What It's Really Like to be a Florist
I really do love my job, and wouldn't change careers, but, I do have a lot of comments from friends, customers, and acquaintances at how easy and fun my job must be. While I do think my job is easy and fun, there is a lot more to it than that! There are jobs that I do daily, or weekly, that people are unaware of, as they only see the final product that is delivered to them.
Let's start with a job that I do every Tuesday - cleaning out the cooler! What does this mean? It is a large job that takes me a few hours, and can take longer when I have more flowers in stock for weddings or holidays. I start at one cooler and work my way through pulling every bucket out and cleaning it. Each bucket gets emptied, washed with bleach, then refilled with fresh water and flower food, and the flowers go back into the water after being given a fresh cut. As I go through I pull out anything that looks like it may go bad soon, or anything that has any mould on it. The flowers that are still good, go back into the cooler where they came from. This doesn't sound so bad, until you have to reach your hand into a 4°C bucket of water that has greenery floating in it that you cannot pour down the sink.
We get a shipment in each week, and we have to process that shipment when it arrives. Each flower is processed differently, whether it is cutting off rubber bands, stripping stems, or removing plastic sleeves on them. When we get roses in a shipment, they almost always have thorns down the stems, which we take off one by one with a knife. When we get lilies in, we need to remove the leaves on the stems that are below the water level, as this contributes to the growth of bacteria and mould. Sometimes, but rarely, items come in mouldy. Unfortunately, this is something we have to deal with as well, and check to ensure that it has not affected the other flowers in the shipment.
Sometimes arrangements or bouquets that are made already, known as "grab-and-go" flowers don't sell. Eventually we have to take these apart. Sometimes they will have water that is a bit slimy (ew!), and then we have to clean that vase and remove any design materials from it - tape, floral foam, rocks, etc. Not the most glamorous part of my job by any means.
Pulling stamens from lilies is another part of the job that is not seen by the public! Most of the time if you buy a lily from a florist, and it is already open, the only reproductive part that remains is the pistil. We remove the stamens for you! In the photo above, you can see the stamens are not removed in the large yellow lily, and the orange lily that is starting to open. Why do we remove the stamens? When a lily starts to bloom, the stamens start to release pollen. We usually remove them before they even start to release, when they are still waxy-feeling. This is due to the mess that stamens make. They can be anywhere from a dark yellow, to a deep red/burgundy colour, sometimes being as dark as brown. It is a powdery substance that is released, and stains most things quite easily. If we were to leave them on, you would see powder all over your table and on the petals of your lilies when you have had them on your table for a few days. We are looking out for your clothing, fingers, and furniture when we remove these!