The Secret Life of a Florist

I have to tell you a little secret about floral designers.  We do more than stick flowers in a vase or play with pretty flowers all day long.  OK, we do play with pretty flowers all day long BUT there is a lot more to being a florist that you may not know about.  Besides the creative side of designing, we are part business person, part quality control inspector,  part scientist,   part engineer, part counselor, part student .

Florists are part business people.  Fresh flowers are ordered daily, weekly, or months in advance depending on the orders we receive, what flowers are in season, or for everyday stock.  They can be ordered with local wholesalers or with national companies.  As all companies, we prefer a good product at a fair price and we also prefer dealing with companies that follow what is known as a cold chain.  What this means is that the flowers are harvested in the fields and are immediately put in refrigeration at the growers, and are kept consistently cold from the growers to the freight companies to the wholesalers then to the local florists.  The longer they are kept in the cold, the longer they will live and we won't have to dispose of them.

Florists are quality control inspectors.  Once the flowers are delivered to us, we unwrap them and "process" them.  Each flower is examined for rot, damage, or breakage and are generally stripped of any foliage that would be under water.  They are then cut with a sharp knife and put into a bucket of cold water treated with special flower food.  We are also consistently checking the flowers on a daily basis for freshness and appearance.

Florists are part scientist.  Since there are many types of flowers, there are also many different factors in their care.  Tropical flowers do not like the cold coolers that are 35 degrees Fahrenheit, hydrangeas take in a lot of water so they should be in a bucket with more than usual amount of water, etc.  The flowers are stored in a walk-in cooler or in a display cooler until they are used for designing.  We also know to keep fruit and other produce out of the cooler.  Fruit produces ethanol when it ripens and that ethanol kills flowers.

Florists are part engineer.  We are asked constantly if we can design something and truly....sometimes....when we say yes, we actually are not sure how we can.  BUT, we as designers always either know another designer who does know how to do something or we just figure it out.  Plus, we have floral tape!!

Florists are part counselor.  We deal in emotions.  Flowers are used in life's events such as weddings, birthdays, well wishes,  births and funerals.  While some are happy and cheerful, other times they are sad.  Florists can direct you to the right wording, the appropriate flowers, all the while listening and congratulating or consoling.  We have lots of Kleenex around as well.

And, lastly, florists are part student. In this day and age, we cannot sit on what we know, we must be learning, either a new design, a new product, a new computer program, or a new marketing technique.  Our local wholesalers offer hands on classes as well as national speakers.  We read home magazines as well as industry magazines looking for new trends.  We also attend industry conventions, always searching and learning.  We also teach whenever we can.  Florists teach other florists as well as the public about flowers and plants.

Floristry is not plunking a flower in a vase, it's actually a multitude of skills, so next time you receive a floral design, you know all that went into it.

Luan M. Kurriger, Manager
Bank of Memories & Flowers Pewaukee