A FAMILY TRADITION
Lowell native, Bob Sarniak, spends hours daily his field of Dahlias just north of Lowell. Often accompanied by his sister Karen, they keep the garden free of weeds while watering and grooming the plants. It is a labor of love. Their mother kept a few rows of Dahlias in her garden when Bob and his siblings were growing up. As she became less able to care for the garden, Bob took on more of the responsibilities. Although his mother has passed, she lives on in the rows of Dahlias gracing the farm.
Sarniak loves the beauty of the Dahlia and has continued to expand the garden as well as the number of species grown. Sarniak has grown approximately twenty-three varieties of Dahlia’s as well as other colorful floral species on his small farm north of Lowell over the past ten years. In his first year alone, he planted over 2000 tubers. Currently there are approximately thirty-five confirmed species of Dahlias. He explained that during the years, he has lost some of the varieties due to weather, or during storage.
A SHORT HISTORY
Dahlia Tubers are edible and were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs. Sarniak, who is also accomplished in the kitchen, has prepared and eaten Dahlia Tubers. Although it isn’t something he does often, he believes they taste a bit like parsnips.
The Dahlia is a native species of Mesoamerica, an area covering the high plains of Mexico and traveling down towards South America. It was first recorded in illustrations by Spanish Botanists around the year 1570. The Aztecs believed the Dahlia to have both medicinal and spiritual qualities.
Sarniak however grows flowers for a much different reason. As he walks his field the stress of the day seems to fade and he feels happy. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds flock to the field as well. He spends between thirty to forty hours per week caring for them. The field of Dahlia’s has definitely curtailed his summer activities, especially between July and October when the flowers are in full bloom.
YOU CAN’T HELP BUT SMILE
The flowers are grown to be sold, but he often gives large bouquets away. While the flowers are in full bloom you will often find large arrangements on display at New Union Brewery. His arrangements are often purchased for special events, but are available to just make someone’s day. When asked why he gives away so many arrangements he stated “It’s always fun to see someone’s eyes light up.”
At the end of the growing season, the real work begins. Each tuber must be dug up and properly stored through the winter months. Tubers must be kept in a cool dry atmosphere to prevent them from rotting, but not to dry or they may die. This has become an increasingly difficult job as the size of the farm, and volume of the tubers has increased. Year after year he successfully produces some of the most beautiful floral arrangements around.
Sarniak doesn’t have a storefront and doesn’t advertise. He keeps those interested updated on his Facebook Page, True Love Floral, where he posts pictures of the newest variety in bloom as well as when he has tubers for sale. Bob has a true love for his flowers, and year after year he shares that love with others.