Pluck, pluck, pluck.
Joe Jumper, owner of The Clay Pot, stood in the back of his Riverview neighborhood floral shop Friday afternoon, stripping guard petals from flowers and preparing yet another arrangement, this particular one standing next to the sink, right in front of him, waiting in a glass vase.
More collections of flowers sat on the floor, and behind Jumper, and in one of the shop's other rooms. And Jumper needed his delivery men to take these away, all of them, in the next two days, before Mother's Day.
For florists, last week was one of the two great annual booms in their business, the other being Valentine's Day. Usually, people start ordering flowers for their mom about a week before the holiday. But the orders really start to tick up on Wednesday, then Thursday, then -- finally -- Friday, desperation day for the most forgetful sons and daughters.
And so Jumper stood in The Clay Pot's back room Friday afternoon, plucking and plucking at petals, preparing for the end of the rush.
"A lot of people wait until the last minute," he said. "The phone has been ringing off the hook."
The average American spent about $160 on Mother's Day gifts this year, according to surveys done for the National Retail Federation. They bought their moms, grandmothers and wives earrings, perfume, blouses, books, CDs, books on CDs, gift cards, greeting cards, iPads, iPhones and handwritten I-Owe-You notes that promise free car washes, home cooked meals and back rubs.
But, more than any of those things, Americans bought flowers, spending about $2.3 billion on arrangements. They bought flowers because that's what is expected on Mother's Day. That's what has always been expected on Mother's Day.
More than 100 years ago, in 1905, a woman named Anna Jarvis began wearing white carnations to honor her late mother. She wanted everyone else to do the same thing, according to the Library of Congress, so she sent 500 white carnations to the Andrews congregation in her hometown of Grafton, W.V., to honor everyone else's mothers.
Little by little, others began to share Jarvis' dream of setting aside a single day to honor mom. In 1908, Grafton city leaders recognized Mother's Day. In 1910, the whole state of West Virginia followed suit.
Then, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother's Day a national holiday. He saw the momentum, which was marked with flowers.
The year before Wilson's proclamation, Congress passed a resolution asking the president, his cabinet, all federal government officials and every U.S. Senator and Representative to wear a white flower in honor of his or her mom.
Flowers have decorated the holiday ever since. According to Google, searches for "flowers" have spiked twice a year for the past decade: once in February, and once in May. And, in each of those years, those searches happen about 33 percent more around Mother's Day than Valentine's Day.
Most people know the love of a mother, but not everyone has a girlfriend or wife.
But Rob Johnson, the president of Humphreys Flowers, say sales at his McCallie Avenue business are about equal for both holidays. Still, there are differences.
For one thing, Mother's Day is more consistent. It's always on Sunday. Valentine's Day, meanwhile, falls on a different day of the week each year.
Boyfriends and husbands buy more flowers when the holiday is on Monday, Johnson said. On Friday or Saturday, they spend their money by taking their girlfriends and wives out for dinner.
Plus, there are the type of flowers. Mother's Day is all about spring flowers: tulips, daffodils, hydrangeas, orchids.
Valentine's Day, on the hand, is synonymous with one flower: the rose. But maybe that's because men are the ones doing the buying. Even on Mother's Day, sons and husbands love to order those roses.
"It's probably the only flower he knows," Johnson said. "It's like pulling teeth, trying to get them to order something else."
But women. Women order a variety, said Dale Wilson, owner of Blue Ivy Flowers.
"Women know a little bit more," she said. "They know more about the types of flowers. They're also more comfortable asking questions, too."
Wilson said business is great this year. Compared to a normal week, she sold about three times as many flowers. And even compared to other Mother's Day seasons for the last eight years that Wilson has run Blue Ivy Flowers, this year is one of the best.
Forgetful sons and daughters kept panicking Friday afternoon. And the phone kept ringing inside Wilson's Hixson Pike shop. And her employees kept taking orders.
And those florists kept preparing arrangements, kept plucking through the week's end.
Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.