Articles about Peony design
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Thursday, July 7, 2022

2022 American Peony Society Convention Exhibition Artistic Design Entries

2022 American Peony Society Artistic Design Entries

Inside the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Garden's Auditorium, I think the Artistic Design entries got the best spot in the show, a beautiful spot right next to a wall of windows overlooking an outdoor patio surrounded by lush greenery! I should have taken a photo of the gorgeous peony arrangements from both ends of the Artistic Design table. In this shot, I got up close angles of the professional division, also known as the "Open Classes", Classes 6-11 this year.

Artistic Design Reserve Champion
Class 11 - "Helen V. Smith Woodland and Wildflower Garden"

Class 11 - "Helen V. Smith Woodland and Wildflower Garden"

Class 11 - "Helen V. Smith Woodland and Wildflower Garden"

Class 11 - "Helen V. Smith Woodland and Wildflower Garden"

Class 10 - "Sitting Garden"

Class 10 - "Sitting Garden"

Class 8 – "Marie Azary Rock Garden"

Class 8 – "Marie Azary Rock Garden"

Class 7 – "Gateway Garden of New World Plants"

Class 6 – "Great Lakes Garden"

Class 6 – "Great Lakes Garden"

The novice design classes where Classes 2-5 this year, with several first time entrants participating in the artistic design portion of the show. All of the designs in the show were so beautiful. I would take any of them home with me. If you've never tried your hand at entering the APS flower show, the artistic design category might be an easy way to get started! There was even a children's class this year, Class 1, open to people 16 or younger, which had good participation! I can't wait to try my design skills again at next year's APS Convention Exhibition!

Class 5 – "Bonsai and Penjing Garden"

Class 5 – "Bonsai and Penjing Garden"

Class 4 – "Medicinal Garden"

Class 4 – "Medicinal Garden"

Class 4 – "Medicinal Garden"

Class 3 – "Perennial Garden"

Artistic Design Novice Award
Class 3 – "Perennial Garden"

Class 2 – "Urban Pocket Garden"

Class 1 – "Gaffield Children's Garden"

Monday, July 4, 2022

2022 American Peony Society Exhibition Southern Peony Wins Artistic Design Novice Rosette Award

2022 American Peony Society Exhibition Artistic Design Award
Novice Class 3 "Perennial Garden"

After the judging is complete at the American Peony Society convention, all of the entrants are always excited to go see what if any ribbons they might have won. I was one of those people since I entered a few designs into the Novice category of the APS Artistic Design section of the Exhibition this year. I was thrilled to learn that not only had a won a couple ribbons on my designs, but I also won the highest award in the Novice category, the Artistic Design Novice Award!

2022 Southern Peony Wins Artistic Design Award

It looks like I actually won this "Novice Artistic Design" award before, in 2019 APS Convention Southern Peony Wins 3 Blue Ribbons in Artistic Division & First Rosette, but it looks like I wasn't awarded a Court of Honor for that Novice Artistic Design Award last time. I'm not sure if that was a mistake or they just started putting the Novice Design awards on the Court of Honor this year.

2022 American Peony Society Exhibition
Court of Honor, Artistic Design Novice Award

I was told, though, that this year they've changed the rules. Now anyone who has received a "Court of Honor" award must now compete in the professional division of that class going forward. It sounds like for any future exhibitions, I will be in the professional category for either flowers or artistic design! - since I've also placed on the Court of Honor 1 time in the cut flower division, 2015 APS Southern Peony Court of Honor Winner - 'Keiko'. That's a little scary when you know you have to compete with the likes of professional growers (in the cut flower competition) and professional flower arrangers (in the artistic design category).

2022 American Peony Society Exhibition
Court of Honor

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

2022 American Peony Society Convention Flow Show Prep

The 2022 American Peony Society Convention isn't possible without the help of so many entrants and volunteers. Before the show opens to the public, APS members are busy as bees, hard at work creating the beautiful flow show the public sees. Flowers are selected for showing, stems trimmed, put into exhibition bottles with water, groomed for the show, tagged with variety and entrant, and then categorized into their show categories for judging.

American Peony Society Convention Prep

This year the APS Exhibition Committee made a change to have all entries submitted by Friday afternoon at 4pm. That way the judges could judge the flower show on Friday evening and have the show ready for the public first thing Saturday morning. Previously flowers were due by Saturday morning, while the judges tried to judge quickly late Saturday morning, often times delaying the opening of the show. I thought this change was wonderful for the show, although I did miss the time on Friday for group APS activities.

