Just the other day, my childhood friend and high school teammate posted on Facebook that she could use some help harvesting some veggies, which would then be donated to local soup kitchens, from her family's farm. I jumped at the opportunity to take my kiddies to a private farm with no crowds or traffic (I have been traumatized by the North Fork fall traffic with a newborn), a chance to see my friend, and to selfishly frolic in fields of flowers. Although my cranky kids and the rain attempted to ruin my experience of a bit of heaven on earth, I still left with inspiration (and flowers...and fruits...and veggies). One of my most favorite revelations from the trip was that I learned that even though I think my end of floral preservation is a "labor of love," I've realized that the little flower seed is loved from the moment its sewn, that there is a much bigger process to my work and, therefore, more love than I even imagined.
I had a lot of questions about how the flower farm worked. Jill, who has a doctorate and is a full-time professor of psychology, helps her dad over the summer. It's literally just him and her tilling, planting, clipping, delivering. She clips every single flower that heads to a florist or into a friends home with a little set of clippers, the same ones you probably use to trim your plants, and bundles them by hand.
Intrigued by the process, I asked a ton of questions and learned the pattern of planting and harvesting and the characteristics of a flower that's "too old" to send off for a bridal bouquet (by the way, they are typically wide open and beautiful oddly enough).
I also learned that even the farmer "gets" how special his flowers are. One of my favorite stories from the visit was about a bride who really, really (think Pinterest dreaming) wanted peonies out of season and knew she couldn't afford to import them from Holland in the off season. Jill's dad worked a little magic: harvested a bunch at exactly the right time (and extras just in case), changed the temperature of his flower cooler, and kept a close eye on the flowers - and guess what, that bride's out-of-season floral dreams came true.
This is the type of people I am constantly running into when I meet flower people. In general, they seem to be a caring, selfless, nurturing type. In fact, to back track and illustrate this personality trait, my most memorable story of Jill comes from high school. Way back in the day, my teammates always used to sing that song, "New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits. Chinese food makes me sick......I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch." I used to joke that I was too poor to wear Abercrombie and Fitch and would never have the money to buy a $25 tee. For Christmas, even though we didn't exchange gifts, Jill surprised me with a blue Abercrombie tee, with flowers on it nonetheless - just because she wanted me to know I was good enough.
Fast forward almost 20 years later (gasp!), and here she was, collecting sunflowers, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, and blueberries for my 4-year old and 1-year old, who were unenthused and just wanted mom to carry both of them the entire time. I think Gavin was most excited when we came across a muddy puddle en route. But still - I'm as grateful for the day as I was for my shirt.
So to the brides picking their flowers, I know you often pick your florist after considering a variety of variables, and I always recommend picking the ones who seriously LOVE what they do, because they are quite easy to pick out of the pack and the passion creates the best product. But I think it's also pretty cool to think about where the flowers came from and that probably in most cases, they are so carefully nurtured for such an awesome purpose, your big day. I'm very lucky I get to preserve such a great symbol of this love.