Imagine starting your morning with a steaming cup of coffee and a barefoot walk through dewy grass, with rose and lavender bushes perfuming the air as you brush past them. Cynthia Zamaria doesn’t have to pinch herself—this is an everyday reality at her 2,400-square-foot cutting garden in Port Dover, Ont., where she grows blooms that are destined for bouquets. “I often think, ‘I’ll just go for a little walk,’ and before I realize it, it’s noon,” she says. “I lose myself in the garden.”
When the property’s this pretty, it’s easy to understand how time stands still. Cynthia, a former communications executive turned floral designer and decorator, was inspired by the slow-flower movement (the practice of growing seasonal blooms locally) when she plotted this dream garden beside the circa 1857 Georgian home she shares with her husband, Graham Loughton, and their three children. After studying with slow-flower pioneer Erin Benzakein (of the popular Instagram account floretflower), Cynthia decided to start a floral business that would provide homegrown blooms to private clients and small-scale events. “Basically a side hustle that would bring me joy,” she says with a laugh.
The garden’s heartbeat is its charming, custom-built potting studio (to call it a “shed” just doesn’t seem right). Cynthia’s studio must-haves? Windows that overlook Lake Erie, double doors, two water sources (a sink, plus a low spigot to fill flower buckets) and electricity to run her stereo—“I have a soft spot for Prince while I’m working,” she says.
On the exterior, a standing seam metal roof and gooseneck barn light give the structure a farmhouse vibe. Inside, simplicity reigns. Crisp white paint, plywood flooring and open shelves put the focus on Cynthia’s collection of vessels, from sap buckets to apple baskets sourced from a local farmer. “I’ve tried to curate the space so that everything has an authentic, maker vibe,” she says. “Even the utilitarian pieces are beautiful.”
The light-filled studio has become Cynthia’s personal and professional retreat, where she pulls together unfussy arrangements for herself, or for friends and clients. “I’m like a kid in a candy shop,” she says. “I listen to the birds, I soak up the solitude and I experiment. It’s my favourite place to be.”
Originally published in 2020; updated in 2021