The Florida Native Plants Nursery, where Annie Schiller’s William’s Wildflowers is located, feels like an entirely different Florida. Gone are the high-rise condos and office buildings of downtown Sarasota; they’ve been replaced by Myakka’s sprawling green pastures and big sky. Butterflies flutter past; horses graze nearby. And Schiller’s studio—housed in a silver Airstream trailer—is Instagram-perfect, surrounded by lush greenery with cafe lights strung up outside. On a recent gray morning, the sheen from the rain made everything gleam.
Schiller’s business is, literally, blooming. After years of helping her mother, Laurel, who owns the Florida Native Plants Nursery, Schiller started getting requests for cut flowers from people who appreciated native Florida plants and wanted local flowers with a smaller, greener footprint. “I thought it would be wonderful to introduce native wildflowers to the wedding industry and provide an alternative to conventional flowers,” she says.
“We’re really lucky in Florida because we have a continual growing season,” she continues. “However, Florida does have seasons—they’re just more subtle. Spring and fall are the best times for wildflowers.”
A former art major, Schiller says her love of floral arranging is a natural extension of her art background, which focused on installations and sculpture. After moving to Florida from New York to help her mother with the nursery, Schiller started William’s Wildflowers as a side project, naming the business for her grandfather William Keller, a passionate gardener.
Outside of Schiller’s trailer, flowering bushes and trees are filled with flowers, and she nurses rows of yellow, purple, pink and white wildflowers and other patches that spring up on the nursery’s acreage. As she walks through her garden, she’s quick to point out the unique characteristics of a certain type of flower, or pluck another from its tree to offer a whiff of an intoxicating scent.