The California coast is known for its array of u-pick farms. Strawberry, blackberry, logan berry, olallieberry, and of course, world-class pumpkin picking. The u-pick farms encourage you to eat all you want, and then go home with more. It keeps us coming back year after year. But who would have thought, there’d be u-pick Dahlia farm just a short drive down the coast. Dahlias span rainbow of colors, shapes, and sizes, which makes me think they are the perfect summer flower.
So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we drove down the coast, parked on the small town main street, and walked along a short dirt road to explore this one of a kind dahlia farm.
A variety of chalkboard signs pointed the way towards a small white barn with black trim, labeled The Pescadero Flowery.
We were greeted and introduced to bright green pails and short green gardening sheers. The girls and I were let loose into the dahlia fields with the simple guidance not to pick the flowers yellowing in the center and to select the ones with tight centers for the longest life.
“Two dollars a stem,” she told us as she sent us on our way.
Long rows of brightly colored blooms dotted neatly planted rows. An abundance of color washed over me. I wanted one of each.
Ava ran off quickly, deep into the garden and jumped right into snipping her favorite blooms. She popped up near me with a giggle and a big swath of golden pollen swiped across her forehead.
She seemed unaware that she earned her flower picking badge of honor.
I helped Mia. She examined each bush carefully, pointed to the one she liked, and I snipped. Then it was my turn…
There were sunshiney yellow blooms as big as my hand. Valentine red ones pulsed in rowdy clusters. Delicate white dahlias tipped in vivid violet reached for the sky. Round as an orange, tangerine colored ones blushed in the late day sun. Stems of innocent paper whites and hot pink cotton candy fluff blossoms tempted me. I chose and snipped carefully.
When we finished our bouquets, a man with long blond hair took our flowers, trimmed the stems, and placed them back into our buckets. We carried our bouquets into the barn and the shop keeper wrapped each one into a wet paper towel and plastic; she carefully arranged crinkly brown paper around each bouquet. A delicate sticker with rounded edges held the wrapped paper closed.
Both girls held their bouquets tightly. There was also a succulent garden area, where you could assemble your own garden with creative pots, colored glass, dirt, and a variety of succulents. I made a mental note to save that project for another day.
Dahlia happy, we walked slowly back to the main road. Color radiating from our arms. Happiness of a freshly picked bouquets washed over us with each bouquet as unique as the girl who picked it.
As we stepped off the dirt road and back onto the sidewalk, we passed a sign nailed to a bright red shed with blue window frame. I read it and smiled knowing its truth.
The truth in it being end of day with the sun low in the sky. The truth that we smelled of dirt, flowers, and sunshine. Mission accomplished.