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Sign up for the free newslet­ters we write based on our dai­ly expe­ri­ence as wed­ding and event flo­ral design­ers in trend-set­ting Los Angeles.

Based near the Beach in the South Bay of LA, Kit & Casey take you on a jour­ney each month to our events we cre­ate and share with you the hottest trends in flo­ral design.

As sought-after flo­ral design instruc­tors, you’ll learn the lat­est tips and tricks of the trade.

Tournament of Roses Parade

by Casey Schwartz

Mem­bers of Pasade­na’s Val­ley Hunt Club first staged the parade in 1890. Since then the parade has been held in Pasade­na every New Year’s Day, except when Jan­u­ary first falls on a Sun­day. When it comes to the Rose Parade, it’s all about flow­ers. Parade rules dic­tate every square inch of a float’s sur­face is cov­ered with flow­ers or “oth­er nat­ur­al botan­i­cal mate­ri­als.” This is, after all, a parade begun more than a cen­tu­ry ago as a way to show­case South­ern Cal­i­for­ni­a’s balmy win­ters to the peo­ple shov­el­ing snow in the Jan­u­ary cold back East. Ful­ly dec­o­rat­ed, the aver­age 50-foot float con­tains more flow­ers than a typ­i­cal Amer­i­can florist will sell in five years. Eigh­teen-mil­lion stems are esti­mat­ed for this year’s parade.
Jim Hynd and Scott Lamb have a com­bined 60 years of Rose Parade float-build­ing expe­ri­ence. They are flo­ral direc­tors at Fies­ta Parade Floats and Phoenix Dec­o­rat­ing Co., two of Pasadena’s largest float-build­ing com­pa­nies, Hynd and Lamb over­saw the pro­duc­tion of 32 sep­a­rate floats fea­tured in this year’s Rose Parade.


Rose Parade rules require every inch of float sur­face is cov­ered with “flow­ers or oth­er nat­ur­al botan­i­cal mate­ri­als.” Accord­ing to Jim Hynd, flo­ral direc­tor for over 32 floats in this year’s parade, nat­ur­al botan­i­cal mate­ri­als are defined as sub­stances that “have grown, are grow­ing or will grow.” So flow­ers, seeds, moss­es, barks, dried leaves, veg­eta­bles, and grains can all be placed on floats as long as they’re used in their nat­ur­al col­or. Dye­ing is not allowed.

We’ve devel­oped cov­er­age for­mu­las for each flower,” Scott Lamb, flo­ral direc­tor at Fies­ta Parade Floats and Phoenix Dec­o­rat­ing Co., two of Pasadena’s largest float-build­ing com­pa­nies, says. “For exam­ple, we know that it takes 16 ger­bera daisies to cov­er one square foot of sur­face.” Lamb can also rat­tle off exact­ly how many ros­es, Brus­sels sprouts, lima beans and sesame seeds it would take to cov­er a square foot of float.
As ear­ly as April, flo­ral direc­tors place their mas­sive orders with numer­ous flower ven­dors. Some­times 400 to 500 dif­fer­ent flower vari­eties from every con­ti­nent on Earth, except Antarc­ti­ca will be ordered. So mil­lions of fresh blooms arrive in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, all of which need to be deliv­ered with­in a week or even days of the parade.

Every year, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from all over the coun­try vol­un­teer for the priv­i­lege of dec­o­rat­ing Rose Parade floats. High school bands, Kiwa­nis Clubs, Girl Scouts, and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions to work on floats the final 10 days before the parade. One of Flower Duet’s stu­dents, Cather­ine, of Palm­dale has worked on the floats. We are look­ing for­ward to hear­ing how it went this year.

Flow­ers are affixed to floats in var­i­ous ways. Some, like ros­es, hydrangeas, and iris­es, must be placed in indi­vid­ual water-filled tubes (see our tool-of-the-month fea­ture) to pre­vent droop and death. Blooms that can sur­vive with­out water, like marigolds, strawflow­ers and mums, are mount­ed on thin met­al picks and stuck into flo­ral foam. In a tech­nique called “petal­ing,” flower petals are stripped from the blos­soms by hand and glued one by one onto the float. Dry flow­ers are often placed into blenders and reduced to a fine pow­der for shad­ing sculpt­ed forms on the float. It takes on aver­age, six­ty vol­un­teers work­ing ten hours a day for ten days to dec­o­rate a sin­gle float.

About the Flowers Used on Floats

Rose

Of course, ros­es are a main­stay of the parade; their showy blooms have flaunt­ed the par­a­disi­a­cal qual­i­ties of balmy Pasade­na since the parade’s incep­tion. Rough­ly one and a half mil­lion ros­es will be used to dec­o­rate this year’s fleet of floats.

