North East Newsletter - November 30, 2014 (Plain Text Version)

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Theresa Colucci AIFD, PCFI

Hello Everyone,

I’m writing as I watch the snow fall the day before Thanksgiving!  We are expecting up to 14”!  Under normal circumstances, I would be waiting on customer’s, but unfortunately, there are no one on the roads!  I hope most of you are experiencing less extreme weather and have a profitable Thanksgiving at your shops.  But more importantly, I hope you all took the time to enjoy the blessing of family and friends and all that you have.

This weekend I will be decorating my home for the holidays.  After visiting Versailles twice this month, I am inspired to overuse gold in my holiday décor!  I decided on a color scheme of white, cream, gold and butter yellow for my color scheme.  I think the yellow will give it a warm richness and am looking forward to the challenge of using yellow in my palette!  I think it will work well with the mixed evergreens and the grey juniper. 

While we’re on the subject of holiday decorating...  Send Jo some pictures of your shop or studio all decked out for the season.  We would all enjoy seeing the creativity and various themes you are decorating with!

Happy holidays to you!  Remember to laugh a little while you are working hard filling orders.  The sap will be off your hands in 4 weeks!

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

Theresa Colucci AIFD, PFCI
North East Chapter President  

photo credit 

Jo Jarvis AIFD

Originally I was not going to send out a newsletter in November however on reflection I changed my mind, hey I am female we are known for doing this a the drop of pin.

You might notice there are no diary dates in this issue, apparently nothing happens in December, other than most florists are run off their feet.  As the photo below from The Florist magazine shared states it quite categorically. 

 "Kudos to Neville MacKay from Novia Scotia for telling his customers how it is ... enjoy the last weekend!" 

It is hard to believe that this year is just about over and 2015 beacons, I know for me next year will be one of being on more planes than I have since landing in the states.  The old saying you never know what is around the corner will certainly be true for me.  On the off chance I invited Francoise Weeks to teach a workshop at the Floral Studio owned by Sue Weisser AIFD, in October 2013, and since then we have really hit it off and for one reason or another (lucky me) there will be various overseas trips teaching together.  Talk about a bonus.  So you never know what will happen when you attend a demonstration or a workshop, not only will you learn new ideas, techniques, skills but you could change your floral direction.  Life is surprising at the best of times....

Talking about workshops, demonstrations and sharing leads me to mention Hitomi Gilliam AIFD, "Sharing" is her second name.  Hitomi has a passion for this industry and loves to share with others, at the moment she is putting together videos of hints, tips, techniques and mechanics as well as how to make a profit from your designs and everyone who can hit a button can tap into these fundamental and educational videos via Youtube.  If you are not a friend already on face book then make sure you friend Hitomi on either her page or Design 358, also you can find info on

This issue has a few articles on plants for Christmas, information on business and marketing, a new exciting app for Florists, how to perfect your speaking/commentating skills from PFCI, ways in which you can increase your profits for Christmas and an article that was interesting on where all the Christmas wreaths come from for Home Depot. Plus a few other bits of news in the floral world in the last month.

It goes without saying that I wish everyone a profitable December and hope that you have a few minutes to have some fun and possibly read the newsletter. 

Merry Christmas to everyone.....


photo credit   

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The Floral Industry's Speakers Bureau

 Professional Floral Communicators - International is a network of professional floral business educators certified by SAF. Each member of PFCI has proven, through their education and experience, their ability to speak authoritatively about the principles and elements of floral design, the proper care and handling of flowers and effective business management techniques.

If you love talking about flowers and present programs for garden clubs or industry groups, you're half way to getting the recognition you deserve.

  Need help with your PFCI Audition DVD? Watch this video.  It was produced for the benefit of prospective PFCI candidates wishing to produce and submit an audition presentation to be evaluated by the PFCI Board of Trustees. The video will cover the points listed on the PFCI Application.

For more information and to download the PFCI Membership Application, go to The PFCI Application Deadline is Jan. 31, 2015. [return to top]

The Poinsettia as a Show of Love


December 12 has traditionally been celebrated as Poinsettia Day in the US. Ever since the mid-19th century, Poinsettia Day has been taken as an opportunity in the United States to show appreciation to loved ones. Unlike Valentine's Day, however, poinsettias and not flowers are given on Poinsettia Day - a custom that is likely to find favour here in Germany too.

The winter date can be traced back to the day on which Joel Poinsett died. As the first US ambassador to Mexico, Poinsett brought the poinsettia from Mexico to the US some 200 years ago, after which the plant was named after him. Starting from America, the poinsettia then proceeded to conquer the world. In the mid-19th century, the US Congress designated December 12 as Poinsettia Day in honour of the diplomat and plant lover.

In Europe, the poinsettia has been at the top of the hit parade of flowering potted plants for many years. As a popular present during the Advent and Christmas seasons, it can be found in almost every household in the winter months and has become an integral part of Christmas decorations over the course of time. In France, the poinsettia is not only called "Étoile d'Amour" but has also-as in the US-enjoyed long use as an expression of love, in other countries roses are almost always given for this purpose.

However, as far as grace, elegance and diversity are concerned, the poinsettia is well able hold its own against the rose. For poinsettias now blossom in a countless variety of shapes and colours, from the classic red to bordeaux, pink, apricot, rosé, lemon-yellow and creamy white. Two-tone variegated or white speckled poinsettias with pointed, rounded and ruffled bracts can also be found. They grow in large and small versions and as slender saplings. Plant breeders surprise us with new varieties for each season, making it possible to find the right poinsettia for anyone.

