Backstage@Bloedel: Florist Weekly Routine

The Reserve’s florist, Cathy Tyler, and her dedicated group of volunteers keep the Visitor Center beautiful with fresh floral arrangements each week. This blog will will demonstrate how visitor favorite, Lucy the swan, is created, and will also show a set of photographs that illustrates the variety of displays Cathy and her team create.

Lucy is a pewter swan that was owned by the Bloedels. She was used to display flower arrangements in the entryway of what is now the Visitor Center. These days Lucy spends her time on the dining room table looking out the windows.
Depending on the time of year, Lucy’s feathers can be flowers or other greens. Lucy requires a change of feathers once a week. The feathers she’s wearing in the picture above are about to be replaced.  Lucy is one of 12 flower exhibits in the Visitor Center. All are changed weekly by the Bloedel florist, Cathy Tyler, and her volunteers.

All floral work is done in the workshop which is located behind the Visitor's Center.

In this picture Ernie is plucking out greens which can be used again. This is the first step in building a new display.

All display containers must be scrubbed clean. Here, Lucy is getting her weekly bath.

Displays require new greens and new greens require preparation. Prep is a two stage process.

Cathy is doing the first stage. She is washing new greens in hot water to remove insects and dirt.

Ernie is doing the second stage. She is pouring hot water into the buckets with new greens. Any green that has a stem is immersed in hot water for half an hour. This makes the stems absorb water, and that makes them last longer.

The next step in putting new feathers on Lucy is to give her a new foam block. The foam block holds the greens in position. A foam block is used for two reasons. First, because water can flow through it, greens stay fresher longer. Second, because the block absorbs water, it weighs the display down.

Lucy being fitted with her new foam block.

In this design Lucy’s feathers will be built up from five different greens. They are fir, pine, salal, mahonia and curly willow.

Cathy starts with the stiffest branches first. In this photo, fir branches have been put in around the perimeter.

Next, pine branches have been added. Pine is more flexible and can be used to give the arrangement more shape.

Cathy can now add leafy greens. In this case, the plants added are salal and mahonia.

Cathy positions Lucy to make sure her feathers are reasonably symmetrical.

Finally, Cathy adds some curly willow and gives the whole assembly a spritz from her spray bottle. With a final trim, Lucy will be ready to go back on display.

Cathy and a freshly arranged Lucy.

Here are some samples of other arrangements found at the Reserve:

Arrangement by Ernie

Arrangement by Cathy

Arrangement by Sigrid

Arrangement by Cathy

Arrangement by Cathy

Arrangement by Ernie

Arrangement by Cathy

Cathy Tyler, Florist, Bloedel Reserve; Ernestina (Ernie) Schwartzman, Volunteer; Sigrid Knight, Volunteer

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