Hello Flower Friend

June News

Welcome to our June edition of Flower Thoughts. This month we have more wide ranging flower news, updates and information for you. Coincidentally, the common thread of much of the content is floral design competitions - perhaps due to the energy we have been using to focus on the launch of our new online program, Designing to Win.

Read on for details of our latest offering and much more, starting with a new regular section we're calling Flower Memories - a subject we all have in common.

Table for Two design, Yoko Takahashi. Fleurop Interflora World Cup 2002, The Netherlands.
Photo - Mark Pampling

Flower Memories

In our flower worlds we are frequently consumed with a search for the next ‘new’ trend or technique, the latest inspiration. It’s often this enthusiasm and curiosity that propels us forward and keeps our creative energies at the ready. I also find it helpful to stop myself and to sometimes look backwards to the rich sources of inspiration that are behind me. With this philosophy in mind we have introduced this new section to our newsletter - Flower Memories - an opportunity to share moments and events of inspiration from our floral journeys.

With some notable competitions coming up and memories of past ones still fresh, I thought I’d start with a competition experience in The Netherlands in the early 2000s.

Interflora World Cup 2002

Originally, the Interflora World Cup was to be staged in Chicago in January 2002. Being just months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and with the national security and travel concerns that eventuated, the event was canceled within weeks of its programmed dates. Fortunately the event found a new home in Europe and was rescheduled as the Fleurop-Interflora World Cup for a week in late May, part of the six month program of the renowned Floriade Festival near Amsterdam.

I was lucky enough to attend as the Official Assistant to the Australian competitor, Michaelis Bambacas, which gave me a close up view of the inner workings of the competition and its designs.

The winner of the 2002 competition was Sweden’s Per Benjamin, with his fresh take on the use of fruit as design materials and mechanics (oranges and strawberries).

Left: Table for Two design, Per Benjamin. Right: Looking into Per's booth display.
Photos - Mark Pampling & Andrea Rockett

Flower memories that stick with me are designs from the Belgian and Japanese competitors - Tomas de Bruyne and Yoko Takahashi.

Tomas’ Table for Two design was a sumptuous display dripping with exotic materials. It had a fluidity reminiscent of the Art Nouveau period.

Table for Two design, Tomas de Bruyne.
Photo - Andrea Rockett

Standing in front of Yoko’s exquisitely crafted bridal bouquet was a lesson in the emotional power of design - the design’s overwhelming beauty brought tears to my eyes. The structure of the bouquet was made from fine Willow, and the centre of the design featured a composite ‘flower’ painstakingly fashioned from small, individual Pittosporum leaves.

Bridal design, Yoko Takahashi.
Photos - Andrea Rockett & Mark Pampling

Interflora World Cup events have provided flower memories for many people. I am sure there are many more to be created at the next competition in Manchester this September.

Here is a link to some of the history of the Interflora World Cup, listing the winners and the locations of the iconic competition since 1972. Do you recognise all of the names?

Interflora World Cup History

Your Flower Memories

If you have a Flower Memory that may be of interest to our readers (we’re certain there are many), please let us know - ideally you will have a few words and accompanying photos to share - another source of inspiration to boost our creative souls and lead us to new floral adventures. We will curate a selection of shared memories through future newsletters.

Email us with Your Flower Memory


Share it in our Facebook Group

Competition Thinking

Table for Two Design - from sketch to colour decisions to final design - Asia Cup Competition, Japan 2014.

While we're on competitions, I’d also like to share something about how I approach competition schedules. A lot of work can go into competing in a floral design competition, so it pays to have a studied approach to allocating your design energy.

In my latest blog post, I talk about the importance of understanding possibly the least glamorous part of competition schedules - the marking criteria - and how you can work it to maximise your competitive edge.

Blog - Understanding Competition Marking

Nature's Expressions on the Sunshine Coast

The Australian Floral Art Association’s National Convention is just weeks away, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from 6 to 9 July. I have the privilege of presenting throughout the event program, both at Marcoola Beach and as part of the Queensland Garden Expo at Nambour.

