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A fancy for flowers

David Goodwin / Managing editor

Vivid colors are in full bloom in gardens and yards across Demopolis and the Black Belt.

Even before the spring season’s official arrival last week, purples, pinks and vibrant yellows transformed the winter’s gray into a Technicolor landscape of flowers.

“The south is definitely the place for flowers,” noted floral designer Paula DeClerk said. “They put on the best wedding and parties of anywhere in the country. It’s a whole different culture down here.”

Tonight at Flowers by Maison de Briques, DeClerk, a leader in floral design, will share her knowledge to help the area’s designers arrange spring flowers into professional looking centerpieces and decorations.

The flower and gift shop will host the “young, up-and-coming designer,” who has 15 years of experience in the floral industry, for a Spring Design Show starting at 5 p.m.

“At workshops like this, I show the customers what the trends are for the season, and share new, fresh ideas,” DeClerk said, as she and Maison de Briques co-owner Kay Evans carefully combined flowers in “complex, but not complicated” arrangements.

There are still a few tickets available for the Spring Flower Show, Evans said. Tickets are $10 each. There will be a Preview Party from 5-6 p.m., where DeClerk will mingle with local flower enthusiasts, she said, as well as autographing copies of her flower design book, “101 Ideas Using Dries and Silks,” which will also be for sale.

Flowers by Maison de Briques has held design workshops around the Christmas season for a number of years, Evans said. But she and her mother and co-owner Gladys Franks are excited about the springtime show, since so many beautiful flowers are now in full bloom.

“She’s going to demonstrate unique ways to use flowers in entertaining,” Evans said.

Among the designs DeClerk will create before the customers’ eyes are centerpieces for Easter dinners, decorations for barbecues or picnics and a few other table-top designs, she added. This year was the perfect time to do a spring show, she said, because Easter comes a little later, in time for the best flowers to be in bloom.

DeClerk said the trends in floral design have changed in the past few years, moving away from overwhelming rainbows of colors, toward monochromatic arrangements, which combine different shades of the same color.

“We like to group pinks with pinks, blues with other blues, but with a twist to make it a little more interesting,” DeClerk, who works for the respected Le Fleur shop in Memphis, Tenn., said.

DeClerk has helped arrange floral decorations for wholesale shows and flower showcases in Atlanta and Dallas. She has studied floral design in other countries, and is well-versed in the use of tulips, after spending extensive time in Holland.

“Ten years ago, you were limited in your designs by the season,” she said. “But now, Holland grows all kinds of flowers almost all year. You can get tulips in all but the hottest summer months now.”

DeClerk said she wouldn’t only be sharing her knowledge with the flower-lovers of Demopolis, though.

“I like to travel, because everywhere I go, I learn something from someone else,” she said. “Everyone has something new they can teach you. That keeps you refreshed, and keeps your designs from getting stale.”

DeClerk said she was blessed with a “God-given ability, and has learned from working with others who have the same natural talent.”

Working in the garden with her grandmother as a child, she said, developed her love for flowers at an early age.