Scout’s Honored: Nellie’s Wildflowers


In its cozy, narrow storefront on Holland Street, Nellie’s Wildflowers is bursting with color and fragrance, just waiting to be taken home to someone special.

“We have unique flowers,” says Jess McEachirn, the niece of Nellie’s owner Joyce McKenzie. She’s been working at the shop officially for five years, but has been a presence since it was opened when she was very young. “We try to do everything unique, to do our own spin on it. We don’t want you to come in and find yellow carnations you’d find in a grocery store.”

Joyce McKenzie, Nellie’s owner, will visit flower markets a few times a week, including ones in Chelsea and Boston, because they prefer to hand-pick the flowers they will carry instead of relying upon shipments. Sometimes they will source a flower from a local farm, and other times they will work with growers around the region—they’ve had sunflowers from Pennsylvania and tulips from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

“The best tulips come from Canada,” says McEachirn, adding that their gerbera daisies also come from America’s northern neighbor.

She estimates about half of customers want to be very involved in making their bouquet, while the rest are looking for guidance.

“We have lots of people who come in and enjoy looking at flowers, who like to put together their own bouquet. We’re happy to do it either way,” says McEachirn. “Some people are in here for at least an hour—they want to pick the right flower for what they’re doing.”

And what is the right flower? That’s ever-changing, since there’s almost nothing as seasonal as flowers. Nellie’s works with many growers to ensure they have a wide selection of familiar blossoms such as, in autumn, sunflowers and mums and (for their short blooming season) dahlias … and some unexpected surprises, such as flowering kale, with its bright purples and whites. If it’s a beautiful scent you’re looking for, McEachirn notes that stock has a lovely fragrance that’s “like a childhood memory of flowers.”

For McEachirn, one of the best things about working at Nellie’s is knowing that the bouquets and arrangements they help create will “give a smile to somebody.” And then there are the surprises they get to be part of.

“Last Valentine’s Day, there were two women sending flowers to each other,” she recalls. “They were married, and they each sent the other the flowers from their wedding. They were thrilled, they thought it was the best!

“Things like that are enjoyable, when you can help make somebody’s day,” says McEachirn. “That was really a highlight for us.”

A version of this story appeared in the Scout’s Honored print issue of Scout Somerville, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription. This is an updated story to better reflect the voice of the business being discussed.

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