Strawflower

Strawflow­ers are a float design­er’s best friend. These South African natives are used on floats after they’ve been dried, so they can be ordered as ear­ly as six months in advance of the parade with no risk of the blooms perishing

Gladiolus

Glad petals are also used to approx­i­mate flesh tones on the faces of human float fig­ures. The tall, spiky South African plant is also left intact on floats to cre­ate dra­mat­ic flo­ral designs.

Tulip

When a float design calls for a nat­u­ral­is­tic wood­land set­ting, flo­ral design­ers reach for tulips. While Hol­land tra­di­tion­al­ly has sup­plied most of the tulips used on floats, many of today’s more inter­est­ing vari­eties now come from the Pacif­ic North­west, which also makes them less cost­ly to use.

Marigold

Vol­un­teers strip the petals off tens of thou­sands of these Cal­i­for­nia-grown flow­ers by hand and apply them one by one to floats. marigolds don’t lose their col­or after they have dried, float design­ers dehy­drate the petals, mak­ing them eas­i­er to work with and long-lasting.

Orchid

Orchids are flown from Thai­land, Sin­ga­pore and Hawaii are used in stem, bloom and petal form. Beloved for their amaz­ing col­or palette that moves from white to deep magen­ta to tiger-striped, orchids are used for many appli­ca­tions, and they hold their col­or very well.

Chrysanthemum

Mums aren’t used on floats as exten­sive­ly as they once were; they’re being replaced by less cost­ly flow­ers such as car­na­tions. “Mum­ming,” the term for glu­ing the large, pom­pon-like blos­som onto floats.

Carnation

Because car­na­tions are hardy and long-last­ing, they are ide­al for use as bou­ton­nieres and cor­sages. This qual­i­ty also makes them indis­pens­able for float dec­o­ra­tion. The full flower and lush, showy bloom make a dra­mat­ic state­ment when used to dec­o­rate large sur­face areas on floats– they cost one-third as much as ros­es – makes them an eco­nom­i­cal cov­er­age material.

Statice

This rare blue flower is indis­pens­able when it comes to cre­at­ing the blue of the Amer­i­can Flag. Though native to Europe, sta­t­ice thrives in dry-cli­mate South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Mex­i­co, the ori­gin for most of the sta­t­ice blooms now used on floats.

Parade Details

Where to See Floats after the Parade

How to Vol­un­teer Next Year Wreaths

How to get tick­ets for Next Year’s ParadeWreaths

White Flowers

by Casey Schwartz

Winter Flowers in White

Winter White Bridal Bouquet with Silver Accents

White ros­es, orchids and sil­ver bru­nia berries add some fun metallics to a win­ter cel­e­bra­tion. Bridal Bou­quet by Flower Duet. Pho­to by Kit Wertz

It’s snow­ing across most of the north­ern hemi­sphere bring­ing us a show-stop­ping and stun­ning scene. So, embrace the chilly weath­er and cre­ate your own “Win­ter Won­der­land.” Cap­ture the look of lacey snowflakes with Queen Anne’s Lace, then add some snow­balls with giant Chi­na Mums, and then add some ici­cles with some sprays of Den­dro­bi­um orchids.

White-on-white is pure­ly ele­gant and appro­pri­ate for ring­ing in the New Year and always a win­ning com­bi­na­tion for wed­dings. Mix­ing tex­tures and shades of white, even some creams and ivories is so invit­ing to the eyes. Adding sil­ver and gold to white makes an even more fes­tive bou­quet! To add a nat­ur­al sil­ver look to a bou­quet, try Berzelia berries – like in the bridal bou­quet shown below.

White flow­ers mixed with green­ery gives a refresh­ing look and very appro­pri­ate to give to men.
Our favorite mag­a­zine for the flo­ral design enthu­si­ast, flower, has a gor­geous white arrange­ment on the front cov­er of their Win­ter issue. They are also offer­ing a great hol­i­day sub­scrip­tion deal.

Color Trends for 2011 — Pantone: Honeysuckle is Color of the Year

by Kit Wertz

About Pantone

Pan­tone LLC, is the world-renowned author­i­ty on col­or. For more than 45 years, Pan­tone has been inspir­ing design pro­fes­sion­als with prod­ucts, ser­vices and lead­ing tech­nol­o­gy for the expres­sion of cre­ativ­i­ty. Pan­tone named “Hon­ey­suck­le” as the col­or of the year and says it “…embold­ens us to face every­day trou­bles with verve and vig­or. A dynam­ic red­dish pink, Hon­ey­suck­le is encour­ag­ing and uplifting.”

