MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Letting the creative juices flow

Winter time still busy for florist

This story is part of Meet Your Neighbor, a series designed to tell you something new about the people in your community. Participants are chosen at random for the interviews, in which we strive to share a portion of their lives with you, the reader. Look for this series once each month.
  REED CITY — When she’s not riding her snowmobile in the winter weather, Hersey resident Melinda Sengelaub is letting “the creative juices flow” on each new floral design and store display at Patterson’s Flowers in Reed City. Sengelaub, a mother of three and new grandmother, has worked at the store for more than 25 years. This month, the store is busy with orders for winter weddings, funerals and special family arrangements. With her favorite arrangement including a variety of colors and types of flowers, Sengelaub enjoys when customers give her freedom to create a floral masterpiece. The Herald Review stopped by the flower shop to chat with Sengelaub as she assembled a wedding bouquet last month.   HERALD REVIEW: Do you have any sort of education to be a florist? SENGELAUB: I just did on-the-job training. Don Patterson, (owner of Patterson’s Flowers), was my teacher. I’ve taken several classes for it though. At one time, they had offered classes at the community education so I took them and I didn’t want them to end. So I applied (at Patterson’s Flowers) and they hired me and I’ve been here ever since.   What types of arrangements do you make? SENGELAUB: Today I did a casket piece, and then I had to do this wedding for tomorrow. Next month we’re going to have a couple of bridal showers we’re doing flowers for. We have one in Cadillac and one in Big Rapids. Now, we’re really busy for winter arrangements. Sometimes people can’t always get home for family functions, so they send flowers. We also do a lot of candle arrangements.   What is your favorite arrangement to make? SENGELAUB: Whenever a season comes up, I’m ready for it. By the time Christmas is over, I’m ready for the next season. By March, I’m ready for spring flowers because I’ve had enough red from Valentine’s Day. So I’m ready for the (changing) seasons. I really like fall, with the berries and all that fun stuff, but I really like this time of year with the cones and the gingham and all the pine and cinamon sticks. I like doing funeral work, because it’s personal. I get personal with the customers and ask, “What did your dad like?” For the (funeral arrangement I made) today, he like the outdoors, so I put two deer in it and pinecones and berries. Then we’ll have a grandma who likes butterflies, so we’ll fill her casket up with butterflies. A lot of times people are not sure what kind of flowers they want and say, “Just do your thing.” Then we have others who want it by the book or by a picture. Most of our orders now are by a picture or a book, so we have to copy it as best as we can. But I like it when the customer lets us be creative. Don’t you do that sometimes when you order things? I’ll go to Subway and say (to the employee), “What’s your favorite? Why don’t you make me that? I’m indecisive and you make these all day.”   What is the perfect flower arrangement? SENGELAUB: The perfect flower arrangement has a variety of flowers, but no carnations. I like different flowers. Right now, we have poenies in the winter. I think that is so cool. We don’t usually get peonies (in the winter). Lately, we’ve been getting tulips in the winter, which are cool. It’s a little bit of spring and it’s nice to see something blooming in the winter. I like a lot of colors too, but I also like monotone. I like green and white together. I think it’s striking.   What is a perfect day for you? SENGELAUB: Besides snowmobiling? (laughs) I was looking forward to doing this wedding. And I really like designing the (displays in the) store. I get really ambitious and my mind is just crazy with ideas and the creative juices flow. This time of year, the whole store is Christmas. Maybe I should have been an interior designer.