Fresh after breakfast, the nine girls of 1G walked from the eating marquee to the Edstone sunroom. Already waiting in the sunroom, Mrs. Kathy Howard was equipped with flora, oases and years of experience, ready to teach “Ruth’s Lively Stones” all about the art of flower arranging.
Leaning over each other’s shoulders and trying to catch every word of instruction, the novice florists eagerly watched Mrs. Howard demonstrate how to create a perfect table centerpiece.
First, Mrs. Howard showed the girls how to secure the wet oasis (that green foam block that everyone loves to poke their fingers in) onto a bowl using florist tape. After securing the base, Mrs. Howard explained how to establish the dimensions of the arrangement. Then, the girls had a chance to try it for themselves.
The young ladies excitedly chattered to each other as they worked on their individual arrangements, and they grew even more excited when they realized the heaps of greenery on the tables in front of them had been harvested from local Edstone vegetation.
Once each girl had finished her base, Mrs. Howard continued the instruction, teaching the girls how to tastefully fill the arrangement with flowers. Conversation and the perfume of flowers filled the air as 1G followed suit.
Netherlands native Hannah quickly seized the 10 yellow roses she had been eyeing since class began.
“Mrs. Howard, is this stem too long?” Georgia asked, as she diligently and thoughtfully added flowers to her arrangement.
“Ashlynn, do you have more shiny ivy to spare?” Willow asked her dorm mate.
Others, however, had no time for chatter. Arkansas resident Madilyn placed each leaf and blossom in the arrangement with the intensity and precision of a nuclear engineer.
As their counselor, I was proud to watch their creative handiwork blossom like the foliage they worked with. But something was missing. We couldn’t figure out why the roses stuck out of the arrangements awkwardly and unsure of what to do with themselves.
“We need baby’s breath!” the assistant camp director’s wife Eyren Macdonald realized. She swiftly took action, strapping up her 7-month-old daughter, Sage, into the car seat and driving into Stratford-upon-Avon to purchase the filler flowers.
In the 20 minutes she was gone, 1G finished placing each flower exactly where they wanted. Mrs. Macdonald was soon back with the baby’s breath, which is technically named gypsophila, or “gyp,” as Mrs. Howard called it. With a light dusting of “gyp,” the table arrangements took on robust shape.
By the end of the class, all the girls had finished with their arrangements and were happily chatting about all they had learned. Well, all except Madilyn. She was using every last second to examine each leaf and petal with her famous penetrating stare.
Although this flower arranging class occurred first thing Tuesday morning, the young women’s arrangements lasted through the week. On Friday afternoon, both 1G and 2G cleaned their arrangements up and set them in the center of the tables for Sabbath dinner. Then they set the remaining arrangements on the surrounding ledges, tables and mantles, contributing to the beauty of Edstone Hall. The girls also used their flowers as table centers for Etiquette Night, adding tall candles in the center of the arrangements for the special camp tradition. The beautiful arrangements, which the girls had worked so hard on, helped make it an evening fit for royalty.