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Award Winner in the 2012 Ct Floral Association Competition!!!

This past Sat. and Sunday the Northeast Regional Floral Expo- hosted by the CT Floral Association took place in Sturbridge Mass.   After taking the past 2 years off to chair the Decoration Committee, I tried my hand once more at competing…. and ended up with second place in the Masters category…. Not too bad!

Our challenge this year (the theme changes every year) was to create an accessory to go with a particular dress. See the photo below:

Here are the entries for the Masters Category…

The first thing I thought of when I saw the dress was a bolero jacket, or an overlay.  What I ended up designing was both!

After determining the right technique I set about doing some top-secret experiments….

I decided to attempt making the jacket out of hot glue. It is a technique that I saw someone from Japan use in a boutonniere once a few years ago at an AIFD symposium in Palm Desert. I asked him what it was and he told me.  Six years later, I found a perfect excuse to use it. I learned that my idea would work, as well as how best to go about it. This post will be about the competition and my piece, but the next post will be a how-to 🙂 so stay tuned!

Here are some shots taken of some last-minute placements  just before the judging…

Working on the final details

As you can see, the “glace overlay” is rather transparent, decorated with String of Pearl plant, variegated lily grass, Helleborus blooms and a few Italian ranunculus.

"Glace Overlay" Detail shot-

Glace Overlay, 2012 NEFE competition

Fully functional with a magnetic closure, base made of Hot Glue- (how-to post coming next!)

This is such an exciting technique, as it takes paint so well. I am excited to see what else I can think of to make. I loved this piece and had a great time making it.  Couple shots of the “back”- which could also be a “front” as photographed here-

Glace Overlay on dress, 2012 NEFE competition entry

this photo taken the next day.....

Moving on to phase 2.

The top 3 finalists (yes, my glace overlay did score the highest in this round, it really was exquisite, I am very pleased with how it came out) move onto the 2nd round, the Face Off.

In the Face Off round, the designers are all given the same flowers and the same theme. We are given an allotted amount of time (45 min in this case) to create a design that will then be judged.  The 2 scores are added together and the highest one wins all.  First Place wins a check for $500, the trophy to keep in their shop for the year, and a chance to move onto the National Competitions held in the fall.

Some shots from Phase II:

My little elephant friend (who I sadly misplaced afterword 😦 😦 is happily watching)

tip: keep your glue upright in some sort of container (jelly jars work great:)

simple callas and intricate grass weaving, bridal cascade from phase II

my finished pieces, NEFE competition, 2012

Unfortunately I was unable to claim the trophy, but I did obtain a new Second Place plaque to display in my shop…

I do think that one learns more from a close call, rest assured I have thought of about 6 million things I “could have made” for my Phase II, but I feel that my work was solid, my mechanics are good and I am proud of what I made.

Look out 2013….. I’m coming for you!!!

Here is a link to the “trailer” for next years convention, to be held in Mystic, CT it looks like a ton of fun!

Stay tuned for the “how-to” post coming soon….

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment!

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Here Comes Valentines!

Logo for Middletown CT florist
Wow it is getting busy over here at Green Dahlia and most of the orders so far are for contemporary arrangements, Thank You Middletown for being open to cool stuff!  In case you are wondering what to order, I have compiled some images here for you….
I just want to say that this is our FIRST Valentines Day open, and also- MY BIRTHDAY! That is right, I will be working like crazy on my 29th (I can hardly believe it either) birthday…. And loving every minute of it!!!

This year, European Hand-Tied bouquets are HOT!  They are perfect for people who already have vases at home, and don’t want to collect more… With the stems perfectly spiraled, the flowers can stand on their own.  I wrap them in cellophane and fill it with water. The flowers can then be transferred to one of your vases, or just stay in the plastic- they stand all on their own.

Hand-Tied bouquet in Cellophane

We have fresh flowers coming in every day up until Valentines Day- and that is good because they are going out as fast as they come in!  If you are looking for roses, we only have a limited number on order, and they will arrive on Sunday.  This year we are using roses from Roses for Autism– they are genuine heirloom roses grown right in Guilford, Ct and all proceeds go to a great cause.   As true heirloom roses are want to do, they open beautifully, and smell fantastic but only last a few days.  They also dry very nicely when hung upside down and keep their color.  I don’t even know what colors are coming as I left it up to the staff to pick out the best looking varieties for me- so it will be a surprise!

