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Crazy Busy Love!

Bunches flower shop is bustling the day before Valentine's.

It's 11 a.m. on Feb. 13 and Brian Kiernan hustles out of flower shop into the parking lot cradling not one but two gorgeous bouquets.

Kiernan, a realtor with is about to deliver the yellow gerber daises and deep purple lisianthus to his Valentine and wife of 12 years, Yvonne at work. The other bouquet, a dozen long-stem red roses, will await Yvonne at home once she returns from work.

So why the dual bouquets a day early?

“This way she can enjoy flowers at home and work all week long,” says Kiernan, “like a birthday celebration.”

Um, can someone please nominate this guy for husband of the year stat?

Inside, Bunches resembles Grand Central. A constant stream of men come and go more steadily than commuter trains at rush hour. They are all looking for the perfect flowers for that special someone and Bunches doesn't disappoint.

It's no surprise the European-style bucket shop located in the quaint alleyway just celebrated its 20th anniversary. That the colors, textures and mix of greens with flowers will be stunningly creative is always a given.

Today the choices are endless. Floral designers feverishly arrange bouquets of traditional roses and sweet smelling narcissus, tulips, freesia, ornamental kale (so hot right now) and tropical ginger from Hawaii.

There are pots of blooming hyacinth and crocuses. Orchid “gardens” reminiscent of fancy Hawaii resorts. Bags of fresh rose petals for the guy who wants to surprise his Valentine with a trail leading to a romantic bubble bath for two.

The male customers run the gamut from seasoned pros to newbies. One older gent approaches the counter with an armful of long-stem red roses and white Casablanca lillies. He declines owner Nancy Copolillo's offer to arrange the flowers. “Are you sure you wouldn't like some greenery with that?” she asks.

“No thanks, I'm going to do it myself with cuttings from my garden.”

At the other end of the spectrum, a twenty something guy who looks a little overwhelmed with all the choices finally makes his selection. He gingerly hands them over to Nancy to work her magic. “Is tap water okay for these?” he asks.

“Oh, yeah sure,” replies Nancy.

On this day, the ages of the customers are as varied as their horticultural experience. At the opposite end of the store, Jonathon, 7, peruses the flowers with his mom. In an adorable twist, the first-grader is carefully choosing an array of different flowers for his dad. His final selection includes a pink ice protea chosen because its soft petals “feel like a bunny,” a yellow Dr. Seussian pincushion protea and a single long-stem red rose.

"What do you think, Jonathon?” asks Kat, one of Bunches ace floral designers, presenting him with the arrangement.

“Great,” he says.

No sooner has Jonathon departed than Frank approaches Kat. “Can you guys make me a bouquet?” he asks.

“Sure,” says Kat. “Do you know what you want?”

“Yes, I want roses but she likes tulips,” says Frank of his fiance. As Kat helps him choose some gorgeous pink tulips from Soquel, ivory roses and fluffy white genestra filler—“way hipper than baby's breath”—Frank relates his last year's Valentine's horror story. “I ordered flowers from a florist in Menlo Park but they never delivered it.” This year he isn't taking any chances.

“I'm going to give her flowers tonight so she can take them to work tomorrow—apparently it's a competition thing.”

Kat arranges the bouquet beautifully. Frank heads out and it's on to the next customer. “I can't believe it's already 4:20,” says Kat. “I've taken maybe five minutes break and two bites of food all day.”

Meanwhile in the trenches of Bunches' back room, Sarah and Courtney are up to their elbows in thorns, discarded stems and leaves. Their cutters click nonstop. Custom arrangements are lined up and down the counter, from tall clouds of pale peach roses and chocolate oncidium orchids to chic compact arrangements of hydrangeas and tulips. The women have lost track of how many arrangements they've made for Tuesday's deliveries but still have a huge stack of orders to go. And that's just for today.

Just about the only staff member who is chillaxin' is Pete, Bunches' resident duck. She sits near the back sink minding her own business.

For possibly the only day of the year, Pete is totally ignored amid the Valentine's hoopla. No one fawns over her or stops for a photo op.

And it seems to suit her just fine.

She could have her pick of Valentine's flowers sure, but all it takes to make this girl happy on Feb. 14 are a few lettuce leaves. Talk about low maitenance.

