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Easter bouquets available, thanks to creative Sacramento-area florists

Regardless of coronavirus, Easter bouquets are a traditional part
of the season. Relles Florist in Sacramento is getting creative with
the flowers it can obtain. (Photo courtesy Relles Florist)

With limited supply of flowers for spring events, flexibility counts

Jim Relles was able to find some Easter lilies. For a florist this week, that was exciting.

Traditionally, this is a big week for florists. In the days leading up to Easter, local florists create festive arrangements for churches as well as family get-togethers.

In addition, the spring calendar is usually dotted with lots of weddings, graduations and other celebrations – all flower-filled occasions.

But not this spring.

“For all of us, it’s challenging,” said Relles, owner of Relles Florist in Midtown Sacramento. “We’re taking it day by day.”

Relles’ family business has been serving Sacramento’s floral needs since 1946, through several economic ups and downs. But the current COVID-19 crisis has created unique circumstances. Among them: Midtown looks like a ghost town.

“Since we’re selling floral products, we’re considered part of agriculture and we’re able to stay open,” Relles said. “But we weren’t sure we could get any flowers to sell.”

Like any crop, flowers are planted months, sometimes years, in advance of harvest. Those Easter flowers are ready for customers now. Otherwise, they’re compost.

Some flower wholesalers initially shut down, but reopened once they knew farms would be sending fresh blooms and florists would be able to sell them.

“Luckily, we’re getting flowers, mostly from California growers,” Relles said. “South America (the source of many popular blooms) is trying to get back up and going, too. We may not have every flower requested, but we have about 100 varieties in our store.”

In short supply are carnations, mini-carnations and pompoms – all florist staples. Peace lilies have been hard to get. It was an accomplishment when Relles was able to pick up some Easter lilies, a must for this season.

“We’re being flexible and creative,” Relles said. “Our staff is doing a great job.”

Bella Fiore Designs in Fair Oaks Village makes arrangements
such as this one as part of the BloomNation online network.
(Photo courtesy Bella Fiore Designs)
In Fair Oaks, Arpik Mirzoyan of Bella Fiore Designs is still filling orders for delivery only. The usually bustling streets of Fair Oaks Village, where her shop is located, are empty.

“(The impact of the coronavirus crisis) has been really, really bad,” she said. “Offices are closed, which is understandable, but they’re my weekly accounts. I usually take flowers to retirement homes, but not now (with current restrictions). I’ve had weddings and some other big events all canceled.”

Mirzoyan is still buying flowers and making personalized arrangements. She does a lot of work through BloomNation, the online floral marketplace.

During this time of high anxiety, a bouquet can bring a whiff of relief.

“Of course, fresh flowers ease anxiety,” she said. “They make people smile.”

But her business has been slow.

“Usually, Easter week is really busy, doing a lot of fun stuff,” Mirzoyan added. “But this is a very hard situation for everyone. We have hope that things will get better and events will come back. June weddings are coming up.”

Taking phone and online orders, Relles Florist cut back its hours to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Jim Relles himself is making many of the deliveries.

“Easter Week is traditionally big and we are still sending out some stuff,” Relles said. “The priest at one Catholic church is doing a virtual Easter service and he asked for some altar pieces.”

Relles worries about the weeks ahead, in particular another flower-filled holiday – Mother’s Day. For florists, the second Sunday in May ranks close to Valentine’s Day in terms of orders.

“I think this year, Mother’s Day will be even more important,” he said. “Flowers make people happy, they bring joy into your life. I’m sure people will want to express their love and give flowers.”

Mom will say thank you, and so will the florist.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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