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Roanoke Florist's controversial message draws reaction from around the country

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ROANOKE, VA -

If you have driven past George's Florist on Franklin Road in Roanoke you may have seen a sign that scrolls:

"We support local families, businesses and government employees impacted by the shutdown"

But a message scrolling earlier this week is causing controversy.

"Teabags filled with manure only make good fertilizer not good House and Senate members" was the message scrolling Friday through Monday.

"My message was to be political humor with a gardening twist since we deal in plants and horticulture. It has obviously started a great amount of discussion both positive and negative," said George Clements, the president and founder of the florist shop. "I feel very strongly when I found out the newly reopened Peaks of Otter Lodge was going to be laying off 80 plus employees, it saddened me. I feel that the Peaks is a gem for us. There's nothing better for me in October or November getting to ride up on my motorcycle up there, hike to the top and get rewarded with that wonderful buffet afterwards." 

Clements says the message was directed at the Tea Party.

"I think our members found it somewhat offensive and somewhat hurtful," said Chip Tarbutton, the president of the Roanoke Tea Party who says he believes in free speech but not the florist's message.

Clements says he's gotten phone calls from around the country in support of and against the message.

"I would prefer not to have impacted my business with having to deal with the additional strain and stress the message has produced for the business," said Clements. 

"The Roanoke Tea Party is really about individual liberty and our members I think need to know this individual doesn't think much of their ideas and they can make a decision on their own of what to do," said Tarbutton. 

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