People of the Point – Catherine Stewart


Among the bright promises of spring are flowers. Snowdrops, with their shyly dropping heads, have had their day and soon will come the flashy stars of April tulips. For Catherine Stewart, spring brings particular excitement this year, as she launches Clover Blossom Farm, where she cultivates a lavish diversity of tulips, 16 colors of gladioli, and – the crowning floral glory – over 70 varieties of dahlias.

“I always wanted to have a road-side flower stand,” she says, and so she created one – you’ll see the splash of color and beauty while driving up Marine Drive, just north of the Reef. The simple joy of these beginnings has grown into Clover Blossom Farm, where Catherine and Bill Stannard, her husband of 22 years, divide their energies. He grows vegetables; she grows flowers.

Catherine’s first love has always been animals. Two Icelandic horses graze next to raised flower and vegetable beds enriched by manure; the cycle of life playing out in a corral with a view. Bill makes sure that everything is organic, traveling from farm to table in a short, safe trip.

Catherine’s ability to connect with the land, the natural world – the non-human world – seems intuitive, and it is with dogs that I have experienced her gifts first hand. Many dog owners in Point Roberts, and beyond, know what I mean. “My goal is helping humans understand an animal, so the animal can feel safe – fostering trust, confidence and security,” Catherine says. “It’s been brought home to all of us how important it is to feel safe.” The Tellington TTouch method, and positive reinforcement training are the two modalities Catherine is certified in, and offers for dogs.

In the past, she has offered courses and workshops at home and away. She has been a key resource for the Maui Humane Society. “I want to shift an animal to where they are adoptable.” Her focus is refreshing – helping people understand their animals’ needs, rather than teaching animals to understand their owners’ series of commands.

Covid-19 put Catherine’s teaching and traveling for workshops on hold, “and so, flowers,” she says, with simple clarity. It began when her husband Bill planted dahlias and gladioli six years ago, “Because he knows I love them.” And so, as is often the case in life, the beginnings were serendipitous. She planted more and more flowers, for the sheer love of them. First to show their heads this spring will be narcissus, followed by a lush array of 350 tulips. Frilly, multi-layered beauties with ruffled petals promise a chorus line of color. Names like Blue Wow and Amazing Parrot, give you a taste of what’s about to burst into bloom.

“First, I was selling to friends, now it’s grown,” Catherine says. “Plants are so healing, and at first it was just a positive and beautiful thing to focus on. It was a natural step to begin cultivating them.” The centerpiece of the show is always the dahlias, Catherine’s favorite, which bloom in late June through September. Cultivating these high maintenance blooms is not a simple thing. After blooming season, no later than mid-November, the dahlia tubers are dug up, hosed down and separated. Then they are dried thoroughly and stored in cardboard boxes, encased in organic matter such as coconut coir or vermiculite. In early April, the cycle begins anew, with the sowing of the tubers.

But not all dahlias come from tubers. “Growing one from a seed is very different, and unlike a tuber, no two dahlias from seed will ever be alike,” Catherine explains. “Dahlia seeds get their genetic makeup from the seed parent as well as from the pollination of bees ... the bees carry pollen from one dahlia plant to the next and actually modify the genetic make-up of the dahlia seeds.” Catherine’s dream is to create a unique dahlia, to be named “Francina,” after her much-loved older sister, who recently passed away. A labor of meaning and remembrance. “I’ll find the perfect one to honor my sister’s beautiful life and the love she gave to me.”

My salient impression of Catherine is that she loves to learn. Learning is what undergirds her skills in nurturing animals and helping each one to live the best life possible. One of her recent courses of study is Zoopharmacognosy – a big word that means the study of how animals self-medicate with medicinal compounds found in nature.

Learning is what enriches Catherine through the winter of waiting for another growing season. And it’s begun. The bulbs are showing up, and all summer and long into fall come dahlias, gladioli, poppies, snapdragons, sunflowers and more – the glorious gifts of Clover Blossom Farm.

For more information on Catherine’s services for animals, the flower stand and the “Flower Share” plan – the pre-ordering of from four to 12 weeks of bouquets, with the option of adding an additional bunch to share with a senior in Point Roberts, go to:


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here