Visit to fragrant and fun local flower farms

Renee Simcoe’s glossy burgundy locks hang down in matching braids to frame her face. The short sleeves of his gray T-shirt cover only a tiny fraction of the tattoos that adorn his arms – images of an Egyptian goddess on one and an exotic message on the other. The silver nail polish matches the silver rings on her fingers and thumb. Today, at Lily Stone Gardens, she picks burgundy straw flowers from the field and places them around an oxblood lily in full bloom. Her mysterious ways traveled into her floral arrangement.

“We really see personalities come out when it comes to picking flowers that people like to pick,” said Kelly Tellier, owner of the flower farm near Rosenort that offers a U-pick option. “And that’s really what I like to see. It’s an experience rather than just picking flowers.”


Renée Simcoe selects airy flowers to soften the edges of her arrangement at Lily Stone Gardens.

Tellier is one of Manitoba’s flower growers, a niche grower that provides a variety of fabulously fragrant products. Some sell at farmers’ markets, offering hand-tied bouquets wrapped in trendy brown paper. Others supply directly to established florists who turn buckets of flowers into full deliveries for weddings. Local subscriptions are also popular, where customers receive deliveries throughout the growing season. And the U pick option offers another experience, where visitors pace and pick rows of flowers to create their own arrangements.

It was in 2016 that Tellier opened their first boutique, a converted master bedroom inside their home. Things have developed considerably since then. There is now a stunning restored barn which houses a retail store, potted plants, treats from local culinary designers and a stem bar where visitors can choose from pre-picked flowers. Once the picking is done in the gardens, customers head to the barn to have their flowers cut, tied, watered and packed for the trip home.

Jodi Friesen’s idea for a flower farm took root in the winter of 2019. Miss Millie’s welcomed its first visitor that year and has now become a destination for all things floral with a busy picking schedule. And there’s more to come at the farm near St. Francis Xavier. The newly built events center now serves tea, coffee and garden-inspired drinks and will soon host larger gatherings and a boutique. Friesen throws his hands over the gardens that are home to over 60 species and contemplates a path of meditation, changing this or that, maybe weddings here.

La collection U pick de Shel a reçu un coup de main de Kelly Tellier de Lily Stone Gardens.</p>
<p>Shel’s U pick collection got a helping hand from Kelly Tellier of Lily Stone Gardens.</p>
<p>“I thought people would come here to pick flowers,” she said.  “But it’s become much more than that. You can rest easy here. Just listen to the birds if that’s what you want to do.”			</p>
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She credits a team approach to the success of the space. Husband Gary serves as builder and mover while operating the family’s grain farm. His son Kirby and daughter-in-law Victoria also play key roles in garden design, marketing and, on occasion, weeding!

In Broad Valley, a small hamlet in the heart of the Interlake, Laura Grzenda started Farmyard Flowers just a year ago, testing the waters to see what her potential customers wanted.

Kelly Tellier, propriétaire de Lily Stone Gardens, affirme que l'option U pick est une expérience très différente de l'achat de fleurs à l'épicerie.</p>
<p>Kelly Tellier, owner of Lily Stone Gardens, says the U pick option is a very different experience from buying flowers at the grocery store.</p>
<p>“Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging,” she said.  “I’m a huge supporter of local business and championing the growth of local business, so to be a part of this is just amazing.”			</p>
<p>She said growing up on a farm definitely helps start this kind of business.  “We are literally taught to grow things from when we could walk,” she said.  “And Mama and Baba always kept big gardens and flowerbeds that we helped take care of. Growing things is part of life on a farm.”			</p>
<p>Its medium-sized mason jar arrangements seem to have struck a chord with locals.  “The size seems to be perfect for people buying for themselves or for everyday thank you or gifts for friends or family,” she said.			</p>
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Terisa K. Carn