TODAY.AZ / Baku-2015

Ornate victory bouquets stun Baku 2015 winners

23 June 2015 [13:09] - TODAY.AZ

/By AzerNews/

By Amina Nazarli

One of the most exciting moments of the opening ceremony for the 1st European Games was undoubtedly the performance of world renowned-pop singer Lady Gaga, who performed an astounding rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Her powerful performance complimented by an intricately designed floral piano astonished the massive crowd at the Baku Olympic Stadium and millions around the world.

Only a handful of insiders know that the creation of such a masterpiece required more than two thousand flowers and five individuals working for a total of 36 hours to create such a dazzling carpet of scented flowers that covered her piano.

Famed Azerbaijani florist Turkan Dmitriy was assigned the task of designing the arrangement from Baku 2015 ceremony director Dimitris Papaioannou.

It was a hard job, with many details to consider, but it all came together quite nicely in the end. All of the flowers had to appear fresh, but by the second day, they realized that they could not water the flowers to keep that appearance, since it might cause damage to the piano itself. The details, however, were eventually worked out.

The director planned for Gaga’s singing to represent life, hence the flowers, Turkan said.

“I was invited to decorate the piano 36 hours before the opening ceremony. We needed a brainstorm by the whole technical team to deal with this issue. We found only one way, to place every flower in a test tube. By the way, it was more than two thousand flowers, plus greens,” he said.

The elegant, fragrant, and colorful bed of flowers consisted of clove, clematis, delphinium, peony, rose, amarantus, passionflower, gillyflower, hydrangea, salal, eucalyptus and ivy.

“The singer liked the flower composition, especially she liked the flavor of the flowers,” the florist stressed. “We used gillyflower—the plant of our grandmothers in the composition. In the sun, it looked very fresh.”

The talented florist has also been selected to design and create floral bouquets being presented to the winning European Games athletes, alongside their medals.

In general, all of the plants in the composition should have an Olympic character.

Turkan believes that the flowers, symbolizing sportsmanship, are able to bring good fortune to the winners.

“Flowers must have ... value, meaning, according to the organizing committee. Moreover, all of the flowers had to be grown in Azerbaijan,” he said.

Turkan had a difficult task with bouquets, too, as the flowers had to endure the heat during transportation.

The lovely and characteristically-Azerbaijani bouquets consist of different types of flowers with pomegranates in the middle, which are symbols of the Baku 2015 Games. The cloves being used are feverweed, limonium, Chinese cloves, Dianthus Green trick, pistachio, and rose.

The blue flower in the bouquet, very similar to the thistle, is called feverweed. According to some legends it drives out evil spirits and brings fortune. The other blue flower—limonium, also known as statice—represents memory, so that the athletes will never forget this day.

“Even its name suggests strong character,” said Turkan. “When statice dries, it completely retains its original appearance.”

The beautiful victory bouquets also consist of two different types of cloves—Chinese cloves and Dianthus Green trick.

"This flower is a symbol of gratitude,” the florist explained. “Here, in Azerbaijan, people have special affinity for cloves, which are traditionally used to commemorate the struggles endured as Azerbaijan struggled for independence in the early 1990s. During these times of hardship, Baku’s streets were literally covered with them. That’s why I chose Chinese cloves and the rare green sort, Dianthus Green trick, and pistachio, which symbolizes wealth in Persia; while in the East people call it the "tree of life".”

The bouquet is also decorated with rose, considered a symbol of love. “It is purple rose, the color of wisdom, and the official color of the Games in Baku."

And finally, pomegranate adorns the center of the elegant composition.

Historically, the pomegranate has been associated with fertility and strong health. Pomegranate has been used as a symbol of humanity, fundamental beliefs and desires, life and death, birth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity almost in all religions. The pomegranate has been praised in the Holy Quran in three references and considered to be a fruit of paradise and an example of the good things God has created.

A total of six florists per day design the bouquets. "With each passing day the number of victory bouquets increase. Soon we will have to design 250 bouquets," he said.

Turkan has not been working in Azerbaijan for long. He had worked as florist for seven years in Milan. "Compared with Italy, Azerbaijan is a paradise for people of my profession. Here people love flowers, appreciate the imagination and beauty. The Italians, however, prefer modest bouquets."


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