Greensburg florist grows second career as country musician

| Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, 9:13 p.m.

Gary Pratt surrounds himself with beautiful flowers and country music.

It's the best of both worlds, he says.

As owner of Le Jardin Florals in Greensburg, Pratt's shop has a European flair evident in his every design. At the nontraditional flower store, customers won't find carnations or baby's breath but they will find instead orchids, berries, unique roses and tropical flowers.

“Anything I see that might be different, I grab it,” said Pratt, who has owned the business for 12 years. “Every design is a work of art.”

The shop features home décor items with a French flair — unique vases, frames, permanent florals and more. The décor is seasonal and Pratt is already gearing up for his annual Christmas Open House in November, complete with a piano player.

Malinda Sherid of Greensburg, a customer for the past 10 years, said she first ventured into the store to see what Pratt could create with a fruit bowl heirloom.

“Gary's work is so unique ... he doesn't do typical flowers but instead does something extremely creative” at a reasonable price, Sherid said. “He has these large ivory roses with pink tips ... I've never seen anything so beautiful.”

Denise DeNunzio of Jeanette has been going to Pratt for so long, she said, that now she merely tells him the occasion for the flowers because he knows exactly what she likes.

“Whether it's a happy or sad occasion, he always puts his personal touch. He is the go-to person for unique,” she said.

With the help of his mother, Pratt handles every order himself. On weekends, he is booked with weddings, benefits and events. Almost all of his advertising now is through word of mouth.

Although he has branched into Pittsburgh, he says he tries not to pursue that too much because there is so much business at home.

The county music that customers hear playing in his shop comes from a country music station in France.

Pratt's own music has been showcased on Nashville stations as well as Nashville venues like the Bluebird Café and the Sweetwater Lounge. His recent CD, “Don't Walk There in My Shadow,” has been played on Froggy 95.5 FM and includes his “Relay for Life” song, which he wrote about the American Cancer Society.

It wasn't always easy. After spending time in Nashville in the late 1990s and receiving a lot of rejections, Pratt decided to stop singing.

“I was bitter and discouraged, but found I wasn't happy without it,” Pratt said. “So I started singing again on a smaller scale. I found that if you truly love something, you should do it.”

A career highlight came this September when he opened at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg for Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis. There were more than 1,000 people in the audience.

Lisa Zona was sitting in the sixth row.

“He did an amazing job, as usual,” said Zona, who has been following Pratt for the past 10 years after she heard him play once at Teddy's in North Huntingdon. “He knows how to speak through his songs ... there's nothing about him I don't like.”

Pratt finds the combination of flowers and country music the most fulfilling.

“I spend a lot of time writing music but my main job is the floral shop,” said Pratt, who grew up in Slickville. “Owning my own business has allowed me to be able to do both.

“I'm living my dream ...,maybe on a smaller scale, but I'm living my dream,” Pratt said.

Michele Stewardson is a freelance writer.

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