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Six months before Valentine’s Day, the staff of Minish & Potts Florist in Crestwood is up to their noses in roses.
Since mid-August, they’ve snipped and glued more than 13,500 roses and carnations for garlands they create for the World’s Championship Horse Show at Freedom Hall during the Kentucky State Fair.
Several weeks before carnival rides are Bluegrass- bound and food vendors set their sights on the Kentucky State Fair, the crew at Minish & Potts – led by co-owner Debbie King – measures, trims and layers burlap and foil before gluing satin ribbon along the burlap edge. Burlap protects horses from stems, while foil maintains moisture for the blooms to thrive.
Assembling floral garlands for the annual horse show is a tradition that spans 45 years for Minish & Potts.
By now, they have assembly down to a science.
In July, long before the roses and carnations are shipped to Crestwood from Florida, South America and elsewhere, King starts making bows.
Each bow requires three yards of ribbon and each garland includes at least a dozen bows. Before the first bloom is clipped, King has more than 850 bows prepared.
Within a span of 20 days, the small staff of Minish & Potts assembles 61 garlands – each boasting nearly 200 carnations glued in tidy rows – plus five large garlands of 250 roses each.
King makes a painstaking assembly process look easy with swift, precise movements. Despite comic relief from co-owner Mike Potts, King chuckles in stride.
She plucks less-than-perfect petals from each bloom and they fall into a pile at her feet as she dips each bloom into a shallow bowl of glue to attach it to burlap. Surgical gloves protecting her fingers are quickly coated in glue.
When complete, Potts gives each garland a generous spritz of water before it is nestled onto a bed of tissue paper and individually boxed. Garlands are refrigerated and later loaded into a delivery van bound for Freedom Hall.
As King and crew work with delicate blooms that will wilt if assembled too early, there’s little opportunity to work ahead or fall behind.
But it’s all part of a familiar routine 45 years in the making.