At the risk of flogging a dead horse (a hideous expression, don’t you think?)…

I want to make an appeal to those well-meaning but misguided folks who assemble the bouquets at our corner florist shops. And I especially appeal to the corporate creative department at FTD, which fuels and/or dictates much of the design aesthetics for these small business owners.

You know the people. They make things that look like this…


Or this…


Or even this…


In the name of God, please STOP!

What you are doing is an abomination. It is a blasphemy against the laws of nature and how God intended plants to grow. Have you ever visited a garden? If so, did you EVER see all of these plants lined up uniformly in a symmetrical orb with no stems, leaves or branches–resembling a basketball? Must you reduce Baby’s Breath and ferns to an afterthought? And why must containers be so very sweet? Do we really need flower arrangements that look like ice cream sundaes? Carnations colored into fluorescent hues of green or orange? Teddy bears hugging our tulips?

Mr. or Ms. Florist, can you please pick up a couple of design magazines and see what is au courant? It’s not this tightly packed, overly-colorful, cheap flower arrangement that are the equivalent of the super-tight permanent wave cranked out at smelly “beauty parlors” in small towns in our fair land.

We have a local florist that my husband, until recently, faithfully visited for my birthday, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and other important occasions, including when he was in the Dog Haus. I dropped by recently because they had a sign advertising a good deal on tulips. Frankly, I can only conclude that these people do not actually LIKE flowers.

As I entered, I had to pass all manner of “arrangements” that would make the average weekend gardener convulse. It was like entering a flower torture chamber. They were packed, crammed, twisted and contorted into every manner of unnatural pose imaginable. When I finally made it to the bargain tulips, I could hardly breath.

“Let me out of here. You’re hurting me!”

To be sure, the FTD folks seemed to have hired at least one younger-than-80 creative person. They now offer minimalist arrangements by Todd Oldham and Vera Wang. But, really. $110 for an orchid that I can buy at Lowe’s for $20? There is a way to go before you’re there, FTD.

Let me recommend a book for your education and edification. It’s called Zen Flowers, by Brenda Berkley and Anulka Kitamura. It is filled with examples of airy, simple and tasteful arrangements that honor the original plants and do not involve torture devices or demeaning containers.


And guess what? The author actually owns–a FLOWER SHOP! And she makes a living selling designs such as this…


And imagine a home with flower that look like this…


I know that Ikebana may not be for everyone. And I acknowledge the commenter from my previous post on the topic who said that there are some flower-buyers who expect quantity rather than quality. But I also believe that it is incumbent on florists to help educate their customers on nature and taste. Do you reall WANT to torture all those tulips? Pervert those petunias? Wrestle those roses?

But I am hoping that someday we can banish mounds of ice cream sundae flower arrangements or flowers in yellow smiley face cups. I hope that as gardeners we can help educate our friends and families that a simple arrangement in a humble, but natural container, is more aesthetically pleasing than a tacky ceramic container made in China. I would prefer some spring daffodils in a recyclable aluminum can to the overly-wrought arrangements that contort and distort nature.

Please, oh please. Let’s make the pledge now. No more hideous and unnatural flower arrangements…

(Okay, I acknowledge that I seem to be a wee bit cranky right now. Mi dispiace. I seem to be time-stressed, which is completely contrary to my continuous improvement efforts to simplify and slow down. That said, in the way of excuses, I have a lot of travel ahead in April–my prime gardening month. I am heading to Austin for the garden bloggers Spring Fling after which I head directly to San Francisco for some focus groups. I land home for barely a week before heading off to Geneva, Switzerland, for more focus groups. I know…sounds great until you contemplate my client’s coach-fare policy and the fact that my garden needs some serious remedial work in April. Oh, quit it with your tiny little violins…I’m serious here. This time.)


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  • Oh yes, I agree, the flowers are tortured at the florist shops, but I still like the smell of those places.

    Wee bit time stressed myself, but not so much since I return home to my garden after the spring fling.

    Still, it is hard to work up sympathy for someone who is going to Switzerland. Really hard…

    Hi Carol, well with all this work we’re doing before heading to Austin, perhaps we will be able to unplug without feeling guilty.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • David says:

    Robin, when you’re right, you’re right on! And you haven’t even added the part about all of the pesticides used and all that the field workers are exposed to to grow them before they torture them into such painful looking arrangements.

    Gotta kid (daughter) you oughta meet. You can find her here.

    David, Floret is fabulous! I see that she uses sustainable growing methods. Even better. I’m glad that you shared this. And somehow, the photography seems familiar…

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • RuthieJ says:

    Hi Robin, Stop by when you have a chance…I have an award for you.
    P.S. Happy Travels!

    As always, you are a dear. Thank you so much for the kind words and the E for Excellent!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Layanee says:

    Rant on! I sense a margarita in your future. That should help ease the tension! LOL!

    I bet I can keep up with you glass for glass! Let’s give it a try at Spring Fling.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • I used to belong to Amnesty International, so I’m good at writing letters to torturers. Just give me an address. See you in Austin!

    Can’t wait.

    (That will also mean all this work on my desk will be done! I hope.)

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Angela says:

    Don’t you know that you should never tell anyone your weakness? Can’t wait for your next birthday! I’m going to look especially hard for something with a kitten on it.

    Uh-huh. I have a few choice picks for you too, pal!

    (Don’t you love how us friends are so thoughtful to each other?)

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Benjamin says:

    Oh what a post! Love it! I’m so tired of buying bouquets anymore, and now that I’ve a garden, I can go on the cheap and do it better. Wait, will the wife appreciate this…? And I love Switzerland, I’d go for you, in fact, can I go for you? Please? Seriously.

    Boy, oh boy. My son brings this up at every available opportunity. He thinks he’ll wear me down…

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Jennifer says:

    You are soooo right! Too many florists are lacking in creativity and a sense of design. “Bigger” and “more” aren’t necessarily better.

  • Carol Holley says:


    I adore your Zen arrangements and appreciation for not-typical flower arrangements. However, the carnations made to look like an ice cream float was sent to me by a girlfriend a while back and it really made me chuckle. She and I used to go to Saunders in Detroit and sit at the counter and have ice cream so this gift was very appropriate! For this one time, I was satisfied with a typical, carnation arrangement.

    Carol Holley

  • Mel says:

    You are right! I had a friend who did Ikebana, her works were sooo beautiful, creative and unique!
    Hopefully things will change soon!

  • Amen! I’ve all but dropped expensive bouquets for a vase with a simple philodendren leaf. Much prettier.

  • karen says:

    You are so right, Robin. Those Ikebana arrangements are gorgeous!

  • anita says:

    you are soooooooo right…so many floral shops make the natural look so unnatural. just saw the recent peter perfect episode w/ brenda berkley. what an inspiration!
    i planted 15 large growing heliconia and red gingers to have my tropical cut flowers for the house. last winters frost set me back, but were getting there again!

  • Mcklain says:

    Yes, I agree and will forward your message for stop flower torture. Really flowers are the gift of nature. Thanks for your so much care about flowers.

  • large vase says:

    I was looking for more information on this topic this evening when I discovered your really interesting post…thanks a ton for sharing your thoughts. I will surely be checking up on your blog and coming back for more.By the way since when have you been blogging? 🙂

  • Flowering beauty says:

    shame they didnt like my blog that i left. haha tunnel vision blog!!