THE TEN WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN. THANKS FOR YOUR QUESTIONS, AND THANKS, MIRIAM FOR ANSWERING THEM!
Last weekend, the proprietors of Wildflower Farm paid me a visit while on one of their regular Buffalo business trips. Miriam Goldberger and Paul Jenkins’s seed business is located in Coldwater, Ontario, an hour or so north of Toronto. They grow acres of native wildflowers there, and until recently, operated a garden center as well. Goldberger and Jenkins started the business in 1988, first as a dried flower supplier, then as a pick-your-own flower farm, and then as a native plant nursery and garden center. Supplying native wildflower seeds was a natural progression, and so was their next venture into developing a low-maintenance turf grass, which could be used for pathways through their wildflower meadows. This grass, a mixture of 7 fine fescues, eventually became EcoLawn, which is offered as an alternative to the needy turf grasses that have become common throughout North America. It can grow long, and lie in graceful waves—in beautiful contrast to the stubby grass beloved of the American lawnmower. EcoLawn is making waves throughout U.S. garden centers, and is now available in two Buffalo venues. It’s a small player in comparison to the vast Scott’s empire, but at least it represents a healthy and burgeoning alternative. Its thick root system acts as a natural weed barrier, and it’s drought- and shade-tolerant. Fortunately, I have no need for even environmentally-friendly turf grass, but I recommend this for friends that do have to have lawns.
After the events of 9/11/01 and the subsequent anthrax scares, it was no longer possible to mail seeds from Canada to the U.S. without paying inspection fees that could add $75 to the cost of each pack of seeds. In order to serve their U.S. customers and stay competitive, Goldberger and Jenkins have set up a warehouse and distribution center in Buffalo. (Eco-Lawn is grown in Oregon and distributed out of Indiana.) Their Buffalo warehouse is probably a pain for them, but it’s my gain, because I get to see the vivacious Miriam and her handsome husband on a regular basis.
The next venture? Miriam Goldberger has a contract with St. Lynn’s Press to write a book about wildflowers. Goldberger says the book will answer all the most basic questions about wildflowers, offering practical advice as well as celebrating their beauty and their role in the struggle to maintain ecological diversity.
The gorgeous fields of wildflowers that yield some of Wildflower Farm’s most popular seed varieties—blue false indigo, purple prairie clover, pale purple coneflower, prairie blazing star, white aster, ironweed, and many more—are located just a few hours drive away from my urban Buffalo neighborhood. I long to visit—I picture wading through a field of waist-high blooms (think the Italy part of Room with a View).
Fantasy is a big part of my relationship with seeds—because, quite honestly, I can’t really grow anything from seed. Our Western New York season, though it’s getting longer in recent years, is still too short for germinating most seeds in the garden, and I don’t have the interest or dedication necessary for an indoor seed operation. However, I know many of you are seed-starting experts, and I bet you’d love to try seeds from Wildflower Farms.
Post your wildflower questions for Miriam Goldberger here and I will not only get the answers, but I will send a nice packet of 6-10 wildflower varieties to 10 lucky Rant readers, drawn at random. The contest ends 1/15/13, 5 p.m. EST.
P.S.: Apparently there is a bogus malware warning from Google on the WF site–there has been a rash of these throughout the interwebs recently.