Katie Grear looks out across the bare early-season fields of Lady Luck Flower Farm, watching her husband, Mike Adams, gently trickle fish emulsion over the frail celosia and amaranth starts. The June afternoon is sweltering, there’s haze obscuring Mount Pisgah, and the gnats are everywhere, but Grear positively beams as she tries to find words for the magic of flowers. “They’re just so … giving. They just give so much joy and so much beauty! I find it a really healing experience to be around them.”
Lucky for her, she gets to take in that healing vibe pretty much all the time. As the proprietors for the past three years of this farm on four acres of leased bottomland beside Hominy Creek in Candler, Grear and Adams spend their seasons nurturing an ever-rotating crop of 30 to 40 varieties of flowers, from tulips in the spring to dahlias in the fall, staggering plantings so there are always fresh blooms in their booth at the West Asheville tailgate market on Tuesdays. At this time of year, they’re also selling wholesale to the French Broad Food Co-Op and taking special orders; by July, the farm will be so abundant that they’ll offer u-pick by the five-gallon bucket. Most of the customers then will be bridal parties, bonding over a magical afternoon among the blooms.
Offering flowers for such personal rites of passage is a perfect fit for Grear, who takes the deep view of flowers and their place in our lives. Growing up in Asheville with parents she describes as “pretty normal,” she says she began to feel the pull of the flora as a young adult. “I just couldn’t imagine not working with plants, being outside. Being dirty!” Her journey has taken her from gardening work in Vermont, to a flower farm in Marshall, to the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Leicester, to her own landscaping business, before finally landing her here at Lady Luck. Now, just as she integrates herbs into her bouquets, she includes the spiritual and symbolic side of plants in her business. On hand at the market stand: The Master Book of Herbalism, a compendium of mystical plant lore.
As the sun sinks behind the ridge, Grear tells about her hopes for the future of the farm. The couple recently invested in their own land on Sugar Creek Road in Sandy Mush. Over the next two years, in addition to gradually transitioning the farm out there, Grear hopes to add a “horticultural therapy” component to their work, partnering with local nonprofits to create a retreat space in which flowers and plants could be used to facilitate healing from all types of abuse.
As Grear and Adams pose for photographs, there’s laughter about how the images won’t capture the discomforts of farm life: the sweat, the bug bites, the sunburns. Katie jokes, “Yeah, let’s just make it look like some kind of perfect, magical idyll!” Then she thinks for a few moments, before adding, “Which it is, really.”