So those who wish to make a clear statement or want just once to show themselves from their best side need no longer wait for Valentine's Day: December 12 is Poinsettia Day.

photo [return to top]


Year after year, the poinsettia makes a welcome return over Advent and the Christmas holidays. This season the popular Christmas flower takes on an especially warming glow in a fairytale setting: Imaginative arrangements and surprising decorations are inspired by the Grimm fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White. Be it upside down over the dinner table or in glass Christmas baubles, the poinsettia shines in any setting.

Once upon a time there was the Christmas star... Poinsettias are an essential ingredient for the festive season. Presented as if in a fairy tale, they exude a magical charm and create a wonderful Christmas flair in your home.

Whether you have them hanging upside-down over the dining table in a Snow White scene, nestled in glass Christmas baubles inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, or as Sleeping Beauty's hanging wall garden — this Christmas, these new poinsettia arrangements bring the fairy-tale forest to your living room and offer wonderful alternatives to traditional poinsettia decorations.
Christmas tree decorations of glass   

An indispensable part of the Christmas holidays is the Christmas tree, which this year can look forward to an extra special decorative touch. Little poinsettias in their traditional scarlet, resplendent like Little Red Riding Hood's cape, are the perfect way to decorate your tree. Glass plant-baubles are first lined with moss and then a small poinsettia, after removal from its plant pot, is inserted into each. All you do now is cover the opening of the baubles with moss to stop any loose potting soil from falling out, and your Christmas tree is ready to shine with its coat of Christmas stars. Preparation is so easy that even little Christmas Elves can help with the decoration.

Sky Planter   

For Christmas décor at the dining table, Christmas flowers take on a particularly spell-binding appearance when they are planted upside down to hang magically from the ceiling in "Sky Planters". The festive dinner will be a special experience when your friends and family, like Snow White's seven dwarves, are greeted with not only their own plate but also their own "Sky Planter".

"Sky Planters" are available in stores and online and are guaranteed to surprise and impress your guests. To achieve this look, poinsettias are removed from their plant pots and inserted into the "Sky Planters". A net at the bottom of the pot prevents soil from dropping out when the plant is hung upside down. Watering is also very simple: A terracotta insert at the top of the "Sky Planter" regulates the water supply and prevents any drops from above.

 Vertical Garden   

A Christmas winter wonderland becomes reality with the "Vertical Garden", a seemingly enchanted wall garden of poinsettias. With surroundings as dreamlike as those experienced by Sleeping Beauty, your family will have an unforgettable fairy-tale Christmas. The "Vertical Garden" is made in a few easy steps with water-proof planting bags, which are specially designed for mounting on walls.

Just fill the planting bags one-third full with potting soil, carefully remove the plants from their pots and place them in the planting bag leaning slightly towards the front. Next, fill the planting bag with soil. Now the "Vertical Garden" is ready to take its place on the wall. If handled properly, the waterproof bags protect your furniture and walls from moisture and stains. While watering, take care to pour the water directly onto the slope at the rear of the bag. The water will drain down into the planting bag, where it is captured for gradual release to the roots. Watering regularly and in small portions will avoid waterlogging, just as with a normal flower pot.

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Hannah Dunne

It's been downloaded over 2000 times, with some florists calling it brilliant and claiming it will be indispensable for doing business. The creators of the new Flowerbook app hope to make your life a hundred times easier – if it's on your download list, let us know what you think of this forward-thinking tool.

We stumbled upon Robin Hesselberth and Fabian van Dijk at the IFTF fair in Holland where they were making their first big splash into industry. Robin, who has gained a ton of knowledge as a buyer for Flowervision, tells us "with our app all your flower-related questions can be answered, instantly."

Flowerbook is a discovery tool which aims to help florists find specific flower varieties for all types of projects and designs. Whether you're working on a colour-themed event and need flowers in just the right kind of maroon, or you just need to know what's going to be available this season, Robin and Fabian hope that the Flowerbook app will help.

"Breeders get in touch with us and arrange for their products to be uploaded to the app as soon as they're created." So signs are Flowerbook could become a strong platform for gaining up-to-date info from the earliest stages of the flower chain.

Designed to make life easier, it lists each flower against a colour guide with pictures plus clear information including whether there is limited availability, if it is grown all year round and where it is grown.

The duo have already collected over 5,000 photos so that you can search by variety, type or colour, with the aim to give you more confidence when quoting what will be available to your customers.

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Katie Hendricks

Can’t you feel the momentum building for the holiday season?! All your hard goods are here: liners, wire service containers, embellishments. Soon, evergreens will fill your cooler, awaiting your creative ways to show them off.

 Of course, none of this is inexpensive by any means, so let’s it go as far as possible.

 Most of your labor goes into greening all those containers. If you’re using all holiday greens, this is costly, and boring as well. So why not mix it up using other greens, such as those you already use on a daily basis? Not only will they give your designs a great look, these friends will keep the budget right on track.

 Those two weeks before Christmas are always the most grueling. All the decorating fun is out of the way and your future and current delivery orders are stacking up. Here are a few ideas that might just give you some breathing room while keeping your COGS (Cost of Goods) and labor right on track.

 1. Whenever you have a break, get your containers pre foamed and greened. The evergreens are in your cooler anyway, so why not put them into their respective designs?

 2. Place the more expensive evergreen products around the four sides of the container. Noble fir, Douglas Fir, and Cedar are perfect for this. These will give the grace and length you’re looking for. Then insert your daily, longer lasting greens (pittosporum, scotch broom, myrtle, boxwood, lemon, huckleberry) to lend interest and depth to these designs. Spray the unit with leaf shine for a shelf life that will last for weeks. Now fit in any non-perishable items: ornaments, pinecones, birch logs, pods, etc. with pan glue and wood wired picks.

