The Buyers Guide To Flowers

A Valentine's (and other occasion) floral primer.

Valentines Day is around the corner...and for many, flowers are the chosen token of affection. But YIKES...it is nerve wracking.  Hard to believe a simple thing like giving someone flowers can turn into a herculean chore...but we'll start with the basics.

1. Some people do NOT like flowers. If they have allergies, skip the posies. Sending someone something that will make them sneeze is not a kind gesture.

2. Some consider them a "last minute" choice. An advance consultation is a wise investment.

Ok...so we've gotten past those two obstacles. Your person is neither allergic, nor resistant to the flower option. Good to go! But...MAN...the options are overwhemling! Online? Local shop? A quick bunch from Trader Joes?

This requires a bit of thought. I am a HUGE fan of "shopping local", which gives you a chance to boost the economy in your own town, and the added benefit of creating a relationship with the florist, which is always a positive thing. But it helps to know a few things.


You've seen the ads for floral arrangements they do for holidays, and special occasions? Yep...the big companies put out special bouquets, and sell LOTS of them. It's easy for the consumer to point and say THAT ONE! Which is lovely...IF that's what they end up sending. The fine print says they have to do their best to send THAT arrangement..but if they run out of roses, babies breath, or other elements, they can "substitute". That's fine...to a point.

But if the "substitution" ends up looking NOTHING like what you thought you purchased? Then you have an issue. I found out the best way to avoid disappointment (on either end!) is to ask the person you sent the flowers to send you a photo. Ah...the wonders of the digital age! Several years ago, a friend ordered my favorite bouquet for my birthday. It was supposed to be a good sized arrangement of asisatic lillies, white carnations, and baby's breath.  She used one of the online services---but what was...well...paltry is a word. No babies breath. One stem of lillies---(where what she paid for was three) and barely a half dozen mini carnations. Worse...the lillies were bruised.

I called their customer service and complained. I sent them a pic of what arrived on my doorstep. The next day, another box arrived, and THAT one was exactly what my friend ordered for me.  Another time I was sent roses...from a service that guarenteed the product to be both fresh, and lasting. What arrived looked more like something they may have obtained from a gas station. Inside of a day, they drooped on the stem, and dropped petals. Nope...I called and told them the problem. I ended up with four DOZEN roses, in mixed colors...all that met their original promise of a week or better.

Local florists will generally not make such mistakes. They are usually ethical, and intelligent business people, and bottom line, no one can affird the bad press. But you have to do your part too. Be specific about preferences, when it comes to the flowers you send. Florists, like beauticians can do wonderful things...but they are not mind readers...or magicians!

And when they ask "what do you want on the card?"

I suggest you check out the Language of Flowers...it will help with both the choices of which and what...and the sentiment!



In case you didn't know, different colored flowers mean different things! Not everyone knows the "code" anymore...but it's a charming plus! Oh...and a last provisio...if you want something different, give the florist plenty of time to track some down...and LISTEN to their advice.Almost any flower can be gotten in an off season---but it will be much pricier, and of a lesser quality. I have a friend who went nuts trying to get a magnolia for a prom...only to have the truck break down before delivery. It went brown...and no one was happy.

So choose well...and be it a glorious bunch of lovely blooms, or a single daisy, sometimes flowers say it best.

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