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Art In Bloom at the WhiteGate Inn

I was pleased to have participated in the 2nd. annual Art in Bloom event at the Center for the Arts in Black Mountain. Black Mountain is a small community 13 miles from Asheville. Art in Bloom is an event held in a myriad of museums, galleries and other arts locations across the United States. The concept is for floral designers to interpret selected pieces of art work so that a new form of art interpretation is created for a short-lived show. The show is a fundraiser for the non-profit Arts Center. Honorary Chair for this year’s event was Becky Anderson, founder of Handmade in America. Handmade in America had it’s office across the street from the WhiteGate Inn so I got to know Becky and her staff who would come over and enjoy the WhiteGate Gardens and greenhouse.

Even though I am not trained as a floral designer I was pleased to be picked along with 22 other designers to select a piece of art to create a floral design. I visited the Arts Center three weeks before the show and picked my first, second, and third choices.

I was fortunate to get my first choice, The Guardian by Ken Sedberry. Ken Sedberry trained at the Penland School of Craft and is a co-founder of Ariel Gallery in Asheville, a local art co-op, where I have seen various renditions of The Guardian. I had seen this piece before in Asheville and was drawn to it. It has a wonderful shape and the textures and colors offered many possibilities. The piece is 44 inches tall and 10 inches wide. I took photographs and a plan for the design evolved as I looked at materials available in the WhiteGate gardens, ponds and greenhouse.

The morning of the installation I left the WhiteGate staff preparing breakfast for our guests and spent about an hour gathering and conditioning the plant and floral materials. The vertical elements of the design were a beautiful egyptian papyrus from the pond, giant horsetail, and verbena bonariensis. All were 3-5 feet tall. At the 2-3 foot level I had a group of striking red amaranthus, blue pickeral from the pond, and blue lyme grass. The lowest level had grayish castor bean leaves and bright orange/red canna leaves, variety ‘Tropicana’. The focal point front and center were 3 large 6-7 inch cattleya orchid blooms, a species called Brassovola digbyana. These blooms were at their perfection since they had opened only 2 days before. I had the perfect container, a large tapering square with great texture and color to match the base color of the artwork. Everything was packed carefully and off to the Center to complete the installation. It took about an hour and a half to complete. I had fun talking to and watching other designers perform their magic but was somewhat intimidated when I realized the person working next to me is the head floral designer at the Biltmore Estate!

The weekend kicked off with a preview party Thursday night at the Center. The energy in the galleries was awesome as the artists, designers, and art patrons mingled and enjoyed great food, wine, and entertainment. I was more than pleased to hear all the wonderful comments on my arrangement and particularly enjoyed talking about the orchids which had not been seen by anyone before. One patron kept referring to them as the “hairy orchids” because of the hairy nature of the large lip.

I was amazed at the talent displayed and the creativity of the designers who did such a fantastic job correlating their work with the art. As the evening wound down I found myself already look forward to next year and the next challenge.

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