‘Tis the season for enjoying warm festive drinks and decorating the home for the holiday season. Wondering when you’ll find the time to do both? Mt. Cuba Center has you covered with our upcoming Wassail & Wreath Making Class on December 3. Enjoy spiced cider punch while putting together a beautiful magnolia wreath. Use it to enhance the inside or outside of your home or give it as a gift!
Join instructor and Philadelphia Flower Show designer, Ken Norman, for this on-site class that will get you into the seasonal spirit. Read below to find out how he decorates his own home for the holidays, and his favorite ways to add “flair” to a wreath. Then join us on December 3, either at 9:30 am or 1 pm, to create and take home a beautiful long-lasting wreath.
Mt. Cuba Center: You’re a third-generation florist. Tell us about your family’s history with flowers.
Ken Norman: My father’s father started what would become the family business Both of his parents died when he was a late teenager. He got married and took over the flower shop. My father built the business and at one point there were four locations. I actually hated the business growing up and couldn’t wait to get away from it. I went to college four hours north to Syracuse University. I figured that was far enough that I wouldn’t have to come home for Valentine’s Day. Today, I own a full-service floral studio (Floral Inspirations) in Lewes, Delaware.
Mt. Cuba Center: Can you tell us more about your certifications and accreditations through the American Institute of Floral Designers and Professional Floral Communicators – International?
Ken Norman: When I got involved in the family business as an adult, someone I worked with at the shop said I should join AIFD. I’d heard of the organization but didn’t know too much about it. I went to a presentation several years later called AIFD Across America and was hooked. But it wasn’t a matter of joining; membership to AIFD is not easy. I had to submit a portfolio of very specific designs that were evaluated by seven members of the membership committee. Luckily, I achieved enough points to move onto the second phase, an on-site evaluation. I passed and was inducted in 2002. Several years later, I needed a new challenge, so I applied for membership to PFCI. That is a 12-page application; each question has a point value. This committee wants to know my experience as a presenter and educator. For example, what are my affiliations, have I won any awards, written any articles, has my work been published, etc. I also had to submit a recording of a presentation that was specifically critiqued. I was inducted into PFIC in 2011.
Mt. Cuba Center: In this wreath making class you will use magnolia leaves. Is there a benefit to using magnolia leaves in a winter wreath?
Ken Norman: Magnolia leaves are very durable. They can withstand the cold winter temperatures. When I was younger, I wasn’t a big fan of magnolia. I didn’t think the brown back of the leaf was a very festive color. Now I love magnolia, especially living in the mid-Atlantic where it’s very abundant. The broad, shiny, deep green leaves are a wonderful contrast when combined with other evergreens such as pine and cedar. The brown suede texture of the back of the leaf compliments other natural elements such as birch, cones, pods and berries.
Mt. Cuba Center: Do you have a “go-to” plant or flower to add “flair” to a wreath?
Ken Norman: I could make wreaths all month long and each one could be different. It really depends what the client wants. I have a client whose colors are plum and gold. She loves hydrangea. Dried hydrangea can be painted any metallic color or kept natural. I do like to incorporate bundles of cinnamon sticks, pheasant feathers and fruit for a full and lush Della Robbia styled wreath.
Mt. Cuba Center: Not only do you get to make a wreath in this class, but you also get to enjoy some warm cider. Can you tell us a little more about wassail?
Ken Norman: Wassail is an old English mulled cider enjoyed during the holiday season. I have a feeling that most students will be busy making their wreath and will save the wassail to enjoy later.
Mt. Cuba Center: What traditions do you have when decorating your own home for the holidays?
Ken Norman: I love to bring out my collection of Santas. They are mostly vintage looking, some made from old chalk molds, others look like wood carvings while others have elaborate velvet suits. The tree is decorated with these ornaments along with vintage glass ornaments that are shiny and reflective. I usually light the tree with tiny gold lights with accents of larger bulbs with a flicker filament. The tree (always fresh) is so warm and reflective. After a long day at the shop I can sit in front of the tree, relax and be mesmerized by the warm glow.
Register today for Wassail and Wreath Making, space is limited!
Wassail and Wreath Making – Section A: 9:30 am-12 pm
Wassail and Wreath Making – Section B: 1 pm-3:30 pm