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Local florist sells shop, continues sharing passion for flowers

Local florist Brenda DeBona has sold her retail location, but continues giving lessons at her farm. (Photo credit: Ellen Paddock)

By Ellen Paddock / Copy Editor

BROCKPORT, N.Y. – Westside Gardens is usually popping with colorbut the flower farm is quiet and serene, covered in a blanket of snow, as the owner, Brenda DeBona, prepares for spring.  

She coined the name ‘Westside Gardens’ from her home on Westside Drive in North Chili where she sold fresh cut flowers in mason jars. She went on to open and run Westside Gardens flower shop for 18 years.  

DeBona sold her retail location last February and retired to her childhood farm, where her love for flowers began. 

“I taught myself to make Christmas wreaths after my father started the Christmas tree farm,” DeBona said.  

Brenda DeBona sells dried flowers from her farm. (Photo credit: Ellen Paddock)

Debona and her husband teamed with her sister and brother-in-law in taking over the second-generation Christmas tree farm. It is beautiful, but most people only see it in the winter months. DeBona wanted to share the farm’s year-round beauty so she began inviting everyone she knew to her gardens.  

On the farm, DeBona likes to keep busy. She spends her time teaching classes, prepping gardens, planting, harvesting and designing arrangements for special occasions.  

“I want to share the gardens,” DeBona said. “It’s such a happy feeling, a positive experience for everybody. Nobody has ever left feeling down. Flowers make you feel good.”  

DeBona is passionate about sharing the knowledge she has gained from 40 years in the industry through workshops and classes.  

“I am more old school because I have been doing it for so long. I have so much knowledge to share with people –– that’s what I want to give in the classes,” she said. “You can read a book, but it’s just not the same.” 

DeBona described the unique experience of her hands-on classes –– “we watch the butterflies float around. Sometimes we see rainbows,” she said.

Brenda DeBona has cool weather plant starters available. (Photo credit: Ellen Paddock)

When the snow melts, DeBona will be holding the seed starting 101 class where she will share techniques she has developed over the years. 

DeBona feels fortunate to have sold her flower shop last year, because she was able to dodge some of the complications that COVID-19 inflicted on small businesses.  

“The crazy part of all of it is I sold the flower shop Feb. 18 of last year. That was just before COVID-19 started, so I was happy to just be here,” she said.  

DeBona was able to hold outdoor, socially distant, classes over the summer, but is still keen on the challenges of owning a small business.  

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