Best in Show Arrangement 2012
by Ted J. Kennedy
My wonderful wife Margaret won the best arrangement at the ADS National show. Sometimes a little bit of luck
goes a long way and this is the story of how her winning entry was created. Before each show Margaret reads
the show catalog for the arrangement categories. She then goes through our collection of vases looking for
vases that could be used for each category. When we are unable to find just the right vase, we start looking
beyond our vase collection. One of the entries called for two vases and although we have several pairs of very
nice matching vases, Margaret decided that we should shop and find more choices.
Our first stop was at Shibata’s wholesale floral supply that is located in the industrial area on Swan Island. They
have hundreds of vases of all kinds and descriptions. Previously, we had bought a very nice 10 inch tall black
porcelain vase that had a very dark gray band around it near the top. As we searched the hundreds of feet of
shelf space, Margaret spotted the vase she had purchased last year. And right next to it was a smaller version
that was about 7 inches tall. The gray band was on the bottom of the vase but they were obviously designed to be
a very well matched pair but in different sizes. Margaret decided that this was the exact vase she needed for her
two vase entry. But as luck would have it, there was only a display piece on the shelf and there were none in
boxes to buy. So we started to put the display vase into our cart and then noticed that it had a very long crack
and it would be unuseable. So much for the matching vases. Nothing else caught Margaret’s fancy and we left
with lots of floral supples but no pair of vases.
We have found most of our vases at thrift shops and of the many in the Portland area, our favorite stores are
called “Goodwill”. They have several stores in Portland and we frequent many of them in search of suitable vases
at reasonable prices. The largest Goodwill store is their “super” store near their Portland headquarters and that
store was our very first stop. Most thrift stores cram items of like kinds onto crowded shelves. At Goodwill they
endeavor to use the ends of the display aisles as places to allow their retail designers to show their design skills
and they place decorative items of like colors on them. As we walked to the vase department, we saw an end
display of black floral items. On the middle shelf was the exact vase that we had seen at Shibata’s! And it was only
$3.99 as compared to Shibata’s $8.99. And if the vase had red tag it would be half price but it was a purple tag
and we forced to pay the full $3.99. Oh well, you cannot have every detail go your way.
Margaret entered eight of the design categories at the National show. Each design can take an hour or two to
complete when you consider the picking of special flowers and the actual construction of the arrangement. Many
times Margaret abandons a design and has to think up a new one to complete. The two container design,
“SHARED BORDERS” – A design using two containers, was the seventh one that Margaret put together. It was
late in the evening prior to the show and she had picked a couple dozen of red and red and white bicolor flowers
for the design. She had also picked out the foliage and the two tiles used for the base and the screen to the left
of the design had been put together a few days ago. While many designs can take hours to put together,
Margaret had a very clear idea of how this one would look and her preparation paid off and it was done in just
about 45 minutes.
And then it was off to the show. The designs are first put together at home but they have to be partially
dismantled and delivered to the show site. Some designs are almost totally dismantled and have to be re-
created there. The two container design was easy to transport and went up quickly at the show site. Just a little bit
of tweaking was done: the screen was moved an inch or so to the right and then the vases were moved to the
right also to get them centered on the two tiles. And finally the vases were turned on a slight angle so as Margaret
would say, “They would look better”. It was done.
At the shows, we like to guess what design is Margaret’s best one. Some arrangements we love but they do not
do well in competition. At this show, Margaret had done several that she felt could do well. The “Jazz’ design with
the guitar had come together very well. I really liked that one. The “Zoo” design with her gorilla(another Goodwill
find) in the background looked awfully good to her. She wanted to hide the gorilla behind the foliage so only the
eyes showed. The water design included some dazzling, intense pink waterlily flowers set off by a small sprig of a
fuschia branch with a couple of buds. And certainly, the Shared Borders design was very good too. What design
had a chance to win?
We took the time to look at the competition before the judging began. The overall quality of the designs was very
high. We picked out some of our favorites. We found several that really impressed us. Would Margaret have a
And the winner was? The judging of the arrangements was done by two, three judge teams; each doing half of
the entries. At the end of the judging, they collectively had to pick the best arrangement from the eleven section
winners. There were 99 entries at this show and the planners had set up the design area for only 72
arrangements. The overflow was placed in several areas many feet from the main design area. The six judges
were seen walking from one side of the show to the other, several times as they viewed the winners in each
section to make their selection. And at last, a giant Best in Show ribbon was placed on Margaret’s red and white
Shared Borders design.