S pring has come, and flowers are blooming. Yards and medians bob with daffodils, and the cherry blossom trees in Wooster Square are budding, promising petal showers any moment.
Even during winter, a trail of petals leads to the Blossom Shop. Pink, white, red and yellow, the silky slips blow up and down Orange Street, drawing the curious to their source. It’s a deliberate whimsy for a business that, for all its character, sometimes melds into its surroundings. “So many people walk by and say that they never knew there was a flower store here,” employee Lindsay LoRicco says.
The roses the shop sells are cleaned by hand, with thorns removed and outer petals plucked. That leaves buckets of colorful confetti, from which the travelers are chosen. When passersby ask if they can gather them up, LoRicco says, staff invite them to take the ones that haven’t yet hit the road. The curious might also be drawn in by the current window display, where a hodgepodge of glass bottles bearing fresh flowers suspends from the ceiling.
The Blossom Shop was founded in 1939. Since then it’s changed hands—now owned by Lindsay’s uncle John LoRicco—and location, moving from the intersection of Elm Street and Broadway to its Orange Street location in 2006. A New Haven native, Lindsay has worked there for nearly as long. As a high schooler ten years ago, she was tapped to help clean roses in the shop before Valentine’s Day. She’s still surprised by V-Day volume: “thousands and thousands, an unbelievable amount of roses… You can barely walk in the store there are so many roses.” That holiday is rivaled only by Mother’s Day, though the flowers are different: “more springtime flowers—tulips, hyacinths and all of that.”
Surrounded by so many flowers, what’s a florist’s favorite? Lindsay doesn’t hesitate. The answer is peonies, though they aren’t quite in season yet. “They’re fabulous to work with—the smell, the way they open, the way they develop,” she rhapsodizes. The Blossom Shop’s current stock of peonies are shipped in from Japan, where the flower is prized. But Lindsay notes that now is tulip season, and despite their ubiquity, she still finds them beautiful and intriguing, especially because their stems keep growing after they’ve been cut.
Sometimes, the shop gets unusual or atypical flower requests—but, with living flowers, Nature sets her own rules. “Flowers are seasonal, and they’re really the best when they’re in season,” Lindsay says. While most commercial flowers are in season somewhere in the world at any given time, fresh, local flowers last the longest and look the best, and it’s the florist’s job to educate the consumer. “That’s why you come into a flower shop instead of a grocery store,” she says.
While flowers are the heart of the Blossom Shop’s business, a centerpiece of the store is its case of chocolates, which have been selling here for the past five years. Instead of what Lindsay calls “your typical Russell Stover,” the Blossom Shop’s got handmade chocolates sourced from Texas, of all places, because of the peculiar regulatory challenges of selling chocolate by the piece in a flower shop.
And if chocolates and cut flowers feel too ephemeral, one side of the shop is a jungle-like arrangement of potted plants, whose earthy greens and browns contrast the brightly colored flowers. There’s even a hungry-looking pitcher plant hanging from one shelf, while air plants layered on a stand look as exotic as if they were dredged from the bottom of the ocean.
Naturally, trendy succulents abound. “People were coming in and asking,” Lindsay says, and the Blossom Shop delivered. “We just started selling them like crazy, and people were asking for more variety, more variety.”
It’s not just the customers who love botanical novelty. “I love getting new flowers, seeing new flowers,” Lindsay says, “and there are always new flowers available… I really look forward to that.”
Written by Anne Ewbank. Photographed by Dan Mims.