“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound”, said the poet Edwin Curran. Flowers also bring color to our world, and sometimes, they can make our days brighter. But behind every flower, there is a story and a person. Florists put effort and time into making sure that the flowers grow properly. They advise people who buy them and help us create special moments, like a bouquet for a wedding or a birthday present. In Thessaloniki, I have noticed there is a love for flowers.
My interest in flowers and plants was very sudden. I didn’t know that I would be very passionate about them. I did an internship for 3 weeks in a flower shop just to try and see how it was. And it was a surprise! I loved everything about it, even the ‘bad part’. I learned how to make a bouquet with the advice of my colleagues.
Since that internship, flowers and plants were every day in my mind, I love everything about them. Flowers can be so colorful and vivid and plants are literally alive. If we don’t take care of them, they die, and taking care of them is not just watering them every day. It is knowing if they need a lot of sunlight or not, if they need to be watered every two days or every week: taking care of plants is knowing all their needs.
So I started to wonder about flowers in Thessaloniki, and I knew right away where I had to head: Λουλουδάδικα (Louloudadika), which literally means, the neighborhood of flowers. This central area of the city has been named like that since the 50’s, when the Florists Association back then reached an agreement with the Minister of Northern Greece to set up in the area.
And it was precisely in that moment when Panagiota Dimiopoulou’s grandfather started his business named after him: Klanidis. Now the shop has more of an updated name, “Green and Organic”, but keeps the essence of a business that has been going on for decades. “My grandmother used to be one of the very first women that had her own business at her time, and that was something that wasn’t very liked amongst the other sellers of the area”, explains Panagiota.
Her shop is located in one of the streets that leads to the Turkish Hamam of Yahudi, where flower shops gather around. However, Dimiopoulou’s shop is not based only on flowers: they sell seeds and pesticides for farmers and international customers. However, she admits that the quarantine has made her reconsider the family business. “The term “plant shop” arrived in Greece during the quarantine, when younger generations started showing interest in interior decoration”, she states. This lead to a change of direction in her shop, introducing new trends, such as the famous plant Monsteres, normally out of stock.
This attraction of younger generations towards plants and flowers is also seen by Dimitris Albanis, who is helping his grandfather shop in the very centre of Louloudadika. “Greeks are not traditionally attracted to flowers, but since the quarantine, I have seen a higher interest in our products”, he admits.
His shop is located right in the heart of the old neighborhood, where tourists pass by to have drinks, but also to smell and buy their products. But among locals, the connection with flowers is not as strong. In France, flowers are given as a present for love or gratitude.
In Greece, this widespread tradition is not as attached; it is common however to pick up flowers and create their own bouquets. On the First of May, it is a tradition to go around the cities and seasides and take some marguerites and poppies to celebrate the Πρωτομαγια. It is common to find flowers hung up above the entrance of many homes to welcome nature and spring.
“Plants and flowers are something alive that you see evolve, you take care of it, you watch it grow, you see a type of energy flowing. It gives you a feeling of power”, describes Panagiota, probably with the same passion as her grandparents. As the flowers evolve, so does her business, with 13.000 followers on Instagram. “We interact with our users, we built a new community of “Plant Lovers “”, she proudly explains.
How has the perception of flowers changed during this quarantine?
Both of the two shops owners said that the love for plants and flowers changed a lot during this quarantine and the pandemic. Green&Organic had older people coming to the shop but it has changed a lot, younger people started coming to the shop and became interested in plants.
It was also the fact that during quarantine, we missed living and the plant was something alive that gave us purpose.
Panagiota concludes: “It’s something alive that you see evolve, you take care of it, you watch it grow, you see a type of energy flowing in it, it gives you a sentiment of power inside you”