I have worked for a very large florist, a very small florist and one in between and there are a few things they all do the same. The “bread and butter” of the floral business is the constant calls from customers for “cut flowers in a vase,” “spring colors,” about $35. These arrangements are sent for almost every occasion except perhaps a funeral. And here is what happens – at a large florist these arrangements are made up in the beginning of the week when the floral shipments arrive. We would do a “line” with about 24 vases lined up at a time and each florist would have certain stems they would add to the arrangement. The vases would be “greened” with cheap leather leaf and then we would go from vase to vase and add our flowers. The more seasoned florist got to add the pretty flowers and the rest of us added the fillers. We would complete one line and start another, using up the flowers in the cooler until we had made enough to fill about a week’s worth of orders. The line is reminiscent of my days in college at the candy factory where my best friend and I were “Lucy and Ethel” dropping candy in boxes on a too-fast conveyor belt.
I learned two things – if you are ordering this type of arrangement, do it early in the week when the flowers are fresh. On second thought, don’t order them at all. Be specific about what you want, even if all you say is “all pink” or “yellow tulips with iris” – this forces the florist to order new flowers for you or make your arrangement up fresh since the ones in the cooler are always mixed arrangements. Be as detailed as you can, ask for nice greens and you won’t be charged more but your arrangement will be so much nicer.
When ordering through a service (like a FTD type thing) be forewarned that even if you choose a picture from their selection book, the florist receiving the order will send out what they have available. Be sure to ask the recipient if the flowers are what you ordered and how fresh they are when they arrive. You can even have her e-mail you a photo if there is any concern. One thing a good florist will do is very happily replace a poor arrangement – they all know goodwill and happy customers keep them in business. They should be super gracious to you and send something out at once.
Stay away from the supermarket floral departments unless you are just buying a bouquet. The personnel generally are untrained and except in rare circumstances cannot make a custom arrangement. And even though it is a dollar or two less, don’t order your son’s prom date’s corsage from the grocery. When my kids were in high school, the teen making the corsages was one of their friends who admittedly didn’t know what the heck he was doing. Some of his corsages went from the wrist to the elbow and if you want a happy prom date (and maybe you don’t) go to a real florist -they even package them prettier.