Beautiful Local Heirloom Roses from Roses for Autisum

Here are some images of some contemporary design styles to get you thinking out of the box-

Mini Cymbidium, Orbital arrangement

This actual arrangement is currently showing itself off at the New England Emporium in Middletown, should you stop in please take a second to check it out…

orbital mini cymbidium arrangment

decorative Kale, orchids, waxflower

Here is a slightly similar one, featuring decorative Kale, orchids and steel grass.  This is an “enclosure” style…

Enclosure Design

Here is a small design, it’s a mini cymbidium framed with Steel Grass

Framing Technique

Next Up- some images from my website:

Architectural design, very structured

This is an English Garden Hedge style, very tall and narrow, like a hedge of flowers

landscape technique, like a miniature world

Another Enclosure, tear drop shape

I should mention some ordering information:
You can call 860.346.0000 to place an order for pick up or delivery.
There is no minimun for orders being picked up at our storefront (725 South Main St. Middletown, Ct)- Please call in advance during holidays-
Our delivery minimum is $60 in town, and orders NEED to be placed no later than the 13th to guarentee delivery for Tues.
In town deliveries are a 10.00 charge, out-of-town depends on the mileage.
The best way to make an order is to call and tell me if you would like:
something traditional or something contemporary or something somewhere in between
Give me a few adjectives to go on, here are some examples:
playful, sexy, pretty, crazy, wild, big, huge- something that makes her say “wow” or- whatever you come up with-

We will be here all day Tuesday, but our stock will be limited to what is in-house.

Check out our Website at
or our Facebook Page for more images

Well, I have to get back to work now 🙂
(Yes, I will be here late and early every day untill Valentines’ is Successfully done!)
See you soon!


Old and the New

I have just received some images of some of the Floral Jewelry that I had made for the class I taught last fall, which happened to coincide nicely with a photo shoot Datura, A Modern Garden was doing the same day with one of Connecticut’s best photographers- Carla TenEyck.

Some of the adjectives given to us for the photoshoot were Nautical, Preppy, and Clean- since I already had a Floral Jewelry class scheduled the same day, I made some items to send out to be photographed, and then to use later in the demonstration part of the class. Here is one necklace done with String of Pearl plant, and tiny little shells:

necklace, string of pearl plant and tiny shells, image by Carla TenEyck

necklace, string of pearl plant and tiny shells, image by Carla TenEyck

Next up, a floral Bracelet done with Coxcomb and Yellow Craspedia- one of my favorite flowers, and I am looking forward to the 100 stems that will be showing up on Monday- Just in time for the next hands-on floral class I am teaching at Middletown Adult Ed this coming Tuesday- This one is on Traditional Flower Arrangements, and the class is full 🙂

bracelet, craspedia and coxcomb image by Carla TenEyck

Next- a Headband made with Asplenium- one of my favorite plants. I personally call it Lasagna Fern, you can see why.  The Wholesalers sometimes call it “Crispy Wave” which is also quite fitting.  This is a very simple headband with phaelenopsis orchids as the floral accent.

headband, asplenium and phalaenopsis- Image by Carla TenEyck

Headband, Asplenium, Phalaenopsis Orchid, Image by Carla TenEyck

I had originally created this piece also as a head wrap/headband using Velcro that can be fitted exactly to the head of the person wearing it; however Dana Bartone – a genius of Hair Styling- decided to weave it into her up-do instead. This piece matches the first necklace I showed you, using the String of Pearl and tiny shells again, this time adding a perfect vanilla lisianthus bloom as the accent.

Headband with shells, String of Pearl,and Lisianthus- Image by Carla TenEyck

Last up for today, a choker. This one is a take on the fabric flower, using some strips of red ribbon and the throats of Cymbidium orchids:

floral choker, Image by Carla TenEyck

If you are interested in seeing more images from this shoot, be sure to check out the blog post from Datura, or even pick up a copy of the Spring/Summer 2012 Connecticut Bride Magazine 🙂

Beauty: Dana Bartone and Co., Cheshire. Creative Direction: Jubilee Events. Floral Design: Datura:A Modern Garden. Fashion Stylist:The White Dress by the Shore. Cake: A Little Imagination Cakes. Paper: Coral Pheasant Stationery + Design. Shot at Dreamscapes Design Group and on location at the Griswold Inn and downtown Essex

See you in Class Tuesday!


Upcoming Class: European Hand-tied Designs

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Hello Again!

We will be teaching a class at Middletown Adult Ed this coming Tuesday, the 31st.  You can sign up for the class through Middletown Adult Ed , there are only a few spots left!

It is a hands-on workshop and we will be creating proper European Hand-Tieds. What is a “Proper” European Hand-tied? Well, for starters, the flowers are arranged in your hand (as opposed to in a vase) and when using the proper technique, the stems all spiral perfectly, allowing the bouquet to stand on its own.  We will then enclose our handtieds in cellophane and fill it with water, creating an arrangement in a “water bag” that can stand -unsupported- on a surface, or be easily transferred to a vase of your own.

perfectly swirling stems, the result of proper hand-tied technique

free-standing hand-tied gerbera dasies

This method of arranging is wildly popular in Europe, and also used often when creating bridal bouquets.  The perfectly swirling stems allow the bouquet handle to have a tight binding point, as all the stems line up and take up the least amount of space.  The one in the photo below was designed by Renee vanRems, who has a few books out on hand-tied bouquets, for he is a true master.  This is a biedermeier bouquet, often associated with concentric rings of floral material or color.

