When I read the Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, I got swept up by the romanticism of our floral industry for the second time in my life. When you’ve owned shops, been involved in over 1000 weddings and events, picked up rental items at midnight, wondered if you’ll ever have clean fingernails or questioned how much longer your legs will hold out by standing all day; a floral designer gets pretty burnt out. When I left the floral world in 2004, I said I was done.
Then…..I read a book that pulled my right back into this addictive world of flowers. The Language of Flowers is beautifully written by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. According to Vanessa, the main character Victoria exists entirely on the periphery of society. So much is out of the scope of her understanding--how to get a job, how to make a friend, even how to have a conversation. But in the world of flowers, with their predictable growing habits and "non-negotiable" meanings, Victoria feels safe, comfortable, even at home. All this changes when she learns that there is more than one definition for the yellow rose--and then, through research, realizes there is more than one definition for almost every flower. In an effort to "re-order" the universe, Victoria begins to photograph and create her own dictionary, determined to never have a flower-inspired miscommunication. She decides to share that information with others--a decision that brings with it the possibility of love, connection, career, and community.
The book takes place in San Francisco. I remember the SF Market. I remember those neighborhoods. I remember when I lived and breathed horticulture and floral design. I embraced every floral class and I was in awe with all the floral designers. All I ever wanted was a flower shop to call my own. Then, of course, reality hit. Our industry is hard work. No one sees all the work that goes into creating of a stunning bridal bouquet.
I got burnt out and this book sucked me right back into this world. In hindsight, I don’t believe I ever left. I was merely taking a much needed break. I opened Sweet Lilacs in the summer of 2014 in my terms. I want to do good floral design work, provide a good quality service and work at my pace. I am addicted to exuberance, excitement, romantic ideas and creativity. In this world, I feel relevant and I feel I can bring joy.