Jumbo Flowers a Tradition for Memorial Day, Centerpiece for Summer Weddings
By Molly Allen
Just two and a half miles off of Interstate 82, as you make your way into Toppenish sits a small farm bursting with color and beaming with history. Adeline’s Peonies, located at 502 Asotin Ave. in Toppenish, has been in operation since the early 1930s thanks to Adeline McCarthy, who planted her first perennial peony plants over 80 years ago.
“This is something grandma started, and we’ve always kept it going as a family,” said Pat McCarthy, Adeline’s grandson. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Adeline McCarthy left North Dakota and settled in Toppenish in 1915. She and her husband built the house that still stands on the property today and utilized the acreage in the backyard for planting a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with peonies. During the 1930s, Native Americans began to take notice of the bright, jumbo flowers planted in the backyard. As the flowers were at their peak near the Memorial Day holiday, the tribal members offered to trade salmon for the flowers – a welcome trade for Adeline who was raising nine sons and one daughter at the time. The Native Americans were drawn to the bright, seasonal flower, taking them to decorate the graves of their loved ones.
“As more people began to stop for flowers, grandma continued to plant more,” said McCarthy. “To this day, that is still our largest customer base and we love to be a part of that tradition. Our customers introduce their children to us, and then we’ll see the children all grown up coming back year after year.”
Adeline’s is open for the season April through the middle of June, but Memorial Day Weekend is by far their busiest time of year, with hundreds stopping by for peonies to memorialize their loved ones. The farm hosts special hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial Day Weekend to accommodate their time-honored tradition.
Today, Adeline’s grows 26 varieties of peonies, all in varying colors including white, pink, coral and yellow and produces thousands of flowers every year, and if you look closely, you’ll still see some of the original plants Adeline planted over 80 years ago, still producing bright, beautiful flowers on the farm.
But Adeline’s wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the McCarthy family and its hardworking crew.
Adeline and her husband had ten children who grew up on the farm and helped with the peony business. Pat McCarthy, who was born and raised in Toppenish, grew up working the field as a young boy, and is now passing the business on to his son, Jay McCarthy, next year as the fourth generation to run the farm. In addition, Ron Jones keeps the farm operational, serving as the grower for more than 10 years.
“We’ve all worked together to keep this going. And we have the most wonderful crew,” said McCarthy. “We certainly couldn’t do this without them.”
In addition to serving as a popular stop during Memorial Day Weekend, Adeline’s also keeps flowers growing through June to fill custom orders for events and summer weddings. Especially in June, the peonies are incredibly popular, garnering attention from brides all across the state.
“It’s so wonderful to have our customers stop by year after year for flowers, and we get to know their family generation after generation,” said McCarthy. “It’s a tradition.”
Originally published in the Review Independent, serving the lower Yakima Valley.