Lori Himes has always been into flowers.
“I played with them like toys when I was younger,” she said.
After 35 years in floral design, Himes, of Abloom Ltd. in Walkersville, was recently certified as a floral evaluator/judge by the American Institute of Floral Designers.
She joked that her grandmother was her first customer. She used to give her jars, which Himes would fill with dandelions. And her grandmother would always put them on the windowsill.
The AIFD certification is for a program to provide judges for groups who need them, Himes said.
They look at elements such as the color, balance, form, proportion, texture and movement of the arrangement, she said.
The certification shows a judge's knowledge of floral design, said Molly Baldwin-Abbott, a spokeswoman for the institute.
“It just kind of gives them more credibility,” she said.
Certified judges can evaluate contests at state fairs, professional floral design shows and other gatherings.
They're not looking at the quality of the flowers that were used, Himes said. Rather, “we're looking at the art piece that was created.”
Himes said she likes working in the flower industry because every day is different and you never know what's going to happen.
Some events, like weddings, are scheduled long in advance, Himes said. On the other hand, funerals or memorial services can require a quick turnaround.
More than one-third of Abloom's business comes from funerals and memorials, Himes said.
And more business comes from last-minute requests for birthday or anniversary gifts, usually from men.
“Guys are procrastinators,” Himes said.
But the demand for bouquets and arrangements as gifts has dropped off in recent years, causing a change in how the store does business, she said.
She used to basically pay her rent with the revenue from gift sales, from customers having flowers delivered to people who worked in offices for birthdays or other celebrations.
“Now, you can text them a picture of a flower and say, 'Happy birthday,'” she said.
Hospital deliveries have also dropped off.
“When's the last time you knew somebody who spent more than a night in the hospital?” Himes asked.
She estimated they made perhaps one hospital delivery in the last month.
“We used to be there every day,” she said.