Coast to Coast

The Industry Mourns an Icon

The Industry Mourns an Icon

Barbara “Bobbi” Ann Ecker Blatchford died Friday, February 3, leaving behind two children and legions of fans throughout the world, prompting an explosion of tributes on social media for the inimitable “Bobaloo.”

Bobbi’s illustrious career had anything but a conventional beginning. She was 16-years old, living with her grandparents in rural Iowa after her parents died. That’s when a yellow airplane landed just yards away. The pilot, Ted Ecker, approached her with a biedermeier bouquet, a gift for “the most glamorous woman in town.” Bobbi told him, “come back tomorrow,” because she was a lot more interesting than the town beauty queen.

Ecker did just that, beginning a courtship that spawned one of the most talented, and beloved, floral designers. She started at her husband’s family’s retail flower shop and nursery in Waverly, Iowa, and went on to launch her own company, The Flora Pros in Chicago. Over the course of 60-plus years, she became an award-winning designer, a favorite commentator, and a coveted consultant for all segments of the industry, including growers, manufacturers, and distributors all over the world.

Many organizations recognized Bobbi’s achievements, including the American Institute of Floral Designers, International Floral Expo, and the Society of American Florists, which awarded her the Tommy Bright Award, the top honor for floral education. In addition, United Flowers, a division of Preesman, named one its “High and Icon” roses after her. There is also a “Bobbi Cup” floral design competition held in conjunction with the Chicago Flower & Garden Show.

Still, it was her effervescent personality and uncanny ability to make others feel special and extraordinary that so many people recall — and her fondness for flamboyant hats (decorated with a flower, of course)!

“Bobbi was an incredible influence for me and thousands more in the floral community,” said CF columnist Neville MacKay. “We will be forever thankful for her love and encouragement.”

“A lady full of energy,” said Dorina Idvorian, a former floral instructor at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario.

Pakistani Court Bans Valentine’s Day

The Islamabad High Court in Pakistan’s capital issued an order Monday, February 13, that banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day across the country.

The order prohibited the display of advertisements that referenced Valentine’s Day, banned the sale of associated merchandise (red roses included), and stated that the day could not be celebrated in “any public space or government building.”

The court’s order came after a petition was submitted by a citizen called Abdul Waheed, who claimed that ongoing Valentine’s Day promotions were “against the teachings of Islam and should be banned immediately.”

Resistance against Valentine’s Day is not unusual in Pakistan. Religious groups, such as the Islamic political party jamat e Islami, have often protested against the holiday as an amoral appropriation of Western culture and hold rallies annually on February 14.

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Katie Hendrick
Katie Hendrick is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Florist.
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