Farmer-florist Lexi Koch of Port Townsend and her son Jude, 8, unwrapped a few dozen roses Thursday for the extra-large floral heart garland to be placed at Haller Fountain on Monday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Farmer-florist Lexi Koch of Port Townsend and her son Jude, 8, unwrapped a few dozen roses Thursday for the extra-large floral heart garland to be placed at Haller Fountain on Monday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Tribute to be for those lost to COVID-19

Port Townsend women to adorn fountain with roses

PORT TOWNSEND — The roses have arrived.

Dozens of blooms — luscious pink, coral, yellow and cream — found their way Thursday morning into the arms of Lexi Koch and her son Jude, 8, for a big undertaking. Koch is part of the nationwide Floral Heart Project, so on Monday morning, she’ll lay a large, heart-shaped garland of roses at Haller Fountain, downtown at Washington and Taylor streets.

The project is both a tribute to the people who have been lost to COVID-19 and a centering point for, well, everyone, Koch said.

“For so long, every single person’s life has been altered,” she said.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to gather and note that. We’re so fortunate here” in Jefferson County, where case rates and deaths are far below the numbers in other parts of the world.

“But we’ve all been affected,” she added. “This is just a time to come and take a moment, catch an eye with someone across the way.”

Koch and her collaborator, Lisa Leporati, plan to lay the rose heart on the ground below the fountain’s Galatea sculpture about 9:30 a.m. Monday. It will remain for the day, Koch said, though she may ask the city of Port Townsend if it can stay a little longer.

Port Townsend’s Lexi Koch is assembling coral, pink, cream and yellow roses for a floral heart garland to be laid Monday at downtown’s Haller Fountain. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend’s Lexi Koch is assembling coral, pink, cream and yellow roses for a floral heart garland to be laid Monday at downtown’s Haller Fountain. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

The Port Townsend women have the right skills for the job: Koch is a farmer-florist while Leporati is an event designer.

They’ve laid floral mandalas in local forests, on beaches and at the Tyler Street Plaza downtown, using foraged natural materials, Leporati said.

In her floral and coaching business, Lexi Mara, Koch uses locally grown blooms, which won’t be ready until spring.

The heart project, she said, is all about roses, with garlands of them appearing in cities around the country.

Koch and Leporati approached Holly’s Fine Flowers in Port Townsend and received a large donation of California-grown roses — “a little botanical therapy for everyone” — in Holly’s co-owner Sharrai Morgan’s words.

“I am just floored they agreed to do that,” Leporati said.

“I’m just thankful they’re doing [the Heart Project],” said Morgan, who runs Holly’s with her mother, Mindi.

Seattle’s Mayesh Wholesale Florists is supplying additional roses at a discount while 1-800-Flowers and BloomStudios, also sponsors of the national Floral Heart Project, are providing support.

Port Townsend’s garland will be more of a three-dimensional heart.

“We’re going to build a chicken-wire armature beforehand,” Leporati said.

“It will be up to a couple of hundred roses,” she said, adding the fountain space is a place anyone can come for reflection or simply to see something beautiful.

Koch, who’s going into her fourth season in Port Townsend, has been a farmer for more than a decade, with medicinal herbs in her repertoire.

After some years, she began to realize she was drawn especially to the blossoms. She moved here from Twisp and found this place to be a fertile one for her flower business, and now she offers a community-supported agriculture farmshare each spring and fall at leximara.com.

Koch’s change in focus came after her son was born with cystic fibrosis. Flower-farming helped her move through a difficult time, she said.

Both she and Jude are doing well now.

“Flowers are healing,” Koch said. “They just are.”

_________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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