After spending several years observing gardens while living in England and Italy, Melinda Wolcott realized a passion for designing arrangements of flowers.
“I said, ‘I really like this,’ ” Wolcott said. “It’s creative. It energizes you. It’s something you are creating yourself.”
At 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in Smith Wilkes Hall, Wolcott will impart her knowledge on floral design to Chautauquans at a Brown Bag lecture titled “Floral Design for Summer.” The talk and demonstration will include four designs that use inexpensive, local materials.
“My focus this year is using what’s at hand, what’s easily available and what you’re not going to spend a lot of time worrying about,” she said.
Wolcott, a National Garden Clubs Inc. flower show judge who lives in California, has come to Chautauqua nearly every summer of her life, staying in a cottage two miles from the Institution that her grandfather built by the lake in 1924. She previously lived in Connecticut, where she maintained a garden for 35 years and participated in several garden clubs.
Wolcott’s floral designs, which she described as both simple and practical, will incorporate flowers and materials from local garden stores.
“If you’re learning how to design, the elements and principles of design are the same, whether you’re doing floral design, or landscaping your garden, or decorating your home,” Wolcott said. “It all flows together.”
Through her designs, Wolcott aims to make each flower stand out rather than blend together.
“Hopefully in a design, everything has a little space to itself,” she said. “Negative space is always good in design.”
Wolcott, also a member of the Wilton Garden Club in Connecticut, has taught floral design for several years, which she said incorporates both art and horticulture.
“I’m hoping to stimulate the people who attend this lecture to try different things,” she said. “I’m educating them in how to go about designing in a practical manner.”
Overall, though, Wolcott hopes her talk inspires others to create.
“If I get a couple people to say ‘I can do that,’ I’m going to be happy,” she said.