Annie Schiller’s William’s Wildflowers business is, literally, blooming. After years of helping her mother, Laurel, who owns the Florida Native Plants Nursery, Schiller started getting requests for cut wildflowers from people who appreciated native Florida plants. “I thought it would be wonderful to introduce native wildflowers to the wedding industry and provide an alternative to conventional flowers,” she says.
Traditional cut flowers, she explains, are bred for bouquets and devoid of pollen and scent; they’re designed to last rather than to feed wildlife. And don’t mistake a hibiscus or an oleander for a native wildflower; true Florida native flowers have been growing here for centuries. Bidens, goldenrod and black-eyed Susans are wildflowers that bloom up and down the East Coast, Schiller says, “but the tropical wildflowers that are grown in Florida can’t be grown anywhere else.”
Schiller’s arrangements contain wildflowers, plants and herbs that she grows herself, as well as those she forages. She works out of a cute converted Airstream trailer on the nursery campus and hopes, as her business grows, to expand her wildflower plot.
She says the vibrant bouquets she creates for couples’ weddings can be replanted. “I hope the garden becomes a sentimental part of their lives and that they’ll recognize those flowers in landscapes when they visit parks,” she says. “They show off the real Florida. People think there are no seasons here because their plants stay the same. But if you plant native plants, you do see the change in seasons. You can live with nature, and you can help songbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.”