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My love of flowers

I have always loved flowers. For years, I would purchase flowers to plant outside after Mother’s Day…the earliest “safe” time to plant in Colorado to avoid losing plants to a spring freeze. I loved pulling up in front of our house and seeing the bright blooms. I am sure my husband got tired of hearing me say, “flowers make me so happy.”

In early 2019 after our youngest, Marisa had gone to college, my husband and I moved from Broomfield, Colorado to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This was my dream come true on SO many levels. We purchased a beautiful home on an acre of land with an incredible view of the ocean. My flower lovin’ heart sang, “now I can plant any flower I desire and enjoy them year round!

Our home was only two years old when we purchased it and the large lot already had existing landscaping. In Hawaii, even if you don’t intentionally plant you will have something growing, it just may not be anything you like. The builder and the previous owners planted some things and nature did the rest! Our first year there, we removed about half an acre of existing plants, bushes, weeds, a dead vegetable garden and massive overgrowth. We hired a professional to install some rock, plant trees and bushes and lay mulch. Then we spent countless hours planting, weeding and nurturing those areas. I was in love. It was beautiful and in time, it became overwhelming.

We loved our Hawaii home, new laid-back lifestyle and our adopted Ohana even more. Because we have a large family we traveled off the island quite frequently, even during COVID. It took a minimum of five hours to get to the west coast and most of our family lived in the central part of the U.S. Because of the cost and time commitment of leaving Hawaii we always tried to see as many family members as possible on every trip. My husband referred to these as “tours of the U.S.” because of the multiple flights and destinations I insisted on each trip. There were many “moments” we missed because we could not justify the cost to make an impromptu visit for special occasions and there is no such thing as a “quick trip” when you live 3,000 miles from anywhere.

After a few years we began to feel an overwhelming sense of isolation and in mid 2022 we made the difficult decision to move back to the mainland. We considered several states and in the end chose Arizona for several reasons which I may talk about on a future post.

We were able to find a perfectly sized home with a perfect layout and a gorgeous resort style backyard. One of the best features of our new home was the super low maintenance landscaping. Our new home was all hardscape and artificial turf with minimal, low maintenance trees and bushes with a few potted plants…all on a drip system. Nevermind that the irrigation system failed within several months of moving in and had to be completely replaced. The point of my sharing this is how things change. I was happy to longer have the continual obligation and work associated with an enormous outdoor “garden” that blooms year round.

Fast forward nearly a year and a full remodel later…a story for another time. I began to miss having flowers. I didn’t want to plant anything outside because I didn’t want to attract bees and didn’t want to contribute to the debris that gets blown into our pool during Monsoon season. Our neighbor’s trees are doing a great job of that on their own. We were also beginning to travel more often so outdoor flowers weren’t practical in the desert.

My answer to this problem was fresh cut flowers. This gave me the challenge and reward of creating my own unique arrangements and then enjoying them for several days afterward. Because I change them weekly, they never blend into the background. I always notice them when I walk past or glance over as I’m cooking. I feel joyful each time I see them.

I purchased some flowers from Trader Joe’s and made three separate arrangements in some vases I had. I guess I purchased too many flowers for my first attempt. I watched some YouTube videos to get some ideas, but the experience was a bit overwhelming. Although I enjoyed them, I wasn’t overly excited about the process or the outcome. 

Luckily, I had previously shared my new interest with my husband’s step-sister, Kristy. She wanted to do something nice for me and invited me to participate in a surprise event. She invited her brother’s wife, Alexis to join us and neither of us had any idea what we would be doing. We were given very vague suggestions for attire and although my husband was in on it, he wouldn’t share. When we met her for happy hour the evening of the surprise I was so excited when she shared that she was treating us to a flower arranging class.

We learned a lot of basics in the class and each left with a colorful arrangement that became even more full and beautiful each day as the flowers bloomed. I enjoyed mine immensely and now that I had a fabulous, versatile vase complete with chicken wire caging and basic knowledge I was hooked! The class gave the confidence to continue trying.

Now I purchase flowers fairly regularly and sometimes I am given flowers. Each time, I simply freshen my arrangement. I start by taking all the flowers out, removing the old blooms and droopy stems. I deadhead them if it makes sense to keep some of the groupings. I lay them all out on the kitchen counter by flower type and length, thoroughly wash out my vase to remove any debris and decay that will negatively impact my flowers and create again. I try to snip at least a small amount from the stems of all the flowers to encourage water uptake before placing them in the arrangement. It’s wonderful to spend a bit of time being creative each week.