Hello Flower Friend

May News

Welcome to our May edition of Flower Thoughts. We are happy to be once again sharing with you a variety of flower and design related news and information from a host of sources - snippets to inspire us all. For our May collection we've included news and views from the Japan Cup, the Coronation and information about our new exhibition of work by Australian Designer, David Berger.

Inspiration from Japan Cup 2023

For many floral design lovers who know about the Japan Cup it quickly makes it onto their bucket list. Japan’s annual competition to find the best florist of the year is held at Big Sight in Tokyo, where the top 100 finalists compete to win. Yes, 100! It’s a huge competition and the standard of designing and presentation is at a premium.  It’s a feast of inspiration. The 100 competitors come from previous qualifying competitions in prefectures around the country.

On a serendipitous weekend in April New Zealand Floral Artist, Rae Baxter, found herself in Tokyo on the weekend of the competition and was able to attend and tick the event off of her bucket list. Generously, Rae has shared a selection of photos with us. Thank you, Rae.

Photo - Yahoo! Japan

The winner was Akihiro Hisaka from ‘Blossom’ Flower Shop in Kakogawa City. In second place was Ryota Hisaka and in third 3rd place, Shinobu Kanazawa.

Fun Fact: Second place getter, Ryota, is Akihiro's (winner) son. Akihiro's other son, Yusuke, also made it through the qualifying rounds. So much design expertise and talent in one family!

Akihiro Hisak's set piece.
Photos - Facebook & Sohyoung Oh.

There were some masterful approaches to staging and mechanics.  Thanks to Rae, we have a few to share with you.

The theme for the main set exhibit was ‘Nothing is Impossible’ resulting in some presentations that certainly looked impossible - zippered stones and flimsy Iris leaves outstretched horizontally, holding bowls with the stones and other magically supported items.

Horizontal Iris leaves extending impossibly from vertical columns, supporting stones with zippers, opened to reveal clusters of flowers. Designer unknown.
Photos - Rae Baxter.

Belgium's Dream Combination 2023

Also on many flower people's bucket lists is Fleuramour, in Belgium. The event overflows with inspiration annually with contributions from a huge, international team of Designers and Artists. This year’s Fleuramour will run from 22 to 25 September, once again hosted in the historic castle of Alden Biesen - a dramatic backdrop for its spectacular floral displays.

The theme for 2023 is ‘Flowers & Music: A Dream Combination’ and tickets are available now.

Fleuramour includes indoor room displays and outdoor installations, along with floral demonstrations, workshops, floral fashion shows and a floral hat parade.

Tempted to add Fleuramour to your bucket list?  Or to attend and cross it off? Here’s a link to more information:

Fleuramour 2023 - Information & Tickets
Glimpses of a room decoration at Fleuramour 2022 by Moniek Vanden Berghe.
Photos - Moniek Vanden Berghe

Thinking About Visual Balance

Do you struggle with achieving a good asymmetrical result? Oftentimes, successful asymmetry can be something that we leave to chance - an afterthought to our starting concept or design style. Clear and decisive asymmetry can contribute  significantly to the overall harmony of your design.

Here are some tips on ways to explore asymmetry for better results.


  1. Actively incorporate areas of negative space in your approach to create asymmetrical balance.
  2. Carefully contemplate and choose the sizes of the materials you are working with and how the size and placement of each affects the balance of the entire composition.
  3. Start the composition with the mechanics (the framework, props, structure, container, etc.) to one side, to establish asymmetry early in the design process. 
  4. If the design involves working into a container, start to one side of the opening or mouth to establish interesting balance from the start.
  5. Use an imaginary axis superimposed onto your design to help you visualise how the visual weight is distributed and could be adjusted for better effect.
By investigating and applying these tips (and others), you can achieve exciting, captivating asymmetrical floral arrangements that have strong impact and beauty.

For more details, examples and further tips, click through to our latest blog:

Blog - Thinking About Balance

Design Discoveries with David Berger

We have a new online exhibition featuring talented Australian Floral Designer, David Berger AIFD PFCI. The diverse selection of work depicts a re-energising of his creative process. The presentation amply demonstrates David's masterful ability to handle high volumes of material - a considered approach to mass styles which is decisive and purposeful.

Discover the new online exhibition via this link:

View 'Design Discoveries" - by David Berger

Discover more about David Berger and his world of flowers via these links:

David Berger Floral Design - Facebook
David Berger Floral Design - Instagram
David Berger - Linked In

Design of the Month

The wreath shape can sometimes seem like a restrictive design form, with many commonly repeated characteristics. However, it can also be a good core platform from which to explore design. Wreaths' circular forms and contrast of positive and negative space can be great places from which to bounce design ideas. Working within defined parameters can often free more parts of your imagination up to experiment with other design aspects within the boundaries set by the core form.  Once you have established that you are working with a circular base and central negative space, you can set the rest of your mind free to produce a creative wreath design - even if you start to blur the lines of what a wreath is generally accepted to be.

Our Design of the Month stretches common understandings of what constitutes a wreath, and does so in an appealing and exciting way that can inspire us all. It was created by Michael Cordeiro from Sydney for one of the tasks in our Design Solutions course. Constructed predominantly from dried Bamboo sheaths and stems of Rhapis Palm, its loose silhouette and contemporary distribution of materials draw the eye in.

