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New Richmond woman named top flower arranger

This piece, dubbed Ombre Circles, helped Carolyn Craig win the title of "Flower Arranger of the Year" and is now featured on the National Garden Club's 2011 calendar.1 / 2
Carolyn Craig has been named "Flower Arranger of the Year" by the National Garden Club.2 / 2

When Carolyn Craig submitted her design for consideration for the 2011 National Garden Association's calendar, she had no idea an even bigger honor would be heading her way a few months later.

Craig's piece "Ombre Circles," was not only chosen to be featured in the calendar, she was selected as the national "flower arranger of the year."

"It is quite the honor," she said. "This is the first time someone from Wisconsin has won it."

It's actually the second time Craig has been featured in the national calendar, she said. She was also featured in 1984.

"After that it got too professional," she said. "They wanted professional photographs of the designs, but those cost a lot of money."

As part of being named flower arranger of the year, Craig was asked to attend the national convention, something usually attended by only state officers.

"I didn't tell them about it," she said with a laugh. "I wanted them to be surprised."

And surprised they were.

"When they saw me, they said, 'What's Carolyn doing here?'" she said.

That's when most of them realized she was being honored with the highest award.

Craig said she fell in love with flower arranging in the 1960s when she attended her first flower show in Wisconsin Dells, her hometown.

"Boy I was hooked then," she said. "It was so much fun."

The inspirations for her designs vary, she said.

Usually there's a theme for each competition - whether it be transparency, light or water - and size restrictions, but otherwise Craig said she's able to use whatever she wants.

Craig said she likes to use her own flowers and some sort of unusual container or other piece.

"I have a whole big collection of junk," she said with a laugh.

In the case of Ombre Circles, a broken light fixture is featured in the design.

"When we remodeled in the 80s, I had four of these," she said. "They were lined up in the basement and one of the workers broke on with his tools. He felt so bad about it, but I think it turned out really nice."

Craig has since broken the other three fixtures in hopes of getting another unique piece, but said none of the others turned out as nice.

Craig has held many titles within the local garden club, including president and scholarship chairwoman. She is currently serving as a master judge.

Along with arrangements, Craig also maintains an extensive garden at her home on North Shore Drive.

"I think that if you're judging someone else's horticulture, you better know about it and how it's grown," she said. "I try to keep informed."

Craig said her designs come to her after playing with the flowers for a while.

"I think about the background, the space requirements, the theme and what I have on hand," she said. "It just all comes together in the end."