Gifting a bouquet from Orlando florists to a loved one is a gesture that has been a part of our culture for longer than anyone can remember. It is less acknowledged, though, that behind every arrangement you purchase is a designer fighting the elements and the clock to create these delicate and temporary works of art.
Jamie Knoepfler worked in a different creative industry, live theater, before the start of the pandemic pushed her to pivot to becoming a florist.
“Beginning [the pandemic] working in a plant shop, I was able to see the flower department in action,” Knoepfler says. “One of my friends from [working in] theater, Olivia Winslow, definitely inspired me and planted the seed – no pun intended.”
Jamie went on to work in a couple of floral shops and for event companies doing wedding installations, gathering experience and knowledge along the way. “As a freelance florist, you must learn to adapt to different design styles and take criticism constructively,” says Knoepfler.
With valentines season being a busy time of year in the floral industry, designers can conceptualize arrangements ahead of time, but constructing them is another story.
“When working with fresh [flowers], you have to make them a day before [the holiday] or maybe three days, max,” Knoepfler says. “So it requires long hours. If you are on the delivery side of things, which I have done all over Central Florida, it is a rewarding feeling. It is nice to see everyone’s face when they see the arrangements.”
So, what local spots would this floral aficionado recommend for all your romancing needs? Well, she says there are florists in Orlando to suit any taste.
For locally grown flowers that carry a just-picked-from-the-garden aesthetic, Knoepfler says Secret Garden Guru is your gal. “She is a micro-flower farmer in College Park, and everything that she produces, all of her flowers, are 100% grown in her backyard.”
For a more traditional, elegant flower design, Kelly Shannon Floral is in Ivanhoe Village.
“Kelly’s has more of a traditional style, but she still adds her twist to it. There are flower shops where the designers are just copying a photo, but [at Kelly’s], they add more flair to their arrangements,” Knoepfler says.
If you are looking for funky and bohemian flower designs, Knoepfler recommends The Heavy in Winter Park.
“They do a lot of pampas grass and fan palms [in their arrangements] and a lot of tropical stuff, which is all super popular right now,” Knoepfler says.
For those looking to take the DIY route this year, or even those who want to pursue floral design as a hobby, Knoepfler says the best way to learn is by doing.
“I started with buying flowers and fitting them in a vase. I’ve looked up some videos on YouTube to get a better idea of how to get started because if you do not have the resources you would have in a shop, it can be hard,” Knoepfler says. “But using flowers as a medium is also insanely expensive, right? The classic place [to source flowers] is always Trader Joe’s. Get five bouquets from Trader Joe’s and learn [ to arrange them] from there.”
So, whether you will give, receive, or treat yourself to some flowers this Valentine’s Day, you have plenty of Orlando flower shops to stop by. More notable than gifting or receiving a bouquet is the thought and caring gesture it represents— a sentiment that can bloom any time of year.