A retired Brigham Young University-Hawaii math professor wants to give freshly cut flowers a second life.
Elaine Merrill, a Rexburg resident since 2016, recently started her aptly dubbed Second Life Flowers program. Merrill wants to gather vases of all sizes and to later place freshly cut flowers inside the containers. She’ll donate the bouquets to area assisted living centers.
So far, Merrill has received around 24 vases and is hoping for more. She hopes to quickly add bouquets inside those vases.
“I want to find someone who will donate their wedding flowers. When spring comes, I’ll contact some gardeners to see if they have extra flowers,” Merrill said.
Merrill will assign a resident at senior living centers to serve as a point of contact person to oversee the donations. That person will take the flowers and share them with other residents.
“Basically, I really want to get the care center residents involved. I was thinking that I could do the groundwork,” she said.
Merrill got the idea for Second Life Flowers after the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle donated flowers from her 2018 wedding to London’s St. Joseph’s Hospice.
“It’s becoming a thing. I was thinking, ‘Here’s something I can do’,” she said.
Merrill recently put out a request for vases on Facebook and has received containers of all sizes. She plans to use everything from juice jars to salad dressing bottles to baby food bottles.
“They don’t have to have a big vase. Smaller vases make more arrangements,” she said. “In fact, if someone donated a dozen roses, I could float a rose in a glass, and that’s an arrangement to go to 12 people.”
Freshly cut flowers — from any venue — will do, Merrill said.
“I hate to say ‘funeral flowers,’ but that would work, too. If I had a connection at the campus — if they did a big beautiful bouquet for a devotional — we could recycle that,” she said.
The hope is that sharing the flowers will give assisted living center residents a chance to mingle.
“It’s to encourage residents to reach out and communicate and get active. We want the care center residents to be as involved in the process as possible,” Merrill said.
“We” includes Merrill’s husband, Kelly, who plans to help with the Second Life Flowers program. The couple has six children and 20 grandchildren. The Merrills moved to Rexburg to be closer to their extended family.
“I certainly applaud the idea,” he said. “It’s going to take all of her creativity to do it. I’ve never known my wife not be able to do something that she sets her mind to do. We figure most anybody can appreciate a fresh flower especially when there aren’t any growing outside.”
Elaine Merrill said that she’s always loved flowers and says they can be great therapy.
“There’s an old proverb that says, ‘If thou of fortune be bereft, and in thy store only two loaves are left, sell the one and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed thy soul,’” she said.
The Merrills will contact community assisted living facilities in the near future, but first they need bouquets to deliver.
“As soon as someone donates flowers, we’ll go,” said Elaine Merrill. “You get more by giving flowers away than by getting them.”
For more information on donating vases and flowers, call the Merrills at 808-293-2521.