Native Poppy sources many of our blooms from local flower farms in San Diego!
We proudly partner with growers like Cielo Hills Flowers, run by sisters-in-law who grow specialty cut flowers in their backyards in Escondido.
Cielo Hills is one of four local growers who supply us with flowers for our locally-grown flower arrangements and flower wraps. Co-owners Jenn and Erin grow unique and long lasting cut flowers from their gardens, working together to plan and grow their crops as a team. They’ve transformed each of their properties into a floral paradise, even taking over the driveway in service of growing more beautiful blooms. We connected with Jenn and Erin to learn more about their work.
Q: What’s your favorite flower variety to grow? Which flower are you most proud of from this year’s harvest?
Jenn: It’s so hard to choose, but for me it would be Sweet Peas. There is just nothing like the fragrance, the ruffles, the wild curling foliage and having the sweet pea tunnel fully blooming in our backyard. One of the most nostalgic flowers, they continue to bloom for months and bring so much joy to friends and florists we meet.
Erin: Tulips are my favorite, and stand out the most from this year’s harvest. The tulips from this year that were grown in my garden had incredible colors that almost made them look hand-painted, with beautiful long stems, and so luscious they resembled peonies. They were incredible and it was pretty special to see them all blooming at once.
Q: This is truly a family-run business! What’s it like working together as sisters-in-law?
Jenn: It’s a huge benefit working together! Going to Auntie Erin’s is truly our kids’ favorite outing. They get to see the chickens, cats, dogs, and feed the rabbits! We bounce ideas off of each other, share podcasts we’ve listened to or books we’ve read, and support each other when we need it. By splitting the growing between us, we not only share responsibilities but seem to have an advantage to having two locations.
Although we are only 15 minutes apart, the same crop will bloom earlier at Erin's, which creates a nice succession and extends our harvest.
The kids lend a hand in the garden or the older ones watch the younger ones so we can get things done. Our husbands have been a huge support as well, always helping to get flower beds prepped, install and repair irrigation, or putting up fences to keep out critters.
Q: There’s a “buy local” movement for everything from fruits and veggies to handmade gifts. Why is it important to buy locally grown flowers?
Jenn: Having a more organic, whimsical feel, arrangements that are made with local, field-grown flowers really stand out, and are often difficult to replicate using imported flowers. Buying locally grown flowers (and in season) also means a longer vase life, since everything is picked to order and carefully processed.
All of the varieties we grow are carefully selected based on what grows best in our microclimates, what colors are most requested, and what varieties are hard to find. In addition to supporting our local economy, ecosystem, and curbing the material costs of fuel and pollution that come with lengthy transportation, our customers get to enjoy beautiful, special blooms that you probably won't find at the grocery store.
We put our love and energy into each crop and greatly enjoy the process of growth, both within our gardens and ourselves as growers.
Q: What interested you most about flower farming when you first got started?
Jenn: In 2015 our family moved to a small property where a Master Gardener used to live, and what started out as a quest for identifying each plant on the property quickly led to a new calling and flower obsession. I loved discovering new varieties I had never seen- we still have new things popping up this year from all the rain. Every year I’m trying to add new and sought-after varieties to the garden such as Dawn Creek Zinnias and Blush Agrostemma, King’s Ransom Sweet Peas, and an early-blooming Japanese Anemone.
Erin: Our family always wanted a large property to raise our kids and about six years ago we were able to buy a house with almost three acres. The property has a bunch of fruit trees and other plants, but there was still lots of empty space. I wanted to spend time out on the property growing something beautiful that I had brought to the property and flowers felt like the perfect choice.
It is a lot of hard, dirty work out in the garden, but the beauty that comes from it makes it all worth it.
Q: Do you keep count of how many stems you've harvested and varieties grown? What's a typical harvest like each year?
Erin: We keep track of it all! Last year we grew 43 different varieties and this year we have grown 57 different varieties so far. We harvest a mix of perennials, CA Natives, hardy annuals and even tomato and sugar snap pea vines to keep a consistent supply and variety of flowers over our growing season. Today alone we harvested about 800 stems. We cut two or three days per week during our growing season which runs from February to October.
Q: Your tulips and ranunculus were some of the biggest we’ve ever seen! Tell us a bit about your growing methods?
Erin: We grow all of our tulips in crates! This method does not take up any of our flower bed space and gives us better control over the conditions.
As always with farming, it has been a lot of trial and error! Since we had so much rain and cool weather this year, it also contributed to producing a more abundant Spring. We do not use any chemical sprays and utilize high quality compost, compost teas, and beneficial insects.
Q: How do flower gardens improve the soil and support pollinators? Is it good luck to find an insect in a bouquet?
Jenn: Growing flowers can make a huge improvement to your soil! They can affect everything from soil structure, healthy organisms, and replenishing the soil's nutrients, which ultimately gives us fertile gardens and an abundance of blooms. We focus on biodiverse plantings that incorporate a variety of crops to limit pest and weed pressure, restore healthy ecosystems within our yards and create a natural habitat for our birds and pollinators.
This is especially important to us and local farmers to protect our declining bee populations. Finding an insect in your bouquet is proof that you received natural, local flowers grown without pesticides.
Q: What’s your favorite part of selling locally grown flowers directly to florists?
Jenn: When we meet with florists we will frequently walk around the garden and ask if they would like to trial new varieties, ask their opinion on what is on-trend or what they'd like to see us grow, gush on the new pretty varieties or laugh at our failures.
Our flower community here is strong, and time after time we have seen the kindness and appreciation of florists.
They've donated extra flowers to our kids’ school, offered to be a pick-up spot for our flowers, brought coffee to keep us going, the list goes on. We love working with our florists, but most of all they have truly become great friends who are just as passionate about flowers as we are.