Flowers are sentimental but have the special ability to brighten up a somber mood and put a smile on a sad face. They also brighten up a room and give any event a much needed d├®cor lift. Kelebogile Mooketsi admits that she loves flowers, particularly roses. “This might be because I have always been exposed to them through television and books. I love the look and smell,” she notes. The first time she ever received a bunch of flowers in her life was a few months ago on Valentines Day. “A potential suitor bought me chocolates and a grand bunch of roses. I was over the moon when I saw them. It was a sweet romantic gesture. The roses were a pale pink and smelled divine. I took great care of them until they wilted,” she says.
The newly opened florist in Woodhall, Lobatse is the first of its kind in the town in recent times. They offer flowers for every occasion from weddings to funerals, parties and simply for birthdays or just thoughtful gifts. The assistant admits that customers are still few “Some locals perceive it as a waste of money to spend on flowers. However, some do come for funerals when they want wreaths, and for weddings to decorate or have a bunch for the bride,” she explains. She points out that there’s a difference in how both are designed. “The wreath for example is larger, and uses fewer flowers. Wedding flowers are brighter with bolder patterns,” she says as she gets busy with preparing a bunch for a client.
According to Lulu Pule, a self-confessed flower lover, who is employed as a florist, carnage encompasses cut flowers, foliages, herbs, ornamental grasses and different plant materials. “We make wreath, bouquets, corsages and button holes for clients,” she explains. Although not formally qualified, Pule has taught herself in the artistry of dealing with flowers. “There are a variety of flowers for different occasions. Mind you flowers can be used as center pieces at events, placed on reception tables, as bridal bouquets, wedding chuppahs and stage set,” she points out.
She notes that the most common are the Ikebana, which includes a design of three lines which. There is also the English garden which has stems in the centre and features bright seasonal flowers, and is often placed in taller glass arrangements. “The modern style is more contemporary and has linear designs, which are an asymmetrical placement of flowers,” she says as she cuts a stem strand on a carnage she’s working on. Although she would have preferred to have studied further, Pule admits that floristry, which is described as the production, commerce and trade in flowers, is not a well-known career path in Botswana. “Flowers are perceived as a hobby, and not something that can earn one a decent income. I however want to open my own florist store one day. Unfortunately, this is a seasonal business. People make orders for birthdays, funerals and weddings, which can be sporadic.
However, business booms around Valentines Day and Christmas,” she points out. As she stands back and admires her work, one can’t ignore the glimmer of passion in her eyes. Pule says the most basic variety of flowers which are easily accessible are roses, tulips, orchids, gardenia, delphinium, lilies and iris. Most of the flowers used by local florists are sourced from the few local growers in the country, but mostly across the border from wholesalers, auctions and independent growers, as well as specialist horticultural suppliers. Florist stores like Paula’s Florist in Commerce Park boast a large display of flowers to attract customers. To keep them fresh, the flowers are often refrigerated or kept in plastic or glass vases with water, as well as behind cooler cabinets.
Pule admits that although more locals are coming to the party and appreciating the beauty and sentimental feel of flowers, few people purchase them for house d├®cor or their workplaces. “I would tell people that flowers can heal. The sight and sound has an effect on people. What’s also interesting is that flowers absorb human emotions. If you are down, the flower petals wither, and if you are happy, the flowers bloom. That is one of the first things I noticed when I started dealing with flowers. I make it a point to avoid stress and maintain a positive disposition,” she says as she ducks behind the counter and returns carrying the large bouquet of flowers, a large smile playing on her face. There’s no hiding the happiness of the male customer who saunters in shortly after that to collect the bunch of flowers he exclaims are for a “very special woman” on her birthday.