Ella Griffin tells us what she learnt while researching her delightful new novel set around a little Dublin florist, The Flower Arrangement.
I loved doing the research for The Flower Arrangement. It was heaven to have an excuse to swap my office for the fragrant cool of a flower shop.
Listening to florists talk gave so many ideas for characters and plot lines. And when I spent time working behind the counter, I couldn’t believe all the ways that flowers weave themselves through our lives.
Here are just some of the things I learned along the way.
A florist has to translate feelings into flowers.
You never know what will come through the door next. It could be a man who has just fallen madly in love or a girl who is planning her wedding or a woman who is buying a wreath for her mother’s funeral. Choosing and conditioning the flower is the easy part of the job. Finding the right flowers to express all their emotions is where the real magic comes in.
Every bouquet tells a story.
The man who proposed with two hundred white roses. The husband who ordered flowers for his wife and his mistress without a blush. The funeral wreath that nearly broke the florist’s heart. I heard so many incredible stories from the florists I spoke to that I could have written another book.
Flowers are the glue that hold us together.
Sometimes sorry seems to be the hardest word but even the worst row can be smoothed over with flowers. It’s easy to slam down the phone but very hard to shut the door on a beautiful bouquet. One florist said, quite seriously, that she had probably saved more relationships than a couples’ counselor.
Sisters are doing it for themselves.
Women aren’t waiting around for men to buy us flowers anymore.
More and more of us treat ourselves to a bouquet from time to time. When I heard this, I remembered one of my mother’s favourite sayings. ‘If you have two pennies, spend one on bread and the other on a flower. The bread will sustain life. The flower will give you a reason to live.’
There are some strange people out there.
The man who fell for his boss and tried to break up her marriage by sending her flowers so her husband would think she was having an affair. The ex-wife who ordered a box of dead flowers to be sent to her husband’s new fiancé. The guy stalked a woman with roses. In the end, the florist got so worried that she called the police.
We still say it with flowers.
We live in a virtual world where we text and post and email a dozen times a day. But we still turn to flowers to express our deepest feelings. For our passionate declarations of love and our groveling apologies. To say ‘I’m so happy for your new arrival,’ or ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ They are part of birthdays and our anniversaries and our wedding days. And I don’t think that’s every going to change. I hope not anyway!