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By Amber Marrafirstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- As far as florists go, Barbara Plitt says she isn't exactly a traditionalist.
As she moves around a small design room in Buggy B's in Strasburg she grabs flowers from a refrigerated store room and forms them into uniquely beautiful arrangements that surpass the average and stimulate the imagination with differing colors, textures and materials.
"I get tired of three carnations in a vase with Bakers fern and baby's breath," Plitt said. "You can do many more interesting things with different flowers but still stay at the same price level."
Like the designer and store manager's arrangements, Plitt's design room is colorful, to say the least. Colorful vases of all shapes and sizes line the shelves, curly ribbons hang loosely, predesigned wreaths are still on display for all occasions, and fake flowers and feathers poke out from every corner.
On Saturday, a small group gathered in the already-cramped studio to watch and learn from Plitt at a design class specifically focused on filling awkwardly shaped vases and containers with flowers and other supplementary plants.
"Everybody has containers at home that could always be something very dramatic," Plitt said.
Cheryl Abruzzino, who just moved back to Shenandoah County from Florida, brought a white candy dish that Plitt transformed by first laying a carpet of moss and building up from there with tall, leafy stalks called bells of Ireland, freesia, and an assortment of other flowers that are either white or shades of green.
"You are so different from every other florist, Barbara," said Laura Bradburne, of Fort Valley.
As each vase was brought forward, Plitt would ask what flowers to pick and start arranging them in, and sometimes around, the piece. She brought forward purple fuzzy kale to fit into a cylinder for those who wanted "to go wild and crazy" and L.A. lilies for an arrangement that went into a black, saucer-like, Asian-inspired vase.
Plitt also offered helpful tidbits for the at-home designers in attendance, like how to properly use oasis floral foam to hold flowers into place.
Plitt told the group that once a stem is inserted into the oasis it should not be taken out again because an air bubble could form in the space left momentarily empty, damaging the rest of the foam.
Toward the end of the demonstration -- when all of the containers overflowed with flowers, feathers, and wire -- Plitt also explained how to preserve some of the most delicate flowers by bringing out a small jar of purple roses that were three weeks old and still had not expired. She explained how clipping the stem of the rose to a shorter length allows less distance from the head of the rose to the source of the water.
She also said it is imperative to clip the rose either under water or place it into warm water as soon as the stem has been snipped.