This week we visit The Willcox in Aiken,
South Carolina. Tina McCarthy
introduces us to this beautiful old hotel. The Willcox welcomed
first guests in 1900. Frederick Willcox had moved to Aiken
Cheshire, England. He originally was a caterer for the Hillum
Hotel. When it burned he opened his own hotel. The Willcox
was said to
have the first bathtub in the south with hidden plumbing
It is still beautiful today, the lobby has beautiful curly
the rooms are fantastic. Social leaders from the east would
their winter social season in Aiken. Some referred to Aiken
"winter colony." Winston Churchill, Elizabeth
Arden, even Franklin
Roosevelt have been rumored to have stayed at The Willcox.
The warm weather and equestrian events were the draw for
these folks. Aiken has a sandy soil that is conducive to
horses. The Willcox has beautiful flower arrangements throughout.
Karen Jeffcoat creates these works of art and she shares
with us design tips and techniques.
Karen Jeffcoat is a floral designer and
teaches floral design classes.
When producing an arrangement she takes into consideration
the decor and often the personality of the person that will
room. She considers the paint and color of a room and the
considered to make sure the arrangement is coordinated.
will be staying in the room with a outgoing personality
she tries to
utilize big, vibrant flowers, an arrangement that is over-zealous
over-abundant so the inhabitant will feel happy when in
the room. The
time of year plays an important part. Karen likes to use
flowers from the garden with cut flowers from California
Karen and Rick look first at containers.
Karen chooses a container
with several things in mind. First can the container enhance
Does it echo the qualities of the room, color, etc. Secondly
does she have a lot of mechanics to hide. The mechanics
are the also referred to as armatures. An armature is a
"tool" used to contain or hold
flower stems. Karen likes to use natural materials for armatures,
materials like Curly willow, Honey Suckle Vine, any vine
that is pliable. You can make a vine more pliable by soaking
it in water overnight.
The first design utilizes Calla Lilies.
These are used because the
intended room is yellow. The furnishings are basically green
yellow. She tries to enhance the room, not detract from
the room with
her arrangements. This arrangement is in a clear glass container
has a smaller glass container in the middle to help keep
contained. Lemons are placed around the inside of the bigger
for visual punch. She makes a collar with the Lilies, then
Dahlias. The Dahlias give height, the Callas cascade over
the side. Karen cuts the flower stems at an angle, that
allows faster water intake into the flower stem. She cuts
the Dahlias so the flower heads are within the same area.
She then uses Hypericum Berries around the base. They support
the design and add another color element. This provides
a topiary-type effect, with three levels of visual stimulation.
The lemons in the container, the Calla Lilies, the Hypericum
Berries, interspersed, then the taller Dahlias. As well
this provides a lot of different textures, adding excitement
to the design. It is visually stimulating from a distance
and up close. To hold the Dahlias together you could use
a vine, raffia, even ribbon. Karen uses a vine. This design
is beautiful in this room, it brings in the yellow, and
greens in the room.
The next floral design is in a solid container.
Not only will it look
beautiful in the intended room, but the solid container
mechanics. She has used water picks and inserted Anemones
them. Because there was no water source, to keep the flowers
needed to utilize the water picks. Anemones were chosen
their intense color. As well when the flowers fade, new
flowers can be
exchanged and the arrangement will look fresh. Karen has
moss in the
container and the moss sits in its own container, a container
container. Ivy is in its own container. The Orchids are
in their own
separate container. None of the plants are actually growing
in the outside container, they all have their own container.
All the plants have different watering needs, this allows
them all to be properly cared for, yet allows all to thrive.
This arrangement is visually stimulating, it has balance,
with a range of textures. The needle-nose Ivy is fine textured.
The leaves of the Orchid are large and coarse textured,
providing a nice contrast. It is a well done composition
in terms of warm color and texture. This arrangement will
go in one of the
bathrooms at The Willcox. Karen believes that Orchids are
very exotic, the bathrooms are classy, white, clean and
streamlined, thus the Orchid is the perfect choice of flower.
As well the climate in the bathroom is
perfect for Orchids. this arrangement is simplistic, relaxing,
beautiful, a perfect compliment to the beautiful bathroom.
One of the hottest colors in the garden
is Chartreuse. Coleus, Gay's
Delight, is a great example of the Chartreuse color. Chartreuse
intense color, very bright and works well with a lot of
different greens. This foliage of this plant will look good
throughout the entire season.
Karen now demonstrates how to make a larger
arrangement, one fit for
the lobby of The Willcox. The ceilings are at least 20-22
feet tall, so
this arrangement must be big. She uses an Oasis to hold
the flowers. The Oasis is inserted into a liner to keep
the water inside. This Oasis is
much larger than normal, but a gardener could buy one at
an arts and
crafts store. When using an Oasis let it soak for an hour
because if you don't you could end up with a dry spot in
the center and if a stem were inserted into the dry spot
a dead flower would result
within a day or so because there is no water going into
the stem. Also once the stem is inserted try not to pull
it back out because you will have another hole and because
an air lock could result. The density of the Oasis is determined
by the type of stems that will be inserted. If
thick stems a thicker density is needed, if fragile stems,
like Tulips or
daffodils, a low density Oasis is needed. To begin, define
Karen starts with Bells of Ireland because they provide
don't need to be stuck deeply into the Oasis, they're secure
that. She places them close together, it's ok if they touch,
a solid looking vertical mass. These don't grow in the south,
you wanted to use southern plants that provide the same
Delphiniums, Hollyhock would work well. Next she takes Calla
and bends them. To bend them they need to be at room temperature
because they won't bend when cold. When bent, she makes
a collar around the container. This will draw attention
to the base of the arrangement. Karen then uses three different
types of greenery because it adds different textures and
greenery is relatively inexpensive. Variegated Pittosporum
is one and it will hide the mechanics. Place the branches
so they face the center and the flower faces outward. It
is a camouflage for the Oasis and adds green texture to
the base. It has a nice shiny look, variegated color, all
adding interest. Keep it low because Karen has more design
elements to add. The lobby is dark, formal, this will add
a lot of color. After the Pittosporum, Karen adds Hypericum.
There are a lot of leaves on the stem, so she strips some
away, concentrating on the berry clusters. This provides
another green texture. She sinks it down into the design.
Avoid a symmetrical look, placement is more random. Next
Karen adds Kermit Buttons, a type of Chrysanthemum, that
is the popular Chartreuse color. To finish the design Karen
uses the Calla Lilies, removes the cotton from the main
heads, inserted for shipping, then makes a fresh cut to
the stem. The fresh cut is important, to keep the flower
fresh. She inserts them into the Oasis and wraps them around
the Bells of Ireland. If it is difficult to make a hole
in the Oasis, start the hole with a pair of scissors. With
a coated green wire, to protect the stem of the plant, she
attaches the Calla Lilies to The Bells of Ireland. In this
design the Bells of Ireland are being used as an armature,
she's used plants to secure other plants. The Oasis can
be watered and the plants will last for a week and a half.
She has movement, positive and negative space coming into
the design. Karen tries to get people to think outside the
box, to make flower design fun and creative. Karen has created
floral designs that are stunning. We thank her for the lesson.
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