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Valentine's Day a labor intensive effort at Morris Floral

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Morris Floral employee Amy Kehoe is surrounded by thousands of colorful roses and greenery, all destined to be transformed into fresh Valentine's Day arrangements for the romantically-minded.

Although some people don't start thinking about Valentine's Day until Feb. 14, there is one local couple who has to start thinking about the holiday synonymous with love and red roses long before they ever flip their calendars from January to February.

Mark and Sara Cook, owners of Morris Floral, begin preparations for the big day early in the year, getting their balloon and flower orders in as soon as they can.

However, simply because orders have been made, doesn't mean that prep work is complete for one of the shop's busiest days of the year. Instead, the preparations are just beginning.

The Cooks said in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day they, as well as their employees at the shop, spend any extra time they have doing things such as tying bows for dozen and half-dozen rose bouquets, putting together balloon weights and getting vases organized for the hundreds of floral bouquets that will be made for the lovers' holiday.

"[Valentine's Day] is one of the biggest days of the year," Mark said.

He said the week of Valentine's Day the shop is expected to get in nearly 2,500 stems of roses, and when the roses arrive at the back door to the shop they are not quite ready to be thrown directly into a bouquet and sent off to someone's sweetheart. Instead, there is a lot of work that goes into the process of preparing the flowers.

Mark said the roses arrive in boxes, which are unpacked by hand. Shop employees then spend time plucking the leaves and stripping the thorns from the roses' stems, before twirling wire from the head of the blossom to the bottom of the stem. The flowers are then put in a water bath, where they stay until they are well hydrated. Mark said the water bath rehydrates the flowers and gets them ready to be arranged.

Roses aren't the only thing filling the back room of Morris Floral this week. Mark said in preparation for the holiday, 30 to 40 cases of different sized containers have been purchased and prepared for the incoming flower arrangement orders. Just about every arrangement the shop does will go out in a container, with the exception of roses wrapped in tissue and cellophane.

Mark said the shop typically begins receiving Valentine's Day orders just a few days before Feb. 14, with a majority of orders being phoned into the shop the day before or the day of the holiday. He said this year the shop is also carrying boxes of chocolates and other holiday staples, such as teddy bears, for those people who want to do all of their Valentine's Day shopping in one place.

Flowers aren't the only thing the shop has been busy getting ready. Mark said before Valentine's Day employees will begin blowing up mylar balloons, as well as organizing popular Valentine's Day latex balloons, including pink, red and white varieties.

When Valentine's Day actually rolls around Saturday the shop will be in full swing. Mark said three extra people will be working to deliver bouquets, and all of the shop's employees will be in, working to ensure that each flower is placed just perfectly in each bouquet they create.

However, simply having more people in the shop isn't the only secret to ensuring that each bouquet finds its way to the correct person. Mark explained that everything is planned out and plotted before delivery vehicles hit the road. The shop will have staging areas set up with deliveries for specific areas, such as Grandview, Granger and Mabton, being located in their own coolers. He said flower bouquets going to different schools will also be divided up into different areas, with each delivery driver knowing exactly which area they are responsible for.

In the days leading up to Valentine's Day, Mark said employees of the shop will work long hours to ensure that everything is ready when people start lining up at the door Saturday morning looking for the perfect bouquet for their sweetheart. Mark said popular choices for the coming holiday include bouquets of a dozen red roses, as well as arrangements of half a dozen roses.

"A lot of roses will go out that day," Mark said.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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