The Independent Newspaper’s “A Walk Down Memory Lane” series features Fleurette Guilloz this week.
At 100, Fleurette Guilloz doesn’t do much of her own gardening anymore, but her sign “Son Jardin” still adorns the entrance to the driveway of her home.
Well known in Southampton for her flowers and arrangements, Fleurette would create and maintain the village flower boxes using plants from her own garden. Her flower shop had always been a frequent stop, especially in the summer as people from all walks of life would purchase the plants and flowers she raised.
“I never had to advertise,” she said. “It was all through word of mouth. I’ve had some of the same customers for over 20 years. Gary Cooper and Frank Sinatra were just a few of my customers.”
Over the years in which Fleurette handled the flower arrangements for parties and estates, the beauty of “Son Jardin” was featured in magazines such as Outdoor Living and House Beautiful. Her business continued to grow.
“One day, there was this young man standing at the end of my road looking down towards the greenhouse. I don’t know why, but I asked him to come in. He came in and I showed him the greenhouse. He was overwhelmed with the garden,” she recalled with a smile.
“He’s been with me ever since. His name is Renee Rojas. He’s married now, has two children, and has built a landscaping business of his own. He would bring his family to help me in the garden,” she said.
Although Fleurette’s parents, Charles and Camille were both from France, it wasn’t until they were in the United States that they met and married. In 1908, they purchased property in Southampton. Four years later, her father built the home that Fleurette has lived in all her life.
While her mother loved flowers and had always dreamed of having her own garden, her father learned to be a horticulturist as a caretaker on several estates.
Fleurette believes that, “My love of the earth and growing came from them. They each had their own gardens and would compete against each other, in a friendly way, but my mother was a worker and was always planning her garden. When my father passed away in 1926, my mother dedicated the garden to him naming it ‘Son Jardin.’ It means his garden.”
In her home surrounded by memories, Fleurette tells how her father made the stone fireplace and the wood table that still serves as her dining table. She remembers how they huddled together around that very fireplace during the Hurricane of 1938. “The wind was blowing, trees were coming down everywhere and there was no electricity. It was so terrifying! I remember my mother was praying,” she recalled.
As she glances around the room, her eyes catch the portrait of herself when she was seven years old. “The artist was Rachel Hartley. I had to sit for three hours at a time for a whole week for her to paint it,” she recalls clearly.
As a smile crosses her face, she retells one of her favorite memories. “It was 1940 and there was a parade in honor of the founding of Southampton. I was in the parade. I was dressed as a pilgrim.
It still makes me smile remembering myself in the costume and the big parade and all the people,” she said.
On Fleurette’s 100th birthday last September, her family held a party in celebration. There were more than 100 well-wishers. One of her presents included a Proclamation from the Town of Southampton designating September 30 on the town’s calendar as “Fleurette Guilloz Day.
“I’ve had a happy life,” she said. “I’ve met wonderful people and have wonderful friends and family. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
If you are interested in telling your “Walk Down Memory Lane” story in The Independent, email [email protected] or call 631-324-2500.