Tulips to Treasure

I’m sending my mom tulips for Mother’s Day. She is at home in Baltimore and I live on the west coast in a small town that has a delightfully mild climate. Arcata, California is known for its giant coastal redwoods, the cool sea, lush grasses that feed our livestock most of the year and, surprisingly, flowers.

The Sun Valley Floral Farm out in the Arcata Bottoms is one of the largest growers of tulips in the country. That seems pretty impressive until you consider the fact that only 20% of cut flowers purchased in the U.S. are actually grown here. I am excited to be able to send home not only a local product, but a uniquely domestic one too. Feeling patriotic? Oh, wait – it’s not July yet. Send your mom an American Grown bouquet this year!


In my family, tulips have a special memory attached to them. When mom sees the big red tulip blossoms, I know they will remind her of my grandfather- her dad. Pop-pop served our country during WWII. After raising four kids and retiring, he and nan-nan started Rothwell Nursery- not for the profit in it, but for joy. Sharing the beauty of flowers was my grandfather’s passion.

Pop-pop planted so many places in Aberdeen, Maryland: funeral homes, on and off ramps, the Decoy Museum and the Ripken Museum too. I remember when I had just gotten my learners’ permit pop-pop let me drive him around town. We drove by median strips he had filled with dandelions and stopped at all of his plantings. I brought my film camera and took pictures of his work.  It was a special time where we shared our passions together. I made a book of the pictures and gave it to him. I will always remember that day; as he flipped through the pages of my creation and cried with joy.

His favorite flower was always tulips. When we visited the Ripken Museum he showed me two huge rectangular beds full of red tulips blooming. They were tightly planted and all the same height making a spectacular splash of color! I remember those plantings in particular filled him with great joy.

Upon visiting Sun Valley Farm, I found endless greenhouses full of the same. They so reminded me of pop-pop’s work that I just knew he was there smiling with me. Sun Valley grows their flowers not only on American soil, but in it as well (unlike the hydroponic tulips you get from Holland). It makes for a better quality cut flower. This way, mom has a few extra days to enjoy her bouquet.

crate bunch

My pop-pop had the most generous heart and that is the legacy he left us in each bulb that blooms year after year. My mother shares his open, giving approach to life. When she receives those tulips from me, I know she will remember.

Flowers have this inexplicable way of expressing the sweetness that we feel about someone. When we give a bunch, they carry a certain ‘I don’t know what’ quality that reflects the emotion we want to share. Chances are that your mom will be deeply moved by the gesture. Send her a token of your love & appreciation on Sunday and make sure they are American Grown.

Stand Out in the crowd


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