Top 5 Floral Educators

Let’s face it, we live in an ever changing world where technology is rising, trends are always changing and you must keep up with your education if you do not want to be left behind. In particular within floristry there is always a new technique to learn, the safest way to secure an arrangement, memorizing the principles and elements of floral design, how to work with clients from those looking for a sympathy arrangement to a wedding and so much more.

I’m fortunate enough to have learned from two AIFD designers while studying at The Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk, MD; Adrienne Schaffer Summers, AIFD & David Shover, AIFD. After college I sought out any designer who was AIFD because I thought and they are some of the best designers ever. Later, I learned that a designer doesn’t just have to be AIFD but that I can learn from anyone. Without the guidance of my teachers in college, I would not be where I am today. So I thank you!

Below are my top 5 floral educators that are my “Go-To” sources whenever I find myself in a bind, need critiques, want to learn a technique or about a specific variety of a flower.

Leanne Kesler, AIFD & David Kesler, AIFD

Looking for one of the best floral schools ?? I hear nothing but good things about The Floral Design Institute and look forward to the day I sit in their classroom. They offer in class and distance learning.



JMH Schwanke

What can I say ? I love J ! I’ve been watching his videos since I lived in Baltimore, MD and even competed in one of his uBloom contests for designing with DecoBeads. J travels all over the world speaking to designers, going to flower farms and educating us with the top floral information anyone could ever want.


David Clark

Any question about plants, David is my go – to person.

I recently did an interview with David about his career and outlook on education. Find out more here!

Jeremy Trentleman, AIFD 

Jeremy pays attention to detail and whenever I think of intricate wire work, I think of him. He has been helping me through my journey as I prepare to take the Florida State Master Designer test in January.

Looking for a mentor ? Jeremy is nothing but amazing and gives honest critiques so one is able to learn and come back better than before.

Janet Frye, AIFD

Owner of The Enchanted Florist, Janet Frye, AIFD, The Mother of Floral Design as I like to call her is one special designer and educator. Anything from a question about how to approach a client, how to position a bouquet to capture the best angle, write a proposal, color palettes, critiques on any arrangement – Janet is always there to answer honestly.



So You Think You Can Design: Interview w/ Floriculture Expert, David Clark

Today I bring to you an interview done with my good friend and designer who is a Horticulture Instructor, Mr. David Clark from New York.

In November 2013 and previous to November 2012, David presented floral design programs at The Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, NY. In addition, Clark was honored to be the stage designer for the 8th District New York State Federated Garden Clubs Spring Garden Symposium with over 200 attendees in April 2014.

Property of David Clark
Property of David Clark

It means a great deal to me to share this interview as David is my go to expert on anything relating to horticulture/floriculture and has been a helpful guide in my floral career thus far. I hope you will sit back, relax and enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Property of David Clark
Property of David Clark

How did you get started in floral design? What are your roots within floristry?

My 86 years-young Mom is still is an active member in 8th District Federated Garden Clubs of New York State. She specialized in flower design & mechanics, horticulture classification and class judging. She took me to all of the design competitions and meetings when I was very young. My Grandfather was one of the largest landscape professionals in Montgomery, Alabama. I found out that one of his specialties was creating floral installations for affluent residences in that area!


I grew up on a 15 acre farm in Eden, NY, that was my canvas to create English style gardens, rose arbors and cutting gardens full of flowers for my Mom and me to design with. My Dad and I constructed a 9’ x 13’ Janco Lean-To greenhouse that housed an extensive orchid collection, and, which allowed me to start vegetable and flower plants for 7 families. Dad and I also planted an extensive orchard consisting of apple, nut and fruit trees, plus we had a BIG vegetable garden. We also rented stalls for horses, and had a registered Angus cattle herd + chickens, pigs, turkey, and ducks.   I grew up in a very supportive agricultural and horticultural existence.


I attended S.U.N.Y. Cobleskill in New York State’s Catskill Mountains and graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree majoring in Floriculture with an emphasis on Flower shop and greenhouse management. 


