by Suzanne Labry
Pamela Arnosky—Flower Farmer and Quilter
Pamela Arnosky is one of those people who make others wonder whether her days have more hours than everyone else’s, or whether she has perhaps secretly cloned herself in order to accomplish everything that she has managed to pack into her life to date.
For the past 27 years, she and her husband, Frank, have operated Texas Specialty Cut Flowers from their 90-acre farm in the Texas Hill Country, selling to florists and large regional specialty stores throughout several states as well as directly to the public.
The Arnoskys have 20 acres in production and 22 greenhouses in Texas growing all sorts of flowers and an additional 87 acres in Minnesota, where they grow peonies. They’ve raised four children, all homeschooled, and all of the kids graduated with honors from their various universities. Pamela has a degree in biogeography from Texas A&M University and did graduate work in Canada. She has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and bicycled back to Texas from Seattle. She has led high school conservation crews for the Student Conservation Association, doing trail work in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, and Mount Rogers, Virginia. She has served as a board member for a cut flower trade association, has written articles and books about flower farming, and speaks nationally at various farming conferences and events. She’s a seriously good dancer. Oh, and did I mention she’s a quilter?
La Virgen de Guadalupe by Pamela Arnosky.
Pamela comes from a long line of expert needlewomen and she learned to hand sew as a child, making doll clothes. “Everything I know about quilting, though, I learned from books—my mother supplies me with quilt books that she has purchased whenever she realizes that she has more than one copy,” she laughs.
“I started quilting with a whole cloth quilt made for my dear grandpa when I was in college; then I made a couple of baby quilts. I put a full-sized Nine Patch into a quilting frame my brother built for me, and it languished there for 15 years because we live in a very small house, and there was no room for it while all four kids were living here.”
Although Pamela—not being one to make excuses—doesn’t mention it, there is the fact that being a full-time farmer, homeschooling mother, and all the other previously listed activities left her precious little time for sleep, much less quilting. “I started quilting again to get caught up on the 'baby quilts' about the time that the kids were leaving for college,” she continues. “Since only the first two children got quilts, the last two got full-sized quilts that they took off to college with them.”
As might be expected from someone whose days—quite literally—are filled with flowers, color plays an important role in Pamela’s quilts. “The quilts I make have been typically bright and a little unruly, in my opinion. Having a flower farm means that I am surrounded by color. I love color,” she says.
“I have often done scrap quilts, using the bits and pieces of fabric that have come down to me from friends and family. I like to work with fairly small pieces. Since quilting can be done by hand, I carry a tin with the pieces all cut up and I carry it wherever I go. That project represents order within the bigger life that we lead, where we are on the go at all times, and where the weather can undo everything in a moment. A quilt is also a thing of beauty that lasts longer than a flower bouquet!”