What’s With the Olympic Flowers?

Carole McFaddan

Have you been watching the Vancouver 2010 Olympics this week? Why are the winners getting all these bouquets of flowers?

This year at the Olympics, Vancouver’s flowers are filled with green mums and hypericum berries.

Well, you Olympic fiends, the athletes are first given a bouquet of flowers and are later awarded their medals. At the Beijing Olympics the bouquets were filled with roses and in Turin, rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. This year, Vancouver’s flowers are filled with green mums and hypericum berries. Intended as keepsakes for the athletes, these particular flowers were chosen to represent British Columbia and Canada.

These bouquets aren’t just from any florist; they are from the Just Beginnings Flowers and Margitta’s Flowers in Surery, British Columbia. June Strandberg, the bouquet designer and owner of Just Beginnings teaches floristry to women who have left prison, have been victims of violence, or are recovering from addiction. Strandberg also teaches within the prison system. Olympic officials chose Strandberg’s design from 58 contending florists in the area, but she believes it was her service to the community that secured the contract.

The florists made 1,800 bouquets, 1,707 of which will be given to the medal-winning athletes of Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics. Olympic officials have set strict regulations, stating that each bouquet for the flower ceremonies per IOC protocol must be 20-30 centimeters tall and approximately 25 centimeters across. While most of the flowers are grown locally, they are not in season in February, so additional supplies were imported from Ecuador.

Although these flowers do not look, well, as “pretty” or amazing as some previous Olympic arrangements, the societal impact of each bouquet can be thought of as great as the medals themselves. They not only provide service to the Olympics and each nation the Olympians represent, but they encourage the recovery of British Columbian women effected by crime in their families.