Florists, growers urge Aucklanders to keep buying flowers during lockdown

Auckland florists are back in business after the weeks of level 4 lockdown that saw them lose countless bookings and stock go to waste.

And they’re still calling on Aucklanders to support them by sending flowers to their mums, friends and colleagues.

Floral studio Isadia opened nearly a year ago after the level 4 lockdown of 2020 when independent florists Isabel Johnston and Lydia Reusser decided to join forces – and their names.

“We were not prepared for level 4 … it definitely came as a surprise,” Reusser tells the Herald. Masked up over Zoom, she and Johnston are back in their shop getting orders out to customers.

“We had quite a few events on we weren’t able to do. We had to completely shut down, we had two cancelled weddings and six postponements.

“It had a carry on effect for us and our clients, it was challenging because the supply chain was disrupted by lockdown.”

The pair say the support for their business has been overwhelming since the levels moved down.

“We’ve had a really amazing response, we’ve had so many orders and lovely messages from people wanting to support us.”

Flower lovers are a special community, Johnston says – “without it, we wouldn’t exist anymore”.

But while Reusser and Johnston were able to take home or give away most of their stock, their suppliers weren’t so lucky.

Images of floral stock gone to waste have appeared all over the internet as flower farmers pleaded with the Government to let them operate.

“It’s massive for the flower farmers, it’s the only primary industry that wasn’t allowed to trade during level 4,” Johnston says.

Local grower Suzette van Dorsser of Blooming Hill Flowers in Pukekohe said the level 4 lockdown had a “demoralising” effect on staff.

“That was really hard, they work so hard and then to see all their efforts go in the bin. We were inundated with people who needed flowers for tributes or funerals, but we couldn’t help them and they should have been able to have them,” she tells the Herald.

“It’s exactly the same risk as other fresh produce, but none of that got taken into consideration.”

Van Dorsser says the fact that supermarkets were allowed to continue trading flowers during lockdown undermined the efforts of local florists.

“If we actively buy New Zealand grown flowers, then we can actively invest in producing more and the local industry can recover.”

Over the past few years local flower growers have struggled to compete with imported flowers. When Covid came along and caused a sudden shortage, local farmers found themselves struggling to fill that gap – and the industry has a long way to go to recover.

But supporting local will help them get there, van Dorsser says.

And flowers aren’t just about love, she says.

“They’re connected to comfort and giving to others, they tell people ‘you’ve been seen and you matter’.”

A bunch of flowers may only last you a week, but that’s the beauty of them, she points out. There’s no landfill and no guilt – you can’t find a more sustainable gift than a locally-grown bouquet.

So while we may think of flowers as something of a luxury, reserved for birthdays, Valentine’s Day or special occasions, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself to a bouquet to brighten up your lockdown.

And if you’re missing your mum or a friend or you know someone who’s lonely during lockdown, sending them flowers is sure to make their day.

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