Between the buzz of Thanksgiving and the hubbub of Christmas, could you (and your team) use a jolt of inspiration for new design work in 2020?
This month in Floral Management, we’ve got you covered, with a cover story by senior contributing writer and editor Katie Hendrick Vincent that details the award-winning varieties — including Best in Show, Best in Class, Blue Ribbon and People’s Choice — from the Society of American Florists’ 2019 Outstanding Varieties Competition. The top finisher, Cotinus, a six-foot tall decorative foliage from The Sun Valley Group in Arcata, California, enchanted judges with its flawless — and functional — form.
Indeed, writes Vincent, “Cotinus literally towered over the other entrants, making a memorable first impression. A closer examination revealed strong and straight stems, as well as glossy, blemish-free leaves with delicate red etchings for added visual interest. Most of all, though, judges identified so many potential applications, particularly for weddings and events.”
“It is an event designer’s dream,” said judge Heather Waits, of Bloomtastic Florist in Columbus, Ohio. “There’s just so much you can do with it!” Judge Lani Callister, of Ensign Wholesale Floral in Salt Lake City, Utah, agreed. “We buy Cotinus all the time,” she said. “When event planners see it, they go wild.”
Cotinus’s smoldering color also provides a host of possibilities, writes Vincent. “Mix it with proteas, heliconia, birds of paradise and celosia and you have a contemporary, exotic style. Next to pale pink peonies, garden roses, ranunculus and stock, Cotinus looks feminine and romantic — and satisfies the palette du jour.”
A bonus? Cotinus has a vase life of 10 days. “You could use this as a shop window display a whole week before an event,” said judge Manny Gonzales, of Mayesh Wholesale in Charleston, South Carolina. “That’s incredible value — and a conversation starter.”
Lane DeVries, president and CEO of The Sun Valley Group, told Vincent he knew that he had a winner on his hands with Cotinus. Midway through its season (May through November), “It was in its prime,” he said. “I had to show it off!” Plus, increasing customer demand over the past two to three years made him confident Cotinus would score highly because of its marketability. “Foliage is in,” he said emphatically.
The SAF 2019 Outstanding Varieties Competition drew 211 entries from 31 growers and breeders in Florida, California, Oregon and Hawaii, as well as Colombia, Ecuador, Israel and the Netherlands. Nine judges — an appointed panel of growers, wholesalers and retailers — scored each entry based on color and commercial appeal, stem and foliage, bloom form and size, and overall presentation. Judges evaluated specific categories of flowers; the highest scored entry of each won “Best in Class.” The judges collectively assessed these winners, naming Cotinus the best of the best.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.