If you're still looking for that perfect bouquet, Bunches is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Valentine's Day. For updates on Pete and info about what's hot off the truck, be sure to “Like” Bunches Flower Shop on Facebook and coming soon—Pete's FB page.

Visit Kim Ratcliff's blog, www.laughingattheground.com.

Jesse Ducker February 14, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Two bouquets of flowers? That guy is trying to make the rest of look bad.
Julie Davis Berry February 14, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Wow, I'll have to send this to my husband...although he did get me flowers 2 weeks in a row. Bunches does sound like a great flower shop.
Steve Pogue February 14, 2012 at 05:54 PM
In Spanish, today is as often referred to as "dia de los enamorados" (day of those in love) as it is St. Valentine's Day. I told my wife this morning that when you are in love the way I am, every day is "el dia de los enamorados" and this is just one day where everyone gets to celebrate what I live every day!
Parthenia M. Hicks February 14, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! As your Poet Laureate, I couldn't resist sending some great words from e. e. cummings to go with those beautiful arrangements from Bunches. This is the first stanza from I carry your heart: i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
Jane Darwin February 14, 2012 at 07:24 PM
My parents had the love affair that books are written about. Met in a castle during the war, love at first sight, engaged on Christmas Day. My dad brought my mom flowers every Friday even when they were just "daisies days". So I grew up believing in a great love stories. And actually found my own. Happy Valentine's Day to my husband Lee.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz February 14, 2012 at 09:28 PM
This is a day that everyone should consider doing every day! Not that you have to buy Flowers, candy, etc. But to show your Love by considering one another even when you don't feel like it! Love & Commitment are not necessarily Feelings. But by Choices! Try it you will be so Blessed!
Kim Ratcliff February 14, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Couldn't agree more, Irene. Before I spent yesterday at Bunches researching the story, I had a Scrooge-like attitude about the commercialism aspect of V-Day. But witnessing all the men putting such effort forth to make their women happy helped me see the day in a new light.
Mike Calahan February 14, 2012 at 10:28 PM
While I (and, fortunately, my wife) find VDay to be a day of obligatory and forced gestures (and, no, I am not dead inside), I read this piece expecting to be reminded to buy roses, but was pleasantly surprised. This was a fun read and made VDay a little less contrived and more heartfelt and spontaneous. Thanks!
MichaelJ February 15, 2012 at 01:17 AM
So it's Tuesday night, there is no Bachelor on tv, no American Idol or The Voice. Yeah, Ok, I can celebrate Valentine's day. My wife deserves the world but my budget is not cooperating. I need to think of a romantic (inexpensive) way to show her a good time. Any good ideas out there?
Jeffrey Bachman February 15, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Great post! My daughters get their flowers there all the time. Nice folks and lots of talent. Their stuff is beautiful!
Ethan Harmer February 15, 2012 at 01:26 AM
If we were to celebrate Valentine's every three months, we could get the economy rolling again. I see people spending some serious cash on chocolates and stuffed animals!!
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) February 15, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Have you seen the duck Pete? LOL!
Ethan Harmer February 15, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Now my kid thinks there is a petting zoo at the flower shop... By tomorrow everyone at the elementary school will be asking their parents to go to Bunches.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz February 15, 2012 at 04:10 AM
@Michael J: Just tell her what she means to you, & how you appreciate her etc. It's that simple. Honor Her with TRUTH!
Steve February 15, 2012 at 07:52 AM
i got my wife a bottle of tequila and some ky. for me she left the toilet seat up..
Dyan Chan February 15, 2012 at 08:22 AM
That Steve sure is a romantic! Thank you for the fun article--I can practically see those lush bouquets. I say "practically" because I didn't actually get any flowers for Valentine's Day ... although we did fly to Hawaii and I did get a welcome lei from the greeter at the hotel, so you don't hear me complaining!
Kim Ratcliff February 15, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Ooooh I'm jealous Dyan. Tuberose leis smell so heavenly. Hope you had a great trip!
Kari Trevino February 16, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Thank you to our loyal and new customers Valentine's Day was a stupendous success and we couldn't have done it without you!!! What a lucky lady I am to work in such a beautiful magical place, Surrounded by beautiful flowers all day, having the best bosses ever and of course working with the best group of girls one could ever imagine... Love you all and I just have to say it feels so good to be home again.

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