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Florist shares details of life in flower business

Friday, November 23, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CST; updated 4:51 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thirty years in the flower business qualify Darla Manley of Allen’s Flowers in downtown Columbia to dispense advice on many topics such as the best edible flowers to serve at a dinner party and how to break up with a lover.

“There is nothing that goes on in Columbia that I don’t know about,” she said.

The most popular floral arrangement?

If it’s a guy, it’s gonna be roses. They’re not inventive. If it’s a woman, lilies or Gerber daisies. Old people like carnations. Rich people like exotics.

Your favorite local flower?

Love-in-a-mist. It’s like a thistle. It’s really quite pretty.

The tastiest edible flowers?

For baking, chrysanthemums are great. Or you can take rose petals and sugar them. Salads look fantastic with pansies, petunias and Gerber petals. But lots of flowers are toxic. And if you’re going to eat them, make sure they’re from an organic farm.

To keep flowers fresh, you should ...

Put them in water and change the water at least every other day. You can also use a half-cup of 7-Up. The carbonation keeps microorganisms down, and the sugar feeds the flowers.

The strangest thing a customer asked me to write on a card was ...

A woman who wanted a divorce wrote to her husband, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m done with you.” On Valentine’s Day.

Something most people don’t know about florists?

A qualified florist is going to have credentials. I’m a master floral designer, and it took a lot of time.

If you were a flower, you’d be?

A Cattleya orchid or a curcuma. They’re different and unique.


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