No sooner have we recovered from the Valentine’s Day rush, we now find ourselves preparing for Mothering Sunday, which this year falls on 30th March. Mothering Sunday is our busiest single day of the whole year and, just like the Christmas season, we plan our operation to meet demand with military precision.
Our planning meeting was last week – helpfully coinciding with our Christmas de-brief meeting. All in all we were delighted with how our Christmas operations panned out…which is probably just as well, because we use virtually the same tried and tested formula for Mother’s Day! Of course, the pressure is on for Mothering Sunday because we have just the one day on which all the flowers must be delivered, whereas our Christmas operation, whilst huge, is spread out of a period of time.
So this is how we do it. We move our packing team to St Mary’s again, to make sure we are nearer to the Quay and Airport to get our scented narcissi to the mainland. On 17th March, we’ll pack up a container stuffed full of everything we need to get the orders on their way… from the message cards, tissue paper, ribbons, care labels and flower food to tape, staple guns, coffee mugs and tea towels. The container is then shipped to our temporary packing shed at Porthloo on St Mary’s on 19th March.
The extra staff brought in to help us are fully briefed by Ben and Neil and then the mammoth task of making 7,500 boxes starts on 20th. The flowers we need are graded, watered and put into cold storage ready to be packed. Our biggest pack day of the year falls on Thursday 27th March – when the shed is heaving with people working non-stop to ensure the narcissi are lovingly presented, boxed and shrink-wrapped on the pallet ready for collection by mid afternoon. The pallets are taken down to the Quay to be loaded onto the Gry Maritha for their voyage to the mainland.
That’s when the flowers leave our hands, and we put our trust in Isles of Scilly Travel and Royal Mail.
And we head back to St Martin’s where, on Mothering Sunday itself, after church the island’s children deliver posies of flowers (that they made at school) to all the women on the island – mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends. It’s a wonderful tradition that goes back a long way, and one of the things we love most about living here on Scilly! It also gives us time to reflect at the end of such a frantic week that there are many lucky ladies across the UK enjoying scented narcissi on their special day.