The roots of Ash-Hanson Flowers and Wedding Innovations hearken back to 1923 when Flavius and Winifred Ash started a truck farming operation, taking the plants and vegetables of their Oak Grove garden to the downtown Marietta market.
"They grew bedding plants, cabbage, tomatoes, and took them to the truck growers on Second Street. They sold this produce and that's what kept them alive," noted the Ash's granddaughter, Marcia Stewart, of the business' early days.
More than 90 years and two generations later, Ash Greenhouses has undergone several transformations, with each generation infusing their own interests and adding certain services along the way. Today the business still offers floral arrangements, but mainly focuses on the wedding coordination services that Stewart, the current owner, has made her focus.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Marcia Stewart poses in front of Ash-Hanson Flowers and Wedding Innovations, which was started by her grandparents as a greenhouse more than 90 years ago.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Marcia Stewart arranges table settings inside her Ash-Hanson Flowers and Wedding Innovations showroom in Oak Grove. The business has gone through many metamorphoses since her grandparents founded it as a greenhouse in 1923.
Stewart, 63, of Marietta, first realized the need for such services when at age 17, she was charged with delivering flowers to a wedding.
"Back then the girls carried a lot of single rose arm bouquets. If one girl would cut the head off her rose, the bouquet was gone," she said.
Sure enough, the bride broke her rose, and in a moment of panic and quick thinking, Stewart repaired it with a corsage pin.
1923: Flavius and Winifred Ash begin selling vegetable and flowering plants in Oak Grove under the name Ash Greenhouses.
1951: Flavius and Winifred's daughter Elsie Ash-Hanson opens the floral business in downtown Marietta, and adds floral arrangements to the company's offerings.
2003: Ash-Hanson Flowers and Wedding Innovations closed its downtown location, ceased daily flower delivery, and moved back to the original location in Oak Grove to focus on bridal coordination and floral design for events.
Source: Times research.
"Right then I knew there was a need for people to go to weddings and coordinate. When you have someone at a wedding that says, 'I can fix that,' everything calms down," she said.
To some degree, the business has been involved in wedding coordinating since Stewart's parents, Forrest Hanson and Elsie Ash Hanson, purchased the business in 1951 and added the flower shop.
But it was not until 2003, 30 years after Stewart herself had taken over the business, that she made the tough decision to shut down the massively demanding daily flower operation. In its place she began to focus on wedding and event planning, often with a touch of her signature floral arranging still involved.
"I think every business that is successful changes with the times and what the public's needs are. You can get flowers anywhere. You can buy them on the street corner, but you can't get service with them," she noted.
It is the service that Stewart offers that has made her a guardian angel in the eyes of many of her brides.
That is exactly how Vanessa Oliver, 25, felt as Stewart began helping her plan her January wedding last summer.
"I was working on my seating chart and was behind on it, and I got super overwhelmed," recalled Oliver of trying to seat the 300 people she was expecting.
Stewart quickly stepped in and took over, said Oliver.
"She said 'Sit down. Stop freaking out. I will take care of this.' I was so glad she knows what she's doing," she said.
Having someone who has planned more than 3,600 events in her corner meant Oliver could relax and enjoy the special day with her husband Kyle and 4-year-old daughter Lennon.
"Having someone who knows those tiny details just takes your wedding from standard to exceptional," she said.