Floral department manager can make showy bouquets

Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2004

It's no exaggeration to say Carroll Knutson, the new manager of the floral department at Safeway in Soldotna, has designed flower arrangements that were picture perfect or, to be more precise, moving-picture perfect.

Knutson worked for 16 years as a florist in Seattle, Wash. The shop she worked for, Crissey's, had a good reputation and was often called on to fill some unusual orders. During her time at the shop, Knutson designed flower arrangements for everything from movie sets to presidents, she said.

Knutson was the florist for several movies filmed in Seattle, including "Sleepless in Seattle" starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, "Singles" with Bridget Fonda and "Black Widow" with Deborah Winger.

The flower arrangements she designed were like movie extras and didn't always make it into the final cut, Knutson said.

A large arrangement of flowers Knutson designed and set up for the big New Year's Eve party scene in "Sleepless in Seattle" was one such casualty.

"My big scene got left on the cutting room floor," she said. "I think the scene lasted all of nine seconds and you couldn't see any flowers."

A bouquet she provided for "Singles" made it to the final cut of the film, but the arrangement wasn't something most florists would brag about. The flowers in the bouquet were supposed to be dead.

The film makers needed the bouquet of dead flowers for a scene at Jimi Hendrix's grave. The flowers needed to look like they'd been placed there by a fan some time ago. However, florists deal in live flowers.

"Of course, we didn't have dead flowers on hand," Knutson said. "We don't usually get called to make dead flower arrangements."

The film makers needed the flowers the next day, so Knutson left a bouquet out overnight without water. When film crew picked them up the next morning, they said they didn't look dead enough. Knutson suggested a novel solution.

"I told them to drive (the flowers) wherever they're going in the back of a pick-up," she said.

She thought the wind might beat them up enough to do the trick. She doesn't know if the filmmakers took her advice, but they used the flowers, she said.

One of Knutsen's favorite incidents while working at Crissey's came when she received a call to provide flowers for a Larry King interview with President Clinton taking place in Seattle later that afternoon.

The woman calling was very particular about the kinds of flowers and colors to be used in the arrangements. Knutson said she told the woman the arrangements would have to be restricted to foliage since President Clinton is allergic to flowers. The woman didn't believe her.

Knutson made up the arrangements as ordered. About 30 minutes before air time the woman called back in a panic.

"She said, 'The Secret Service just arrived and told us to get rid of all these flowers. Bring us some big plants right away,'" Knutson said.

There wasn't enough time to get an order from the shop to the set. Crissey's had a couple business clients in the building from which the show was being broadcast. Knutson arranged to borrow potted plants from the clients' reception area.

Knutson's favorite part of being a florist is not the usual situations that come up once in a while, but the ordinary events that happen every day. She said she'd rather provide the flowers for a wedding, birthday or as an apology than for a movie set.

"The best thing about being a florist is I get to be part of the most important events in people's lives," she said.

One of those people was Paul Hutchings. Friday afternoon, Hutchings was buying roses for his wife's 40th birthday.

"I always give her a rose for every year," Hutchings said.

"He's one of the smarter guys," Knutson said as she bundled up the roses. "He gets her flowers before he gets in trouble."

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