When asked why flowers are her passion and profession, Izzy Martin Garrison’s answer was simple – because of the joy they bring to herself and others. Izy is the owner of Rocky Floral in Bethany, and as of this spring, is also leasing growing space at Ives Farm in Cheshire.

The need to find additional land to grow more flowers was the biggest challenge Izzy faced in meeting her business requirements, and this is where Cheshire Land Trust (CLT) came into the picture. She has been looking for additional space for over a year without success. However, she was familiar with land trusts from her own experience in Bethany, and contacted Bill Stanley, president of the Cheshire Land Trust, last spring to inquire about a potential lease agreement that would allow her to obtain additional space to increase her stock of flowers. .

“Our shared commitment to sustainability and shared belief in working with the Earth in the best ways possible meant that CLT was a natural partner for Izy,” Bill recently noted. With the support of the land management board, Izy now grows classic summer annuals such as zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias and flowering basil on a one-third-acre plot of land at Ives Farm. As she looks to next year at Ives, she plans to add some hardy plants — perhaps larkspur, nigella and scabiosa.

Izzy’s passion for flower gardening goes back to high school when she raised flowers in containers on her parents’ porch. After college, Izzy pursued a career as an engineer, working for Sikorsky Aircraft, but her interest in flowers was never far from her mind. Taking over a community garden plot in 2017 with her husband rekindled her “love affair” with flowers.

For several years, Izzy balanced her day job with flower farming, and officially launched her business in May of 2022. In March of 2023, she was able to fully dedicate herself to Rocky Floral. One of the greatest joys about Izy’s work is the first impression, the look on someone’s face when they receive her flowers – either because she’s made arrangements for a wedding or as a surprise gift.

Describing herself as quirky and quirky, Izzy also prides herself on being friendly and has a deep desire to make people laugh. She brings the same characteristics to her work with her clients as she strives to create an inclusive, welcoming space where no question is stupid.

Her home grow room allows her to raise all of her flower supply from seed, achieving her goal of “nursing” her flowers “from seed to vase.” In the summer, the grow room itself becomes home to her work with dried flowers where she creates arrangements and installations for homes and small businesses. The challenges they face are common to farmers everywhere – the unpredictability and vagaries of the weather. Last spring was a perfect example of temperatures in the 90s in April and frost in May. Since fluctuations are just a part of farming life these days, she has learned to roll with the punches and use strategies to protect her plants from these unexpected changes whenever possible.

Finding balance with nature, working with the land by providing pollinators for example, and striving for sustainable practices all motivate her work. When asked what advice she would give to others looking to start a small business, she shared the guidance she received when she was starting out – document and photograph everything. Doing this allows you to share what you are doing with others, but it also serves as a reminder of how accomplished you are and provides encouragement to keep going.

For the home gardener, Izzy recommends using native plants whenever possible. She cautions that some garden centers sell invasive species and that researching what to plant is the best first step. Whether she’s providing flowers for a wedding or other special event, making dried flower installations, hosting bouquet bars like the one she recently did in Southington, or offering community flower arrangements (community supported agriculture coming next September), Izzy is having fun Great at sharing the joy of flowers with others.

For more information, see Rocky Floral – www.rockyfloral.com.

The Cheshire Land Trust is a private, non-profit Section 501(c)(3) organization. Our main source of funding is member fees and donations. We are not affiliated with any government organization. We encourage you to become a member, volunteer, donate land or money, or just join our mailing list! www.cheshirelandtrust.org

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