins in their main window.

Now I get to share the gorgeous holiday display with all of you. I loved designing this floral display with locally grown branches from Christmas trees in Pennsylvania.  Let me know what you think.

Christmas Tree Dress (1)I decided to go with a high-low skirt created out of different varieties of pine and fir branches.  The base dress is a stunning short, lace wedding dress by Pronovias.  I think that it created the perfect bodice for this dress form Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree Dress (6)To finish off the dress, I wrapped a fun red plaid ribbon around the waist of the mannequin and added a few trailing snowflakes.  Isn’t this a fun idea for your winter wedding?!

If you’re in the Hockessin area or are shopping for your wedding gown, stop by Jennifer’s Bridal and check out this gown and all the other lovely bridal gowns.

The holiday season is the most popular time for engagements.  So, if you are newly engaged, don’t forget about Floral Designs by Jessi for all your wedding flower needs.  Contact me today to schedule your consultation.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

Chester County Wedding Florist: Nature Inspired Editorial Shoot

Having you ever dreamed of frolicking in a field of flowers?!  If so, you’re going to love this editorial shoot!  The picturesque venue was the fields of The Farm at Oxford in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.  Mara, the owner of The Farm at Oxford, grew all of the flowers and greens used in this photo shoot.  I love being able to work with Mara to use locally grown flowers and greens in my floral designs!  Being to get unique varieties of flowers is an added bonus to buying from a local flower farmer.

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Kylene of Leave It To Me Photography is the talented woman behind the lens for this editorial shoot.  She is amazing at being able to capture the perfect light in a picture!  Jen of Jen’s Hair Creations used her skill with hair and make-up to enhance Sarah’s beauty.  Our gorgeous model Sarah is one of the ladies from Jennifer’s Bridal, who provided the dress and jewelry.  Can you believe that Sarah’s boyfriend proposed to her shortly after this shoot?!  Congratulations Sarah on your engagement!  We all know that you will be a beautiful bride!

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

My inspiration for this editorial shoot came from a girlhood dream of wandering through a meadow of flowers.  My grandparents used to live on a large property.  When I was younger, I loved to venture through the woods to the meadow that was on the other side.  If you haven’t figured out already, my obsession with flowers started at an early age!

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

I wanted the style of this shoot to look as if Sarah was walking through this field gathering flowers.  I used a variety of greens and white flowers to create this bridal bouquet, floral crown, cake, and candelabra centerpiece.  I chose to use white to accent the stunning gown by Jim Hjelm designed by Hayley Paige.  This is the gown for you if you want to stand out!  It is a classic style but with a punch of spunk!  To add a small pop of color, we added these fun earrings and bracelet from Haute Bride.

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

Photo: Leave It To Me Photography

I hope that this editorial shoot helped to inspire you!  I love working with all of these vendors!  They are awesome ladies!  Contact me today to schedule a floral consultation for your wedding.  I look forward to hearing from you!

VENDOR LOVE | Venue and Flower Farm:  The Farm at Oxford | Photography:  Leave It To Me Photography | Flowers:  Floral Designs by Jessi | Hair & Makeup:  Jen’s Hair Creations | Dress Designer:  Jim Hjelm designed by Hayley Paige | Jewelry Designer:  Haute Bride | Dress & Jewelry:  Jennifer’s Bridal | Model: Sarah Fields

 

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Main Line Florist: Radnor Hunt Races

The 85th annual Radnor Hunt Races took place about 2 weeks ago.  This historic event consists of six steeplechase races.  Everyone loves to get dressed up and socialize for this event!

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

One of my favorite things about Spring is that my garden begins to bloom.  All of the flowers and greens are from my personal garden.  Who doesn’t love clematis, columbine, hosta, and ninebark?!  I think that you can tell that I’m still obsessed with floral fascinators and floral jewelry.

Pennsylvania Wedding Florist: Tara Keely Trunk Show at Jennifer’s Bridal

Can I tell you how much I love springtime?!  Flowers are finally in full bloom.  It just makes me so happy.  One of my favorite things is working with locally grown flowers and greens, especially from my own garden when I can.

Have you ever thought about using only locally grown flowers and greens for your wedding?  Buying local is a big trend right now, and one that I support.  The flowers and greens from these arrangements came from The Farm at Oxford which is a flower farm in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.  I love working with Mara and all of the beauties that she grows!

Pennsylvania Wedding Florist - Tara Keely - Locally Grown Flowers (5)

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

Tulips, azaleas, daffodils, wisteria, and a mix of greens were used to create these light and airy centerpieces.  I even mixed in some hosta leaves, boxwood, and vinca greens from my own garden!

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

This past weekend was the Tara Keely Fall 2015 Trunk Show at Jennifer’s Bridal.  This was a first look at their new line of bridal dresses.  I hope that you had a chance to get a look at these gorgeous dresses.  Soft and romantic.

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

The next two weekends, Jennifer’s Bridal will be having Alvina Valenta Spring and Fall 2015 Trunk Shows.  Their designs use lots of lace and sparkles for a sexy but classic bridal look.  Call Jennifer’s Bridal today to schedule your appointment.

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

Photo: Floral Designs by Jessi

Contact me today to schedule a floral design consultation for your wedding or special event, especially if you are interested in locally grown flowers and greens.  Call me today at (302) 691-5525.  I look forward to hearing from you!