Here’s a guest rant from Kathleen McCoy.
When I joined the Garden Club of Montclair, I got the
official Handbook for Flower Shows and a toolbox. I was not excited about the
requirement for new members to make two flower arrangements. It was the floral
equivalent of eating a bland chicken breast.
Then I met Brenda, the reigning queen in a long line of our
club’s flower design royalty. In her workshop I learned about the elements and
principles of design. To see it well done was to have my eye led on a fun
little trip, to be delighted, drawn in. My first attempts felt wooden. Then
Brenda would stop by, and with deft and sure movements make one or two changes,
and voila, there was rhythm.
We learned about mechanics, which is how to construct the
arrangement so that it will survive the trip in the car to the flower show. The
legend before Brenda was Julia Berrall, a published author on flower
arrangement. Brenda said Mrs. Berrall used no oasis (the green foam) in her
designs. She was that good. You could turn her design upside down and it
Someone once suggested our meeting room needed painting. She
was informed that the walls were a specific shade of green to enhance flower
design exhibition. Which brings me to the scary people in the world of flower
shows who take the rules seriously. That Handbook is 356 pages. One exhibitor
at our club’s monthly flower show (a humble affair) was upset when points had
not been deducted from the score of the winner for not filling out the entry
card correctly. The prevailing attitude, however, is let’s have fun and eat
those terrific desserts on the tea table.
On days we’re staging a flower show, I bring in my design,
see those of my fellow competitors, snort in contempt and come home with third
place. Do I care? Yes. I am one of four women who regularly exhibit in the
Intermediate class. I usually lose to one woman who is frugal, buying her
flowers at Shop-Rite. I spend gads of money at the local florist. The other one
who regularly places ahead of me designs like she plays tennis: to win. I take
solace in the words of Brenda: winning blue ribbons gets boring; taking chances
is much more fun.
Here are some of my designs:
For this scholastic-themed design I submitted a Hogarth or S
curve. The judge said it looked like it would fall apart. It received third
Save Room for Dessert
It needs a pewter charger under the dessert plate to add
weight. The judge thought the fork was plastic and made no sense with the other
elements, when in fact that fork is from France. Third place.
Chili After the Game
The theme was Montclair traditions. Judge’s comment: Choice
of material and background is exciting. First place