 3. Keeping your designs hydrated will be key. Tag the pre designs with orders as they come in. Once you’re closer to the delivery date, add your fresh flowers to finish off the designs. How about lining these samples in the sales area of the cooler to show your walk in clients various price points to choose from? This will help so much with their selection, and save you valuable time as well.

 Holidays are a great moneymaking opportunity for all of us. Keeping our holiday COGS and labor at a minimum is the key for keeping that profit as high as possible. And how about having a fun time while we’re doing all of this? Remember: preparation and organization give you more time to spend with your family and at holiday celebrations!
Katie Hendrick is a freelance writer based in Sarasota, FL, and editor of the Florist 2.0 newsletter. She is also a contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.  [return to top]

Helen Evans

The 11th November 2014 marks 40 years since New Covent Garden Market first opened its doors for business, with the promise of continuing to fulfil all of London's fresh produce wholesaling needs. And that’s a promise that we continue to keep to this day!

Day and night, for 40 years, we've proudly been feeding and flowering London from our home at Nine Elms with a passion for the highest quality produce and the best service. The pictures below give you just a glimpse of some of the things we've been up to in the last forty years.

A History of the Market

Covent Garden dates back to medieval days when the Abbey of Westminster owned the 'Convent Garden' from which surplus produce was sold to Londoners. A regular market grew and in 1670, Charles II granted a charter to hold a formal market there.

The market grew rapidly and the 'Charter' Market was erected in 1829/30. It spread to some 30 acres and by the end of the 19th century it was the most important fresh produce market in the UK. Produce from around the Empire and beyond would come to London's docks and into the market to serve the capital's hotels, restaurants, high street shops and street stalls. Much of the innovative and exotic produce was also distributed nationally, up to Scotland and across to Ireland.

Although successful, the market was a chaotic place and by 1890 people were complaining about the congestion in the narrow streets. After WWII, and with the advent of larger vehicles, congestion became even worse. The Government recognised that public sector involvement would be necessary and in 1961 Covent Garden Market Authority was established. Nine Elms was selected as the new home for the market and construction began in 1971.

On Monday 11 November 1974 the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in the UK began trading on the new site. Within 10 years there was a seismic change to the market trade: supermarkets stopped buying from the wholesalers and went direct to suppliers. New Covent Garden Market evolved into distribution, with the bulk of its trade now in servicing and distributing to London's burgeoning hospitality industry.

Royal Opening 

  On Thursday 26 June 1975 Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to Market to grant us with a Royal Opening

The day was brilliantly sunny and large crowds of families and friends of Market people had come to join the celebrations and to welcome the Royal visitors. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited the Buyers' Walk and the Flower Market where they met traders and many Market people. Later, on the loading dock of the Flower Market, the Queen made a speech wishing the Market well, unveiling a plaque commemorating the opening.

Then and Now

It has been 40 years since we first started trading from our home at Nine Elms and both the food and flower industries have seen considerable changes. But one thing has never changed; our passion for the highest quality produce and the best service.

State of the art refrigerated vehicles now dominate the Market's views and you'll see produce on our Buyers' Walk that you simply couldn't find 40 years ago. Anyone for a strasberry?

A view down the Buyers' Walk from the 70s...

and now.....


In 1974 the most consumed fruit was the humble apple and the most popular vegetable (excluding potatoes) was cabbage. Today though, we're crazy for bananas and we now consume more onions than any other vegetable.

Famous Faces

The Market has been proud to welcome many familiar faces over the years, from politicians to TV chefs and even page three models! The Market's lure stretches far and wide.

Margaret Thatcher enjoying a drink after a morning's trade


40 Years of Fun

Almost every week we have something different going on at the Market. From TV and radio crews to fashion shoots, promotions and even full blown concerts.. we've seen and continue to see it all!

  Fashion shoot in the Flower Market:


Our Traders Over the Years

The Market is nothing without the people who make it so special. Generations of families have come through the ranks and friends are made here for life. Here are just some of our terrific traders who have graced our stands.

Porters Foliage  No better tropicals. No better foliage. No better service.


  Dennis Edwards Flowers - Wholesaler of the Year 2014


"Quality Plants: Customer service is second to none, incredible plant knowledge, all in the name - Quality Plants!" 


Get your copy of our 40th Anniversary Booklet

I hope you've enjoyed looking back at just some of our memorable moments in the past 40 years. I hope it has brought back fond memories for you or it has given you an insight into our rich history. [return to top]

Home Depot

Have you ever looked taken a look at the wreaths at the Home Depot and wondered if they were made by hand?  Did you think that they must be made by a machine.  There is no way a person, a human, could make this many...right?  

I have to admit, I thought the same. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a family farm that supplies to Home Depot where, 3 million wreaths are made by hand.  It was quite impressive and I thought to share a bit of the experience with you.  Take a look! 

Wreaths are a known to be a part of Christmas.  Decorations are not complete without a wreath at the front door. History states that wreaths are made from evergreens, to symbolize strength.  Many types of evergreens, such as pine, fir and cedar will last even in the most severe weather.  A wreath is made from twisting greens, twigs, berries, pine cones in a circle and completing it with a bow.  

