20 Years Ago

Teresa Sabankaya's Flower Stall circa 2005

Twenty years have now passed since I opened my retail flower shop, The Bonny Doon Garden Company. This is the sweet little kiosk in downtown Santa Cruz where I spent many days and all sorts of weather schlepping buckets of flowers, sharing stories with countless passerby folks, and gaining my knowledge and florists' feet in the world of cut-flower gardening, floral design, and retailing blooms.

There’s been so much that’s happened since then. Foremost, I think of my then little girls, 10 & 7 years old, that would spend their afternoons and most Saturdays downtown at this place. They did homework up on the tiny counters inside, or sitting out on the sidewalk among the blooms in a little folding chair. Both of them always wanted to play in the flowers, tie bows with the ribbons, or find any reason to use the water hose to ‘spray down’. Now they’re 30 & 27. How on earth did that happen? They’re off doing their own things now and I’m still here playing in flowers!!! Time flies—

And then the book that put us on the map, or my business on the map I should say, Flower Confidential, by Amy Stewart. What a time that was! Because of Amy and her book’s success at climbing the NYT’s Bestseller list, we were featured in/on multiple media outlets. We relished our time in the spotlight of CBS’s Sunday Morning, many radio shows, a PBS documentary, and even more newspapers and magazines. From my perspective, my business principles, and my way of doing and seeing things was an engaging topic for media. But I was simply doing what I thought was the best in the way of a business’ foundation (how you operate), my personal environmental beliefs, and the desire to change floristry the way it was then, which was highly commercialized and a far cry from the nostalgic and gloriously beautiful, ephemeral delights we knew as a flower. They should be fragrant, billowy, and something so beautiful to look at and surround yourself in. And they had to be locally grown, if not grown myself. That’s how I built my business.

And today, although I’m no longer in that kiosk, but have come full circle back to my Santa Cruz Mountain, Bonny Doon Studio, which sits overlooking a garden I’ve cultivated for 25+ years, I still practice the same principles. Flowers make us happy. They remind us of people, places, and things. They speak volumes to us. It’s our job to listen and entrust them to convey our innermost thoughts and feelings. And as I embark on another tier of my floral career, my new book, Modern Floriography, I can assure you I’ll still be sharing the beauty that our flowers and gardens have for us, just as I always have.

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