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Meridian family turns home flower garden into successful business

Tara McCallister developed a passion for beautifying her home landscape and with her family, turned her passion into a successful flower-growing business.

BOISE, Idaho — Most Idaho farms have some animals, like chickens and maybe some pigs, but at this Meridian farm, the main crop is flowers. 

Over the years, Tara McCallister developed a passion for beautifying her home landscape and with her family, turned her passion into a successful flower-growing business.

"When we came here to this property a couple of years ago, it definitely needed a little bit of work," McCallister said. "So, as we were making those landscape decisions, I was impressed by a previous experience by visiting a flower farm out in Oregon, and I thought, 'I want that little slice of heaven right here,' and so that's how that came about."

That little slice of heaven soon became McCallister Gardens. Now, you can find her fresh-cut flowers every Saturday morning at the Meridian Main Street Market. 

"We also provide subscription bouquets and subscription services for those who want those fresh flowers on a weekly basis," McCallister said. "There are a lot of things that grow well in Idaho and there's other things that can grow well with a lot of convincing, and I wanted the ones that wanted to grow here, so that's what I started with."

One of those things is zinnias, one of the 40 or so varieties of flowers that McCallister grows.

"Zinnias are so simple. If you haven't tried zinnias and you want to start something from seed, this is definitely one I would encourage any new gardener, or anybody who hasn't tried them," McCallister said. "They are amazing."

As Jim Duthie always says, you can grow these!

McCallister plants the flowers by color, pinks, reds and purples, and by variety, which makes it easier at harvest time to find the specific flowers she wants for her arrangements. 

A favorite is globe amaranths, like the red ones called strawberry fields.

"Those are my favorites right now, because they're kind of dry to begin with, their texture is dry, and they're prolific bloomers," McCallister said. "They bloom a ton, you cut and they grow back, and they grow more, thicker and stronger, and they're also good for dried flowers." 

The all-green plants and flowers called Bells of Ireland add an interesting twist to floral arrangements.

"The funky texture and the scent, and the bright green," McCallister said. "Ahh, I just love Bells of Ireland. They really are amazing." 

Status is another go-to variety for cut-flower arrangements. 

"It just keeps blooming, which is awesome, and it lasts, the color lasts," McCallister said. "You can also use them in dried arrangements and things like that. So, status is a great filler."

McCallister grows all of her flowers from seeds, except one, and that one happens to be her favorite. 

"The only flower that I haven't started from seeds here is Lizianthus, and those are amazing," McCallister said.

Since Lizianthus is a slow grower, she orders small plugs from a flower grower.

"I get them in March and they're really, really small. They bloom in early August and they bloom for a few weeks, and that window of time is amazing," McCallister said. "Also, they last for a really long time in cut flower arrangements and that's one thing about growing cut flowers locally, is that we have varieties and flowers that don't ship as well, don't travel as well. So, when you can buy from a local producer, the variety is a little bit different, it's more seasonal, and it's what you would find if you had them growing in your yard."

The flowers at McCallister Gardens are as fresh as if you grew them yourself.

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