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Love blooms for moms
By JOUNICE L. NEALY
Alma Ingram Flowers in St. Petersburg is used to getting hurried calls from people in need of flowers fast if they have forgotten a special occasion.
But the breathless call they got a couple of days before one Mother's Day actually was from someone who had just received flowers.
"Who sent me those flowers?" the woman asked Casey Ingram III, co-owner of Alma Ingram.
The flowers had been sent by her son, Ingram answered.
"Oh, I'm going to kill him," she said. "He signed his name as this terrorist group."
It seems her husband was a business executive who had been warned to be wary of terrorist groups targeting him because of his profession.
She threw the flowers into Tampa Bay.
Such is life at Mother's Day, what some Tampa Bay area florists describe as the largest one-day holiday of the year. They have seen and heard it all from the wacky to the wonderful to the just plain weird.
"Everybody has one (mother)," said Bill Russo Jr., co-owner of Carter's Florist and Greenhouses in St. Petersburg. "And most people have two," he added, referring to mothers-in-law.
So at this time of the year, florists burn the midnight oil and hire extra drivers for days like today, Mother's Day Eve.
"Mother's Day is larger because we have so many retirees living here," said Kenneth Conklin, owner of Kenneth and Co. Floral Designs in Tampa. "The wonderful thing about it, too, is that everything sells, as opposed to just roses for Valentine's Day."
Sunny Mays didn't get roses Friday. But she beamed when she walked out her front door and immediately knew who sent the begonias.
"This has to be (from) my daughter in Houston," Mrs. Mays said, gazing at the arrangement. "Oh, how sweet. There's nothing like flowers."
Mrs. Mays was grateful to get the flowers. But some people turn downright grouchy about the arrangements they receive.
"Oh, of course, it's the worst holiday as far as complaints," said Randi Rivers, lead designer at Lady Bug in Brooksville.
She had one mom protest because her flowers died after she left them unattended on top of the television for a week.
Some have requested Rivers to double-check the order. There's no way a child would send mom such a cheap-looking arrangement, they say.
Deliveries can be challenging.
Lots of times, people don't know their mother's address, said Lily Ingram, who owns Alma Ingram with her husband. "I know where she lives," they say.
But that won't do.
Even with an address, deliveries can be impossible. Casey Ingram decided to drop off an order himself after a driver came back twice insisting the address did not exist. Having made a delivery to that house previously, he knew exactly where to go.
Sure enough, "something had moved the house and left all the plants," Casey Ingram said. The steps leading to the house were still there. "Nice that the family didn't know that. The family's the one that gave us the address," he said.
Flowers and plants are so popular for Mother's Day because it's a sentiment that children don't necessarily turn to any other time of the year, some florists say. Normally, women come in with a list of women to send flowers to; men just want to order for mom, Rivers said.
Although the bouquets alone signify affection, customers usually stick to a simple written message to accompany them.
"We've had "To: Nana Banana' and just silly stuff," said Terry Hagstrom, co-owner of Carter's. "We usually try to get them to say a little bit more than just "Love, .?.?.' "
But there are children who prefer to be of few words.
"I said to one guy recently, "How about lots of love?' (He said), "No, you can just put love.' "Okay,' " Hagstrom said, deciding not to push it.
Even if they ask for help, Mrs. Ingram encourages them to be creative.
"My response is if I tell you (what to say), she won't believe it," Mrs. Ingram said.
Carolyn Walker of St. Petersburg didn't have to open her card that came with a dozen roses Friday to believe that her daughter's Mother's Day wish was original. "Tears come to my eyes and heart. I'll hug my roses and say, "Thank you, Sabrina,' " she said.
Walker's daughter lives in Michigan.
The gesture never gets old, said Alice Tomaszewski of St. Petersburg, who still gets a good feeling when her children send her a botanical gift.
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