The competition schedule for the Convention includes some intriguing themes, including ‘Over the Edge’ and ‘Cocooned’. Entries will be staged and on display for viewing at the Expo.

I am especially looking forward to exploring the Convention theme, Nature’s Expressions, with a range of designs I will present at my demonstration for the opening of the event, on Thursday, 6 July. 

Convention and competition detaills and registrations can be found here:

AFAA National Convention 2023 - Nature's Expressions

Design of the Month

Creating impact in a design with minimal material variety can be a tough challenge - especially when working on a larger scale with small or thin materials.  Our Design of the Month for June meets this challenge most effectively and exudes a charming appeal.  

Luke Simon used Xerochrysum & Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium Scoparium)
 to create this arrangement with a feeling of abundance, despite the constraint of including just two materials. Along with his passion for organic floral design, Luke is also a grower at Simon Organics, in Ohio, USA.

Luke created the featured design during his participation in Flower Thinking’s Design Solutions course.

Discover more about Luke’s flower world:

Luke Simon - Instagram
Luke Simon & Gate Way Flora - Facebook
Gate Way Flora - Website

Can You Improve Your Floral Competition Success?

You sure can!

It doesn't matter where you are starting - from new competitor to multiple award winner - there is always something to learn that can sharpen your competitive edge.

Regardless of winning or losing, I have long valued the learning and experience gained from entering floral design competitions - they have often taken me to places (mentally and physically) that I would not have gone, asked me to create designs I may never have attempted or experienced, and generally taken me out of my comfort zone. Floral design competitions have broadened my perspectives on working with flowers and extended my appreciation for how the principles of design can be more effectively applied.

Above are some examples of my competition entries - one from long ago (1990?) and another from more current times. The Pumpkin and Daffodil design, one of my very first entries on the floral art bench, was not awarded a place (I can see why now!) - and I don’t remember the theme. The vase design, created at the World Floral Art Contest in 2019 was awarded a Gold Medal, with the theme ‘Elegance of Beijing’. Some lessons I learned from the first bench entry stayed with me for the Beijing vase composition - particularly the need to pay close attention to design aspects such as dominance and proportion, and not being all consumed with simply interpreting a theme.

Despite the success of the vase entry in Beijing, it is not a perfect design - if there even is such a thing. It was, however, another good lesson in creating an entry that was designed to fulfill the marking criteria as fully as possible. That’s a lesson that never ends and is, perhaps, part of the magic of floral design that keeps us returning for more.

Beyond providing the opportunity to grow our design skills, competitions also connect us to a community of like minded creative souls. Competitions have brought me not only some self satisfaction, and sometimes awards, but also a world (literally) of flower friendships that continue to this day.


Competitors and flower friends, Sanya International Orchid Show, China, 2017. Photo: Floral Today, Korea.

Designing to Win has Launched

Learn how to be a better competitor - master the art of interpreting the theme and schedule, for maximum points and design success.

We are excited to launch our new program, Designing to Win.

You can participate in Designing to Win one of two ways - either as a "designer" or as an "audience member".

Join as a designer and you'll have the opportunity to work to a targeted competition schedule that I have crafted for the purpose of facilitating maximal learnings. You will create a floral design that addresses the given schedule, and will then have the chance to revise, remake or reimagine that design after receiving feedback and analysis via a live Design Forum hosted by me.

Or, learn as a member of the Audience. Join the Design Forums live or catch up on the recording later. Listen in and gain insights from the kind of feedback that is normally only heard by competitors in an actual competition.... and you get all the eBooks and videos that the designers have access to as well.

In either case, you gain a swag of materials from which you can learn at your own pace, as little or as much as you want at a time

A second Design Forum will review the evolution of the design submissions, with follow up notes in a comprehensive eBook.

The program begins with two video tutorials and accompanying eBooks that cover competition essentials and various approaches to interpreting competition themes and titles.

