Sally Mullis has been at DeKalb Florist “all her life.” Mullis, who grew up in the family-owned business she now runs, certainly keeps herself busy. Part of that includes filling orders to lay wreaths and grave blankets created in her shop at gravesites in honor of Veterans Day.
Mullis spent a few minutes with Daily Chronicle web producer John Sahly to talk about this process.
Sahly: So whose idea was it to lay flowers at the gravesites?
Mullis: Well, this particular one [in Maple Park] was a standing order – we have a lady who calls about three times a year and we do different things. One time we did wooden crosses and we’ve put silk flowers on it and laid it at the cemetery. Other times, like this situation, we did the wreath, and we had that put out there. ... But we do have other customers who call throughout the year and ask us to put things at the cemeteries in town. We do a lot at Fairview, and this particular cemetery in Maple Park we do, and then a lot in Malta.
Sahly: Does it mean anything extra to you because these are sites for a specific purpose?
Mullis: Well, a lot of the people that we do for Christmas, like when we take the wreaths out to the graves, we also make the grave blankets that we lay across the graves, they’re evergreens. They’re repeat customers. They’re customers we have dealt with for years and years and years. And they’re either family members like moms or dads, and a lot of them we know.
Sahly: Is it done mostly through word-of-mouth?
Mullis: I think it really has. I’ve had some people come in over the years, and they’re out at a cemetery and they saw something in wintertime. I do things like that. People may not know that can be done, and then we’re like ‘Oh yeah, we do that.’ Sometimes when I’m talking to people on the phone, the first thing we’ll talk about are the wreaths and I’ll say there are also grave blankets, and there’s a lot of people who really don’t know what those are, which I find kind of interesting. So we explain how they’re made and how we put them together, and I think that goes from one person to another person.
Sahly: How do you put together a grave blanket?
Mullis: We make two different kinds. We make the flat grave blanket. Basically it’s a base of chicken wire where we interweave the evergreens into that, so it lays flat on the grave. There’s very little raise to it at all, and then we decorate it up with ribbons or pinecones or however the customer wants it decorated.
Then we also make mounded grave blankets. That’s been more prevalent in the past 8-9 years. It starts again with a base of chicken wire and strawed hay, intertwined in the center of it and rolled up, and then we put the evergreens into the center of it and all the way up. So when you look at it from the gravesite, it’s mounded. Some people like that, because when we get a lot of snow, it doesn’t get buried. It still gets buried to a certain extent, but it’s not completely buried like the flat ones will get when we get a heavy snow. You’ll still see that there’s something there.