Coming up roses for Mother's Day
Florists prepare for the busiest occasion of the year
Saturday, May 10, 2014 06:00 am
Patti Harris is bewildered when a delivery man hands her a pot of flowers with her name on it.
But once the cosmetics manager at Shoppers Drug Mart reads the card, a smile spreads across her face.
The bouquet is from her daughter. The card reads, “Just because I love you.”
Harris is speechless.
“Their reaction always makes me smile,” says Sarah Chisholm, self-taught floral designer and owner of Funky Petals on St. Albert Trail.
Harris’ Bubble Gum Kisses bouquet – an arrangement of orchids, pink Gerbera daisies and a long aspidistra leaf shaped like a big tongue – is one of hundreds of flower orders that Chisholm and her team will fill over the next few days.
Orders from as far away as the Virgin Islands are stacked up on the desk. Mother’s Day is the flower shop’s busiest holiday, followed by Valentine’s Day, Christmas and wedding season.
The refrigerators are brimming with buckets of sunflowers, roses, Asiatic lilies, spider mums, orchids and GreenWicky. Some are grown in Alberta or B.C. while others are flown in from far-away destinations such as Thailand and Holland.
The floor around the work station is strewn with foliage cuttings or “flower guts,” as Chisholm refers to them, as staff cut, pluck and organize bouquets left, right and centre.
Chisholm has hired two extra drivers for Saturday to keep up with the Mother’s Day rush. Sunday will be pickup only.
“It is very busy for us,” Chisholm admits.
At the beginning of a typical week she will order 150 roses. Her last order was 16 bundles – a total of 800.
“That’s just to start, and that’s just roses.”
Flowers, flowers everywhere
A greenhouse at the St. Albert Botanic Park is crowded with nearly 800 roses in preparation for this weekend’s Mother’s Day sale.
“The roses are looking very, very nice,” remarks Richard Plain, co-founder of the botanic park.
He admits the last days before the annual fundraiser are “tense times for the rose committee” as the pressure mounts to keep the roses alive and well in the greenhouse.
The bare root roses are ordered from growers in B.C. in late August and arrive at the greenhouses by mid-March. Volunteers then transfer the plants to pots in an afternoon “potting bee.”
Fifty to 60 varieties of roses will be available this year, with a 60:40 split of hybrid tea to mini flora roses.
“They are some of the more spectacular roses that grow within the hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda categories. Those are the glorious roses that you see in pictures,” added Plain.
The roses sell for $30.
Many rose aficionados come out to the sale, as do families looking to bring a rose back home to Mom, Plain said.
Over at Funky Petals, orders will be delivered to residences, local businesses and seniors’ homes – from grandchildren, adult children, nieces, nephews, co-workers and bosses.
“(Flowers) brighten anyone’s day,” says Shelley Beaubien, an apprentice floral designer at Funky Petals. “Everyone is happy when flowers arrive.”
“It’s a full sensory experience – you can smell it, see it, touch it,” explains Chisholm, recounting a recent trip (of many) to the flower wholesaler. The warehouse had just received its Dutch shipment, which meant buckets and buckets of sweet peas.
“When you put your face right in there and smell them – it’s heaven,” says Chisholm.
“Why do people like flowers … how could they not?”