by Terri Clark (Hilary Miles will be a part of the Floral Design Exhibit at the World Rose Festival)
As is often the case in life, sometimes we don’t end up choosing a career as much as following what seems to be our destiny. Such is the case with Hilary Miles,, one of Vancouver’s and Canada’s most sought after florists. From the tender age of just eight years, when she made her first arrangement in a favourite uncle’s Seattle floral shop, Hilary always knew that one day she would be surrounded by flowers in her very own store.
Sitting in her diminutive and subterranean Kitsilano shop which she opened in 1992, Hilary is giving me a lesson in the many attributes and varieties of roses, from long and short to local and imported. She is stylishly dressed in a fuchsia pink jacket with shimmering matching lipstick suggesting a rosy mood as I asked her why roses are so associated with Valentine’s Day.
“I just love roses. A few years back there was a trend away from roses to mixed bouquets for February 14th but they have returned in a big way. I think people are harkening back to the ‘50s and early ‘60s and all those traditions of trying to create a sense of safety and hominess. By far the biggest seller on Valentine’s Day will be a dozen or more long-stemmed red roses. We are so fortunate now to be able to get a wide variety of these flowers locally and from places like South America where they have become one of the top exports for many countries.”
For the florist, Valentine’s Day is like the Christmas season when businesses make a substantial portion of their annual income. Everyone tends to keep their fingers crossed for passable weather- no snow or freezing temperatures please! But Hilary Miles has also cornered a very lucrative market in supplying flowers for set decorators in the movie, commercial, and TV industries. This, along with weddings, weekly arrangements for businesses and a very loyal clientele, keep her optimistic in these volatile economic times.
She also cautioned that people get exactly what they pay for. Those $12 a dozen bouquets of red roses being sold curbside have probably been in a cooler for two to three weeks. Their little crimson necks will flop over the minute they hit a room of warm air. The week before Valentine’s Day, prices at the flower auction will skyrocket for quality roses so please expect to pay about $120 for a dozen top-of-the-line roses but they will repay the recipient with over a week of pleasure.
I asked Hilary what her dream rose bouquet would consist of and without hesitating she said, “I am not a fan of pastels at all. Give me a fiery mix of corals, citrus, watermelon and yellows. I adore those colours.” If you visit her web site at hilarymiles.com you’ll see exactly what she means.