Traditional Balsam Wreaths  

This year, choose a wreath with meaning: 
• Holly – Is the ruler of winter with thorns, berries and shiny green leaves
• Balsam – Traditional and the most fragrant
• Cedar- Strength and healing, known for long lasting
• White Pine – Long lasting, soft and graceful looking
• Boxwood – Classic and Hardy 

Decorated wreath  

Uses for wreaths: 
• Place one or several on any door with a wreath hanger and a bow.
• Garnish each window with a smaller wreath to match.
• Decorate with a HUGE wreath on a barn, garage or open space on the house.
• Interior wreaths may be placed above a fireplace, on a mirror or door.
• Use a smaller wreath as a candle holder, perhaps a centerpiece.
• Give as gifts, to clients or friends.
• Memorial – place on headstone or at a grave. 

click on the link and you can see how it is all done...,AAAAD2AZimE%7E,cuHgoGQ9jPmxGlJvMP2jkTTbmgjsc22l&bctid=3323614814001 [return to top]

Michael Lyons...Global Petals November 18, 2014

Wedding season is over, but Engagement Season is NOW. Over the next few months, men will be getting down on one knee to propose to the women of their dreams. Then, the brides will be able to start what they’ve been waiting for their whole lives – the wedding plan. Post engagement is the optimal time get in touch with brides to congratulate them and begin to build a relationship. You know floral decor will be on her to-do-list and by reaching out at the right time, you will be able to get a leg up on your competition, gain more design freedom, and likely have a larger budget. So now you ask, “how do you find these couples at the exact right time?” Here’s how:

Use Twitter & Instagram as your wedding Yellow Pages

I realize that some of you may not be on Twitter and Instagram, yet, so this is the perfect time and reason to start. The fact of the matter is that every bride will tweet and take pictures (shared on Instagram) the day that they get engaged. What’s great about Twitter and Instagram, unlike Facebook, is that most of it is public information. Therefore, you can find the recently engaged couples through their own tweets/Instagram picture descriptions.

To do this, you must make use of a “hashtag,” which is the “#” symbol before a word typed in a message. The purpose of a hashtag is to group messages/photos in similar categories or to categorize them into “trending topics.” Often, a bride will use a hashtag in the tweet/image description on Twitter and Instagram. Luckily it works the same way on each platform and these can be searched. Simply go to the search bar and type #engaged (or some variation of the word) and #chicago (insert your respective city or big city near you).



Initiate the relationship with these steps

Once you press enter in the search bar, you’ll get a list of tweets and pictures of all those who have recently talked about getting engaged within a certain city.

•Write down a list of all the people who have just gotten engaged along with their Twitter/Instagram handles (their usernames that start with an @ symbol)

•Do this for multiple variations of your search and repeat this daily

•For Twitter, tweet out a personal tweet to each bride saying something along the lines of, Congrats on the engagement @jessigurl! Do you want exquisite flower decs for the special day? Would love to help icon smile How to use Social Networks (NOW) to Lock in Weddings for Next Summer #florist #chicago. FYI – you only have 180 characters per message, so be concise!

•For Instagram, post a beautiful professional picture and add this same message as the description. By including their Instagram handle, they’ll be notified when you post it.

By reaching out to brides personally and directly right when they get engaged, you’ll exceed the level of service of every other designer in your area from the start. If you’re with them from day 1, it shows you care and are worth trusting. When trust is built, they’ll give you more design freedom. Also, it’s harder to pull out of a booking because of price after the relationship is established. If the bride prioritizes you early on, you’ll be working with the meat of the budget instead of the scraps.

Get Personal

By this time you’ve probably connected with your bride on Twitter or Instagram. If you initiated a conversation, you should look to take it to the next level to gain your bride’s business.

•Begin to follow your targeted bride and as you further the conversation. Ask her to follow you back for a DM (direct message). You can only send personal messages on twitter if you’re both following one another.

•Comment on her engagement pictures on instagram. Your comment can even have a link to some of your best designs to plant an image in her mind.

•Find the bride on Facebook and add her as a friend. This will surely seal the business deal if she accepts your friend request.


Social media is an extremely powerful tool nowadays, and it can’t be ignored. What’s great is that it can now be used to bring dollars in your pocket. What’s more important is that you can build a relationship with the bride early on, which will give you more design freedom with a larger budget. Try it out – Engagement season is upon us! Don’t miss the window!  [return to top]

Fusion Flowers

Floral Fundamentals - a platform for growers, suppliers and florists - has launched. Following intensive discussions, a group of like-minded professionals from different backgrounds agreed that the various segments of the flower chain needed help to communicate and to break down barriers.

Founder Alison Bradley says, "The advent of supermarket pricing policies has caused major issues not only for florists but for growers too. We agreed to take a radical approach, establishing a platform where growers and suppliers could communicate with florists and where florists could ask them direct questions and learn more."

Florists will be able to subscribe to connect directly with their growers and suppliers. Floral Fundamentals will aim to show practical, commercial ideas that will give florists a design edge over supermarket products. In turn, growers can ask for feedback about their flowers, plants and new developments, in the hope that florists will then be able to ensure that they use professional growers, supplying excellent flowers. In certain cases, growers will ensure that these products will not be available via supermarkets or chain stores.

The concept was explained to a group of European florists who volunteered to take part in the first photo-shoot and presentation, held at Anco Pure Vanda in The Netherlands following the Dutch trade fairs.

Growers were invited to see the florists at work using their products and were able to chat with them as they worked, learning from one another. The outcome was that 35 growers and five sundry suppliers contributed to the formation of the project.

Alison adds, "The project also aims to increase consumer-facing media coverage of the benefits of flowers and to take 'The Story' behind growers and florists into the public domain, whilst ensuring that florists share 'The Story' behind their flowers with their customers. In a trial at a florist shop in Germany this has proven to increase repeat business.

