This is the 3rd installment of my trip down memory lane when I owned a flower shop in Sacramento, CA. Part 1is here, Part 2 is here. The story continues as my wholesaler graciously becomes my floral tutor.
His name was Al. He had owned his own florist shop for years, retired, then came out of retirement to work at a floral wholesaler.
Truth be told, I think he took a little nip now and again on the job. But I didn’t care. Al saved my life.
Or, at least my ‘floral’ life.
If memory serves, he said something tactful like, “You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”
He was discreet about it, though. He waited until all the other florists were out of earshot when he said it.
I immediately ‘fessed up and told him my dilemma about the upcoming funeral and the four arrangements.
He didn’t laugh. Not even a smirk.
‘Course, no tellin’ what he told his co-workers later, but from that day on he became my personal floral design tutor – on the sly.
First off, he took me back to the funeral accessories for these little goodies called ‘casket saddles’. Who knew?
Obviously, not me.
And this was just the start of wonderful tips and tricks Al shared with me over the coming months.
- I learned market bunch quantities.
- Trade names for colors of flowers.
- What gauge wire to use to wire delicate flowers.
And on, and on, and on.
Al taught me that funeral flowers only need to look good for that day so florists use regular ol’ Styrofoam to stick the flowers into.
I felt soooo much better! Al had given me enough info to where I thought I could actually pull off arranging the four funeral sprays.
Since the woman had now actually died, I also knew the date of the service.
I followed Al back to the order desk and placed my flower order –
- 24 dozen (that’s 12 Market Bunches, if you really want to know) red roses for the casket spray;
- a few bunches of ‘sweetheart’ red roses for the bleeding sprays, and
- white pompoms (translation – chrysanthemums) for the bases.
I also grabbed all the supplies –
- a casket saddle for the Red Rose Casket Spray
- a Styrofoam cross
- a solid Styrofoam heart
- an open Styrofoam heart
- 3 easels for the bleeding sprays
- and stick-on letters
Oh, didn’t I mention that? Yes, after his mother-in-law passed away, my landlord added to the order –an orchid corsage with a ribbon emblazoned with the message
A c-c-corsage? To pin on the woman?
Who would be lying IN the casket?
Uh . . . ewwwww!
Well, never mind, I’d worry about that later. Just add a purple cattleya orchid to the order, please.
There! Done! Now it’s just a matter of sticking flowers into foam and getting them delivered at least one hour prior to the service.
No problem, right?
Well, just one teensy-weensy problem – since the woman died during Mother’s Day week (the biggest floral holiday of the year) there were no white flowers to be had.
None. Zero. Zilch. Bupkus.
No white flowers for the bleeding heart.
Or bleeding cross.
Or the other bleeding heart.
Now, what the heck do I do?