Biedermeier Bouquet, concentric rings of floral material or color

Not all need be round, however… Come to the class to see some demonstrations of more modern versions of the hand-tied, and take away the knowledge to create many new styles for yourself, like this Fan-shaped Hand-tied I created while working for Datura, A Modern Garden shown below….

Hand-tied bouquet, fan shape

Yes, that is Miss Connecticut!
See you soon…

Welcome to 2012!

Here we are in 2012, and Green Dahlia has made it 6 months! I know it’s been a while since the last post, but that is exactly what New Years resolutions are all about- growing, improving, blogging more…

We have 6 classes scheduled for this spring semester at Middletown Adult Ed, class sizes are limited so if you see something you are interested in, sign up!  Look for the classes taught by Catherine Epright, AIFD

Here is the page in the catalogue with the information (full color, how cool is that?) Since the classes are taught through Middletown Adult Ed, you will need to sign up with them.

Middletown Adult Ed Spring Catalog

Not only do I teach a few classes, but I take them too!  I am currently enrolled in the European Master Certification Program offered by Design358 in Vancouver.   This program is taught by Thomas DeBruyne whom I fell florally in love with at the first AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers) National Symposium I ever attended in Palm Desert, 2007.  He was there doing a main stage program with Life 3.  I fell for his style while volunteering in the design room.  I kept seeing bits and pieces of started or mostly finished work, and many of them screamed “MATH!” to me. I am very attracted to Math, and find something about it to be irresistible. Come to find out, he started out as a Mathematician and then switched to floral design. Right then and there I knew I had to try to learn from him so when I saw the Masters program advertised a few years later with him as the main instructor I knew I had to do whatever possible to get there.

Unfortunately I did not bring a camera to the 5- day class held in Norwalk Ct. at East Coast Wholesale  this past October  ( Let me give a quick shout out to Steve the owner of East Coast- he is serious yet full of fun;  not afraid to rock a pink shirt, and it is only one of the reasons I admire him so much- he really cares about his products as well as his staff.)

But luckily Jim Martin did bring his camera, here are some of his images:

Thomas De Bruyne himself, image by Jim Martin

This was a cool concept the long , low horizontal split-bamboo.  Bamboo often splits all by itself and with a few tricks, Tomas had this one waterproofed in no time at all. As he started this arrangement I will admit to being a little horrified with his choices of color, I did not have any confidence that this would come out looking good.
I thought to myself ” I thought he was supposed to be a master? Why is he choosing those colors?”

Low and behold, he is a master, and when it was finished I had to admit that it was beautiful.  This is precisely why I continue to learn from the best….

Split Bamboo, horizontal arrangment

Horizontal arrangement, split bamboo image by Jim Martin

Next up, an arrangement with “downward proportion” I feel I don’t even have to say how much I love this next piece can I tell you that the hidden mechanics are – gasp- Chicken Wire? Who knew it was back in vogue? Well, folks, it is. This is the year of Chicken Wire, mark my words. (we shall see if that is a joke or not as the year progresses)

"Proportion Down", image by Jim Martin

Some images of a very cool “art piece” that poor Brooke had to make from scratch! It took her hours and hours to make the form, but since October it has been to New Mexico and now resides in Vancouver, BC. I got the image below from the beautiful girls at Floressence Floral Design in NC who also attended the workshop.

Art Piece by Tomas, image by Floressence floral

the art piece, up close (image by Jim Martin)

A bridal bouquet done with strips of reed- very lacy and transparent, yet strong, sexy and even playful with the colors and movement…

modern bridal bouquet, image from floressence floral

bridal party "purse" photo by Floresscence floral

and last but not least, a photo Jim Martin took of me making one of our practice bouquets:

me hard at work, image by Jim Martin

and my final piece for part one, Foundation- it’s a hand-wired European hand-tied bouquet. I chose to make mine an inverted spiral (I hope you can see it from the picture I took with my phone!)

the "Inverted Spiral" bouquet, photo by my phone

over 100 hand wired flowers total!

side view

Well, now that you know what we did in the Part One, I will tell you that Part 2 is a self-practicum, and I will be regularly blogging a bit of what I research as well as what I make as part of the course.

