Since this isn't the flora but the food section of the newspaper, let's talk about fruit flowers, from Incredibly Edible Delites, an eighteen-year-old Pennsylvania company that expanded in the late 1990s. The South Florida franchise is actually based just over the Broward border, but the location is irrelevant since the shop is more a workshop than a walk-in store; the fourteen different "bouquets" are assembled there, but not displayed. Viewing is via brochure; sales are via phone or Website; and delivery of each custom-made creation throughout Miami-Dade County, at charges of $8-$20, is via refrigerated truck for maximum freshness. (Though 24 hours' notice is normally all that's needed, ordering several weeks in advance is a good idea for holiday gift-givers -- and party-throwers.)
Baby boomer-age readers might remember a best-selling early-1960s humor book called Please Don't Eat the Daisies, an admonition meant to be hysterically funny. In this case it is indeed, since eating Incredibly Edibles' cartoony daisies, whose petals are carved pineapple with a cantaloupe-ball center, is the whole point. Even more delectable are the bouquets' tulips, fresh ripe strawberries with carved kiwi leaves at the base and marshmallow centers. Both types of "flower" (as well as some skewered red grapes) are featured in the company's two best-selling floral arrangements, the $47 Tulips and Daisies and the more spectacular Floral Fruit Design, which comes additionally festooned with melon "greenery." The latter creation comes in five sizes, from a $59 bouquet feeding 12 to 14 folks to a $200 party centerpiece that serves 150 people (or roughly 6 teenagers).
As well as fruit-flower assortments, there are two vegetable-flower bouquets (the whimsical $62 Veggie Vantasia and $60 Party Pickins, which looks more like a flower-garnished standard vegetable tray than a bunch of flowers) that give the idea of a simple crudité platter whole new meaning. Two types of vegetable daisy are composed of carved radishes and white turnips with carrot centers, with carved cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and cherry tomatoes completing the assortments.
If all of this sounds way too healthy, don't worry. Extras (available as "includeds" with some assortments, for a minimal added cost with others) turn the fresh fruits and veggies into occasions for sin. Best is a jar of all-natural no-preservative fudge sauce, a butter-rich chocolate essence tempting enough to spoon straight from the jar but much better as a dip for the marshmallow-stuffed strawberries. A sour cream vegetable dip is pleasantly ranch dressinglike, though its plentiful spinach shreds are rather tough. And a Mrs. Prindable's candy apple, coated with caramel plus dark, milk, and white chocolate strands (and big enough to cut into wedges for sixteen people), is visually spectacular, though the Red Delicious apple was rather mushy, as that ultrasweet variety tends to be.
While bouquets normally come in the same sort of baskets conventional florists use, silver sleigh containers are an option for the holidays and are, if tropical paradise natives will pardon the inappropriate expression, a real party-time icebreaker.