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Back Alley Botany brings organic garden flower arrangements to town

By Staff | Aug 3, 2018

Candace DeLong, of Back Alley Botany, shows off an organic bouquet of garden flowers, as she stands in her garden at 130 and 132 West German Street. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — While the humid summer heat is driving many people indoors, Candace DeLong is weathering through the heat and devoting her free time to trimming and tending her organic flower garden, located in the backyards of 130 and 132 West German Street.

Although DeLong just moved to Shepherdstown in June, her garden is full of colorful garden flowers, including zinnias, basil, cosmos, snapdragons, sunflowers, sweet peas, scabiosas, strawflowers, gomphrenas, celosias and black-eyed susans.

“I started growing them with fluorescent bulbs inside, except for the sunflowers. I had a plan and just wanted to try it out,” DeLong said, mentioning she and her boyfriend began planning out and preparing the garden plots in March.

DeLong met her boyfriend, Owen McAteer, when she lived in Winchester, where they both still work. McAteer’s parents own Rosebrake Farm in Shepherdstown, along with the two properties where the garden is located, and, according to DeLong, have been very supportive of the project.

“I like having Back Alley Botany here in town. The location is awesome for something visual like this business,” DeLong said, mentioning she has a master’s degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech.

A bee picks up some of the pollen on a zinnia in the Back Alley Botany garden. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

Spending her days as a disease and pest scout/manager at Fruit Hill Orchard, DeLong hopes to eventually make Back Alley Botany her full-time job, tending to her garden and selling cut-flower arrangements to people in the local area.

“This is something I can do and love to share with other people, but I would love to turn it into a big thing,” DeLong said, mentioning she plans to set up a Community Supported Agriculture program next year, through which local residents could subscribe to receive fresh flower arrangements throughout the growing season, extending from the beginning of June through September.

“The really neat thing is, as we get further and further into the summer, the bouquets change, as more flowers begin to bloom,” DeLong said, mentioning she wants to plant more flowers historically grown in this area, and welcomes community input into learning more about those types of flowers.

According to DeLong, a 15-stem tied bouquet costs about $5, while one with 25 stems may cost about $8. Because her flowers aren’t sprayed with preservatives, her bouquets typically last a week to a week-and-a-half. Those who want a specific selection of flowers, or would like flower arrangements for a special event, can contact her with requests. Since DeLong grows all of her flowers, she would need to know by Feb. 1, 2019 about any large special events happening next summer.

To learn more about Back Alley Botany, follow backalleybotany on Instagram, or contact DeLong at backalleybotany@gmail.com or 765-623-4196.

Some of the zinnias in the Back Alley Botany garden. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.