Part 3 (cross my fingers and squeeze my eyes shut I Hope I Can Make It) takes place this May for 2 weeks in Europe! Oh please I hope I can manage to get there, for if I can when I return Stateside, I will have my European Master Designer Certification.

Remember, February 14th is Valentines Day, flower idea post coming soon…
Thanks for reading!


Designs by Catherine Epright make an Online Appearance…

A while back, Tony Palimeri of Datura, A Modern Garden was approached by an online flower blog, asking if they could post some designs from his website to their blog.  The name of the Website/ Blog is Bollea, and we went to check it out.  The Editor of Bollea really does have very good taste, and the site is a great resource for inspiration.  Not only that, but they post a few times a week.  Tony sent in a number of images, and they appear from time to time. I will take this opportunity to post some of my designs that have proudly made the cut… Coincidentally, all of the following images are taken by Jaquiline and Chris of JAG Studios, one of the best photographer teams I have had the pleasure to meet

cranberries strung and wound around a grapevine ball with orchid accents

Cranberry orchid cascade

Fan shaped bridal bouquet with Gloriosa Lillies, Lisianthus, Crespedia and Green Trick Dianthus

A throwback to the old fan-style bouquet

Bridal Bouquet made with Broccoli, Dill, Parsley, Amaranthus

"Edilble" Bridal Bouquet

Cymbidium orchids configured into a raindrop shape with yarn

Cymbidium Drop

A full shot of the cymbidium cascade bouquet

A full shot of the cascade

And on another flower blog, Botanical Brouhaha– here is an bouquet made of Ornimental Peppers, Photographed by RAW Photography

Bridal Bouquet made of ornimental peppers and thistle

Ornimental Peppers and thistle

I am proud to have my work published online, and even in a few print magazines so I do send out thanks to Datura for making these play-dates possible for me….  Don’t forget to check out Tony’s Blogsite for Datura– it’s full of awesome images and stories of his adventures (and he has been on many different adventures this year!)

Keep your eyes open though because one of these days my designs will be in print yet again, only under the name Green Dahlia!

Summer Days Gone By

Now that I have this fancy new blog, I am excited to start posting some images from some of the work that Green Dahlia did over this summer. Let us start with this awesome opportunity that found me, Yard Art for a local graduation party.

The clients home had an expansive back yard, and Green Dahlia was asked to do some sculpture like installations in one of the paths.  Let me just tell you, this yard is a dream come true for children! I found myself thinking of all the cool forts I would have built had I had the chance to live there growing up (not to worry, I did get to make a lot of forts on my own turf as a child!)

I had complete artistic freedom, and an awesome helper Miss Clyda.

Clyda helped me string and hang all these glass bubbles onto a frame I had constructed the previous day using some bamboo that was growing on the property, and my trusty iron spikes made custom for me from my favorite blacksmith – Falling Hammer Productions (I always go straight to them if I am ever in need of some fantastic ironwork.)

Hanging glass globes with flowers inside

Detail shot of the "Wall of Bubbles"

Glass Globes with flowers suspended from a structure made of bamboo

the Bubble Wall

Down in the right hand corner, you will see one of the Peacock Ferns, we “fluffed out” her existing ferns with some (gasp) leather leaf and added the peacock feathers.  I gasp because leather leaf has such a bad rap as an overused green.  However, having trained at Datura, I was never allowed to use the “offensive” leather leaf….. Now, it’s a secret thrill to use it only because it was forbidden fern for so long…. But that sounds like a whole post of it’s own!
P.S.- The client’s pet dog had a real problem with these “Plants”

Peacock feathers make this fern a little more showy

Eye See You!

Next we worked on this

Wicker Globes with fresh Garlic Scapes woven in and around them

The Egg Nest, in Full

We started calling it the Egg Nest as it took form… In full it stands about 10 feet tall, 2 and 1/2 handmade wicker globes decorated with foliage and garlic scapes from the yard. Here are some detail shots…

details of the"garlic knot"

Wicker 1/2 globe with yellow flowers inside, and garlic scapes woven into it

The Egg

Lastly to show you is a concept we were trying out, we called it “over / under”

orchids on and behind a pane of glass

Over / Under

Orchids stuck onto and behind a pane of glass

Orchids, As Above, So Below

This was very difficult to photograph, but a very cool piece, you will have to take my word for it. I am sure that the concept shall be revisited one of these days! It is a pane of glass, buried in the ground and standing vertically. Some of the orchids are fastened on the viewers’ side of the glass, with others attached behind.  I want to play with this idea some more….

Visually confusing designs give me much pleasure.

That will do it for this post, but coming soon a post on the European Master Certification program I am working on currently.  In about 2 weeks I will have permission to use some of the images from the class in order to create a post worth reading!

Stay tuned…

Catherine Epright, AIFD