Flowers on the front stoop of your New York brownstone can be an easy, affordable gift to yourself and the neighborhood. My wife and partner Jane and I recently discovered exactly how much of a difference flowers make, and we want to recommend them to all our friends.
Jane had the idea after walking by a florist display in Brooklyn Heights. We dared ourselves and promptly walked over to Chris at the Green Market on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights and we bought 22 pots of mums. As soon as we started placing them up and down the stoop next to the rails, some neighbors warned us that they could be stolen. We hadn’t thought of that. So we simply tied the pots to the stoop railing with twine. To our surprise, not a single pot was ever stolen. To our greater surprise, we started receiving heartfelt compliments from complete strangers! Men and women in equal numbers stopped to express their appreciation. A dog walker said she went out of her way each day to see our stoop, and foreign (and domestic) visitors took many pictures in front of the flowers!
Best of all, an artist set up her oil painting easel across the street. She was obviously very talented. When we asked if she did this sort of painting for a living, she said no, that she hadn’t painted in 10 years. She said our display had inspired her to start painting again!
The display lasted a month and cost about $130 – a small price to brighten so many days. At the end of the month, we spent 40 minutes replacing the mums and during that time we counted a dozen compliments. The experience reminded me of a children’s book by a former longtime NYC townhouse owner on West 94th Street, Peggy Mann, called The Street of the Flower Boxes. It’s a true story about how a gangland block was revitalized when residents started using flowerboxes.
If you have time, give this a try – it’s an easy, affordable way to make a difference on your block, and your neighbors will love you. Chris also sells flowers at the farmer’s market at 77th and Columbus Ave, every Sunday from March through December.