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The Secret Garden
March 27, 2024

The Flower Shop at Battenfeld Farm Is the Biggest Little Secret in the Hudson Valley

By Cynthia Hochswender

Photos by John Verner

Like all the best secrets, this one is right out there for everyone to see. This is, after all, a 260-acre working farm located on Route 199 in Red Hook. It boasts eight greenhouses, some as large as 9,000 square feet.

There’s even a sign outside that says, ‘Self Service Cut Flower Cooler is OPEN. Daily from 7 am to 7 pm.’

It seems too good to be true, which is possibly why most people only know about the Battenfeld cut flower shop by word of mouth. 

The Battenfeld Christmas trees, also sold at the farm, are almost a decoy. Across the road from the greenhouses, there are acres of evergreens. Big signs invite families to come and cut their own holiday trees. But don’t be fooled. The Christmas trees are important, of course, but according to Fred Battenfeld the cut flowers are the bigger part of the Battenfeld family business. 

It’s also an older part of the business. It all began in the early 1900s, when there was a rage across America for violets. The Dutchess County climate was particularly suited to the small purple flowers. The Battenfelds and other Dutchess County farmers grew millions of violets and shipped them to New York, Boston, and Chicago.

Then the violet boom petered out. Most of the greenhouses closed down, but the Battenfeld family continued on in the nursery business. They experimented with growing  anemones—beautiful small blooms on long stems that love what Fred Battenfeld calls ‘the cool soil’ of Dutchess County. Battenfeld is now the largest hybrid anemone wholesaler on the East Coast. 

When he returned home from college in the 1970s, Fred helped his father, Richard, build Battenfeld Farm into what it is today. Together they put up the greenhouses that now march across the landscape. Fred learned to cross different types of anemones, and come up with the hybrids that are unique to the farm. Fred was the fourth generation on the farm. His daughter, Morgan, and son, Lance, are the fifth generation. Like their father, they do a little bit of everything, from fashioning bouquets to collecting seeds. 

The self-service cooler began as a way to sell anemones that didn’t meet the needs of designers, who are looking for particular colors, and long stems. The sale room has become so popular that now there are also what Morgan Battenfeld calls ‘novelty’ flowers, which are grown solely for sale here in Red Hook. 

In winter and spring, alongside the anemones and violets, there are multiple colors of ranunculus—rare and wonderful flowers that look a bit like compact peonies. Actual peonies are available starting in June; sunflowers and dahlias become available in summer. 

“There’s always something here,” Morgan promises.

Just don’t tell too many people. 

“We like to keep this as a cult business, a little stem of a secret,” her father says with a twinkle in his eye.

Prices range from $5 to $20. There is newspaper to wrap the flowers.

856 Route 199, Red Hook, 845-758-8018