Inga Howe-Geniesse

Beautiful Dried Flowers from The River Garden Flower Farm

In Search of a Greener New York is an ongoing Garden Collage series of explorations about sustainability efforts in New York City and beyond– including the people, places, and ideas that are making Manhattan a healthier, happier place to live. In this column, we spotlight individuals who are making New York a “greener” place in an attempt to discover how, exactly, they are doing it. This week, GC spotlights Arianna, who came to work at the River Garden Flower Farm from an unexpected background.

Bernadette Kowalski’s flower farm in South Cairo retails and wholesales some of the most gorgeous flowers at the Union Square Farmers Market– and they just happen to be dried.

Gardeners of NYCInga Howe-Geniesse

Kowalski and her brother Jeff, who happens to be on site when we visit, grew up on a mushroom farm in the Catskills, and they’ve had the River Garden Flower Farm for the last 25 years. In early December when we meet, their farm is dishing out some of the most beautiful fall colors at the market (they make the wreathes themselves). It’s the Wednesday before Christmas, and it was their last day at the market.

Arianna, who we spoke with while purchasing our flowers, came to the company out of sheer respect for their growers’ beautiful blooms. With no experience in flower arranging (but with a background in the Arts), she asked Kowalski if she needed help selling her flowers, simply because she was so in love with how they looked.

Gardeners of NYCInga Howe-Geniesse

At first, Kowalski was interested but noncommittal, but Arianna was persistent and eventually Kowalski asked her to help the River Garden sell flowers at the market, and that’s how Arianna started working here. “I emailed and emailed her and really expressed my deep interest in design work– in Spring, she asked me if I could start working for her, which was great,” she tells us. “It’s very healing to be around the flowers.”

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