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floral arrangement by Sue Redden

Winning Design Entry by Sue Redden

If you’ve been a garden club member for any length of time you probably have been exposed to The Standard Flower Show. The Standard Flower Show tradition started a very long time ago. But it is more than simply tradition. It basically—still and after all these years—sets out to educate and develop aesthetic sensibilities. If you’ve ever been swept up into its whirlwind you at least know this much.

Now, aside from horticulture entries, you may have been asked to try your hand at creating and entering a floral arrangement into the Design category. This request may have come about in the form of arm-twisting—in which case you definitely need some de-mystifying about how it will be judged.

And, voila, if you already have been on the receiving end of judging and scoring for your floral arrangement, you probably want to know just how that panel of three judges came to their decision of Honorable Mention.

So, for this post, I have consulted with Sue Redden, a demonstrator and winner of many blue ribbons and top NGC Exhibitor awards in Design and Horticulture. Sue has been a leading member of two garden clubs in Rhode Island for, well let’s just say, decades and she has filled board positions for the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., the New England Region, and National Garden Clubs, Inc. She has judged Design and Horticultural exhibits in New England, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.

Here is Sue’s basic introduction to The Standard System of Awarding:

  • The Flower Show’s “Schedule” is “the law.”
  • The Handbook for Flower Shows is the ultimate authority for judging. [Accept no substitutes and get the latest edition. See below.*]
  • Three people make up a judging panel and use The Standard System of Awarding.
  • In a Standard Show, four arrangements would compete within the same pre-determined “schedule class.” [We’ll leave definitions of schedules and classes to another post.]
  • Only one first place (blue) ribbon per class is awarded; must score 90 or above.
  • Only one second place (red) ribbon per class; must score 85 or above,
  • Only one third place (yellow) ribbon per class; must score 80 or above.
  • One or more honorable mention (white) ribbons as merited; must score 75 or above.

Judges award the blue ribbon to the highest scoring design, again it must score 90 or above. (Note: There are times when multiple entries in the class achieve the sought-after 90+ score, and this 90 above score will be indicated.)

In order to win the top additional exhibitor awards—such as the Tricolor, Designer’s Choice—one must have scored 95 or more.

And here’s what the judges look for:

Scale of Points for Design

Conformance –20 points if all the requirements for the design are met.

Design – 42 points is the next consideration – 7 pts allowed for each of the following met principles:

Balance – Is the design visually stable?

Proportion – Is the design in proportion with its allotted space?

Scale – Are the components in scale with one another?        

Rhythm – Does your eye carry through the design?

Dominance – Do one or more elements dominate?

Contrast – Is there interest in the design?

Artistic Concept – 12 points – Is there creative and appropriate selection and imaginative organization of all components according to the schedule guidelines?

Expression – 10 points – Has the exhibitor interpreted the class well?

Distinction – 16 points – Is the plant material conditioned? Does the exhibit have marked superiority in all respects?

And we have the TOTAL—a rarely attained 100 points.

Sue says:

“To win a top award a lot of thought must go into selection of plant material, color, texture, spikes, rounds, etc. and one must adhere to schedule parameters . . . i.e. read the show’s schedule carefully and follow directions!” 

With subjective opinion, personal taste, and whim minimized as much as possible, the scoring standardization almost makes it appear as an exact science. Not quite—they are mortal beings after all—but judging is a learned art in and of itself.

To learn more about how to become a judge yourself, contact your state federated NGC Flower Show Schools Chairman for further information.

Also you might be interested in Flower Design Study Units. Explore here: http://www.gardenclub.org/FloralDesign/DesignStudyUnits.aspx

*The Handbook for Flower Shows, revised 2007 edition is available from NGC headquarters – Member Services. Order your copy by calling 800-550-6007. National Garden Clubs, Inc.  4401 Magnolia Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri, 63110-3492.

Let me know if you’d like to hear more about de-mystifying The Standard Flower Show!

Nancy R. Peck

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‘Tis the season when our favorite floral designers are in high gear. Design studios and floral shops are hubs of exhilaration. Ever wonder how they do it? Ever had some questions for a designer? I was fortunate to gain an e-mail interview with busy designer, Rachel Cho.

