ABINGDON, Va. — For Deni Peterson, growing flowers is both a hobby and an art.
“I grow my own flowers and dry them in my house,” said Abingdon resident Peterson.
She raises a variety of flowers at the Blue Door Garden. She takes care of weddings. And she sells her harvest at the Abingdon Farmers Market.
Plus, she’s getting ready to teach the students how to make bouquets — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
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“Valentine’s Day signifies the start of the spring season,” Peterson said.
Peterson, 58, grew up in Darien, Connecticut. She lived in Grays Lake, Illinois just before coming to the greater Abingdon area 21 years ago.
Over the past two decades in southwestern Virginia, Peterson has held a variety of jobs, including creating the “Leaning Landscapes” project for local schools through Appalachian Sustainability.
Yet her heart belongs to what blooms in her gardens near Walden Road in Abingdon.
“I am a farmer. I am an educator. I have a master’s degree in education. I’ve always wanted to teach about land and gardens,” she said.
Besides bouquets, Peterson makes wreaths.
“And they’re all over town,” she said. “They hang around everywhere.”
Blue Door Garden began in 2001 and was incorporated in 2008. Today, it’s a two-acre operation where Peterson grows dozens of varieties of flowers.
“We grow organically,” she said. “Put your nose in and inhale. Smell as you please.
Last year, Peterson said, “I grew so many extra flowers that I now have all these beautiful dried flowers.”
She is therefore hosting a bouquet-making workshop on February 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at The Girl and the Raven in Abingdon.
“It’s a fun night to play with flowers,” she said.
Peterson plans to teach attendees how to use dried flowers in arrangements that will last for months.
“You can bring them back in the fall,” she said.
For the bouquets, she uses “everything grown during the 2021 season.”
This includes celosia and feverfew as well as wheat and oats. She also adds willow and peach sticks with fresh eucalyptus and rosemary.
This Friday evening workshop is followed by a sale of bouquets on February 12, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at La Jeune fille et le corbeau.
Peterson isn’t handling this flowery affair alone. She is assisted by her 58-year-old husband of 30 years, Tom Peterson.
“I help grow them and dry them and she takes over with the design work,” he said. “She makes people happy.”