Dorothy McDaniel shares how generations of families are brought together by flowers from across the globe.

Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market works with flowers from all over the world every week. They receive flowers directly from Holland that have been grown in the Netherlands, France, and Italy, as well as shipments from California. What may surprise you is that Dorothy’s favored summer peonies come from Homer, Alaska, courtesy of her friends at the Alaska Perfect Peony farm owned by Rita Jo Shoultz, as seen on the opposite page during Dorothy’s visit last year.

“I have ordered peonies from Rita in the past, and she told me about the Homer Peony Celebration that features all 25 growers in town, which I was pleased to attend this past summer,” says McDaniel. “The peonies are magnificent and grown only in Alaska during July and August. They need cold temperatures and lots of sun. When we were there, it was 50 degrees with 21 hours of sunlight – perfect growing conditions. They have a captive summer market.”

“We get the preponderance of our roses from Ecuador and late fall peonies from Chile. More and more of our flowers are also coming from South America by way of Miami. Before leaving the farms, the flowers are cut and boxed, arriving at our destination within a day or so. From there, we cut each bunch of flowers and put them in buckets with flower food. Once they have hydrated, we put them in our cooler. Event flowers are left out to open to their maximum, so that they will be most optimum.”

“Once the flowers are sorted for a wedding, we delegate the execution to a given designer; someone does arbors and large arrangements and someone else does bouquets. On the day of the event, drivers and floral stylists go to the venue and install the flowers. After the event we take our props and all flowers from the venue. With the permission of the family, we reserve the flowers for Repurposed Blooms, which picks them up on Monday and takes them to hospice patients around the city.”

“My friends, Tula and Alex Grammas, were lifelong friends, as were our parents and grandparents. I was commissioned to do the weddings of their three daughters, and this past year I did the wedding of their respective daughters as well. Alex was a very accomplished baseball player with the Cardinals, Redlegs, and Cubs prior to being inducted to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. All the brides were married at the Holy Trinity – Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Birmingham. They all wanted white flowers, but each with a different floral variety and execution. It is truly an honor to be trusted to provide the wedding flowers for multiple generations of families.”

”My advice for planning your flowers is to know what you want. Look at magazines such as Alabama Weddings to garner what you like. We often have young ladies who are engaged come by our store and ask to look at flowers. Seeing a peony or a ranunculus in a photo is different than seeing it in person. Also, have an initial consultation with vendors and choose someone with whom you are comfortable. We can do anything given an appropriate budget, but we cannot deliver the perfect wedding if you don’t know what you want. We can guide you and show you all the possibilities. Ultimately, it is your wedding, and our goal is to make it beautiful and memorable for every generation to adore.”

Photos: Genevieve Tymrak

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