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Blooming beauty: Botanic Garden features floral design show, pollinator-themed foods

The importance of helping pollinators thrive in our community is the theme of this year’s floral show and pollinator party at the ABQ BioPark’s Botanic Garden.

The Nature Connect Floral Show runs from April 13 to April 15 in the High Desert Rose Garden’s indoor atrium. Designers who create the arrangements range in experience from 2 to 45 years in the floral industry.

“All of the different florists, we have about 16 people involved, each will do their own representation on pollinators through floral design, and some people take it very literally by coming up with actual things, like there’s one lady who is using mason bees, for instance,” said Steven Hong-Elder, Nature Connects Floral Show coordinator. “Whereas I have noticed, too, with more of the younger group of florists, they don’t take the theme as literally, and so I know that one girl, for instance, is using moths in the sense of sitting out on a front porch with a rocking chair and seeing the moths flying around, so not necessarily species-specific.”

The floral arrangements are created using dry and fresh flowers and foliage, as well as produce. Artificial flowers are not allowed.

“I’m really excited about the center of the room this year, because we always do something over-the-top for the center,” Hong-Elder said. “This year, we are forming a giant chrysalis out of vellum (paper) and branches and fresh floral material. We’re going to have 200 origami butterflies coming out of it. On setup, we will probably spend about six hours working on it and then the day before. We’ll probably overall spend about 12 hours working on it times three people.”

The public will have an opportunity to taste the fruits of pollinators’ labor during the culinary event titled “Oh Honey, It’s a Pollinator Party.”

“We’re going to a chef’s table with honey pairings,” said Annie Fedora, general manager of Taste ABQ BioPark. “For instance, we’re going to have pork belly fig gorgonzola crostini with drizzled honey. And then honey walnut goat cheese baguette that you can drizzle honey on and beef tenderloin, chimichurri and alfalfa crostini. So all these flavors will go with the honey. … We’re making sure that we are getting several different flavored honeys so people can experience honeys of New Mexico that have different profiles.”

Also on the menu is a chicken slider with chipotle peach crema that will be paired with Marble Brewery’s Wildflower Wheat beer, made with New Mexico wildflower honey. Elote tacos with mango slaw will be served with a mini margarita. A cheese charcuterie board, cashew hummus with vegetable sticks, a pumpkin cranberry quinoa salad, and peach compote empanadas are some other hors d’oeuvres offered. Local country group the Tylor Brandon Band will provide entertainment. Educators also will be on hand to provide information on pollinators.

“We’ll have people there talking about backyard habitats and how to help pollinators thrive in New Mexico, and that will be from our own staff from keepers and horticulture people,” Fedora said. “They’re going to give tips on how to create pollinator (gardens) and keep them alive in your backyard.”