New York Magazine

Gather the Flower Girls

On a tiny farm in Washington State, one woman’s floral workshops have become something of a sensation.
Flowers and Vase #1. Floret Flower Farm, 2017. Abelardo Morell created this image using multiple exposures of different bouquets against a still background.

IN 2013, Erin Benzakein was a moderately successful flower farmer in Washington’s Skagit Valley, about an hour north of Seattle. She and her husband, Chris, met in high school and had come to the valley a dozen years before, as young urbanites in search of a rural dream, and bought a house on an acre of land. Surrounded by modest farms, the place wasn’t much to look at: vinyl siding, an old garage out back. By then, the couple had a daughter. (A son was born 19 months later.) While Chris found work as a mechanic, Benzakein, who had been a landscaper in Seattle, looked for ways to earn money at home. She tried candle-making, growing baby vegetables, a rainbow-egg business with a hundred chickens. But, she said, “I didn’t make any money, and there was poop everywhere.” The flower idea came five years later, in 2006, when she saw an article by the floral designer Ariella Chezar on arranging clematis. This totally blew Benzakein’s mind, because she’d always considered it an extravagance to cut garden flowers like clematis and bring them inside. They were for display in the garden. Which is largely why almost no one in the Skagit Valley

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from New York Magazine

New York Magazine4 min read
14 Feather Your Nest
Get a Wheelie Bag That Can Carry 100 Pounds of Groceries Hulken Bag, $55 at hulkenbag.com “In the very best of times, going to the grocery can be a bit chaotic—a word that now doesn’t begin to describe the experience. Trying not to touch anything m
New York Magazine4 min read
27 Read Like The Wind
IN A NOD TO THE PANDEMIC—several weeks before it was real and fatal on our shores—I started reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. The main character is a spoilt (not spoiled, spoilt) German guy luxuriating in an alpine sanatorium. After 200 pages
New York Magazine5 min read
1 Slow Down
it’s quite possible that by the end of all this, almost every American will know of someone who has died. A relative, a friend, an old high-school classmate … the names will pop up and migrate through Facebook as the weeks go by, and in a year’s time