The Florist That Began in the Garden

“It all began in the garden.” Yes, indeed, it did for Bonny Doon Garden Company — a Florist in Santa Cruz since 1999. For Teresa’s most recent Posy Workshop I had the pleasure of spending the day in Bonny Doon, at Castle House & Gardens preparing the studio and cutting flowers and herbs from the garden. There is something beyond magical up there.

Surrounded by endless redwoods, soothing air, beautiful gardens and lots of loyal furry animals of course! I couldn’t help but get lost in reflection and gratitude for being in the floral industry with Teresa for 13 plus years.

In The Beginning…

My loyal garden companion

I had been a florist for about 5 years before I met Teresa. Being an early twenty-something, I thought I knew all there was about the trade (Now I know you never stop learning!) I moved from Carmel to Santa Cruz in 2003 and quickly put my resume in at this adorable little florist inside a kiosk in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. It was bursting with gorgeous blooms, plants and local artisan gifts. Teresa called me for an interview. We met at Lulu’s over coffee and I instantly felt at home. Our aesthetics and passion seemed to match! Due to life circumstances beyond my control, I moved away from Santa Cruz a few times, but Teresa has always found a home for me at Bonny Doon Garden Company when I returned. Now, 13 years later, she trusts me as her lead designer/manager of the shop now located inside New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz. Our shared passion for flowers has only deepened as florists. We still get that euphoric feeling when looking at a beautiful blossom or flower arrangement. It keeps me going when times are tough.

How Did the Florist Begin in the Garden?

How did the florist begin in the garden? Teresa started growing flowers on her and her husband’s family property and had such an abundance she decided to sell her blooms, starting at New Leaf Market where we are located now! That quickly brought Teresa to that little kiosk to open her own flower shop. I continue to be amazed by watching the growth of our company, and ever so grateful to be a part of the Slow Flowers movement with emphasis on local flowers and supporting your community. With everything that’s going on in this world it’s important to find at least one thing you are grateful for and hold on to it. The world is still full of beauty in people and in nature. Literally, it’s important to stop and smell the roses!


I look forward to what the future holds for Bonny Doon Garden Company as I continue this flower-filled journey!

Your Grateful Florist,

Dawn Mayer

True Flowers

Mother’s Day is 8 days away, so no better time to write this post.  Recently one of our Facebook followers advised us that under every one of our posts on Facebook (which usually comes from our Instagram posts) there is an advertisement from the Bouqs Company to buy their flowers with discounts or other promotions they’re running.  This infuriates me for two reasons:

1.  I have absolutely no control over this!  Facebook advertising is a loose cannon.  Sure, I can spend a wad of money to put my message out there, and I will do a campaign here shortly for Mother’s Day, but I really don’t know where my ad lands on people’s feeds.  My ad could also land under some other flower shop’s Facebook post. And maybe I don’t want to be listed under (or anywhere) around another flower shop, and I’m sure they don’t want that either!

2. My business policy, my brand and my theory is absolutely opposite of that of the Bouqs company or any other online order gathering type flower business.  But yet someone looking at my Facebook posts–around Mother’s Day, is going to see these ads from the Bouqs company and they’ll probably click on that thinking that they’ll get something comparable to what would come from my shop. WRONG.  I don’t import ‘Volcano’ roses from Ecuador.  I source ALL LOCAL, AMERICAN grown flowers.  There is a big difference between what I do and what a huge company like the Bouqs company does.  But Facebook doesn’t recognize this so it places ads that that have some of the same search and keyword criteria that match. So it is what it is….

For Mother’s Day, I offer the following suggestions, and I will market and advertise this blog post the best I can so that I can get these suggestions out to all the folks who want to send Mom some really, really good local flowers, designed by florists who adhere to certain design principles and business practices.

How to find your source:

  1. Do a local search for flower shops.  You have to type in a city or zip code so the search engine can find a region, otherwise you’re going to get Pro Flowers, FTD, etc., all the huge nationwide order-gatherers and wire service type companies.
  2. Better yet, go to  This is a nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers.  There is a ‘Find Flowers’ box right on the home page and all you need is the city!  There are some amazing and fantastic florists, shops and studios and I completely trust the aesthetics of their design work as well as their commitment to using local and American grown flowers.  You’ll find me here :)

Now, let’s do a visual comparison for fun~

Bouqs Co – $50 ships direct from eco-friendly, sustainable farms on a Volcano to your recipient’s door. But it’s in a box, and there’s a big carbon footprint. Why not just use the sources mentioned above and use a local flower shop or studio?

