By Tara Roberts
For Inland 360
Fresh flowers bring a burst of sunshine into your home as the final days of summer wane. You can purchase bouquets from local farm stands and florists, but picking your own provides extra fun.
But how to get them, short of stripping your garden bare or sneaking into the neighbor’s yard in the dead of night with a set of clippers and no remorse?
The quad-cities aren’t home to many u-pick options, but fresh blooms can be found. In Lewiston, the city will allow some picking from its signature Rose Garden (2031 N & S Highway) with a permit from Lewiston Parks & Recreation. But the area’s true u-pick destination is tucked among the Palouse hills at Stratton’s Cutting Garden just outside Pullman.
The 2.25-acre garden began as a dried-flowers operation in the early 1990s and transitioned to a cutting garden (formerly known as Sunshine Crafts and Flowers) in 1998, said Jane Stratton, who co-owns the garden with Christine Stratton-Hanson.
The family plants more than 150 types of flowers and plants, with different varieties in bloom from tulips in late April to pumpkins and decorative gourds in October.
“We really get going when our peonies start blooming — we have 600 peony plants,” Stratton said. “In June is when it really blasts.”
But never fear: plenty of great picks are left. At the end of August and early September, you’ll find sunflowers, snapdragons, zinnias, asters, statice, globe amaranth and more.
The garden’s self-service instructions, posted by the parking area, are simple: Drop-in anytime during daylight hours, take the provided clippers, wander the garden, fill a pail (or two or 10) with flowers and drop your payment in the yellow mailbox. Each pail picked costs $8.
For the best u-pick experience, Stratton recommends exploring beyond the flowers you see first.
“It’s really heavily picked by the driveway, even by me,” she said. “When it’s hot, it’s hard to make yourself walk out and look back, but there are a lot of things that don’t show up from the driveway.”
I’ll add that it’s wise to bring a water bottle — and don’t be afraid to take the whole family. The family kindly shares a playground space for young visitors who run out of patience for selecting the perfect stalk of pink snapdragons.
Once you’ve got your supplies and a happy crew, follow your mood and imagination to craft a bouquet that’s uniquely you. On a recent excursion to the farm, my mom strategically picked my dad’s favorite flowers for a well-balanced bunch, while my son and I opted for the more chaotic “one flower of every color of every variety we could fit in the pail” method.
Whatever your approach, the result will be lovely—and will remind you of the long, sunny months that brought the flowers to life.
Roberts is a writer and mom who lives and works in Moscow and is very slowly pursuing her master’s degree in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Stratton’s Cutting Garden
WHERE: 1653 Old Moscow Rd., Pullman
COST: $8 a pail
CONTACT: (509) 332-2306