February 6, 2019
With the Wollam Gardens photo season fast-approaching, I want to introduce them here on the blog for all of the families who have signed up for sessions! I asked Callee, Venue & Media Manager, a few questions about their farm, flowers, and what to expect during a photo session at the farm!
Can you tell us a little bit about Wollam Gardens?
Wollam Gardens is an 11-acre flower destination in Jeffersonton, VA. We are right between Warrenton and Culpeper, VA. We grow a variety of unique perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs. Our flowers supply farmers’ markets in the D.C. area, designers, specialty florists, and locally focused retailers. We offer custom florals for weddings, special events, and styling. It’s a joy creating with the beautiful things that surround us. At Wollam Gardens we also host festivals, events, weddings, workshops, yoga and more! Wollam Gardens was created about 30 years ago by Bob Wollam, who still owns the farm today. Bob is the farm’s guiding light and is full of knowledge. He first started growing cut flowers in 1988, and with the gardening genes of his grandparents, turned these 11 acres into fields of beautiful varieties. Bob splits his time between the farm and DC where he’s resided for 28 years as a community activist, husband and father.
Tell us about yourself! Your background, how you came to work for Wollam, etc.?
Well, my name is Callee and I came to Wollam Gardens after graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Ecology. I’ve always been interested in outdoor work, so farming was not totally unheard of, like it is to some! I came to know this area after working as a fellow for the Piedmont Environmental Council the summer of 2017. Northern VA is a special place, so when I found the internship through ATTRA, (a really great resource for sustainable agriculture jobs and information) I knew I had to take the job! In the Spring of 2018, I packed my bags and came to the farm as a full-season intern. Within the first few months, I fell in love with the area and looked for ways to stick around. I absolutely love Spring (probably because my birthday is in March), but also because of how alive the farm feels. That first Spring is when I knew I was going to have an incredible experience here.
Are you open to the public year round?
We have an open door policy between April and November. Most weekends during May/June and September/October we have weddings or events going on. It’s best to check our calendar to see if we have something fun scheduled. For opportunities on the farm, we are usually pretty good about letting people know to come see us! We slow down a bit in the Winter months, so we ask visitors to contact us before they visit. We may or not have staff working!
What kinds of flower activities are available to us throughout the year?
This season we are super excited to have a full calendar. We have floral workshops planned, photo sessions :), pick-your-own events, a flower festival, a literary festival, and more! We also go to our weekly farmers markets in the city, which is a great way to get involved. Our event calendar on the website gets updated a few months ahead of each event so that is a great place to check.
What sort of flowers do you grow in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter?
I don’t even know where to begin! Spring brings life back to the farm with delicate flowering branches like Mock Orange, Lilacs, Willow, Sweet Bush and more. Spring also brings favorites like Lily of the Valley, Delphinium and Daffodils. In Summer, our flower production starts rolling with our varieties that love the sunshine. We grow HUGE Sunflowers, Snapdragons, Yarrow, Statice and more. The farm is framed by aisles of Hydrangeas and our Dahlias begin to bloom. Fall brings lots of texture and more Dahlias. We also grow lots of dryable flowers like Celosia, Amaranthus, Broom Corn, Salvia, Gomphrena, and many many others. As frost hits in mid October, fresh flower products come to an end and we begin our wreaths and berry bunches. We harvest grapevine and hand weave our wreath bases. By November and December we focus on Ilex, Evergreens, Amaryllis, Paperwhites, and other holiday favorites.
*Check out their Flowers-By-Season List here!
What is your favorite season at the farm?
Spring! To get to see the brown turn green is incredible. We put in a lot of effort during the cold months (Jan/Feb/March) and to get to see that pay off is so beautiful. We also get new interns in mid-March and that always brings new life to the farm. It is an exciting, refreshing time for all of us.
Do you grow vegetables?
We do not grow any vegetables for eating. We grow some varieties for floral design like ornamental peppers, small viney tomatoes, okra, corn, and (hopefully) pumpkins!
Do you have farm animals?
Yes! We have 3 greenhouse cats, Lentil, Baby Jim, and Lyla. They are as sweet as can be and are sure to greet farm visitors! We’ve also had chickens in the past and are hoping to get more in the future. A couple of the managers also have dogs named Jack, McLovin, and Bandit. They occasionally run around on the farm!
What are some of your favorite parts about working at a seasonal flower farm?
Living seasonally is so refreshing. In the summer when it’s blue skies and sunny, we’ve got a lot of outside work to do as a crew. In the winter when it’s cold and the days are incredibly short, we shift over to the greenhouse to focus on wreaths and evergreen . When it’s crazy hot, we start EARLY in the mornings to avoid heat exhaustion. Every week feels different with new projects and blooms to harvest. Having our days structured by the weather and day length feels so natural.
A wedding venue? Tell us more!
Yes! Weddings! We have a handcrafted pavilion, made by local artist, David Braun. He handcrafted this one of a kind piece with most of the wood used for the structure sourced from our land, a short distance from the gardens. We love to host couples looking for something a little bit different and surrounded by flowers! Rental is for all 11 acres. Couples really get to explore our space, and we invite their guest to do the same! We are open to weddings of all sizes – we’ve hosted weekday elopements, family reunions, large traditional weddings and everything in between!
Do you offer internships?
Yes, we do! We are in the process of interviewing right now! Interns are exposed to all aspects of our cut-flower growing operation through hands-on experience and learning opportunities. We spent A LOT of time together, but create an incredible support system each season. Interns live in our 18th century farmhouse together, which is such a unique experience! My time as an intern was so transformative for me and the crew I was here with. We sometimes need seasonal help for holidays or on certain weekends so if you have an outstanding work ethic, team spirit, an eye for beauty and color, please reach out!
*Click here for their internship information!
Any rules or concerns we should know about the property before we visit for our portrait sessions?
Thank you for asking! Yes, we ask that you pretty please don’t cut or touch any flowers. You are welcome to walk through aisles that are cleared and enjoy the rows and rows of flowers. We simply ask that you leave everything the way you found it. For the hoop houses and the greenhouse, please do not move anything for photos. If a door is closed, leave it closed. We also ask that you watch your step and your footing in some areas of the farm. Just please be aware of your surroundings as this is a working farm!
Any tips on what to wear to our session keeping the weather and terrain in mind?
In Spring, the weather can sometimes be rainy, which means a muddy farm! Please keep that in mind for your footwear (no heels, or change into them once you reach your photo spot). I would definitely check the weather beforehand and plan accordingly, which may mean bringing a jacket, cute rain boots, or other fun Spring shower ideas!
Where can we purchase your flowers? Flower crowns for our sessions?
During the season, we have our farm stand out front stocked with plants and bunches of fresh flowers. You are welcome to purchase from there if you are local. We also sell at our many farmers markets in DC. For the photo sessions, you can purchase your flower crowns on our website. We are offering crowns for both adults and children. If you have an idea for a custom design for the photo session, please reach out, we would LOVE to create something unique for you!
*Where To Buy List
Where can we follow along and learn more about you?
If you are interested in learning more about Spring Bloom Sessions, click here! Thanks for answering our questions, Callee – see you in May!
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