My floral design1 professor made us learn how to make bows… for weeks!!… Corsage bows, funeral bows, package bows any kind of bow. She told us “If you can make a bow, you can always find a job is a flower shop!” I guess it’s true…I teach bow making in some of my floral design workshops. We make it look easy to folks until THEY try to do it…then that $15 bow suddenly has some value!


So I’m graduated and try to find employment in nearby flower shops, well none will hire me because I don’t have experience in a store. How the heck can you get experience when no one will hire you? One day I ventured into a local store, “Hess Brothers Florist” here in Hamburg, NY. and introduced myself to Mrs. Hess. I asked if there might be a job available…the conversation went as usual, “Do you have experience…No I don’t…Then I can’t hire you.” I then told her I would work for FREE, doing anything to get that experience. My internship [today’s’ word] lasted only a couple of weeks, and at the end, Mrs. Hess came to me and said “David, I have seen something special in your eyes while you were working here…I think you are going to make a darn good florist!” At that, we said our goodbyes.

~My journey had begun~

When was (your business) born and why did you choose to start your own business?

~Wow~ I have been giving presentations and teaching people since I was about 12 years old…that was when I was a member of 4-H and we were required to give a presentation.  

The signage, ‘the speech’ and the actual demonstration were to be judged ‘live’. Oh my gosh, was I a sweaty mess! The judging panel liked what I did and said my signage was good and that I “looked good” and had ‘nice stage presence’.

In my wildest dreams, I never would have thought

that this experience would lead to becoming

a successful retail floral designer and teacher in the mid-1980’s.


 From 1990 to the present, I became a wholesale florist for Sieck Wholesale Floral Distribution in Depew, NY, kept up the free-lance designing floral education, design shows & workshops and made myself a name in the contract-event coordination industry.


I kind of fell into the education aspect and was ‘’found out’ by the then Director of Education at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Lynn Wieser, in 2008.

Erie County Fair Floral Demonstration 8/10/13 Property of David Clark
Erie County Fair Floral Demonstration 8/10/13
Property of David Clark

Lynn’s words about my work:  “David is one of the best, most knowledgeable & certainly the most entertaining garden speakers I have ever heard.”

That crazy occurrence has led me to create a 20 class horticulture certificate series at The Buffalo Botanical Gardens, teaching floristry on the national level for botanical organizations including Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa., florists and garden groups, to a blossoming writing career plus a television/video media presence.


Please tell us about your clientele. What type of clients do you attract?

Because of my employment at a wholesale florist, I do not accept private individual requests for free-lance business. I am strictly a contract designer, which means floral companies bring me on-board to their premises or venues, where I get to design some very cool things! Every event and store has their own personality. Sometimes it is all about production, other times; it is becoming the store’s liaison to the Event Visionary Director. I have the best of all worlds!

Property of David Clark
Property of David Clark


What are your thoughts on floral education and have you attended any workshops? If not, do you plan on attending any in 2015?

ABSOLUTELY YES! Floral education is one of the biggest keys to enter and have staying power in the industry. Unfortunately, there are so many fewer options for design training than when I was going to school. I know of 2 New York State schools that have completely removed floral design and flower shop management from their curriculum. My alma mater has reduced their floral design program to only 1 basic class. I have heard good reports regarding the educational experience at Leanne Kesler AIFD’s “Floral Design Institute” out in Portland, Oregon. To tell you the truth, I watch the videos on her site and learn a lot. Another resource would be my flower friend and mentor: J Schwanke. His ‘uBloom site which I highly recommend [you do have to be a subscriber]…has tremendous ‘how-to’ videos and insights into the floral industry as a whole.


I am really blessed to have assisted and trained with Hitomi Gilliam AIFD; J Schwanke AIFD, PFCI, AAF, CFD; Rene Van Rems AIFD; Ann Jordan AAF, AIFD, CFD, mmfd; Kim Morrill AIFD; Matt Wood AIFD, Kevin Ylvisaker AIFD, PFCI; J. Keith White AIFD, CFD; Sharon McGulkin AIRF, AAF, PFCI; Neville Mackay CAFA, PFCI; Vonda LaFever AIFD, PFCI, CFD; Shane Connoly, Royal Warrant, UK; and Ron Morgan.

