By Linda Hutchison
Although British floral designer Shane Connolly believes flowers have a language of their own and should speak for themselves, he will help them along Thursday, March 8, when he speaks at The Village Garden Club of La Jolla's fifth annual Meet the Masters event.
Author of "Language of Flowers," "The Secret Language of Flowers," and many other books on floral design, Connolly will share his artistry and passion for flowers with other garden enthusiasts. After visiting local gardens, he will create and demonstrate eight designs using living flowers and plants unique to the area. The program starts at 1:30 p.m. in the Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St. Tickets are $55 for club members and $65 for non-members.
Connolly's floral designs have gained him a loyal following around the world – from Europe to South Africa. In recent years, he's become well known for his royal customers as well. Based in London, Connolly is the official supplier of flowers for royal events.
His designs have graced the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday celebration in 2006, the 10-year memorial of Princess Diana's death in 2007, and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (TRH Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) last April.
For the wedding that was seen around the world last spring, Connolly transformed Westminster Abbey into an English garden. He graced the entrance walkway with eight 20-feet maple and hornbeam trees in planters and the altar inside with greenery and flowers from royal estates. He created an all-white bridal bouquet using British flowers such as hyacinth, lily of the valley, Sweet William, and myrtle (originally planted by Queen Victoria and traditionally used in royal wedding bouquets).
Despite Connolly's connection to royalty and tradition, his approach to floral design is uniquely modest, modern, and even forward-thinking. He prefers simple but elegant designs that are eco-friendly and uses living plants, flowers, and trees that can be recycled. The trees he selected for Westminster Abbey, for example, were all re-planted after the wedding.
"Shane is a bigger-than-life kind of person, with many facets," said Nan Kaufman, co-chair of the garden club event. "He is ahead of his time and takes floral design to a new place."
A psychology major in college before he studied floral design, Connolly is sensitive to what his clients want and combines this understanding with a natural, understated philosophy of design.
"He understands the essence of a person and an event and lets the flowers speak for themselves," added Kaufman. "He is a good spokesperson for floral art in our time, with a fresh approach to flowers."
A tea at the La Jolla Women’s Club will follow the event. It is being co-chaired by Kaufman and Ann Craig, both past presidents of the garden club. The event also honors founding member Adrienne Green and benefits the club's community outreach programs, including The Schoolyard Gardening Grant Program, the Penny Pines Project, the Native Plant Restoration Project at Torrey Pines State Reserve, and the Jacaranda Tree Project.
For reservations, call (858) 452-2380 or visit
If you go
The Village Garden Club of La Jolla's fifth annual Meet the Masters event
1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8
Sherwood Auditorium, 700 Prospect St.
Follows the program at La Jolla Women's Club, 715 Silverado St.
$55 club members; $65 non-members