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Special Events

The Bold and Beautiful

Event designers have long relied on beautiful floral to help carry the theme of an event. And while traditional roses and lilacs will never go out of style, many flower growers stress the use of nontraditional blooms and arrangements to dazzle guests.


“I think any event planner will agree that the client today wants the unexpected custom look,” says Rene van Rems, director of promotion for the California Cut Flower Commission in Watsonville, Calif.

“If you put flowers on the table that they are familiar with, they know what they cost and they start to look at [them] as a commodity,” he says.

Van Rems likes to start an arrangement with snapdragons and add amaranthus, a distinctly textured flower that resembles a tassel. “It changes the total composition into something where they say, ‘I never would have put that together but it works.’”


Combining exotic colors in floral design is one way to create a stir at an event. Yoni Levenbach, a sales representative for Los Angeles-based Mayesh Floral, sees a trend toward mixing colors that clash, such as brilliant oranges with jewel-toned purples.

“People are using the color wheel and not only choosing monochromatic groups in the same palette, but they are also using colors not traditionally combined with each other,” he says. “The effect is shocking, yet soothing at the same time.”

April Jackson, marketing manager of Florabundance in Carpinteria, Calif., has noticed an increase in the use of a variety of flowers in interesting color combinations, such as a serene periwinkle mixed with deep purple blossoms.

However, she warns designers to keep the variety in check. “Rather than use five or six different types of flower, try using two or three types,” she says. “Simplicity is the reoccurring theme.”

For the summer wedding season, Jackson says rich purple, apple green and emerald garden roses are extremely popular.


Tropical flowers are a good bet for outside events, according to Carver Wilson, president of Maui Floral in Kula, Hawaii.

Pincushion protea hybrids work well in centerpieces and on buffets. “They are very colorful, offer a lot of variety and have a good shelf life,” he says.

During setup, the protea “will lend itself to being out of the water for a couple of days,” he adds. “It's not going to wilt during an afternoon in the hot sun.”

Large foliage, heliconias and mini pineapples are also popular choices for event decor, Wilson says. “They may be a little more expensive, but the impact is quite a bit larger.”


Mayesh Floral is getting attention for its customized garlands. “We can use Japanese boxwood, magnolia or seeded eucalyptus mixed with Italian ruskus,” Levenbach says. “Basically any greenery or floral can be woven into garlands to decorate banisters, fireplaces or pillars.”

Another novel popular item is curly bamboo trained along a string to grow in a spiral fashion. “It's a Chinese bamboo that is considered to be lucky,” Levenbach says.

He adds that the bamboo is architectural by nature, which “complements designs that have a lot of angles and lines. You could use them in an upright centerpiece or suspended above the eye level of those seated at table.”

RESOURCES: California Cut Flower Commission, 831/728-7333; Florabundance, 800/201-3597, 805/566-6607; Maui Floral, 888/878-1218, 808/878-1218; Mayesh Floral, 310/348-4921

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