As the sun emerges above a new day, Jen Ladd steps through 100-foot rows of ranunculus, observing subtle changes as leaves unfurl, stems inch outward and color peeks out from the newest flower buds. “It’s an intimate time to connect to the plants up close and personal,” she says. As a farmer-florist, her day began hours before the sunrise with preparations to work. She is the first to rise, and the last to sleep at Sweet Posy Floral farm.
Jen and her husband Brandon bought what is now a nearly six-acre flower farm in 2013, though Jen traces its beginnings to early meanderings with her grandmother through her cutting patch of tea roses in the Willamette Valley. “That imprinted on me long ago, as she told me to talk to the flowers kindly so that they will grow for you.” An affinity and heart for flowers was reinforced with work in federal and state greenhouses as a plant physiology research assistant after attending Oregon State University.
Jen and Brandon created Sweet Posy to be a local and sustainable model. “In the slow flower movement, you want to know where your flowers come from,” she says. To that end, look to their land and see well-planned 100- x 4-foot flower beds, 5,000 square feet for dahlias, and plots for peonies and roses, all surrounded by rows of mixed perennials. Large high tunnels and a glass greenhouse extend the short growing seasons in Central Oregon. “If you live here, even just for play, you have to be sturdy and sturdy at heart,” she says. Growing in the High Desert means that what you plant and tend, Mother Nature may take away. Yet, the optimism offered by what grows has kept Sweet Posy farm looking forward to what blooms, especially after the pandemic. A large portion of the farm’s model are the weddings booked with bespoke blooms grown in its fields. When the wedding calendar was wiped out by COVID, Jen found ways to not only sustain the business but spread joy and use the flowers that she continued to reap. Sweet Posy’s unmanned Roadside Cart popped up, along with weekly flower subscriptions and accounts to wholesale flower studios.
Fortunately, as she planted bulbs (15,000 plus ranuculus alone) and cultivated seeds, it was with hope for the spring and future. On the floristry side of Jen’s business, weddings now fill the calendar, as does a vision for their workshop/studio space modeled after the look of Century Farms in the Valley. Floral design at Sweet Posy means an organic connection to the local landscape and working with an eye for incorporating seasonal elements into each arrangement. “I design based on what is growing on the farm,” says Jen. This summer, Sweet Posy will host limited gatherings both in the evening with what they call “Sip and Clip,” as well as a lunchtime break to escape in nature and leave with a bright bunch of blooms. “We want people to have the experience and feeling of joy by being among the flowers.”
In May, it’s the ranunculus taking center stage. As Jen’s personal favorite of the Sweet Posy spring season that also includes anemones and Icelandic poppies, she loves the ranunculus for the, “Flower power beauty of it, from the shapes of its blooms to the myriad of colors.” At the end of each day, a final walk among the flowers shows her what her work in the fields coupled with Central Oregon sun have accomplished giving her a display of natural beauty.
Find Sweet Posy Roadside Stand at 63375 Deschutes Market Road, Bend (days/hours vary) @sweetposyfloral, and in the new book, “Where We Bloom” by Debra Prinzing (Bloom Publishers, April 2021).