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August 17, 2013

Area florist welcomes a challenge

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Arranging a nice vase of flowers takes an artist’s eye. Making a floral arrangement that is the exact image of the Harley Davidson’s logo takes imagination and patience.

Gary Buman, owner of Gary’s Flowers and Gifts at 300 Main St. in Oneonta, created a Harley Davidson floral logo for a funeral. It was one of the most imaginative arrangements he has done in the 25 years he has owned the florist shop, he said.

“That was the most difficult thing I have done,” Buman said. “Most of the arrangements you do, like crosses and wreaths, the form is already made. We had to cut and shape the Styrofoam before we could even begin to make the logo.”

Buman has made many difficult designs including an American flag, a giant football and an imposing “No. 1” he made for Hartwick when the college won a championship. He has arranged flowers for Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson and Martha Stewart.

“I like a challenge,” Buman said.

Buman has won many awards and taught at floral seminars over the 47 years he has been a professional florist.

As Buman was cleaning out his shop Tuesday, he ran across a box filled with ribbons and trophies.

“This is the last show I did in 1977; they stopped doing the show at the State Fair the next year,” Buman said pulling out a first-place plaque. “I remember that, the theme was ‘Moments to Remember’ and we did 12 or 15 arrangements as well as the display itself.”

Gary’s Flowers and Gifts is packed full of cut and silk flowers, vases, arrangements artisan candles and other gift items. Buman has two part-time employees and works in his shop six days a week.

Buman’s favorite flower is the canna lily.

“I like the lines — the simple, steam-lined design,” Buman said. “It is a pretty flower and it is easy to work with.”

When Buman was a child, he grew gladiolas at his grandparent’s house and sold them on the side of the road. He graduated from Alfred State College with a degree in flora culture merchandising. He worked several years as a florist in Binghamton before moving to Oneonta, where he worked at Coddington Florist.

Gary’s Flowers and Gifts was originally located in Clinton Plaza. They have been at the current location for 13 years.

Buman prefers doing large designs, such as the flowers he designed for the podium at State University of New York at Oneonta for the college graduation in May.

“My busiest time is in May,” Buman said. “That is when the two colleges are graduating, you have the proms and a lot of weddings. May keeps me pretty busy.”

Although Buman has seen the economy plummet and begin to recover, he said people still buy flowers. The changes in the business he noted are due to availability of flowers from around the world and the lack of local growers.

“The closest greenhouses that grow flowers are about 60 miles away,” Buman said. “But in a day or 36 hours we can get any order from South America or Europe. We call our wholesaler and they will find what we need.”

Another change in the floral business is the do-it-yourself television, magazine and online information.

“Before Martha Stewart we used to do a lot of arrangements for people who were having parties or wanted a nice table arrangement,” Buman said. 

“After Martha Stewart, everyone thinks they can arrange flowers. No matter what it looks like — they did it themselves.”

Gary’s Flowers and Gifts is open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5:30.