~Do attend as many training workshops as you can afford time and money~


What is your favorite part of being a designer?

My favorite part about being a designer is working with one of Nature’s most perfect, important and tantalizing products: FLOWERS. Think about it, without flowers and plants, life on planet Earth would not exist as it does today because why? [Oops… that’s the educator in me showing through!]

Property of David Clark
Property of David Clark


What is one piece of advice you’ve been given and how do you apply it to floristry?

Ok, so I was seeing a ‘professional advisor’ for a time and she told me, “David, if you don’t feed that flame of creativity within yourself regularly, it will consume both itself and you upon its demise. Creative people are made to create- daily!”

This includes not only working with flowers, but these days, connecting to/networking and posting your work on Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.


Lastly, what is the biggest problem you’ve run into in floral design and how did you solve it?

I would say that the biggest problem I have run into in floral design is, especially being a free-lance designer, not everyone is going to “get you” and your ideas. However, it is your job to “get them” and their ideas. Many florists have recognized and very valid policies of, “We Do It This Way Here Because’. It is not your place, even as “regularly-looked-to-floral-freelance-specialist”, to change hard and fast rules for the current client. It is permissible however, to expound upon a technique tip or trick that has worked well for you in the past.

Friends, it’s all about the learning experience-

absorb as much as you can from every job and client you work with!

Be on the look out for David in 2015! David was asked and accepted a position to be a workshop facilitator in September 2014 on the Dream Team for the 2015 North East Floral Expo in Groton, Ct. Some of the many designers on this team include, Rene Van Rems AIFD; J Schwanke AIFD, PFCI, AAF, CFD; Tina Coker AIFD, PFCI, FTD Education Consultant


For more about David Clark or if you are seeking out education within Horticulture and Floristry the following links can be very useful tools for you.

Contact Links:


Twitter: @david37771


Media Links:

Buffalo News Biography Article:

Gardenista Houseplant Interview:

 ‘Savor Life’ Radio Interview on WYSL Radio/Rochester, NY:

 Community Garden at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, Hamburg, NY:


Video Links:

 Preserving and Drying Flowers


Innuendo: The Secret Sex Life of Plants

Grow rose bush from wedding bouquet! (Or from any roses you get from the florist)

How To Tutorial: Bouquet with a Recyclable Base

Hello flower friends!

If most of you did not see the bouquet I posted the other day here is your chance to see and learn how I created it using a few easy steps.

IMG_6847The materials you will need: 

Brown Paper Bag (from groceries)    

Cardboard Box (from food)

Floral Cotton

Gold Thumbtacks

White Spray Roses

Hot Glue Gun

Floral Knife (not pictured)



First, cut round circles out of the cardboard and brown paper bags from biggest to smallest.

IMG_6848Second, hot glued the circles from biggest to smallest giving a crumbled look to the smallest ones at the top.


Third, cut a round hole using a floral knife that will allow for the Rose Stems to be inserted in. Then insert Roses into hole.


Fourth, turn the bouquet over to complete the bottom. Cut wood sticks into 3rd or 4th’s using scissors then glue by overlapping in a random pattern to cover the whole base.


Fifth, turn the bouquet back over to give detail to the top of bouquet.

  • Cut wood sticks into pieces just as performed in the Forth step and glue on the edge of the bouquet.
  • Glue and tuck small pieces of floral cotton underneath the brown paper bag.
  • Insert Gold Thumbtacks as an accent in the top of the Roses.


So You Think You Can Design: Interview with Alison Hobson, Freelance Designer

How did you get started in floral design? What are your roots within floristry?

19 years ago, my mother got me a job at a local florist as something to fill my time. This florist was a powerhouse and I was quickly thrust into a world of menu-based, mass production floristry. This taught me to see the end-result of a design first: where I wanted to place my stems, the value of insertions, etc.

