Garden Club decorates inauguration

Published 9:50 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

For the second inauguration in a row, the Nansemond River Garden Club provided extensive floral arrangements for the governor of Virginia.

A team of 14 women helped set up arrangements for Ralph Northam’s inauguration last Saturday. The women set up 14 arrangements in the old Senate chamber and Jefferson Room in Richmond, and they also placed arrangements around the Washington and Jefferson statues in the Capitol.

“They wanted some type of arrangement around the equestrian statue of Washington,” said Sandy Hart, a member of the garden club who led the project. “What we did there was encircled the barrier with some smilax vine and made four wreaths out of honeysuckle and flowers.”

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These arrangements were not the easiest feat for the team of women. Two of the arrangements measured almost 8 feet tall, and one of the vases used weight almost 100 pounds.

“Sandy is quite the flower arranger, and she has a knack for doing huge arrangements,” said Mary Ann Eure, a senior member of the garden club. “These things were massive. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The club drove up to Richmond a few days prior to the event, and they traveled with seven car loads of greenery. There were also boxes of flowers included for all of the arrangements. The group tied in red, yellow and white flowers to give a nod to Northam’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute.

Not only did the club travel with the greenery, but all of it came from the club’s own yards. The women had to brush off snow from Winter Storm Grayson and clip the freezing plants to be prepared, Hart said.

Planning arrangements for the event was stressful for the women, despite it being the club’s second time doing the inauguration.

“We went out to eat at Cary Kitchen, all 14 of us, and we were all nervous and tense not knowing how it was going to turn out,” Eure said. “The next day after the arrangements were in place, all the congressmen walked through thanking us for doing it. Ralph Northam even came by, and we got a picture with him.”

The garden club was asked to do the arrangement in late November, and despite it being last minute, they were excited to participate.

“We did not expect to be doing it a second time, and we were happy and honored to do it a second time,” Hart said. “I knew what to expect. We knew the lay of the land and we knew how to get to the places we were putting the arrangements. I think having been there before makes it a lot easier.”