KENNEWICK — Kennewick is about to acquire a new store with a well-known name and loyal following.
After 10 years of operating Twigs & Petals Floral Boutique from her home and a rented office, Connie Lilly is becoming a shopkeeper.
"I've always wanted to open a shop, but as the only full-time employee, it just wasn't doable. I couldn't be in two places at once -- the garden and greenhouses at my home and a shop too," she said.
Several months ago, she took on an apprentice designer, Diane Hood of West Richland, who also is becoming a partner in the business.
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"With two of us now it's doable," Lilly said.
They plan to open their new shop at 2417 W. Kennewick Ave. on Feb. 8, just in time for Valentine's Day orders, but are taking calls and making appointments now.
Lilly has been gardening since she was 4 years old. She now lives on 11/3 acres, giving her space for the greenhouses where she raises seedlings for sale. There also is plenty of space for her to grow peonies, lilies, dahlias, English roses and other plants she uses in her designs. She also holds classes there on how to plant moss baskets and pots.
"Those are fun," Hood said. "Groups of women sign up, bring food and drinks and have fun eating, drinking and digging in the dirt. I went to one years ago and got hooked."
Hood has known Lilly for a decade and always has enjoyed gardening. After her husband died from lung cancer last year, Hood traded her job as a broker's assistant at Remax for flowers.
"I find I just can't get enough flowers; they've become my happiness. I've come to realize life is too short not to do something you really, really enjoy," she said.
Lilly's a believer in on-the-job training.
"It's how I learned. I picked up a book on floral design one day and reinvented myself after leaving my job at a nursery," she said.
Before opening Twigs & Petals, she also spent four years doing silk flower arrangements at Spencer Carlson and helping Katie Carlson stage houses.
Lilly and Hood create floral designs using fresh, dried and silk flowers, foliage and herbs. They specialize in weddings -- they did 75 last year alone -- but also design arrangements for funerals, dinner parties, birthday and anniversary gifts and special events.
"Tell me what you want, and I'll design a unique arrangement just for you," Lilly said.
They have a large floral cooler at the shop, which they will keep stocked with arrangements for those last-minute shoppers or impulse buyers.
They don't do Teleflora or FTD, but will ship their floral designs.
"I've sent flowers to Martha's Vineyard (in New England)," Lilly said.
Twigs & Petals also is the only shop carrying Madalynne Homme's floral-inspired jewelry. The Kennewick artist usually sells her bold, colorful creations online and at art shows, including Allied Arts Gallery's annual Art in the Park show.
The shop will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, or by appointment.
Their website is www.twigsandpetals2.com. Phone: 509-619-0900.
* Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org