Sherry Benko in her shop, Buds and Blooms, Sparwood. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Sparwood florist to compete nationally

The Maple Leaf Cup; where art and flower design meet under one intense competition.

Twenty florists from Canada are invited to compete in Edmonton in March of 2018. The winner of this competition will go on to represent Canada as well as FTD flowers at the 2019 FTD-Interflora-Fleurop World Cup Design Competition in Philadelphia in March 2019.

Sparwood’s Sherry Benko was excited to be chosen as one of those 20 Canadian competitors.

While at a floral workshop in Edmonton, Benko met the organizer of the event, Heather de Kok. After looking at Benko’s work, de Kok said she would love to have her at the competition. She applied, and was accepted.

During the competition, each competitor will be given a basket of flowers. With no preconception of what they will have to work with, each artist will have to think on the fly. The style of competition is similar to that of “Chopped Canada”.

“You go in absolutely stone cold,” said Benko. “You open your basket, and you have three hours.”

“It’s going to be crazy fun … I think it’s going to be super cool.”

The Sparwood resident has been creating works of art through floral design for the past four years out of her shop, Buds and Blooms, located in the Sparwood Mall.

Growing up, she saw her parents’ ability to create almost anything. She believes this is a result of them living through the great depression. This taught her how to work hard, and have a vision.

Benko worked at the District of Sparwood for many years, but left when she felt the desire to create her own business. When she proposed to her husband that she open a flower shop, he only encouraged her.

“I’ve always had a desire to own a flower shop, or be my own boss,” she said.

Creating works of art with flowers is like meditation to Benko.

“Designing whether it be flowers, photos, fabric, or any other medium, has been where I lose all track of time,” she said. “Focused hours turn into days.”

Benko is an artist at heart. Aside from flower design, she is also an award-winning photographer, and received a two-page spread in Canadian Geographic’s Best Of 2012 Wildlife for her photo of an eagle.

“When I find something that I’m interested in, I try to take it to the next level,” said Benko.

Benko has set up a sponsorship program, to help her prepare for the competition. For $250, a business can sponsor Benko, they will receive three practice arrangements from this. Every week, Benko will choose a different style; from something very modern, traditional, tall or green.

Contrary to her experience in photography competitions, this floral competition is not as anonymous. There is no live-competition with photography.

She believes this competition in Edmonton will be a very different experience for her. She sometimes finds that presenting in front of others can give her a bit of stage fright.

Although she drove a Zamboni for the District for many years, this is different.

To help her get over this, she will be streaming her arrangements live on her Buds and Blooms Facebook page @flowersEV.

“That gives me the experience … building in front of people,” she said.

To sponsor an arrangement, call Sherry Benko at 250-425-0222 or at 250-425-5046.

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