Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra were invited to a class on flower arrangement at In Bloom (325 West Gore Street). Terry gave me her invitation suggesting it might be a good subject to sketch. Hurricane Irene was spinning 200 miles off the coast of Florida sending outer cloud bands over Orlando. When I arrived at In Bloom, the sun broke through the clouds. I was impressed by a small garden of native plants that had been nurtured in front of the building. Inside I was introduced to John Kobylinski, florist and owner. He offered me a quick tour. A hidden black wrought iron spiral staircase lead us up stairs. This building had once been a Coka- Cola bottling plant. He lead me to a room with old wooden floors and an old sink. Here he said the Coke was mixed by hand in that room.
Back downstairs he lead a small group into a freezer room where boxes of flowers are stored at 30° Fahrenheit. He explained that all the flowers are shipped from South America. Roses arrived with 200 blooms per box. They are wrapped in groups of 25 although they are sold by the dozen. Several beautiful arrangements were stored for an upcoming event. Friends of the Philharmonic were sipping wine to relax before the arranging began. Ten to twenty orange clay pots were set out for the students. Wet green foam blocks were placed in each pot.
I decided to climb half way up the spiral staircase to get an overall view of everyone at work. Everyone was first asked to arrange yellow, orange and red roses so they looked like elegant round topiary spires. Smaller blooms and greenery were arranged at the base. The long blades of saw grass had serrated edges so everyone was warned to be careful. I rushed the sketch thinking that the arrangements would probably be finished quickly. I was wrong. Arranging flowers is a subtle art and it takes time and lots of concentration. My eye glasses were filthy. I kept tilting my head to look around distracting fingerprints as I drew. I took my glasses off when I painted. Everything was blurry but at least the colors were vibrant. Sunlight streamed through the shop's glass doors as the sun set.