Feature Story

Flower Power

The Veiled Prophet Queen’s bouquet is more than an array of stunning blooms—it’s a unique work of art representing traditions from the organization’s earliest days. “The queen always gets orchids for the ball,” says Chuck Knoll, operations manager at Walter Knoll Florist, who creates the bouquet each year with senior designer Bob Hauck. “Her arrangement takes six hours to complete and contains about 30 orchid varieties that aren’t available at any flower shop.”

The bouquet has been made in the same basic style since the 1800s, according to Knoll. “It seems oversized by today’s standards, but not by 19th-century ideals,” he notes. “In fact, we think it may have been even larger back then. Still, it’s surprisingly lightweight.” Each year, orchid specialist Blanche Wagner supplies Knoll with blossoms from the Missouri Botanical Garden’s collection. She selects Cattleyas, Angraecums, Oncidiums, Ansellias, Dendrobiums and other varieties that work well together in colors like purple, pink, white and yellow. “We have more than 6,000 orchids at the garden,” Wagner notes. “The types we use for the VP differ each year depending on what’s in bloom at the time of the ball.”

In the florist’s studio, the delicate flowers are taped and wired onto a length of piping, then carefully shaped so the queen can carry the arrangement comfortably and place it on the floor when she bows on stage. Knoll and Hauck also design bouquets for the retiring queen and Special Maids.

Pictured above: 2018 VP queen Cecelia Ann Fox.