Metro-East Living

Metro-east florists are part of St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom festival

Detail from the floral piece created by Trisha Haislar, of Collinsville, that interpreted “The Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb” by Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Detail from the floral piece created by Trisha Haislar, of Collinsville, that interpreted “The Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb” by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Trisha Haislar’s interest in flowers has taken her from Collinsville to the White House, and many places in between.

This weekend, one of her floral designs is on display at St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom. During the annual free festival Friday through Sunday, 37 designers and garden clubs use flowers to imaginatively interpret works of art. Trisha is also part of a team that will decorate galleries. She learned Friday that her piece won Best of Show.

“I’ve been involved with Art in Bloom since its inception in 2001,” said Trisha, 65, who owns Elegant Celebrations in Collinsville. She and husband Dennis have two grown children and five grandchildren. “The first year I interpreted one of the pieces of art. It evolved into being invited to be on the design team to come up with ideas on how to decorate Sculpture Hall. Now, we also do Taylor Hall in the new building, completed a couple years ago.”

Q: How hard is it to interpret a piece of art with flowers?

A: “Some are a lot easier than others. It depends on the piece of art. The Art Museum goes around and selects the art they want to highlight. They meet in January and draw your piece of art out of a hat. You have quite a while to think about your concept and the flowers you will use. I’ve been lucky. I’ve always had a painting. Interpreting a piece of pottery may be trickier. I remember the first piece that I ever interpreted was Monet’s ‘Water Lilies.’ It was so easy.”

Q: What makes it easy to interpret?

A: “It helps if you have really good color. Sometimes, you have to think out of the box. You have to consider flowers that have longevity. I like to use tropicals. They hold up much better. Spring-type flowers such as sweet peas don’t last. All designers go back and water and check their arrangement to make sure the flowers look in perfect condition. If not, you replace them so they look as fresh as when you initially installed them on Thursday."

Q: What is your work of art this year?

A: “‘The Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb.’ (an oil painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme) It’s wonderful. It has wonderful colors — deep oranges, greens, reds, yellows. It’s very bright.” (Look for Trisha’s work in Gallery 205.)

Q: What is one of the flowers you will be using?

A: “Heliconia, a tropical flower where I can bring in oranges, yellows, greens and reds. I have three diffferent types. Each is a combination of colors. One is orange, green and a little yellow. They are really quite wonderful. I love being given a challenge like that to just create. I love being able to see what fellow florist designers come up with. If you gave everyone the same painting, you would have 37 different designs. I think that’s just so exciting.”

Q: Do you have advice on choosing flowers that will last?

A: “If you stick with the standard flowers, such as roses and carnations, they hold up pretty well. As long as you stay away from tender spring flowers such as tulips.”

Q: Do you have a favorite flower?

A: “My favorite flower is the one I have in my hand at the moment.”

Q: How long have you been interested in flowers?

A: “I always was very interested in gardening. I was the one who would go to my mom’s garden and cut and bring flowers into the house and arrange. I was a member of the Collinsville Garden Club. My first introduction to real designing was entering flower shows when I was in the garden club. I learned the basic principles of design through flower shows. I wanted to learn more. I got a job in a flower shop and it took off from there.” Trisha is a member of professional organizations, including American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) and Certified Flower Designers (CFD).

Q: What adventures did that lead to?

A: “In 2010, I went to the Rose Parade (in Pasadena) and worked on floats. In December 2014, I went to the White House and worked in the Flower Shop there for five days. The first family was still there before their Christmas break. Every day, there were two parties. We made winter bouquets, set up parties upstairs on the third floor and then took them down. It was wonderful. It was through the American Institute of Floral Designers. They had built a relationship with the White House floral shop. They requested additional help. Three members from American Institute of Floral Designers went.”

Q: Did anything exciting happen?

A: “There were a couple of really memorable things. I was on the lower level pushing a cart and bringing back flowers from parties. Mrs. Obama walked past with her Secret Service people. Another time, we were upstairs setting up a party. They told us to go to the window in the Blue Room. We watched the helicopter land and the president get out. I had watched this scene on TV for years and years. To be in the Blue Room, it was very moving. That was great. I also got to see Sunny and Bo, the Obamas’ dogs.”

If you go:

  • What: Art in Bloom, annual flower festival.
  • Where: St. Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park, St. Louis
  • When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • Cost: Free
  • What else: Lectures ($10 and $15, check web site, floral demonstrations, live music. Museum docents circulate in the galleries to help you understand the art and floral display connection.
  • Events for children: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sculpture Hall. Create a free floral arrangement to take home. Families can also pick up a self-guided scavenger hunt. Family storytelling 1-3 p.m. in the Education Center.
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