Florist Shipp’s Valentine’s Day love

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

One florist at Shipp’s Flowers puts a little bit of “Heather” in every bouquet.

That’s because Heather Bonds has been designing floral arrangements for 19 years. Seven of those have been at Shipp’s.

And while the Calluna vulgaris is Bonds’ favorite purple perennial for a filler flower, it’s out of season in February. That means she can’t use it for the dozens of vases she’ll fill by this afternoon. But that’s OK. She’s got plenty of baby’s breath, waxflower and Misty blue to use instead.

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Bonds came in at 4 a.m. today to finish orders for Valentine’s Day. It’s the busiest holiday for Shipp’s Flowers, a Brookhaven florist that’s been offering fresh-cut romance for 31 years.

The early-morning clock-in is after working all day Monday. The day before Valentine’s Day is always the busiest day for putting together orders and the Shipp’s crew worked until midnight. On the day before the Day of Love, the phone rings off the hook with last-minute orders from forgetful beaus, said owner Chris Burke. The cooler door swings open and shut — stems out, bouquets in. Design and repeat.

“Roses are always No. 1,” said Burke, who bought the business 15 years ago.

He orders about 1,000 for Valentine’s Day, “and then we go from there,” he said.

Burke’s been at Shipp’s for a good bit of his life. “I was the delivery boy,” he said, trimming the stem of a rose to fit into the last empty spot into a short, square vase. It’s one of many bouquets he’ll finish before sleep finally comes Monday night. “I should have stayed the delivery boy.”

But that’s not to say that job would have been easier. For this special holiday, he calls in extra delivery drivers and former employees also pitch in a hand to get the orders out the door in time to make a lot of someones’ day special.

Burke and his staff are so busy inspiring romance, they don’t have time to think about love today. There’s too much work still to do.

“They’ll be calling at 3 o’clock still wanting some,” he said. “By 3 o’clock, we’re give out. Flowers are gone. Everything’s gone.”

Heather Bonds

Heather Bonds