Susanne Richardson and Melissa Wood became friends on the sidelines of their young daughters’ soccer games. Wood, who grew up in Birmingham, and Richardson, originally from Dothan, quickly realized they shared a passion for gardening. Both women have backgrounds in education, but they would rather be digging in the dirt, planting seeds, filling garden beds and containers with plants and cutting flowers to create beautiful arrangements than doing any other kind of work. They started decorating holiday mailboxes and creating arrangements for friends and saw their love for plants grow into Seeds Design Company.
“We love to create flower arrangements for teachers and friends,” Richardson says. “People we know would ask us to make arrangements for them. Then they started reaching out for help with a garden bed here, a window box or container there. It just spread by word of mouth and now we have this little business that we love. We do anything from creating arrangements of cut flowers to planting flower beds. We call it ‘making your bed happy.’ We either advise people about what to plant or go buy everything and install the plants for them.”
The ladies are largely self-taught when it comes to plants and flowers. Richardson grew up soaking in all the knowledge she could gather about gardening from her parents and grandparents who were in farming. What she lacks in formal training, she makes up for with hands-on experience.
“I love gardening. It’s easy to get lost in it…the sunshine, the fresh air…gardening is a release. I’ve always had a dream to have a farm and fields of flowers. I learned a lot from my mom and dad, but it’s all about getting in there and getting your hands dirty. You try planting something here or there, see what works and what doesn’t.”
Wood, whose mother is an artist, dabbles in pottery and loves to create beauty. She delved into gardening once she owned her first home. “I like color, so for me it’s about the art of flowers,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to cutting gardens. I started planting things because I like it and wanted to have pretty flowers to cut. Friends started asking about my yard and asking me for suggestions about what to plant in their yards.”
Wood and Richardson enjoy the human connections that come about through gardening. “It’s a way to bridge the generations. Everybody loves flowers,” says Wood. “My 80-year-old neighbor loves to share plants with me. She gives me zinnia seeds, fruit from trees in her yard. She once put the top of a pineapple in soil and it grew. I had no idea that would work!”
Richardson cherishes the time-honored tradition of sharing flowers. “A friend gave me a bunch of hydrangeas that she rooted from her yard and I love them," she says. "I have white Yorrow that was my grandmother’s. A friend will call up and say, ‘I have lots of Black-Eyed Susans, what can we share?’ I’ll go over with different sprigs of things and we have the best time.”
Both ladies find joy in sharing plants and flowers with people going through hard times. “It’s nice to give someone something to enjoy when they’re going through a rough time,” Wood says. “We did a yard for a family who has a sick child. Because they are home a lot, we wanted to make their space somewhere they could retreat. It added so much cheer!”
Wood says connecting with nature also allows them to grow in their faith. “There are moments when you get to be still and take in the simple beauty that God provides. Plants and flowers bring a landscape to life. They make a house a home. They bring personality, character…they make a home look loved.”
“During quarantine, we planted zinnia seeds,” Richardson adds. “The more you cut them, the more they bloom. Pruning flowers reminds me of how we weather hard times in life. Painful trials hurt, but the beauty that can grow from it is a reminder of seasons in my life that have been hard. We grow from it and we produce more flowers, more fruit.”
Richardson and Wood recommend changing out annuals in your beds and planters twice a year—in late spring for summer blossoms and in early fall to produce blooms in the spring. Here are some of their favorite plants to add to a southern landscape.
Picks for Fall Planting (Late September to Early November)
Picks for Spring Planting (Late April to Early June)
Queen Anne’s Lace
For more flower inspiration, follow @seedsdesignco on Instagram. Richardson and Wood are available for consultations and small installs to enhance any space around your home with beautiful plants and flowers.
Click here to see Richardson's breathtaking spring garden and learn more tips for what to plant in your yard.