Photo: The Cutting Garden
New York’s official state flower became the rose in 1955. According to fossil evidence, the rose as we know it, is about 35 million years old. Cultivation of roses began 5,000 years ago, and it has become one of the most popular and widely cultivated flowers in the world, with 150 species and 20,000+ hybrids available.
We love roses. But to us, New York’s spring glory will always be embodied in the wild or farmed flowers that we find in such abundance. Thousands of wildflower species proliferate along highways, in forests, across backyards, and even dot our urban landscapes. (In New York City alone, more than 2,000 species can be found today).
Wildflowers, unless they’re on your property, should be left where they are, so they can be admired by others and set off on the myriad of mysterious wildlife, insect, and crop-boosting tasks they naturally perform.
The next time you want to gather a bouquet of beauties in the Great Outdoors, hit one of our favorite flower farms instead.
A pioneer of the slow flowers movement, The Cutting Garden advocates locally grown flowers, which advocates say, because of their freshness, will last longer and be more vibrant. Their flowers are grown sustainably, without pesticides, which means they help, instead of hinder, the local insect and wildlife population. Visitors can gather flowers and then visit a little on-site shop called Domesticities, with artisanal arts and crafts, or The Barn, with upcycled tools, furniture, and odds and ends.
Fields of zinnias, cosmos, black-eyed Susans, cleome, strawflowers, snapdragons, and sunflowers await. This is a perennial favorite for families, and the farm has even become a hot spot for bridal parties who want to pick gorgeous local blooms on the cheap for weddings. The Farm recommends picking flowers one to three days before any major events, and allowing them to rest overnight before arranging.
Photo: Brittany Hollow Farm
If you’re hankering for wildflowers, 128-acre Germantown Farms beckons. Rolling green pastures are brimming with all manner of flowers, and no pesticides are used here. There are also hayfields to play in, a butterfly immersion experience, and a farmhouse or cottage available for rent. Proceeds for pick-your-own go to a local nonprofit of your choice.
Photo: Germantown Farms
Patty’s “bunches” are pre-picked gorgeous farm blooms, including dahlias, peonies, zinnias, and sunflowers. Also prime for picking is the “Ice Cream Patch” where visitors can scoop up farm-fresh flavors like blackberry sage and even sugar snap pea for the more adventurous. If you’re eager to pick something from the farm, there are 24 types of berries nestled in the 40 acres.
Photo: Patty's Berries & Bunches
This lavender farm and wedding venue recently opened its doors to pickers, and has been met with delirious enthusiasm. The 30 acres offer lavender plants and organic flowers. The farm also boasts an apiary and sells farm-made lavender salt, lavender honey, lavender goat’s milk, culinary lavender, and more.
Photo: Kin Lock Farmstead
This is a diverse and delicious farm brimming with everything from pick-your-own flowers, to farm-made jams, spices, candles, honey, and soaps, plus local cheeses, baked goods, beef and pork. It’s big box shopping, CSA style.
Photo: Hen-Hawk Acres
Twin Ponds has become a local legend for its seven miles of corn mazes, but there’s year-round fun. Come spring and summer, Twin Ponds offers a range of flower picking options, plus an on-site beverage and snack stop, picnic set-ups, bonfire pits and, if you’re feeling feisty, an obstacle course.
Photo: Twin Ponds Greenhouses and Farm
Sunflower Valley is equal parts flower picking and family fun. There’s face-painting, an Instagram friendly sunflower maze, fresh corn, and a petting zoo. Engagement, wedding, maternity, and other special occasion shoots are very popular.
Fishkill Farms has something for everyone. You can go and pick your own flowers, strawberries and other seasonal crops. Or you can just go and grab pre-picked in-season fruits and vegetables (from pears and apples, to summer squash and peppers, to herbs and kale) and take in the animals, seemingly endless acres of colorful farmed acres, and grab a locally made beverage or snack (get the cheese platter and cider donuts) at the cider bar.
Photo: Fishkill Farms
They're a flower farm plus at Flower Blossom Design. A husband-and-wife team launched a farm and design studio out of a love for flowers and romance in 2013. They started working with specialty flowers and individual clients, but now, they grow more than 80 varieties for CSA shares and do custom work for weddings, corporate events, and anything that requires gorgeous blooms.
More than 100 varieties of dahlias, poppies, peonies, and other rare flowers are grown sustainably on 38 acres here. Sign up for Bear Creek’s emails and learn about their events, and their flower CSA. Visits to the farm are limited to workshops.
Bear Creek Farm
Officially, wildflowers are defined as flowering plants that were not cultivated or given human aid, yet still manage to grow and bloom. After this strange year of solitude, the cultivated and the wild flowers around us seem at once more precious and relatable than ever.