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Le Jardin Flower Farm
June 24, 2024

Romane Recalde finds the fun in flowers at Le Jardin Flower Farm
By Cynthia Hochswender
Photos by Rana Faure

Flower whisperer Romane Recalde is like a brilliant chef, the kind who understands how to get the most lemon flavor out of a lemon, the most umami out of a stock. But instead of working with food, she works with flowers.

A retired model (at the age of 30), Romane and her husband, James Ohliger, bought a ramshackle house on 27 acres in Amenia’s Smithfield Valley in 2020. She’d grown up in rural France, near Bordeaux, but she’d never been a soil-working kind of a girl. When she moved to this particularly “country” corner of Dutchess County, however, she found her fingers itching to plant, grow, cut, and arrange flowers. 

Perhaps it was homesickness for the French countryside. Perhaps it was a latent nurturing instinct (she and Ohliger now have a 1-year-old son).Whatever the inspiration, Recalde enlisted her husband to help her dig out a 5,000-square-foot garden, and she was off to the races. The bed is now filled with roses, dahlias, Japanese anemone, tulips, columbine, and more. 

She began by selling them under the name Le Jardin Flower Farm at the Saturday market in Millerton (and surprised herself by how well she did), then deepened her knowledge with the help of the internet. She read books, took courses, consulted with experts, and learned about everything from preparing beds to extending growing seasons to marketing her blooms. 

Her business began to grow—well, her new empire, really. Because now there is so much more than flowers. Recalde quickly discovered that she has a passion and a knack for arranging her garden’s blooms. She shares her talents through workshops of her own (the next one, at Le Jardin, will be August 18) and by doing arrangements for sale, for restaurants, and for events such as weddings. 

Recalde seems unimpressed with her success, but also unsurprised.“I believe in following the breadcrumbs and seeing where they lead,” she says with a shrug. “You can always back up if you don’t like where they take you.”This also seems to be the secret to her bouquets and arrangements, which bring to mind Francophone words such as degagé and je ne sais quoi. For her own work, and in her workshops, she likes depth and movement. She likes floral arms that wave wildly, like Martha Graham dancers.“I add grasses or cuttings from fruit trees and plants in the vegetable garden. I use different sizes. I try to add something fun. Fun elements make the other parts stand out.”But not stand “up,” necessarily.

“When I look at photos of bouquets I did two years ago,” she confesses, “they seem too straight. You can’t be stressed with this. It’s just flowers; this should be fun.”Recalde has also opened a floral design studio in the center of Amenia village, where she meets with clients (it will eventually become a flower shop as well).Follow Le Jardin on Instagram, sign up for the newsletter, join her CSA. And above all: Have fun.