Let the flowers from these Harford flower farms add color to your life – Baltimore Sun

Often when picking flowers in the lush fields of Brown House Meadows, Susan Gray pauses for a moment and, well, smells of roses.

“Butterflies are fluttering, bees are jumping from flower to flower and it’s so quiet out there,” said Gray, 40, of Jarrettsville. “There are rows and rows of flowers and, like Dorothy [in ‘The Wizard of Oz’] you feel like you can just lie in the poppies and fall asleep.

A pick-your-own flower farm in Pylesville, Brown House Meadows is a rarity, allowing guests to roam a one-acre field and cut their own flowers from a mix of annuals and perennials.

“We wanted a place where people could slow down, breathe and release stress,” said Olivia Hartlaub who, along with her husband, Keith, owns the place. For five years, they’ve grown zinnias, sunflowers, snapdragons, celosias, statices and dozens of other flowers that draw people to their farm to wander, scissors in hand, through row after row of trees. a rainbow of flowers.

“Some people walk the whole field first, to see what they might like; others just pick as they go,” said Hartlaub, 45. “It’s fun to watch people disappear across the big patch of cosmos as the plants grow in the summer. Some will choose one flower of each type, while others will become chromatic and gravitate towards certain colors like pinks and whites.

Either way, it’s a win/win, she said, “We’ve never had an ugly bouquet leaving our field.”

Gray said while growing flowers at home, she made several trips to Brown House Meadows each summer.

“Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from your own home,” said Gray, a Harford County teacher. “I love love, to like the purple flowers, maybe because I’m a die-hard Ravens fan. I put them all over the house, on the kitchen sink and in the bathroom. They make you smile when you pass. Last year during the pandemic I had them on my desk downstairs to cheer me up.

    Luke, 4, and Amy, 7, MacCalman, Bel Air, show off their bouquets they made on opening day at The Brown House Meadows, a pick-your-own flower farm in Pylesville.  July 16, 2021

COVID-19 has helped businesses in 2020, Hartlaub said. One weekend the plants were picked clean, closing the field for a while.

“People had been locked up for so long, they came here to breathe fresh air and flowers,” she said. “I received emails [from customers] saying that while they were here they could feel their blood pressure drop, that it calmed them down, and that they were grateful for the opportunity “to spend $25 on a milk jug full of flowers.

Not everyone opts for harvesting. Artists ask to paint there; photographers, to take pictures.

“A woman came in for a maternity photoshoot,” Hartlaub said. “She was 8 and a half months pregnant when she walked through the flowers.”

Keith Hartlaub, a pastor, held services amid lilies and dahlias. Parishioners use picnic tables as benches.

“I feel like we’re doing community service,” said Hartlaub, a mother of four. “It’s nice when a parent comes with their teenager, who rides [his or her] eyes as if to say, “My mother sent for me. Then they go to the field with a shared container.

“Inevitably the mum will come back and say, ‘I need my own milk jug.’ Picking becomes a creative experience.

Christy Larkin, owner of Seven Petal Flower Farm, walks through a row of zinnias on the farm.  She sells her flowers at farmers' markets, through a CSA and to floral designers.  July 20, 2021

Deer, mildew and drought. Beetles, grasshoppers and slugs. It’s not easy to grow flowers organically with all the bad guys around. Even anemones have enemies.

“Farming is hard work, but so worth it,” said Christy Larkin, 39, who together with her husband, Matt, owns Seven Petal Flower Farm in Whiteford. “People will come to our booth at [Havre de Grace] farmers market, seeing delphiniums and peonies and saying, “My grandmother grew them, and seeing them takes me back.” These stories are really cool.

On the Larkins’ 8-acre farm, flowers rub shoulders with chickens, sheep, the couple’s five children (including one named Viola) and an orange tabby cat named Jupiter who, according to the owner, “likes to hide in the weeds and jump at me when I cut the flowers.

A sunflower blooms at Seven Petal Flower Farm in Whiteford, County Harford.  July 20, 2021

For seven years, Larkin has been selling his bounty — everything from asters and amaranths to larkspur and lilacs — at farmers’ markets and to floral designers. Guests aren’t allowed to pick their own from the 2 1/2 acre flower field, but they can take family photos amid the sunflowers and dahlias. The latter are the most popular, she says, for the gigantic size of their flowers, often called “dinner plates.”

Like its peers, Seven Petal Flower Farm saw sales surge in 2020 as people battled the pandemic with the help of Mother Nature. At farmers’ markets, Larkin said, “Most don’t say why they’re buying flowers, and I’m not prying. Some say they take them to a relative who is on assisted living or to a friend who is having a rough week. Others talk about their own garden or ask for advice on growing this or that.

A butterfly visits an Echinacea flower at Seven Petal Flower Farm in Whiteford, County Harford.  July 20, 2021

“Young women will take a flower and put it in their hair, for fun. Men also buy flowers, and while most would say they buy them for their spouse or partner, one gentleman told me he buys them for himself. When his male friends crack jokes, he tells them, “Who wouldn’t like flowers? They are for everyone. ”

Three years ago, Elizabeth Harlan left law for the land. A civil litigation lawyer, she swapped the courthouse for the greenhouse and the family flower farm. Now Harlan, 49, helps run the Belvedere Farm in Fallston on ancestral ground dating back to 1823. She’s tangled up with amaranths, not affidavits, and tulips instead of torts. It is a gesture that she would do again.

“I don’t want to compare [farming] to the law, but I feel like what I’m doing is adding joy to the world,” she said. “My daily life has improved. The work is exhausting, yes, but it’s also a pick-me-up for everyone involved.

Bill Harlan and his daughter, Elizabeth Harlan, owners of Belvedere Farm which has been in their family since 1823. Once an agricultural farm, Belvedere Farm is now known for its flowers.  This year they will produce 90 varieties.  July 16, 2021

Harlan hears this from regulars who visit the Farm Stand or the Belvedere Stand at the Bel Air Farmers Market on weekends.

“They’ll say, ‘This is my therapy’ or ‘I’m addicted to this,’ but not in a bad way,” she said. “Last year in March, we offered $10 prepaid arrangements with contactless pickups at the farm. People told us that coming here for flowers every week helped them through the pandemic.”

Her father, Bill Harlan, 81, is the patriarch of Belvedere, who started selling flowers in 1995 at the request of his wife.

“I kinda dragged my feet because, to me, farming was tractors and all that,” said Bill Harlan. “But the customers have improved a lot. Instead of guys coming to buy hay, there were ladies wearing earrings, in sports cars, buying flowers.

Jace Panati, 9, hands a flower to his mother, Tina Panati, from Fallston, as crew member Nancy Sherman stands at the stand at Belvedere Farm.  The farm stand is open in July-August at the farm on Friday and Saturday.  July 16, 2021

The 100-acre farm includes 6 acres of annuals and perennials, from popular plants (dahlias, zinnias and sunflowers) to dozens more like dianthus, hellebores, ageratum and dill. Plus five types of lavender.

“We cut a ton of stuff,” Elizabeth Harlan said. “When the wind blows from the lavender field, you stop and take a deep breath. It’s nice to be out there.

Terisa K. Carn