APS Novice Design Entries

Often times after entrants have selected the flowers they do want to show, they have leftover flowers that are not deemed to be "show quality". Usually those stems are made available for flower arranging. While a single stem may not be the perfect shape/quality for a ribbon on the exhibition floor, it can still be a valuable addition for a floral arrangement entry. I have entered the floral design categories a couple of times before. This year I had my Mom with me, and I got her to create a few designs as well. I entered four designs, and she entered three. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun!!

Friday, April 22, 2022

2022 Southern Peony @ Blossom + Bone Flower Arranging Workshop

Southern Peony Flower Workshop Bouquet with Blossom + Bone

I have been pretty busy this past week, not in the garden but at our quarterly All Hands Meeting at work. This time, though, I actually got to do an activity with and learn something about flowers! How cool is that? (especially since software is my day job)? We were given three options for the social activity on the final day of the meeting, and one of the options was a flower arranging class with Blossom + Bone, a local Durham, NC florist. Of course I picked that one, and I made a thing...

Southern Peony Flower Wrapped Workshop Bouquet

We were allowed to choose the flower colors for our bouquets and the greenery. I decided to pick some of the more lavender colors for my bouquet (of course). There were so many pretty flowers to choose from though, there were bright, sunny yellow snapdragons and neon orange poppies that really grabbed your attention. Even though there weren't any peonies to put in our bouquets, I still had a great time thinking about how to best use the greenery, how to fill in dead space in an arrangement, and how to coordinate (or contrast) the colors in your bouquet. It was so much fun, and I can't wait to put my flower arranging skills to good use again at the upcoming APS Convention!

Blossom + Bone Florals

How can you not love a florist that has an intersectional (itoh) peony on the front page of their web site? Blossom + Bone Florals. I had such a great time meeting some of the ladies of Blossom + Bone, and getting to chat with them about their backgrounds. I even got to hang out with a fellow lefty that helped me tie my bouquet with twine. She had previously worked on a flower farm (after graduating college), and it was fun to hear her stories on how to grow some of the trickier types of flowers. I am filled with gratitude for being able to meet some other flower aficianados, spend some fun time with my colleagues, and get to take home an awesome floral bouquet!!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

2019 APS Convention Southern Peony Wins 3 Blue Ribbons in Artistic Division & First Rosette

Southern Peony Artistic Design Entries
1st Place "Happy Days" & 1st Place "Honored Guest"

I must say I was very proud of my "Happy Days" arrangement that I entered into the 2019 American Peony Society Flower Exhibition this year. Of the three arrangement I entered, it was definitely my favorite. The bright yellow colors of the hostas and the irises just popped like rays of sunshine and made me feel happy whenever I looked at it. The arrangement category honored a Saunders peony by the same name, Peony 'Happy Days', a lutea hybrid with colors of rose and gold. The "Honored Guest" arrangement was nice too, honoring another Saunders Peony 'Honored Guest', a white single with pink flares. Since I didn't have a Peony 'Honored Guest' to put into the arrangement, I used a single white tree peony and made flares of pink bleeding hearts coming out all around the white flower. The "Great Lady" arrangement honored Peony 'Great Lady', another Saunders hybrid, which blooms as a single hot pink peony in my garden. So I used a single hot pink peony, but the arrangement was supposed to be tall like a great lady. So I used tall fern fronds, which are feminine, yet commanding.

My First Artistic Design Rosette
1st Place "Honored Guest"
Novice Design Award
1st Place "Great Lady"

When the results for the show were announced, I was astounded to find I'd won 3 1st place blue ribbons, plus a rosette for Novice Best Design! This is the first year I've ever won a rosette in a design category. However I was really shocked that it was the "Honored Guest" arrangement that actually won the Novice Best Design Rosette. I felt sure that the "Happy Days" entry I'd entered was my best effort. It was interesting to see the comments from the judges on the backs of my entry tags. That's the thing I think is pretty neat about the Artistic Design category, all of the artistic designs are judged by local certified design judges (not APS judges). Regardless of which arrangement won, I am very grateful to have been able to enter into this category in the APS show. I owe many thanks to the APS members that donate peonies to the artistic design category every year, and to Kris who graciously allowed me to harvest hostas, iris, and bleeding hearts, and other foliage from her garden. Thank you!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018 Southern Peony Wins 2 Artistic Design Ribbons at APS Convention

APS Artistic Design 1st Place
"The Pearl"

