As I've ruminated on a plenty, the way the seasons bleed into one another in San Francisco often conjures up a nostalgia in me for the extremes of East Coast weather where I grew up.
One indicator that the seasons are actually changing in CA is the price of certain covetable local flowers that are only available for very short bursts of time. The other week I snatched up two bunches of LIlly of the Valley at the flower market for $10 a bunch (wholesale). These were grown in Portland and would only be available for a week I was told. Usually one wee little bunch of fragrant Lilly of the Valley (imported from Italy) is $32 a bunch wholesale.
Lilly of the Valley is a very sentimental flower for many, including me. I grew up in a subarb of Philadelphia in a little white cape cod on 2 1/2 acres. I spent most of my childhood running around outside, playing in forts which were really hollow little coves under the branches and shrubbery along the perimiter of our yard and throughout our neighborhood. When you walked from our patio down to our backyard there were small terraced slopes (landscaped by the previous owner) and one of these slopes was blanketed in perennial Lilly of the Valley. If you've ever sniffed this flower, I need say no more about it's innocent, intoxicating fragrance. I've spent years looking for a perfume with light notes of Lilly of the Valley. When I was living in New York I found a Calypso scent that was perfect but I was too poor at the time to afford it.
Now that we are well along into May, peonies are one of the treasures to be snatched up. An interesting thing about them, other than if you ask anyone they will most likely tell you peonies are their favorite flower (except for my mom, who told me that she doesn't usually love peonies. This was while skyping on Mother's Day, after I had sent her a big bouquet chock full of them. She liked the ones I sent though because they smelled so goooood.) is that each specific variety also has a very specific bloom time. Grower's refer to them in +'s or minuses from a baseline date of mid May.
The economics of the floral trade - supply and demand - blended with my feelings on sustainability and perceived value by the consumer, all make for an interesting business environment. There is no doubt that the fact that you can get a bundle of peonies for $5.00 at Trader Joes's a few weeks out of the year tickles our fancy. Let me tell you - buy them with abandon at that price! Because in reality, the primo, fat, fragrant, regionally grown ones I'm sourcing are $3.25-$6.00 a stem wholesale. Which brings us to the florist's challenge - How to delight customers with the most exquisite blooms while also giving them something they feel is worth the price. In the case of peonies, one or two in an arrangement really provide the wow factor and the rest of the beautiful flowers in it will have to fill in the margin gap. So at the end of the day you walk home with a really lovely arrangement that you feel you paid a fair price for.
I'm gearing up for three wedding over the next 3 weeks, plus the exciting addition of my Summer intern, Susan! No doubt floral economics will be coming into play as I'm putting together my flower buys. I totally believe in transparency on costs and pricing, so questions from afar are always welcome.
Hope your week is going along swimmingly. And, hey, it's almost Friday! Woot woot.