We all have a story to share

I have been writing for Canadian Florist magazine for a lot of years, sharing stories, thoughts, and—hopefully—a bit of inspiration to all the incredible people in my floral family around the world.

I have written about weddings, funerals, holiday seasons, and well, pretty much everything that goes on in our beautiful industry. So, I have decided to start putting some of what I have seen and done in a book. In fact, my first is out now, and I am working on my second…but I’ll tell you more about that and how I want your input in a little bit!

Over the years I have witnessed many breathtaking moments because of what I do in my life. I remember seeing the look on a man’s face when he first saw his new daughter, while he held flowers I brought him to give to his wife. That was something else—let me tell you.

I was working one day at the store and saw two old ladies having a poke about outside, inspecting the plants we had on offer. One lady was pointing at the hibiscus bloom with her cane, so I was curious (and a little annoyed, to be truthful) and went out to get the scoop. Well, apparently this lady had lived in Italy, and outside her home there was a hibiscus bush. This was during World War II, and every day a man from the Canadian Army would walk by, pick a flower, and give it to her. (People were so much more romantic then!) Well, after a bit of courtship they got wed and moved to Canada. He had died many years before, but after her telling me this story, I, of course, picked each lady a flower, and with a tear or two, away they went. Fast-forward several years: I got a note in the mail from a lady who said her mum had passed and wanted to thank me. While looking through her things, she found a pressed hibiscus in her Bible with a note about the day a man named “Neville” gave it to her in Halifax. I am still humbled by how this little gesture made her feel.

I think of certain people when I see a flower—Sylvia, for instance, when I see an orchid because, years ago, few had one of these precious treasures, and she did. It was like seeing magic. I think of my dad when I see cosmos, because he grew them at the fire tower where he worked. We didn’t have them at home in the garden, but when he would bring a bouquet home to my mum, I knew what love truly was.

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Mrs. Smith, a dear old soul I met in Edmonton, was such an inspiration to me as a young florist, who wound up teaching me so much about a flower’s true power. She was blind and would always say hello as I passed her door in our apartment building. I brought her a lovely red rose one night, and when she got it, I was appalled as she rubbed it across her face and eventually tore it apart like a cat smothering itself in fresh catnip. When I asked why she destroyed it, she explained that she could “see” this flower in other ways and the touch and smell reminded her of when she did have sight. She did ask that the next time I brought her one, would I please remember to leave the thorns on the stem? That was a turning point in my life, for sure.

Now here’s where you come in. We all have a memory when we see certain flowers, don’t we? By now, I am sure you are starting to think of a flower story or two that is either funny, beautiful, or nasty. I want to hear it! I am writing another book all about flower stories, and I would love to include yours! Get your thinking cap on and send me a note (20-200 words, please) and I will try to fit it in the book! I really want to see as many different interesting stories as possible from around the world. But please understand that if you write and say, “I like carnations because they last long,” (YAWN), it won’t make the cut. Oh, and for now, have a look for
“Neville on the Level” on Amazon! (Read: buy a copy.)

Let’s all share LOVE through the beauty of flowers!

Neville MacKay
Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, WFC is the owner of My Mother's Bloomers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a design director with Smithers-Oasis North America. He designed flowers for the 1988 Winter Olympics, as well as a long list of celebrities including Glen Close, Sir Elton John, and members of the British Royal Family. MacKay appears regularly on Canadian TV and travels internationally giving presentations about the impact of flowers.
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