"Plus, Floral Fundamentals launched their Facebook on 14th November and within 3 days had in excess of 4,000 Likes!"

Editor's Note as of today there are over 5,450 members

if you want to join go to fb....Floral Fundamentals....  [return to top]

Emily Cooper The Florist

The houseplant of the month for November is the Christmas Cactus, a seasonal succulent that relies on the winter months to bloom.

The shorter the days become, the more vivid and plentiful are its flowers. Your customers will love this plant's unusual flowering habits - sell more by promoting that they're one of the few plants to flower in bright colours over Chistmas.

Seasonal colours

Producing orange, red, purple, white or pink flowers, the colourful Christmas Cactus will add colour to the shop when everything else is all reds and greens. Its sparkling blooms and succulent flat leaves make the Christmas Cactus the perfect gift for any plant lover.

From the rainforests of Brazil to your flower shop

Whilst Christmas is synonymous with snowy lands, the Christmas Cactus originates from a far more tropical environment. In the wild it is known for growing in interesting places, such as the exotic trees of the Brazilian rainforests.

A cactus is for life

To keep customers satisfied with their plant all year round, advise them to keep it in an area with limited water and light. Give it water once a week during the flowering period, and remove old flowers now and then. Once the Christmas Cactus blossoms in August and September, let it have a dry month with much less light. This way it will flower again and again.

Fun Facts

• A Christmas Cactus can live for 20 to 30 years

• Did you know that plants can help with reducing excessive noise? They have the greatest effect in areas with many large, hard surfaces

• The Latin name for a plant which grows on a tree, like a Christmas Cactus, is Epiphyte

• The botanical name of the Christmas Cactus is Schlumbergera, named after Frédéric Schlumberger (1823–1893)

• If there are flowers on the Christmas Cactus it's best not to move it as they don't like change and may drop their flowers

• There are Christmas Cacti with a diameter of more than a meter and which carry more than a thousand flowers

• Remove dead flowers regularly. This will stimulate the christmas-cactus-houseplant-brightenplant to produce new flower buds. The flowers will bloom for approximately seven days

• It is best to repot a Christmas Cactus every three years between February and April

• After it has flowered, Christmas Cacti can be moved outside, as long as it doesn't get direct sunlight during the summer months 

• The hanging stems of the Christmas Cactus can become 60 centimeters long

The quirky Christmas cactus requires something special. We have a magical idea as you can see from our DIY clip below....  

For downloadable POS material, visit

For the consumer site, visit


Twitter: @thejoyofplants  [return to top]

By ROSLYN SULCAS NOV. 20, 2014 Florist 2.0

One of the e-magazines that I receive on a weekly basis is Florist 2.0, invariably there are a few articles that I find of interest and thought I would pass it along as a few of you might enjoy reading when you have a spare minute or two. Jo


Wendy Whelan, behind a bouquet of flowers, taking her farewell bow with New York City Ballet last month. Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times 

London — Breathing hard, the Royal Ballet dancers lined up onstage here to take their bows after the premiere of David Dawson’s new piece last season. Out came the ushers bearing armfuls of flowers from the company. Then, to the shock of insiders and disapproval of traditionalists, bouquets were handed to the men as well as the women. Long-suffering balletomanes reeled back in their seats. Twitter was abuzz.

At the Royal Ballet, the great home of the floral tradition in dance, men don’t get flowers onstage. (Unless they are in drag. Which happens fairly often.) It’s one of the many customs, rules and subtle ordinances that govern the art of the bouquet in London. Flowers matter: how many, what kind, who they are given by, who they are given to, how they are bestowed, how they are received. (To present those opening-night bouquets to the men, Mr. Dawson had to get a special dispensation from Kevin O’Hare, the Royal Ballet’s director.)

Flowers matter in New York, too, where splendid bouquets will be handed out during “Nutcracker” season. (New York City Ballet’s version opens Nov. 28 at the David H. Koch Theater, and American Ballet Theater’s production arrives at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Dec. 12.) But what can seem a simple gesture of appreciation is in fact a highly codified practice, with different ballet companies obeying different rules and traditions.

 Mario Lorenzon of Bloomsbury Flowers in London makes bouquets for presenting at the Royal Ballet. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

At City Ballet and Ballet Theater performances, flowers are generally given by the company on opening nights and for role debuts. At the Royal Opera House, however, there are flowers delivered onstage at almost every ballet performance, most provided by loyal fans who can spend hundreds of dollars each month to keep their favorite ballerinas supplied with floral tributes.

London is where the art of the bouquet has been perfected, said Mark Welford, who with Stephen Wicks runs Bloomsbury Flowers, a florist a short dash from the Royal Opera House. They supply at least six bouquets a week when the Royal Ballet performs. (It runs fairly continuously from late September to early July.) For the opening night of the season in September, they filled several orders for Marianela Núñez in the title role of “Manon.”
“With ‘Manon,’ I usually tie a diamond bracelet” — which figures prominently in the ballet — “into the bouquet, although not a real one sadly,” said Mr. Wicks, standing recently with Mr. Welford amid buckets of blooms in the back of his shop. “People often ask for themed bouquets. With ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ we did arrangements with sausages, with flamingos, with playing cards and wooden spoons. For the Sugar Plum Fairy in ‘Nutcracker,’ we do pinks and sweets. For ‘La Fille Mal Gardée,’ we weave in a pink ribbon. Sometimes the fans have great ideas.”
Lee McLernon, a London lawyer who sends “about 10 to 12” bouquets a season, many from Bloomsbury Flowers, said that he felt it was a small way to show appreciation for the joy he derives from the dancers. “It clicked with me that if I want to be sure a dancer I like is getting a bouquet, someone has to provide it,” Mr. McLernon said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Welford said that he believed that the flower-giving tradition dated back to the early days of British ballet in the 1930s.

