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Progress: Arranging beauty

Carolyn Wenzel prepares a floral arrangement at Lake Pepin Floral and Gifts, 110 South Lakeshore Drive, Lake City. Find out more about the company at or call 651-345-5636. 1 / 5
Wenzel gets some assorted greens from a cooler to start her arrangement. 2 / 5
Only a knife or floral shears should be used to cut greens and flowers, Wenzel said. Regular scissors pinch the stems and cut off water flow.3 / 5
Greens are crisscrossed in a vase after being trimmed.4 / 5
Wenzel said a basic floral arrangement like this one usually takes no more than 10 minutes. But the time depends on the size and style of each arrangement.5 / 5

LAKE CITY — Putting together an arrangement for a customer — creating a pleasing mix of flowers, greens and accents — seems effortless for Lake Pepin Floral and Gifts owner Carolyn Wenzel. But a lot of work has gone into making the process smooth.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” she said.

Wenzel said she has been in the business for 14 years. She went to school for horticulture and worked at Hallstrom’s in Red Wing for a few years. She started her own business while she was a stay-at-home mom before opening the Lake City store.

Wenzel said she was inspired by her grandmother to enter the industry.

Her grandmother lived on a farm and had gardens, and also helped with church flowers such as for weddings, Wenzel said.

Lake Pepin Floral offers a variety of services, including flowers for weddings and funerals. That means working with customers in very different stages of their lives — celebrating and grieving — but that doesn’t faze Wenzel.

“I make everything custom to their wishes,” she said, noting she enjoys interacting with and helping her customers.

It also injects some variety into her work, which Wenzel said is something she loves about her job.

“You never know what the day’s going to bring,” she said. “You can never plan your day.”

She said some customers have no idea what they want, while others come in with specific ideas and sometimes photos or their own containers for the flowers and plants. Meeting those precise needs can be stressful.

“You can lose a lot of sleep over it,” she said, but creating something the customers likes also can be rewarding.

The business also can be demanding during key holidays. Valentine’s Day is the busiest, Wenzel said, mainly because most of the flower buying is on one day.

The week of Mother’s Day also tops the list, she added.

While Wenzel has a lot of experience, she said she keeps up on trends and techniques by attending design shows. There she learns about the “hottest colors” and methods along with seasonal ideas, such as for spring or Christmas.

Each arrangement gets a personal touch. Wenzel considers each piece, how the colors and flowers interact visually and what else the customer likes or has ordered, along with factors such as coordinating colors for an event.

“You want every arrangement to be different,” she said.

Basic arrangements can be done in just 10 minutes or so, she said, but the timing depends on the style and size of the piece.

Wenzel will be participating in Lake City’s Girls Day Out April 26, where visitors can see demonstrations. She also often gives talks around the area, including on creating fairy gardens.

Find out more about Lake Pepin Floral at, by calling 651-345-5636 or stopping by at 110 South Lakeshore Drive in Lake City.

This story originally appeared in part 3 of the 2014 Red Wing Republican Eagle Progress Edition, titled Start to Finish. The three-part series features local businesses, artisans and community groups describing their step-by-step processes. 

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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