Crafts Crafts

Cocktail Party Flowers

Because I’m not quite right in the head, or because I felt like I’d never have a life after having twins, right after they were born I signed myself up for the certificate course in floral design at the New York Botanical Gardens. It took a year of part-time courses and an internship at a floral shop to complete, but I did it. I was pretty good at it too.

Once I graduated I even attended a TeleFlora class in Oklahoma City for a several day course for professionals taught by a woman named Hitomi Gilliam who is one of the most well-known floral designers in the industry known for her very unusual, asian-inspired arrangements. I have a preference for non-traditional arrangements, so I really enjoyed the course and learned a ton. Here are some of the arrangements I either made at the course or after from what I learned.

A Framed Arrangement I Created

While I never worked at a flower shop, I did freelance arrangements for parties and events and had regular clients that I delivered to. I finally decided that the money I was making didn’t justify the time I was putting into it and gave it up. I still, however, really enjoy doing it.

There was a wholesale flower market in the next town that I’d used since way back when I worked for Martha Stewart. Basically they eliminated the need for local professionals to trek into the New York flower markets. If you had special flower needs you could order them in advance, but they always had a large assortment of standard flowers available at the ready.

So, for the cocktail party in November I of course planned on doing the flower arrangements as well as all of the cooking myself. Two days before the party I headed up to the wholesale market so I would have the necessary time to prep them and have the blooms open to perfection. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that they’d gone out of business! I can guess that the recession hit the floral business pretty hard — it was hard enough to make money in that business when things were booming. I felt bad for all of my friends there and wonder what they are doing now. Flowers were all they knew. They had all worked there as long as I’d been going there, which now that I think back on was for over 20 years!

Now I am stuck with no flowers, and I wasn’t going to go to a retail florist to buy them as it would be prohibitively expensive to create the things I had planned. I quickly decided that I would change to vegetable and fruit arrangements. I love working with alternative things like that in arrangements. I did buy a few flowers to use, but primarily they were done with vegetables.

Making a traditional arrangement when you know what you’re doing is pretty easy. You start with your main flowers, then fill in with “filler” flowers and greenery. Not very time consuming. The quality of the flowers has a lot more to do with the beauty of an arrangement than the time it takes to assemble them.

Not so I quickly discovered with arrangements made entirely of vegetables and fruit. While I’ve made many arrangements that had vegetables or fruit in them, these were, with the exception of a few flowers I’d purchase, entirely made from fruits and vegetables. Every vegetable had to be wired or hot glued onto a floral pick and the assembly time was huge. However, the final arrangements were quite lovely.

They were fun to make, but extremely time-consuming. Which probably explains why half of the hors d’oeuvres I’d planned didn’t get made; I simply ran out of time.

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