“Dancers were really badly paid then, and people sent flowers and food and gifts,” said Mr. Welford, who, like Mr. Wicks, was a member of the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (now the Birmingham Royal Ballet) in the 1970s and ’80s. Later, ballerinas “were more of a fur coat and diamonds phenomenon,” he said. “There was an aura and allure that went with clutching a bouquet of flowers, and something about that has remained at the opera house.”
The floral tradition at the Royal Ballet is also probably a result of the opera house’s proximity to the Covent Garden flower market before it moved and the possibility of buying leftover or spoiled flowers cheaply.

“Back in the day, the fans used to queue overnight for tickets, and there was a very striking woman, dressed in a black velvet cloak, who used to run the queue, collect money for flowers and organize throws from the amphitheater,” Mr. Welford said, referring to the tradition of pelting dancers with loose flowers from the topmost part of the theater.

So what’s it like to get hit by streams of flowers coming at you from four stories up? “Pretty scary, but kind of lovely,” said Leanne Benjamin, a former Royal Ballet principal who retired (amid showers of blooms) last year. “But my gratitude was mixed with worry about what would happen to them. Would they go into a vase?”

In Margot Fonteyn’s autobiography, she tells of a moment during a Royal Ballet visit to Russia, when she was struck in the chest “by a remarkably solid and heavy water lily” after performing “Ondine.” “It was an appropriate flower,” Fonteyn writes with a certain sang-froid, “but I wished they would stick to daisies and cornflowers.”

Fonteyn also recounts: “A front-row enthusiast found he could lob his little bunches of flowers over the orchestra pit more successfully if they were weighted. I had to keep a very wary eye on his missiles as I was bowing and smiling graciously in front of the curtain.”

It could have been worse. The Ballet Theater dancer Julie Kent recalled an admirer who would throw huge bunches of long-stemmed roses onstage in the middle of a ballet. “He would rush forward to the bottom of the stalls and fling it,” she said in a telephone interview. “Even if I was in something with other dancers, which was sortof stressful.”

Some fans have better aim and timing. In the 1970s, there was a Royal Opera House balletomane who would painstakingly prepare individual nosegays. He had an absolutely perfect lob, and after Ashton’s “Birthday Offering,” which has seven ballerinas, he would throw these little lace-surrounded bouquets at them, and they would land precisely at the feet of each dancer.

In the great tradition of throwing tributes at dancers, flowers haven’t been the only projectiles. In 1734, the ballerina Marie Sallé caused such a sensation in London that fans threw gold sovereigns wrapped in bank notes. And Colum McCann notes in the novel “Dancer,” based on Rudolf Nureyev’s life, that in Nureyev’s first season in Paris, a mink coat, erotic Polaroids with the names and numbers of the women pictured, and 18 pairs of women’s underwear — among many other things — were flung onstage. If anything like this still happens, no one seems to be admitting it.  

It may seem easy to call up a florist, or fashion your own small bouquet and practice your lob, but the protocol of giving flowers isn’t that simple. Until 1997, when the Royal Opera House closed for renovation, bouquets were brought onstage by two men dressed in white wigs, knickerbockers and much gold braid. Known as flunkeys, they would walk on to the stage with stately ceremony, bow to the dancers, offer the flowers, step back, bow again and walk off with the same choreographed deliberation.

The Royal Opera House still employs someone to present the flowers, even if he — men are preferred for the bouquet bestowing — now wears a rather nondescript outfit and is bereft of a wig. (The current bouquet presenter is an opera singer trainee.) While the company policy is to give flowers to the principal female dancers on opening night, bouquets arrive at almost every performance, said Johanna Adams Farley, the senior stage manager for the Royal Ballet.

“Sometimes it can be a little delicate,” Ms. Farley said. “If flowers have arrived for a corps de ballet dancer or soloist, but the ballerina hasn’t received any, we won’t present them onstage.”

She added that not every offering makes the cut. “A bouquet has to be a decent size,” she said firmly. “If something arrives that is too small, we’ll just send it to the dressing room.”

The bouquets must also be constructed in such a way that they are easy for a dancer to hold as she curtsies during curtain calls.

“It’s much more difficult to make than you imagine — and I’ve tried,” said Deborah Koolish, the personal assistant to Peter Martins, the ballet master in chief of City Ballet. “It has to have a kind of architectural integrity to it. I went through several years of auditioning florists.”

Marianela Núñez with her bouquet after a 2013 Royal Ballet performance. Credit Dave Morgan/DanceTabs

Then Ms. Koolish got technical: “The flowers have to be laid down and interwoven in such a way that they hold together and make an oblong shape so that the dancer can hold it in one arm. It must be flat on the bottom so that it can rest on the woman’s arm, and you have to have long enough stems, because they get shorter as they are graded down. The way it is tied — with wire, then ribbons over so that it stays together — is complex, too.
“And all florists want to put cellophane over, which I can’t bear. When I see flowers go out with cellophane on, I go quietly to pieces in my seat.”

Ms. Koolish said that flowers were not often given in Balanchine’s day, but that the company now always gives bouquets to the ballerinas at premieres and galas.

“Mr. B did have one hard and fast rule, which we hold to this day,” she said. “If there is more than one ballerina, either all get flowers, or none.”

