Lima woman grows business
By Adrienne McGee Sterrett
It’s such a simple idea, but it has a grand effect.
Earlier this summer, Julie King opened a flower stand called Bountiful Blooms set up in The Olde Thyme Pantry parking lot in Elida, up near Elida Road. The small stained wood structure features shelves with cut flower arrangements displayed for purchase. A sign explains the simple pricing, and a money box mounted on the wall accepts payment on the honor system.
That part couldn’t be easier. It’s the choosing that’s tough.
Each arrangement is nestled into a canning jar, quarts and pints. The style is cohesive — leaning toward the natural, unfussy end of the spectrum. The similarities end there.
Some jars are a cacophony of color, snapdragons and zinnias bursting out all over. Others are a variation on a theme, with shades of maroons and purples, for instance. There is a jar for every mood.
“We try to have a variety of colors,” she said.
The difficult artistic choices King is faced with on making those arrangements become clear after a visit to her family’s home just north of Lima. It’s a business her Old German Baptist Brethren family works together on. Her father bought more farm ground from her uncle, and part of that purchase went toward King’s flower beds — all 450 feet of them.
“There’s some stuff that’s gotten too much rain, but you’ll have that,” she said, her tan Rocket Dog tennis shoes peeking out from the hem of her dress as she strode confidently through her garden. She pointed out gomphrena and statice, celosia and scabiosa and much more. A flower garden could not be tidier.
She stopped at a light purple flower that at first glance looks rose-like. Lisianthus. It’s her favorite.
“It’s just kind of a dressy flower. I just like it,” she said, explaining she has read they’re hard to start.
That’s all it took for her to want to grow it. It has been a successful experiment.
“It never hurts to try something,” King said.
King, 26, used to work at a greenhouse, where she learned about raising flowers.
“I really like working with plants and being outside,” she said. “I used to spend summers in Pennsylvania doing produce out there.”
She learned vegetable gardening is not her favorite, but she saw a woman in Pennsylvania doing a similar cut-flower business there.
Combine all these experiences, add some time to ponder and plan, and a business was born. Her dad built a greenhouse out back for King’s starts in March and converted a shed to a “cooler” by insulating it and adding a window air conditioner. Her brother and dad built the stand itself, King stained it and her sister painted the business logo on the side. Her sister and friend also help design and make the arrangements.
“I definitely couldn’t do it without all their help,” she said.
King works at The Olde Thyme Pantry, so she simply brings the flowers with her to work when she goes. Any left that evening come back home with her.
It’s the first year for this effort, and King is still learning — and happy with the outcome thus far. The stand will continue up until a killing frost this fall and reopen next summer.
“Just over time I’ve gotten more used to them and what they need. I just think I like being outside, and that’s where the flowers are.”
Plan to stop by
The stand runs with the same hours as The Olde Thyme Pantry: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Pints are $8 and quarts are $12, unless otherwise marked.
The stand will be moved back to the King home after the season ends in October, but they plan to reopen next summer.
The jars contain plant food. Refill as needed, but do not dump out the original water.
Buyers may trim a half inch off the bottom of each stem once home to extend the life of the blooms.
Why canning jars?
“It was just an easy base, and jars are cool,” King said.