Power of a flower

DID you know that flowers have been scientifically proven to have a long-term positive effect on our moods and emotions?

With today’s fast-paced hi-tech lifestyle taking its toll on our lives daily, the most common stress reliever nowadays is normally exercise and maybe lifestyle changes. Little do we know that nature can provide us with a simple way to improve our emotional health, which is through flowers.

Who better to confirm this statement than flower enthusiast Pasikali Bale, who produces and sells flowers.

“Behavioural researches have proven that a small dose of nature, particularly flowers, can do wonders for our wellbeing as we age. The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behaviour in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.

“Happier people live longer, healthier lives and are more open to change,” said a happy Bale.

Sitting comfortably and relaxed on his veranda, Bale said he usually was more calm and at peace seeing his flowers.

“I tend to my flowers every morning before I have breakfast. I feel less depressed, anxious and agitated followed with a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction. That is total serenity.”

The soft-spoken Taveuni man is the founder and co-owner of Archway Gardens, a family business that he operates with his wife from their home in Lami, outside Suva along the Queens Rd.

It’s usually considered odd to have men in the floristry in Fiji and I, for one, was surprised when I was asked to interview him. Flowers are usually associated with femininity don’t you think?

Well, I was in for a surprise. Rather ignorant on my part. Ignorance is definitely not bliss I’d say. A few hours of “schooling” from Bale gave me a totally new perspective about florists and flowers in general.

So how exactly did Bale come to be involved in floristry? Remember the quote “behind every man is a surprised woman”? Ironically, this applies in reverse operation for Bale and his wife.

Apparently, Elizabeth Wakeham, Bale’s wife has a passion for flowers and coincidentally her husband also acquired a strange addiction and love for it.

Reminiscing on the good old days, Bale said: “My wife loves flowers, usually collecting and nurturing them in pots before they are transferred to grow properly. I was always fascinated at how dedicated and committed she was when it came to her flowers.

“Eventually I also fell in love with the flowers, particularly orchids and anthurium. It was my wife’s hobby and ultimately was mine too after I retired from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority.

“An added bonus though was the fact that I hail from the Garden Island of Fiji, and we are known to be skilled planters and gardeners.”

Upon retirement in 2004, Bale saw the commercial potential of flowers, thus the establishment of Archway Gardens.

“I have a huge back yard at home that was not fully utilised to its full potential. With support from NCSMED and my retirement money, I managed to order my first load of anthurium directly from Holland,” explained Bale.

Why Holland? Interestingly, Bale revealed Holland is the largest producer of orchids and anthurium and the safest too in terms of diseases and insects.

Remember the proverb “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? This was apt for Bale after he, in 2000, recycled mesh insect netting and wood and with the assistance of another prominent family owned flower business locally, was able to erect a huge greenhouse in his backyard.

It wasn’t when he retired four years later that he and his wife decided to commercialise their “hobby”. The greenhouse now houses about 2000 anthurium plants available in 20 different species.

“Initially we had also bred and produced orchids, but we now have a niche market only for anthurium. Orchids are impossible to grow and nurture in the rainy Suva weather. It is perfect only in the West.

“Thus, we only have anthurium because it requires a lot of rain and dampness,” highlighted the 70-year-old.

According to Bale, since there is increased demand for anthurium in Suva, he is looking at avenues to remodel and extend the greenhouse to accommodate this.

“We don’t want to buy new plants rather we prefer to muster and develop new suckers and to keep expanding. A bigger extension of the greenhouse means more flowers.

“Just like women, flowers come in every shape and colour, flourish in bunches and with love and care, they transform from buds to blossoms.”

Archway Gardens provides flowers for occasions such as weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, bridal and baby showers, Valentine’s Day, catered events or simply for the office and home.

Bale is calling on Fiji’s youth to consider starting a similar business because of the increased demand for flowers.

“Resources are readily available but not utilised wisely. If you have land, use it because there is money in it. Koya ga sa vucesa e na sega nona i lavo. (Only one who is lazy will not have money.)”

At Archway Gardens, a floral gift goes a long way in bringing a little joy and sanity to an otherwise hectic day. As they say, “take time to smell the roses”. I couldn’t agree more.

Take timeout to savour the little things that can bring us happiness. Don’t be too ignorant and oblivious to the many opportunities we have. Slow down and enjoy life, don’t let it pass you by. In your rush to get things done, don’t just walk by the roses, but take time to stop and smell them.

* Kelera Dakunimata is with