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Elizabeth Montgomery cultivates creativity at Three Toads Farm

When the dart landed at 2234 Colby Road, puddles of water from recent storms dotted the driveway to a pair of greenhouses on the property.

Inside, Elizabeth Montgomery was just returning from a spin class at a local fitness boutique.

Up a short hill from the greenhouse is an unassuming field that appears to be home to a garden of sorts. Logic would tell that something grows there, but the uninformed visitor wouldn’t imagine that by mid-summer, these plots of soil would be alive with pale pink lisianthus, fiery orange zinnia, delicate English sweet peas and towering sunflowers.

The farm on Colby Road is home to Three Toads Farm, a farmer-florist business offering specialty cut flowers and fine floral design.

Elizabeth is the third and youngest of the toads.

Her father, Charlie Hendricks, and Valerie Schirmer started the farm in 1998 when Elizabeth was just a little girl.

Charlie and Val began the business growing Oriental lilies at Valerie’s home on Combs Ferry Road, and Elizabeth has fond memories of her time spent helping as a child.

“I’ve been part of this operation ever since I was a little kid,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve always adored flowers.”

Elizabeth recalls being there the first time they sold their lilies at the Lexington Farmers Market and helping here and there while she was in school.

In 2013, she came on as a full-time business partner. She manages the company’s social media and website and teaches various workshops throughout the year.

Most notably, though, Elizabeth is responsible for designing floral arrangements for weddings and other events.

Shortly after she came on, Three Toads was named one of the top 10 farmer florists by Martha Stewart Weddings. In the magazine, Elizabeth said her designs are a-typical, exquisite, refined and elegant — all appropriate descriptions for her pieces that burst with colorful flowers and spill over with fragrant foliage.

Elizabeth said the art of floral design “comes naturally” for her.

“I never had any training,” she said. “I’ve just always been creative and enjoyed experimenting.”

A self-described perfectionist, Elizabeth believes her attention to detail is what makes her arrangements special.

“I love doing the design,” she said. “I think what makes me good at it is that I’m a perfectionist. When you’re designing for a wedding, every little detail has to be perfect, and as the designer, you have to be willing to go to any length to ensure that perfection.

“What some might see as a weakness, my desire for perfection works well in this job.”

Elizabeth does about 10 weddings a year making it a point to focus her attention on the brides as much as possible.

“We do one a weekend because I want that bride to know that the week leading up to her big day, all our attention is on her arrangements,” she said.

Her breath-taking arrangements have made a name for themselves and Elizabeth typically books her spring and fall wedding season a year or two in advance.

“I strive to design pieces that really stand out. I want them to be memorable,” she said. “That’s our goal overall. To grow flowers that are stunning, that stop you in your tracks, that you’re not going to see everywhere else.”

She said having her hand in the flowers from the day they are planted to the moment they are placed at an event offers a special advantage.

“We’re florists, but we grow everything we use from the flowers to the foliage,” she said. “That means the quality of the flowers can be better than if we got them from wholesale.

“It also allows me to be a little more creative. I have more appreciation for the flowers as well.”

Elizabeth shares her talent by teaching floral design workshops, the most popular being the Field To Vase. She also teaches bulb forcing classes and a winter flower school.

Alongside her mother, Cheryl Hendricks, Elizabeth also makes gourmet jams and jellies for “Mrs. Toad’s Jams.”

Although Elizabeth said she didn’t originally aspire to become a floral designer or be as active with the company, “things worked out really well,” and she anticipates she will continue doing this work for years to come.

To learn more about Elizabeth and Three Toads Farm, visit threetoadsfarm.com.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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