Berkeley is home to many unique small businesses started by people from all over the world who came to California, liked what they found, and stayed. We’re an international city, and many of our retail stores mirror the countries their owners came from.
Jutta’s Flowers, on Claremont Avenue next to the Star Grocery, is a perfect example of how the process works. Jutta Singh first came to Delano, California, as a high school exchange student from Berlin. She was thrilled by the wide open spaces there, quite different from Europe, and resolved to come back sometime and make her home here.
Back in Berlin, she got the dream job of showing international visitors her city’s many cultural attractions, but she never forgot California. When she returned for a high school reunion, she met the man who became her husband and eventually became a Californian herself. The flower shop she started will celebrate its twentieth anniversary on Dec. 9.
Especially in the pre-Christmas season, the store reminds people who’ve been to Germany of that country’s elegant florists, which carry not only cut flowers but plants, pots, and many small entertaining decorative objects. Jutta dedicates a whole room to her extensive holiday offerings, including the wonderful blown glass animals on her Christmas tree, from which part of the proceeds go to the National Wildlife Federation.
From Germany, there’s a full orchestra of tiny angels playing musical instruments of all kinds, reflecting Jutta’s passion for classical music.
She and her associate Todd Itokazu construct extraordinary bouquets for presentation to soloists who appear with the Berkeley Symphony. Maestro Kent Nagano frequently programs unusual compositions by modern composers, often world premieres. If Jutta’s not familiar with the composer’s work, she reads up on it and listens to it, so that the bouquet can symbolize what the piece expresses. For example, a bouquet for a piece about Bluebeard featured twisting branches and flowers representing dangling locks and chains. For an organ soloist, she built an organ out of plant “horse tails” with a flower called Buddha’s fingers reaching inside. Jutta emphasizes that her artistic floral tributes are based on deep emotional appreciation of the music. “Unless I feel it, I can’t connect with it,” she says.
Jutta’s Flowers. 3078 Claremont Avenue. 547-2293.