Paul Jaras rushed into Stein Your Florist on Frankford Avenue not long after landing in Philadelphia last week.
The Canadian floral designer was preparing to compete in the FTD World Cup, which is billed as the most prestigious floral competition in the world. It was held this year at the Philadelphia Flower Show.
Jaras didn’t have time to talk. He needed to pick up water tubes that had been shipped to Stein’s and head to Center City.
Stein’s, a Mayfair staple since 1948, served as one of five host florists for the competition. Their job was to help competitors from 23 different countries in the days leading up to the event.
Patrick Kelly, owner and operator of Stein’s, said he helped the Korean team acquire additional flowers, told a Hungarian designer where to get a blow torch and did some shipping and receiving for Jaras.
“I’ve helped to calm some nerves,” Kelly added. “We’re just here if they need us.”
Contestants participated in six timed challenges at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Some of the designs were prepared, meaning the competitors had time to plan, and others featured surprise packages, similar to the Food Network show “Chopped.”
Designs are judged based on a set of criteria.
The competition occurs only every four to six years, and this year’s event was the first held in the United States since 1985, according to Emily Bucholz, a spokeswoman for FTD, the cup’s sponsor.
Australia’s Bart Hassam was crowned the winner on Sunday night.
Though the competition is over, the creations of the international designers will be on display throughout the duration of the flower show, which runs through Sunday, March 10, at the convention center.
“A lot of people don’t think of floral designing as an art,” Kelly said. “The interesting thing about this art form is it’s very temporary. It can only be appreciated for a short time because the flowers are only going to live so long.”
In addition to Stein’s, Frederick’s Flowers in Souderton, Alfred of Philadelphia in Glenolden, Polites Florist in Upper Darby and Rothe Florist in Mount Airy served as host florists. ••
For more information on the Philadelphia Flower Show, visit www.theflowershow.com.
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org