9 September, 2017. Samoa – Renowned florist Agnes Erichsen, now in her 70’s, has a passion and drive for gardening like no other. As she tells of her daily routine of waking up and watering her plants, her story is one to be inspired by, a story of perseverance and hard work.
Ms. Erichsen’s garden is located in Vaivase- Uta and has a variety of fruit trees, native Samoan plants, as well as rare, hard-to-find specimens. Due to its uniqueness, the garden attracts international visitors on an appointment-only basis.
Speaking to Samoa Planet, she said, “My grandmother was always a green-thumbed person, she loved planting fruit trees. The land which I now possess, I bought off my grandmother. Originally, she had pineapple plants and cocoa trees covering the land, but I cleared most of the pineapples after I bought the land off her, much to her disagreement.”
“My grandmother always used to say that my garden plants won’t feed me, but I think I proved her wrong.” she said, lifting up a jewellery-laden hand.
“To be successful, you have to be honest and take care of your plants; you can’t just leave them to grow.”
Having travelled all around the world, Ms. Erichsen claims to have the most colourful life of anyone in Samoa and she speaks several languages, including Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
As she speaks, Ms. Erichsen is full of life, affectionately mentioning her two children and her three grandchildren in Denmark.
According to Ms. Erichsen, the annual Teuila festival allows her to sell her plants, but has also drawn attention to her business, by the local and international media requesting to interview her. She says that her florist business has even made the front cover of a magazine and many articles in local newspapers.
She said, “You young florists out there you really have to persevere and work hard every day. I think the reason I am a success is because I’ve been working on my flowers and arrangements every day for the past 46 years.”
When asked what her favourite plant was, she pointed to a bromeliad and said, “That’s just for business purposes, but my preferred plants are the tropical flowers, like the teuila and the vaepaa.”
As she motioned to two large arrangements of tropical flowers hanging from her stall, she said, “You know yesterday, all the tourists came to take photos of those flowers because they thought I painted them.”
After being in the florist business for over four decades, Ms. Erichsen says the major challenge that she has faced in the past were the amount of untrustworthy employees that would steal her jewellery.
Wittily she said, “The workers were supposed to be cutting the flowers whilst I was busy arranging, but instead they would be sneaking in my room stealing my stuff. They have stolen cash and gold jewellery from me, so I can’t trust workers anymore.”
At the moment, Ms. Erichsen is assisted by her daughter, but otherwise she does everything herself, including potting and taking good care of her garden.
With flair, she insists, “I was one of the first nurseries in Samoa, so don’t underestimate me based on my age.”
You can find Agnes Erichsen and her variety plants for sale at the Teuila Festival venue, in front of the Government Building.
Contact her on 7520492 or visit the Agnes Florist Facebook page @agnesflorist
Reporter with Samoa Planet.