Migrate, Cultivate, Pollinate

GCA Zone IX Welcome

This week he Garden Club of Little Rock welcomed us to their Zone IX Zone Meeting and especially to their flower show – Migrate, Cultivate, Pollinate.  Who would not have been charmed by this assortment of welcoming butterflies perched on structure of bedsprings?!

Butterfly hallway

Archway WElcomeThis blooms and butterflies archway welcomed all the delegates, and then pivoted to become the welcome to the flower show.

Illustrate first

Illustrate Second

Strong, positive, action verbs created an imaginative flower show schedule to carry out the meeting theme.  This class was called Illustrate.  Designers were asked to interpret one of four selected butterfly illustrations using a modern mass design.  A Diana Fritillary Butterfly hovered below the first place design, top picture, while the stunning Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly was the inspiration for the second place winner.

Lineate First

Lineate SecondAbove, top, First and below, Second in Lineate, “an all green line design in honor of the caterpillar”.  The handsome design ( top) went on to win the GCA Sandra Baylor Novice Award.  At the back of the photographs more of the show is visible.

Hydrate BIS Munger


Hydrate – an Underwater design.   This first place winner used clematis and almonds (‘on-the-‘hoof” so to speak) in an unique combination both in and out of the container.   (The lopsided distortion purely the work of the photographer).  This design went on to win Best In Show and the GCA Dorothy Vietor Munger Award.


Hydrate Callas SansiverriaSecond in Hydrate was captured by this design including callas & Sansiverria.  I’ve amped up the brightness so the intricate nature of construction of the plant material in the bottom of the vase is more visible.

Congregate FirstCongregate – “a design using two or more containers – a flutter of butterflies.”  In this first place winner, groups of lime middolino sticks were clustered with the butterfly effect of tawny gold orchids and held in dynamic opposition on two plexiglass rod stands.

Congregate Third

In the same class Congregate, this third place winner added height to the pedestal with a base and another top.  Clustered callas and assorted caning twist and turn in the design.  Notice the billy balls on the end of each green grass blade.  Also notice two of the other entries in Hydrate.

Culminate Chrysalis orchids

The blue ribbon winner in Culminate – “a design employing creative techniques inspired by the metamorphosis of the butterfly”.  This ‘chrysalis’ is fashioned from Japanese washi paper, with vibrant purple orchids just emerging.


Second in Culminate, this exciting swirl of butterflies emerging from the cocoons of yarn wrapped and shaped on wire.  The Gloriosa lilies take flight out of the swirl.  This design won the GCA Harriet deWaele Puckett Creativity Award as well as the ZIX Madame Butterfly award for best interpretation of theme.  Congratulations to all the designers – many of whom were novices – Zone IX is well prepared for the future with this talent!


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Anatomy of a winning design…

Flower Show Schedule

For floral designers, Magnificent Memphis began with thumbnail sketches of the works of art central to the theme of the show.  Each class had 4, 5 or 6 specially selected Impressionist paintings from the Dixon Museum permanent collection.

"the Visitor" by Mary Cassatt, 1880

“the Visitor” by Mary Cassatt, 1880

Thinking about designing began when the full page color photograph of the selected painting arrived.  “The Visitor” 1880 by Philadelphian Mary Cassatt who was 35 years old and living in Paris. When Mary painted this portrait of her younger sister, Lydia had just been diagnosed with Bright’s disease, a fatal kidney disease.

 Memphis practice

My first order of business was to mock up the size of the painting with a pedestal of the correct height and size, and to try out containers and styles of design.  Unlike the glorious work in the two previous posts (see Archive), I am embarrassed to admit it never even occurred to me to do a contemporary design.

 Paper Covered container

A basic tin flower pail from Michael’s Crafts, 12″ tall, gave the tapered form I wanted.  It had two handles that I compressed against the top with pliers, before covering it with this luscious artist paper from Dick Blick art supplies (www.dickblick.com).  The paper is created with threads on the mold, before the paper pulp is pressed over them.

Memphis Container and mechanicsAt the show, the container was made Oasis-worthy and water proof by capping the top with a plastic food container lid.  The lid was edged in black tape so it wouldn’t show.  Florist clay was placed on the rim of the container, and also used to hold down the two Oasis designer pins on the lid.  An 8″ Oasis orb, already hydrated, was placed on the on the pins on the lid, and then, in a bit of overkill, also taped down.  Then the lid was placed on the container and smushed on the clay. A small bag of sand had been also placed in the container to weigh it down.  I was in a busy hallway so didn’t want to take any chances.

