Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

FLORAL DISPLAY: “I think people like to come here because we arrange flowers beautifully, offer the best quality, and we guarantee our flowers.” Ashling O’ Brien, owner of Viburnum, the new flower shop on Nassau Street, is shown amid a lovely display, including French tulips and mimosa.

Freshest and Finest Blooms from Viburnum, the Full-Service Florist on Nassau Street

It may be winter outside, but it’s springtime when you enter Viburnum, the flower shop at 202 Nassau Street. Beautiful blossoms fill the attractive setting, and the display of forsythia and pussy willows (including weeping pussy willows) is surely a harbinger of the season we all look forward to.

A refreshing fragrance welcomes customers as they step inside the store, which opened a year ago.

“This is a wonderful location,” says owner Ashling O’ Brien. “There are large double windows, and we have 2000 square feet. We wanted it to be very inviting and welcoming, and offer customers beautiful fresh flowers as well as a selection of unusual and interesting dried stems and arrangements.

Ms. O’ Brien, who is from Ireland, has a family background in the floral industry. “My mother is a florist, and I grew up in the business. I have always loved flowers, and our staff has more than 30 years experience in the industry. I spend a lot of time traveling to find different flowers. We go to flower shows in New York, Philadelphia, and California. And I’ll go to Holland this year.”

Repeat Customers

She couldn’t be happier with the reception Viburnum has had in Princeton. “It is all that I’d hoped for and wanted and more. It is wonderful how well we have been received. I am so happy that the people in Princeton have enjoyed what we do. We’ve had a lot of word-of-mouth and many repeat customers.”

Ms. O’ Brien, who currently lives in northern New Jersey, says that a Princeton location was important. “I wanted to be in Princeton. We had friends here, and I always liked it. In Ireland, the community is very supportive, and I felt Princeton was the same way. I love the University being here, and also there’s a large European population.

“People in Princeton seem to like something different with their flowers. Our customers are very knowledgeable. They like branches and arrangements that are not just traditional, but with a twist. We try to create unique arrangements with a European sophistication. We seek to find different things, unusual plants and flowers, and we always add a twist to our arrangements or bouquets. Something unexpected. We try to have different designs and concepts, and we never do the same thing. Everything is one-of-a-kind. And we have on going education. We’re always learning.”

Viburnum is a full-service florist, providing flowers for weddings and events, corporate functions, funerals, and for individual customers.

“We deliver within a 30 mile radius, wire all over the world, and are part of Teleflora and B Brooks, a very fine network of florists,” explains Ms. O’ Brien. “Weddings and parties, events of all kinds are a specialty. In fact, we are already booked for weddings from March to October. It’s best to book a wedding two months in advance, if possible.

Single Rose

“We also have many regular customers for whom we provide weekly fresh flowers in their homes. We do everything. Customers may come in for a single rose or flowers for a dinner party or other event. We can also meet people’s budget, and accommodate any pocketbook.”

Flowers are from all over the world and arrive every day, she adds. Favorite flowers include hydrangeas and orchids. “Hydrangea also dries beautifully. Lady slipper orchids are popular, and now, we’re gearing up for Valentine’s Day, We’ll be taking orders from husbands for their wife, or from boyfriends to girl friends, etc. The earlier you order, the better.

“And it doesn’t always have to be roses for Valentine’s Day. Cut hydrangeas, peonies, and orchids are all popular. We also have wonderful French tulips. People like lots of colors — pink and purple, green, and white.”

Trees are also favored by Ms. O’ Brien’s Princeton clientele: flowering quince, coleus topiary, and ornamental orange trees, among others.

Viburnum also carries a new line, “Seeds of Life.” “You can plant your own tree — oak, black pine, or magnolia. It’s a wonderful gift to give in memory of someone, or just because you’d like to plant a tree.”

Succulents are in demand as well and have become a favorite for wedding boutonnieres, and also for wedding receptions. “It’s a different look — different and fun,” says Ms. O’ Brien.

Corporate Work

Another popular item is Bloem Boxes. Charming green boxes in three sizes contain seeds for poppies, zinnias, carnations, and other flowers.

Customers are from all over the area — Princeton, Hopewell, Pennington, Skillman, and Belle Mead, she adds. “We have also done corporate work for people in New York, as well as for Union Theological Seminary, and in Princeton, for Princeton University.”

In addition to flowers, Viburnum offers a selection of lovely scented candles from Voluspa in assorted sizes and handsome packaging. Handmade greeting cards from Merry Merry are a wonderful addition to a gift of flowers, as is a box of Butler’s Irish chocolates. We hope to add a line of gourmet gifts to go with the flowers as well,” notes Ms. O’ Brien.

Customer service is very important, she adds. “We listen to our customers, and we visit their homes. I want them to enjoy their flowers, whether for their home, a wedding, event, or as a gift. A gift of flowers doesn’t have to be a big bunch, it can be a single stem. When people see our flowers, they smile. And it’s not just about flowers; we are making memories for people.”

Ms. O’Brien looks forward to being in Princeton a long time, she adds. “I am very happy here. I love the work and the hands-on — the arranging, finding the flowers. My favorite thing is when we open the boxes. It’s like Christmas. It might be beautiful orchids, so beautiful that I don’t want to sell them. When we open the boxes, we all smile.”

Prices cover a very wide range at the store. A stem can start at $1.50 and go up to $20. Seeds of Life are $37 and $49, and Bloem Boxes start at $20.

“We have flowers all the time from all over,” points out Ms. O’ Brien. “But each flower has a season. When a flower is in season, it is less costly. If out of season, it is more expensive.”

Viburnum is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 683-8800. Website:

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