Business blooming for Fredericksburg store owner

Business blooming for Fredericksburg store owner

Image Credit: Jacqui Hershberger

Most people are thinking about Christmas right now, but engaged brides might have their sights set on planning their 2022 weddings.

“When brides think of locally grown flowers, they may imagine the only option is brightly colored flowers from a road-side stand. However, local flowers also are available in muted colors, perfect for a modern wedding. And the sooner brides order, the better — that way we can order enough seeds and bulbs and plant enough flowers so they will have what they want,” said Emma Miller, owner of Wisteria Shack.

Located in Fredericksburg, Miller started selling flowers from her front porch about four years ago. Since then her business has grown to include Wisteria Shack, a store that is open year round, as well as flower gardens and a raised-bed greenhouse.

About three years ago, Karen Geiser, an avid gardener, flower grower and speaker from the Kidron area, inspired Miller to try providing flowers for weddings.

“I kind of wanted to do it, but Karen was the one that coached me into it and told me I could,” Miller said.

This summer was Wisteria Shack's second year of working with brides, and Miller said she's planning ahead for the future. “We specialize in lisianthus. We are going to try to extend the season for some of our popular flowers a little with our raised beds," she said. "It's not a guarantee, but we are just playing around with it.”

Lisianthus is a thorn-free, rose-looking flower that is delicate yet hardy and comes in muted colors and vivid purples.

“Tulips are available in April, ranunculus in May. Summer has multiple options of zinnias, sunflowers and lisianthus, and then from mid-August through early October, the dahlias are in their full glory,” Geiser said.

Flower supply has been affected by the pandemic. “This year there have been some major supply-chain issues with wholesale flowers," Geiser said. "Fall was horrendous for florists trying to get roses for weddings. Prices of getting flowers locally are often similar to what you would pay for flowers shipped in. And if brides choose local seasonal flowers, they can have the joy of those flowers blooming every year on their anniversary.”

This past summer several local flower growers worked together to fill orders.

“If sunflowers are in season and one of us needs more than we have, we network and share our flower abundance," Geiser said. "Places like Wisteria Shack and Inspiring Blooms in Sugarcreek are increasing production, and plans are to come up with a system so it is easier for brides and florists to source the amounts and colors they need locally.

"Growing flowers could become like the furniture industry is in Wayne and Holmes county. I think there is still great opportunity for flower farmers who are growing for weddings and events. That market is big and waiting.”

Understanding seasonality is a major part of using locally grown flowers. “Seasonality can be really frustrating for some people and feel limiting, but I think it is a beautiful thing. Some things are only available for a short window, and that makes them very special,” Geiser said.

Being flexible and working with a color scheme instead of specific flowers can help brides.

“It's plain and simple," Miller said. "If a bride is set on roses, she should go to a traditional florist. But if she is willing to have a similar flower or color scheme, we can work with her. Brides can bring us a fabric sample and some pictures of what she would like. We could even work with a local florist to have roses in their arrangements, along with our locally grown flowers.”

Brides also can have flowers for a bucket wedding. They order the flowers, saying how many stems and what colors they would like, and pick them up to arrange them. A flower recipe can be given with how many stems of greenery, filler flowers and focal flowers to put in each jar. For brides who would rather have someone else arrange the flowers for them, that also is an option.

Wisteria Shack can have seasonal flowers for weddings from April until the fall frost, usually mid-October. For brides getting married in the winter, they carry poinsettas and succulents.

“We have something blooming at all times but not necessarily enough for a wedding during the winter months,” Miller said.

Wisteria Shack is located at 7750 County Road 201 in Fredericksburg. During the winter it will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from April 1 through Oct. 31, hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The store has gift items and over 20 scents of soy candles to go along with wedding centerpieces. The gardens at Wisteria Shack are open from May until October to tour and pick flowers. Classes and private ladies outings are available upon request.

Geiser shared a story of delivering flowers to a bride. “I asked her if this was what she was picturing the flowers to be. She said it wasn’t exactly what she was thinking but went on to say, 'They are so beautiful, and I love them.' This is the spirit of flexibility that we need to make common for brides. Let’s make being a picky bride unstylish and uncool. Marriage will be a big lesson in flexibility, so it's good to start with wedding flowers.”

For flower and wedding pictures, check out Inspiring Blooms and Karen's Garden Instagram accounts, @inspiringblooms and @karensgarden__.