The florist on avenue Piedmont in Bolouri is busier than ever since the start of the pandemic

Mina Bolouri is an artist who paints with peonies. Or more often, due to their recent popularity, the flower and plant arrangements that the florist agrees to think of as the 3D equivalent of a man-made 2D painting are filled with the loud, blooming coloring of the cultivated buttercup, a type of buttercup encouraged by plant growers in recent years to grow large and multi-petalled. Adding a vigorous texture contrast, Jurassic-type protea blossoms that date back millions of years to South Africa and Australia. Contribute to the contrast of composition: roses, tulips, orchids, branches, leaves, twigs, ferns, vines and plants native to California. Most intriguing, the artistic gain comes from the herbs and vegetables.

“I used mushrooms, kale, chard, rosemary, mint, basil, pumpkins, apples, pomegranates, potatoes, onions, nuts, berries, figs . These textures that I like to use because they are taken from nature, ”Bolouri said in an interview. Bolouri owns and operates Arjan Flowers and Herbs, a small business located for over ten years in an intimate corner of Avenue Piedmont to Avenue Entrada. The “canvases” on which she paints exist only in their purest form – until her technical skills and training as a florist joined with an unconventional imagination to fashion them into containers of all sizes and configurations. The boutique’s personalized wedding bouquets, table decorations, special event arrangements for individuals. dinners, company meetings, family reunions or funerals and simple bouquets to share or to offer.

Arriving at 22 from Shiraz, a city in south-central Iran and famous for its Persian wine, rugs, poetry, and cultivated organic and public residential gardens, Bolouri, now 54, brought the cultural history of his homeland in the United States. The gardens and her formative ideas on the meaning of the word “home”, according to her, are one.

“I grew up in a city famous for its gardens. The basic garden of the house is enclosed behind a wall. The garden is the first heart of the house, then second, the kitchen. You first enter the garden, then the house.

Although Covid-19 meant Arjan had fewer big events to make arrangements for, many people realized that a small bouquet would help them, and their friends and family, feel better. (Photo by Sheena Miraftabi)

Although most often invisible from the streets, residential gardens in Iran and around the world greet visitors with immediate warmth, according to Bolouri. “In California, England or France, even if the gardens are placed differently, they are a place of relaxation, a place of decompression of demons, chores or daily responsibilities.

Last Wednesday we had a crazy day at the end of which I picked up roses from a client. I walked into their garden and it was so beautiful that all the stress of the day came out of my body in this small space.

During the pandemic, “crazy” is an apt word to describe store operations.

“They announced on a Sunday that there was a lockdown. We are talking about an industry that receives flowers from all over the world on Mondays. In less than 48 hours, the flower market was closing and getting rid of all the flowers. This has caused disaster for producers and wholesalers. It was something close to a loss of $ 3 million at the San Francisco Flower Market alone, ”she recalls.

With several orders to fill, Bolouri and his team rushed to get and deliver flowers. “We could fill the orders and leave them on people’s doorsteps, but we couldn’t have any contact. Then we closed for three weeks. Then we were declared essential workers and were able to place pickup orders. We were at Easter, so we did the same race again to get some material. “

The dropout dance continued and leaves Arjan still adjusting. “Mother’s Day 2020 was one of the busiest days we have ever had as there was nothing people could do except order flowers. During the disaster, flowers were one thing that made people feel better because they couldn’t go out or get together.

Although Covid-19 meant Arjan had fewer big events to make arrangements for, many people realized that a small bouquet would help them, and their friends and family, feel better. The discovery led to another skirmish. “We are seeing a shortage of vases, as the number of small arrangements has increased,” says Bolouri. “There are vases from India which, because they are welded with metal in a process that needs oxygen, there is a shortage. Oxygen goes to hospitals. And ships don’t reach ports as quickly due to labor shortages along the distribution chain. “

Two Arjan employees temporarily laid off in the first days of the pandemic have returned and two employees have refused to return to work due to ongoing health security concerns. Store opening hours remain reduced by 50%; open the equivalent of three working days now, up from six before the pandemic. Staff wear masks and customers are encouraged to adhere to store policies. “We try to be polite to people who come in without a mask. Most people respond well. Some get angry or leave. My wish is that we listen to traders: we don’t just protect ourselves; we also protect you.

Despite this, Bolouri is grateful to share the beauty and joy of floral and plant artwork. Stories are built into each arrangement: “As florists, we put our emotions into art. It is created quickly and it dies quickly, compared to other arts. When planning arrangements, the technical rules and practices that constitute expertise and business acumen, meaning that the profitable use of each item should be evaluated, are of equal importance to storytelling.

There is a finishing factor; a sentence that Bolouri rejects but applies nevertheless: instinctive genius. After all, in the investment world, hasn’t Warren Buffet attributed the term to his knowledgeable but smart and straightforward approach? “I do what other florists do; I’m just looking for that wow factor, ”she says. “It’s important to know the technical rules of the arrangement, because then you can break them in a way that takes you to a different level. I don’t know how to draw, but I see a canvas that I have to paint with nature. If my flower wants to tilt left, I go left and make it work to my advantage. I always look in nature because Mother Nature is a very, very good teacher. “

Lou Fancher is a freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected]

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