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The Vancouver 2010 Olympic bouquets revealed
Written by Amanda Ryder
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The bouquet that will awarded to
Olympic athletes on the podium.

With just one week to go until the Vancouver 2010 Olympics kick off, the official Olympic and Paralympic bouquets have been revealed.

June Strandberg of Just Beginnings in Surrey, B.C. and Margitta Schulz of Margitta’s Flowers in North Vancouver are the two florists who were awarded the contract in 2008 to create the 1,800 bouquets required for the Olympics. The florists were part of the design process and pitched 23 sample bouquets to the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) panel. The final selection contains flowers that are grown in B.C. and Canada, but cannot be sourced from the natural outdoors in February. The predominately green bouquets contain eye-catching green hypericum berries, delicate green spider mums and broad leaf greens. The foliage consists of leatherleaf fern, loops of monkey grass and aspidistra leaves. A simple royal blue ribbon is hand tied around each bouquet and the handles are also wrapped in recycled paper.

Here's a list of facts about the bouquets:
  • The inspiration behind the Vancouver 2010 athlete floral bouquets is to showcase flowers and greenery grown in British Columbia and Canada. The plants chosen can and do grow in B.C. in the summer months but not in the winter. Local greenhouses also could not guarantee a consistent supply of the foliage used in the bouquets in the quantities needed. The bouquet’s green spider mums are produced by Quik’s Farms Ltd. in Chilliwack, B.C. while the remaining product is supplied by farms in Ecuador.

  • For the 2010 Winter Games, 1,800 bouquets in total will be made with 1,707 awarded to athletes (1,055 Olympic and 652 Paralympic). All of the flowers and greens will be carefully hand selected and shaped into the bouquets by marginalized women, who may be recovering from addiction, leaving prison, exiting the sex trade, or who have been victims of violence, as well as by other women they train with who are changing careers to become florists.

  • This group of 22 women have learned the floral trade through the Just Beginnings Flowers Society, a non-profit social enterprise located in Surrey, BC. The flower shop and floral design school is run by Strandberg and also employs women with physical and mental challenges to prep the flowers for the designers. This experience not only connects the women with the world’s top athletes but provides employment experience in a true and lasting legacy of the Games.

  • The bouquets are presented to the top three athletes by members of the international sport federations shortly after they compete in venue. The majority of medallists, who do not receive their medals at their competition venue, will receive a second bouquet at nightly Victory Ceremonies held at Whistler Medals Plaza and BC Place in downtown Vancouver.

  • The bouquets are designed to showcase British Columbia and Canada and be taken home by the athletes as a cherished keepsake, or tossed to spectators who are cheering them on as they receive their bouquets and medals.

  • The bouquets will be delivered every second day in the first week of the Games, and every day in the second week of the Games, to all the city venues in Vancouver, West Vancouver and Richmond. Bouquets will be delivered every second day to venues in Whistler. All the delivery vehicles are fuel efficient and low-emission models.

  • The athlete bouquets are a required element for Victory Ceremonies by the IOC at all Winter Games. At Summer Games, medal-winning athletes receive a bouquet, as well as an olive wreath. Under IOC technical and protocol rules, the bouquets must be 20 centimetres to 30 cm in length and about 25 cm in diameter.

  • Organizing Committees are encouraged to design and use plants that represent the region where the Games are being held and that reflect the Look of the Games colour palette.

  • Flowers and greenery with little fragrance and pollen count are generally preferred since they lessen the chance of allergic reactions. VANOC wanted to wrap the bouquets in dried cedar but learned some people can have severe reactions to the oil found in the bark so the idea was nixed. Long stems of grey and white pussy willows, known for their furry catkins, that grow wild across the country were also considered but dropped because of safety issues ― when a bouquet is tossed into the crowd it could cause injury if it contains pointy materials. The longevity and durability of the bouquet and the hardiness of the greenery in wintery conditions for an extended period of time were also determining factors in the selection.

  • Packaging of the flowers is also minimal for delivery to the venues. Heavy duty cardboard cartons of biodegradable recyclable material are used rather than plastic. The cartons are lined with a biodegradable recyclable material that holds moisture. Each carton holds 10 Vancouver 2010 athlete bouquets individually protected with a biodegradable sleeve.
SurreyLeader.com put together a video interview with Margitta Schulz and June Strandberg. The two florists talk about the process of putting together the bouquets for the Olympics. Check out the story by clicking here.
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