Well, there weren't any rosettes ribbons for me this year, but I did manage to eek out a 1st Place and 2nd Place ribbon in the two categories I entered in the Artistic Design Section of the American Peony Society Annual Exhibition. I must say, though, that I owe a large chunk of my awards to Mike Miller since he let me use the materials he'd meticulously curated from a local thrift shop. Since he was only allowed to enter 3 design categories, he let me use his remaining materials to enter "The Pearl" category. I did however select my own flowers from what all designers were allowed to use (the leftovers from the flower exhibition), and I also selected the greenery to go with it (from what Mike had sourced from local roadsides). He happened to have some blackberry brambles with small, green buds. To my eye these perfectly emulated tiny pearls and suited my arrangement for "The Pearl" category well.
APS Artistic Design 2nd Place
"Pittock Mansion"
APS Artistic Design 1st Place
"The Pearl"

My other arrangement was for the "Pittock Mansion" category. I figured for a Mansion you need big. So I tried to go as big as I could with what flowers and greenery was left over, but the size of my arrangement paled in comparison to Mike's 1st Place winning arrangement in the category (and Grand Champion Design), 2018 First Time Entrant, Mike Miller, Sweeps APS Peony Floral Arrangement Competition, which was awesome! Truth be told, the only reason I even won a 1st Place ribbon in "The Pearl" category was because there was no entry from Mike to compete with. All in all entering these designs into the APS Artistic Design categories was lots of fun. It was very surprising to win any ribbon at all (this being my first time ever entering an artistic design), and a 1st Place ribbon was even more exciting. I look forward to participating in the APS Exhibition in this way in future years, even when I don't have my own flowers to enter into the cut flower exhibit!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018 First Time Entrant, Mike Miller, Sweeps APS Peony Floral Arrangement Competition

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion

Much to my (and everyone else's) surprise, a first time exhibitor in the Artistic Design section won all 3 Artistic Design Rosette ribbons awarded in the American Peony Society 2018 Flower Exhibition. That winner is Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm in Ohio. He's no rookie to the APS Flower Exhibition, but this is his first foray into the design competition. I took the opportunity to speak with him about his artistic floral design winnings.

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Grand Champion

How did it feel to win all 3 APS rosette ribbons in the Artistic Design peony floral arrangement categories (Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, and Best Novice Design)?

"Finding out that I had won all of the top 3 design awards was exciting and embarrassing at the same time. I was happy to win but also embarrassed that I took the awards away from others that had been competing for several years."

Were you surprised to find out that you won?

"I was very surprised when I first learned of receiving the top honors."

How does it encourage you in your peony growing and exhibitions?

"I am encouraged to try entering again in future conventions. This was my first year to enter the design classes. In a normal year I am too busy entering peonies in the commercial division classes and have never had enough time to do any designing. I was not able to take peonies this year to enter and therefore allowed me the time to enter the design classes. I am looking forward to a balance in future shows of entering peonies in their classes and doing more of the design classes."

APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion
"Tilikum Crossing"

Mike is so humble and so deserving. It really speaks to his creativity and attention to detail with the materials he used and the planning he put into creating on-point designs for each of the categories he entered. Mike told me that he visited a local thrift store after arriving in Oregon to find the containers and design elements for each of his arrangements. With the design categories in mind, he carefully selected pieces and accents that would fit each theme. Each year the APS creates categories with themes from the Exhibtion's locale. This year was no different, with each category reflecting features of Portland, Oregon.

Mike's "Tilikum Crossing" entry is anchored by two metal vases of varying height, mirroring Portland's Tilikum Crossing bridge's two towers. It also incorporates woody materials at the top of the arrangement emulating the bridge's cables and a ribbon connecting the two towers to form the "bridge". His "Tilikum Crossing" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion rosette ribbon (the 2nd highest design award in the show).

APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award
"Union Station"

Mike's "Union Station" entry (my favorite) was anchored by a clock vase, just as Portland's Union Station is anchored by a towering clock tower, perfect! The use of color in this design is what really draws me to this entry, and of course all of the intersectional peonies don't hurt either! His "Union Station" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award rosette ribbon.

Mike's "Pittock Mansion" entry was by far the largest and grandest entry on the show table - the scale and grandeur of the design definitely befitting a mansion. Even the vase was perfect - the intricrate, gilded design of the large vase belonged in the grand home of a wealthy industrialist investor. His "Pittock Mansion" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Grand Champion rosette ribbon (the highest design award in the show). Congratulations, Mike!

APS Artistic Design Grand Champion
"Pittock Mansion"