Flower selection is the most important part of this business. By “this business” we don’t mean floristry in general, we mean Petalon very specifically. There are two crucial components to this selection - creativity and cost. Without creative flower choices we wouldn’t have been able to get where we are and if we lost that ability we wouldn’t stay here long. There are plenty of places out there to get a bunch of roses that are cheaper than we could ever be. What sets us apart is that we combine flowers in a way that we hope people think is interesting, and hopefully allows us to introduce them to ones they may not have come across before.

The second “C” - Cost - is more boring but just as important (unfortunately). Because of the nature of our business we have to be incredibly strict with the amount we spend on the flowers for each bunch. If that formula wobbles for even a little while our costs would suddenly spiral and we’d go bust. Quite fast. We’re saying that like it’s a hypothetical but we’ve actually seen it in action and it’s not pleasant. That said, if we drop the amount we spend on flowers too low then we’re no longer good value, people will stop using us and we’ll go bust for entirely different reasons, probably just as fast. This industry is unforgiving of bad value, to say the least. The simple truth is that if our margins are too big then we won’t be writing these posts too long.

There is a subtler facet to that cost equation too - that of wastage. This comes in two forms. The first is unsold bunches, something we addressed in an earlier blog post and that we’ve taken steps to solving through the overflow list. The second form is when we choose flowers that are poorly suited to our service. There are a few types of culprit here:

The one hit wonder: Those that either sparkle for 24 hours then collapse. The café au lait dahlia is one of our all-time favourite flowers and we use it in our event and wedding floristry wherever possible when it’s in season. But if we put it in a Petalon bunch we’d struggle to justify it only lasting a day or so in people’s homes.

The temperamental beast: Some flowers just aren’t tough enough for us. Both our bicycle and postal deliveries are very well looked after, but the reality is that some flowers just can’t manage transport. Aquilegia and zinnias - we’re looking at you.

The budget blower: Some stems are simply too expensive. Even though size really isn’t our thing, people want a bunch that feels full and if we chuck our whole bunch budget at one glamorous, niche, pricey stem then we have less to spend elsewhere. We’d always rather go with lots of interesting stuff than one flower and a few associates. We are dying to try a rose called Westminster Abbey but it is eye-wateringly expensive.

The one constant is that it’s always about compromise. We’ll keep pushing the boundaries, and boring James will keep telling us we’re spending too much. Somewhere in there we’ll maintain the balance that makes Petalon what it is.

Florence Hill