by Jamie Swann | November 24, 2016

Florida-Grown Magnolias

Add Deep-Rooted Traditions to Holiday Décor

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Noble fir, mosses, golden cedars and magnolia all combine to create this luscious bounty of vibrant green. Photography by Brianne Lehan www.briannelehan.com

Among the tall pines and waxy magnolias lining the quiet roads of Barberville sits a cluster of metal warehouses where door wreaths and mantle dressings have gained national attention.

Situated at the corner of County Road 3 and State Road 40, a passerby would never guess the verdant works of art hand-assembled inside the sterile buildings have decked the halls of monumental places like the White House and Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

The unassuming structures are home to The Magnolia Company, a family-owned business named for the tree (found in northern and central parts of Florida) whose leaves are incorporated into nearly all their wreaths, garlands and other floral arrangements.

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Swag of fresh magnolia cut off of the farm, accented with golden lotus pods and magnolia leaves. Photography by The Magnolia Company

The Magnolia Company made its official debut in August 2001, but the family business planted roots in the area long before that.

In 1936, Frank and Mary Underhill founded Underhill Ferneries, a company which grew and supplied cut foliage to wholesale florists in New England. More than three generations later, their daughter Mary Waugh and son-in-law Math Roth expanded the family business and launched The Magnolia Company, which owns and operates 100 acres of magnolia trees.

Beginning with five employees, including Waugh and Roth, the Magnolia Company now has 25 year-round employees. Waugh serves as the company’s chief designer, while Roth focuses more on the business side of things.

80 years later, two fertile businesses, Underhill Ferneries and the Magnolia Company, still share an office building.

With expectations of shipping more than 50,000 magnolia wreaths, centerpieces, garland and other extravagant arrangements around the world this holiday season, Roth says he adds 50 extra employees during the holidays just to keep up with demand.

“To say we stay busy is an understatement,” jokes Roth. “We see the most demand for our original magnolia collection. I think people are drawn to the classic style that endures from season to season.”

Each team member works diligently—pruning magnolia stems from the nearby tree farm or wiring the magnolia leaves together for the festive wreaths and arrangements.

“At the end of the season,” Roth says, “we expect to have created about 12 miles in magnolia leaf garland.”

For more information, check out the themagnoliacompany.com 


Thumbnail and door wreath photography by Brianne Lehan www.briannelehan.com