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The Price of Sentiment

Have you recently gone online or into a florist shop and found yourself gasping for air - the price of flowers just taking your breath away, then, exiting the website or turning around and walking out?

You only need to follow a few florists on facebook or instagram to know the frustration in sourcing and pricing flowers. Just this week I watched an Instagram story of exactly that – a florist I know expressing her exasperation over flower prices in New Zealand, but doing so to educate her clients, and give them a glimpse into the world and economy of floristry. The response was overwhelming support by way of the many comments she received.

Only a few weeks ago, I posted on social media my love for the constant Chrysanthemum. Its beauty being my go to in the winter months when there is fewer flowers to choose from, yet in the last few weeks, even the beautiful, always available Chrysanthemum has become scarce, and therefore more expensive to buy - the wholesale order lists having the condition attached, “limit 1”. 

I have a friend who told me a short while ago that she cannot justify paying $15 for 3 blooms at the supermarket. $15 may well only buy 1 bloom or part of 1 of the more exotic blooms on today’s market. I empathise and understand too well the rising cost of living, making people think about what is necessary and what is not.

But even so, I cannot help but love the beauty of the flowers themselves and the sentiment they convey. And I would choose them first and foremost over any other gift for most occasions or circumstances where I want to say something special. I loved the way that flowers continued to be sent and received during long hard lockdowns, as if to stubbornly say, there is still beauty in this hard and ugly season in our world.

How much is one willing to pay? What price can you put on beautifying a home, an occasion, or a workplace? What is the cost of love, friendship, wishing someone happiness, and good health, or expressing sadness over the loss of someone or something precious? 

Flowers have the ability to speak where words are not always enough. 

Is it their colour or their scent? Is it that they are a precious gift from nature, which in being so, hold that extra special quality? They cannot be manufactured or copied or produced in a way that can come anywhere close to their natural qualities. It is these things that make the language of flowers powerful.

They say you don’t truly know a flower until you have deconstructed and studied each part. True! How much is gone into the construction of a flower from seed to bloom? Botanists can only scratch the surface of its development. Within each is a wealth of what it takes in their becoming – becoming a desired object of beauty, becoming a sentiment that cannot be easily spoken with words. 

Many say that they would prefer to buy something that lasts, but here too, is the beauty of flowers – they last only for a moment, and this makes them all the more precious – to be enjoyed for that moment. To know that there are lessons that can only be learned by those things that are fleeting. Flowers speak about the brevity and preciousness of life, happiness, health, love. All these things are for a moment, to be treasured.

One of my greatest pleasures, making me always thoughtful as I put together flowers for someone, is the words that accompany the order, secondary to the flowers. 

I remember Mother’s Day. 

Some of my favourites were, 

“To the woman who taught us that rules are for everyone else”

How much deeper thought and emotion underlies these simple words said about “Mum”? I would say, this Mum’s children were trying to convey the gratitude for life lessons taught, the appreciation of a mum who took life not too seriously and encouraged her kids to live beyond the normal boundaries, and to take risks. 

Another said, 

“From your rascals”

I would say, this Mum’s children were trying to express love to her for all the times she put up with them, acknowledging that often they rebelled against her cautions, but wanting to say thank you for the unconditional love shown to them despite the hard time they gave her.

Then there is the love, or the loss of someone. I cannot design flowers for these occasions without becoming contemplative on life. The flowers are ordered to say what cannot be said, followed by the humble attempt to do just that on the card that is attached. 

Yes, floristry is my business, and I need people to buy flowers in order for me to be profitable at what I do. It would be my greatest pleasure to give flowers away without any exchange of money. It would be my preferred business model, if it were at all possible. I dislike pricing the recipe of each flower arrangement I do and being limited to the budget given. But the way of world we live in is buy and sell, profit versus loss, the exchange of one currency for another.

Even so, in working in this creative industry, there is so much more to it! 

I do what I do because I am drawn to the beauty of flowers and the creativity of designing with them. I love what I do. It is my thing. Most florists would say the same. 

We do what we do because we are, personalities of sentiment through creativity – using our art with flowers to manifest or exhibit those feelings that appeal to the tender emotions. 

I love that! I get to manifest for you, or to create an outward, perceptible, materialization of what you want to express. Flowers are the perfect exhibition, expressing the desired sentiment.

How much is a flower worth? What would you pay to say with flowers, what you cannot so easily say with words?

I agree with Monet, "I must have flowers, always and always".


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