At Ballet Theater, the troupe’s production stage manager, Danielle Ventimiglia said, the dancers tend to get bouquets from fans during the spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House.
“At the Met, there is a team of men who prep the flowers,” she said. “You have to pull the thorns off the roses, make sure that there is no stamen that will dye the costumes. We doctor it a little, make sure there is a pull flower for the lady.”

Ms. Ventimiglia was referring to a moment that is now almost standard in the curtain-call ritual, whereby after receiving her bouquet, the ballerina pulls out one flower, kisses it and presents it to her partner. (“City Ballet ballerinas don’t do that,” Ms. Koolish said dismissively.)

“I don’t know how that started, but it wasn’t common at the start of my career,” said Ms. Kent, who will retire next year. “I feel like it’s become a bit of a rote gesture, so if I really feel moved, I offer my partner my whole bouquet. Luckily, they usually don’t take it.”

Then, of course, there are the occupational hazards of being besieged with bouquets. Ms. Benjamin recalled spending a night in the emergency room after almost cutting off a finger while trying to arrange the flowers she had been given after her last Juliet.

Alessandra Ferri remembered trying not to trip over slippery mounds of blooms at the Met after her farewell performance with Ballet Theater in 2007. “You don’t want to exit your career on a silly fall,” she said.
What such occasions need are the Ugly Sisters. After a performance of “Cinderella” in the 1980s at the Royal Opera House, the stage was strewn with industrial quantities of daffodils. On marched Derek Rencher and Michael Coleman as the Ugly Sisters, with a two-foot-wide broom, and swept them all away.

Alastair Macaulay contributed reporting. [return to top]

Hitomi Gilliam AIFD

Being a person who loves to learn new techniques, and to get inside information on hints and tips on how to embellish my floral designs it is refreshing to be able to do this sometimes without forking out for it.  Not that I begrudge paying for workshops or demonstrations, after all the people teaching them had to acquire the knowledge from research and hours of patience before they have perfected their techniques, mechanics and creations. 

However sometimes it is also refreshing that there are designers who want to share their skills with others and because of the internet and Youtube they are able to.  Recently Hitomi Gilliam AIFD has been doing just that via the Design358 YouTube Channel.  I decided to ask her why she wanted to share and the following is what Hitomi said.

"I decided to share via posts and videos what I know on social network because...I am only reaching such a small groups of people via shows and workshops...  its a shame that more designers can't know what I know.  Some very good efficient ways to do many things - commercial ideas, as well as creative ones.  I have different sets to address the difference.

I am turning 62 at the end of the year...  don't know how long I can be doing what I love and do - travelling and teaching.  I want to share all I know while I still have good memory - before I start to forget everything.  I know this is premature but...  you have to start thinking of these things.  My dad had alzheimers - he was a brilliant man but he lost it all at the end (by age 80).  I still have time.

I have spent the last 10+ years since I sold my shop - figuring out what would make florists' life better.  Its 'Make more, Do less - use your talent wisely'.  Since all the working florists are too busy to figure out the HOWs...  Its my job to help them figure this out. I intend to share everything I know with everybody.  It does not matter who...  What does matter is that the information is there for those who want to learn - that's professional florists and all those who love working with flowers!!!"

Here's an example of How To Use Midollino Extenders to create stylistic, curvilinear structures to support Amaryllis plants (either permanent or fresh) in a design. Multiple placement of these pots side by side can create beautiful, extra large designs for restaurants, at parties, etc. for the holiday season!!
 Watch the youtube video for instruction on Midollino Extenders.

 These were created for J Scotts Aflorist Christmas Open House in Orange, TX   

  Hitomi will be posting a how-to video tutorial of vertical modern mass design this week. Its all about mechanics, mechanics, mechanics... Lots of tips to make this design efficiently and profitably.
The video will be released on DECEMBER 1.



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By Hal Shelton Posted Nov 24, 2014

If you are thinking of writing, or rewriting your business plan here are 10 smart things you can do.

1. Write a clear two-page executive summary.
Your goal in the executive summary is to energize the reader to read the whole plan. Make a persuasive case upfront for why the business will be successful and why you are the right person at the right time to lead this business to success. Be sure to include clear statements explaining your value proposition and competitive advantages.

2. Emphasize the customer need or problem you are satisfying.
 Your business plan should be about the products and services you are providing to satisfy a customer need or fix a customer problem. Show how you can drive demand: Provide evidence of the size and acuteness of the problem and how you are uniquely satisfying/solving it.

3. Understand your own strengths, skills, and time available.
Often start-ups consist of one employee — you, the founder. What are your skills, what do you like to do and not do? How much time do you have available? These are important questions to calibrate your expectations and determine where you will need support.

4. Spell out the business model.
For yourself and for a lender/investor demonstrate how you are going to generate revenue. How are you going to get paid? And for what will you get paid? Who are your customers, and in what sales channels do you find them?

5. Include a believable sales forecast.
The sales forecast must be supported with detailed action plans encompassing your marketing and sales process; including lead-generation strategies, open-for-business campaigns, demos, and overall messaging. Using industry benchmarks will provide credibility for your sales forecast.

6. Request funding consistent with the needs shown in the forecasted financial statements.
The funding request that’s made in the executive summary needs to be supported by the forecasted financial statements, which are usually for a minimum of three years.

7. Tell a banker or angel investor how you will use the funds they provide.
This is called “Use of Funds.” Investors want their funding to go to company activities that will generate future revenues and grow the business. The Use of Funds section doesn’t need to go into much detail, but it must cover all the funds requested.

