The Beauty of Callas Shown by Florist Fiori Bloemen

Petri Rijsdijk shares her enthusiasm for these flowers and sheds her light on how she buys, processes and sells them.

By: THURSD. | 06-03-2024 | 5 min read
Floral Designs Interviews
Simply Calla Interview Fiori Bloemen Petri Rijsdijk header

Petri Rijsdijk has the perfect job. And she is not the only one who thinks that. Because, who wouldn't be a happy person when surrounded by thousands of flowers every day of the year, working in a picturesque old corner house in the center of the historic Dutch city of Leiden? Today, Petri is into callas, those romantic and colorful calyx flowers, and she talks endlessly about its beauty, and applications, sharing tips she gives to her customers for optimal and long-lasting pleasure.

Fiori Bloemen

22 years ago Petri Rijsdijk took over Fiori Bloemen for which she had been working for five years. And again five years later when the opportunity came to rent a beautiful old house in the city center of Leiden, she moved her business to this former residence that she fondly calls "my second living room". All the chambers have a function these days: an entry lobby that serves as a shop itself, a workshop to make the bouquets, some rooms to keep the stock of flowers and plants and a hidden patio garden. Walking through the house is a leap back in the history of ancient Leiden.


"I have the most wonderful job in the whole world! As a florist, I work with such beautiful products that give so much energy to everyone. I am the conduit of that emotion, that energy that I pass to my customers. It's everything, from simply bringing a bouquet along when you visit someone to love and celebrations, but also from comforting someone to mourning work. Flowers say it all!"

And if you love your job, what better place to do your job than in a building with such ambiance? Fiori Bloemen invites you to come in, take a look, and get yourself a bouquet of fresh flowers. Not your ordinary ones, because Petri sets the bar high when it comes to quality and variety.


Simply Calla quote Fiori Bloemen Petri Rijsdijk


The Bouquet Maker

Petri Rijsdijk is truly an artisan bouquet maker. That's what she claims she loves most. Yet, although there are more than plenty of all sorts of flowers inside Fiori Bloemen, there are not many ready-bouquets to be found. Petri makes the bouquets on the spot. She listens to the customer and selects together with the customer the right flowers for the occasion, building up the bouquet and instantly finishing her wonderful creation.


Petri Rijsdijk creating bouquet
Petri Rijsdijk creating a calla lily bouquet


The Love for Callas

Callas is a specialty product that Petri regularly buys. This is not restricted to a period in the year, or season. It has to have the right size and color for the intended purpose. Short zantedeschias are perfect for cute Valentine's Bouquets and tall ones are for lush picking bouquets.


"First and foremost, I want to carry a wide range of flowers. There is room for many and all kinds of flowers in my assortment. And yes, calla is definitely one of those flowers that I like to buy. I think it is a marvelous flower.

My decision to buy them is based on colors. Although my favorites are black, dark purple, intense red, orange, and yellow, I always like to have a wide choice of colors, because the bouquet style that I like most contains many different colors. I am very much a freestyle who likes to create more towards the picking bouquet, so if there is still a leaf on the stem, I don't mind at all.

I have several customers who specifically ask for callas. The colors they want most are darker hues, like black or dark purple. These have such enormous color intensity and their flowers are often tall and very strong too, combining great as a mono bunch with a beautiful high vase or in a wild picking bouquet."


Petri Rijsdijk Fiori Bloemen shop with callas
Petri's cozy shop Fiori Bloemen in Leiden, Netherlands


Petri's Tips for Long-Lasting Callas

The best tip Petri can give to both fellow florists and consumers is to watch the water. Strange as it may sound, the key to enjoying callas for a long period lies in the water. In a shop, florists must, by all means, keep their buckets clean. At home, regularly checking and refreshing the water is also a priority.

"I always want to have my flowers as fresh as possible. When I check the quality of the calla lilies I buy I always check the pestle. If this releases pollen already, this is an indication to me that these flowers are not really fresh anymore.

And I watch the stems because callas are highly susceptible to contamination. I check whether there are any imperfections or damage in the stem, or whether the elastic band is not tied too tightly. And that the bottom of the stem is clean and not brown, black, or curled."


Petri Rijsdijk calla bouquet


Are callas a good choice for bouquets, given the vulnerability of the softer stems?


"Yes, absolutely! If you are able to get good quality flowers, a calla lily can last a very long time. Plus, especially when there are callas in the bouquet, I advise all my customers to clean their vases well before putting the flowers in. This may be with a little baking soda or chlorine. It is a fact that callas are susceptible to bacteria in the water. Especially in summer, the vase water very rapidly becomes cloudy. So, the best advice I can give is to care for your flowers, because you will be rewarded with your bouquet's long vase life."


Petri Rijsdijk calla picking bouquet
Et voilà! A beautiful picking bouquet fresh from the grower, and from Fiori Bloemen.


Final Tip: Hanging Callas

We all know the calla as a sturdy straight-up flower. However, for some, more wild, floral arrangements, a slight bending of even hanging zantedeschia might be fitting. But how do you get that effect without breaking the stem?


"You know you can bend calla lilies because they are very flexible. If you massage the stem, or if you remove a very thin part of its skin, you can do really crazy and special things with this marvelous flower and make stunning creations. That's the fun and diverse thing about the calla I like so much."


Check Simply Calla for much more inspiration on how to use calla lilies in your floral arrangements.


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