Joy of flowers - how florists prepare for Mother's Day
"I’m yet to deliver flowers to somebody who hasn’t smiled,” says florist Leanne Billington, who loves brightening up people’s days with beautiful bouquets and arrangements.
The run-up to Mothering Sunday is one of her busiest times of year and she’s predicting it will be full of colour as we show our mums we care with plenty of eye-catching flowers.
“Bright, bold colours are really big for Mother’s Day this year. I think mothers are younger these days and they want something that’s big and colourful and a bit different.
“Bright flowers like sunflowers and gerberas are great for this,” explains the 38-year-old.
Leanne, who has run her flower shop The Hive in Wednesbury for the past 18 months, says another popular current trend is arrangements displayed in hat boxes.
“People like to display their flowers and hat boxes make it really easy. You can sit it down on the table or in the window and it looks pretty,” she tells us.
Mother’s Day is coming hot on the heels of a hectic Valentine’s Day when plenty of us were spoiling our loved ones.
“It was very busy. I find with Mother’s Day women are really organised and they will order in advance but with Valentine’s Day men are really disorganised, they don’t pre-order so I never know how much to order in and in the end we sold out. I had to put a sign on the door and say sorry I’ve got no flowers for you lads,” says Leanne.
And she’s expecting Mother’s Day to be just as busy. “Preparation is key. Get the boxes made up and ribbons and cellophane cut.
“If you look into any florist after they’ve closed, there will be lights on and they will be ferreting away.
For the mother of two it’s all about the personal touches and that’s why her Mother’s Day arrangements will be accompanied by notes with the quote ‘Moms are like buttons, they hold everything together’ along with the tiny decorative buttons.
“It’s nice to show that a little bit of thought has gone in to it. You’ve not just gone to the supermarket and picked up a bouquet, you’ve ordered something especially for them,” says Leanne.
One common myth surrounding florists is that they tend be on the expensive side, she tells us. “People automatically think you can’t get cheap bunches of flowers like a £10 bunch from a florist. But you can. You just need to ask the question.
“You can go into any florist and tell them how much you have to spend and they will be able to suggest something so that you walk away happy.
“Yes, it might not be the biggest arrangement in the world but it will still be something pretty,” says Leanne.
Her love of flowers first blossomed when she was a Saturday girl in a florist while she was a pupil at Alexandra High School in Tipton.
But after being dissuaded from entering the profession by her teachers, she ended up spending 17 years working in the customer service and sales industry.
But after having her two children she decided it was time for a change. “I couldn’t do the rat race any more, I couldn’t sit in my car for an hour.
“I was 32 and thinking what am I going to do with my life? I realised I wanted to do my floristry and I went train at the Birmingham Adult Education Service in Erdington for two years,” Leanne tells us.
Leanne began making arrangements in a rented room at the back of a shop before moving to her own unit and then 18 months ago she opened her shop in Wednesbury’s Upper High Street.
“I love Wednesbury because there is always something going on and I have lots of lovely regular customers who pop in to see me,” she says.
Wedding season is another hectic time for the florist who provided flowers for 42 nuptials last year.
“It’s all done with military precision and by now I know exactly what needs to be done and when. Knowing what flowers to get in is important. I know what flowers have good longevity and what flowers need to be ordered in the day before like roses.
“Being organised is key and having a good sense of humour. If you can survive weddings as a florist you can survive anything,” she says.
When it comes to making an arrangement, it all comes down to intuition. “It’s like an extra sense, if somebody says I want something pretty, I know what flowers to go for, if they want something with bright colours I know what to go for,” Leanne tells us.
Flowers are arranged in odd numbers and in a way to provide a visual flow that allows your eye to move around the display. Then greenery may be added to provide texture or delicate flowers like gypsophila.
Leanne says flower arranging can be very therapeutic. “It’s relaxing and you get lost in it, it’s all about creating something else and it can take your mind off other things,” she adds.
Her favourite flowers are peonies but she has to make the most of them as they have a very short season.
“They smell absolutely amazing but they aren’t around for long as the peony season is only for six weeks of the year.
“I also love daffodils but you can’t put them in an arrangement because their sap is poisonous to other plants,” explains Leanne, who lives in Tipton with her husband Steven, 11-year-old son Jake and eight-year-old daughter Brooke.
As well as happy occasions in life, florists are also on hand for the sadder times. “I do a lot of
flowers for funerals. Flowers are the last gift somebody buys for someone so it’s quite a responsibility. You need to do the utmost to make them the best you can. Even in the saddest of times, you can give people that little bit of happiness,” says Leanne.
She also helps to bring unexpected joy to people by taking part in the Lonely Bouquet movement. Bouquets of flowers are left in public places for people to find. “We put them around Wednesbury with a tag saying ‘I’m a lonely bouquet, take me home’. We leave them in parks and bus stops. It’s all about making somebody smile.”