Small bouquets of honeysuckle with tulips or full bouquets packed tight with lilacs, euphorbia and Lenten rose are just a couple of the freshly arranged flower combinations found prepared and ready to take home from Dona Flora Herbs and Flowers at the Bellingham Farmers Market.
At Dona Flora, owner Beth Hailey creates bouquets prepared the night before with flowers often grown from seeds or starts at her Bellingham farm on Best Road. Small bouquets sell for under $4, and premium bouquets — specially arranged by her daughter Maya — sell for around $20. “She just does extraordinary arrangements,” Beth says of her daughter’s work. “She doesn’t think she’s creative, and yet she can make these bouquets that I can’t replicate.”
Throughout the day, tourists and regulars peruse Beth’s fragrant and colorful selection, delighted by the sweet-smelling arrangements they will either gift to a loved one or choose to display in their own homes.
In addition to fresh arrangements, dried flower bouquets are also available for sale. Dried the season before, these bouquets are a staple at Beth’s booth and are a nod to her days as a nursery employee when she would prepare dried flowers and deliver them to florists on her route.
Since coming to the market in 1981, back when members hauled canopies from a nearby warehouse that’s now Woods Coffee, Beth has had plenty of time to cultivate her selection, which now includes a lot more than just flowers. A wide assortment of fresh herbs like rosemary, basil, chervil and garlic also grace the stand. And some of these herbs even make it into Beth’s 12-ounce bottles of vinegar, seasonally prepared and infused with flavors like raspberry, dill and more. “The best seller is raspberry,” Beth says.
With so many herbs on hand, Beth uses some of them to create fragrant skincare products like salves, balms and bath elixirs. These items are scented with fragrances like rose, lavender, rosemary and citrus. All products are made by Beth from items sourced from her farm — this is where the real magic happens.
It is on her farm where Beth tends many of her plants from seeds and starts. Some of these plants are grown in hoop houses, and others are grown on cultivated land, such as Dahlia bulbs that are dug up and replanted each spring for a new crop. Beth experiments with different varieties, so there’s always something new growing. “This year’s favorite I’m calling fireball,” Beth says.
More casually grown are the euphorbias that flourish on the side of the road, easily seen by spectators driving past. “Filler” for bouquets come from several intentionally planted shrubs including honeysuckle, red twig dogwood and mock orange. Other additions to bouquets are gathered from surprise plants that sprouted from last year’s seeds, finding their own little niche on the farm.
In addition to the Bellingham Farmers Market, much of Beth’s plants go into custom bouquets and wreaths for weddings. Much preparation takes place to prepare for such large events and, depending on the season, Beth may have to special order a few varieties. But even if Beth is tied up putting the finishing touches on a special order, you can still find her booth at the market thanks to her longtime friend Jo Miller who tends to it when Beth is busy back at the farm.
Beth loves the Bellingham Farmers Market. For her, it’s a second home and a place where she can meet and mingle with friends and other vendors. “You feel like they are your family,” Beth says.
Around her regular provisions of flowers, herbs, salves and balms, keep an eye out for the occasional potted plant grown from one of Beth’s greenhouses. She will often bring a few along as they come into season. “I always have something new.”
For more information about Beth Hailey, special arrangments, seasonal offerings, and specialty items like infused vinegars and salves, visit Dona Flora Herbs and Flowers online, or stop by Beth’s booth at the Bellingham Farmers Market, Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.