April 2015 Newsletter

Floral Trends - Volume 60

How to Buy Flowers in Barcelona, Spain for a Cruise Ship

By Casey Coleman Schwartz

Sea Goddess I Postcard

Casey worked on a cruise ship called the Sea Goddess I owned by Cunard Cruise lines in the 1990s. Her first job as assistant social director included duties as the on-board florist. This was an advertisement that appeared in many magazines, including The New Yorker.

Often during our classes or client meetings, I am asked how I became a florist. Here is a trip down memory lane about a time when I had to purchase flowers at the flower market in Barcelona, Spain.

A twelve-year career at sea began as director of children’s programs, progressed into roles as crew purser on board many ships and then, social director on board a luxury ship in the 1990s.

While serving as crew as the assistant social director on board the ultra luxury cruise ship Sea Goddess I, one of my many hats I wore was to create the fresh floral arrangements for all the cabins and the public rooms of the ship.   The Sea Goddess, a Cunard Line ship, had to be brought in for regular maintenance (called dry dock) into Barcelona, Spain.  This is a process where the ship is pulled out of the water and placed on blocks to be repainted, re-carpeted and sometimes gutted for an updated look.

This was my fourth of eight dry docks during my 12-year career chasing summer on the oceans of the world. Each dry dock holds a wonderful memory. We were in Barcelona for seven days and I had the luxury of staying in a hotel for the duration of the dry dock, but knew once we finished the work, guests would be joining and the ship would need all new glorious plants and fresh flowers.

Casey with Sea Goddess crew.

Sea Goddess Crew photo in the 1990s. Casey became the Chief Purser after a short time as the Assistant Social Director.  She had worked as a purser aboard a number of Carnival ships prior to joining Cunard’s Sea Goddess crew. Casey is in the front row seated second from the left.

Carrer Lleida

The flower market in the Mercabarna in Barcelona in 1992.

I found the wholesale flower mart in Barcelona and made my way via train and taxi and met the manager. I was obviously not a regular customer, nor would I be, so I had to explain who I was and why I needed to order massive quantities of flowers and plants which I would pick up in a few days. I also explained I would have my colleague, Marina, the head of housekeeping, with me when I returned to pick up our order and would need help delivering the flowers and plants to the ship. The market’s manager was delightful. He handed me a cup of coffee and introduced me to every vendor as we walked around the entire floor as I built my order for the ship.

Barcelona's New Flower Market

Barcelona’s New Flower Market – photo from ArchDaily.com.

This was fall of 1992 and the Summer Olympics had just been in town. The wholesale mart had been there since 1984. It was vast, amazing and the largest flower mart I had ever seen. By this point I had purchased flowers in many ports such as Monte Carlo, Venice, Yalta, Stockholm, Mombasa, Singapore, Bombay and St. Thomas. Sadly the flower mart in Barcelona at Mercabarna burned down in 2001 and limped next door to a new space for a few years. In 2008 a new facility was built and is an amazing 44,000 square meters. The central flower mart in Barcelona has been a mainstay since the early 1900’s and I was barely a blip in their history, but am proud to have been just that.


Casey on board Sea Goddess I in her Chief Purser uniform. She was one of the few American officers in the Cunard fleet during the 1990s. Most of the officers were European.

Marina and I returned to the mart and gathered all our flowers and plants, loaded up our little Euro van and scooted to the port before the ship moved from the dry dock to the wet dock.  We made it just in time for Marina to board, and I was on the dock with fresh flowers out of water, knowing they were going to need a fair amount of conditioning! We cover how to condition flowers in our hands-on workshops at our studio in Torrance and at our guest appearances throughout Los Angeles and beyond!

Queen Mary Flowers

We design flowers for  weddings on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The “Queen” is an original Cunard family ship, so it is quite nostalgic for Casey to deliver flowers to her. Casey took this photo and posted it to her Sea Goddess Facebook page to share memories with her former shippies!

How to be a Flower Shop Girl – Pygmalion Style

Flower Duet featured Activity at Pasadena Playhouse’s Pygmalion, April 4, 2015

Flower Duet is pleased to host a lecture and hands-on workshop before the 4 p.m. performance of Pygmalion at the Pasadena Playhouse this Saturday, April 4, 2015.  You can purchase discounted tickets to see this timeless play about a flower girl who yearns for a richer life by learning how to speak better. She ends up giving her teacher a richer life by showing him how to feel and love.

