WHITMAN — When Buds & Blossoms, 531 Washington St., closes its doors for the last time this month, owner Jackie Ferguson says she’ll miss the customers who she has come to know as friends — but it’s time to move on.
“I would like to say thank you to all who supported my flower shop and to all who just came in to visit and to say, ‘Hi,’” she read from a hand-written statement she wrote up to express her gratitude to her loyal customers. “You will be missed, but it’s time to hang up my apron and put my flower scissors away.”
It is time to move on to a retirement filled with family, cooking, hobbies — and flowers. Ferguson will miss working closely with her daughter, Dartha Flaherty, however, with whom she said she had a great working relationship as well as a close mother-daughter bond.
“I’ll still be just around the corner — not going far and I hope to see all of [my friends] in town,” she said, noting she also plans to work around the house and in her garden or getting together with friends. “I don’t know if I’ll have much free time.”
People have come in to ask what she might do with spare time, to which she replies, “I just might enjoy spare time.”
Her plan has been to close the business by Sept. 30, but at the rate she has been selling off, or giving away inventory, that date could be moved up.
“As soon as I put the free sign up, they came,” she laughed. “The girls over there [at the nail shop across the street] came in in droves, which is good. I sold what I could sell and what was left, I just want it to be gone.”
As Ferguson rearranged the remaining vases, she was giving away during the final days of her going-out-of-business sale on Friday, Sept. 14, she took a break to look back on her 24 years at the shop, her career in horticulture and her plans for an active retirement.
She intends to stay home and “putter around my house … cook for my family, have the kids over for dinner.”
As a young woman growing up in Saco, Maine, Ferguson got her start in the business by helping her father plant geraniums in the cemetery boxes that were a large part of his greenhouse business as well as in his garden, as he specialized more in planting than cut flowers. Her garden at home supplied quite a few of the flowers she used when she opened her own shop.
Ferguson’s children all enjoy gardening as well, and all have “lovely gardens” she says.
“I think it’s kind of in our DNA,” she said. While she is fond of sunflowers and carnations, Ferguson said she really does not have a preferred bloom. “I like them all, really.”
Prior to opening Buds & Blossoms, she worked for a flower shop in Abington for 10 years before her husband John suggested she open her own shop.
“We did it together,” she said. “I ran the flower shop and he was still working [as a brick salesman] at the time … but he was very supportive and we had a lot of fun.”
As a florist she says she enjoyed all phases of the business, from weddings and funerals to birthdays and “just because” arrangements. She also enjoyed teaching occasional flower arranging classes at Whitman Public Library.
“I just enjoyed being here,” Ferguson said. “I enjoyed doing crafts before I opened the shop and I just enjoy creating.”
She loves people and didn’t mind if customers came in just to chat rather than to buy.
Ferguson said she had planned to retire next year, but decided the fall was a better time — and she wasn’t looking forward to working around another winter.