All in the Family
When four generations of a family successfully practice horticulture, they must be doing something right. Just ask Carol Dowd, who is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her shop, "Botanicals Fabulous Flowers & Orchids."
"My grandfather started it all," she says. "Its been a family tradition for many years -- since 1906."
Dowd's father worked in the business.
"Then I worked for eight years," she says.
Dowd began serving customers privately, "about three to four years ago. I do a lot of houseplants these days. And I began dealing with orchids, which have become the most popular of my plants."
"Everyone in the family is part of a horticulture industry," Dowd says. "Poverty Hill is run by my first cousins, and the family still runs Peter Dowd nursery."
So how is Dowd's business different?
"We offer an abundance of houseplants as well as other outdoor plants," she says. "We create container gardens for our customers -- that is a major part of the business in spring and fall. Of course, word-of-mouth regarding the business has really brought about more customers."
According to Dowd, her container creations are extremely unique and unlike any other she has ever seen.
"I like my look," she says. "It's not average. You might call it 'out-of-the-box' so far as creativity is concerned."
Dowd says that her plantings offer more of a natural look, "because things are used right out of the garden, and we use unusual things that no one ever heard of before. We place the items into the containers as well as use them elsewhere."
When Dowd creates an artistic planter, she incorporates the orchids along with other houseplants.
"If a customer orders a container, for example, I might use Chinese evergreen, ivy, variegated leaf calathea and silver bay," she says. "The orchid is placed in the center to create a dramatic effect, or just off to one side. It all depends on what we think is visually attractive."
The garden creations do not contain a lot of filler.
"We use real flowers as much as possible," Dowd says. "I like lots of flowers, and especially those that remind me of an English garden."
Flowers are about 51 percent of the container, and orchids fill the rest.
"We use unusual varieties, as well as standard types," she says. "Some of the orchids we use are phaleonopsis, catalyas, dendrobiums, lady slippers and oncidium. Our favorite is melanopsis, or the pansy orchid. It has a nice smell and is very popular."
Dowd employs three part-time workers, "all of whom are wonderful," she says. "My mom, Beth Dowd, also helps with the bookkeeping, and my grandma, Eva Dowd, helps propagate some of the houseplants. As a matter of fact, Grandma is the one who got me started working with houseplants."
According to some plant lovers, customers find the shop charming because the plants and the people emit a homey environment.
"We have been called a charming place and a warm and fuzzy shop," Dowd says. "Our customers say we make them feel right at home."
If you want to purchase containers, the shop offers all types and styles from four-inch pots to six-inch pots and larger sizes.
"Our price range is from $5.50 to $15.50, and we even go higher," she says. "We sell containers and vases, both new and used. Our orchids are reasonably priced from $24 to $50."
Dowd maintains that treating her customers well has yielded positive results.
"We try to do anything for anybody," she says.
The orchids and other materials are purchased from Seagrove Orchids and Hanks Chapel Greenhouses, with additional plants from Florida brought by truck.
"We try to purchase from the locals as much as we can because it makes more sense to keep the products in the area," says Dowd.
Weddings, parties, some funeral work and all other events are included in Dowd's itinerary.
"All-occasion is what we're about," she says. "And we're always busy, in a wonderful way. We are so happy that we please our customers and that they keep returning. After all, that's what it's all about -- to please customers with floral arrangements that are beautiful, unique and fit the bill. The ultimate satisfaction is to make people happy."
Botanicals Fabulous Flowers & Orchids is located at 129-B East Pennsylvania Avenue in Southern Pines.
"If you're trying to find us," says Dowd, "just seek out a small jungle down a little alley across from the tennis courts. It's like an adventure."
Anita Stone is a Raleigh freelance writer and Master Gardener. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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