Flowers by Neil
I have been in the industry for about 35 years. And as of December 1st of this year, it will be my 30th year in my own business. We actually started out in this little thousand square foot building that didn’t even have a back door. Everything came in and out the front door. I think we were there for about five years before this location opened up.
My love for flowers really goes back to my grandmother. Growing up, she had a greenhouse on the back of her house. She had an english rose garden in her backyard. There was a special bond there. On Sunday afternoons when we were visiting I was always playing in the greenhouse or out wandering through the rose garden. And it just carried on through.
When I was a little boy, I lived close to the elementary school I went to. I would pick the flowers on the way to school to give to my teachers--sort of buttering up [laughs]--but anything that was blooming in our yard or any of the neighbors’ yards, I would pick it. Then I would come home in the afternoon and mess with it. I always loved to play in the dirt and plant stuff. I’ve always had an interest.
It’s great to have fresh flowers throughout the house, if you can. It doesn’t cost a tremendous amount really. I have one particular customer that comes in about every two weeks. She’ll get about 10 dollars worth of flowers. She’ll take them home and put them in the vases herself. And she says it brightens up every room in her house. She always likes to get lilies. There is big fragrance in lilies. She says it smells up her entire house and makes the dead of winter seem live again. So, that’s one thing I recommend doing. Keeping flowers throughout the house is always a good way to liven things up.
When I first started out 35 years ago, the industry was sort of limited, in this area especially, to a lot of the flowers that were being used. It was basically mums, carnations, baby’s breath, daisies, things like that. And today, we are literally getting flowers in from around the world. Israel is a huge supplier in the flower industry. Africa--we’re getting stuff in from all different parts of Africa. Of course South America and Holland. But it’s literally around the world. There isn’t a country that I can think of that, during the course of the year, we don’t get something from. And it effects a lot of the price, but now you can get tulips in August. There isn’t really an off season, just a higher price bracket.
As far as arrangements today, there aren’t necessarily rules or guidelines. It’s more about taking care of the flowers. One thing I find that most people don’t do is add enough water. You really need to water the flowers daily and make sure the containers are full to get the full life expectancy out of them. We always tell our customers to take an inch off the bottom of the stem otherwise the stems will clog. They form an air pocket when they are out of water. So, cut that inch off and put them directly in fresh water and keep the water fresh and they’ll continue to drink. That’s the key to keeping flowers fresh for a long time. A lot of people don’t know that--or they don’t do that. That’s really it. It’s not a lot. It’s easy to do and everyone can do it.
If you are working with permanent botanicals one of the key things is trying to arrange each stem and the foliage on each stem. You want to arrange the petals to the bloom so that it’s in its natural state. Most of the time when you buy or receive the permanent botanicals, you’ve got the foliage that’s all folded up and it’s sort of crunched and rough, but if you place it and take some extra time with it and unfold it to where it would be in nature, it makes all the difference in the world. It will really start to look more like it’s supposed to. Once I finish with some of the silk arrangements I make in here, it’s hard to tell sometimes whether they are real or silk. I had a gentleman yesterday that bought an arrangement he thought was real. I hated to inform him that it wasn’t. But it’s just about the placement and taking a little extra time with it.
I love waiting on customers. I love talking with different customers and finding out what their needs are. I love working with a bride. I love families. I’m very compassionate. I like taking the time to really make them feel comfortable. And really creating for them. So many different things inspire me. Walking through the woods in the spring just makes me pop spirit wise. My philosophy is as long as I can pay my bills, have a little extra money to do some things outside of here and as long as I can make someone smile with flowers, that’s all I need. My employees may not feel like that. They want to get paid. [Laughs].
-as told by Neil