The Allied Florist

 Monthly Newsletter of the Allied Florists of Houston

 October 2017

  Ikebana Class Information




Floral demonstration by visiting professor from Japan is open to the public

HOUSTON, TX - The North American Ohara Teachers Association (NAOTA) and the Houston Ohara Chapter presents an Ohara School of Ikebana Demonstration by Associate Professor Akishiro Nishi (sensei) on Friday, October 13, 2017, from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. Japanese entertainment and a Sayonara Banquet, in the Magnolia Ballroom at the Westin Hotel Memorial City, 945 Gessner Road, Houston, TX 77024, will follow the demonstration, from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. The event is open to the public. Admission is $100 per person and includes a ticket to the demonstration and banquet. Limited tickets for the demonstration only are available for $40 per person. Advanced reservations are required by sending a check payable to: Ohara School of Ikebana Houston Chapter, c/o Reiko Smith, Treasurer, 12539 Cloverwalk Lane, Houston, TX 77098. For general inquiries, email

Ikebana, one of the traditional arts of Japan, has been practiced for more than 600 years. It developed from the Buddhist ritual of offering flowers to the spirits of the deceased. By the middle of the 15th century, with the emergence of the first classical styles, Ikebana achieved the status of an art form independent of its religious origins, though it continued to retain strong symbolic and philosophical overtones. The first teachers and students were priests and members of the nobility, but as time passed, many schools arose, styles changed, and Ikebana came to be practiced at all levels of Japanese society.

The varying forms of Ikebana share certain common features, regardless of the period or school. Any plant material - branches, leaves, grasses, moss and fruit, as well as flowers - may be used. Withered leaves, seedpods and buds are valued as highly as flowers in full bloom. While a work may be composed of only one, or of many different kinds of materials, the selection of each element demands an experienced eye, and the arrangement requires considerable technical skill in order to create a kind of beauty that cannot be found in nature.

What distinguishes Ikebana from simpler decorative approaches is its asymmetrical form and the use of "empty" space as an essential feature of the composition. A sense of harmony among the materials, the container and the setting is also crucial. These are characteristics of the Japanese aesthetic feeling that Ikebana shares with traditional paintings, gardens, architecture and design.

Unshin Ohara founded the Ohara School in the late 19th century, when Japan opened itself to the influence of Western culture. He created the Moribana style, which was the first style in the history of Ikebana to capture the essence of natural scenic beauty. This led to the Ohara School's introduction of the Landscape Arrangement, which incorporates strong literary and pictorial connotations.

The Ohara School of Ikebana celebrated its 122nd anniversary this year and has over 1 million students throughout the world. Its main offices are in Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe. There are 158 chapters in Japan and major chapters outside Japan, including Houston.

The North American Ohara Teachers Association (NAOTA) was founded in January 2001 to promote the Ohara School of Ikebana. The teachers share ideas, techniques and related information on Ikebana and Japanese art. NAOTA hosts an annual conference in various US cities, featuring either a visiting professor from Japan or a Grand Master from the US. Teachers attending the Houston conference are from the US, Canada, and South America. For more information, go to

Houston Top Designer

AFH Quick Calendar of Events

 Oct 10

 AFH General Meeting & Taylor Wholesale Christmas Open House
 Oct 13

 Ohara School of Ikebana Demonstration by Associate Professor Akishiro Nishi
 Nov 14

 AFH General Meeting & "Top Designer Competition" at Greenleaf Wholesale
 Nov 23

 Thanksgiving Day
 Dec 24

 Christmas Eve
 Dec 25

 Christmas Day
 Dec 31

 New Year's Eve  
 Jan 1, 2018

 New Year's Day

 Nicola Parker's Interview with Hitomi Gilliam

How many years have you been in the floral industry?

37 years

When and how did you know that you would make a career of Floristry?

I decided to pursue floristry as I transitioned from being a grower/landscaper in 1980. My plant store became a flower shop gradually after I took my first small wedding (with help from my neighbor – who were retired florists from the city). I became more excited about floristry after I went to my first design show at a local wholesaler. I also began to compete in 1982, which by the way were some of my most exciting years.

You are admired by so many people in the floral industry, Who do you admire and why?

Gregor Lersch for his never-ending devotion to the highest level of design and his thoughtful teaching, his passion for passing on solid fundamentals. John Haines AIFD was my working partner, co/author for many projects and books for many years – he was a true inspiration and someone who I always enjoyed discussing design with. I am thrilled that with the world becoming smaller, we are once again working together even though he lives in Bali.

Is there anyone that was instrumental to you in your career and how?

