STEUBEN — A flower gardener who delivers surprise bouquets free of charge to shops and events around town almost sounds like the beginning of a romance novel.
But, “flower bombing” as she calls it, is a regular activity for estate gardener Christina Ganz.
Ganz operates Kvetina Gardens and Wildscaping at the Steuben home she shares with her husband. She cares for properties from Steuben to Seal Harbor in addition to growing flowers for other gardeners.
She also delivers bouquets for regular clients, sometimes multiple arrangements a week.Butterflies are frequent visitors, flitting about one of Steuben gardener and wildcrafter Christina Ganz’s cutting gardens. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY JENNIFER OSBORN
“I call it dressing houses,” Ganz quipped. “I have a lot of clients who Airbnb or HomeAway.” Ganz will arrange bouquets so the renters arrive to fresh flowers.
The Pennsylvania native grows every last flower from seed and hates to see any flower go by without being used. So that’s how she got the idea of “flower bombing” people.
Plus, Ganz loves spreading beauty.
“Random acts of kindness are so important,” she said.
Her recipients are most appreciative.
“She has bombed the town office multiple times,” said Steuben Town Clerk Julie Ginn. “Her displays are always fantastic and creative.
“She uses things you don’t typically see, like cabbage,” the town clerk continued. “It’s always beautiful. She did bomb our fire department chicken barbecue. There were flowers on every table. It was gorgeous.”
Flower bombs also are a clever advertisement for her work. Ganz attaches a tag that exclaims “You’ve been flower-bombed,” with her business name and the address of her posy stand at 85 Dyer’s Bay Road in Steuben.
The stand is just a couple miles off Route 1.
Ganz worked for nearly a decade for the Rockefeller family in Mount Desert, before launching her own business, Kvetina, which translates to “many flowers” in Czech. That was 2014.
Ganz grew up on a farm in Madisonville, Pa. “It was an awesome upbringing,” she said. Her mother taught her never to go anywhere empty-handed. If you can’t bring a bottle of wine to a gathering, “you can always afford to cut flowers from the garden,” she recalled her mother saying.
One of her earliest memories is walking in a flower garden with her grandfather, a native of Czechoslovakia.
Ganz’s grandparents Peter and Mary Dickey, immigrated to the United States from what is now the Czech Republic, settling first in Dunsmore, Pa., and later Madisonville, where they farmed.
Peter Dickey came to America first in 1926, working as a coal miner and sending money back to Mary, who was still in Czech country with the couple’s first two sons. Eventually, the family would join him. Ganz and her siblings still own land in Hadji, which was her grandmother’s birthplace.
Ganz’s grandfather would point out flowers, say the name of the flower in Czech and have Ganz repeat it to him.
The gardener has a seemingly endless supply of flowers for creating bouquets. From dahlias, to button-like gomphrena to the long, spiral amaranth, which hang in drip-like fashion, to sweet peas and zinnias, Ganz seems to have all of the blooms at the ready.
In the greenhouse, there is lisianthus and Polianthes Tuberosa, which she is trialing. “The fragrance is unbelievable,” she said.
Ganz’s work starts in January when she orders seed and starts seedlings. She will grow thousands and thousands of flowers over the course of a growing season — all from seed except for rare exceptions.
“I grow for the gardeners on the island for the estates,” she said. “It’s easier for them than driving all over to nurseries.”
Ganz also plants and maintains 18 properties. And puts together posies — small, hand-tied bouquets of flowers — to keep her roadside flower stand stocked.
The flower farmer keeps a planting journal for every year.
“I’m anal about it,” she said. “I inventory in January and order everything alphabetically.”
To that end, she’s looking for an old library card catalog to help organize her seed packets so let her know if you’ve got one or know of one somewhere.
As much as she loves flowers, Ganz loves all wild, growing things, whether flower or not.
As a self-described wildcrafter, Ganz keeps an eye out for interesting plants growing wild on the roadside and deep in ditches. Many of these finds wind their way into her bouquets.
“Being a wildcrafter, you see flowers you’ve never seen before,” she said. “I take back roads to different places and see what’s in bloom.”
Ganz nearly got arrested once after stopping her car on I-95 in Bangor to harvest an herb she spotted growing in a highway median.
Chicory or Cichorium intybus is a blue-flowered, woody plant related to the dandelion family.
“I saw chicory growing in the median,” she explained. “So, I ran across the highway. I almost got arrested.”
She was a gardener for the Maine Seacoast Mission for nine years.
Her first nursery job, over 30 years ago, was at Andrew’s Greenhouse in South Amherst, Mass. Ganz still counts owners Andy and Jacqui Cowles as friends and they get together when the couple visit Maine.
Ganz didn’t know the Latin names of plants when she was hired. However, her first task was to put the greenhouse in alphabetically order in accordance with the Latin names. She knows them now.
For more info, call 266-2057 and look for Kvetina Gardens and Wildscaping on Facebook.