2023 in Review
Reflecting back on 2023 as a whole, it is remarkable what we achieved in a year that was very long and very short all in one!
January is always marked by the final preparations and launch of our 2023 seed line. Kelly sourced many new varieties for us this year, including a few dreamy apricot-tone cosmos that were a real hit! We were over the moon with the response to our seeds and watched with delight as our seeds traveled to almost every province in Canada. Our unofficial goal for 2024 is to get our seeds up into the territories too!
February is a Valentine's Day whirlwind, which is one of the bigger days (honestly, Valentine's Day is an entire week for us!) of the year for the florist shop side of our business. Despite a nasty turn in the weather on Valentine's Day, flowers were flying out of our cooler left and right. After recovering from our marathon week, we put on our thinking caps and really started planning out our seed starting schedules - how many trays of each variety to sow and at what time to sow each succession. Trust us when we say these were conversations that required an extra cup of coffee!
March was a month featuring a lot of behind the scenes work for the rest of the coming year. On the flower farm side, we booted up the greenhouses, we were furiously sowing trays on trays of seeds, and our first shipment of imported plugs arrived! All of this dirty, unglamourous work set up the rest of our season for success. On the wedding side, our design team was in the depths of wedding planning with all of our lovely couples and fellow vendors.
April featured the opening of our retail greenhouse which was a smash hit! It seriously blew our minds how fast some of our lisianthus varieties flew off the shelves. Clearly you love flowers just as much as us! After severe flooding in 2022 which negatively impacted our retail greenhouse operations, we were so grateful for the support and enthusiasm you provided. We also ran some fun workshops in April like Into to Cut Flower Gardening and our first ever High Tea & Floral workshop in our beautiful venue space. Seeing our space buzzing with our community is so life-giving for us.
I won't lie - around May is where everything starts to blur together a little bit. Mother's Day is the Superbowl of the florist world, and you guys kept us going all the way to the endzone. We received so much wonderful feedback on our High Tea To-Go and of course our classic flower bouquets. I think in the sports world that would be considered a touchdown! The rest of May was a mix of transplanting and seeding down in the garden. This felt like a real treat after all the flooding in 2022; last year, we were still planting into July.
June featured our first ever Spring Market, where we had vendors inside our event venue and outside near the Lily Stone Cafe. We were treated to absolutely beautiful weather and a wonderful turnout! June also marked the official beginning of wedding season hear at the venue and many beautiful a-la-carte wedding flower orders got picked up too!
In July our flower farm burst into bloom, and we opened up our flower U-Pick once again. Again after such a hard year due to severe flooding in 2022, it felt like a dream to have a full garden once again. Last year our garden was smaller just because we simply ran out of time to get plants in the ground once the flood waters receded, despite so many hands working non-stop; we also regretfully lost many of our perennial patches. So with all of this context in mind, our 2023 garden felt like a real treat! To accompany our U-Pick, we opened a pop-up style Cafe on-site in the venue which was an awesome option for quick lunches, on the go snacks, and a cold drink to cool off.
For our wedding team, July & August flew by in a flash with so many stunning on-site weddings. Our whole team was able to collaborate on a few full-service weddings too, managing florals, catering, and bartending. It is a joy to see what our entire team can accomplish together. The ultimate demonstration of the skill and spirit of our Lily Stone team was our Among the Night Garden charity event in August, which raised $10,000 to support Willow Place, a family violence resource center in Winnipeg.
It may come as a surprise, but September was one of our busiest months for weddings both on-site and for our pick-up orders. As designers it is very fun to see wedding colours shift with the season and to incorporate new ingredients each month as new varieties come into their bloom period. We were treated to a very temperate fall and continued offering flower U-Pick times well into September as our flowers were still abundant.
October brought on our first frost and the end of our garden season; this is always bittersweet, but gives us a chance to reset. Behind the scenes our team was working hard on preparing our ranunculus and anemone corms for our fall sale. We were overjoyed to bring in some new varieties including some more fancy ranunculus which we will be adding to our patch for the 2024 season. Our wedding team wrapped up our last 2023 weddings and jumped straight into floral consultations for the 2024 wedding season. No rest for the wicked, as they say, but we wouldn't have it any other way.
In November we decked the halls of our venue for our Holiday Market and boy was that every a beautiful day. We had wonderful weather, which is always a gamble so late in the year, and our space was filled with so many talented vendors. Our bridal cottage was even transformed into Santa's cottage for festive photos! Later in November we welcomed you into our venue space for our last workshop of the year - our annual winter wreath workshop! It was a wonderful group of repeat guests and fresh faces; it is such a treat to have so many of you return year after year for these types of workshops.
And now here we are in December. This month we have catered many holiday parties here at the event venue and over at the Lily Stone Cafe for local businesses. Our flower shop team has been turning out beautiful bouquets and centerpieces for your Christmas tables, while the bakery team has been pumping out dainty trays, cinnamon buns and more. While this month has been ever so busy, we are so grateful for your choice to shop small and to support local businesses during the holiday season.
From all of us at Lily Stone, thank you for yet another wonderful year together. We hope that your holiday season is filled with moments of joy, love, and a sense of community. We can't wait to see what 2024 has in store for us!
See you in the New Year!
From Kelly, Roland, and the rest of the Lily Stone Team