Art in Bloom

As it has each year since 2000, next week the Saint Louis Art Museum will welcome spring gracefully (if a bit prematurely) with a festival celebrating both fine art and botany: Art in Bloom.

From Thursday, March 1, to Sunday, March 4, that festival will spotlight diverse speakers and panels, and floral installations and arrangements involving select museum works will decorate each floor and collection. In past years, floral designers and garden club members spent weeks creating such displays, which customarily play on the artistic themes of famous exhibitions.

The full experience will involve refreshments, live music and, reservations permitting, lunch at Panorama, the museum’s restaurant.

Art in Bloom will begin with a reservations-only preview party at 6 p.m. on March 1. That party will feature cocktails and a floral viewing, as well as an elegant seated dinner in Sculpture Hall.

The next day will spotlight a series of speeches and panels by botanical and other experts:

  • At 11 a.m., Margot Shaw, the editor-in-chief of Birmingham, Alabama’s Flower magazine, will present “The Magic of Outdoor Living,” a lecture on alfresco entertaining.
  • Then, at 2 p.m., Catherine Neville – the publisher of Ladue-based Feast magazine and host of PBS’s Feast TV – will lead “Buzz-Worthy Botanicals,” a panel on the increasing use of flowers and herbs in the restaurant industry. Panelists will include pastry chef Summer Wright of St. Louis’ Vicia, Anne Lehman of St. Louis’ Dirty Girl Farms and Tom Anderson, head distiller at New Haven, Missouri’s Pinckney Bend Distillery.
  • Next, “The Way of Tea and Flowers” will start at 4 p.m. and will allow attendees to experience traditional Japanese arts with a tea ceremony and demonstration of ikebana, the art of arranging cut flowers.
  • Finally that Friday, “Mixology 101: Botanical Beverages,” which will start at 7 p.m., will focus on handcrafted gins and their perfect pairings, with samples from Pinckney Bend.

On Saturday, presentations will start at 10:30 a.m., when experts from St. Louis’ famed Missouri Botanical Garden will use live specimens to demonstrate how they cultivate and curate their living collections. Then, at 12:45 p.m., lifestyle expert and best-selling author Martha Stewart will share advice and present her Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering and Enjoying, which Clarkson Potter will publish on Feb. 27. Kevin Sharkey – her co-author and the executive vice president and executive director of design for the “Martha Stewart” brand – will join Stewart to sign books immediately after the presentation.

Sunday will mark Art in Bloom’s Family Day, with all children’s activities free. Young attendees will be able to create their own flower-inspired art, embark on a self-guided scavenger hunt and enjoy nature-inspired tales told by Choctaw storyteller Suzanne White.

Running throughout the festival will be Flowers After Hours, a cash bar cocktail party, while live music by a jazz trio and a string quartet fills Sculpture Hall.

Admission to Art in Bloom in general will cost nothing; however, admission to some components of the event will range from $10 to $30 (with the Stewart event already sold out). Tickets to those events went on sale on Feb. 13. Potential attendees can purchase them at the museum or (with a service fee) through MetroTix. A complete list of programs and ticket prices appears on the museum’s website, at

Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, St. Louis, 314-721-0072,