Sunday, July 08, 2007

Carlene and Byron Mays

Every Saturday morning from early June to early October you can fine Carlene and Byron Mays at the Sewanee Farmer's Market selling their flowers. For $6 you can take home a one of a kind arrangement with over 3o stems of assorted fresh flowers. And these aren't the florist variety either. These are the floral equivalent of free range chickens...loose, free and fragrant as mother nature intended.

On acreage around the Mays' Tracy City, TN home and greenhouse, Carlene grows every flower imaginable, at least every one that can find purchase in our thin mountain soil. Her zinnia bed alone is larger than most folks vegetable gardens. She collects countless varieties of rudbeckia daisies, a flower that in the species version is more than at home here. Add to the list all varieties of sunflowers, dahlias, larkspur, snapdragons, feverfew, celosia, ageratum, canterbury bells, monarda, pincushion flower, hydrangea, mountain mint, butterfly weed (some folks would kill for her stand of these native beauties) and more. In fact, just about the only flower she doesn't include in her arrangements is the rose. But heck, roses don't much like it here anyway.

Every bouquet is completely different from the next. This is pretty amazing, seeing as her arrangements cover three long folding tables that they bring every week in their pickup. Choosing is gruelling and favorites always stay behind or get chosen by other shoppers before I get to them. I've taken to going early, as most of them are gone by 8:30 or 8:45. I've bought two bunches a week (sometimes three) for over three years now.

Buying the flowers is half the fun though, as the Mays are delightful people in their own right as you might imagine of folks that spend their entire day Friday (sun-up to flat dark) picking and arranging such riotously beautiful flowers. Carlene is always warm and friendly, sunny as her arrangements and Byron is always up for a good chat with a bank of stories up his sleeve.
So if you're ever in Sewanee early on a summer Saturday, look up Carlene and Byron at the Farmers Market on highway 41A one block east of Shenanigans. You can't miss 'em. Just look for flowers.
And get there early.


Madame Purl said...

Those are some gorgeous flowers. I love those sunflowers. I don't think it gets any better.

I'm anxiously awaiting your new book. I've already pre-ordered it from Amazon.

broadcasting from a knitting parlour said...

Those are some flowers! Thin soil, you say? I wanted a qtr acre of flowers here (no fla) but flowers can be pretty demanding about their nutrition. I do grow nice zinnias, but crowder peas and okra beat the blooms, hands down. Oh well. Wish I lived close enough to stick my nose in one o those bouquets!

Can't wait for the new book!!!!

KnitterBunny said...

Ah! So jealous! It makes me just cry at the thought of not having any flowers today. :(