Floral Flash, a brand-new Kennett Blooms event, will celebrate the multi-sensory beauty of flowers with thousands of blooms throughout town the weekend of June 10th–12th.  Seven large-scale and temporary floral installations in public places will bring beauty to residents, graduates, and visitors and will showcase the creative talents of local floral designers

The weekend is a short, sweet window in which to enjoy the fleeting beauty and whimsical artistry of these seven different installations. “Most of the installations will include a profusion of fresh flowers, in addition to plants and other creative materials,” says Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Bo Wright. “We’re excited to provide everyone in our community with an opportunity to experience the beauty of what we know will be stunning works of art.”

“It will be a full weekend of celebrations in Kennett Square,” says Wright. “The inaugural Kennett Summerfest Wine & Spirits Festival will take place on Sunday the 12th, and festival goers will have the opportunity to enjoy Floral Flash as well. Summerfest will feature the best of local and regional wines, spirits, and cheeses as well as live music and a curated pop-up al fresco gallery of local artists.” Tickets are still available for Summerfest here. In addition, because Floral Flash is planned for the graduation weekend for both Kennett and Unionville high schools, the installations will offer graduates and their families beautiful backdrops for photos of their special occasion.

A trash can at West 12th Street & 8th Avenue in NYC becomes a temporary work of art thanks to Lewis Miller’s Floral Flash installation. (Photo copyright Lewis Miller Design)

Floral Flash takes its inspiration from New York florist Lewis Miller’s viral and wildly inventive Flower Flash pop-up installations in Manhattan. Miller, who created his first pop-up Flower Flash installation in 2017, wanted to give back in a way that surprised and delighted people with beauty. The very ephemerality of these large arrangements is part of their value. They have no purpose other than to be beautiful, Miller says—and then they disappear.

The Floral Flash map, which will be available online and throughout town that weekend, will guide people to discover new spaces in Kennett Square and to see familiar landmarks in new ways—from a tree on West State Street to the Kennett Squared sculpture by local artist Rob Sigafoos and the Work2gether balcony and down South Broad Street to a secluded courtyard behind the Presbyterian Church, then on to Braeloch Brewing and The Creamery on Birch Street.

State Street-area Floral Flash installations will be bookended by two very different but complementary displays by Maria Navarrete-Olvera of Zena Florist—one focused on the large tree between Nomadic Pies and Bove Jewelers and the other on the 100 block of South Broad Street that will be part of the Kennett Summerfest event space on Sunday, June 12th. “They will be vibrant and happy,” Maria says, “conveying a message of unity in the community as a whole and also of hope and friendship.” Maria will bring butterflies, dogs, and other animals into these displays to tell some of her story and that of her business’ namesake Zena, the service dog of her mentor, the late Laurie Szoke. Maria is also looking forward to adding different materials and textures to her floral arrangements. “I’ll include succulents, an expression of my Mexican heritage, and also vibrant blooms that reflect who I’ve become,” she says. You can read more about Maria’s story and Zena Florist here.

Liz Megill of Allaire Event Rentals & Design and Dannie Wright of Hilltop Flower Design are partnering on an installation that will showcase the amazing architectural features of the Work2gether building at 120 East State Street and also appear as an integral part of the building itself. Drawing on her love for designing sets and building props to create beautiful spaces for people to enjoy, Liz will be making larger-than-life flowers out of various materials and installing them so they appear to be growing in and around the building. Dannie will add beautiful flowers from her Oxford farm to achieve what Liz describes as a dramatic interactive display combining the real and the imaginary. Her inspiration for the outsize blooms came when she was watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids with her children. “I thought, ‘how great would this be?’” she says, laughing.

The playful whimsy will continue across the street on the Genesis Walkway with Dannie’s Alice in Wonderland-themed transformation of the Kennett Squared sculpture. Dannie brings her wild, romantic aesthetic to life with designs that are loose and richly layered and textured. The beautiful Genesis Walkway gardenscape, which Dannie designed as part of Kennett Collaborative’s Kennett Blooms projects last spring, continues to come into its own this season and will provide the perfect backdrop for her Floral Flash installation.

Maria Navarrete-Olvera of Zena Florist will create two different Floral Flash installations with a unifying theme of unity, hope, and friendship.

One of the hidden spaces that will be transformed by a Floral Flash installation is the courtyard playground behind the Presbyterian Church at 211 South Broad Street. Flower Flash guests will be well rewarded for following the path down the south side of the church to discover this space. Carolyn Brady, of Joyful Fields Floral Designs, loves the concept of creating an enchanting space that’s interactive for little ones in the bright, bold colors she loves. “I’m envisioning a floral hopscotch game on the grass and festooning the large swing set with hanging flower tendrils,” she says. As the grandmother of three little girls, Carolyn is well versed in the child’s eye view. She understands the universal appeal of a swing and is envisioning graduating seniors swinging through flowers for beautiful and memorable photos as well. She’s also planning to set up bistro tables and chairs on a deck area overlooking the playground. “I want a comfortable and cozy area for parents to relax while they watch their children playing,” she says.

“As a church centrally located in the heart of the Borough, we’re always looking for ways to extend hospitality and create events and spaces where the community feels welcome,” says pastor Andrew Smith. “We do this through programs like our First Friday Art Splash evenings for kids and our @Work space, which will return this fall, and we’re delighted to be part of Floral Flash—to provide this space for people to enjoy Carolyn’s creative gifts and also to provide a connector on the Floral Flash trail between State and Birch Streets.”

Other Floral Flash installations will include an installation at Braeloch that will be a collaboration between the Farm at Oxford and The Gardeness as well as the decoration of the iconic vintage truck at The Creamery by Creamery horticulturalist Jen Hahn and Amy Lucas of Selah Flower Farm. “Our display will give a nod to the Creamery’s original use,” Jen says.

“We wanted to do something fresh and different for Kennett Blooms this year, and we’re very fortunate to have so many talented and creative floral designers who are willing to take on the challenge of creating these ambitious installations to bring joy and beauty to our community,” says Wright. “Kennett Square is the hometown of Longwood Gardens, and we love making the connection between our rich horticultural heritage here and local growers and producers in a way that celebrates the art and creativity of floral design. It’s also very important to us that Floral Flash is free and accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

While Kennett Square is famous for its mushrooms, the area was first known for its flowers. Nineteenth-century Quakers who were growing carnations, roses, and chrysanthemums in local greenhouses began growing mushrooms to put the dark, warm, and unused space under greenhouse benches to good use.

A recent spate of vandalism in the Borough, including the destruction and defacement of many of the Pop Up Lending Libraries painted by local artists, has Floral Flash organizers worried. “We’d really like to think that everyone will respect the significant investment of time, talent, and resources, as well as the beauty and artistry, that each of these installations will represent, and leave them intact throughout the weekend for everyone to enjoy,” Wright says.

“Generous anchor sponsorship from Longwood Gardens makes the Kennett Blooms: Floral Flash possible,” says Wright. “We’re very grateful for their ongoing support and their partnership in helping to make Kennett Square a more beautiful and welcoming community where all can belong and prosper.”

Floral Flash will run from 5pm on Friday, June 10th through Sunday, June 12th. To stay up to date with Floral Flash installations and news, follow @KennettCollaborative.