There’s a reason for these flowers



Have you been wondering what the deal was with the Olympic
flowers? I have. When I first saw the yellow/chartreuse bouquets, I wondered if they had
some kind of significance to Vancouver, because they are so unlike the
traditional flowers you might expect—any color roses would be the norm, you’d
think. Not that I’m disappointed they’re not roses; like Susan, I find florist
roses to be pathetic, chemicalized clichés.

From the distance of the TV screen, the Olympic bouquets,
given to both male and female medalists, look to be homely bunches of ordinary
flowers, though it’s hard to distinguish the individual cultivars. I did find
an article
about them
though, and here’s the deal. The flowers are green mums and hypericum berries. Well, that’s what the Yahoo article
says. Technically, they should be called regular incurve chrysanthemums and (I
think) Hypericum androsaemum. I’m no mum or hypericum expert, though I’ve
certainly bought enough of them as excellent components of long-lasting
arrangements. That said, I’m not a fan of the traditional fall mums. The
Olympics ones are a prettier variety.

Apparently, 58 florists competed for the Vancouver bouquet
concession, and the winners were Just Beginning Flowers and Margitta’s Flowers,
both local to BC. Just Beginning teaches floristry to women who have left
prison, are recovering from addiction, or are victims of violence. In other
words, the program makes a useful trade available to women who need a fresh

The Beijing Olympics had roses. In Turin,
they used rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. While both of those choices
may be more interesting or elegant, I like this year’s choice of common flowers
we all buy for our household vases. And I love the Just Beginning project.

Our friends at the Human
Flower Project also had a post on this.

Oh, and by the way, I am loving the Olympics. I have not
watched it in years and so far I am vastly entertained by the snowboarding
and the figure skating. Awesome outfits! And let’s face it, the outfits are key.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I love hypericum berries and agree with your thoughts on the good sense in choosing simple, everyday flowers for the bouquets. Mums get a bad rap, especially with all of the hothouse ones around in the fall. Just Beginning Flowers sounds like a wonderful enterprise.

  2. You talked about the flowers, but it’s the foliage that’s a standout in my mind. I love the loops of bear grass and big folded over tea leaves, although I think I would have skipped the leather leaf fern. Over all the hand tied bouquets are unique and understated which seems perfect for the times.

  3. Elizabeth,

    Thanks for checking out Human Flower Project on the green torch and giving us a mention here. I hope this summer’s blogger gathering in Buffalo takes the gold.


  4. I’m a HUGE fan of green mums, so I love the simplicity of these. I didn’t know anything about them till this article – love what’s behind them!

    We LOVE LOVE LOVE the winter olympics and got cable for the month again just for these games. We’ve been watching hours and hours each day, haven’t missed hardly any of the events. Thank goodness for the DVR so we can fast forward through all the commercials!

  5. While I think the bouquets are pretty, I’m not wowed by them. Just watching the athletes standing on the podium, they don’t seemed to be wowed by the flower bouquets either. One of the athletes threw his bouquet to the crowd. I told my husband if it was me, I would have treasured my bouquet! Winter is so drabby that I would have liked to see more color.

  6. I blogged about the Olympic bouquets as well and what an honor to be selected to make them!

    The arrangements look great and the monochromatic theme is growing on me as they don’t detract from the athletes.

    I find it fascinating as I read somewhere that it’s an official Olympic rule that each medalist is required to receive a commemorative bouquet.


  7. Coming from Hawaii, the first thing I noticed was that they used Ti leaves around the side of the mums to give them some support as they wave their bouquets at their fans. I would presume the ti leaves came from Hawaii. funny that you did not even mention the ti leaves in your article. I guess it proves that we are all looking at what is important to us.

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