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Nellie Gardner Horticulturist Flower Fields SpencerportNellie was born in Chestertown, Maryland and moved multiple times with her family before settling on Cape Breton Island at the age of 12. Her experiences growing up, moving and restoring old farmsteads and planting gardens in forgotten fields has given her the skills to tackle difficult projects and make a “silk purse from a sows ear”. Creating beauty out of function has been second nature to her as this is how she grew up. Her parents chose a life of “living off the land” rather than be a conventional wage earner, which gave her an unusual outlook and ability to overcome adversity.

With no formal high school education, and no money she was able to put herself through Nova Scotia Agricultural College and later Cornell Universities’ College of Agriculture and Life Science. With a degree in Agronomy she set out to work with farmers in adopting new technologies and adapting research for use on their farm. She worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension as well as the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) before starting her own Agricultural Consulting business. When her son was born she started her own flower farm in order to have a home based business and try all of the growing techniques she advised farmers to do.

Since 1992 Nellie has been growing flowers, and has perfected her system of growing the best selection of cutting flowers. She has grown on three different sites and has found ways to cope with all kinds of soil and weather. Her Spencerport farm has a rich history and invaluable soils, producing armloads of the most abundant displays. It is a charming place and feels like an oasis of calm in the midst of the hectic world.

Nellie runs her farm as well as working as the part-time Horticulturist for the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House www.darwinmartinhouse.org in Buffalo. One of her passions is horticultural problem solving and she is often consulted to resolve difficult issues relating to plant and soil health as well as design. She looks at the plant world both from a scientific standpoint as well as a practical one, drawing from her knowledge of the natural world gained from living so close to the land as a child.

 

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