For nearly 100 years, since Mother's Day was recognized as an American holiday in 1914, flowers have been the most popular gift. And pink carnations are the flowers most associated with this day that honors motherhood. But one local independent florist is putting the spotlight on a different flower: the blue iris - as well as all of today's other floral favorites - for quality arrangements that are detailed and stunning.
Eileen Harrison and her husband Roger started Blue Iris in their home in Grand Rapids in October of 2009. With 23 years experience working with flowers, Eileen had worked for various floral shops in town for several years when she decided it was time to be her own boss.
"Sometimes, I had some quirky ideas that my customers really appreciated," said Eileen who touts her work for attention to detail.
Serving Grand Rapids and northern Minnesota, not only does Blue Iris deliver floral arrangements for Mother's Day but any holiday, as well as anniversaries, birthdays, parties, banquets, graduations, new babies, congratulations, get well, thank you, and other special occasions. In fact, Eileen can provide all decorating for any special event, including balloons, green plants, blooming and fresh.
Eileen uses the same suppliers as the other local florists with deliveries of fresh stock three times a week. She enjoys finding unique containers such as beautifully painted pottery and vases or antique watering cans at art fairs to use in her arrangements.
Since most of her business comes from word of mouth, Eileen takes great pride to ensure her customers are getting exactly what they want. Orders are taken through the Blue Iris website at www.blueirisetc.com; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by phone at 218-259-9505/218-326-9333.
"A lot of guys like it, especially if they're out-of-town," said Eileen of the convenience Blue Iris offers her customers. "I will give them the gist but they have to trust what we're doing. I try to assure them, I'll do what they want."
With Eileen's eye for detail and pulse on the latest in floral design, Blue Iris customers get fresh, pleasing arrangements appropriate for a specific holiday or special event. And Roger does the deliveries to homes or businesses.
For Mother's Day, Eileen knows most sons and daughters are wanting "something cutesy.. not so formal."
Another special service Eileen offers that some mothers may appreciate as a unique gift is planter arranging. Eileen will help choose, arrange and plant flowers or other plants suitable to the climate, environment and container at a person's home.
"Many people don't know what plants accept sun or shade," she explained.
And for those remembering mothers no longer with them this Mother's Day, Blue Iris also offers basket arrangements and other cemetery markers.
Looking back, Eileen says gardening and flowers have always been a part of her life even though she found it odd that the career test she took in school predicted she would become a florist.
"My mother was a big flower person. I guess it's something that's always been in my family," she said. "The growing part is what I love."
In the summer, the Harrisons' perennial gardens abound with flowers used for wedding bouquets. The couple chuckled as they described their iris plot which has grown especially rife since they started their business.
Eileen has offered her gardening expertise to local business networking meetings.
"I enjoy teaching people about flowers," she said as she explained some of this year's trends.
According to Eileen, lime green is a hot color this year with stargazers, calla lilies, stephanotis and - the mainstay - roses, as popular picks for weddings.
Blue Iris will be doing the 13th wedding since opening this summer. Eileen recently provided corsages for the local father/daughter ball and her entire table was quickly bought up by families wanting to make the event a special night to remember.
With just Roger and herself as the only staff, Eileen says Blue Iris is open 24/7, ready to take orders at anytime.
"With my business at home, I can do arrangements at midnight if I need to," she smiled.
For customers who want to meet with Eileen to discuss wedding flowers and arrangements, she invites them to her home when it is convenient.
"It's nice for brides so they can come anytime," she said. "We sit at the table, look at my lap top and have coffee and cookies."
With the convenience, attention to detail and expert floral design services, Blue Iris is gaining in its number of referrals and, for Eileen, "that is a really good feeling."