What started as a former hay meadow is rapidly being transformed into a field of flower dreams by Round Top Flower Farm owner Tracy Vanderford.

Vanderford, a career surgical technologist and realtor, began experimenting with flowers on her 15-acre plot on Waldeck Cemetery Road during the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020. She has been dreaming of becoming a flower farmer since she purchased the land four years ago.

“My city life is extremely stressful,” Vanderford tells RoundTop.com. “Being here (in Round Top) allowed me to keep my family safer and de-stress. I started experimenting with growing various plants for cut flowers just to see if I could accomplish it.”

Vanderford taught herself how to grow flowers by doing a lot of reading and following other local flower farmers on social media. She credits her success in part to visits to Basecamp Farms in Millican, and advice from its owner Georgia. Vanderford has since had success growing a variety of climate friendly flowers including zinnias, sunflowers, roses, daffodils, snapdragons, daisies, poppies, ranunculus and calendula. She’s also been able to grow a few herbs such as rosemary, sage and lavender.

Vanderford snaps a selfie with one of her signature floral arrangements.

“They did so well I was amazed,” says Vanderford of her first try at growing zinnias and sunflowers. “There were challenges with the weather and pests. I have learned to fight high winds, freezes, baking sun, and grasshoppers.”

Vanderford’s flower business is currently a one-woman show. She heads out to Round Top from her home in The Woodlands to tend to her farm and create and deliver arrangements Thursday through Sunday of each week following her Monday to Wednesday hospital shifts. At the farm she enjoys creating her “signature arrangements” which are blue or clear Mason jars filled with sunflowers and zinnias, wrapped with twine and adorned with her Round Top Flower Farm logo. She also offers a signature “hand held” bouquet of zinnias and sunflowers without a vase that are wrapped in burlap and tied with twine.

Her customers include various local businesses, bed and breakfasts and private homes. Customers often come to her gate to buy flowers directly from the field, which Vanderford happily hands off from her John Deere Gator utility vehicle.

All in a day’s work. Fresh cut flowers await arranging in Vanderford’s prized antique cart, a Round Top antiques week find.

Round Top locals have been key in helping Round Top Flower Farm thrive. With locals’ support, Vanderford rarely has a week without orders. Artist Ray Hadaway, who is currently showing at Melissa Ellis Fine Art, was her first paying customer. Hadaway purchased several Mother’s Day bouquets.

“Eva (Park) from The Vintage Hideaway allowed me to highlight my bouquets there. I would take her flower arrangements for her tables (at the beer and wine garden) that had my logo on the tag. Customers tell me that they saw my flowers there and loved them,” Vanderford beams, noting that she visits The Vintage Hideaway once a week to chat with owners Eva Park and Bryan Broussard.

The demand for Vanderford’s rustic field grown arrangements has resulted in the need for expansion. This flower entrepreneur recently acquired a tractor and has enlisted her husband (who also keeps an eye the couple’s Jack Russell puppy) to help till up additional sections of their land and amend the soil for more flower beds. The couple stayed in a travel trailer on the property for three years before adding a barn, and finally a new home this past May.

Vanderford also recently began making and selling salve, cream and lip balm made with her calendula flowers. She creates tins of the product using dried flowers, olive oil and beeswax combined with tea tree, lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils. 

“My heart is here,” Vanderford says of Round Top. Her hope is to eventually move to the area full time. She’s certainly already creating a special place in the community with Round Top Flower Farm.