Shortly after that, I read Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart. She makes the inner workings of the cut flower industry a fascinating read. It never occurred to me that cut flowers came from all over the world, that pesticides were heavily employed in their production, or that how they were cared for from the time they were cut, while they were in transit, and even after you place them on your table affected how long they would last. Amy claimed, with proper care, they would last a week in your home.I started looking at the cut flowers that I came across in various stores more carefully. I spied a bunch of burgundy carnations reduced for quick sale, four bucks. I thought they might be on sale because they were getting kind of old, but even if they only lasted four days, that was still no more expensive per day than a modest chocolate bar, the only other grocery store mood-lifter I occasionally indulged in. They became the subject of a low risk experiment. I took them home and followed Amy’s pointers diligently. Reader, they lasted three weeks. (It was winter, so my house was on the cool side, and I’m sure that helped.) Furthermore, they were not expensive, no one got them for me, and they still cheered me up. For three weeks. In the dead of winter. They were less expensive, and certainly less fattening, than a candy bar per day, and far less expensive than a prescription antidepressant. I began to see that cut flowers, properly cared for, were a fairly economical way to cheer oneself up. Amy writes in her introduction that she would have gladly spent the grocery money on the flowers she saw in the San Francisco flower market. I would feel too guilty to regularly spend even a small chunk of the grocery money on flowers, but now that I’ve persuaded myself that flowers are good for me, and not all that extravagant if properly cared for, I do permit myself an indulgence or two when flowers are not available from my own garden. The cost of a florist’s arrangement is still too high for my pecuniary soul, but bunches of flowers from a warehouse store or a better grocery store are priced at a level my conscience can live with. I will usually find something blooming to bring home between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, that dark, dreary season when the sun might not shine for weeks and social events are frequently postponed because of snow storms. Flowers can see me through those dark times, a tangible reminder of the spring that is still months away. I’ve also taken to buying flowers for my birthday, even though by then there are daffodils I could cut for the house (and I do). The flowers I bring home from the store, more varied in color and form than what’s growing outside at the time of the year, make the festive occasion a bit more celebratory.
Click on each flower arrangement for a larger image and a description of the flowers. Flower Confidential was a review copy provided by the publisher.