November meeting: Fall Designs from the Market

Garden Club of Oak Park & River Forest > Meeting News and Recaps > November meeting: Fall Designs from the Market

Garden Club had a large and enthusiastic crowd for our November 5 program: “Fall Designs from the Market.”

Rapt audience Photo by Elaine Allen
Rapt audience
Photo by Elaine Allen

Gabriela Soltys of Mariano’s events department introduced our guest speaker: Joe, manager of the Western Springs floral department.

Joe impressed us with a variety of arrangements of gorgeous fall-colored flowers, including mums, roses, hypericum and sunflowers, all of which are available at Mariano’s. Joe demonstrated the techniques for hand-tying bouquets: a simple and effective method for smaller arrangements, easy to make at home with supplies on hand. Leafshine spray and baling wire from the craft store, and mercury glass containers from the dollar store are additional handy items for these arrangements.

Hand tied bouquet Photo by Elaine Allen
Hand tied bouquet
Photo by Elaine Allen

Joe also showed us how to bend flexible calla lilies into a graded, circular arrangement in a fish bowl: simple but elegant. His larger and more elaborate pieces: oasis-based flowers and vegetables, and a large “Wow factor” arrangement, arrived fully assembled.

For most of us, the best part of the program was Joe’s account of how he became involved in the floral business. The motherly ladies in the group entreated him to tell us the whole story.

Photo by Elaine Allen
Photo by Elaine Allen

In a nutshell, Joe worked part-time in various departments of the store while studying for his degree in civil engineering. As new Mariano’s stores opened, his opportunities and experience expanded so that he rotated through all the departments and at several locations. During his occasional floral department assignments he enjoyed learning about the flowers and experimenting. But his big life-changing moment occurred unexpectedly. While working at the Park Ridge store near O’Hare Airport, an important speaker arrived for a hotel convention, so the event planners required an impressively large display for the stage. Of course, this had to be done on a moment’s notice, for that evening, with just the flowers at hand. Joe was alone in the department, but devised an ingenious strategy for arranging layers of smaller bouquets into an elaborate display. The customers were very pleased, and Joe realized his true calling.

At the end of our November meeting, all of Joe’s arrangements were raffled off to smiling garden clubbers.

a "Wow" arrangement Photo by Elaine Allen
“Wow” flowers
Photo by Elaine Allen

The creative, resourceful and (mostly) frugal garden club ladies will enjoy the convenience of finding a wide variety flowers and supplies at Mariano’s while grocery shopping. All of our Thanksgiving table displays will be stunning!

Hope to see everyone at our December 3 meeting at 12:30 PM  at Cheney Mansion for Ward Wilson:  “Dynamic Seasonal Décor.”