8. Revisit and refine your first draft.
Write a draft, put it down, think about it, do more research and experiment; then write a second draft and repeat the process. As part of the research, learn from others, get differing opinions, and seek advice from similar businesses in other markets. It is unlikely that any one person will know it all. While entrepreneurs are usually strong willed, they also need to be good listeners and learn from others’ mistakes and accomplishments.

This will take time, but the quality of the plan will significantly increase as you come back with more information and insight with each draft.

If you already have a business plan, you many think you’ve done all you need to.

However, even the best business plans can benefit from revision. Here are a couple tips for updating your business plan:

9. Keep up with changing markets.
Just as your market will change over time, so should your business plan. While your initial business plan might rely on some assumptions about your target audience and what they need, once your business is up and running, you may discover new factors you hadn’t originally considered, including competitor reaction to your business entering the market. Be sure to incorporate this new insight into your updated plan.

10. Update your financial forecast.
Use the results of the past year as a base in developing financial forecasts for the coming year. As a small business, focus on cash flow. Use your business plan as a segue to an annual goal setting and budget process.

Key Lessons
• A well-thought-out business plan occurs over time, including a lot of interaction with others to learn about your business and market.
• A focused and up-to-date business plan is the path to good decisions regarding your business idea.
• A well-presented business plan will facilitate reaching potential customers and funders.
Have any questions about business planning we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments.
About the author: Hal Shelton’s business planning skills were developed as a certified SCORE small business mentor, corporate executive, nonprofit board member, early-stage company investor, and author of The Secrets to

Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by Step Guide to Creating a Plan That Gets Results.

Suggestions for additional topics are welcome; email Constant Contact or Hal directly from his website: [return to top]

Scholarship Application for 2015


If you know of a promising floral student or intuitive designer who would like to attend symposium next year in Denver, encourage them to apply for our NERC Memorial Scholarship.  If they are not already CFD or AIFD designated, they are eligible to apply.  Scholarship and grants are also available through the AIFD  Foundation.

 North East Regional Chapter Memorial Scholarship

Please review the Scholarship Criteria page, as there have been some recent amendments to better serve our applicants applying for the scholarship.

Our scholarship liaison is Mary Robinson.  The attached application can be downloaded. Please follow the application instructions, and return the application to Mary at:  24 Cassidy Dr. Saratoga Springs NY 12866

The date for the Memorial Scholarship application is 1 month earlier this year.  Application for the 2015 scholarship due by February 1, 2015.

NERC Memorial Scholarship App 2015 link is below:

NERC Scholarship App 2015 -Revised 07-14.doc 

AIFD Foundation Scholarships funded by the North East Regional Chapter

 The following Scholarships & Grant Applications are available to apply for at the AIFD Foundation:  
                                                                       2015 Student Application
                                                                       2015 Grant Application        
                                                                       2015 Symposium Scholarship 

 To find these apps:  Go to:

 Look under the 'Scholarship Information' Tab on Toolbar

Choose the 'Scholarships & Grants' Tab

Download the application forms listed above

Deadline for the Foundation Scholarships & Grants is January 31, 2015.
The applications must be received at Foundation Headquarters by that date.       [return to top]


The Northeast Chapter includes the following on this side of the pond and the other side of the pond:

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Canadian Providences of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and the United Kingdom.

 Regional Officers:

 President - Theresa Colucci   845-255-3866 
  President-Elect - Janet Black  207-514-3500 
  Vice President - Bill Murphy  717-679-9009
  Secretary - Dot Chenevert  845-229-9336
  Treasurer - Ken Norman 201-675-5946
  Past President -  Polly Berginc 724-679-2872

Board of Directors:
 Michael Brody (15) 570-522-6476 
 Rob DeBellis (16) 609-270-7884
 Dan Firth (17) 717-248-7843 
 Jane Godshalk (15) 610-896-8292
 Susan Krabill (16) 302-697-3273
 Laurie Lemek (17)  877-273-0194
 Adelaide Linn (17)  267-642-6312
 Crescentia Motzi (16) 610-518-1270
 Chris Ondrak (17)  908-782-5459


Chapter Pin

The Northeast Chapter has a beautiful gold (not solid but coloured) pin which represents our chapter with a spray of acorns and a cluster of oak leaves, this symbol represents the Region on both sides of the pond.  The pin is approximately 1"W x 3/4 H.


For those members who would like to purchase the Northeast Chapter pin  If you do not already own our chapter pin, they are still available to purchase.  

The price is $25.00 (plus $5 shipping). If you are interested in purchasing a pin contact Janet Black,  or mobile number (207) 514-3500.

The pin is also available at upcoming NERC sponsored events, check the NERC event calendar for information of when and where.    




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Editor: Jo Jarvis AIFD, CFD

Please contact Jo Jarvis or Polly Berginc  with any news stories or information you wish to submit by email to: or  We are always looking for news involving our members and regional upcoming events, so PLEASE help us keep the newsletter interesting by submitting leads and information.

Please Note: All photos submitted should be sent as a jpg file; We can re-size the images to fit into the newsletter format as needed.

Please also visit the national website at for additional news and information.  Current and back issues of our NERC Newsletter are available on the NERC Chapter page. 

If you have a change of address, or a new email address, please forward me the information for our contact distribution list update. (Otherwise, you may not receive future newsletters to your email)  

NEXT ISSUE December 2014

Deadline for articles for next issue is December 20th, 2014==so if you have any news or something of interest to share please send it in to either of the above emails to ensure it is published...

If there is anything that you would like to see in the newsletter, business, design trends, techniques, new products please let me know so that I can endeavour to be able to research in order to put it in one of the issues....this is a work in progress and I need to know what you want to read....Jo 

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