Today we welcomed Jill Hockey and Ann Boyce of Hillcrest Floral Art Club, who very kindly did the demonstration today, and their theme was ‘In Celebration of our Country’.
Jill was first up and her chosen topic was Knysna, and more specifically the devastation of the terrible fire that swept through most of Knysna last year.  This fire was proven by environmentalists to be a natural fire and not one of mischief making and was said to be a perfect fire because of the 5 characteristics thereof.  1.  Regional drought conditions over the past 12 months and more, 2.  The fuel load – being the dried leaves, grass and branches, (Sedgefield Nature Reserve hadn’t burnt for 30 years so the build up of fuel was immense as well as having alien vegetation which are fast burners), 3.  The topography – lots of ridges, 4. The hot ambient air temperature, and 5.  Wind.  Any 2 of these would contribute to a formidable fire, but all 5 contribute to a historic fire!
Her design included dark dracaena, wood, sprayed palm seed fronds, tillandsia and bromeliads to depict the burnt vegetation.  To this she added Strelitzia and heliconia flowers, orange chrysanths and red germini  representing the flames, and some grey ‘slangbos’ for the smoke and ashes. 
Jill’s second design was named Knysna Rises.  This design showed the kindness of mother nature in the remarkable recovery of this area and was also a tribute to all the people of South Africa who responded so generously in this time of desperate need and to the Gift of the Givers for their tremendous help and co-ordination during this time.  Although there are still many blackened trees, the grass has grown and there is lots of fresh greenery evident everywhere.
She used bamboo to show the rebuilding, lime green daisy for the fresh grass coming through,  and the white roses for hope.  So from this disaster came stories of kindness, concern and care and what a wonderful reason to celebrate our country with its varied landscape and generous people.
Ann continued on a similar theme with reference to the drought that has struck many parts of our country recently.  Using dried branches and vine, wood and palm spathes, dried staghorn leaves, palm seed fronds, and dried cordyline leaves as well as strelitzia, bromeliad flowers, and orange germini, Ann created an interesting waterwise design with this material from her garden.
And then in celebration of our beautiful KwaZulu Natal gardens which are once again starting to flourish her next design used nandina for the flat crown tree, green and white cordyline, ferns, staghorn leaves, agapanthus, gomphocarpus physocarpus, hydrangeas and amaranthus, once again using plant material from her garden (and that of friends).  A second smaller design was placed at the base of this design.
Ann and Jill then completed the design across the centre of the stage, adding agapanthus and heliconia to the wood, palm seed fronds, aloes, kalanchoes, sedum, echeveria and bromeliad flowers. Wow what a way to finish off the staging!
Thank you Jill and Ann for a wonderful and inspiring demonstration.
Thank you to Rosemarie Blair and Glynnis Moodley for assisting the demonstrators today.
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