In this, our third edition of “A Lawyer Learns Flowers”, Michael Skaff, FTD’s Design Expert took the day’s theme of St. Patrick’s Day to another level – as most people based in Chicago do.
As you may know, FTD is headquartered just outside of Chicago and to say that Chicago is famous for its extraordinary celebration of St. Patrick’s Day would be putting it lightly. For more than fifty years, the city has been dying the Chicago River green, a tradition started by accident. The city’s bars open early in the morning to accommodate hoards of people dressed up and participating in bar crawls, parades and festivals for families happen throughout the city. There is no dull moment in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day – and, neither was there today at FTD, in Michael’s latest lesson for the lawyer on flowers.
I walked into our studio today expecting to see three or four floral products, prepared to make a bouquet. But, there was a large floral sculpting sheet formed in the shape of shamrock with Aspidistra leaves surrounding part of it. I wasn’t sure if this was a subtle way of Michael testing what I had learned already in the form of something that quite literally shouted “Good Luck!”
Next to the shamrock were about five different types of flowers laid out before me. There were shears, there was wire, there were many green flowers – and about 30 minutes to my next meeting.
Michael immediately handed me the wire and taught me to cut one inch pieces that were bent into a shape that could be inserted into the sides of the sculpting sheet in order to hold the leaves. Low on time and high on efficiency (as we lawyers consistently are), I started asking questions of Michael quickly.
The “sculpting sheet” is a form that floral designers use to create unique shapes for event style pieces. The sheet can be formed into almost anything and it allows the designer to place flowers into the sheet that will hold form. Michael cautioned that me to use flowers that last a little longer to account for the lack of water once the flowers are placed – or, if you do need it to last longer, you could prepare water tubes that would be placed in the sculpting sheet.
Once we finished the leaves, we started placing the dianthus into one section of the shamrock. A little field of greens. We followed that up with the green carnations. We cut them down to about three inches and packed them in tight, leaving no view of the sheet. Michael reminded me to fluff the carnations since spreading out the leaves would fill the designated space better. I smiled.
The orchids were next and a bit trickier for this trainee. The orchids were not as dense as the previous two flowers and so, we had to start with a lower base layer, followed by a second taller later that we created by using placing the flowers on some wire that gave them height before inserting them into the sheet. For each orchid, we spread the leaves a bit to give the flower a fuller feel and to, again, cover the sculpting sheet base. Then, we moved on to the green roses. I’ve actually never seen or noticed green roses before, but they were very pretty. They are featured in this product on the FTD website here.
With that, we had finished the petals of the shamrock, but we were not done.
Michael had chosen a very fitting “Bells of Ireland” to finish the stem – a fitting choice for our holiday theme. Michael cut the long stalk right above each flower and we could easily push the thicker round stem into the sheet. Voila! A beautiful shamrock!
But something was missing. Sitting back, as designers do, to look at the finished product, I could see that Michael wasn’t yet satisfied. I looked over to our Paralegal / Photographer, Carrie, and shrugged, thinking that it all looked pretty good to me – and looked back in time to see Michael rush off to the refrigerator. He reappeared with one final touch – an Ornamental Kale Flower – and rushed by me to place it in the center of the piece. Like a painter who can’t stop with the final touches, so was Michael with this lovely flower shamrock.
This turned out to be a perfect and unique centerpiece for your St. Patrick’s Day party – or my party, now that I’m throwing one simply so I have a place to show off this masterpiece.
Some information on the more unique flowers used in this piece are below:
Miniature Cymbidium Orchids
Colors: A wide range of colors
Locations: New Zealand and Holland
Duration: Long lasting cut flower
Other Information: Popular forms have about 10-12 blooms per stem
“Bells of Ireland” (Moluccella Laevis)
Locations: Native to Turkey, Syria and Caucasus
Duration: Long lasting plant
Other Information: Considered a lucky symbol and, although commonly thought to be from Ireland – are not! These plants can grow to 2’-3’!
Ornamental or Flowering Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Colors: Whites to pinks, purples to reds
Locations: Native to western coastal Europe
Duration: A plant that can be grown indoors
Other Information: These are great for winter since they can survive in low temperatures.