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The Garden Club of America 2021 Floral Design Conference


April 13, 2021

Floral Designers, Flower Growers, and Educators In Floral Artistry

Following in the footsteps of three previous virtual conferences, the Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference, the Conservation Study Conference and the Photography Conference, and most recently the National Affairs & Legislation Conference, The Garden Club of America’s 2021 Floral Design Conference “Springtide” brought club members together for a day of floral opulence featuring floral designers, flower growers, and educators in floral artistry.

The one-day virtual event allowed GCA club members a chance to “travel” to a farm in Virginia, revel in the luscious colors of art-inspired floristry in British Columbia, and visit a teaching studio to celebrate classic design through education in the fundamentals. Presentations provided participants with fresh insights, information on new sustainable practices, and a look at cutting edge design trends in floral arts. Several presentations included live Q&As. 

The morning session of the conference featured Holly Heider Chapple, the creative visionary behind Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, Hope Flower Farm and Chapple Designers, a global community of wedding and floral event designers that she mentors and educates. Known for her garden-inspired designs, she has influenced trends in the floral industry by connecting designers and the public to unique, hearty, and organic material. Her presentation “Designing for Spring at Hope Flower Farm” offered viewers a tour of her farm in Virginia as well as a floral design demonstration.

The afternoon session began with GCA Honorary Member Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, co-founder of Design358, a floral education based event company, who joined the conference from her home on Bowen Island, British Columbia. Weaving art inspiration throughout her designs and conversations, Hitomi’s biggest passion is “sharing everything she knows about flowers through presenting and teaching.” Her design demonstration “Primavera: from Botticelli to Modern Abstract Floral Design, A Hybrid Cross of FlowerXArt” was a delight for all club members.

GCA club member and recipient of the GCA's 2017 Katherine Thomas Cary Medal and 2008 Bonnylin Woods Martin Medal, Jane Godshalk offered insight into design fundamentals with “Proving the Principles: How Designs Take Shape and Come to Life” and followed with “Seasonal Inspirations” a virtual tour of a year in floral artistry.

Darroch and Michael Putnam, floral designers and authors of Flower Color Guide and Flower Color Theory, concluded the virtual event with their presentation “The Hand Tied Bouquet as a Gift of Spring.”

The GCA made a rapid pivot beginning in late spring 2020 from destination-based, in-person events to virtual gatherings. Teams of volunteers have been engaged in learning strategies for creating and presenting educational content for member clubs in this new and exciting way. 


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