 Memphis Large AnthuriumIt takes a village to help me out!  Thanks to JJJ and Mrs. FASG for their help sourcing flowers.  I brought Amaranthus, stem-dyed black (found at Halloween) and dried Japanese maple with me.  These fantastic Anthurium from Green Point (www.greenpointnursery.com) in Hawaii were very large in scale for the design.

 Manipulated Anthurium Memphis Anthurium placedNecessity being the mother of invention, I  manipulated them into smaller sizes, holding them in place with glue dashes.  This not only allowed them to be more to scale and show in two colors, but also hid their more aggressive assets!!

Memphis black callas

Black callas became the transition between the Amaranthus and the Anthurium.  I used half of a toothpick in each stem.  This acted like a fulcrum and went deeper into the Oasis to hold the downward facing stems more fully.  It also swelled with the water and wicked it up into the flower.

memphis TEsting height

I fussed around with all of that for most of the first afternoon, trying to avoid decision time about the rest of the placement of the design.  Go with another top ‘line’ or not?  This was what convinced me not to do so!

 Memphis David Austin Roses

From Garden District, Memphis’ premier uber-stylish florist (and right across from the hotel) I found some heavenly black Ranunuculus (thanks, Nikki).  In the end, I didn’t have quite enough for backup and I decided not to use them.  Further flowers, from the mid-bottom – Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’, a David Austin rose called “Juliet” (mid-top), peeking out next to it some blue larkspur florets, and, on top, a blue-edged Hydrangea.

 memphis galax and fiddleheadsGalax leaves, placed like stepping stones, completed the low area on the left side, with Hawaiian fiddle heads, Dicranopteris linearis, above and the tawny dried leaves of Acer palmatum just peeking out of the back.

blog Memphis Right Side

From the right side, a sweetheart rose in a vibrant peachy orange changes the textural pattern and just peeks out when seen from straight on.  It is important that all the flowers are not placed on the same plane – some should be deeper than others so the design isn’t flat.

Susan Detjens

Susan Detjens

The Memphis show requires a Statement of Intent for each design. I hate to do these.  (Mary didn’t write one for the painting.)  However rules are rules.  Therefore…..I wrote: “The tender face of Mary’s doomed sister Lydia emerges from the somber tones of suppressed grief”!!!



Posted in Art and Flowers, color schemes, floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower show, flower vases, Garden Club of America, Making containers, Memphis Flower Show | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Magnificent Memphis!

Flower Show Schedule

More of the magnificent Memphis Flower Show!  Unfortunately, I had to run away after the judging so I was unable to see the Horticulture which got raves – apologies to my Horticulture followers.

Parisian People First

“Parisian People” was the class, and full of talent it was!!  Paul Helleu’s “The Final Touch” 1885, was beautifully and so creatively interpreted by the dynamic MGSL duo to win both Best in Show and the prestigious GCA Fenwick Medal.  Brava – ladies!!!

 Parisian People

Same class, and with more grace than the poor soul on the bed in Forain’s “After the Ball, the Reveler” 1882, the design  takes advantage of the lyrical beauty of the bi-colored Anthurium.  The lovely washi paper echoes the bed linen.  It was preceded by an absorbent diaper catching the drips before the design was finished!   Good tip!

 A Modern STill Life

Georges Braque’s “Pot of Anemones” 1925, evoked in a handsome modern mass design, asymmetrically placed on a metal rod and base in a class called “Modern Still Life”.

Pointillism Fist

The infinitely rosy tones of Maximilien Luce’s “The Cathedral at Gisors” 1989, in “Pointillism” caught by the many tiny flowers trailing down in this luscious cascading design.

Ladies Mary Cassatt First

Mary Cassatt’s “The Visitor”, 1880,  was a portrait of her sister Lydia.  The modern mass design will be dissected in a future post!

Ladies Rouart Second

In the same class as above, called “The Ladies”, was this was Rouart’s “Woman Playing the Guitar” 1885,  the designer chose to use a bold frame to evoke not only the frame of the painting but also the many frames behind the sitter.

The Normandy Coast First

 The Normandy Coast First Detail

This stunning design interpreting Monet’s “Port of Dieppe” 1882, received the GCA’s Margaret Clover Symonds Medal.  Inquiring minds wanted to know how this beautiful painting of the leaves was achieved!!

 The Normandy Coast Second

A real departure for Renoir, “The Wave” 1882, and a most interesting design using orchids and what look’s like beautifully manipulated red twig dogwood.  This post and the previous post are both dedicated to terblan with sooooo many thanks!!!!!


Posted in Branch structures, color schemes, floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower show, flower vases, Garden Club of America, Memphis Flower Show | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments