Coloring her world with flowers

May 09, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

KEEDYSVILLE - Sandra Hynson may be retired, but business is still blooming for the former head of the Washington National Cathedral Altar Guild.

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For 17 years, Hynson guided the Guild's 70 volunteer members through their duties of using floral arrangements to decorate the cathedral and its nine altars for Sunday services and special events, and caring for the grand church's needlepoint, silver, linen and vestments.

The Wisconsin native originated the cathedral's annual flower show, to which people from across the nation flock for a week-long training course in floral design for churches and temples.

Hynson has traveled to 44 states and two foreign countries for lectures, workshops and master-classes. She shared her knowledge with her husband, Dick, who blossomed into a master floral designer.


She mingled with the U.S. presidents, British royals and other celebrities who made appearances at the chief mission church of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

"You name 'em, I've met 'em," chuckled Hynson, 72.

She and her husband greeted astronaut Neil Armstrong with a display of man-on-the-moon marigolds when he presented a piece of moon rock to the National Cathedral in 1969.

She documented that experience and other memorable moments and recipes from her years at the cathedral and on the lecture circuit in her newest book, "25 Years on the Rubber Chicken Circuit," which will be printed in June.

Hynson, who previously wrote two books on the art of arranging and preserving flowers and greens, retired in 1990.

But she didn't stop working.

Sandy and Dick Hynson took their expertise to Clear Spring recently to teach members of the Clear Spring Garden Club and its junior gardeners how to make May baskets with wallpaper, wildflowers and candy.

It was the latest in a series of workshops that the Hynsons have presented to area garden clubs and church groups. The couple recently demonstrated floral arranging for churches to a group of 150 people in Baltimore, Dick Hynson said.

"I love to teach. I really do," Sandy Hynson said. "I love people. To help them be satisfied with what they do is really fulfilling."

A bishop in North Carolina once referred to her as the "Julia Child of Flower Arranging," she said.

She drew from her love of horticulture and floral arranging the ingredients to create one of her greatest masterpieces - "Sialia," the Keedysville area home that Hynson, who knew architect Frank Lloyd Wright, designed.

Latin for bluebird, Sialia "is our bluebird of happiness," Hynson said.

An indoor atrium filled with budding fruit trees and blooming bougainvillea, lilies, jasmine and geraniums crowns the sprawling home, which was built around the 200-year-old lilac bush outside the Hynsons' dining room window.

The couple stayed in their back yard log cabin for years before the house was built in 1990, they said. Sandy Hynson often filled bags with buds and blossoms from her many home gardens for her work at the National Cathedral.

"They called me the bag lady," she said.

Two of Dick Hynson's huge home-grown pumpkins made it to the high altar for a Thanksgiving celebration. One of the 50-pound pumpkins imploded during the Eucharist, freeing hundreds of fruit flies.

The insects headed straight for the ceremonial wine, Sandy Hynson said.

"There were titters and snickers and a few outright guffaws," she recalled.

She didn't know until after the fact that Alter Guild volunteers had failed to coat the fruit with a protective covering, she said.

The Hynsons' floral creations no longer grace the National Cathedral, but they continue to pay homage to God through petals and greens by designing arrangements for St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Sharpsburg, where they attend services.

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