“Here, let me show you a trick,” Phyllis said as she took the flagging rosebuds from my hand. This was only a few weeks after I’d started working for her and we were backstage in her dressing room at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. The room was filled, as usual, with vases of red roses.
Phyllis loved roses and everytime she opened an engagement of more than a night or two, she would be flooded with bouquets of flowers — mostly red roses — from her business manager, her publicist, her agent and several friends. (I always sort of wondered who was paying for those roses her business manager sent — was he really footing the bill or did it come out of her own account? But I’m a skeptic.)
As you know if you’ve ever received a delivery of flowers, roses in particular, they don’t always open the way they should. This particular evening I was culling out the droopy buds which were apparently not going to make the transition from bud to flower.
I thought of all this a couple of days ago after I stopped at Trader Joe’s. You’ve noticed they put their wonderful display of flowers right inside the front door and as always, I glanced at them and smiled as I started to walk past … then I stopped. Daffodils! I love daffodils. And they were tight little buds in bunches of 10 for $1.29 and I thought “why not?” I grabbed a bunch.
The “why not” part turned out to be the detours I took on the way home: The post office and the pet food store which took a bit longer than I anticipated. So the daffodils, which had not been in water in the first place, were even more droopy after being in the hot car.
Dang! Droopy flowers! I wasn’t pleased, but then figured I’d cut off the bottoms of the stems and give them a good drink — and it worked! They perked up in almost no time. But it got me thinking about all those roses that Phyllis Diller had and how she showed me the way to save droopy flowers.
“Let me show you a trick,” Phyllis said that long-ago evening. Setting aside the buds, she took all the flowers out of the vase, emptied it and filled it with warm water. “Not hot,” she told me. “You’re not trying to cook them!” (followed by The Laugh). She snipped off the bottom half-inch or so and settled them back in the vase. When I came backstage a few hours later, the buds had straightened up and were starting to open.
“Wow, magic!” I said to Phyllis.
Phyllis probably saved more rosebuds from a premature death than anyone on the planet except a professional florist. So I’m sharing her trick with you for the next time you get flowers that seemed doomed before they bloom. It might not always work but hey, I never promised you a rose garden.