Olympic flowers: The story behind the bouquets given to medal winners in Vancouver
There's a nice story behind the Olympic flower bouquets presented to medal winners at the 2010 Winter Games.
Like millions of people around the world, I was hopelessly addicted to viewing the world’s top athletes showcase their very best at the Vancouver Olympics.Skip to next paragraph
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The moment Evan Lysacek, a native of my hometown of Naperville, Ill., raised his arms in victory to a first place finish in men’s figure skating, triumph and unity was shared among all Napervillians. The kid who grew up skating at the rink just down the road from my house was now a medal-winning Olympian.
But wait. Did you happen to notice the bouquets given to the medal winners? Not the most telegenic bouquet I’ve ever seen. From my perspective sitting on the couch, the design looked a bit severe and monotonously green. From my husband’s perspective, it looked a bit liked a stalk of broccoli tied with a ribbon.
I needed to do a bit of sleuthing here.
We all realize how long, arduous and fraught with peril the journey to the podium is for the athletes, but it turns out the bouquet’s journey from garden to podium is no piece of cake either.
The hand-tied bouquets, conceived by June Strandberg of Just Beginnings Flowers and Margitta Schultz, owner of Margitta’s Flower Boutique went through 23 different design iterations of the bouquet before the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) approved what we finally saw on the podium.
The predominately green bouquets contained eye-catching green Hypericum berries, five striking green ‘Revert’ spider mums, and layers of leather leaf, loops of monkey grass, and folded, broad aspidistra leaves. The finished product was hand-wrapped in recycled paper and secured in simple shoelace style with a royal blue ribbon embossed with "2010 Olympics" in white.
Between 80 and 150 bouquets were made each day, most by 22 novice florists trained by Ms. Strandberg in a nonprofit enterprise she runs for women emerging from troubled pasts involving additions, violence, prison, or prostitution. The front of her flower shop functions as florist while another portion houses the nonprofit floral design school.
By the time the last medal was awarded, these women had turned out a total of 1,800 bouquets.
The anatomy of the bouquet
Organizing committees are encouraged to design and use plants that represent the region where the Games are being held, reflect the Games' color palette, and – it's hoped – be attractive enough to be taken home by the athletes as cherished mementos or tossed jubilantly to spectators who are cheering them on.