Back in November, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the annual conference for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Since I had never been to this national get together of flower growers, I spent the weeks before the conference asking our local growers what it was like-what I should expect.
One of the highlights that I heard over and over again was about the Design Competition. Growers from all over the country (including ALASKA!) bring flowers with them to the conference to be used during the design competition. This year’s theme was “Raising the Jar”. All of the arrangements had to be made inside the ever popular mason jar. You could either bring your own (if you had a fancy one you loved) or you could use one of the standard Ball jars the ASCFG provided.
As soon as I got to the hotel, I headed into the design room. The design room was nothing more than a standard hotel conference room. However along the walls were buckets and buckets of flowers, foliage, branches, grasses, seedpods and more. Much of the material there I had never used-some of it I had never even seen.
While i felt nervous being in a room with so many great growers/designers, I jumped in. The last wedding I did before going to the conference was a beautiful Fall wedding filled with great orange and green flowers. While orange is my favorite color, I had orange overload. So even though there were amazing orange options (callas, proteas, berries, ornamental peppers), I opted for something more subtle, more unique. I had also been working almost exclusively been working with dahlias for previous two months, so I was happy to pass on the large bloomed flowers as well.
My arrangement was in green and “black” tones. I used mostly grasses and herbs including a chartreuse salvia (that I have to convince someone to grow here!) that was beautifully vibrant against the millet and “black” ornamental peppers. As is usually the case, I didn’t mind that you could see the mechanics of the stems in the jar, however is did think my jar looked a little boring. To finish is off, I tied a piece of ornamental grass to the jar and called it complete.
I really loved this arrangement although it felt different than many of the arrangements I’m used to making. There were no parameters (except the jar). I didn’t have to use someone else’s color palette or style inspiration. It was just mine. It felt freeing-especially at the end of the season.
The voting was secret ballot and went on for two days. I didn’t give much thought to not being able to be at the conference Wednesday night when the winners were drawn because of an event I had to work on back in Baltimore. I was beyond surprised when Dave Dowling of Farmhouse Flowers texted me to tell me I had won 2nd place. I didn’t believe him-but quickly got confirmation from some other friends that were there.
I was really excited about this award! Not because I am personally very competitive, I don’t think I am. I was just so thrilled that I could compete with these growers/designers that I look up to (and stalk on facebook and blogs).
So, here it is is. My prize!
Thanks to the ASCFG and especially Neal Caggiano for all of his effort on the design competition. Special thanks to all of the growers that provided flowers from their farms for the competition. It was a wonderful experience!