It is that time of winter where the cold seems to be really weighing on people. The snow is not that fresh, fluffy beautiful new stuff. Instead, its remnants lie in dirty stiff piles along parking lots and driveways. It has hardened into ice along pathways.
On some days, the late-February air is so cold that it leaves you feeling like even when inside you can never quite get warm. People rush in and out of buildings never stopping, staring hard at the ground in an effort to avoid falling. The only thing worse than being out in the cold is falling on hard, icy ground.
The real glimmer of hope is that now, if you happen to drive home around 5:30 p.m., the sky is lighter, the horizon has an orange-pink hue that gets just a shade brighter every couple of evenings. Maybe there is hope. Maybe this eternal winter will end. Maybe we will see green again. Maybe the spring flowers will bloom some day soon. People will slowly look up. Maybe we will celebrate again.
There is a more immediate short-term solution to breaking up this bleak winter vibe: your local flower shop. Whether you are planning a party, a wedding or any other important event for the summer or spring, or just looking to add a little color to your day, these are the spots to go to. Stepping inside any of your local flower shops is heaven. The sweet smell, the warm damp air and the endless choices of yellows, pinks, and purples will make your stiff, cold shoulders drop.
Even through the face mask, taking in that floral scented air is divine.
The great thing about the local flower stores in the area is that they are independent and owned by familiar faces in the community. Not only do you get a beautiful bouquet, but also a friendly face, some local knowledge, and years and years of expertise.
Jarita’s in Woodstock is one of the mainstays of the community. It sits on Tinker Street across from the village green. It has been there for what seems like forever: 45 years, opening on the auspicious date of 7/7/77.
It is owned by Jay and Rita, who started in the floral market by selling flowers on the streets of Albany. They were subject to whatever the weather held in store for them, and it was about an hour drive each day and each way. So when “an opportunity for our storefront opened up we said why not?” they said. “It was all very serendipitous, and us being young. It evolved from there.”
They have been there through hundreds of parties, weddings, small thank-yous and big I-love-yous every since. Working with people through their happiest and saddest moments has given them a feeling of connectedness that not everyone gets to experience.
What do they like best about providing floral arrangements for special occasions? “We like lighting up the room(s) with our flowers, and seeing the happiness that it brings to people for their special events.”
“Special” is a subjective word. What might be special to one person might seem horrible to another. Part of being a florist is being able to figure out meaning for each customer. Jay and Rita ask a variety of questions until they have it narrowed down to the perfect arrangement.
If the customer doesn’t already know what they want, they ask questions What is the occasion? They usually ask about color; e.g. bright and colorful, soft and light. Are there any particular flowers that the customer likes or dislikes? Is there a particular style that they want (gardeny, wildflower, compact, loose and airy, etc.)? After a few questions like these, they say they have a pretty good idea of what feeling and style the customer is looking for. Jay and Rita spend extra time getting to know their clients’ vision. They continue to grow and change with the times and flower trends.
Theresa Colucci owns Meadowscent Florist in Gardiner, where she grew up. She always loved flowers. When she was in high school she took an after-school job working in a flower shop. She had no idea that the youthful experience might turn into a 35-year career as a florist. But here she is, running her store on Route 44/55 in Gardiner.
Her store is nestled in a quaint shopping plaza and filled with not only beautiful flowers but also special gifts and handcrafted items. She says she loves being a part of people’s big moments in life right from the start, to the end, and everything in between.
“Special occasions are celebrated in someone’s life from birth to death,” she said. “These are important moments in life, and flowers help make the celebration beautiful and memorable. I could not ask for a more rewarding job than to make someone’s celebration more joyful through flowers.” Figuring out exactly what people want and what they envision can be a difficult process.
Theresa takes the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words to heart. “Photos are the best way to see a customer’s vision,” she said. “There are many things a trained eye pulls from these inspiration photos such as color, style, texture, form and size. By using these, we can create the perfect florals for their special event.”
Theresa has been doing what she has been doing long enough that she has a particular style that is recognizable. However, she says that it is important to her always to be willing to progress and stay current in order to meet her customers’ evolving ideas for their celebrations.
Dancing Tulip, Saugerties
For the past eight years Dancing Tulip, owned by Hazel Sherburne, has been brightening up Saugerties. Located at 114 Partition Street, it has quickly become a staple of the village and town.
Hazel attributes some of her success to the unique flowers the store carries. “We try to always have unusual blooms and greens in the shop,” she explained. “Believe it or not, those are the hottest ticket items. Showy coral peonies, amazing clooni ranunculus from Italy, and exotic proteas from South Africa all make regular appearances when they are available. In turn, we take these exotic specimens and turn them into floral artwork.”
Before opening Dancing Tulip, Hazel worked part-time at one of the town wine shops. She has worked closely with the Saugerties village business community. She had a sense that there was a need for a flower shop. “The timing for me and the town was right, and after researching the industry I jumped in with both feet,” she said.
Her decision was correct. She has been working with the community illuminating their events and celebrations ever since. “Whether we are working with couples for a wedding, helping plan a surprise birthday bash or even celebrating a life well lived and past, we know that we are privileged to be an integral part of those moments,” she said. “Flowers bring smiles, no matter what the occasion.”
Hazel works closely with her customers, whether it be creating a small bouquet or creating floral arrangements for an entire event. “We know that when we are helping people develop a look or concept for their event, we are in collaboration with them. They are coming to us for our expert advice and wide range of experience,” she explained. “Lots of times we start with example photos to get an idea of concept. Then, we narrow by color, style, flower availability and what the must-haves are. It’s very important to understand the style and personality of our clients to ensure a good fit.”
With her five-star customer service rating, Hazel must be doing something right. She feels her rating “says a lot about who we are and how we care.”