I was saddened today to hear about the death of my farmer friend Mel Heath. Mel was a big part off why Local Color Flowers was so successful in our early years. Mel’s beautiful farm was located in Cockeysville. He was our closest grower for our first three years in business and we bought flowers from him almost every week. Mel was a meticulous grower. His farm was beautiful - without a weed in sight- and filled with some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen.
Mel was also a teacher. Before he “retired” and became a flower grower, he taught for 35 years throughout Baltimore. The teacher in Mel is what I valued most. He always took time to walk through the farm with me when I came to pick up flowers. He would tell me the botanical and latin names for everything he was growing. He explained (time and time again) why he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) sell me more of his prized peonies even though they looked beautiful on the plant. (Cutting peonies too early in the plants life will sap the energy out of them and make them grow back weaker each year).
Mel and I were always in sync with our schedules. We both got up early and got to work early. Sometimes I would head out to the farm as early as 6am, just as the fog was starting to burn off and the sun was coming up. I loved seeing Mel and the flowers on these early Friday morning pick-ups.
One of my other fond memories of Mel was being invited out the farm a few winters ago to make wreaths and other creations out of Me'l’s barn full of dried flowers. Kathy York of Scarborough Farm and her aunt Sue, me and Mel, a few of his neighbors and Eric the farm manager spent a glorious day laughing, staying warm by the stove and being creative.
Mel decided to stop flower farming at the end of 2010. It was a big loss for Local Color Flowers and our clients. It was a big loss for me personally as well because Mel was moving to South Carolina to retire. I was sad, but I also new he was moving with the woman he loved to place that he loved and would be happy.
LoCoFlo really is not just a job…or just a business. It is really a community of folks…growers, designers, clients, friends and more that love flowers, and love the earth…and I dare say….love each other. I’m grateful for having known Mel Heath.