Cathedral in Bloom 2019, by Louis Bower Bannister
Three years ago, New York in Bloom turned twenty-five years old. The all-volunteer flower show held at the New York State Museum had been an annual event that brought thousands of people together every February. The twenty-fifth annual event was, sadly, also its last. Due to a large variety of circumstances, the museum felt that it could no longer host such an event.
People wondered what could be done to replace such an event. Those working in the floral community yearned for the opportunity to bring some spring to residents of the Greater Capital District, just as much as those residents longed to support such an endeavor.
As a florist, for me, the key component was venue. Location! Location! Location! But what to do? Where to find such a location? I had a conversation with someone while standing in line waiting for a latte at a cafe before making my way up the hill to do some floral work. I told the well-wisher that once a location could be found, we would once again have a flower show. I grabbed my latte and walked to The Cathedral of All Saints, my spiritual home. Upon entering the dim Nave, it suddenly hit me…THIS IS A VENUE!
I called my friend and local florist, Michele Peters, and quickly told her my idea. She met it with great enthusiasm. We met that afternoon to walk through the Cathedral, and our vision began to form.
With the support of Dean Harding and the Cathedral’s mission, that it be a place that celebrates not only Christ, but also the arts, dates were set and a small committee began planning. Cathedral in Bloom was born!
An invitation was issued to twenty-six florists and floral artists throughout the region, all of whom accepted with amazing enthusiasm. The bitterly cold lull of February saw spring arrive at The Cathedral of All Saints as the entire interior was transformed into a blaze of blooming glory. Forsythia shone brightly throughout many of the thirty large scale displays, as did thousands of roses. The sight and fragrance were intoxicating.
The event opened for the day on Friday, 22 February, with live news broadcasts from Spectrum News. Friday evening saw a Champagne Gala with a jazz trio. Saturday’s programming offered guided tours of the Cathedral interior, workshops and presentations from floral professionals, as well as a recital of floral-themed organ music offered by William Douglas, the Cathedral’s Lloyd Cast Organ Scholar. 45 people enjoyed Afternoon Tea that featured a custom blend by Harney & Sons. Sunday morning saw worship among the flowers, followed by an afternoon of guided tours and presentations. A Luncheon Cafe was offered, and a Flower Market was open during the entirety of the event where people could purchase a variety of bouquets, plants, cathedral memorabilia and other items.
The event was an opportunity for the leading floral artists to come together, work together, and do some good for the community. It was also an opportunity for the general public to come to know your cathedral! One thousand people, from as far away as Connecticut, Boston, New York City and northern Vermont, came through The Cathedral of All Saints’ doors for Cathedral in Bloom, some of whom had been there before, but most of whom said they weren’t even aware that the cathedral was there!
This is, most assuredly, the beginning of something wonderful that promises to grow! Save the dates for Cathedral in Bloom 2020: 21—23 February!