Wild about wildflowers
LEROY - Tania Hanline has been blessed with a very healthy love for flowers - wildflowers to be precise.
The LeRoy area resident hopes to share this love of flowers with friends and neighbors, and with people much further afield.
There’s a lot to learn about wildflowers in this part of Michigan, and a lot to be learned from wildflowers as well.
Hanline has learned a lot, is learning more every day, and would like to have a part in spreading the word about what she has learned — helping others develop a love and passion for wildflowers as well.
Her love for wildflowers is itself an evolving thing - from a simple appreciation of the growing things around her, to an academic study of flowers and wildflowers, to work in the field as a professional botanist, and now with the development of her most recent passion - the Provenance Wildflower Farm.
In barns, growing houses, outbuildings, and seed plots around the homestead she lives on with her husband and son, Hanline has set out to collect native plants and seeds, propagate this plant species, and get ready to market them so that they won’t be lost forever as the human environment slowly but surely encroaches on the natural surroundings.
It’s not just about business.
It is about passion, conservation, and education.
“We are dedicated to the conservation of Michigan native plants and to the cultivation of the human mind,” she said with conviction.
Hanline hasn’t tasted a silver spoon in her mouth in quite some time, but she speaks with the passion of a person with “flowers in her soul.”
She studied horticulture and earned her first degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She continued her studies later on in life receiving a masters degree in biology with an emphasis on botany from Central Michigan University.
“It was interesting coming from Arizona to Michigan,” she said with a smile. “I found I knew nothing about plants. The environment is completely different.
“I had to start all over again.”
After receiving her degree from CMU, Hanline began work as a seasonal botanist with the U.S. Forestry Service and among her other jobs she carried out botanical surveys for rare and endangered plants.”
During her years in Michigan, she began collecting seeds and learning more and more about botanical diversity and growth needs of specific wildflowers and plants native to her immediate “neighborhood.”
“I was most interested in plants living and thriving within 150 miles of Osceola County,” she said. “I recognized, however, that even in such a relatively small area, there was a tremendous difference in growing environments.
“I have found a surprising number of “lost” native plant species in the Idlewild area and am working with folks over there to catalog and propagate the plants I’m finding.
“Through my work with the Forest Service, I was able to attend conferences and special study programs that added to my knowledge of native plants in this area.
“I love this specialized area of work and study.
“Then the time came for me to head off on my own and create a way I could pass on my passion to others in a wider and more open environment.
“My family got full behind me and we developed the idea of Provenance Farm — a place name that describes our idea of how the natural environment is so woven into the story of our life.”
Hanline began building on her seed collection by traveling around the area and finding pockets of surviving wildflowers and native plants on accessible private and public land.
“I also like the idea of eventually being able to take people on tours of this area - their own area - and being able to show them the wonderful things we have growing here in some tucked away corners of the county and hidden beauty spots,” she continued.
“We have some beautiful remnant areas of wonderful native flowers that I would love to get schools and groups to see. The more people understand wildflowers, the more folks will be excited about protecting the plants all around us.”
It has taken Hanline seven years to get to the point at which she thinks she’s ready to open for business - seven years to collect 95 species of plants.
“Look. It may be strange to some people, but this isn’t just about money,” She said emphatically. “I expect this business to succeed. I think there is a need and I can help answer that need.
“But my focus is on the plants and people.
“I really want people to learn more about where they live and the plants with which they exist. I think that’s important.
“My mom always told me, “Find something you really love to do in life, and the money will follow.”
“I believe that. I have found what I really love and I want to pass it on to others.”
There’s a lot going on at Provenance Wildflower Farm.
Preparing a business for a autumn Grand Opening. Setting out new seed beds. Creating new reproductive plots. Gathering more seeds - and then some more. Transplanting plant stock so that there is ‘merchandise’ ready for sale.
It’s a busy time.
“I think I have customers lined up,” Hanline said. “We have a lot to do, but we’ll be ready and I have folks looking forward to buying special plants for special purposes.
“We hope to be part of a journey people may be taking as they plan their gardens and extended land plantings.
“This isn’t going to be a nursery with hanging baskets and standard garden plants. We are going to answer a very special need.”
Hanline hopes business will get going and the Provenance Wildflower Farm will be up and running for customers in September. It isn’t necessarily up to her.
It’s much more up to her “babies” — the plant stock now growing in hothouses and seed plots around the farm.
She also hopes to host a seed swap at the same time for people who extra wildflower seeds.
“We’re going to plan programs and all sort of educational and informational opportunities,” she said.
“It’s going to be great. I think when people really start to realize what they have where they live, they’ll start getting fired up about native species and the stunning wildflowers we have in our area.”
The Provenance Wildflower Farm can be contacted at (231) 768-4603.