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December 06, 2016
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Tastemaker: Katharine Brown; From hobbyist to flower professional

Perenniel peonies make for perenniel favorites this time of year, and they’re always pretty in pink.
TRR photo by Jane Bollinger

Katharine Brown has been gardening all her life, growing up in Colorado (with its short growing season); later, working in a nursery in New Hampshire; and then, after moving to Oregon Township, Wayne County, PA, turning her yard into a large and ever-expanding flower garden. Her personal passion for growing flowers now flourishes as a successful small business—selling cut flowers; making arrangements and bouquets for all occasions; and offering consulting on garden design, plus helping with installation and construction. It’s part of a larger business named Fox Hill Farm Experience, Inc. in which she and her husband, George Brown, raise beef cattle and occasionally welcome tourists to their farm. Katharine’s sense of design has made her talents much in demand.

Recently, we sat down with Katharine Brown to hear her story and to learn what we could about flowers.

An interview with JANE BOLLINGER

Personal story

Q: How did it come about that you turned your yard over to flowers?

A: Ten years ago George and I bought the farm from my father-in-law. It was a complete blank slate—three maple trees, a rundown shack, a garage and a house. That was it. Having gardened all my life—which sounds crazy because I’m from Colorado, where there’s a three-month growing season—I thought, now is the chance for me to garden. So, every season, I put in a new bed.

One weekend George was out of town, and I purchased a tractor because it was 0% APR financing. Also, I had a neighbor who had manure. For me, those were the key ingredients: a tractor and good manure.

After our two children were born, I took time off from teaching, but I couldn’t sit still, and I started doing bouquets from the garden. People started asking me to help with their gardens. Then, I started doing the farmers’ market. It just kept building.

Now, people call me for bouquets for birthdays and other special occasions. I’m doing more weddings—it’s really fun to be part of that couple’s happy day. Finally, I’m doing quite a bit of garden design.

Q: How did the business come about? Did you sit down and write a business plan?

A: I did. My husband, George, has a master’s degree in business, and he’s not one to let me just go off willy-nilly, although I try. We even incorporated—it’s Fox Hill Farm Experience, Incorporated now.

Q: When you first started your gardens, was there a design plan?