By Elizabeth McNamara
Starting with a base of green to help keep the shape of the flowers, Ashley Sandifer grabs light green hydrangeas to begin the assortment. She picks some light pink tulips and puts together a bouquet. She places the arrangement on the front counter and then cleans up the stems by pushing them onto the floor.
Sandifer is the manager and designer at Rhythm and Blooms downtown location in the Fifth Street Public Market. The flower stand brings nature to an indoor-outdoor style mall. Sandifer and her employees are preparing for a hectic weekend, which is Mother’s Day; holidays are typically when they are their busiest.
While tying her light hair in a ponytail, she talks to her employees about the time frame they have for the remainder of the week. Sandifer says that Mother’s Day is one of their top five busiest holidays.
Kira Harris, a Rhythm and Blooms florist, takes customers orders while Sandifer cleans up the pile of stems. For the sake of efficiency, the florists do not bother disposing of stems right away. Once the floor becomes a sea of stems, they drag in a large garbage can and throw the stems in.
Even while sharing their space with Marché Provisions, a local bakery and wine café, the florists are able relax while listening to multiple Pandora stations. The 10 x 10-corner stand and patio allow the flowers to get sun as well as shade. Sandifer puts some unused long stem flowers back outside where the breeze is softly picking up. Her causal outfit of pink Converse shoes, dark jeans and a fuchsia North Face jacket ties in with the relaxed vibe of the flower stand.
Starting with a summer job wrapping flowers, Sandifer has been a florist for 11 years. Sandifer is not from Eugene, but actually moved here just for the sake of moving. She is originally from Baltimore where her family still resides.
“My boyfriend at the time and I moved here 9-years-ago for an adventure,” Sandifer says. She has been working at Rhythm and Blooms for over a year and says she loves the lively environment. “There’s a lot of kids around here and they keep our atmosphere young,” Sandifer adds.
Florists do not have the typical 9-5 job; even when the store is closed they are still working. Sandifer says that sometimes she works until midnight. “We have to stay until the next days orders are done,” Sandifer says. Their busiest time is Valentine’s Day, which is when they stay up past midnight.
During Valentine’s Day the florists at Rhythm and Blooms get some interesting and suspicious requests. “We get some weird orders. Sometimes guys come in and buy two arrangements. They pay for one in cash and one with their credit card,” Harris says. “Sometimes they will have us type up one message and then they discretely write the other one.”
Matching her personality, Sandifer has a quiet laugh. Her smile stays as she describes some more ridiculous moments. She says that people tell them more information than they should know. “It’s almost like we’re consolers. Some people tell us a lot of personal details,” Sandifer says. “You meet a lot of different kinds of people.”
The florists finish tidying up the flower stand and start on some orders by grabbing greens. They discuss how florists do more than cutting and arranging flowers, but rather it’s about creating art. “It’s an art form,” Harris says. “There are trends when it comes to flowers.”
Sandifer adds, “It has a lot to do with who’s designing it.” She says that the style of arranging flowers changes like fashion. Arranging flowers has developed into more of an art form and now it is all about accents, but it also depends on who is designing. “The youth are impacting the way florists arrange flowers. Younger florists attract younger crowds while florists who have been around for a while, and have a more traditional style of arranging, attract an older crowd.”
The sun slowly sets, which darkens the small flower stand. Rhythm and Blooms florists drag in the flowers on the patio. They change their sign to ‘Closed’ and continue working behind the flowers until all of the orders for the next day are completed.