Country Sampler's Prairie Style - - In The -

iIn Sonoma, Cal­i­for­nia, an en­tre­pre­neur who re­claims a fal­low field and trans­forms it into a vine­yard is of­ten called a vi­sion­ary. When Bon­nie Z. pur­chased a vine­yard and con­verted it into an or­ganic farm, she was fre­quently called fool­ish.

“Rip­ping out grapevines in the heart of wine coun­try isn’t your typ­i­cal busi­ness plan,” Bon­nie says, “but it worked for me!” A for­mer tex­tile artist and de­signer, Bon­nie has long been ob­sessed with gar­den­ing.

“In 1990, I ran out of room in my back­yard and bought a 6-acre vine­yard with the idea of grow­ing and sell­ing heir­loom veg­eta­bles in sum­mer and con­tin­u­ing my tex­tile work in win­ter,” Bon­nie ex­plains. In ad­di­tion to rows of veg­eta­bles, she planted an abun­dance of roses and a se­lec­tion of flower and fo­liage plants, care­fully cho­sen for form, tex­ture, fra­grance and color. She called her land Dragon­fly Farm af­ter the many drag­on­flies that an­nu­ally hatch nearby.

It took a few years for Bon­nie’s bushes and peren­ni­als to be­come es­tab­lished, but as soon as they did, she be­gan sell­ing blos­soms along with the pro­duce she was al­ready pro­vid­ing to lo­cal res­tau­rants and cater­ers. Slowly but surely, the flow­ers be­gan tak­ing up space she once used to grow veg­eta­bles. Even­tu­ally, grow­ing and sell­ing flow­ers be­came her full-time oc­cu­pa­tion.

In 2001, Bon­nie’s daugh­ter Carlisle Degis­cher moved back home and joined the fam­ily busi­ness. “Mom meets with clients to plan wed­dings and man­ages the gar­dens. I spe­cial­ize in bridal and wed­ding-party bou­quets and run the web­site, mar­ket­ing and be­hind-the-scenes op­er­a­tions,” Carlisle says. “My hus­band, Ray, our son, Ol­lie, and I live

OP­PO­SITE: Built from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, the farm shop is a won­der­land of cut flow­ers, suc­cu­lents, and nat­u­ral­is­tic con­tain­ers ready for fill­ing with imag­i­na­tive de­signs. THIS PAGE, RIGHT: Dragon­fly’s un­con­trived wreaths and cen­ter­pieces highlight the nat­u­ral beauty of the flow­ers grown on the farm. Blooms are har­vested bright and early ev­ery day. BE­LOW: Bon­nie Z. and her daugh­ter Carlisle Degis­cher stroll to work from their homes, both of which are lo­cated on the prop­erty. BE­LOW RIGHT: “Fo­liage is an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in ar­range­ments. It helps blend your flow­ers into an over­all de­sign,” Bon­nie says.

RIGHT: A farm wagon dis­plays pre- planted con­tain­ers and sim­ple flo­ral ar­range­ments ready to “grab and go.” BE­LOW RIGHT: Bon­nie named her prop­erty and busi­ness af­ter the drag­on­flies that hatch in nearby Dry Creek. OP­PO­SITE: Sign up for a class and learn from the pros! Hands- on work­shops at Dragon­fly Farm in­clude sea­sonal decor, the essence of beau­ti­ful bou­quets, as­sem­bling nat­u­ral ter­rar­i­ums, and plan­ning a one- of-a-kind wed­ding. right across the drive­way from my mom.”

Ray also main­tains a stu­dio in a for­mer barn, where he cre­ates hand­made fur­ni­ture, wall art and gar­den ac­ces­sories us­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als. His unique vases, flo­ral ar­ma­ture, and pho­tog­ra­phy skills com­ple­ment the tal­ents of his wife and mother-in-law.

“Our gar­dens are full of un­usual flow­ers,” Carlisle says proudly. “Mom has col­lected more than 1,500 an­tique and mod­ern roses in col­ors rang­ing from vi­brant hues to soft pas­tels.”

Both Bon­nie and her daugh­ter ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of cul­ti­vat­ing a con­stant sup­ply of flo­ral ma­te­rial. “We con­tinue to plant shrubs, and our prop­a­ga­tion green­house is al­ways filled to the brim with seedlings and cut­tings,” Bon­nie ex­plains. “Farm to ta­ble is a grow­ing trend, and our cus­tomers are look­ing for not only lo­cally grown food but lo­cal flow­ers, too!”

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