Margaret Palmer: “Flowers are the best gifts of all”

Many people know florist Margaret Palmer as “the Taos flower diva.” The name, she feels, is quite appropriate.

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Many people know florist Margaret Palmer as “the Taos flower diva.” The name, she feels, is quite appropriate.

“It may have something to do with the fact that my Italian mother was actually an opera singer,” Palmer said. “And I used to sing, too. I consider myself a diva, not in the ‘big ego’ sense, but because I like to organize corporate events and elaborate weddings and I enjoy making everything perfect and unique.”

She does “flowers for all occasions”—from weddings, anniversaries, quinceañeras, Bar Mitzvahs and baptisms to memorials and funerals.

“Flowers usually go together with significant events in people’s lives,” she said. “Some strong memories are associated with the sense of smell. You may not remember the first present you got, but you are likely to remember the very first flowers you received, and the impression they made on you.”

Found by Taos

“Taos found us, really,” was Palmer’s answer to my usual question about her moving here. “My husband worked in a Native American community in California. Taos Pueblo recruited him to come to New Mexico. We immediately fell in love with this town because we had always wanted to raise our children in a beautiful, safe and small community. It was perfect.”

They moved to Taos 16 years ago and have never looked back.

“My son and my daughter both graduated from Taos High School and are now attending or graduated from UNM in Albuquerque,” Palmer said.

Margaret Palmer Floral Design opened in July 2014. It was the first time that a business carried her name, but Palmer has been making flower arrangements for the past 26 years.

“I love flowers,” she said. “I began my career working with Lerry Cisneros, who was my mentor, in Southern California in 1988. Because of my many years of experience I can create a bouquet or put together a corsage on a whim, but I also like to take my time and make sure that the flowers reflect my clients’ tastes and preferences.”

After settling in Taos, Palmer worked for several local florists. She was in charge of the flower department at Red Cat Melissiana, where she created arrangements for weddings, baptisms and other special occasions.

“I enjoyed it a lot,” she said. “When Melissa decided to close the store, I knew it was time for me to set up my own business.

I wanted flowers to continue being part of my life and I like working with people so my business was born.”

Choosing the right flowers

Before she starts creating flower arrangements for a wedding, Palmer spends time interviewing the bride and groom (and sometimes other family members) about their vision.

“That’s where people skills come in,” she said. “I listen to what they say and to what they don’t say: facial expressions and body language are very important here. I find out how they met … I learn more about them than their flower preferences. We discuss options, too. When it isn’t possible to get certain flowers fresh, because of the season, I suggest others of similar color and look.”

Palmer loves working with flowers and interacting with her clients.

“I wouldn’t like to do anything else,” she says. “But let’s make it clear: a floral business is hard work.”

It all starts by ordering the flowers, cleaning them, and then creating the arrangements, which may take up to 10 hours or more a day for big events.

“People can’t imagine how much time it takes to make intimate personal flowers,” she said. “You need lots of patience and creativity!”

Palmer works with wedding coordinators and other service providers and always gets in touch with them before the event.

She also delivers the flowers to the location of the ceremony and usually stays there to make sure that everything goes well.

“I don’t just drop the flowers and leave,” she said. “I love looking at the bride’s face when she sees the bouquet. Her happy smile makes all my hard work worthwhile.”

“Margaret is the most creative florist in town,” said Dan Wardlow. “When Joe and I got married she did all the flowers for our wedding, from the centerpieces to the corsages and boutonnieres, and everything was a true work of art. She was delightful to work with, the day of the event and before.”

She has also created arrangements for funerals.

“Funeral work can be very personal and emotional,” she said. “This is the last chance to get it right for someone you love.”

Volunteer work: Flowers for the Ice Tigers

Palmer’s son and daughter played sports, including hockey with the Taos High School Ice Tigers, for over 15 years. She enjoyed being a team mom and a team manager.

“I am a big-event person so I organized the banquets after the competitions and chose everything, from the menu to the awards and the flower arrangements,” she said. “It was a lot of effort but I thought that, after so many months of practice, these kids deserved a special recognition, something better than pizza and sodas.”

Wedding tips from the Taos Flower Diva

Start early so you have plenty of time to decide what you want.

Let your personality shine through in all the details. It’s your big day, not anybody else’s!

In the process, remember to be kind and loving to each other.

Flowers for no reason (before and after the wedding) are the best gifts of all.

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