For occasions joyous and solemn, a bouquet of blooms or a flowering centerpiece oftentimes takes center stage.
At Forever Floral in Coon Rapids, florists Jackie Bockwitz and Heidi Brady take center stage as national and state designers of the year, respectively, honors recently awarded at this year’s florist association competitions.
“Two years ago, I was second behind her,” said Brady, the 2012 Minnesota Floral Designer of the Year as she turned toward Bockwitz, owner of Forever Floral and 2012 National Floral Designer of the Year.
“You’ve always done really well. You’re a beautiful florist and you deserve to win,” Bockwitz said to Brady.
Brady took home state designer of the year recognition when she won the competition staged at the rotunda during the Minnesota State Fair.
“It was the hottest day of the fair – 100 degrees – and there we were, under the lights, in the heat, on stage in front of all those people,” Brady said.
After winning the qualifying round, competing with the theme, “Around the World in 80 Daisies,” Brady advanced to the finals and competed against six florists for the state title.
“We had 40 minutes to create a wedding bouquet and a centerpiece for a conversation table,” Brady said.
Contestants were given five minutes to look at the available elements and imagine what she could create.
Elements for the wedding bouquet included a bucket of orange, red, green and purple flowers, and lengths of ribbon and beads.
“I made a clutch-style bouquet with lots of texture, wire, beads and roses, orchids and calla lilies,” Brady said.
Judges were impressed by her ability to flow colors together and incorporate a pleasing mix of texture, according to Brady.
For the conversation table centerpiece, Brady created a tall arrangement of flowers in a low container.
Forever Floral Christmas open house
Forever Floral will present its annual Christmas open house Saturday, Nov. 17. The event will feature free pictures with Santa, refreshments, visits with kittens and puppies – and flowers, all with a holiday theme. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pictures with Santa are from 1 to 4 p.m.
Judges appreciated Brady’s use of glitter sticks in the arrangement, the flow of color throughout the centerpiece and the conversation it could inspire.
In addition to a trophy and $1,000, Brady’s prize for being named the Minnesota State Florist Association’s 2012 Minnesota Floral Designer of the Year includes a chance to compete in the national competition, staged in Georgia next fall.
That competition, sponsored by the National Alliance of Floral Associations, took place in Connecticut this year. And Bockwitz took home first prize.
“We had to do three arrangements in two hours – a bridal bouquet, an urn arrangement and a surprise package,” Bockwitz said.
“We had an hour and 15 minutes to do the first two, and only 45 minutes to do the surprise package. It was challenging.”
The surprise package was an arrangement for the opening of an art gallery and had to be created using a square container or a rectangular container, a bucket of flowers, three leaves, some moss and some wire.
“I used both containers and made a high-low stylized arrangement using calla lilies, roses, some broom corn and artichokes,” Bockwitz said.
“Then I stripped the blooms off the pink dahlias and used (the remaining pieces) for textures. Judges seemed to like it.”
But it was her urn arrangement that earned a near-perfect score in the competition, Bockwitz said.
“The sympathy piece was my favorite, and the judges’, too,” Bockwitz said.
She described her award-winning urn arrangement.
First, Bockwitz cut an urn wreath in half and created a bridge, a bridge that represented crossing over from life to death and illustrated the circle of life, she said.
“I almost got a perfect score on my sympathy piece, so I feel good about that,” Bockwitz said.
Sympathy pieces are her favorite floral arrangement to do, she said.
“You are creating something that represents the person, a final farewell that is so important to the family, something that really speaks to them. It’s a very special piece,” Bockwitz said.
For her win, Bockwitz received a commemorative plaque, a trophy and $600.
An FTD and Teleflora-affiliated business, Forever Floral is located at 11427 Foley Blvd. and has been in Coon Rapids for decades. Working there since her teenage years, Bockwitz purchased the shop in 1996 and has 10 florists, designers and delivery people on staff.
To learn more about Forever Floral, visit www.foreverfloralonline.com or call 763-757-9003.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org