Quick And Easy Floral Designing With Allium–From Rittners Floral School

Allium is a wonderful flower. It is big. It is impressive. And it doesn’t require many to create an impressive floral design.

In this video we show how to create several floral pieces, quickly and easily, using this remarkable botanical.

From all of us here at Rittners Floral School in Boston, Enjoy!

New Addition To Rittners Floral School Library–From Teleflora












Our floral school library is a very important tool. It is a resource for our students and graduates. It is also a research library. It provides us with a huge amount of information on floral designing and related subjects.

With over 4500 volumes in our floral school library, and an additional 600 volumes in our professional development educational, art and design holdings, it is a significant collection.

We use our library as one (of many) ways of staying current in our fast moving world. We get floral art resources literally from the four corners of the earth. I get quite excited when we incorporate new finds that add depth and variety to our library. A shipment of books from Japan, a series of texts from a French floral artist, the text that features centerpiece ideas, all add to the collective strength of our library.

I have to admit that the process of selection and procurement is a labor of love. I enjoy the hunt. When I started to develop our library resources back in the 70′s it was a mere 500 volumes. I believe very strongly that the willingness of a floral school to invest in a library infrastructure tells a lot about the commitment of the owners to their school and to their students. So you can see I get a lot of personal satisfaction seeing this tool grow and develop.

Recently the folks at Teleflora sent us their latest Floral Selection Guide. For those of you who are not in the trade, Teleflora is a major floral industry company that enables florists to transmit orders for their customers throughout the world, similar to FTD. The Floral Selection Guide contains large books with photographs, and work manual. It is used in flower shops to help customers with their purchasing decisions. We have many earlier Floral Selection Guides from Teleflora and other ‘wire’ services, but this new one is a very neat addition, and helps keep our library quite current.

These large tomes are books of incredible beauty. The folks at Teleflora tell me that it was based on three years of research. Over 4500 shops participated in the design research used to create these materials. Teleflora wanted to create books/selling tools that would feature the new as well as tradtional best sellers. The concept was to get the right mixture of designs to meet all kinds of consumer requests. This is great as our curriculum includes a combination of classical as well as cutting edge ideas.

An interesting aside, one of the biggest problems flower shops have with their books is that there is always a lot of water on working surfaces. I was reassured that the Floral Selection Guide is made with 100% waterproof material and was even tested with pages submerged under water for over 30 days without any damage. I think I will take their word for that, and will try to avoid repeating that testing!

There are approximately 450+ floral arrangements in this wonderful resource. (Once again, I will take their word on that, and not sit here counting designs featured!)

Our thanks to Bob Hurley and the other great folks at Teleflora.  The Floral Selection Guide is a lovely resource, and I know that our students, grads and staff will really enjoy using it.


WAFA Flower Show in Boston… A Reaction from Rittners Floral School

Boston is a pretty neat place to live. It is large enough to be cosmopolitan, yet not overpowering or unpleasant like some large cities. We have been fortunate in that in the past several years two major floral art shows have run in Boston.

This past week The World Association of Flower Arrangers had their show here. It was a floral art tour de force!

This show represents floral art from the garden clubs. The format was typical of  garden club competitions. Various themes and subjects were established, and designers had to work within certain parameters to create floral art interpreting those themes. Hundreds of floral designs were available for viewing.

It was spectacular!

In my opinion the show demonstrated  the 21st Century fusion of floral designing on three levels… geographic, temporal and professionalism.

Geographic. Floral artists throughout the world watch each other’s work, and incorporate techniques and approaches that are useful and meaningful to them and that help them achieve their design goals. While there may indeed be individual styles and regional approaches, floral designing is becoming very much a global expression….It is not unusual for a designer in Japan to borrow European techniques. Nor is it unusual for a designer here in North America to incorporate Oriental approaches.

Temporal.  Floral designing today is quite eclectic. Classical and bleeding edge ( beyond cutting edge) all coexist. It makes little difference if the technique was from last year or a decade ago. If the design is aesthetically pleasing so be it. If we can enjoy varied kinds of cuisine and entertainment, why can’t we also enjoy eclecticism in our floral expressions?

Professionalism. When does a hobby become a professional endeavor? When one is passionate about something like floral art, can’t one participate on many levels? Professional designers love anything that celebrates floral art. Hobbyists often seek instruction in professional technique to achieve a higher standard in their art. The lines between pros and hobbyists often overlap or are nebulous. And does that really matter all that much? I found the atmosphere of the show and the folks running it to be friendly and inviting. Wonderful!

At Rittners Floral School we salute the WAFA and the many folks who put so much effort into this show. The logistics alone of  planning, creating and maintaining these designs was challenging. The designing in the show was varied and lovely.  We would love to see this show run more often.  Regardless of who officially won various ribbons, I would say that everyone who entered and displayed was a winner. Anyone who attended this show and appreciated the floral designers’ efforts was also a winner as well.


Wonderful Book on The Founding Fathers And Gardening

As a kid I attended the Boston Public Schools.  It was an “experience.” Take, for example, our study of history. Each year it started with the explorers and usually ended with the War of 1812. It was nice to learn in High School (Boston Latin) that history actually continued through World War II and beyond.

That being said, reading books about the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War normally wouldn’t really excite me at this point in time because of overexposure to the subject…That is……..until now.

Andrea Wulf is at it again!

In her earlier book “The Brother Gardeners” she provided a wonderful view of the international commerce of botanicals between the American colonies and Britain. (See our review July 2010). It was an unexpected gem and a very satisfying read.

In “Founding Gardeners” Wulf provides a totally different perspective to the founding fathers. She examines their passion and vocation. They were farmers. They loved to grow things. And they were some of the most innovative horticulturalists in North America. Their view of agriculture and gardening is examined in this wonderful new book.

This is one of those books that will change your perspective. (I like that kind of read!)

Normally we think of Washington as the soldier or the president. Here we get a view of him not only as a horticulturalist, but also as a man who used horticulture as a form of therapy. He even encouraged gardening for his men, not only for rations, but because it was comforting. Here was a man not only interested in the welfare of our country but also obsessed with manure (for fertilizer of course! The subject was also important to the other founding fathers as well…)

Before reading “Founding Gardeners”, I had never considered plants as political statements or symbols but this theme came through time and again in this really neat book. The Founding Fathers felt that horticulture could play an important part of the self sufficiency of our young nation. But the thought of setting up gardens to promote very specific values or ideals was an interesting new idea for me.

True to form, Wulf lets us enjoy discovering all of the wonderful little ironies and historical tidbits. Jefferson, for example crafting the Declaration of Independence, yet loving a book written by one of the authors of the Stamp Act, and dreaming of having his own English style garden! We read of Jefferson actually smuggling a variety of  rice across the Alps (as Wulf calls it, “horticultural espionage” ) as a form of patriotism.

There are more  juicy little tidbits mixed in this delightful volume: Stodgy John Adams happily playing in his garden;  Lewis and Clark collecting botanicals on their expedition; and diminutive Madison and his “amazon” wife Dolley  ( they never taught that in grade school!) romping across the pages of this great read. Incidentally Madison as environmentalist is also discussed.

As you can see I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sooner or later someone had to write a book about the connection of the Founding Fathers to horticulture and I am delighted that Andrea Wulf, with her style and approach, was the person to do it. A must read!