When asked why flowers are both her passion and profession, Izy Martin-Garrison’s answer is a simple one – because of the joy they bring to her and to others. Izy is the owner of Rocky Floral in Bethany and, as of this spring, is also leasing growing space at Ives Farm in Cheshire.
The need to find additional land on which to grow more flowers was the biggest challenge Izy faced with meeting the demands of her business and that’s where the Cheshire Land Trust (CLT) came into the picture. She had been looking for additional acreage for over a year without success. However, she was familiar with land trusts from her own experience in Bethany and contacted Bill Stanley, president of the Cheshire Land Trust, this past spring to inquire about a possible rental agreement that would allow her to take on additional acreage to increase her flower inventory.
Bill recently observed: “Our shared commitment to sustainability and our shared belief in working with the land in the best ways possible meant that the CLT was a natural partner for Izy.” With the support of the land trust board, Izy is now growing classic summer annuals such as zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias, and flowering basil on a one-third acre plot at Ives Farm. As she looks to next year at Ives, she plans to add some cool hardy plants – perhaps larkspur, nigella, and scabiosa.
Izy’s passion for growing flowers dates back to high school when she raised flowers in containers on her parents’ porch. After college, Izy pursued a career as an engineer, working at Sikorsky Aircraft, but her interest in flowers was never far from her mind. Taking a plot in a community garden in 2017 with her husband rekindled that “love connection” with flowers.
For several years, Izy balanced her day job with growing flowers, officially launching her business in May of 2022. In March of 2023 she was able to devote herself fully to Rocky Floral. One of the great joys of Izy’s work is that first impression, the look on someone’s face when they get her flowers – either because she has created arrangements for a wedding or as a surprise gift.
Self-described as quirky and weird, Izy also prides herself on being approachable with a deep desire to make people laugh. She brings those same characteristics to her work with her customers where she strives to create an inclusive, welcoming space where there simply is no stupid question.
A grow room in her home allows her raise all of her flower stock from seed, achieving her goal of “babying” her flowers “from seed to vase.” In the summer, that same grow room becomes home to her work with dried flowers where she creates arrangements and installations for homes and small businesses. The challenges she faces are common to farmers everywhere – unpredictability and extremes in weather. This past spring was a perfect example with temperatures in the 90’s in April and frost in May. Because fluctuations are just part of farming life these days, she’s learned to roll with the punches and employs strategies to protect her plants from these unpredictable changes whenever possible.
Finding the balance with nature, working with the earth by providing pollinators for example, and striving for sustainable practices all motivate her work. When asked what advice she might give others looking to start a small business, she shared guidance she received when she was just starting out – document and photograph everything. Doing so allows one to share what you’re doing with others but also serves as a reminder of how much you’ve accomplished and provides encouragement to keep going.
For the home gardener, Izy recommends using native plants whenever possible. She cautions that some garden centers sell invasive species and researching what you should plant is the best first step. Whether she is providing flowers for a wedding or other special occasion, doing dried flower installations, hosting bouquet bars like the one she did recently in Southington, or offering floral CSAs (community supported agriculture and coming up next in September), Izy takes enormous pleasure in sharing the joy of flowers with others.
For more information, see Rocky Floral – www.rockyfloral.com.
The Cheshire Land Trust is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our primary source of funding is member dues and donations. We are not affiliated with any government organization. We encourage you to become a member, volunteer, donate land or money, or just join our mailing list! www.cheshirelandtrust.org