Ann Volner, owner of Windy Hill Flowers, is shown Monday afternoon with several bouquets of flowers she cultivated from seed, cut and arranged for clients. MARYVILLE, Mo. — Just outside of town a woman has put her green thumb to work for three years growing a business to provide fresh-cut flowers to florists and now the public, only to have her growth stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus, it affected everything,” said Ann Volner, owner of Windy Hill Flowers, LLC. “Coronavirus has definitely done a number on the floral industry.”

Sometimes florists don’t have a demand during the summer months, she explained, but this year has been different. With weddings canceled and funerals not being held, she explained that florists have really taken a hit during the health crisis. That affected her business as well. 300×250 image ad This spring — her first growing tulips and daffodils — brought with them the question of going public. Originally Volner planned to sell wholesale to florists, but with them needing few if any flowers and her fields offering a plentiful bounty that she couldn’t bring herself to throw away, a new plan was required.

Just getting started with social media, Volner told The Forum on Monday that it’s not her forte, but it is one of the best ways to show off her flowers and connect with people in the socially-distanced COVID-19 world. On May 3, she sold out of tulips and is using those sales to judge how best to continue offering bright bouquets to the public.

Why flowers?

From a young age, Volner worked with her hands digging and pulling weeds in the family garden. Only recently has she turned those skills into a business working with florists in Maryville, Savannah and St. Joseph.

A teacher at the Maryville R-II school district’s alternative school, Volner has the summer off and decided to put that time to good use doing something she enjoys.

“I’ve been gardening a long long time,” she told The Forum on Monday. “As a kid that was one of our chores.”

In high school she was in FFA and learned to grow and cut flowers as well as make corsages, however she’s learned a lot since then.

With the fresh scent of flowers in the air, Volner spoke about how much she enjoys growing the flowers from tiny seeds, some so small you can barely see.

“I think there’s just a sense of achievement, from the time you start that little baby as a seed to the time it blooms,” she said. “Whenever you finally see them bloom, it’s definitely a sense of achievement. It’s like ‘Wow! I did that. Finally it survived!’”

Placed in tiny pots in her home in January, Volner waters and cares each day for the seedlings as they grow strong enough to be transplanted into larger pots and placed in a small utility shed or outside in the open field behind her home.

“Whenever we had our own place we started our own garden,” she said. “I always like to […]