Kim Barnes has spent her life surrounded by flowers. When the 25-year-old was six years old, she spent hours in her grandmother’s flower beds, scissors in hand, cutting sunflowers, gladiolus and dahlias to make her own bouquet.
“She always had these great gardens,” Barnes said. “We always used to walk through her backyard and she was just like, ‘Cut whatever you want.’ We were cutting all sorts of flowers.” As she grew older, her mother would plant flower beds all around her childhood home, and she continued her craft of bouquet making.
“My mom has all these amazing flower beds around the whole entire property. So every year we just cut and make ourselves bouquets,” Barnes said. “And I thought it’s such a negative time in the world, let’s share some of our flowers with people and make them feel good. Everybody’s always happy when they get flowers.”
She started putting flowers out on a cart by her house at 310 Flanders Road in Riverhead on Mother’s Day. By the end of the day, all the bouquets were sold. And so her little roadside business was born — Backyard Blooms. Every morning Barnes wakes up at 6 a.m. to get the first cut in. “We make the bouquets right before work just so that they’re fresh,” she said. After a day at Mattituck Primary Care, where she works as a receptionist, Barnes spends her evening in the garden, again, cutting the flowers in the 30 by 60 foot bed filled with zinnias, sunflowers, bachelor buttons, greenery and more.
Barnes’ style is North Fork antique. The cart she sells on is made out of old barn wood, the greenhouse is made from antique windows and a door from In the Attic. She even recently bought a 78 Volkswagen Westfalia in hopes of fixing it up and selling flowers out of it. Her dream is to eventually make flowers her full-time gig.
“I’d love to have a huge flower farm, do all sorts of flowers for weddings, all locally grown,” she said. “I feel like that’s coming back. Everybody doesn’t want to buy things from the store, they want local.”
Every morning, Barnes restocks her cart with a few brightly colored bouquets filled with all different flowers. Her creative process for putting each bunch together is pretty simple.
“Don’t try too hard,” she said. “Whatever you think looks good is good enough for you.”
Kim Barnes’s advice on DIY flowers
Sunflowers are a great starter flower for beginners. Plant a border of zinnias a quarter-inch deep in the soil around the sunflowers to discourage deer from eating them.
Always cut the flowers in the morning or right before it gets dark. They don’t like the middle of the day because it’s too hot outside.
Make sure you have fresh water, and change the water roughly every other day.
Make sure the leaves have been taken off the part of the stem that is in the water. It makes them stay fresher longer.
Backyard Blooms is located at 310 Flanders Road, Riverhead.