Flower Duet will teach a group of lucky theater goers how to choose the freshest flowers, where to buy fresh flowers in Los Angeles and how to make flowers last a long time in a vase. Each guest also has the opportunity to learn how to create his or her own bouquet to take home.

For Pygmalion discounted tickets, please use code: FD20 to receive 20% off.   We’d love to see you!

Buy tickets!


Link to purchase tickets is: http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/box-office/mainstage/pygmalion.html


Flower Duet to be featured in the LA Daily Newspapers Saturday, April 4th, 2015

LA Daily News Logo

LA Daily News

Flower Duet is featured in a article coming out this Saturday, April 4th about why wreaths are for everyday and not just the holiday seasons!

It will be in all the Los Angeles Daily News local papers including our own Torrance Daily Breeze and online. Check it out!


April 11, 2015 Flower Duet Guest Lecture and Flower Demonstration at The Banning House Museum in Wilmington

A Day in the Garden- Saturday, April 11th

BAnning House

Come and join us for “A Day in the Garden” at The Banning Museum.” FREE activities include lectures (including Flower Duet for the 2nd straight year), garden-themed crafts, tasty samples of botanically inspired treats presented by our “Taste of History” committee and an introduction to our new California Native Garden.

They will also have a lovely display of blooms and visitors are welcome to participate by bringing examples from their own gardens!

For more information on how to participate or to RSVP please call (310) 548-2005.  The Banning House Museum is located at 401 East M Street, Wilmington, CA 90744.


Grow a Drought Tolerant Sustainable Garden by Visiting the Grow Native Nursery

succulent bloomIn partnership with the Veterans Administration (VA) of Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, residents of Los Angeles and beyond can learn how to create a beautiful water-wise garden.

With free workshops throughout the year you can learn how to replace your lawn, sow seeds from native California plants and have a garden that bees and butterflies will love.

Grow Native plant nurseries are available on the VA campus in Westwood and in Claremont at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

Located at 100 Davis Avenue the VA campus in Westwood, upcoming workshops include:

Spring Propagation Tips

Saturday, April 11, 10 – 11:30 a.m.   FREE RSVP Required – Click Here

Learn basic techniques for propagating California native plants. If you want to learn more after the class, three-hour workshops are offered in Claremont seasonally.

Design Details: Birds, Bees, & Butterflies

Saturday, May 9, 10 – 11:30 a.m.   FREE RSVP Required – Click Here

Learn about California native plants that provide food and shelter for beneficial insects and other pollinators.

Replace Your Lawn

Saturday, June 13, 10 – 11:30 a.m.   FREE RSVP Required – Click Here

Stephen Baldonado provides an overview of important things to know about replacing your lawn.  Casey and I worked together to replace her backyard lawn with synthetic grass that is great for kids and pets. We’ll write about that next newsletter. Casey also ripped out the lawn in her front yard and replaced it with succulents and grasses.

Where Do Your Flowers Come From?

An Info Graphic from SlowFlowers.com

Last month, we created an info graphic on What it Takes to Be a Florist? This month, we thought it would be cool to share with you this awesome info graphic from Debra Prinzing’s Slow Flowers website. She sent it to us with permission to re-publish on our site in order to educate consumers, floral designers and event planners on the floral industry. We hope you enjoy this great collection of valuable information on our current climate in the world of cut flowers.

Slow Flowers Infographic

From the SlowFlowers.com Website – Where do flowers come from?


Newsletter Next Month – Weddings, Steampunk Flowers, Books, Tools and More!

Steampunk Wedding Flowers

In our May Newsletter, find out why this is called “Steampunk Flowers”

We are in the middle of a busy springtime wedding season, so we’ll feature our usual book reviews, tools and show you what we’ve been up to next month! Stay tuned!

  1. Sandra Sinanian

    Wow, wonder if we ever crossed paths at sea! As a career travel counselor and had my own travel service for 24 years I am sure you provided excellent attention to my most valued clientele. Loved hearing some of your history. Hope to join you and your sister one day again at the Huntington!!

    Have to say your influence is with me every day at work as I have been with Michael’s Craft Stores now for 3 years as floral designer in the Glendale store. The many classes I joined with you as well as experience in other floral classes led me to this outstanding job in my ‘semi’ retirement!

    • Hi Sandra!
      Of course I remember you. I was so pleased when you shared your news that you worked for Michael’s Craft Stores creating beautiful silk floral designs. What a wonderful way to spend your “semi-retirement!” Thank you very much for your thoughts and continued support! We’ll be back at The Huntington in late June for a class on how to create a living succulent and floral garland. I hope you can join us!
      All my best to you,

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