Garden Photo of the Day

An Artist’s Flower Farm

Healing through gardening

wagon with buckets full of cut flowers

Today we’re visiting with Valerie Miller.

I am an artist and newish gardener. Three years ago I was a work-from-home artist and homeschool mom with three little boys (one, four, and seven years old) who spent more time crying than probably anything else. I felt trapped and guilty because I had beautiful healthy children I love more than anything but who I felt were suffocating me. (I no longer feel this way, but I did at the time!)

So in the spring of 2020 I started growing flowers with my kiddos and became obsessed with growing things. Slowly the flowers and soil have healed me and my issues, and I am happy, free, joyful, and a good mom.

And when three hard things came along—COVID shutdowns and then two big fires in less than a year at my business, art studio, and historical family building (we lived on the third floor for years until the third boy came along and we needed outside space)—I was already on my way to being able to handle stress with a clearer head. Gardening and the flowers had brought me back to myself. So while my husband dealt with fire cleanup for many, many months (twice), I ran to the flowers with the kids in tow.

After what I’ve just gone through, I’m turning my focus to spread as much joy as I can through flowers, gardening, and flower art—and letting others know that beauty and fresh air and flowers and digging in the dirt can help us tackle all sorts of hard things (even if we don’t want to tackle them).

gardener holding a large bouquet of pink and orange flowersValerie with a stunning mass of flowers from the garden

wagon with buckets full of cut flowersThis wagon load of flowers from the farm includes two buckets full of sunflowers (Helianthus annuus, annual) and one full of zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual).

wagon full of cut flowers next to a tray of vases with waterAnother wagon full of blooms, along with a four-legged helper

gardener holding up a handful of pink peach dahlia flowersIt’s hard to beat dahlias (Dahlia × variabilis, Zones 8–10 or as a tender bulb). I love the warm peach color of this one.

buckets of cut flowers on a deck with the familyLife as a mother of three running a flower farm—it looks like there is always a lot going on!

close up of light pink and cream bouquetAn incredible arrangement of flowers, all in soft, romantic shades

painting of a pink dahlia flowerAn example of the beautiful art Valerie creates, inspired by her flowers

If you want to see more from Valerie, check out her Instagram: @steelcowlavenderfarm


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 02/22/2023

    Oh what a story! And what pictures! The dahlia photos are so truly amazing. How could one ever be unhappy looking at such dahlias! You are inspiring. Having been through one fire I applaud your resilience in getting through two, they could make a movie from your amazing story. Bravo!

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you Sandy! Although I didn't know it at the time, I'm pretty sure my subconscious brain thought exactly that - lets get so much beauty going through flowers that happiness is the only feeling that will come out of this! I'm happy to be sharing my story and happy it is inspirational for you :)

  2. User avater
    bdowen 02/22/2023

    Those dahlias are so beautiful- yes, they would bring joy to people who got to see them and definitely to the grower.

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you! It has been such a joy to spread joy through flowers around the community! And they have brought me so much joy for myself too :)

  3. User avater
    simplesue 02/22/2023

    I love your art and garden and your open and honest story of your life and how gardening was such a positive thing for you!
    You are such an inspiration!

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you! I'm hoping to be an inspiration - Especially to those who need it - gardening does wonderful things to the soul!

  4. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

    Thank you! I'm hoping to be an inspiration - Especially to those who need it - gardening does wonderful things to the soul!

  5. sheila_schultz 02/22/2023

    There is something about digging in the dirt and being able to see the fruits of your labor through beautiful flowers and bountiful gardens that is quite healing to the soul. I would guess that a huge percentage of gardeners would agree. Long ago it became part of my being, my soul. Digging in the dirt is the best therapy for whatever ails you... and then there is the beauty of the flowers, shrubs and trees. Nature is our gift, don't you think? Flowers, art and happy children... you've got it all, enjoy every moment!

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you! And - yes I completely agree. It is the absolute best therapy there is. Nature is our gift and we are so lucky that we get to experience it. Life is a wonderful thing!

  6. bunny2luv 02/22/2023

    Your garden and art are so beautiful, as are your children. I appreciate your honesty about the stresses of being a mom. Much luck to you in all your family and garden and art endeavors!

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you so very much! We are lucky to be able to experience it all!

  7. gardenconcierge 02/22/2023

    The flowers you are growing are beautiful and it's a happy bonus that they help you heal too. Keep on gardening. It's working in many ways for you.

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you! Keep on gardening too! I love this saying :)

  8. btucker9675 02/22/2023

    Great honest story and great honestly beautiful garden! Your children are fortunate to have a Mom like you and I hope that your joy in gardening passes along the them.

    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/22/2023

      Thank you so very much! We are lucky to have each other and I sure hope they love to garden when they get older. They do right now! My dad and grandma do - so I'm pretty sure it's in the genes :)

  9. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/23/2023


    1. steelcowlavenderfarm 02/24/2023

      Thank you!

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