Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Ghost of Valentines Past

Yeah, Yeah. So what if my name is Holly and my pen name is Holly Berry? If I want to be the Ghost of Valentines Past, this is my blog and I will be the Ghost of Valentines Past, by gawsh!

When I was but a Slip of a Lass [and I think the only current readers who can remember me back then are GBro and DossieRe] I worked in Mother's shop. Mother's shop where she sold flowers. Yes, Gentle Readers, my Mother was a FLORIST. And, yes, she did indeed name me Holly. It taught me patience and forebearance and how to take a joke.

I also learned how to arrange flowers, make corsages, and keep potted plants looking healthy. This was back in the days before computerized cash registers, so I also learned how to make change the old fashioned way, by knowing how to COUNT.

Back in the day, when the Earth's crust was still cooling and dinosaurs still roamed the earth, flowers were a LOT cheaper. I don't even go to florists anymore, unless I want to order something that's out of season or send funeral flowers. For instance, she sold one of those long white boxes [remember those?] lined with the flimsy green paper [gettin' nostalgic yet?], full of stems of leather leaf fern for a bed, and a dozen roses of your choice of color, de-thorned, and artfully arranged in the box with six at one end and six at the other end. They would be staggered so that the blossoms did not lie on top of one another, but were cushioned on the stems by the fern and baby's breath [the stems with the tiny white buds on the ends]. In the middle of the box we would place more baby's breath to camouflage the naked stems. The box would be tied with ribbon to match the color of the roses and the free card could be either tucked into the roses, the crossing of the ribbons on the top of the box, or we could pin it to the ribbons.

Now, this labor intensive artful display of your affection would set you back a whopping $12.50. But that included free delivery. Of course this was 40 years ago, and a good Middle Class monthly wage was $900 - $1000/month.

If your were gauche enough to attempt to order an arrangement of roses for your love on Valentine's Day, Mother would diplomatically [yes, G, she DID, too know how to be diplomatic, when money was involved] explain that usually LADIES preferred to receive cut flowers. "That way they can arrange them to suit their own tastes. After all, a LADY always has vases." I NEVER saw a man contradict that little etiquette lesson.

And when I see men walking out of Kroger with these $70 arrangements of roses for their girlfriends or wives, I just want to pull them aside and give them Mother's little lesson. And save them $40-$50.

I know I'm too late for this year, guys. I apologize. But the next time you want to give a LADY roses, whether it's your Mama, or your girlfriend, or your daughter...unless she's paralysed from the neck down or you KNOW she doesn't own a vase, then buy her cut roses, not an arrangement. Shoot, if you know she doesn't own a vase, or if you're just feeling generous, don't spring for an arrangement. Buy her a vase YOU think she will like. If you're not sure, or if you don't trust your own taste ask a saleswoman, or a nicely dressed woman in the store for her opinion. Trust me, she will be touched you made the effort to at least try to match her decor or taste.

OK, now that you've bought the're not finished. You need some baby's breath and some greenery. Ask the clerk at Kroger, WalMart, Target, or wherever you are, if they have "Leather Leaf" or "Frou-Frou" fern. Frou-Frou fern is that light, airy fern that turns into airborne contact lens irritant if you breathe on it. If your lady wears contacts, buy the leather leaf instead. If she likes eucalyptus, you can always substitute that for the fern. Ask the clerk at the flower counter for some extra plastic wrapping material. If the clerk won't oblige with that, get a brown paper bag from the store or a liquor store. Now go home. If you're running short on time [as I'm sure some of you will be] you better have a pocket knife or a pair of scissors.

Open the package of roses. Strip off all the leaves on the bottom 2/3's of the stem. Remove all the thorns. This is actually easy to do. Grasp the thorn between your thumb and index finger. Snap it in either direction, it just pops off. Sometimes, some extra fiber peels along with it, just trim it with your knife or scissors. Once all the roses are de-thorned, then open the new wrapping material, or cut a paper bag into a big triangle shape. Lay your greenery down. Then lay your roses down in tiers. Stagger the tiers so that the blossoms of one tier rest on the stems of the tier beneath it, not the blossoms. Finish with the baby's breath. If you have enough baby's breath, tuck some between tiers as extra cushioning.

Loosely wrap the roses and foliage in the wrapping material. If it will be a matter of minutes before you present the flowers to the Lady, just let them rest on the seat of your car, or hold them if you're not driving. If it will be hours before you meet with her, gently place them, upright, in a cool place.
Good Luck.

Oh, and LaP, I really am gonna do that book meme, honest.


Crazy Baby Lainy said...

Very interesting. I so love floral designing and wish I knew this sooner. I am able to keep them fresh looking for a week or so.

I did get roses.I guess I'm a hussy of a woman because I just loved the fact that he thought I was worth it. They are beautiful.

phlegmfatale said...

you know whereof you speak. Lots of folks need to read this post and learn...