A year or so went by and I moved to a smaller flower shop that built designs from the ground up. No two were alike. This allowed me to learn the aesthetics of flower design and how to make my own creative decisions.


 When was (your business) born and why did you choose to start your own business?

I got tired of working at shops that seemed to disregard golden opportunities to push the floral envelope. They seemed to care more about maintaining the day to day $25 orders than how to evolve into a better shop. I hated being boxed into a wire order picture and a menu.

I craved the freedom to explore various methods of design

while finding ways to bring awareness about my industry and its art to the community.

People weren’t going to stop buying picture-perfect images unless they had a reason to.

My business was born from the idea that no one was going to create my happiness, I had to make my own. I began freelancing in 2008 and I haven’t looked back.

Property of Alison Hobson
Property of Alison Hobson (We love this Gypsophilia Crown)


Please tell us about your clientele. What type of clients do you attract?

 I consider most of my clients to be kindred spirits. We think a lot alike, we respond to things in a similar manner, the connection is there. They want unique, they want good, reliable technique. I tend to build real friendships from clients because of this.

Property of Alison Hobson
Property of Alison Hobson


What are your thoughts on floral education and have you attended any workshops? If not, do you plan on attending any in 2015?

Floral education is MANDATORY! There is so much to see, so much to learn! I wish I could make a living just going from workshop to workshop. I spend a lot of my own time doing research and exploration on floral design and getting inspired. For me, it’s the ONLY way to stay fresh and maintain interest in this industry.

I have attended many workshops over the years. Various conventions, design classes, and scholarships really help perpetuate the education and in doing so, help to bring new ideas and concepts to the community. Attending workshops and helping others find the value in attending workshops is absolutely necessary.


 What is your favorite part of being a designer?

I love the idea of taking a limited, finite object and using it for creative self expression. I love that other human beings pay me to use my skill, to use my creative self expression, to help them express their own feelings. That is an amazing power to have.

Property of Alison Hobson
Property of Alison Hobson


 What is one piece of advice you’ve been given and how do you apply it to floristry?

There are two pieces of advice that I find myself using time and time again:

1) Go with your gut. Whenever I find myself stuck or in a predicament, I always look to what my gut says, it’s almost always right. This is just age-old advice I’ve carried my whole life.

2) Let the flower speak to you. You might try and try to make a stem do what you want but the stem will do what it wants. So you have to concede to the stem and let it do what it wants.

Hitomi said something of this flavor during a workshop and it had always stuck with me. If I’m trying to work a stem into a design and I just fight with it, her sentiments come into my mind and I either let the stem do its own thing or replace it altogether. Works like a charm.


Lastly, what is the biggest problem you’ve run into in floral design and how did you solve it?

The #1 problem in floral design – from myself, from a client, from another florist – is give-a-damn (zeal). We get so bored with monotony, with obligations, with personal failures, that we lose sight of perpetuating the flame of passion and creativity within us. We lose sight of where we wanted to be, where we’d thought we’d be and we just give up or give in and let circumstances take control.

I see a lot of fire on the floral boards, fire at order gatherers, at wire services, at each other but we need to remember that we are still in control over our happiness and sometimes that just takes a little give-a-damn.


With so much to do and so little time, Alison plans on launching her new web site next summer so be on the look out. Thank you so much Alison for partaking in this interview as I feel so many have a lot to say and I want them to be heard.

How-To Tuesday: Christmas Arrangement

Happy Holiday’s! 

With just 2 Weeks and 2 Days left until Christmas and no tree up yet, I got into the holiday spirit by creating this festive holiday arrangement. Want to know how ?? Follow the steps below.

You will need the following items and a glue gun (not pictured)

  1. IMG_6727IMG_6728 Dry Foam Wreath
  2. Spool of Multi Colored Yarn
  3.  Xmas Balls
  4. Water Tubes
  5. Wire Cutters
  6. Green Decorative Wire
  7. Green Aluminum Wire

1. Insert Filled Water Tubes into Wreath Base.

OR you can wrap the wreath in yarn first then insert water tubes.