In times of stress, we need some­thing to lift our spir­its. Hon­ey­suck­le is a cap­ti­vat­ing, stim­u­lat­ing col­or that gets the adren­a­line going – per­fect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eise­man, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Pan­tone Col­or Insti­tute®. “Hon­ey­suck­le derives its pos­i­tive qual­i­ties from a pow­er­ful bond to its moth­er col­or red, the most phys­i­cal, vis­cer­al­ly alive hue in the spectrum.”

Eise­man con­tin­ues, “The inten­si­ty of this fes­tive red­dish pink allures and engages. In fact, this col­or, not the sweet fra­grance of the flower blos­soms for which it was named, is what attracts hum­ming­birds to nec­tar. Hon­ey­suck­le may also bring a wave of nos­tal­gia for its asso­ci­at­ed deli­cious scent rem­i­nis­cent of the care­free days of spring and summer.”

Fashion Colors

Learn more about col­ors for 2011 — 2011 Women’s Fash­ion Col­ors for 2011.

Wedding Colors

A flat­ter­ing hue for wed­ding atten­dant appar­el and acces­sories, Hon­ey­suck­le is now one of the near­ly 200 PANTONE WEDDING Col­ors avail­able from Dessy, a man­u­fac­tur­er of brides­maid, social-occa­sion and flower-girl dress­es. PANTONE WEDDING from Dessy pro­vides a col­lec­tion of col­or tools for brides to achieve col­or-coor­di­nat­ed wed­dings. See the Wed­ding Col­or Plan­ner for more information.

In 1963, Lawrence Her­bert, Pan­tone’s founder, cre­at­ed an inno­v­a­tive sys­tem for iden­ti­fy­ing, match­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing col­ors to solve the prob­lems asso­ci­at­ed with pro­duc­ing accu­rate col­or match­es in the graph­ic arts com­mu­ni­ty. His insight that the spec­trum is seen and inter­pret­ed dif­fer­ent­ly by each indi­vid­ual led to the inno­va­tion of the PANTONE® MATCHING SYSTEM®, a book of stan­dard­ized col­or in fan format.

Garden Design Magazine

Kit loves this mag­a­zine. Almost every issue fea­tures a great flo­ral design. Now the mag­a­zine has been redesigned for the January/February issue. This is worth the sub­scrip­tion and check­ing out the web­site — which also gets a makeover start­ing Jan­u­ary 4th. If you love gar­dens, land­scape archi­tec­ture and cut­ting-edge flo­ral designs, you’ll love Gar­den Design mag­a­zine.

Floral Tool — Water Tubes & Picks

Flo­ral tubes or water picks are used for hold­ing fresh flow­ers. Fill with water and place flower in the hole on the top. If you are putting more than one stem into a tube, be sure to place one at a time. Then the tubes of flow­ers can be placed into a gar­land or a wreath. Water tubes are often shipped with stems of orchids to ensure fresh­ness and can be reused after a good wash­ing and rins­ing with a bleach and water solution.

As Ama­zon Asso­ciates, we earn from qual­i­fy­ing pur­chas­es. Some­times we link to a prod­uct on Ama­zon in our arti­cles on flowerduet.com.

Read more Flower Duet News & Newsletters from past years:

2022 Newslet­ter Articles

2021 Newslet­ter Articles

2020 Newslet­ter Articles

2019 Newslet­ter Archives

2018 Newslet­ter Archives

2017 Newslet­ter Archives

2016 Newslet­ter Archives

2015 Newslet­ter Archives

2014 Newslet­ter Archives

2013 Newslet­ter Archives

2012 Newslet­ter Archives

2011 Newslet­ter Archives

2010 Newslet­ter Archives

Each month, we cov­er a cur­rent event in the flo­ral trade, flo­rals from real wed­dings, our lat­est flower adven­tures and endeav­ors, design tips, cur­rent flo­ral trends, flo­ral design class­es and work­shops, book rec­om­men­da­tions and flo­ral tool tips.

Since 2010, we’ve cre­at­ed a hot list of what’s on for flo­ral design in and beyond South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. As guest speak­ers inside and out­side of Cal­i­for­nia, we know what clients need in the wed­ding and event indus­try. We are your trust­ed resource for flo­ral design tips and tech­niques for all lev­els of the flower enthusiast.

We are Kit Wertz and Casey Schwartz, the sis­ter design team of Flower Duet. We are com­mit­ted to edu­cat­ing our stu­dents and fans since we start­ed our flo­ral design busi­ness in 1999.

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