Notes from a Flexible Florist

It’s the week of Art in Bloom at the NCMA, and the flowers are coming. Everyone is both excited and nervous, including me. 

Steve Taras at Art in Bloom 2015I’m excited for all of the wonderful things we’ll experience this week and nervous about the flowers arriving here intact. Mixups happen. For instance, we ordered 300 stems of two different kinds of orchids from Hawaii. The order was misinterpreted, and 30 stems of each arrived–yikes! We are expecting another large shipment from Thailand, and I am holding my breath that (1) we get what we ordered, (2) they arrive on time, and (3) nothing is damaged. We have a plan B, but we won’t go there yet.

Not all the guest designers have access to the resources we have as a commercial business. We didn’t want anyone’s vision for their art installation to be hampered by their ability to secure the flowers they needed, so we invited them to make their purchases through our network. They were encouraged to think big, bold, and out loud with their choices, and it’s a sight to see all the wonderful things that are coming in for their orders–from tiny chocolate cosmos to palm branches bigger than a Prius!

Planning for the glitches

As a floral designer, if you aren’t flexible and adaptable, you are in for a rough ride. There are so many moving parts in this business that are out of our control. We can select the finest floral varieties, but until we open the box, we have no idea what we will have to work with. Granted, almost everything goes according to plan, but little glitches can have a big impact.

This week, the winds have been high along the Eastern Seaboard, and flights are delayed out of New York City, which means some shipments don’t arrive here on time. Flowers need time to drink up water and reshape themselves from their journey so they can be ready to work with and present their best show. Some flowers, like astilbe, are very fragile and can’t take the extra day of travel, so they’re lost to damage in transit. If we have time, we will try to have them reshipped, but often the event for their use will pass before that can happen.

Steve Taras at work on this year’s creation. Come to Art in Bloom to see the finished result!Leaving room for Inspiration

I am excited about my personal designs this year, but my design style hinges more on feeling the flowers in my hands and the visions they create than on a thought-out specific plan and counted stems. Some designers will draw out their designs and methodically create from a very specific plan. I can certainly do that, and need to do so when preparing centerpieces for 50 tables, but we always like to leave room for the moment of inspiration that only the flowers can bring to the process.

Roman, Mosaic, 2nd century, marble and glass, H. 98 1/2 x W. 99 1/2 x D. 2 1/2 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon HanesMy inspiration piece in the Museum this year is the 2nd-century Roman mosaic, which is an intricate pattern of stone and glass pieces. It is a very thought-out and considered piece of art. I am to draw inspiration from it, not re-create it, so I look to discover the beauty in the movement of patterns and designs and interpret how to express that in flowers. It’s a brain teaser! Flowers are very fluid, and this piece is literally made of stone, so I encourage you to come see where we end up on this one.

This is one of our favorite times of year, and the frenetic energy and anticipation only add to the enjoyment and satisfaction when the designers’ creativity culminates in a breathtaking display of floral art. Art in Bloom is truly spectacular, and if you are lucky enough to be local, this event should not be missed!

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