KINGSBURG – If you’ve ever received of a colorful bouquet of flowers on a date, as a token of thanks or for a special event in life, you may not have realized just how much effort and planning it took to make that dazzling display.
Thanks to a new floral design class being offered through Kingsburg High’s Agriculture Department, 32 students are learning just that. A subscription service to support the program was started and has proven so popular that all the spots have been snapped up and there’s a waiting list of customers.
“Flowers always say it best and everyone always loves getting flowers,” instructor Amanda Ferguson said.
Ferguson taught a horticulture course before where students learned what it takes to grow plants in a nursery. The projects that included floral arrangements created so much interest that even more students signed up for this course.
They’ve been practicing learning the basics on such projects as a lollipop bouquet and Sept. 26 they tackled their first big project: a fall-themed arrangement that included eucalyptus, a wispy agonis, deep maroon dahlias and bright orange marigolds. Miniature carnations added a touch of daintiness to the arrangement.
Ferguson said throughout the course, the students will learn about the principles of design, art, colors schemes and combinations. For their final, they’ll design their own event and while the project will include details on the entire occasion, the focus will be on the flowers.
“They can plan any event they choose, but because there’s 32 girls in this class, I’ll likely see a lot of wedding projects, but that’s OK,” Ferguson said.
First, Ferguson cut sections of pre-soaked floral foam and the students squeezed that into the protective plastic layer. Since the flowers are fresh, they needed to stay hydrated to stay fresh for as long as possible.
In turns, they then gathered the greenery and Ferguson demonstrated how to trim down the larger branches into more manageable sections.
“I’ve never used agonis before but it gives it that wispy feel. The next layer will be eucalyptus and they’ll blend those layers. They always want the flowers first, but that’s the expensive part, so if I give them the flowers first, we’d lose a lot of the product.”
Students also keeps tabs of the cost of all the flowers or greenery in each project so they realize what it costs to produce each arrangement, the concept of mark-up and labor costs as well. That way, if they’re considering being a florist for their career they realize the business aspect of it as well.
“We talk about the wholesale cost of every item. For this arrangement, the cost was $12.61. So we talk about if they saw this at Costco or Save Mart or at a retail flower shop, how much they would expect to pay. We estimated it would be closer to $16.99 at Costco but it closer to $20 at a flower shop.”
The students are also posting information and step-by-step photos on their own websites about their project and this serves a portfolio for the course.
“They have to take pictures of the stages and their final products so we’re setting up a photo area with a plain white background,” she said of butcher block paper and table set up in one area of the class.
Visiting the class that day was Assistant Principal Ivan Nunez. Rather than sit in a corner for the observation, he decided to take part in the project. He said the class was a good opportunity for the students to learn skills they could use in a possible career or even just as a hobby.
“This is a hands-on class so taking part with this group is fantastic. I get to see what they’re learning and what hobby or opportunity they could have later on.”
As the students inserted greenery first and then the flowers, Ferguson walked about and offered advice about blending the layers of greenery, trimming the plants for a natural effect and how to insert the flowers for the best display.
One arrangement she’d already made was in the center table and class went on, the students seemed to be getting the hang of it.
Senior Jessica Burch-Konda had taken the horticulture class before and said she preferred when they made arrangements from the plants they grew.
“We made a cornucopia for Thanksgiving and other things. I like being able to make these arrangements and take them home to show my family. It helps knowing the greenery goes first and then the flowers go later.”
Ferguson said dahlias are versatile in their variety of colors, but are also fragile and needed to be handled with care as they were inserted into the foam. Some of the flowers weren’t in full bloom just yet, but that only added to the variety, she said.
“Adding flowers in different stages of their growth cycle gives you depth and variety in your arrangement. Not all arrangements are picture-perfect huge full flowers. So having some in there at different growth stages is really helpful.”
There were some dried, small branches in another bucket, but Ferguson decided to skip adding those to this arrangement as they didn’t have the effect she was looking for in this fall project.
“Those were left over from the arrangement we did on Saturday and it’s too much of a contrast. It kind of made it look hairy and I’m not down for hairy.”
Last, but not least, they added a clear pick with a card with information on the program and a spot for the students to sign their name.
Pearl Muxlow, a senior, said she’s received flowers before and hopes that same happiness fills the hearts of those who receive the ones they’re creating.
“My dad will give me flowers just because, so I hope they like it. That’s why I’m trying to do my best on it because I don’t know who’s going to get it. Whoever it is, I hope they like how it ends up looking and they’ll be happy to put it in their house.”
Julia Gamble, a senior, said the projects may look simple, but it isn’t easy to make them look just right.
“It’s challenging to make it look even and proportional and to scale. This class definitely challenges you that way, but it helps you better those skills throughout it. I think anyone could do this class since you learn and get better and better as you keep on going.”
This is a new class and most of the students are beginners. Brooklyn Young however has worked with her aunt who owns Berman’s Floral Shop and says she loves the creative aspect of it.
“I find it so invigorating because it’s so creative. I find that using my hands and getting dirty is just my favorite thing to do. It takes a lot to make something pretty because the flowers and greenery is so delicate. If you just stick it in, you have a broken flower, so you have to be patient.”
Ferguson said those who may be interested in signing up for the floral subscription projects may get on a waiting list but may need to wait before signing up for next year.
The floral arrangement subscription is already booked up for this school year, but if any are interested in next year, they’ll need to wait just a bit to sign up.
“It’s too early for next year so let us get through this year first.”