Across all civilizations and throughout recorded history, flowers have been used to express love, to add visual appeal (and often fragrance) to homes and businesses, and to bring ambiance and color to every manner of event and celebration.
Mother's day, St. Valentine's Day, birthdays, weddings, funerals, school dances, pageants, ceremonies of all kinds, and people (especially men) wishing to create or maintain an exciting level of romance in their relationships keep the world's florists and floral designers in business. Fresh flowers are the largest expense account on any flower retailer's books. This is not surprising, as fresh flowers are both delicate and perishable, two qualities which absolutely mandate a chain of custody that is both fast and gentle.
What Constitutes a Grade-A Flower?
Like all things beautiful, living, and perishable, flowers come in a range of grades. The qualitative factors contributing to a flower's grade are as follows.
1. Condition of the stem. A Grade-A flower has a stem which is:
- generally straight (in comparison to other members of its species, or course);
- fresh (meaning that there are no bruises, mold, holes, or soft, dying spots), and;
- well-trimmed. Proper trimming entails:
- using a very sharp knife. A dull blade will tend to "crush" its way through the tiny passages which supply water to the flower's cells, closing them and thereby restricting the flower's ability to get the nutrients it needs to stay alive.
- cutting the stem diagonally. This serves to increase the surface area of the passages where they contact and draw water. It also prevents the stem's critically important cross-section from resting flatly against the bottom of the vessel in which the flower stands, inhibiting water uptake much in the same way that a drinking straw pressed flatly against the bottom of a soft drink cup would make drinking difficult for you!
2. Condition of the buds. For a flower to qualify as Grade-A, its bud must be:
- firm (softness indicates early decomposition, and a flower which will never live to realize its full potential beauty, nor reach reproductive maturity if planted in soil.)
- well shaped, i.e., exhibiting dimensional proportion, and in most cases, symmetry
- normally expanded (but not 'overmature,' to borrow a word coined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture). An couple examples of abnormal expansion are:
- a bud which has begun to expand before reaching its full mature size.
- petals whose top edges have begun to wither before fully opening.
Note: Depending on its purpose, life-expectancy, and intended aesthetic role within an arrangement, any flower may be appropriately used during any stage of development. Tight, fully-closed buds can add a dramatic, punctuating and/or contrasting effect when placed among fully open, mature flowers, especially ones of a different variety and color. A Grade-A flower is beautiful throughout every stage of its life, from the moment the color of its buds begin to peek through the protective sepal leaves until the last petal falls from its stamen.
3. Overall condition of the flower (including any leaves). Grade-A flowers must be free of any of the following:
- insect damage
- spider webs (which indicate a neglectful growing environment, as well as frightening some people!)
- excessive moisture (which leads to early death and decomposition)
Though these standards are meant to assist you in determining the grade of individual flowers, they can also be useful in grading flower retailers, wholesalers, and floral designers. If you have ever bought an arrangement and later noticed that one or more of its flowers fail to meet every single quality factor described above, then you are not dealing with a Grade-A vendor.
Any reputable grower or wholesaler will refund the purchase price of flowers which arrive in less-than-perfect condition. For this reason, we at Rococo floral Studio examine every petal. On every flower. Every time. We believe that there is still a place for flowers which, due to reasons of genetics, rough handling, or poor developmental care, fall short of Grade-A perfection. We call that place "the garbage can."
If you have an upcoming event or simply a special person in your life whom you feel warrants absolute perfection, you have come to the right place. Here at Rococo, we love what we do, and we do it well. Whether you need a single red rose or a bridal bouquet fit for a princess, you'll get nothing less than the absolute best flowers available anywhere.
Come see us at 215 North 4th Street in Downtown Gadsden (right by Mater's) or call us at 256.515.4994