Flower Power

If you asked me one hour into my day at Twig if I was destined to be a floral designer I would have said no…because I would kill all the flowers! All morning I was rinsing vases and putting flowers in them, but I kept forgetting to fill the vases with water. But as the day went on I saw how soothing, creative and fun being a floral designer is.

Twig gets two big orders of flowers direct from Europe each week. The flowers are picked, packed, flown to New York and arrive in Boston the next day. When I arrived at 7:30am boxes filled with hundreds of flowers covered the floor of Twig’s South End shop. My first job was to unpack and count the stems to make sure that all the flowers that were ordered were delivered. Then the “processing” began.

Processing involves cleaning the flowers and putting them in vases so that one stem can be plucked out easily. Twig’s Rob Galeski talked me through processing a variety of flowers and foliage. We started off easy…with leaves. Yes, I started by cleaning leaves. Rob is smart: don’t have a novice begin her first day as a florist butchering expensive roses. We did move on to roses…eventually…I learned how to use a de-thorner and managed not to spill any blood (mine or others)

Then we moved on to arranging. I learned some rules about creating a floral arrangement including the first commandment: thou shall not arrange symmetrically. I also learned that sometimes customers and florists don’t speak the same language. Words like “colorful,” “texture,” and themes like “Tuscan” can mean very different things to different people. We created one arrangement for a customer to bring to a man’s birthday party, which turned out beautifully despite the unusual color palate request of orange and purple. We also created a bouquet using a flower that honestly looks like human brain matter, but among hydrangeas, tulips and thistle it looks lovely.

The highlight of my day was the wedding consultation. Courtney, a sweet, very non-bridezilla bride-to-be, came into Twig armed with pictures and ideas. She is also a strawberry blond with more freckles than you can count so I knew we would get along wonderfully. We — and by we I mean Courtney and Rob (I was afraid to open my mouth out of fear that I would suggest something that she hated and therefore reflect badly on Twig) — went over the floor plan for her December wedding. We talked about colors and flowers. After seeing all the plans and hearing her ideas I am hoping I can snag an invitation to her and Randy’s big day. Hint, hint.

As I walked home after my time at Twig, I was stuck by the fact that my day of free labor didn’t seem like work. Compared to the daily grind of sitting in my office, unpacking, preparing and arranging flowers seemed like heaven – a very colorful, fragrant heaven. It was cathartic to create the perfect spiral of stems so that when placed in a vase each bloom could be easily plucked out one at a time. It was fun to take a request, like the odd orange and purple order, and try different combinations until a lovely little arrangement developed organically. Best of all, there was no wrong answer. Sure, Rob filled me in on the rules of arranging (i.e. no symmetry) but floral design is not a practice of absolutes. It is an art of expression. Sure if the customer hates what you’ve created, you have a problem…but you can’t really get something wrong. Coming from the world of journalism where one wrong fact negates (as it should) the rest of the good reporting you spent days doing, that was liberating. Now I know this is only by first adventure, but I think I could get used to this!

Many thanks to my fine friends at Twig for being so patient and kind and allowing me to spend a day with them. They are creative professionals with a lot of knowledge to share. And most importantly, they are fun!

View all the pictures from my day at Twig.

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2 thoughts on “Flower Power

  1. This is so great, and so creative Emm! I really enjoyed hearing about your adventure. I am so impressed with Twig that they were able to give you many different aspects of a day's work in a floral shop, rather than just giving you a sweep the floor job for the day… Let me know if you ever want to do something in farming, land conservation, historic houses, etc.!

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