The fingertips and eyes behind Royersford’s own Three Peas in a Pod are those of head designer Heidi Swartz who busily handles graceful sweeps of petals and stems in arranging flowers.
Twenty years ago this month, Swartz and her family took over the shop from its previous owners who started it about 25 years earlier.
Her mother Gail Wellington manages the more business-oriented parts of daily floral adventures, while her husband Shawn takes care of deliveries, making the already existing name of the storefront all the more fitting for this trio.
During Swartz’s youth, Wellington dug in the dirt with garden clubs and worked in a flower shop. This led to Swartz taking on an early taste for laboring with floral arranging, and she began in the industry at the age of 15.
Originally from Massachusetts, Swartz studied fine art at the City and Guilds of London Art School for a year in England. She also spent two years at the Berkshire School of Art and Design in Reading, England where she earned the British equivalent of an associate degree in graphic design and photography.
“I’ve worked in numerous flower shops, including in England,” Swartz said, with time spent in six besides Three Peas in a Pod.
Of course, weddings, funerals and school dances are a big part of the floral preparations Swartz designs, but perhaps only a bit surprisingly, she loves when her efforts lead to women shedding some of the most emotionally intense tears of their lives.
“If I don’t make a bride cry, I haven’t done my job,” Swartz said, explaining that these happy tears make her long days all so worth it.
“We do an average of 35 to 40 weddings per year,” Swartz said. “We make almost 5,000 arrangements, including centerpieces for parties and banquets.”
Most of her flowers come from Lansdale or New Jersey and California, for those she is able to keep domestic. When flowers are less available locally, she orders from South American countries and some from Holland, too.
Gerbera daisies are among the most popularly pleasing petals. Alstroemeria, a lily-like flower, is another favorite among those who frequent Three Peas in a Pod for one occasion or another.
“Obviously, most men only know roses, but we’re trying to educate them,” Swartz said with a smirk.
Swartz generally chooses from 15 to 20 different mood-perking flowers in formal arrangements and bouquets, with zinnia and dahlia as some of the most well-liked and adored.
To add a bit of less expected flair and texture, Swartz sometimes incorporates berries, the succulent perennial sedum, cattails and top-stalks of wheat into her creations.
Each year, Swartz prepares about 2,000 wrapped bunches of flowers and 150 fruit baskets.
Proms alone lead to about 700 orders each late spring as school years wind down around May.
“Unfortunately, funerals are one of our staples,” Swartz said.
Swartz and her family are still grateful to be able to do something helpful in memory of those who’ve passed on when it comes to families around the area dealing with the onset of grief pouring into their lives.
“A lot of times, they start a good conversation, whether people like or them or even if they don’t, because people have opinions,” Swartz said. “They’re visually stimulating with the senses and feelings, and they get people thinking. It’s usually something on the positive side—especially with flowers because they do make you feel good.”
Out of all the flowers she uses in what she creates, Swartz’s favorite sampling is the gardenia.
“I was about as far from Boston as we are from Philadelphia,” Swartz said about liking being a part of the Royersford area, with her home behind the shop.
“Even if it’s a holiday and I’m busy, they always stick their head into the back room to make sure they say hello to me,” Swartz said. “And if I hear their voice, I try to do the same.”