Floral Design by Rachel Cho

Floral design by Rachel Cho

Rachel is a favorite floral designer in much of New York City. Upscale, trendy, versatile—her arrangements are voluptuous. Her mission: To create inspired floral arrangements that leave our customers speechless. “Every arrangement we make is unique to one’s occasion, mood, style, and personality.”

I can’t do her talent justice here with one photo, so explore her website for arrangement visuals, ordering info, and tidbits about her background. Her fresh spirit shines through and her attention to service is evident. www.rachelchoinc.com

A highlight of the year is her participation in the unique Tulips & Pansies event, next one scheduled for May 19, 2011. Do tune into the Tulips & Pansies model runway video (link at the bottom of the post). And you thought Chiquita had amazing neck muscles! 

Let’s get right to it. I asked . . .

Are there particular flowers or other elements you would recommend for December? Anything new in the floral business or holiday flower styles this year that customers might like to know about?  Right now tulips, amaryllis, hyacinths and other bulb flowers and berries such as ilex and berzelias are starting to come in, which marks the start of the holidays for me. I love seeing (more…)

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Tony Todesco creates striking arrangements often using exotic plant materials. Unexpected structural components may be included and he makes use of dimensionally dominant containers.

floral design by Tony Todesco

Floral design by Tony Todesco

Tony can often be seen demonstrating at trade shows, and his work is seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He is a National Garden Club accredited Master Judge. Add to that list NGC Flower Show Schools’ Design Consultant, and owner of One Main Street Studio in Stow, Massachusetts.  

It’s no wonder that, with his knowledge of trends and technical expertise, he is a sought-after speaker. A recent Todesco standing-room-only program—hosted by the Barrington (RI) Garden Club—seems to indicate that interpretive floral design is very much alive and well.

Flare noted: his experienced hands are in rhythm, manipulating curvature, attaching elements just so, tweaking the third dimension and depth, working with finesse and all at an impressive speed.

This expressive arrangement, seen here in an impromptu click of the camera, is just one of many large-scale contemporary arrangements he created for the mesmerized audience. Can you identify the specimens used in this arrangement? 

Others of Tony Todesco’s creations can be found in the photo-full book Designing by Types available through the National Garden Club Inc. “shopping page”. The book includes the interpretive work of thirty-one designers.

Nancy R. Peck

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Ellen Gordon Allen author

Photo by Nancy R. Peck

Waiting for a flight. Ten-minute delay to boarding. Ten minutes pass. Then another ten-minute delay to boarding. Call it terminal waiting. I lift a book out of my slumped briefcase on the carpet.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the captain has informed me . . . that he has called in the ground crew for a maintenance check . . . the aircraft apparently hit a bird over the runway on its way in this morning. 

I begin to read the inside flap, then the preface.

Rows of airport wait-seats face each other. Casually seated across is a man about my age. He’s dressed informally yet neatly— black top and black pants. And the apparel actually matches in color saturation. The outfit is punctuated by a set of clean chic sneakers. (more…)

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Floral Designers Compete

I can already see the sweat beads forming on the foreheads of those who will compete. The World Flower Show is to be held June 15 – 19, 2011 in Boston, hosted by the World Association of Flower Arrangers USA. The collective mission of WAFA is to celebrate the art of floral design, exchange information, reinforce bonds among members, and promote the care and conservation of natural resources.

Delving into the show’s press kit, I grabbed one of many great images. The design pictured here—created in a prior year by Ellen Avellino and Peggy Moore—is indicative of just how unique these entries can be. Hundreds of international competitors will be participating.

World Flower Shows are held every three years and this will be the first time the show is on U.S. soil. Members of The Garden Club of America and the National Garden Clubs, Inc. are collaborating in support of this huge show.

Open to the public, consider it a once in a lifetime opportunity. Prior shows have been held in Belgium, Canada, France, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Delegates from 30 countries that comprise WAFA will descend on Boston.

Here’s the WAFA Show info. What a glorious way to see the world and make new friends.

Peace . . . your flower child,

Nancy R. Peck

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