Custom Wrap

Bonny Doon Garden Co- custom wrap, starting at $65. Can be designed to your request including flowers and colors, all local and/or at least American grown flowers!


LET’S KEEP OUR FLOWERS TRUE!  Shop local or at least make sure the flower vendor you’re using to send flowers uses American Grown Flowers



Mother’s Day Posy Workshop-a gift from the garden

I spent some lovely and inspiring time in the garden late this afternoon.  In preparation for the Mother’s Day Posy Workshop, I puttered through gathering ingredients to make a Posy that I can use in social media.  While doing so, I thought about why I do this, specifically, dreaming of the language of flowers and their sentiments.  There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that these dainty blooms seems so innocent in their ephemeral beauty, but their messages in the language of flowers leaves you with such a dramatic impact.  Posies are highly impactful to their recipient and highly memorable.  I love that!  I love looking out into the gardens or woods and contemplating all the sentiments held in those leaves, stems and blooms.  I love making these sentiments in flowers, Posies.  I love teaching others too.  That’s why I’m so excited about our upcoming Mother’s Day Posy Workshop!

Here’s the Posy I made this evening.  I selected ingredients with sentiments that would be appropriate for all the mothers in our lives, and all levels of mothers too!



All of these ingredients came directly from the garden.  You don’t need to have an extensive garden either.  At my workshop, I’m going to show you how you can gather (forage) for your selections from what you have growing in your yard, garden, and even patio pots!

I hope you can join us for our Mother’s Day Posy Workshop planned for May 7th.  I cannot wait to share what I know with all the guests.  By the time we’re done we’ll have some posy-making fiends…just like me!  Here are the details.  We’ve capped it at 12 guests, so sign up soon!  We’d love to have you.

May 7th, 2-4 pm

Hosted by Teresa & Dawn- Bonny Doon Garden Company

at New Leaf’s Community Classroom- Westside Santa Cruz


For Mother Rose; love & beauty Lavender; devotion Coral Bells; challenge & hard work Rosemary; remembrance Wisteria; daughter's sweetness Guelder Rose; winter, age Scented Geranium; comfort Rice Flower; longevity

For Mother Rose; love & beauty Lavender; devotion Coral Bells; challenge & hard work Rosemary; remembrance Wisteria; daughter’s sweetness Guelder Rose; winter, age Scented Geranium; comfort Rice Flower; longevity

Bloom Day- April

It’s time again to post what’s blooming in the garden. There are so many more blooms, but I just want to highlight just a few.  It amazes me–the transformation in such a short period of time. Wasn’t this bush just a little bare twig 3 weeks ago? And now, you’d have to be an octopus to gather the luscious branches up into your arms!

This really is my favorite time of year in the garden.  The awakening of leafless branches with green furls barely ready to explode.  And when they do, I find myself drawn down to walk through the garden more than once daily, because a lot happens in just a day!  The difference between early morning and late evening in the spring garden is astounding.  I also like to admire the spontaneous and confused blossoms.  The ones that thought it was summer back in February when we had a few warm and sunny days, and began it’s risky dance with weather conditions…and won!

I hope you all can get out there and look around and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you in the spring garden!




Shooting Star Hydrangea


Snowball Viburnum


a ‘found’ rose


Melianthus Major aka Honeybush





Unknown (from China directly) Tree Peony


White Parrot Tulip




You’re only as good as…

I had a bit of quiet time this afternoon, so I thought I should really take a peek at the calendar for this year and make sure we’re not double booking and overlapping things.  I’m speaking from experience :)  So as I was looking at all the fun weddings coming up, the speaking engagements, the workshops, travel, and all these good things I am reminded of how lucky I am to have the ladies & gentleman I have behind me.  The power houses at weddings, delivery drivers, bucket washers, floor-scrubbers and errand runners.  All of these girls and Charlie too–I’m so fortunate to have them as my staff, the ‘doon crew’.  But no one more than my front-runner gal Dawn.  She’s my rock.  Always steady and ready.  Sweet and calm, funny and always by my side motivating me and holding me up when I need it.  And I cannot even go there with her design skill.  WAY back in 2003, when I first stole her from a shop in Carmel Valley, I almost fell over when she showed me pictures of her work.  Wow!  I was hooked and had to have her.  From that day on I have never, ever regretted having her part of my life and team.  I owe a lot of what I can do today—especially be away from the shop for days on end and I know she’s got it covered.  I am SO lucky to have her.  I can sleep at night and in order for me to be successful, that’s necessary.  It’s a demanding business and takes a lot out of you.  I am so grateful I have Dawn to relieve some of the pressure.  She’s enabled me to be able to take the next step forward and to dream bigger.  And I thank her for that.  Cheers to Dawn!Dawn

