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There’s More Than Flowers at Your Local Florist

If you haven’t visited your neighborhood flower shop lately, you might want to stop in and see what’s in store. It so often happens that our relationship with a florist begins and ends at the telephone or the computer screen that sometimes we never know about the other kinds of goods and services that they offer. So this month and next, we’ll be talking about some of the other kinds of products that many florists are providing for their customers.

For example, home decor is an area that’s a natural extension of floristry since so many arrangements, whether they’re composed of fresh blossoms or artificial flowers, are designed to complement a home interior. Flowers are a perfect accent in practically any home decor setting, and can go a long way toward enlivening the decorating scheme of a room, either spare and contemporary or filled with antiques. Custom designs of silk flowers are among the specialties of most florists, and they can create a unique arrangement that will coordinate beautifully with the other elements of the interior setting, combining colors, textures, and forms in such a way that they repeat or play off of the home decor furnishings.

Very few artificial flowers are actual silk these days. In fact, the fabric petals of most silk flowers are made of cotton/polyester blends. Manufacturers of artificial flowers — or “permanent botanicals” as we prefer to call them — use a combination of materials, including plastics, resins, polystyrene foams, and latex, to create the most lifelike blossoms, the best of which can scarcely be distinguished from their living counterparts. Silk flowers, of course, are available from many outlets. However, a professional florist is most likely to carry the highest quality artificial flowers and foliage and will have the expertise to arrange them in a way that will beautifully highlight your home decor.

Flower shops can be excellent sources of other home decor accessories as well, such as picture frames, candles, potpourri, baskets, lamps, china and crystal, and more. Naturally enough, containers that hold flowers are likely to be most abundant. Fresh and artificial flowers alike look great in crystal vases, and many florists carry an ample selection of them. A vase doesn’t have to be Waterford crystal in order to be sparkling and beautiful. A flower shop can be a great place to find attractive lead crystal bowls and vases that won’t break the budget, whether it’s for your own home or for a gift. If crystal — Waterford or not — isn’t your preference, select from a variety of ceramic, wood (very popular right now), wire, colored glass (another hot item), plastic resin, or stoneware vessels to serve as decorative and functional additions to the home decor setting.

Some florists have decorated their stores with antiques, using them, in many cases, as display fixtures and props. Others specialize in selling antique furniture and other decorative items as well as floral designs. Many very popular florists across the country have successfully combined artwork, furniture (including antiques), and interesting accessories with their flower businesses. If you’re a collector of antiques, you may find it worthwhile to frequent a few flower shops; who knows..you may find a treasure that’s off the beaten path of the usual antiques stores. And even if the object of your desire doesn’t have a price tag on it, inquire about it anyway; there is very little in the typical flower shop that isn’t for sale.

Interestingly, several large floral and gift stores have begun to offer a bridal or wedding registry service. Going beyond the traditional crystal and china table settings of the typical bridal registries in department stores, an upscale flower shop can also provide a wedding registry that includes all sorts of beautiful and unusual giftware. With the holiday season fast upon us, imagine a soon-to-be-married couple establishing a Christmas wedding registry with a florist who specializes in holiday decorations. Selections could include ornaments, wreaths, swags, centerpieces…even an artificial Christmas tree. The newlyweds could have their entire home decked out for the holidays with wedding gifts from the registry; gifts that would be fondly cherished again year after year as the decorations were brought out and the gift-givers were remembered.

Next month we’ll take a look at some of the other sorts of merchandise and services that florists are providing. In the meantime, stop in soon at your own local flower shop to see what kinds of things you can find there besides flowers. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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