The Flower Shops of Europe

I wrote this post originally 4 years ago. I came to Europe and was delighted by all the flowers everywhere. I was delighted by all the sales of flowers as well and how it was so easily accessible to buy plants and bouquets. I also find that many more people actually buy plants and flowers, especially as gifts. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s just more visible in Europe. Flowers in the US can be bought at big box stores like Walmart, which arguably lack the charm of a quaint little flower shop and a specialty florist. This post reflects the feelings I had seeing all the little specialty shops, and in general all the small businesses in the walkable streets around Europe.

“One thing I loved when I lived in Milan was the plethora of flower and plant shops on every street you go. I remember the joy it brought to see the colorful floral arrangements on every corner. At every store I dreamt of how I would buy bouquets and fill my house with the fresh scent of live flowers. Everyday, I could see their bright colors with leaves spilling over the edge of the vase. That very dream is still well and alive here in Paris, as I constantly pass florists on every corner. I even have a favorite neighborhood florist where I occasionally buy a plant to fill my need and desire of creating a living home; a home full of life and color where you can taste a sense of freshness, a freshness that only indoor plants inside a home can bring. 

As much as I want to buy bouquets upon bouquets of flowers, I realize the feasible option at the moment is to stick with living plants. Plants that will bloom once over and over again, with a lifespan that lasts longer than a single cut flower. Because unfortunately as beautiful as a bouquet of flowers is, it doesn’t not last forever and requires repeat spending and buying to keep that freshness alive inside your home. 

Unlike bouquets, a living plant can bring joy and happiness for weeks and even years to come. They can provide substance for your meals in the form of herbs and vegetables. They can provide a sense of pride when seeing a new leave emerge. They can provide a slow meter of movement and change, as the days and years go by, a new branch here, a new branch there, all representing the movement of time and the movement of life. They can provide that breathe of fresh air and a general atmosphere of life and living within every home. 

Sometimes, I’ll look at the price of the bouquets and wonder how anyone could afford them, until I look at my own budget and realize how minuscule it is as compared to the average adult working full-time. Will I one day become a person who can buy such luxuries? Can you consider flowers luxuries? Maybe.

I always wonder how the florists can charge so much for flowers and continue staying in business. I have to constantly remind myself again and again that people have different priorities for their funds, but some people have more funds in general. Flower shops stay open because people like me, who spend their young days admiring from afar, eventually fall into a larger pot of disposable income and their admiration from afar because admiration from their home.

I look at flowers and think: such beautiful products, but a product with a short shelf life. It breaks my heart to see flowers begin to die, but at the same time warms my heart to know that during their short life, they can bring so much joy. Not just for the purchaser, but for the shopkeeper, and everyone who walks past and admires their beauty.”

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