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Fresh flower floral arrngement


The Door Garden Club embraces a 'new old school' of floral design.  It's old in that it harkens back to the days before floral foam and throwaway plastics when reusable mechanics and vessels kept fresh plant materials in place and provided hydration for stems.  It's new in that it encourages the creation of simple, organic  floral designs using sustainable materials and methods in new ways to balance form (aesthetics) and function (mechanics).


"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations."  Orson Welles 

Sustainable Mechanics and Containers

Susttainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design
Sustainable mechanics floral design

Shown here are the nine sustainable floral designs that Sonja Durkee created and deconstructed for her demonstration at the
Door Garden Club
June 27, 2023 meeting.
Flowers were generously provided by Jane Mohit of Lucky Stars Flowerfarm. 

Floral foam used for floral designs
Sustainable mechanics floral design

Types of Floral Designs

Floral designs types can be defined by the purpose for which they're created. 

  • Small scale designs for home or office; often given as a gift to cheer and delight. 

  • Large scale designs for a nonresidential venue, often for a special event, to enhance and decorate. 

  • Designs for flower shows to entertain, inspire, and sometimes, to tell a story or interpret.

Floral Design Basics

The principles and elements of design guide the creation of beautiful works of art.  

Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD and Kathy Whalen, AIFD describe each of the elements and principles of design in their book "A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design" (2010), and point out that these are objective measurements.  They also describe subjective qualities that determine how a design affects a viewer. These include Creativity, Theme (Concept Communication and Interpretation), Tension, Expression/Emotion, Economy of Means, Originality, Distinction, and Beauty.  The authors suggest that these should also be considered in evaluating a floral design. 

Artflor book cover
A Fresh Look at Judging book cover

Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD has authored numerous books about designing with flowers and is an excellent teacher.  Together with Gregor Lersch, Hitomi is the sponsor of a new virtual Challenge called FREESIA, which stands for Florists Recognizing Environmental and Eco-Sustainable Ideas and Applications. 

* Also called organic unity.


Objectivity is based on these elements and principles. Subjectivity is based on individual preferences.


























Slow Flowers

"The slow food movement (with its hundreds of thousands of members and supporters) has changed our relationship with the foods in our lives. Now the slow flower movement is changing the way we think about cut flowers: Yes, we'd all prefer fresh, fragrant flowers in our bouquets, not the chemical-laden lifeless blooms flown in from afar - but what to do in those seasons when not much is growing locally? Acclaimed garden writer Debra Prinzing challenged herself to create a beautiful, locally-grown bouquet for each of 52 weeks of one year (going beyond flowers to include ornamental twigs, foliage, greenhouse plants, dried pods, and more), to demonstrate that all four seasons have their own botanical character to be celebrated. She provides extensive design tips, bouquet “recipes” and region-by-region floral ingredient lists that can be found in all climate zones through the year. Slow Flowers is written from a DIY floral designer's point of view, to inspire anyone to go green and make a beautiful bouquet with what's at hand, no matter the season. The Garden Writers Association has recognized Slow Flowers with a 2014 Silver Award of Achievement." From Amazon

Slow Flowers book cover
Slow Flowers Journal cover

Sustainable Mechanics

Susan McClearly, also known as 'Passionflower Sue' demonstrates sustainable mechanics in this YouTube video.  It is one of many excellent videos by Susan McCleary that can be found on the Internet.

Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, demonstrates the use of 'found' objects that can be used to keep stems in place in this YouTube video.  It is one of many excellent videos by Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD that can be found on the Internet.

Floral Designs for Flower Shows

"Less is more."  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Award-winning organic sustainable floral design by Linda Taneja Australia

Design by Linda Taneja, Australia, for the 2022 FREESIA  'Event' competition.

The Design Goal

To create a beautiful work of art that conveys meaning. 


The most successful designs have a strong, well-defined concept or idea. Throughout the design process, the answer to every question that the designer asks relates back to this original concept or idea.  The end result can be evaluated by asking if the design accomplished this original intent. 

Statement of Intent

The designer communicates his or her intent by including a Statement of Intent with the entry.  This statement is often 25 words or less. 


  1. Fresh plant material must dominate.

  2. Dried plant material is allowed.

  3. The use of locally grown plant material is encouraged.

  4. The use of floral foam is not permitted.

  5. Invasive and endangered species are not permitted.

  6. Mechanics may be visible if an integral part of the design.

  7. The use of organic materials for mechanics and vessels is encouraged.

  8. Plastic materials are not allowed.

  9. Anything that pretends to be something it's not is not allowed. 

  10. Designs must remain in pristine condition for the duration

       of the show.  Refreshing is allowed.​

More on Sustainable Floristry

There's a new way of thinking about the floral industry that supports a healthy planet. Click here to read about the problems and solutions.

Organic Craters backround image
Organic art wall decor

Organic defined by New Oxford American Dictionary

Descriptions for word organic

Here's another important one that relates to art and design that didn't come from a dictionary:

 Shapes or forms that replicate natural-occurring elements: Irregular, imperfect, asymmetrical, free-flowing, sinuous, supple, graceful, one of a kind. Opposite of geometric, measured, straight, machine-like, man-made.

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