Saying it with flowers

Doris Tucker finds it a privilege to decorate St.John's Church in Tiruchi. Photo: B.Velankanni Raj   | Photo Credit: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

That Mrs. Doris Tucker has a way with flowers is obvious when you see a pretty arrangement of red carnations in her Anna Nagar home. It is this talent for simple yet varied floral displays that has made her a regular decorator at Tiruchi’s historic St. John’s Church in the Cantonment area, for the past 16 years.

“It’s absolutely God’s grace,” she replies when asked about how she got started.

A native of Kotagiri, in Nilgiris district, after marriage Ms. Tucker was based in Mangalore and Kerala before the family shifted to Tiruchi in 1998.

It took Ms. Tucker some time to adjust to the city’s scorching summer, and as it happened, to discover her own artistic talent for flower arrangement.

“On August 19, 1999, there was a festival of thanksgiving in St. John’s Church,” she recalls. “We were new, and didn’t know how to participate. Then my husband suggested his Bangalore-based brother could send fresh flowers and we could decorate the church.”

That marked Ms. Tucker’s debut as church decorator, though she admits it was all a little slapdash at first. “We had to borrow vases from congregation members,” she says.

“I didn’t know that you had to moisten the ‘oasis’ sponge before using it, so I just stuck the flowers in and they all fell off,” she smiles at the memory.

Seven years after what she calls ‘God-given training,’ Ms. Tucker decided to offer her services as a wedding venue decorator in August 2004, soon after her daughter’s marriage.

“I started doing church wedding and reception arrangements. But it is a very strenuous job, so I’m beginning to focus on one function,” says Ms. Tucker.

Flower arranging can take up to 12 hours depending on how elaborate the decorations are.

Tiruchi’s hot weather is not conducive to the use of many flowers, but Ms. Tucker, who has suppliers in Kotagiri, Bangalore and Cochin, has got her own shortlist of usable blooms. “My arrangements are not too symmetrical or orderly; I prefer a free-style display,” she says.

Her team of five helpers does the preliminary work such as cutting the stems and removing the foliage before storing the flowers correctly until the actual display time. The “pretty but expensive” lilium and anthurium are her favourite flowers.

She uses fresh fruit and vegetables along with flowers for Thanksgiving arrangements.

Ms. Tucker has also been decorating St. John’s Church every Saturday with a small package of Kotagiri blossoms on her own initiative for over 12 years, or with the help of donations from congregation members.

“Once you enter the church, there’s no time to estimate the flowers required and the time left. I just do the arrangements one after the other and then place them in the right order,” says Ms. Tucker, who makes special displays for carol service, Christmas, New Year, Easter and Thanksgiving.

She keeps her research to a minimum, though she does buy decoration accessories whenever she travels to Hyderabad or Chennai.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from flower arrangement. And to keep doing it for the church is a real privilege,” she concludes.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:34:56 PM |

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