Bloom Day -March 1, 2016

Today is March 1st, and I’ve just committed to getting out the camera and taking a stroll (clippers in hand, of course) to take pictures of what’s blooming in the garden.  I’ll be sharing this on the blog every month, on or around the 1st.  I’ll call it Bloom Day :)  I did this a while back, and got some great feedback, so let me know if you like it please!

You may or may not know, that really what started my business was growing flowers, shrubs, herbs, vines, etc. (especially flowers).  This is what prompted me to begin my floral design career.  Today, I still put in  a few new shrubs and green ‘structural’ cutting materials annually,  and I’ll never stop planting and growing the superstar flowers such as Dahlia & old garden Roses.  Today I’ve captured some images of some of my die-hard garden and cutting and selling work horses.  These are just a few, more to follow as things awaken in the cutting garden.

Narcissus 'Talia'

Narcissus ‘Talia’

Leucadendron laureolum. You can see in the background it's too leggy--not enough sun. Another project..move to a sunnier spot!

Leucadendron laureolum. You can see in the background it’s too leggy–not enough sun. Another project..move to a sunnier spot!



Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia

I'm pretty sure we'll get some plums this year!

I’m pretty sure we’ll get some plums this year!

And of course, never forget the Forget-me-nots!

And of course, never forget the Forget-me-nots!



Flower House Workshop

Hey folks!  I just attended an amazing workshop hosted by Three Sisters Custom Flowers & Events.  The workshop was held by Lisa Waud and Heather Saunders of the Flower House Detroit project.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the The Flower House, especially if you’re in the industry.  You would have had to been asleep all last year if you haven’t heard of this amazing collaborative effort!  In brief, Flower House Detroit is a contemporary floral design installation in an abandoned foreclosed house in Detroit.  How cool is that? Be sure to check it out here with amazing images by Heather Saunders (who is going to be putting out the Flower House Book soon!!!!)

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So the workshop—here we are, all together, these amazing creative women- 8 of us (I’ll consider myself amazing and creative for the efforts of flourishing this post!) to create some amazing installations in preparation for the dinner that evening.  The space that we worked in was not all that large, but big enough where it felt a little imposing as Lisa laid out the ‘plan’.  She wanted the focus to be on a collaboration of creativity in designing flower installations and she emphasized she wanted to see some levitation and elevations.  Hmm. I’m afraid of ladders.  Right?  An event stylist, designer and installer….afraid of ladders.  So we broke off into teams shortly after we all brainstormed our ideas.  We come up with a doorway installation hung from a big RED pipe above the entrance door, and then another installation to be seen as you enter off on the wall and ceiling, above a sliding frosted glass door.  In my opinion, that space demaned something elevated and levitated, to catch the light in the evening.  Plus, Susan of Three Sister so generously allowed us use of all her props, and there was Old Redwood Barn lumber!!!!!!!!! Yeah!


And here we go…the daunting task of hanging the old barn wood.  Thank goodness my partner wasn’t as queasy on the ladder as I was!








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Looking good!

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Look at that foraged Dill!

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Front entrance installation (chicken wire)

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the Moody result



















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New Flower Friends for life!

the NEW Year

Happy New Year!  I love this first week of January when my mind does double duty.  First, I love to reflect on the past year–what did I accomplish? What made me happy? What made me sad? What milestones happened? What about my daughters?  What were their achievements and what made them happy? And then this new year–it’s mine! By the grace of God, I’m here.  Another year to do with what we want.   It’s exciting!  Especially when you line some things up that mean the world to you.  My oldest daughter finished college in December–yeah! And now she’s starting her career as a Special Education Teacher.  And my youngest is about to embark on her secondary education, which is Herbology….super cool :) I’m so proud of them both.