2. Glue Christmas Balls in between water tubes









3. Cut Roses and Hydrangea at an angle then Insert into water tubes.



4. Wrap Yarn over Hydrangea and insert Rhinestone pins into Roses for interest an accent.




5. For a continued circular shape, insert Lily Grass around the wreath.

Then create coils with Green Decorative Wire for an accent.







So You Think You Can Design: Interview w/ Flower Child Weddings


Today I’m featuring an interview with a novice floral, wedding & event designer, Ashley Cudsik –

Owner of Flower Child Weddings.

“After appearing on 2 seasons and co-managing 

the bridesmaids department for several years,

I decided I wanted to start my own small business

in the wedding and design field.”

How did you get started in event/wedding design? What are your roots within floristry?

It’s been a very interesting journey. After studying Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville TN and working in events within the country music industry, I moved back home to Atlanta GA. Post move I started working at Bridals by Lori which most know to be the home of the The Learning Channel’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. I was contracted by TLC to be an on-air consultant/host on the Bridesmaids edition of the show. After appearing on 2 seasons and co-managing the bridesmaids department for several years, I decided I wanted to start my own small business in the wedding and design field.

 I have co-designed florals from headpieces to centerpieces with some fabulous florist. I love the creativity that florals allow for and how no two items ever look exactly the same. I have no formal training within floristry, however, with our handmade flower crowns at Flower Child Weddings, my co-designer (my mother) and I have created a unique method to piecing each crown together to assure high-quality, one of a kind items.

Property of Flower Child Weddings



When was Flower Child Weddings born and why did you choose to start your own business?

 I’ve always said I wanted the freedom to work for myself and be a “free ranger”. This concept of being able to do what you love every day with the freedom to do it wherever you want in the world was very very appealing and I knew deep down inside that sitting in countless job interviews only to then be sitting behind a desk in a building with no windows was the absolute last thing on the planet I wanted to do with my life.

I combined my events experience from the music industry with everything I learned about weddings for 3+ years in the wedding industry and BOOM, Flower Child Weddings was born.

For nearly 10 years, Ashley was a go-to for any friends and family

that were getting married.

This was a great opportunity

because it gave Ashley experience

working with  and creating for brides.

Property of Flower Child Weddings

Please tell us about your clientele. What type of clients do you attract?

 One of the most important intentions I kept in mine when creating my brand was of course, whom it was going to attract. As you can imagine, I was exposed to some very unfortunate behaviors from brides, maids, mothers, etc while filming Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. I became jaded, saddened, and suppressed about what the meaning of “wedding” had become in our society.

All of the special, intimate, unique things

that a wedding could/should be about had been so disgustingly tainted

in competition, money, and monotony that

I saw a need to reach out to the “flower child bride”. –

The girl (or guy) that isn’t concerned with having a $10,000 dress just so she can brag about it. Or inviting 500 people so that you feel like a member of high-society. The list goes on and on.


 What are your thoughts on floral education and have you attended any workshops? If not, do you plan on attending any in 2015?

 I think that any education is good education! I’m a firm believer to leave experts in particular fields to do what they are good at. Just as I wish for people to come to me as a wedding expert and have me on board with their event planning, I like to leave the caterer to what they are good at, the dress designers to what they are good at, and the florist do what they are good at.

We will be looking into any useful workshops for us to attend in 2015 and floristry is definitely on our list! If you know of any in the Atlanta area, let us know!


What is your favorite part of being an event designer?

 When all is said and done, the most important part for me is that at the end of an event/wedding, my can clients can sit back and say, “Wow! This day was SO US!”

Property of Flower Child Weddings

What is one piece of advice you’ve been given and how do you apply it to floristry?

ORIGINALITY! Stop copying everything you see on Pinterest. Instead, design
something that OTHERS will want to copy on Pinterest!


Lastly, what is the biggest problem you’ve run into in floral design and how did you solve it?

I find it difficult at times to really communicate exactly what the ‘want’ or desired design is since floral design gets created from scratch. I do think that using photos to help you explain what is in your head is
appropriate and useful as long as you can still forward the intention of being original.