For those in the congregation who have so generously donated money for the flowers in the church, here is what happens when the church is being decorated for Easter.
Jane Milliken is in charge of the floral displays in Christ Church and is a trained florist who used to work professionally in a flower shop. She still holds a special entry trade card which gives her access to the wholesale flower market in Glasgow. The flowers, once decided on in colour and shape, are ordered a week before by ‘phone and they are kept in chillers, ready boxed for Jane to collect. In the past she has driven into the market early for 6.30am to choose and buy the blooms personally. When the flowers are ordered boxed and in chillers they can be collected later at 9.00 to 9.30am.
The sodium tinge of the lighting in the church means that reds can appear a dirty brown so taking this into consideration Jane has found yellow and white flowers show up best in the lighting and also look pretty against the carved wood. Another problem is which flowers last the best from week to week. Most displays can manage four weeks but if the church heating is on and the place is hotter than usual, the flowers can only last two to three weeks at most. In her experience, Jane finds carnations, chrysanthemums and gerberas have a lot of staying power and when these are mixed with lilies and roses, whose lasting quality varies according to variety, they will give a lovely effect in the vases. Gypsophila or “baby’s breath” is a long-lasting filler for awkward spaces in a display and is apparently “trending” in London for use at weddings as a “solo” flower! Jane herself makes the topiary trees for the entrance door using floral foam bases.
To first condition the flowers Jane strips off the leaves at the bottom of the stems and, with a sharp knife or scissors, cuts one inch off each at an angle leaving a sloping cut. The stems are then plunged into a bucket of tepid water as quickly as possible and kept in a cool dark place for a few hours (Jane’s garage!). The exception to this were the white lillies which were in tight bud when bought and were actually kept in full sun to encourage them to open out in time.
Jane will then bring these buckets of flowers and leaves to the church on the day before the required service, meeting up with her floral team: Margaret Hannah, an expert in floral art, even to studying Ikebana (Japanese style arranging); Joan East, ex art teacher, who can bring buckets of interesting foliage from her garden to fill in the background of displays; and Maggie McLeod, ex primary head teacher at Hamilton College whose beautiful woodland display filled the vestibule window sill at Easter. Jane always welcomes anyone who has a real interest in floral art and plants to help in the church. She is a very encouraging mentor for any volunteers! Volunteers don’t have to buy their own flowers or floral foam or bring their own vases, Jane will provide all that is necessary to “have a go”. Tidying up after all the vases are filled is also important and Jane takes all the black bags of leaves and stems to the green waste at Castlehill rubbish tip.
Then the final process consists of all the team walking round critically looking for anything out of place and any unspotted rubbish. If Jane is happy, then we are all happy! And we are confident the church is a prize winner again!