For me, part of my plan for the year is to continue to build and develop the retail store.  I am heavily focused on LOCAL artisans more than ever, and we are totally blessed in the Santa Cruz area with an abundance of highly artistic folks who make a living selling their wares.  I love our artisans!  We are so excited with the lineup!  This is not all, but just a peek ;)

Dewdrop HoopsTurquoise Earrings with Feather DropLong Necklace in Amber Frost by Wild Iris Studio / Jewelry Santa Cruz, California

Wild Iris Studio–of course, it wouldn’t be Bonny Doon Garden Co. without Wild Iris Studio.  We’ll continue this line, but also introduce the secondary line from this fabulous artist- SALT California


Let’s Put a Bird On It (not your grandma’s candles)  How adorably cute!  These are a brand new product and we’re so excited to stock this line!

Image of MERMAID• Apricot Wax• 8oz• Vegan // Sustainable // Eco-Friendly Candle

We will always…as long as we can, stock Deer Haven Herb & Flower Farm’s dried lavender bunches.  For years and years I have searched for the perfect lavender to dry where it doesn’t look dehydrated and faded.  This is amazing stuff!  We sell ‘bunches’ of this, everyone loves it.  Besides, she’s my friend and neighbor too.

And speaking of Lavender, we will always have the magnificent Bonny Doon Farm essential oils and selected gift items.  BDF and me go way back, and I feel so honored to be a stockist for just a few of their amazing products.


And of course, we’ll keep our pop-up display of the Slowcoast items such as the Causebars, Turtle T-shirts, hoodies & the amazing Bluemind books.  Because we believe in our beautiful coast and the artisans that call it home. Being a Slowcoast Authentic Artisan myself, this is close to my heart.  Proceeds when purchasing these items from my store go for a great cause–ocean preservation, and environmental stewardship.


…and more to come on this as I am on a continuous mission to feature our locals’ many talents.  I’ll also be bloggin’ more.  Yep, that’s a resolution and commitment.  I am working on a life-long-dream project this year. It’s secret for now but I promise I’ll share more not too far into the year.

May all of you be blessed with love and happiness this year. xoxo




Winding down

It was 34 degrees in Bonny Doon last night. Brr.  Yesterday when I walked (actually ran, with clippers in hand as usual) through the garden cutting greens for the shop, I knew it would be the last time I’d see the green on some of the die-hard perennials & annuals.  And the last beautiful crimson leaves of the Viburnum were hitting the ground when I blew by too.  So today during some quiet reflection time I began the long process of sorting all the images I’ve slammed my hard drive with of this past wedding & event season.  It’s always so fun to look back at the beauty we created for our weddings.  You just don’t have time to reflect when you’re producing back-to-back.  Once you’re done with one Saturday wedding, Sunday morning you’re already erasing that one and your creative wheel starts turning and churning out inspiration for the next Saturday’s wedding.  So sit back and relax, and enjoy some highlights from the 2015 wedding and event season.

Erin + Luke: Castle House

Erin + Luke: Castle House

Erin + Luke: Castle House

Erin + Luke: Castle House

Linnea + Colin: Roaring Camp

Lavender Maid's Bouquets

Lavender Maid’s Bouquets

Nancy + Joe: Devine Ranch

Nancy + Joe: Devine Ranch

Julieta + Aaron: Quail Hollow

Julieta + Aaron: Quail Hollow

Erin + Luke; Castle House

Erin + Luke: Castle House

Julieta + Erin: Quail Hollow

Julieta + Erin: Quail Hollow

Green Curtain installation at Roaring Camp

Green Curtain installation at Roaring Camp

Rachael + Spencer: Castle House

Rachael + Spencer; Castle House

Julieta + Aaron: Quail Hollow

Julieta + Aaron: Quail Hollow

Seaside Inspired Shoot

Seaside Inspired Shoot with eevents co

Yes, we're tired of doing bottle composites, but then we see this

Yes, we’re tired of doing bottle composites, but then we see this

Villa Viscaya

Chuppa installation at Villa Viscaya

Custom doors at Devine Ranch

Custom doors at Devine Ranch

Chuppa Tied Bunch

Chuppa Tied Bunch

Nancy + Joe with custom door entrance

Nancy + Joe with custom door entrance

Erin & Luke – Castle House Wedding

There are great and fun weddings, and then there was this wedding.  Everything about it was fun, funny, beautiful, whimsical & oh so full of love!  I love our clients!  We just seem to attract some pretty awesome folks here at Castle House and I love it! Erin and Luke–I wish you all the best in your new lives together, and thanks for letting us be a part of your totally awesome wedding!

Thanks for the photos @Adriane White Photography