Who knew that going to a florist could be so blissful? In the past three months, I have been to two separate floral shops, which might not sound like that important or frequent of an occurrence, but the former of the two visits was the first time I can recall actually going to a florist in my life. Both shops I visited were different in decor and overall vibe, but at the same time, both had a sort of gravity that quite frankly could have kept me there for hours if I had a good book or good company with me at the time. Alas, I was just there to pick up flowers for someone close to me instead, so it was just a simple errand. This might sound like something the typical person would already have thought of, but this came as a sort of epiphany to me upon entering each shop on the respective occasions. I realized why people choose to grow and develop greenhouses, and the serenity that I presume accompanies such a natural activity. It also inspired me to attempt to grow my own flowers as a way to “dip my feet” in floral horticulture. However, my own botanical exploits have been less than successful, but that is not what this post is to be about. I wish to rather discuss the soothing feeling that struck me upon visiting a florist.
The first florist I went to was in Tennessee, and I went there to pick up flowers for my girlfriend, who I was visiting at the time. The shop was a house in another time maybe, but that was not the case anymore. Upon walking in the front door, I immediately was overwhelmed by the aroma of fresh plants, which emanated from all the various flowers, bushes, and other botanical creations I could only pretend to know the names of. There was just enough space to walk through the converted house, and everywhere I turned I saw a new flower I thought my girlfriend would love to have. As the sense of awe began to fade, I remembered my girlfriend said that she preferred floral arrangements that were more natural looking. Something that looked like “you just picked it straight from a field” as opposed to those neat and cookie-cutter arrangements that are seen most notably at your local supermarket. I don’t mean to discredit the beauty of those arrangements at all, I find them just as lovely, but I wasn’t picking out flowers for myself. I was on a mission and I knew my target. So after wandering around the indoor floral forest, I stumbled upon the woman working there at that time, and told her what I wanted, and showed her some of the arrangements I saw that caught my eye. She told me she would get the arrangement ready, and that I was free to continue roaming the lush halls or wait by the front desk, which was in the former living room. So after exploring the multicolored garden, I waited by the front desk. It was in that room where there were the typical “accessories” as they were labeled, which could be added to an arrangement to help with the theme, whether it be teddy bears with romantic messages on them, birthday cards and balloons, or simply small notes, no larger than business cards that had Hallmark-style pre-printed messages on them for those in need of a quick, but sentimental message to attach to their chosen bouquet. After paying for and receiving my floral work of art, I took one last glance around, admiring the simple beauty in this place. I thought about how under other circumstances, I could spend a whole day there, switching between lazily enjoying the serenity of the green environment, and researching what every plant is, where it comes from, and what each variation of it is like. I made sure to grab a business card and make a mental note of this fine establishment, in hopes that I may be able to return, sooner rather than later.
The second floral shop I visited was just outside San Antonio, in a small town that my mom lives in. I stopped there just before I went to see her for Mother’s Day, in hopes that I could pick up some of the most ornate purple flowers they had. They, of course, had to be purple because that is my mom’s favorite color, and I don’t mean like a lavender or violet, but more of a royal purple. This florist was drastically different from the previous one I went to, but it was still a sanctuary in of itself. It was located in this small Western-style strip center that only had two other shops in it, one being a local tool shop, and the other a used truck dealership. For being a small rural town in central Texas, the only thing it was missing was a Tex-Mex cantina in the strip center, but the only one of those in the small town was a block away at the only intersection with an actual traffic light to regulate the busiest intersection of this four-road township. In the left display window, there was a huge canvas poster that read “Mother’s Day Specials” in large, red letters with smaller fine print below that said, “See inside for more details.” In the right display window there was a couple similar-looking arrangements that all had various Mother’s Day cards attached to them surrounding a unique arrangement that was elevated in a special contraption that had a watering can attached to it that teetered back and forth, imitating a pouring motion, akin to the way a “horse head” oil pump jack rocks back and forth. And yes, I did have to look up what those oil pump jacks were actually called because I never actually knew their real name. Anyways, back to this rural floral boutique. Right when I entered immediately got a strong whiff of all the various flowers and was instantly reminded of the other florist I visited. This one was much smaller, it consisted of two rooms. One main room with flower arrangements of all kinds and empty vases along all the walls, on shelves and the floor, and then some on a white plastic folding table in the middle of the room. There was a door behind a small counter in the back left of the room that led to the “Prep Room” as I heard the three elderly ladies working so diligently refer to it as. After speaking with one of said employees, I found out they didn’t have any flowers in the exact shade of purple I wanted, but they had others I found equally beautiful that I knew my mom would agree with me on. So the lady I was speaking to hollered at the eldest looking woman to prepare the arrangement with the flowers and green filler I specified and that woman shuffled to the back room to prepare the Mother’s Day gift I needed. I kept speaking with the initial woman as I paid and she informed me that all three of the ladies working there were, in fact, all related. She explained to that she was the owner, and that her mother was the one that was preparing my arrangement and used to be the owner, but due to health reasons stepped down and is just a helper now. The third woman whom I saw briefly as she would go and pick certain flowers from around the store and take to the back to add to an arrangement she was working on in the back, and would do so with such a sense of focus and urgency it was quite admirable, especially considering the owner told me she is her older sister and is pushing 60. My arrangement was made quite quickly and after awkwardly, but politely declining to purchase any of the religious icons that would “partner beautifully with my arrangement” I took my leave and with it a business card for I imagined that wasn’t going to be the last time I bought my mother flowers, and that florist had a very comfortable and friendly energy to it, along with the natural allure that all the lovely flowers gave it.
So although currently, I cannot claim to have “green thumb,” I am not giving up so easily. After all, if I can manage to recreate that blissful feeling both these locations provided me, even if only slightly, I have to strive for that. I would be only depriving myself of the happiness if I didn’t pursue that goal.
“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.”
-Gerard De Nerval