She shared a slide presentation highlighting her career, giving a glimpse of the famous people she has designed for as well as her incredible talent and versatility, and demonstrated her skills on stage by creating some amazing arrangements that were auctioned off at the tea after the meeting.
View More images >>One of her designs, featuring roses and tulips, was dedicated to the memory of Nancy Clarke, whom she had worked with and who was supposed to have been the speaker at this meeting. Nancy passed away in January, and Els, who was on the club’s list of speakers for next season, was fortunately available to take her place.
One of the designs she created was large enough for a hotel lobby. She showed photos of designs that included one on a wooden plank designed for a group of men who were on a hunting trip, and several of a very large wedding in Des Moines, Iowa, where she currently has a home and a floral design business. While doing her demonstration, Els was assisted by Christian Scott-Hansen and Jen Hanna, who brought the flowers and partially completed designs from the multi-purpose room where she had been preparing them on Monday and Tuesday. As she worked, she told about the origin of each of the flowers she was using, saying that some came from Holland and others from California, among other places. She also told the audience how fantastic the flower auction in Holland is, and indicated that during the auction week, over 30 million flowers are sold every day.
She indicated that it is important to instill a love for flowers in children, and reminded everyone that they had probably been introduced to flowers by either their parents or grandparents.
Today a good way to involve children in floral design, she says, is to plan birthday parties which allow attendees to create floral arrangements to take home to their mothers. One of the designs she created on stage featured a child’s birthday party centerpiece that included not only a floral cake, but also a hula dancer. At the end of her presentation, she received a standing ovation, and then distributed a rose to each attendee. In addition to selling her arrangements at the tea, Els sold copies of a coffee table book called Party Flowers, autographing it in her beautiful calligraphic script. The tea also featured another incredible centerpiece by member Bettie Coulter that had a Valentine theme featuring red roses.
Because Els had worked on the west coast of Florida before and was familiar with Boca Grande, she came to town on Sunday, and plans to stay for another few days. She says that she has travelled all over the world, but finds our island one of the most special places anywhere, and of course, everyone agreed with her. Many club members felt that Els was by far the best speaker the Garden Club has ever brought to the island, and are hopeful for an encore presentation in the future.
At the meeting prior to Els’ presentation, VP Diane Johnson announced that President Nora Lea Reefe is doing well and is hopeful that she will be able to return to Boca Grande before the March meeting, and Jane Moore, dressed in a fairy costume, encouraged members to attend the upcoming field trip to the Children’s Garden in Sarasota later this month. On Thursday, Feb 2, Jean Meanwell took a sold-out group of members to Selby Gardens for a tour and lunch. On January 23, Jan Wechsler had organized a horticultural walk with Woody Thayer, which was so well received that many members are clamoring for another opportunity to participate in such an event, and plans for that are underway.
Membership in the Garden Club is currently closed, with a full membership, but will be open again on April 1, 2012. The next meeting will be held on March 7, featuring landscape designer Mary Ellen Flanagan, and will be open to guests on a space available basis for a fee of $25. Please send checks payable to the Boca Grande Garden Club to Kay Ferland at POB 807, Boca Grande.
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