This has been a crazy week for me. The third nor’easter in as many weeks dropped two feet of snow and more or less cancelled Tuesday except for shoveling the white stuff. But, before that, I had spent an afternoon at the ‘build’ for the Boston Flower & Garden Show where, playing to my strengths, I served as a typist for horticultural entries. Thursday evening, Betty and I appeared before our town’s Conservation Commission to give our annual report on the state of the Community Garden – something that required considerable preparation to ensure a 30-minute preparation went smoothly. All the while, I was also juggling the filling of the remaining spaces in that same Community Garden.
|Typing entries for AmHort is|
part of my skill set
Betty’s week was no less hectic than my own, but she also had two other things on her mind: she was speaking to a private group at the Flower Show with a ‘tailored’ presentation on one of her favorite topics; and she was scheduled to enter the Standard Flower Show this morning. I was pressed into woodworking service (definitely not my strong suit) to create a suitable base for her entry.
For the uninitiated, a ‘standard flower show’ proceeds according to a set of rules set down by National Garden Clubs, Inc. There are four entries per ‘class’, and there may be multiple entry days. The number of classes is limited by the imagination of the person writing the show’s schedule. For this year’s show, there are twelve classes and two entry days. (There is also a concurrent ‘Open Class’, but that’s another story.)
|The kind of design you|
see at a Standard
Chairing the event, formally, ‘Celebrate the Season’, an NGC Design Specialty Flower Show as part of MassHort at the 2018 Boston Flower and Garden Show, is a remarkable woman named Lisa Pattinson. Lisa is a banking executive by training. A few years ago, during the interminable consolidation of banks in New England, Lisa found herself between jobs and decided to attend Flower Show School. The next thing she knew, she stepped forward to run the Federation’s premier annual flower show event. She had done so with a grit, determination, and resourcefulness that I find remarkable.
The realities of the Boston Flower and Garden Show’s 10 a.m. opening dictate that floral designers did their work between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. this morning. Judging starts at 8:30. At 10 a.m., the public pours in.
|Just a few years ago, the Seaport|
District was a sea of parking lots.
The show is held the World Trade Center in Boston’s Seaport District. Seaport is 18 miles as the crow flies from Medfield; 26 miles via the Southeast Expressway or the Massachusetts Turnpike, neither of which go anywhere near Medfield. Betty’s plan was to arise at 4:20 a.m., be in her car at 4:50, and in Boston at 5:45 or so. She would snag an on-street space and be designing before 6 a.m. I would sleep in.
|Now, it is office buildings, and|
parking is, ummm, problematic
I had a slightly different idea. I awakened her at 4:20 a.m. and we were both out the door at 4:50, sparing her the need to pound on the steering wheel in frustration at the idiots who drive the pre-dawn roads of New England; or marvel that there could be stop-and-go traffic on the Southeast Expressway at 5:15 a.m. I let her off at Seaport at 5:45 and went in search for that elusive on-street space. Not too many years ago, the area east of Boston’s Financial District (inexplicably called ‘South Boston’) was a sea of $5-a-day parking lots. It is now a sea of office buildings and holes where office buildings are under construction. Surface parking lots are a memory. On-street spaces are illusory. Parking is subterranean at daily rates only slightly less than first-class air fares to Europe.
So, I parked, and went in to see how Betty was faring. Betty immediately told me to go away and that I was disturbing her concentration. I walked over to Lisa Pattinson to say ‘hello’ and ask if there was any way I could be helpful. My idea of being helpful is to move tables or help designers get flowers and tools out of their cars.
Lisa had slightly different idea. Several paragraphs above, I explained there are four entries per floral design class. Question: What happens if there are only two or three entries? Answer: The class is not eligible for judging. Question: What happens if a designer calls and says her car is hanging off an overpass and the tow truck won’t be there until an hour from now? Official answer: Tough luck. The class is not eligible for judging. Unofficial answer: The Committee (meaning the people who run the flower show) will beg and borrow flowers and a container and create that fourth entry so that the class can be judged.
|Floral design judges have no idea|
who created the entry they're
This morning, I co-created a design for a class. Lisa grabbed me and a highly regarded designer who had completed her work. Lisa showed us the materials we had available. Together, we created an entry that adequately conformed to the schedule, allowing it and the other three entries to be judged.
If I am cagy about the nature of the entry, it is because it is generally considered unbecoming to claim any credit when the finished product is attributed to someone else (or, in this case, credited to the garden club of which my co-creator is a member).
But I’ve had my moment of glory. For the first and last time in my life, I have worked with the same pressures as the floral designers whom I so much admire. When it was finished, I stepped back and looked at what I had helped create. And I thought, ‘not half bad’.