Learning the Art of Floral Design (with Cocktails)


Classes at Stems include two botanically-inspired cocktails. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Classes at Stems include two botanically-inspired cocktails. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

It’s nearly impossible to stroll the streets of New York City without coming across a bounty of gorgeous blossoms, buds and stems, from the lush peonies dotting sidewalks in front of bodegas right now, to the quirky petals and poms that will light up the farmer’s market a bit later in the season. There’s an art and a craft to creating next-level arrangements (though we’re consistently delighted just to walk past a mason jar filled with lilacs) and a number of floral designers around the city are sharing the tricks of their trade.

We tip-toed through the tulips checking out different floral classes, from arrangements to bouquets, to crowns and boutonnieres–DIY brides, take note–and here are our faves:

Stems Flower Shop at Sycamore Bar
1118 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park
Stems’ owner, Suzanna Cameron, describes herself as an “architectural florist,” which to her means floral shapes that are asymmetrical and variegated. Though the classes are a relatively new addition to the shop (she held her second in April), they offer students the opportunity to get their hands all over the flowers. “There’s a science behind how you process flowers,” she says. “I want to teach people basic design. There’s a way of arranging stems in a jar to create the shape.” Classes include an introduction to the flowers students will be working with and the basic fundamentals of arrangment. Students work at their own pace while Cameron offers advice. And, since Stems is Brooklyn’s only flower shop in a bar, classes come with two botanically-inspired cocktails. Bridal parties often arrange for hands-on workshops with Cameron for their weddings. She plans on offering floral crown, boutonniere and terrarium classes in the near future as well.

Class details: $50 including flowers, vase and two drinks. To inquire about upcoming classes, call 347-240-5850 or visit www.stemsbrooklyn.com.

Blossoms awaiting arrangement at LIttle Floral School. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Blossoms awaiting arrangement at Little Floral School. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Little Flower School
Location changes
Nicolette Owen of Nicolette Camille Floral and Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua, the duo behind Little Flower School, immerse their students in a grand flower experience with their five-hour classes. “We want it to feel like a day full of flowers,” Owen says. A name tag attached to a bud and a blossom, floral shears and a cast-iron-footed urn were waiting for each student at the beginning of a recent peony study. The class opened with an introduction to each and every flower students would be working with–there were at least 20 different varieties of peonies, as well greenery, filler flowers, roses and ranunclus. The classes are “a guided exploration, so people can feel creative and fulfilled, and make something really beautiful and amazing,” says Owen. The pace is deliberately leisurely–students are encouraged to take their time selecting flowers and arranging, developing a distinct style along the way. Each session ends with a photography shoot.

Class details: Next class will be held sometime in the late summer, $500, including flowers, clippers, vase, snacks and drinks, email to inquire.

Blossoms and Branch teaches a lush, natural style using bodega flowers. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Blossom & Branch teaches a lush, natural style using bodega flowers. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Blossom & Branch
10 Jay Street, DUMBO
Sarah Brysk-Cohen, owner of Blossom & Branch and former clinical social worker, wants to make gorgeous flower arrangements accessible to all. Her popular class, Bodega Flowers 101, teaches students to use flowers from local bodegas and grocery stores to create uncommonly beautiful arrangements. During a recent course, she explained which flowers she picked and why (because the class took place in April, tulips were well represented). Her style is lush and natural, drawing on arranging fundamentals like picking feature and filler flowers.  “Flowers are supposed to be fun,” Brysk-Cohen says. “It’s not forever. It’s something you can get better and better at, and it can be very personal. If you think it’s beautiful, then it’s beautiful.” Other classes include seasonal flowers, seasonal branches, Valentine’s Day and holidays.

Next class: Summer Flowers, June 23rd, 2-4pm, $150, including flowers and vase. To reserve a spot, call 347-422-7066 or email sarah@blossomandbranch.com. Arrange for a pick-up after the class because the vases with flowers can be rather large to carry on the train.


Sprout Home has an unfussy, modern aesthetic. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Sprout Home has an unfussy, modern aesthetic. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Sprout Home Brooklyn
44 Grand Street, Williamsburg
This modern floral shop isn’t precious about flowers. Customers are encouraged to open fridges and create what they want. This attitude carries over into their floral classes, which cover floral arrangements, crowns, and wedding design, in which students learn how to create spiral stemmed bouquets using roses and pinned boutonnieres. After covering the fundamentals floral designer Doan Ly expands into different flowers and shapes. “I would love students to walk away from the class with a different way of looking at shapes of flowers,” she says, “to notice how they curve and to be able to honor that. Beginning to have that awareness of the natural shapes of things is a really important step in being able to create dynamic compositions.”

Next class: Uncommon Structures, July 6, noon-1pm, $75, including flowers and vase, register here.

Classes are held in the backyard at Rose Red and Lavender. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Classes are held in the backyard at Rose Red and Lavender. Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Rose Red and Lavender
653 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
Kimberly Sevilla, owner of Rose Red and Lavender misses the days when people wore flowers regularly. “I want to bring that back,” she says, “women wearing fresh flowers in their hair, it’s fun.” In the back of her shop on Metropolitan Avenue students learn the basics of creating a crown or headband shape with wire, what types of flowers to add where, and how to properly attach them, and how to keep the crowns fresh. Classes are limited to 10 people for a more hands-on experience. “Just keep experimenting, try different things,” Sevilla says of her DIY approach. “See what happens, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s how you learn.” You can also arrange for a private class for a small group, and Rose Red’s other classes include moss graffiti and printmaking with botanicals.

Next class: Call 718-486-3569 or email lavender@roseredandlavender.com to  inquire.

2 Responses

  1. Kimberly Sevilla -

    Awesome! I love all the great things going on, and flower crowns!

  2. Toni Freda -

    Join Piccola Pianta for one of our many upcoming CREATE YOUR OWN TERRARIUM WORKSHOPS
    March 20, 2014 6:30 pm Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store Brooklyn
    March 29. 2014 10:00am West Elm 112 West 18th St, NYC
    April 19, 2014 Delia”s Lounge Bayridge
    APril 27, 2014 11am West Elm Burlington, MA

    We are also available for private parties of 5 or more!
    Contact piccolapianta@aol.com


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