At 8 a.m. on July Fourth, Ann Etienne and three floral designers were elbow deep in white spider mums, red roses and giant sunflowers in the workroom at Voilà Blooms and Decor in Dundee. They were maintaining a fine balance between the task at hand and the lifespan of fresh blooms that would decorate the upscale hospitality suites for this week's U.S. Senior Open at the Omaha Country Club.
By noon Saturday, the Voilà team had completed 30 towering buffet arrangements and 235 tabletop centerpieces for 30 corporate villas and chalets overlooking the course, plus 30 smaller arrangements for the volunteer headquarters.
Three months of planning, gathering and assembling culminated Sunday morning when Etienne and her crew of six made their deliveries to the country club. By noon their precious cargo was safely ensconced in air-conditioned luxury along the 17th, 13th and 10th fairways.
Weeks ago the shop had developed prototypes of each floral concept to test the staying power of the blooms.
“We did samples of everything and then let them sit at room temperature to see how long the flowers would last,” Etienne said. “They had to stay good-looking for more than a week” in order to pass the test for the golf event, which runs today through Sunday.
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“We had a budget, and we worked hard to stay within it,” Etienne said of her invitation to be the official florist for the prestigious U.S. Golf Association event.
The USGA gave Voilà carte blanche for design. Etienne's inspiration came from the putting green. She achieved a “natural look” with sunflowers, spider mums, roses, statis, eucalyptus, hydrangea, hypericum, alstroemeria, ferns, birch branches, fresh moss and river rocks.
A few corporate hosts had special requests. Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc., for example, specified yellow construction helmets as vases for its centerpieces, while RFD-TV wanted ceramic cowboy boots as vases (to accompany mini metal windmills on tables).
The Voilà team will check the floral arrangements every other day and refresh the blooms as necessary. But maintenance visits to the tourney grounds will have to be made before 6 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Thankfully, Etienne said, air conditioning in the tents should keep blooms fresh and bright.