Articles about Peony design
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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"