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The power of flowers:

West Plains florist brings joy and good feelings to area work places with "Flower Flash"


Last updated 11/21/2018 at 6:24pm

Sue Hines

Sue Hines' second Flower Flash left the goat sculpture in Spokane's Riverfront Park a bit more colorful on Nov. 15. The arrangements included asiatic lilies, carnations, roses and baby's breath.

Lifetime Cheney resident Sue Hines has always been around flowers. Her great-aunt and uncle started Chet's Flowers in the 1940s; her grandmother grew a rose garden so prolific that it was often called "mom's arboretum."

And Hines mother eventually got into the act, replacing her vegetable garden with a veritable field of gladiolas.

So it was no surprise then that when Hines eventually discovered she had a creative streak, while in New York as her husband and childhood sweetheart attended West Point, that it came in designing floral arrangements.

And it's also no surprise Hines has chosen to share that creativeness - while spreading a little cheer -with others on the West Plains through what has become known as "Flower Flash."

Flower Flash began in New York City in early 2017, the work of local florist Lewis Miller, who according to an April 20, 2017 story in Vogue Magazine, is known for his "fantastical wedding and party arrangements." New Yorkers would awake to their workdays to find colorful and inventive flower creations decorating everything from sculptures to waste bins, thanks to Lewis, who was soon dubbed "The Florist Bandit."

Hines, who runs Sue Hines Floral out of her garage at the family home on Brooks Road north of U.S. Highway 2, followed Lewis' escapades on Instagram, and thought perhaps something similar might work locally.

She drew on a bit of personal history - her mother would put gladiolas in a barrel outside her home at the corner of Betz and Granite roads for anyone driving by to take, and often those gladiolas disappeared quickly.

"I thought, October is the fourth anniversary of my going into business, and it was also 'Flowers and Fruits' month," Hines said. "So, I decided to do it and see if the community loved it."

Hines initial target was the Brown Bear Car Wash in Cheney. She contacted management to see if they were receptive to the idea, as well as officials at the city of Cheney to make sure such displays were permissible.

After getting thumbs-up from both, she did her first Flower Flash early on the morning of Oct. 11, decorating the bears outside the car wash on First Street.

For Hines, it was interesting to hear about people's reactions - and lack thereof.

"What was amazing was the people who drove by and didn't see them," she said, attributing this to tunnel vision. "I got a lot of good comments from those who did."

Hines said she isn't doing Flower Flashes for the publicity. Rather, it comes from her belief in the power of flowers to create good feelings in people.

Hines regularly takes flowers not used in her arrangements to the Airway Heights senior center, who appreciate the gesture even though the blooms are leftovers.

One of Hines' first customers, Northern Quest Resort and Casino, is "very good about sending employees arrangements" for a variety of occasions and reasons.

"These aren't little arrangements," Hines said. "They're generous. That says, 'I (the employee) matter.'"

John McCallum

West Plains florist Sue Hines believes having flowers or plants in the office contributes to good morale - and she has the studies to back her up.

There's also empirical research to back up the power of flowers and plants in the workplace. An eight-month study by Texas A&M University in 2003 found that men generated 30 percent more ideas, and women generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when placed in environments that included flowers and plants.

A 2018 study by the University of North Florida found that "the average reduction in stress among women who received and lived with flowers was -5.5 points on the Perceive Stress Questionaire, a strong statistical significance in a decrease in stress."

Similar studies done at Harvard and Rutgers universities also indicate that having flowers and plants in the workplace can lead to better productivity and morale among employees.

Hines agrees, and has plans for other Flower Flashes.One was recently carried out in Spokane, with the CHS graduate decorating a goat figure in Riverfront Park on Nov. 15.

"In smaller communities, it's so much more unexpected," Hines said of the West Plains. "It's fun to catch people by surprise."

John McCallum can be reached at


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