On the day of the visit, the sun wasn’t out but the warmth was everywhere.
Fiona’s Flowers was illuminated by an overcast glow diffused through a canopy of ancient trees. The vibrant colors of the living bouquets sparkled in a soft drizzle. The mist seemed to mute all sounds except for the birds rejoicing in the rainy day.
Julie Simmons and her daughter Fiona, operators of the venture, reflected the scene as they serenely related their experiences selling flowers and produce from their Canandaigua home.
In 1997 newlyweds Julie and John were following Julie’s passion for estate sales. This particular trip ended up at at an old, grand estate at 5255 West Ave. Extension. They were surprised to find it was not only an estate sale but a preview for a real estate auction. The more they looked at the stone house, built in 1844, the more they fell in love with it.
Equally enchanting were the surrounding gardens. In keeping with the custom of Victorian well-to-do, the owners through the years had collected the now mature specimen trees and built formal gardens throughout the property.
By the time Julie and John found the home, much of its former glory had faded, but following their impulse, they ended up with the property. They immediately began the long labor of love to restore it. During that time, life happened, and they were joined by two daughters.
At age seven their oldest daughter, Fiona, asked if she could sell some of the abundant flowers growing around the house. Julie thought this would be a good learning experience and spent the summer digging up plants for Fiona’s roadside stand. The next summer her second daughter was a toddler and the enterprise was abandoned. Fast-forward twelve years. In the summer of 2018, Fiona was now a 19-year-old college student. She was once again inspired to sell flowers at the roadside stand. Julie agreed and they started with just a few hanging baskets and container gardens.
Business was brisk and they increased inventory, and increased inventory some more — then the change started. As Julie describes it: “Something happened — I’m not sure what.”