Baseline Flowers preserves the history of Phoenix's Japanese flower gardens

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 1:04pm
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2022 - 12:23pm

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kathy nakagawa at baseline flowers
Lauren Gilger/KJZZ
Kathy Nakagawa at Baseline Flowers.

In the years following World War II, you could drive along Baseline Road in south Phoenix and see every color of the rainbow — in flowers. And you could smell their sweet scent for miles.

There were seven Japanese-American families that owned hundreds of acres of land at the base of South Mountain then, and they turned the area into a bona fide flower district, selling their blooms and shipping them to the East coast in winter.

Today, the area is full of apartment buildings and neighborhoods, gas stations and restaurants. The fields of flowers are long gone. But, there is one flower shop left: Baseline Flowers. Nick Nakagawa ran it for decades until he died last year. And now, his daughter, Arizona State University professor Kathy Nakagawa, has taken over the reins to keep his legacy alive. 

The Show met her at the shop recently to talk more about her role and the long history in that building.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the time frame for the start of the flower district.

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