“Remember our trip to NM? I gathered chamisa and yucca seeds and even cut some willow sticks with a knife purchased at a grocery store.”
It was just after we had started dating. A bold adventure for a new couple. We connected through our interest in the landscape and fascination for interesting plants.
We had flown from Iowa to Albuquerque and rented a car. Anne filled the trunk with cuttings that we eventually boxed up and mailed back to Iowa. A peculiar sight, I imagine, at the post-office that day, though no one working seemed to think anything of it.
In many ways, that trip marked the beginning of bark & bloom. It awakened a deep passion for plants — particularly local hardy perennials, succulents, trees and shrubs. The stark beauty of the New Mexico landscape made us look more closely at the living colors in Iowa.
Each season after that trip, we played in our gardens. Anne’s perennial collection grew large enough to start selling divisions out of her Mom’s garage, and later at farmer’s markets.
When we moved to a beautiful bungalow on a typical small lot in Mount Vernon, IA, we didn’t yet realize how important our gardens–and space to play with growing–had become. It barely took one year to understand we needed a place in the country.
Our thoughts of life free from urban constraints were largely romanticized. There were visions of a small vineyard, cottage gardens, veggie plots, and nature walks. We were not completely naive, but also didn’t spend much time dwelling on snow drifts, quack grass, tractor repairs, and all the other less attractive elements of country life.
And yet, we were undaunted to try all our early visions. We planted 99 grapevines that first year on the acreage (we have yet to actually make wine). Interests shifted to curly willow trees and pussy willow shrubs. Our ornamental branch farm expands every year with new varieties. Proper pruners have replaced the grocery store knife for collecting branch cuttings, and boxing up branches for customers seems quite normal now.
Hardy succulent varieties are another growing collection. And more recently we’ve become farmer florists adding cut flower beds–supplying unique local flowers to our artisan arrangements for weddings and events.
Our passions are a changing landscape, playing with the blooms and branches of local nature and mashing it with a rustic charm of reclaimed vintage materials. Thanks for helping to support local businesses, local growers, and creative designers!