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Episode 125: Sarah Daken & Tom Precht                                      

How Marsha Parker’s Flowers Impact Survivors

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Embracing Beauty and Resilience

Today we’re sharing with you a truly inspiring conversation we had with Marsha Parker, a remarkable teacher, cancer survivor, and the creative force behind Refined Gatherings. Marsha’s story is one of passion, resilience, and the transformative power of beauty in our lives — especially through flowers.

Marsha and a former student

From Classroom to Floral Design

Marsha’s journey is not your typical florist’s tale. With a rich background in teaching world history, African American history, and American history in Cleveland, Ohio, Marsha has always had a profound connection with her students. But it was her personal battle with breast cancer that brought a new dimension to her work. She used her experience to foster transparency and support among her students, sharing her challenges and triumphs openly.

After 26 years of teaching, including international stints in the Peace Corps, Marsha’s experiences across the globe have deeply influenced her floral business. She recalls the beauty she encountered while teaching in places like Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and China. Her understanding of beauty’s transcendent quality is something she carries into every floral arrangement and gathering she creates.

Image: Shbeeb Weddings

Refined Gatherings: More Than Flowers

Refined Gatherings started as a side project while Marsha was still teaching, born from her love for creating meaningful experiences. Her transition to a bi-vocational career of teaching and floral design was organic, fueled by her innate talent and a desire to bring joy to others. During the pandemic, Marsha’s business took a significant turn when she began offering flower deliveries, particularly for cancer survivors and those facing health adversities.

One of the most touching aspects of Marsha’s work is her floral design workshops for cancer survivors. These workshops are not just about arranging flowers; they are holistic experiences with music, food, and a supportive community. Marsha collaborates with musicians and incorporates various healing activities to create an atmosphere of relaxation and joy.

A bride carrying a garden-style bridal bouquet of multi-colored flowers by Refined GatheringsImage: Shbeeb Weddings

The Business of Compassion & Flowers

Refined Gatherings is a for-profit venture, but Marsha’s approach is one of giving. A portion of the income from events and weddings is used to fund her Contend for Peace workshops for survivors, along with donations and partnerships. Marsha’s vision extends beyond cancer survivors to include individuals overcoming various forms of adversity, such as domestic violence and depression.

Students learning to arrange flowers at a Contend for Peace Floral Design workshop for cancer survivors Marsha Parker arranging flowers with a student at a Contend for Peace Workshop for cancer survivorsImages of Contend for Peace Workshop courtesy of Kelly Evans

A Legacy of Love and Music

When asked about her upbringing, Marsha speaks with warmth about her family. The youngest of six, she grew up in a home filled with music and laughter. Marsha’s family environment planted the seeds of appreciation for different cultures and the arts, which later blossomed into her passion for floral design and teaching. The impact her family, her faith, and music have had on her was never more evident than the day she married the love of her life in a moving ceremony at the age of 50.

Model wearing a floral fascinator of hot pink and green flowers

Looking Ahead

As Marsha prepares to retire from teaching, she looks forward to focusing on Refined Gatherings and expanding her workshops using flowers as a vehicle for healing. Her goal is to partner with healthcare organizations and secure grants to reach more people in need of the healing power of beauty.

Florist Marsha Parker wearing a fascinator descorated with flowers Marsha as a prom chaperone wearing a floral fascinator she designed

An Invitation to Connect

For those interested in Marsha’s work or wishing to be part of the floral experiences at Refined Gatherings, she invites you to visit her website at, follow her on Instagram at @refinedgatherings, or reach out via email at

A Heartfelt Thank You

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to Marsha for sharing her incredible journey with us. Her story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the profound impact of beauty in our lives. As we wrapped up our conversation, we were reminded that every arrangement Marsha creates is not just a bouquet of flowers—it’s a symbol of hope, resilience, and the enduring power of human connection.




No time to stay on top of new, relevant, and helpful floral resources? We know you’re busy. We’ve got you covered! Join Botanical Brouhaha’s community membership where you can attend monthly meetups with guest speakers and receive our weekly newsletter packed with timely resource links. Bloom Trust Co is our way of helping you keep up with what’s new while finding encouragement and support!

Co-Hosts: Amy McGee (BB + Bloom Trust Co.) & Natalie Gill (Native Poppy)

BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Joel McGee

Music Written & Performed by: Landon McGee

If you enjoyed this episode, you might also enjoy our interview with Hannah Bonham Blackwell of Southside Blooms. Click here to listen.



  1. Jill Mohn says:

    What a special woman! Thank you for an inspiring podcast. Time well spent…

  2. Irma Lagomarsino says:

    Marsha is a fountain of inspiration! Her purpose–to give flowers to spread support and love–reminds me of the The Growing Kindness Project. I grow and give flowers in my community and understand the power of flowers. What a gift she is!


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