Brightening up the neighborhood
Mindy Todd is hoping to make your day a little brighter, a little more colorful and a little more cheery.
Todd recently opened a small flower cart in the driveway of her Blue Heron home, where she's selling beautiful flower arrangements that she grows, cuts and arranges herself. She obtained a business license through the City of Lake Oswego and opened her cart — fittingly named Petals — earlier this summer.
"It's been a lifelong interest," Todd says. "My grandmother had a ranch down in California and she would always have lots of flowers, and my parents were gardeners and landscapers."
Todd has grown vegetables and flowers almost her entire life, but around 2004 she decided to take steps toward becoming a certified master gardener while also dabbling in landscape and flower design. She reaffirmed her passion for horticulture and used her master gardener training as a jumping-off point to continue learning more about growing organically and having her garden in tune with the ecosystem at large.
"The master gardener training has come in handy, and there's a lot of things I took away from that, mostly the whole permaculture thing and growing organically," Todd says. "You have to feed the soil because you want good microbes, good worms and beetles, a lot of compost and shredded leaves. I have a friend who owns llamas so I use a lot llama pellets as fertilizer."
For the past 10 years, Todd has grown on a quarter acre of land down at a friend's property near Aurora. She starts everything from seed in a little greenhouse filled with heaters, lights and timers. Beginning the process in January or February allows her to transfer plants into the ground earlier in the growing season through the use of floating row covers to keep the ground and the plants warm through early-season conditions.
Todd visits her growing patch a few times each week, cutting and pruning, collecting her materials and making sure things are in order. Back at her home in Lake Oswego she has a small walk-in closet converted into a workspace that works perfectly for her arranging endeavors.
She starts with a vase and works from there to create pleasing color schemes, layers and compositions. Once she's created several she puts them out for display in the cart — built by her husband, Steve — at the end of her driveway where runners, dog walkers and any neighbor passing by can stop, look at the arrangements and purchase one if they so please. Todd's arrangements are impeccable and most of them cost around $10 or less.
"It's all based on the honor system," she says. "It's completely un-staffed so people just walk up, pick the one they like and place the money in a little drop box attached to the cart. The response so far has been great, I keep a little comment sheet and people have been very sweet."
Having lived in Lake Oswego for 25 years, Todd is familiar with many of the folks in her neighborhood, but the flower cart has allowed her to connect with even more of her neighbors than she had previously.
She also has weekly "subscriptions," of sorts, with several local nonprofits, public agencies and businesses. Each week she takes an arrangement or bouquet to the Lake Oswego Public Library, the South Shore Boulevard and Jean Road fire stations and the Pearl at Kruse Way, to name a few. It's a fun way for her to use her passion and skills to bring a splash of color into her community.
"It's amazing to see people's faces and the delight they get from flowers. Their face brightens, they're cheery and the response is phenomenal," Todd says. "Even a lot of men, I've found, like receiving flowers. I put a vase of fresh flowers on my husband's desk all the time."
Todd says she'll continue operating Petals until the end of the growing season around October and begin again next spring. To view or purchase an arrangement by Todd, visit her cart located at 17415 Cardinal Dr., Lake Oswego.