A flower farm and a wine bar might seem like an unlikely pairing, but Marigold and Mint owner Katherine Anderson has created the perfect symbiotic relationship between the two. Anderson grew up gardening in the family backyard, and it eventually led her to start the flower farm in 2008 on a two-acre plot of land parceled off from a large tract her grandfather had bought in the 1950’s by the Snoqualmie River, 30 miles outside of Seattle. “I wanted to be my own boss and I knew I wanted to work with nature,” Anderson says. “Planting is intuitive, and I enjoy the freedom of growing whatever I want.” On the land, she grows both edible and non-edible flowers, including lilacs and apple blossoms in the spring, and marigolds and smokebush in the fall.
There is no green house on the property, and all plants are planted from bulbs or seeds, an impressive feat in Washington’s cold weather. In addition to herbs and flowers, Anderson also grows heirloom berries including blackberries and raspberries, which she harvests before they’re ripe and uses them in her flower arrangements. Her seeds are culled from multiple sources, including Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny’s Seeds, and Renee’s Garden Seeds.
Anderson originally sold flowers from the property out of the back of her van to wholesale flower markets, but wanting to be closer to her customers, opened her own flower shop in 2010, Marigold and Mint, in the Melrose Market in Seattle. While that might be enough for some entrepreneurs, Anderson wanted to broaden her horizons even further, and last year she teamed up with James Beard award-winning chef Matt Dillon to open The London Plane, a café/market/flower shop and The Little London Plane, a wine bar, event space, and gift shop featuring local artists, located in the newly-revitalized Pioneer Square district.
“Some of what is harvested from the farm will go to other florists, but the majority goes to Marigold and Mint, London Plane, and Dillon’s other restaurants in the area,” Anderson notes. Both The London Plane and The Little London Plane truly embrace the “farm-to-table” ethos, featuring Marigold and Mint’s bounty on their menus, including edible marigolds, lemon verbena, and chamomile, which is used to make not-to-be-missed chamomile ice cream.
While Anderson is happy with Mint and Marigold and the other projects she so deftly juggles, there is still room for growth, and she has ambitious plans for the future: “I love art, especially living art, and I’d like to work on more large-scale floral installations in art galleries or for weddings. There’s also the specialty food goods we sell in the store, like vinegar infused with tarragon from the farm.” She’s also plans to expand the London Plane Larder Share, which combines elements of a high-end CSA box with a monthly subscription box that contains prepared food from the restaurant’s kitchens, sourdough bread baked in-house, wine, flowers and retail goods from the shop.