Flowers have been a part of our lives since a funeral in 62,000 BC. While excavating a cave in Iraq, archaeologists discovered ancient burial sites surrounded by flowers.
Giving bouquets flowered (pun intended) during the Victorian era, the 1800s, because verbalizing one’s feelings was considered bad manners. Presenting bouquets is still a wonderful way to send some love. A girl never forgets her first flowers (or the boy who bashfully delivered them), whether a store-bought bouquet or a handful of wild sweet peas picked alongside the road.
Flower-giving has evolved from a seasonal event, when they were in bloom, to ordering flowers worldwide almost any time of year. The supply of fresh flowers has had a few challenges, especially the blooms from South America. Sometimes, like people, flowers miss their flights, or their flights get delayed. Between increased grower prices, escalating airline costs, and blossoms that shrivel at airports, it is little wonder flower prices have increased by 25% to 45%.
Some chain stores have purchased flower farms for their own use, leaving independent florists challenged. Small florists must compete with big stores and large corporations for flowers, and now they also must contend with occasional airplane delays, websites and grand marketing budgets.
One family with five children bought all their wedding flowers online so the family could create the arrangements. Buyers can order fresh flowers for delivery directly to homes or event locations. Blacksburg Kroger’s floral manager, Sandra Davis, says she makes bridal bouquets, boutonnieres and arrangements for a few weddings a year. Teresa Harris of Floyd’s Blue Ridge Florist offers a DIY price, allowing brides to buy the flowers they want and do their own designing.
Most brides want fresh flowers for their wedding day, and independent florists provide exceptional personal service and professional advice. They know the industry and can offer valuable input as they learn what each bride wants for colors, style, texture and so on. Fresh flowers not only grace the bride, but also the wedding party, family members, reception tables and elsewhere at the ceremony venue. Shopping locally is akin to spending money with a neighbor, as local money stays longer in the community. For brides going the silk flower route, there are many options online and at stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby.
Herbert Simpkins, owner of Angle Florist in Christiansburg, says today’s florists have to sell whatever they can, fresh or silk flowers, dish gardens, memorial, wedding and holiday flower arrangements. To stand out from the competition, he is using social media and their website more often to promote their flowers and unique floral designs.
Gwynn Hamilton and husband Bert Webster of Stonecrop Farm in Newport embrace the “sell what you can” theory. When they started farming 20 years ago, they
grew 95% vegetables and 5% flowers. The demand for fresh, organic flowers was so great that they transitioned to 5% vegetables and 95% flowers.
Stonecrop is many an NRV bride’s favorite. They also found places to sell so customers do not have to drive to the farm in Giles County. On Saturdays from April to December, buyers find armloads of flowers at the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market, plus Wednesdays between July and October.
Local florists often have better quality flowers and a large selection of ribbons, foil, beads and other accoutrements to dress up their bouquets and plants. They all offer local delivery and have contacts with networks across the country for sending someone out of town a sweet, special, surprise, fresh, fragrant floral arrangement.
Even Florists Can be Scammers
Google “florist near me,” and the first four or five listings will be paid ads. Some of those may belong to scammers, also known as order gatherers. They have no storefront, just a phone number or website. When you place an order, they take the money and call a local florist telling them to send whatever they have for about half of what you paid. In the end, you pay double for something you don’t want.
Your best defense against this is to call a local florist or use a reputable long-term flower website. Better yet, search for a local florist where you want to send flowers and connect directly.
Sending flowers may not be as popular with the younger crowds, though when covid forced people to remain apart, sending flowers had a measurable increase. Gwynn says young people line up to buy fresh flowers at the farmer’s market to brighten their apartments and dorm rooms. And her favorite comment: “Oh! I love this flower. My grandmother used to grow these.”
Radford’s Northside Flower Shop has been family-owned for 70 years, the last 19 by Gabriel Graham. “Tell the youngsters—support your florist. One day you’ll need them to still be around.”
The biggest day of the year for local florists is Valentine’s Day. But sending the natural beauty and fragrance of fresh flowers any day will warm someone’s heart by your love and make three people smile – the grateful and perhaps surprised recipient, the independent florist, and you!
Cool Flower Facts
? World’s largest flower, Puya raimondii
(a bromeliad in the Andes mountains),
has 8,000 white flowers on a
? Tulips in ancient Holland were worth
more than gold
? Broccoli really is a flower
? Sunflowers produce toxins that kill plants
? Flowers are brightly colored and scented
to attract pollinators
Text by Jo Clark
Photo: Sunflowers make everyone smile © Stonecrop Farm
Writer Jo Clark’s birthday is on the calendar in red – a Valentine baby. Virtual bouquets can be sent to her Facebook page, Have Glass, Will Travel, or her Instagram @JoGoesEverywhere.