Those of you who know about New York in Bloom may also know that the Museum Club (8-13 years old) and Discovery Squad (14-18 years old) have given invaluable educational, social, and vocational support to young people from some of Albany's most hardscrabble neighborhoods. Each and every Discovery Squad student has graduated from high school -- no small accomplishment given that Albany High School's 2011 graduation rate was an appalling 52.3 percent -- and 92 percent have been admitted to college. If you're going to be in the Albany area tomorrow, please consider attending New York in Bloom and supporting these fine programs.
This is the fourth year I've blogged about New York in Bloom, and I have to say that the floral arrangements, which are created by floral designers, students, garden clubs, and individual hobbyists, are a little less extravagant than in years past. For example, the Bird Hall, which in past years was home to sextets of mammoth floral roomscapes, is completely devoid of arrangements this year. However, the stunning "Once Upon a Time" arrangement that David Michael Schmidt of Renaissance Floral Design created for the main lobby of the Cultural Education Center (which houses the State Archives and State Library as well as the State Museum) is one of the lushest and most ornate things I've ever seen.
Renaissance Floral Design created for the main lobby of the Cultural Education Center (which houses the State Archives and State Library as well as the State Museum) is one of the lushest and most ornate things I've ever seen. This fairy tale-themed installation features several artifacts from the State Museum's collections, including a flax wheel made ca. 1830 by R. Werdon.
Felthausen's Florist created this delightfully springlike arrangement of liatris, iris, blue hydrangea, button mums, and blue delphinium. It's one of my favorites.
Gardener of the City of Albany, used calla lilies, green hydrangea, bells of Ireland, green spider mums, green cymbidium orchids, and snapdragons for this grouping.
Eugene Ludins: American Fantasist (open until 13 May 2013). This commanding arrangement forsythia, amaryllis, Monstera deliciosa, aspidistra, and bear grass, which was created by On Thai of Surroundings Floral, stands at its entrance.
Beneath the City: An Archaeological Perspective of Albany. Stacy Collins of Fleurtatious Designs created an arrangement of Gerbera daisy, liatris, larkspur, iris, delphinium, daffodil, and amaryllis bulbs that looks right at home in it.
Capital Region Career and Technical School placed right in front of two mammoth barrels that were found at the site of the Quackenbush-Douw-Bogaert rum distillery, which was established in 1758-1759. However, I couldn't help but think -- and not for the first time -- that the City of Albany and the State of New York just don't think things through. Albany is one of the oldest European cities in North America. It's been continuously settled since 1624 (four years after the Mayflower!) but the powers that be don't recognize that the city's past is both unique and immensely valuable. The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes that the history of Jamestown (settled a mere 17 years before Albany) is a huge tourist draw, and visitors to Jamestown see active archaeological digs and visit an archaearium that features some of the most compellingly interpreted exhibits I've ever seen. What did the City of Albany do when the Quackenbush-Douw-Bogaert distillery was unearthed as a result of a construction project? It let the State Museum and an area architectural firm access to the site -- for a few months. It then finished building a six-story parking garage on the site. I realize that Jamestown is currently inhabited by only a few people and that Albany is still a (semi-)functioning city, but no one with any amount of power seems interested in capitalizing upon, not burying, Albany's fascinating past.
Bill Doran Company created a simple basket of white pine, birch, and sheet moss that splendidly complements a display of circular saw blades.
Department of General Services, created a slightly controversial arrangement (scroll down) that featured garbage that had been strewn on the city's streets and in its parks (FWIW, I really liked it). The group took a very different approach this year, and its arrangement of yellow daisy, Gerbera daisy, thistle, statice, sunflower, Queen Anne's lace, blue limonium, Matsomoto aster, green pompom athos, and spider mum that blends right into its surroundings.
Emil J. Nagengast Florist created subtle clusters of sunflowers, kangaroo paw, mimosa, curly willow, seeded eucalyptus, thistle, trachelium, leucodendron, and oncidium orchid that melded into the Adirondack travel exhibit.
Henry F. Clas Florist created a pleasingly spiky arrangement of eryngium, leucadendron, ginestra, myrtle, and beads that fits in quite well with the geological specimens.
Native Peoples of New York and Ancient Life of New York: A Billion Years of Earth History, and a Photography Gallery and Exhibition Hall that house temporary exhibits. Every year, someone places an arresting arrangement of white flowers and greenery in front of the mastodon display, and every year I attempt to take a decent photograph of it. The above image really doesn't do justice to the splendid arrangement of carnation, spider mum, leather leaf fern, caspia, and emerald leaf that Maria Kolodziej-Zincio of the Greenport Garden Club created, but I like this piece so much that I'm posting the photo anyway.