We look forward to seeing what comes next in Michael's world of floral design.

Grow Your Floral Design Success

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

Our new program, Designing to Win, is almost ready for launch.  We are fine tuning the last details and will release them soon. 

You'll be able to participate in Designing to Win either as a "competitor" or as an observer.

Join as a competitor and you'll have the opportunity to work to a competition schedule crafted by Mark Pampling. You will create a floral design that addresses the given schedule and it will be assessed in a live forum hosted by Mark.

You'll learn not only how to be a better designer, but how to gain more competition success through careful interpretation of the schedule.

Using the insights gained from this feedback, you'll then create a new submission to solidify your learning.

Think of this as an opportunity to learn from competing - twice in the same competition - with expert coaching and guidance from one of Australia's most successful floral competitors.

Designing to Win incorporates approaches to floral design contests and schedules, along with more targeted strategies for interpreting specific competition titles.

The program is delivered as a combination of recorded content, two eBooks, design submissions and online discussions to join live or watch as recordings. There will be two ways to join:

  • Hands-on Participants - a limited number of places which will require making and submitting two designs to a competition schedule and theme
  • Audience Participants - a greater number of places with the chance to observe and learn.

Hands-on participants will receive direct feedback and support and the rare chance to directly apply their learning from one design to the next using the same competition brief. How often does that happen? Participating designers will refresh, remake or create a new design after the first round of feedback and evaluations.

Whether you participate as a "competitor" or as part of an audience, the opportunities to lift your competition game will be plenty.

Some moments of success I've enjoyed over my career.  Success is not always about winning - the learning and growth gained from competition experiences are valuable rewards.

The program will take an objective approach, walking through the design process and the art of competing with practical examples and discussions about interpreting titles, marking criteria and more.

Be amongst the first to know all the details about Designing to Win.  Thank you to the many who have already expressed their interest in the course. If you haven't already, you can register your interest now in the program and we'll update you soon:

Places will be strictly limited to twenty competitors and seventy audience members.

Register Your Interest Here - Designing to Win

Advanced Directions from Late June

Have you seen the program for our new Advanced Directions course yet?  You can click the button below to take you straight to all the details.

The course is suitable for Designers with a reasonable grasp of the principles of design, who want to extend that understanding and take it to new levels. 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 program runs from late June to late October, with one online gathering per month and four practical assignments.

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 further.

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

Advanced Directions - Details
A design I created for a task in One Container Five Elements - taking inspiration from the colour of the container and translating it into the finished composition.

The Influence of Royal Flowers

Royal rituals, such as coronations, are infrequent events, so it’s always interesting from a flower perspective to see how the celebrations will be decorated. The design choices not only reflect the style and values of the monarch being honoured but also those of the current wider floral community. It was enlightening to observe the floral decorations as they were revealed at King Charles and Queen Camilla’s coronation in Westminster Abbey. The design choices will likely have an influence on future flower practices.

Shane Connolly and his team were responsible for the installations and details. Working on such a scale and with well-defined sustainability requirements must have demanded many thoughtful and resourceful solutions. A further design consideration was for “the flowers to take centre stage, not the design”.
I understand that no floral foam was used in the displays and that most flowers were all sourced from a collective of British growers. Additionally, having fulfilled their primary role at the ceremony the flowers were then rebundled and donated to various charities via a group called Floral Angels.
Shane Connolly said this of the High Altar decoration:

“Above the High Altar of Westminster Abbey last week, framing the ancient throne, there was a very special floral tribute to Their Majesties. All along the top of the Altar Screen we arranged branches of flowering shrubs and trees, cut from all five RHS gardens throughout the British Isles.

Their Majesties are both passionate gardeners, and these beautiful flowers were the RHS gardens’ gift to them on Coronation Day.

We had very simple mechanics: a row of water filled buckets hidden behind a gilded wooden screen. We used a framework of fresh green birch branches to hold the massive (2-4M ) branches from the RHS in place.”

The influence of this occasion on contemporary and future floristry and floral design? The main points will be the reinforcing of a sustainable approach to working with flowers and thinking through their sourcing, use and destination (what happens to them after they have served their initial purpose, particularly in event work). As seen at the coronation, this approach could also have a wider impact on the style of floristry being presented - more mass, less structured designs, with a heightened value on botanical appreciation.

The floral installation above the High Altar in Westminster Abbey, by Florist Shane Connolly & Co.

Discover more about Shane Connolly and his world of flowers via these links:

Shane Connolly & Co. Florist - Website
Shane Connolly - Facebook
Shane Connolly - Instagram

Learn With Me - Wherever You Are

We have scheduled our core course offerings for the rest of 2023. It's going to be a busy and exciting time filled with design possibilities and learning opportunities.

Our courses offer you the chance to build your skills and knowledge no matter where you are ... the location or the time zone. Our activities are planned and distributed so they are accessible to everyone. Practical submissions can be slotted in to your existing schedule and the online discussions can be watched as recordings if the live timing is not convenient. And you have access to support and the opportunity to have your questions answered via email and chat.

A link to Advanced Directions is included above.

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

We have received some fantastic comments and questions from our readers.  Thank you.  We welcome you to continue sharing with us - floral design thoughts and points of curiousity. We'd love to hear from you.

Share Your Questions & Comments With Me

Thank you for reading our May Flower Thoughts



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