Festival Of Flowers

Pam Meier, Mary Hannah Arnot evoke an element of a city church's altar

Work in Progress

October 14, 2007|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,sun reporter

Two weeks before the Festival of Flowers transforms the Church of the Redeemer on North Charles Street with a dazzling display of floral arrangements, garden club veterans Pam Meier and Mary Hannah Arnot were rehearsed and ready to contribute their fleeting masterpiece.

The festival, a triennial benefit for Washington's National Cathedral that takes place Thursday through Saturday, is modeled after similar events in post-World War II England. At the time, parishioners raised money for their damaged churches by inviting the public to see arrangements inspired by stained glass windows, carpets and other ecclesiastical elements. To honor the National Cathedral, the Festival of Flowers features arrangements inspired by elements found in churches and temples throughout Baltimore.

Meier and Arnot were challenged by the festival committee to create an arrangement informed by the frontal on the altar of Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church downtown. This week, they will reprise their practice arrangement, a round burst of flowers circled with calla lilies and monstera leaves, backed by a gold-flecked bamboo lattice. Meier and Arnot's arrangement will be displayed at Redeemer along with 43 others designed by professional flower arrangers, garden club members and church altar guilds.

IN MEIER'S WORDS --We started with a frontal from Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church made in 1953 in England. We were given pictures and measurements. Mary Hannah and I were charged with interpreting it in a floral arrangement. The frontal will be hung next to the floral arrangement on the stone walls of Redeemer's sanctuary. The arrangement has to be in proportion to the frontal and to the church.

THE CONCEPT --We wanted a really abstract look for this very classical frontal. First we looked at the colors. Then I found this teal container. And I loved the idea of crisscrosses everywhere [on the frontal]. I'm a big bamboo fan and I liked touches of gold. I put little strips of gold on the bamboo and tied it together with gold wires [to evoke the crisscrosses].

THE CENTRAL ELEMENT --We were drawn to the frontal's wreath, which was braided with velvety leaves of deep blue, teal and brown. At Calvert Wholesale Florist, we bought blue and green hydrangeas, statice that was a great color of purple and gold kangaroo paw for hints of gold. And to get that vivid green, Kermit mums. We really played with the braiding idea.

PROCESS --I soaked and inserted a designer block of OASIS flower foam into the large, teal vase. On top of that, I fastened a ball of the same stuff. The OASIS ball was wrapped with chicken wire to secure the stems of flowers and greenery.

CONDITIONING --The flowers have to last for three solid days. We'll do the arrangement on the 17th, and all of the flowers will have to be conditioned [by soaking] to hold up. That's why we make an arrangement ahead of time, to see what flowers last.

GARDEN CLUB CRED --We're members of St. George's Garden Club, named for the street in North Baltimore where the first members lived. It's 80 years old and has 50 members.

stephanie.shapiro@baltsun.com

Festival details

A preview reception for the Festival of Flowers takes place 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday at the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St. The Festival of Flowers and a holiday boutique take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $10. Arrangement demonstrations will be offered at 9 a.m. each day of the festival. Admission is $25 for each event.

For more information, call 410-377-7510.

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