Florist of the week

From guns to roses at D. McLeod

20120320_florist
Fred Keach wants you to stop and smell the . . . chicken wings?
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Name: Fred Keach

Keach and his wife, Lynn, own D. McLeod Florist

How long has the business been here?

It's been in the same family since 1902. This is the fourth generation, but it was started by Lynn's great-grandfather, Donald, hence the name D. McLeod Florist. It's been at the same location since 1902, too.

How long have you and your wife run the business?

We've been here about 20 years. Relative to the age of the business, that's just a flash in the pan.

What sparked your interest in the field?

It's always been family owned. I was a cop in Portland, Maine, so I guess you can say I went from guns to roses. After we had our first child, the opportunity to run the business presented itself, and we thought it would be the best thing for the family.

What is your favorite flower?

I like pods, which look a little like an alien space ship or something. Or maybe ranunculus; they are a real interesting Holland flower.

What is the busiest time of the year?

The busiest single day of the year is Valentine's Day. This year we did 7,000 stemmed roses. But the busiest period is the six weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also have a busy May, because of proms and all the annuals.

Different flowers have different connotations. Give us some of the lesser-known ones and what they represent.

It's really just roses. White means purity, or virginity, yellow means friendship and red means romance.

Is the inside of your house flooded with flowers, or are you sick of tending to them when you get home?

I get pretty sick of them. The house is actually flowerless. We don't even have one green plant in the house.

In your line of work, it must get pretty redundant to stop and smell the roses. What do you stop and smell instead?

Instead of stopping to smell the roses, I stop and smell the fried food as it wafts up from over the hill at The Draft.

If you could give flowers to one person in history, who would it be?

If I could send flowers to anyone, I would send them to the mother of my three beautiful children.

Where do your flowers come from, if they aren't grown on-site?

We grow less than 1 percent of them. A lot of them are from Europe, and almost all of our roses are from South America. California is big, and Canada is actually a big exporter of flowers. The funny thing is we pay more in freight than we do for the actual flowers. Some of our distributors estimate that it's 80 percent freight and 20 percent for the product. They come cut, and we re-cut them and put them in water. We spend more than $400,000 a year on flowers from around the world.

Do you make big life decisions by pulling petals off the flowers?

Yes, every day. I'm also on the city council, so a lot of my decisions there are realized by pulling petals. Like, vote for a fire truck, don't vote for a fire truck.

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