Whether you join as a designer or as an audience member, your participation includes:

  • two eBooks, Floral Competition Essentials and Applied Interpretation (download and keep);
  • the two companion videos to the eBooks (streamed, with catch-up access);
  • joining two Design Forums (live streamed, with catch-up access); and
  • the third eBook, Competition Learnings (download and keep), which is a compendium of all the designs, showing the detailed analysis of each design and highlighting the learnings gained and improvements made.

The first program resources will be released on 27 June, followed by the Design Forums on 18 July and 8 August.

Half the available Designer placements have been filled, leaving only 10 positions remaining. There are still plenty of Audience places available.

For more information or to register (as Designer or Audience), click below:

Find Out More Here - Designing to Win

Update - Fleuramour 2023

Our May Flower Thoughts newsletter mentioned Fleuramour in Belgium, no doubt on everyone's bucket list. Sadly, in the last few weeks it has been announced that future iterations of Fleuramour, including the September 2023 event, have been cancelled.

Advanced Directions Starts in Two Weeks

Our new Advanced Directions course starts very soon - and we are excited to begin the learning journey with our latest participants. The program runs from late June to late October, with one online gathering per month and four practical assignments.

The course welcomes all Designers and Artists with a reasonable grasp of the principles of design, who want to extend that understanding and progress their skills. Past participants from our Design Directions course or those Designers with wider creative experience are invited to join the fun and learning - exploring the more complex aspects of the design principles.

The practical tasks are designed to build upon what you already know, partnered with ample encouragement, support and feedback to take you out of your comfort zone and grow your skills and knowledge further.

Advanced Directions starts on Monday, 26 June (Sydney time).

Want more information, dates and registration details?  Click below:

Advanced Directions - Details

Chelsea Flower Theme Challenges

A highlight of the Chelsea Flower Show in London each year are the British Florist Association (BFA) competitions.

2023 brought some provocative and challenging titles for the entrants - ‘Floral Bins’ and ‘Floral Lamp Posts’. Creativity came to the fore with the final presentations offering innovative concepts and very flowerful approaches.

The top awards were presented to the following entries:
In the ‘Floral Bins’ category:

  • GOLD and FLORIST OF THE YEAR - Hubbards Florist – Coventry
  • GOLD - Julie Pearson Floral Designer
Floral Bin, Hubbards Florist.   Photo: British Florist Association.
Floral Bin, Julie Pearson Floral Designer.   Photo: British Florist Association.

In the ‘Floral Lamp Posts’ category:

  • GOLD - Helen James Flowers – Harrogate
Floral Lamp Post, Helen James Flowers.   Photo: Britisch Florist Association

You can find more results and photos via this link:

Chelsea Flower Show 2023 - BFA Results

Elevate Your Work with Flowers

Our main course offerings for 2023 are all open for registration - all with a common aim - to make you a better designer or artist.

Each of our programs has a strong focus on building upon your skills through a concentration on the application of the principles of design. It is the most sure way that I have found to improve one's abilities and to grow.

You can learn from anywhere, and in your own time - the content and delivery are created to be undertaken at your convenience.  Each program has some live online elements, which are also recorded to be accessed as catch up sessions - to learn when you can. Participating in a course also gives you access to support throughout the program and the opportunity to have any content or issues clarified via email and chat.

Advanced Directions - starts 26 June, with 5 online discussions & 4 practical tasks 
Design Directions - starts 24 July, with 6 online discussions & 5 practical tasks
One Container, Five Elements - starts 31 August, with 6 online discussions & 5 practical tasks
Design Solutions - starts 18 October, with 5 online discussions & 4 practical tasks

A link to Advanced Directions is included above, earlier in this newsletter.

Links to Design Directions, One Container Five Elements and Design Solutions are included at the end of this email.

We continue to receive great feedback and questions from our readers.  Thank you.  We love learning your floral design thoughts and about the areas that interest you. We'd love to hear from you.

Share Your Questions & Comments With Me

Thank you for reading our June Flower Thoughts



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