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Florist creates Bush bouquets

South Shore floral designer Barbara Thran-Anderson’s talent has taken her from a shop on Lake Tahoe Boulevard to the Academy Awards and now to the biggest party in Washington, D.C.

Anderson was selected as one of about 50 designers nationwide to create the floral decorations for President-elect George W. Bush’s inauguration Saturday.

Although she has the Oscars and several celebrity weddings under her belt, Anderson said the inaugural ball is the biggest event of her life.



“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “What an honor to be able to do something that’s so historic. It’s like, pinch me, is this for real?”

Because of the uncertain outcome of the presidential election, Anderson said plans for the inauguration weren’t made until about two weeks ago.




Top floral designers flew to the White House Sunday to discuss what flowers and plants the new administration wanted. And Anderson along with other designers and assistants arrived in the nation’s capital Wednesday to create the more than 1,500 lavish decorations that will adorn inaugural festivities.

“With this being such a controversial election, floral decisions were held off to the last minute,” Anderson said. “Timing is critical though, because you’re working with a perishable flower.”

Anderson said the team of designers and assistants will work 15 hour days to plan and arrange the all-white, large-bloomed flowers Bush requested.

“This year will be very, very elegant, with all flowers done in white,” she said. “It’s really going to be spectacular.”

Anderson was given this inaugural opportunity through her membership in the American Institute of Floral Designers, a prestigious nonprofit professional group representing the top 1,200 floral designers in the world.

Although Anderson didn’t start off on the floral path, she said she was born with artistic talents like all her AIFD colleagues.

“(Floral design) takes a lot of years of hard work,” Anderson said. “But you either have it or you don’t.”

Anderson learned she possessed these aesthetic skills while working in her mother’s flower shop when she was pregnant with her daughter, Katie, 23 years ago.

“I was on maternity leave and I told my mother, ‘I’ll work one year for free for you,’ ” Anderson said. “And after one year I was totally hooked.”

Since then Anderson has studied under European masters of floral design and 10 years ago became a member of AIFD, a rigorous feat that typically involves two years of portfolio review and hands-on design.

Anderson was accepted after six months. Along with that extraordinary accomplishment, she was also designated as one of the few people to be part of a mother-daughter design team, when Katie was inducted into AIFD at the young age of 21.

Anderson and Katie have exhibited their work together since then and have entered international competitions. Anderson also teaches floral design and has started some interior design work. Her next stop after the presidential shindigs is New York, to bid on some art at Christie’s auction house for a client.

“We all start out in a small way,” Anderson said. “So I feel very blessed to live in Tahoe where you feel protected, but to be able to go to all these places and participate in these grand events.”


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