I have made mention of the leading events at which the florist and his material are called for to make the home, the hall or the church radiant with flowers and foliage. Any little social event, from a progressive euchre party to a grand reception, wants some little decoration, even if it is only a bunch of flowers. The use of palms, however, is getting to be almost overdone. At the most commonplace dance they want palms for the stage. That is all right. And in the house of mourning or the room where the departed rests a few palms stood around cannot be bad taste, but for every grammar school commencement, every political meeting, a few palms are wanted, and the first thing you know there will be a group of palms in Britt's and Nelson's corners. Even this would be good taste above that of giving a half dead six day bicycle rider a basket of flowers, or presenting Mike McSluggum with a bouquet when he goes to bat. When that occurs and I am in the grandstand I am ashamed of my calling and wish I were a walking delegate.
The basket of flowers for Miller and the bouquet for Mike are always paid for, and generally at a good price, but there are scores of times when our dozens of palms are not paid for. The public seems to think they cost nothing, nor the carting either. We must close down on it. If they paid $3 or $4 for the loan of a dozen palms it would stop them, and it would be just as well if it did. The common use of these ornamental plants will turn our wealthier people against them.
Since the above was written some decisive action has been taken in some cities against this gratuitous loaning of plants for all sorts of occasions. Our florists have agreed and signed an agreement to donate neither plants nor flowers to anyone. When approached for a donation we can point to a little document hanging in our store and signed by every florist in town. It has most effectually cured the evil and offended no one.
Decorations of any kind, plants or flowers, great or little, when well done, add to the beauty of the home, the church, the hall, and to the enjoyment of all, but when shabby and shoddy they are an abomination. There is nothing so beautiful as a flower, and it is more beautiful on the plant than anywhere else. A faded flower can be cherished only for some sentiment and is kept in the leaves of the book you refer to when receiving a curtain lecture from your second wife.
You will expect me to say something about prices, but it is impossible. Seasons alter prices. There is, however, one thing we should observe. The charge for loaning palms in January should be double that in June. You may think it all right to cut down your neighbor's price on plants and so get the job by a lower figure. You will find it is not all profit. Every time your palms go out they are of less value, however well you protect and guard them.
One other thing. Get a reputation for having clean, healthy, perfect palms, and above all have a reputation for having the job done at the hour you agree to. If the wedding is at 6 p. m., say to the lady of the house: "Madam, I will be out of your house at 4 p. m., all cleared up, and you will have no occasion to worry." See that you keep your word and you will feel as good as I do at finishing this rather long chapter.