While your artistic skill and hand-eye coordination undoubtedly have improved since childhood, your mom’s appreciation of a Mother’s Day gift from the heart hasn’t changed. Use her favorite flower or color as inspiration and let Orange County’s top floral suppliers and designers help you build a bouquet as unique as she is. While prices and availability of certain flowers vary based on the whims of another mother—Mother Nature, that is—May traditionally is the best month to find the largest variety of blooms.
1. Browne’s Flowers
Susan Browne, left, and husband Jim set up their first flower cart nearly three decades ago in Laguna Beach. They’ve since opened another Browne’s in Dana Point, and Blooms in Corona del Mar. Stand in the warm sunshine and take in the heady scent of lilies and tuberoses. Among garden variety roses, daisies, and sunflowers, peruse neon-hued dahlias ($3 per stem) and lavender, green, and pink hydrangeas ($13 per stem) or add texture to your arrangement with bright-green Bells of Ireland ($1.50 per stem). 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 34156 Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2489; 2094½ S. Coast Highway, Dana Point, 949-661-4748; 3601 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949-673-6964, brownesflowers.com.
2. Urban Gardener
The selection at Tiffany Greenleaf’s floral design studio is as well edited as the collection of antique furniture and gifts that fill the tiny shop. Blossoms often include rarities such as David Austin roses ($6 per stem, $100 per dozen in an arrangement with vase) and coral or yellow peonies. Greenleaf and her team adhere to a European design aesthetic, crafting low and tightly packed arrangements using only the leaves that naturally appear on the stems. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 1811 Westcliff Drive, Newport Beach, 949-642-2949, urbangardenernewportbeach.com.
3. Nisie’s Enchanted Florist
Shabby-chic vessels overflowing with roses and hydrangeas, and soothing music lure strolling shoppers. The shop carries a wide selection of cymbidium and phalaenopsis orchids in every color. Owner Nisie Vorachard encourages guests to bring in photos of arrangements they like when creating a bouquet for Mom. If in doubt, choose highly fragrant varieties, such as lilacs ($5 to $10 per stem) or freesia ($3.50 per stem). 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11102 Los Alamitos Blvd., Los Alamitos, 562-596-7733, nisiesenchanted.com.
4. Downtown Flowers
Whimsy is the theme at this picture-perfect shop. Owner Krista Jon makes two trips a week to local flower farms and markets to buy unique, seasonal botanicals such as succulents, yucca flowers, and green, spiky blooms, juxtaposing her finds with softer, imported blossoms, such as peonies ($8 to $12 per stem) and garden roses ($5 per stem). To personalize Mom’s bouquet, Jon suggests shopping estate sales and antique malls for one-of-a-kind containers, or bringing in Mom’s favorite vase from home. 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, 111 Avenida del Mar, San Clemente, 949-492-7062, downtownflowersoc.com.
5. Devynn’s Garden
The two outposts of David and Cyndi Turk’s floral shop and boutique are packed with buckets of tulips, roses, freesia, orchids, lilies, and tougher-to-find blooms such as hybrid ranunculus and cherry blossoms, plus racks of breezy, beachy dresses and thoughtful gifts. A simple bouquet of two green spider mums and a green cymbidium orchid—use an odd number of blooms for the most visually pleasing effect—will only set you back $9. Personalize your picks by tying the bundle with a $25 scarf made by a local artisan. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 16440 Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Beach, 562-592-2610; 712 Marina Drive, Seal Beach, 562-594-0104, devynnsgarden.com.
6. Stems Fabulous Flowers
Owner Linda Pix has made this quaint store a go-to for shoppers on all budgets. Pix recommends selecting one or two stems of Mom’s favorite expensive blooms, such as peonies ($10 to $20 a stem), and then filling in with less costly ones and greenery. The result is a fuller bouquet for as little as half the cost. Another money-saving technique is to do all the arranging yourself—you’ll save on design fees, the cost of a vase, and other extras. 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 998 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-497-9775, stemsflowers.com.
7. Dave’s Flowers
Amid the balloons, cards, and cellophane-wrapped arrangements on the sales floor are some fun, exotic finds. Mother-daughter team JoAnne and Hallie Kelsey stock Ecuadorian roses, ($3 to $5 per stem); Mokara orchids from Thailand, ($6.50 to $8.50 a stem); and anemones from the Netherlands ($3 to $4 a stem); as well as standards such as daisies and carnations ($1.50 per stem). Hallie suggests sticking to one bloom—sunflowers ($2 to $3.50 per stem), for instance—for maximum impact. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 19921 Magnolia St., Huntington Beach, 714-964-3718, davesflowershb.com.
8. Orange County Wholesale Flowers
The intrepid do-it-yourselfer can find some real steals at this wholesaler: Gerbera daisies in every color for just $8.50 per 10-stem bunch, and daffodils for a rock-bottom $3 a bunch, or $2.50 when you buy five or more bunches. A huge walk-in cooler houses tubs of Ecuadorian roses (some less than $40 per dozen), volleyball-sized clumps of South American hydrangeas ($14 per bunch), and all manner of greenery (as low as $1 a bunch). 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, 603 W. Dyer Road, Santa Ana, 714-542-6181, ocwholesaleflowers.com.
Keep flowers fresh longer with these tips from the pros
- Change water daily. Toxins build up in old water, which can poison the blooms.
- Keep water levels low, and trim half an inch off stem bottoms each day. Stems naturally rot in standing water.
- Add more flower food from the florist with each water change. In a pinch, Nisie Vorachard suggests adding a bit of lemon-lime soda.
- Keep flowers out of direct sunlight and away from heaters. Blooms like to be cool.
photograph by Melissa Valladare
This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Orange Coast magazine.