Friday, February 24, 2012

New York in Bloom 2012, day one

New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual fundraiser for its stellar after-school program, is underway. The lobby of the State Museum has been turned into the lush vision above, and more than a hundred floral arrangements have been placed amidst the State Museum's galleries.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time know that I'm a huge fan of both New York in Bloom, which is a luscious harbinger of spring, and the State Museum's after-school program, which serves boys and girls from Albany's most challenged neighborhoods and provides them with solid academic and social support. Every student enrolled in the program for teens has graduated from high school, and the overwhelming majority go on to college; most are the first person in their family to do so.

I have a rather lengthy electronic records post in the works, but I'm going hew to tradition and focus on New York in Bloom for a few days. I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures of flowers and New York State Museum artifacts as much as I enjoyed taking them. And if you're in Albany this weekend, please take a little time to stop and smell the flowers . . . .

The furniture in the roomscape in the State Museum lobby was created in 1842, most likely by Alexander Roux, for Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Kelly's home at 9 West 16th Street in New York City. It is now part of the State Museum's vast collection of New York furniture.

David Michael Michael Schmidt of Renaissance Floral Design (who created a stunning display in the very same space in 2009) created the roomscape and its sumptuous floral arrangements.

I was working today, so I got the chance to visit only one gallery. After taking in the red carpet and the red flowers in the lobby roomscape, I knew exactly where to go: the Fire Engine Hall, which is home to a lot of red and attracts young visitors whose giddy enthusiasm for fire trucks matches my gleeful enjoyment of New York in Bloom.

En route to the Fire Engine Hall, I encountered this year's "signature arrangement." Created by Andrew Koehn of Mohonk Mountain House and featured prominently in all New York in Bloom 2012 publicity materials, it consists of larkspur, aster, French tulips, lilies, gerbera daisies, godetia, dianthus, buplereum, viburnum, and citrus fruits.

In order to access the Fire Engine Hall, one must pass through part of the World Trade Center gallery, which features a haunting array of objects documenting the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the complex. Arrangements are situated throughout all of the other galleries, but the only arrangement permitted in this gallery is placed at its entrance. This year's arrangement, which was created by Kate Pietrykowski and Barbara Ostroff of Delmar Florist, features freedom roses, snapdragons, gerbera daisies, bells of Ireland, delphinium, chrysanthemums, carnations (regular and miniature), football mums, alstroemeria, green hydrangea, lemon leaf, leather leaf, aspidistra, and Bradford pear branches. The canister to the left of the arrangement was used to contain suspected explosive devices found at the World Trade Center. Emergency personnel found it in the rubble, and it is now dedicated to the memory of three first responders who perished on 11 September 2001: two bomb squad technicians and one bomb-sniffing dog.

One of the first things one sees upon entering the Fire Engine Hall is this 1875 Clapp and Jones Manufacturing Company steam engine, which was used by three fire departments throughout the state. Amanda Fagan and Tessa Czajkowski of the Capitol Region BOCES Floral Design Program created a complementary arrangement of leather leaf fern, tree fern, bear grass, spider mums, alstroemeria, traechilium, delphinium, carnations, gladiolas, and ting.

This arrangement, which was created by Rich Coogan of Bill Doran Floral Company, consists of bromeliads, leucodendron, protea pink mink, protea pincushion, ginger, heliconia, agonis foliage, ti leaf, tee pee foliage, lipstick stems, and split birch twigs. To its right sits a 1791 "tub" (a hand engine filled by buckets, not hoses) built by Richard Mason of Philadelphia and used until 1832 by a Lansingburgh, N.Y. fire company.

This hand-pulled parade carriage, built ca. 1875 and owned by a New York City volunteer fire company, is perhaps the most striking artifact in the Fire Engine Hall. Benjamin Hodder of Frame of Light used poplar, white Siberia hybrid lilies, Long Beach orange gerbera daisies, pink almond branches, and bear grass to create an equally arresting arrangement.

Here's a closeup of part of the arrangement and part of the carriage.

I'm quite fond of this arrangement, which was created by Carie Hennessey and Linda Mannella of the Bethlehem Garden Club. It consists of roses, Asiatic lilies, daffodils, tulips, snapdragons, and red dogwood, and it nicely complements the 1938 Ahrens-Fox motor pumper formerly owned by the Fire Department of New York.

In the background: a 1953 Ward LaFrance motor pumper. In the foreground: a arrangement of bird of paradise, croton leaves, honey bracelet, agonies, solidago, leucadendron, snapdragon, lily, freesia, curly willow, gladiola, and seeded eucalyptus created by Karen Ann Campbell of Henry F. Clas Florist.

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