Flowers keep it fresh through centuries of home decor


Fish or flowers? Torontonians wanting to fete their moms faced that enticing choice at St. Lawrence Market a century ago.

Pickerel was being promoted for 25 cents a pound, the Toronto Daily Star reported on Mother’s Day in 1925. But just as fresh and fragrant were pansies, peonies and roses.

Flowers won by a nose as an expression of love and appreciation in those early days of the annual celebration of motherhood, which falls on May 8 this year.

Posies are more than just pretty faces in our homes where they’re also valued as mood boosters and air fresheners. Victorians showed how, placing small tussie-mussie bouquets of fragrant herbs and blooms around the house to snuff out smells.

One passionate petal pusher is Toronto’s Becky De Oliveira, who “eats, sleeps and dreams in a world of flowers.

“Fresh flowers add life and beauty to a home,” says the owner and creative director of design studio, Blush & Bloom. “It’s a simple touch that goes a long way.”

Arranged flowers are best sellers for more than 80 per cent of florists, according to a 2021 survey by Floranext, a florist software platform. In her living space, De Oliveira loves “a small little flower moment on my dining table, and a stem or two in my washroom.” Her toddler de ella also enjoys having a few stems in her bedroom de ella.

Flowers are easy houseguests to accommodate. “Pitchers, ice buckets, wine bottles, cereal bowls, you name it — anything can be used to hold a bloom,” says the industry veteran whose studio does floral arrangements for weddings, orders and events. “Ceramics are really in right now. I love pottery, stoneware and terra cotta.”

Egyptians are believed to have started designing room-brightening bouquets around 2500 BCE. In fact, they were the first florists to trade, according to Floranext.

Floranext credits Italian artists for helping sow the seeds of floral design in Europe by painting flowers in a vase around 400 or 500 AD. Italians also used basketfuls as a sort of winsome welcome mat.

Early on, botanical beauties found their way onto the canvases of the greats, including Bosschaert, who painted them in meticulous detail in the 1600s, followed by Monet, van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir and O’Keeffe among others.

The profession enjoyed a turn in the spotlight when unlucky-in-love florist, Jennifer Aniston, finds herself in a blossoming romance with a self-help author, Aaron Eckhart, in the 2009 film “Love Happens.”

Floral artistry has been further elevated down in La La Land where bespoke designer Maurice Harris calls himself the “Beyoncé of Flowers.” Like the superstar recording artist, he goes “full production” with his vibrant showstoppers, earning him an Instagram following of more than 280,000.

Jennifer Aniston gave florists a starring role in the 2009 movie

“I am really, really excellent at what I do,” the founder of Bloom & Plume studio in Los Angeles said on a recent episode of “The Quarantine Tapes.”

In his hands, fresh flowers — “the epitome of beauty and esthetics” — become a “transcendental experience,” said Harris.

His own home is a multi-hued wonderland boasting everything from giant painted blooms to a single peony in a vase. He surrounds himself with colours, collectibles and artwork that bring him joy, the fun-loving celebrity florist explained in a video with “Clever” design site last year.

For those who want to create their own floral magic, Harris teaches a 30-day course on YouTube.

Vincent van Gogh painted multiple canvases of his famous

Becky De Oliveira, who has a sister business called Bloom School — upcoming evening classes are May 25 and June 8 — offers her tips for budding designers.

“Stick to an easy color palette to start,” she says, suggesting three varieties of monochromatic flowers. Choosing seasonal and local “will always yield the best blooms at any time of year.”

For her arrangements, she typically selects from three categories: a full or mass flower such as hydrangea, spray roses, and daisies; a line or linear-shaped flower such as delphinium, tulips and gladiola; and a focal or textural flower, including peonies, dahlias and garden roses, or berries, wax flower and various foliages.


Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering personal finance, home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her from her via email: [email protected]


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