Honie’s BiG Bloomers

I’ve been inspired by some very talented photographers. Some whose links I shared in another postOne in particular has an amazing body of work. His images are breathtaking and the style of his landscapes, reminiscent of Ansel Adams, simply captivated me. So, I checked out his galleries and discovered something pretty cool. SmugMug is an incredible partner for professional photographers. They espouse  all of my favorite core values. NO SPAM, NO ADs, quality guarantees, service out the wazoo, a user-friendly platform for us analog types, but with plenty of whiz bangs for you more tech savvies. Plus, a commitment to building relationships that is almost unheard of in today’s marketplace.

Yeah SmugMug, I’m giving you some free love!

If you’re so inclined, check it out and let me know what you think.

Next week I leave for Italy to celebrate the BIG 2OH with my loyal follower. There’ll be pics galore and much, much more when I return. Some of you know that a TSA inspired travel rant may be included (at no extra charge) and certainly great gushing love posts about this trip of a lifetime.

ABOUT THE FOOD! THE FOOD!

Peace.

In The Garden Of Good And Gooder

These are the Hartins. Together they have created a place of spectacular beauty down an unassuming country road in South Carolina. I had the good fortune to visit their home and garden at the peak of springtime goodness when gardens are fresh and lovely.

Miss Audrey graciously entertained us with stories about each flower as we toured her garden. Her knowledge was only exceeded by her obvious vision for creating charming vignettes, which were placed throughout the space with expert care and attention to detail. With every step there was another WOW moment. The good just kept getting gooder. Better, yes I know.

Mr. Hartin is a skilled carpenter, antique Ford enthusiast and talented photographer. Brides-to-be come from near and far to have their wedding photos taken by him in the garden he and his bride have cultivated into a destination. He has built arches all around the garden to create a romantic setting complete with a private bridal dressing room fit for a princess.

The Hartins love bringing joy to others and sharing their passions for the rare and precious. I am grateful to them for allowing me to capture images of their home and garden on that special day and I invite you to enjoy some of them here. Others will be added to my gallery page.

How To Mind Your Own Business

One of the highlights of my BiG Bloomer Tour was going to Bruce’s Greenhouses owned by Willis Bruce. That’s correct Willis Bruce, not Bruce Willis. Maybe it’s just me who thinks that’s funny.

Mr. Bruce started his business in 1975 growing a variety of plants and flowers in one greenhouse. Since then, his business has blossomed, and Bruce’s is now a third generation family business with multiple greenhouses providing regional delivery of wholesale orders north to Virginia and south to Jacksonville, FL.

One of their sons, Josh Bruce is a nice young man, who has learned from his father to care for plants, equipment, employees and with exceptional skill, customers. Yes, Josh definitely knows how to mind his own business and he understands the importance of customer relationships.

Frances and I made trip after trip to Bruce’s to select hanging baskets of geraniums, New Guinea impatiens and the very large, very gorgeous spring combination baskets of dragon wing begonia, verbena, and petunia, of which I’m not certain why I didn’t get a picture. Maybe it was because I was intoxicated, almost giddy from the combination of vibrant colors and sweet, earthy fragrance inside the warm greenhouses. Being surrounded by blooms is one of the most pleasant experiences I can think of and I would do it every day if I could.

Frances is a pro when it comes to selecting flowers for their store. She knows which of their regular customers prefer pinks and which ones will be looking for something to give as a gift. She knows who will want something for sun or shade. I watched her carefully to pick up on what she was looking for and it wasn’t long before she was letting me make some selections. This was thrilling for me because she knows her flowers and to have a say it what she purchased meant a lot to me. We went about choosing the fullest, most evenly balance baskets with the most blooms. Some of them were too high for us to reach, but it was never too long before Josh spotted our van and came walking down an aisle toward us with a smile ready to lend a hand.

No matter how busy they were getting orders ready for delivery, Josh always spoke respectfully to us. He was friendly, patient and helpful. Actually all of the young men working there were. This impressed me. Business owners, no matter the business, can sometimes be so bombarded with problems that their stress translates into frustration toward customers. Not so at Bruce’s Greenhouses. Everyone we encountered was genuinely happy to help us. Spring is a busy time in the flower business. There are tender plants to nurture, deliveries to schedule and trucks to load. Just like any other business, someone has to mind the store and take care of housekeeping; there are bills to pay, phones to answer, etc. When it’s your own business, you not only have a vested interested in its success, but you often end up doing any and every job that needs to be done. Managing greenhouses is hard work and let’s face it, flowers while they improve the quality of our lives in many ways, they are a luxury purchase for many people. I didn’t hear one single complaint about the economy, gas prices or how good help is hard to find as we were taking our own sweet time to choose the plants we liked best. How refreshing!

The folks at Bruce’s Greenhouses know how to mind their own business. They specialize in growing quality potted plants and combination baskets with an emphasis on the high demand for seasonal flowers such as Easter lilies in the spring and poinsettia for Christmas. If you thought I was going to share how I learned to stay out of other people’s business, um, yeah, I know nothing about that. Offering unsolicited opinions on a variety of subjects is my specialty.

Spring Loaded

So much to post and so little time!! 2012 is shaping up nicely and second quarter projections are looking very good with blooms galore! The past three weeks have been filled with trips to greenhouses, nurseries, markets and gardens enjoying time with friends old and new. In the weeks ahead there will be more photos and stories featuring those people and places. For now…

“Carpe diem.” – Horace

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”  – Robert Herrick

“Move your bloomin’ ass.” – Eliza Doolittle