By Abigail Foster, Contributing Writer
Empty vases of all sizes sit atop the cabinets and countertops of a charming hideaway on Wilmore’s Main Street. Each vase waits patiently to be filled with a fresh bouquet of the season’s latest blooms, only to be soon hand-delivered to their unsuspecting recipients. For Rachel Ruppel of Rachel’s Rose Garden, spending her days amidst ribbons and a freshly cut flower garden is preferable to all other professions. So much so that she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Handcrafting each bouquet with an intentional eye for color and balance is true artistry in itself. Lined neatly atop the shop’s front counter is a showcase of completed designs, ready to be mobilized for a hand-delivery. Each bouquet is carefully made to suit an occasion – whether it be a birthday, Mother’s Day or just to say, “I love you.”
For Rachel, her craft has a spiritual emphasis, “The more I think about it, I realize what a great image flowers are for our lives. We are here for a short time, but the Lord remains forever. He is sovereign over all creation from beginning to end.”
Though each bud has a limited lifetime to blossom, they can realize a kind gesture for a special day. After receiving hand-delivered flowers on campus from her parents on the day that she was elected Asbury University’s Student Body President Meredith Anderson said the flowers were the cap to an exciting day. Each time she looked at them, they acted as a tangible expression of the joy she felt on that day.
While some prefer gifting flowers almost exclusively for any occasion, others see flowers as an expensive frivolity. However, when an occasion requires the added touch of a flower (Valentine’s Day, Prom, etc.,) it’s all too easy for most to search Google for a neighborhood florist only to stumble upon and settle for an outsourcing site like “1-800 Flowers.”
According to the Society of American Florists, “The floral industry has experienced considerable consolidation since the economic recession began in 2008.” In hopes to rebound the floral industry, many local florists have made decisions to partner with online floral retailers such as “1-800 Flowers,” “Pro Flowers,” and the likes.
However, branching out to online clients is not the way that Rachel Ruppel plans to grow her business. Despite receiving offers from several online retailers and having a storefront website with basic business information, she does not plan to partner with an out-sourcing company. Rachel feels as though floral e-commerce withers away the unique relationship that a hometown florist offers their customers.
After attaining full ownership of Rachel’s Rose Garden eighteen months ago, Rachel is already known around the Wilmore community as the go-to florist. Her regular customers know her by name and order frequently, though she admits that her busiest season starts in February and extends through June.
Even more, the flower industry holds a special meaning to Rachel. “I decided I wanted to be a florist when my grandfather passed away. My grandparents’ house had a sunroom filled with several bouquets that people sent over. I remember walking in to that room and seeing life and beauty. I started thinking about flowers as a gift that is always given to beautify.”
It’s hard to measure how many Wilmore residents have received a Rachel’s Rose Garden arrangement, but it is a well known that her designs are a popular stop for Wilmore’s residents, the university and seminary, as well as churches and weddings.
“This one is going to a girl at Asbury University for her birthday! Her parents called and ordered an arrangement to be delivered,” Rachel said as she snipped and whirled around the birthday girl’s flowers, examining her latest arrangement from each angle. Balloons with a large “Happy Birthday!” printed on their faces billowed atop the arrangement. With one last glance over, the charming bouquet was approved for distribution and Rachel smiled knowingly at the simple joy she knew the flowers would bring.
With a bubbly smile, Rachel spoke, “Flowers are a thought that is said without words. There’s not really any industry like it.”