In the midst of the Great Depression, Marjorie Hillis wrote a guidebook to teach women the art of economizing, entitled Orchids on your Budget. Hillis believed that even during difficult financial periods, like the depression, careful household accounting would allow for an occasional expense on one of life’s little luxuries. In her case it was flowers. She argued that everyone needed the random treat to remain happy and to help prevent miserliness, which could be a result of financial insecurity.
Given all that we are going through now: the end of the pandemic (I hope), inflation, global supply chain issues, and environmental changes that are creating food shortages, people are frightened, sad, and overwhelmed, meaning Hillis’ words ring truer than ever. During lean times, when there are worries about meeting vital expenses, flowers would seem to be the least of one’s concerns. Surprisingly, however, as a floral designer, I can attest to the fact that people still want them. We need something beautiful and cheerful in our homes, offices, and lives to help us forget our problems.
Flowers and plants are not frivolous expenses. Rather, they play a vital role in our lives for some of the following reasons:
They are proven to help us heal faster when sick;
they are grown in refugee camps to make people feel like they have a home;
they bring nature into our lives when we might not have time to escape to the forests, mountains, or sea;
environmental psychologists continually point out something the Greeks and Romans were well aware of, natural materials make us happier and healthier;
and, I would add, they make us feel like we are part of something greater - our natural surroundings. For me, this is one of the best ways to realize my worries will pass like the seasons.
So, how can we have beautiful flowers in your homes and offices without breaking the bank? I run online and in-person floral design classes that teach how to create historically inspired arrangements that are environmentally sustainable. My original intention was to use past methods as a means to promote environmentally friendly designs. Although the climate is a major concern for my work, what I have found is the classes make people happy and relaxed. Attendees love what they make, and it is clear that even the smallest of designs brings joy into their lives. For some classes, I encourage students to gather materials (providing it is legal in their areas) on walks in their natural environment, which helps to promote mental and physical well-being.
To celebrate the end of the year and the holiday season, I am offering free mini-lessons on social media for 12 days leading up to Christmas and Channukah. This holiday season heal yourself with nature and see what riches can come from it. As Hillis would say, give yourself a treat and make it a beautiful one.
My free Twelve Days of Frugal Flower Design mini-lessons are posted daily on all of my Social Media platforms. The links and handles are listed below.
In the meantime, I want to wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season. Many thanks to those who supported me during the year, it means more to me than you know. Watch this space for exciting opportunities to come in 2023.
Dr. Patty Baker
Facebook: Pax in Natura Peace in Nature
 Hillis, Marjorie 1937. Orchids on your Budget. London: Hachette