Hidden Springs Peony Farm has more than 600 varieties of peonies, from red to yellow to coral to pink and more. Peonies originated in Asia and Eastern Europe. (Submitted photo)
Hidden Springs…Growing Beautiful Flowers, and Much More
SPRING GROVE — Just a few short years ago Bryan and Laura Kubes and their three little girls were living a pretty typical suburban life in Plymouth, Minnesota, a northwestern suburb of Minneapolis. Bryan, who had grown up near his family’s farm south of the Twin Cities, was developing a career in marketing for a global agriculture company. Laura was a busy mom who also happened to be a TV meteorologist at KARE-11. A busy young family, but one that felt a different calling, too.
“We wanted to slow down and spend more time together as a family,” Laura says. “We needed to get out of the rat race. We weren’t sure where that would be, but we started looking for rural properties of 30+ acres that had some tillable land, wooded acreage, and a clean water source.” In the summer of 2022, their search took them to Hidden Springs Flower Farm near Spring Grove, Minnesota.
“We loved the idea of being in the Driftless region because of its topography and landscape, but we had not been thinking about buying a business. The closer we looked at Hidden Springs, though, the more we realized it checked all our boxes. We saw it for the first-time last August; we moved here in January. Now with our first bloom season under our belts, we couldn’t be more thrilled.”
The Kubes family is now creating Hidden Springs Peony Farm, a 54-acre family-owned, family-run operation specializing in the growing and selling of peonies, a highly-prized and popular plant with quite a history (it was first documented in Chinese culture thousands of years ago) and an amazing variety (Hidden Springs alone has more than 600 highly collectable types of peonies in an array of spectacular colors, from red to yellow to coral to pink and more). People from all over the world have been cultivating, enjoying and collecting peonies for generations. Besides their obvious beauty, what makes them so popular?
“Peonies are a generational plant,” explains Laura. “They can live to be more than 100 years old. They transplant well. You’ll meet people who have and care for their grandmother or great-grandmother’s peony. That describes me, too—I have one from my great-grandmother. A peony becomes an heirloom that connects families in a very special way.”
That can even happen in a far-northern climate like Minnesota.
“Peonies originated in China, Japan and in Eastern Europe,” Laura says, “but there’s currently an active community of peony breeders in Minnesota, too. This plant needs chill hours so the cold climate here is not a problem. They tolerate cold better than heat. You can grow peonies in Zone 3 in Minnesota, Canada, and Alaska, but you can’t grow them in Florida. There aren’t too many plants you can say that about.”
The roots of Hidden Springs Farm go back to 2012 when its original owners, Harvey and Brigitte Buchite, began to “hybridize” peonies, a process where the pollen of one plant is collected and mixed with another plant to create a unique blend of color. Bryan and Laura plan to continue that process, resulting in plants growing in their Spring Grove fields that exist nowhere else on earth.
“Harvey and Brigitte transformed a pasture in southeastern Minnesota into a fully-functional peony farm that is truly a work of art,” says Laura.
Peonies are the centerpiece of this family-farm. People visiting Hidden Springs from the middle of May through June (weather-dependent, of course) will find the fields in bloom. Potted plants can be purchased through the summer. In August and September plants are dug up and shipped bare-root to on-line buyers, as well. The Garden Center is open all season.
But other plants and trees are available for purchase at Hidden Springs as well, including fruit trees, day lilies, heirloom apples, disease-resistant cherries, apricots, plums, elderberries, hazelnuts and pears, orchid cactus, perennials, and shrubs, as well as woody and woodland plants. Their goal, according to their website, is “…to help Midwest gardeners who want to brighten their indoor and outdoor gardens.”
Growing Plants, Growing Family
The Kubes are enjoying the early stages of their new venture. “We’re learning as we go,” says Laura, “and are eager to try new things. We’re looking to expand our peonies u-pick options next year and also hope to offer several picnic events in early to mid-June. That’s a beautiful time to see the fields coming into bloom. The first colors are usually red, then coral, then it transitions to the pink and white varieties.”
Does she have a personal favorite?
“I’ll give myself a couple of years before I decide on that,” she says with a laugh. “But I do love the Athena, a cream-colored peony with pink stripes.”
Beautiful flowers and healthy plants being grown in healthy, sustainable ways is a paramount for the Kubes family.
“We’re committed to a chemical-free environment and regenerative farming,” Laura says. “For weed management we think mulch and cover crops. Our chickens help, too, and next year we plan to add some goats. Our life mission is to create and foster a passion to live holistically with the land.” What’s even more important to the Kubes than that, though, is what brought them to Hidden Springs in the first place.
“Family is first for us. We want ours to be a family business that we do together. That is happening already. We’re spending more time together. We’re watching our girl’s blossom, growing more independent and responsible, doing chores, and turning into great farm kids. It’s fun and amazing to watch. We’re also ecstatic about the community we’ve moved into. The people of Spring Grove have been so welcoming and supportive. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
Growing beautiful plants, growing a strong family. It’s what the Hidden Springs Peony Farm is all about.
Steve Harris is a local freelance writer and the author of the book Lanesboro, Minnesota