Free bunches of flowers from a Thorndon florist became a simple gesture to bring cheer during Wellington’s brief return to Covid level 2 in June 2021.
Estelle Ballandis, a florist for 20 years and owner of Flowers Rediscovered in Tinakori Road, felt glum when level 2 was declared. Realising the mood around town matched hers, she decided to do something about it.
She wrote “Feeling Glum? Take a free bunch of flowers!” on her rustic blackboard and put with it wrapped bunches of tulips and creams (similar to narcissus called spring cheer) for passers-by to take home for free.
“It brought smiles to faces so mission achieved,” she says.
Estelle says they gave away more than 30 bunches over a couple of hours on the day they did it.
Quite a few people called out to say thank you or popped their heads in the doorway.
Her staff also added extra flowers to bouquets bought by regulars. They received a “lovely” email from one of the purchasers.
One of the passers-by who popped their head in to say thanks for a bunch of flowers was Johaniek Sulzberger.
She was walking on the other side of the road and saw Estelle’s blackboard message.
Johaniek was so touched by the gesture she emailed the Daily Encourager.
“Our lovely community flower shop on Tinakori Road in Thorndon had this sign out with free flowers for the taking during the last Covid level 2 – not sure how long they did it for, but thought it was a lovely gesture, and it made a few smiles along the way.”
Johaniek says she has been thinking about the shop since and will definitely use them the next time there is an opportunity to send or give flowers.
That act of kindness made me want to give the shop more business.”
Last year’s lockdown stopped the country’s floral industry from operating normally.
“My three staff and I are just so grateful that we are still here and operating. We have been more fortunate than some,” Estelle says.
News clips of New Zealand growers mowing down thousands of fresh flowers they could not sell or export prompted novel ways to prevent them being wasted.
Bunches of flowers were given to rest homes and hospitals and to decorate Anzac memorials.
Saying it with flowers
Estelle says that while many florists have lost work due to Covid, there has been something of a silver lining for them.
Mother’s Day 2020 came just after lockdown finished and was exceptionally busy.
“I found it heart-warming when locals and regulars came in just after lockdown to show their support and gratitude that we were still able to operate.”
A significant number of orders are coming online from people living overseas who can’t travel to bring greetings in person.
And with more Kiwis working from home and spending extra time indoors, there has also been a greater appreciation of the positivity flowers can bring to the home, she says.
Also popular are dried arrangements and houseplants, Estelle says.
How to help the industry
Estelle says the best way to ensure New Zealand’s floristry industry remains sustainable is to support local growers and florists.
Just keep buying local.”
Flowers can be ordered in person or from business websites.
The well-known Thorndon florist has been in Tinakori Road for 30 years and is just a five-minute walk from the Wellington CBD.
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For more information:
Flowers Rediscovered website