It’s more the experiences that were instrumental to my career. Attended and observed 2 World Cup Competitions in 1985 (Detroit) and 1989 (Tokyo) to see the best of the best in the world.I was in awe of the level of finesse, detailing and artistry which went into the art of Klaus Wagener in 1985.
I started competing early in my career – it definitely helped me set my career goals. I was also obsessed with PFD magazine when I started to compete. My favorite designer was Cort Schwanebeck at that time. These were very exciting time well before I knew anything about AIFD.
Outside of the industry, I have always been obsessed with ART, ARCHITECTURE & FASHION. I have long wished for upping the level of artistry in Floristry – to gain professional recognition from the Art world. Soul-searching in the Arts have helped me discover many avenues through which Flowers can be a valid medium in the Arts. Architecture and Fashion interest has been a 15 year obsession. Architecture inspires me in the areas of construction, structure, armature and all mechanical sides of floristry. Fashion inspires me to how best to dress these architecture, with color, texture and style. Fashion also keeps me more aware of the power of marketing and branding – how to capture the hearts of the consumers.

I know that you travel alot through the year, How many countries do you visit each year teaching people?

It used to be how many states… not too long ago. The world have since become much smaller and we are now talking how many countries???
My floral life has become an adventure of late…Flowers do take me all around the world. I typically travel to 5 or 6 countries per year.
Bali, India, UK, Korea, Belgium, Oman, Northern Ireland, Japan, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherland, France, Spain.

You had a very popular program called Designing for excellence, and you ended it. Will you ever bring it back?

I would love to bring back ‘Designing for Excellence’ to Texas again.

Do you feel as though the European Master Florist program would benefit the everyday florist?

Yes, I think it can. But I have to admit, it is a very rigorous program needing a huge commitment of time to study. The program gives a student a new insight into European floral education, a different perspective which add a new understanding to the creative process which feeds into the branding of new generation of professional floristry. EMC in addition to North American floral education makes you a complete designer – it gives you a more holistic perspective to the world of design.

What is the single most important thing that you want your students to take away from your courses or programs?

I hope to convince my students the need for change, the need to keep evolving creatively, to keep the consumers excited about flowers with your enthusiasm. I want to continue sharing efficient, profitable and creative mechanics and techniques in hopes that they will get utilized to make their business flourish. I want the takeaway to be that they use at least one idea I share in their flower shop.

If you had a piece of advice for our members or someone entering the floral industry what would it be?

Marketing, social media… be seen, be heard, be noticed out there as a talented florist, that you exist to the buying public.

Thursday night September 14th was definitely a night to remember.

Allied was able to bring in Hitomi Gilliam AIFD, EMC from British Columbia to present our season opener. As always, Hitomi knocked it out of the park. This program was one, that regardless of level of expertise, the attendees were able to learn and take home something that they can put to use in their day to day designs. Primarily a wedding mechanics program, the designs were such that they could be done for daily work as well with some minor tweaking. What Hitomi did this time that was do different and unusual, was that she left the backs of every arrangement exposed, so that the attendees could see into the design and decipher how it was assembled. Along with the beautiful designs, she provided pertinent information on social media usage, sales, trends and most importantly, mechanics in design. Building a number of structures that we could see the bases and techniques of. Hitomi introduced the use of new materials into our designs that will allow us to create those long, smooth sweeping lines of natural vines and towers of flowers that have staying power due to their creative water source. A genius in our industry, world renown and yet ever so humble, we are lucky to have been able to be able to have her here to present to us. Thank you Hitomi, for sharing your talents and knowledge with so many around the world and especially here with us.

Hitomi Gilliam and Gregor Lersch

I would also like to give a big shout out to Rob Spikol and all the staff at Greenleaf for hosting and helping to fund this event. Allied could not do everything we do were it not for the support of our organization. If you have not been by Greenleaf in a while, you should go down and check out the changes that have been made. The facility has gotten a face lift outside and has been revamped on the inside with the changes still happening. The sales staff, buying staff and support staff are second to none and are ever at the ready to help make sure that every need is met and supplied. A huge thank you to Hope Horton for all your hard work at sourcing the floral product for Hitomi. You deserve a big day of rest and pampering for all you did. If you are not shopping at Greenleaf, please do so and tell them thank you for everything they do for education in our industry.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything you do to “Keep Texas Blooming”
Alan Masters AIFD,CFD

Viviana Valverde

Patricia Viviana Valverde.

Employed at – HEB Blooms

Position on AFH Board- Employee Director

Viviana is currently employed at HEB as Lead Floral Designer, she was currently employed at Flowers-N-More and is a certified wedding consultant.

Viviana is from Bolivia South America, She has two Children she is very proud of George 27 who is active Military and Julia 14 who currently is attending HSPVA Houston School of Performing and Visual Arts. She has resided in Texas for the past 16 years the last 2 years have been in Houston where she has actively taken every opportunity to learn everything she can about the floral industry and is eager to help in any way. Viviana is a Lover of Flowers, Coffee, Wine and Life and we are lucky to have her as the newest member of our Board, Make sure you go and introduce yourself to her at the next meeting.

AFH is working in conjunction TSFA and AIFD.
Click contribute to go to the AIFD Foundation donation page.

Hurricane Harvey 2017

It is with great sorrow that we said goodbye to one of our floral Industry friends, Rochelle Rogers of Kd’s Florist in Katy, Tx and her Husband Donald Ray Rogers tragically passed away during the 2017 Harvey Flooding.

She will be missed by all that knew and loved her.

Rochelle and Donald Rogers

Although our industry had many losses, I have only heard of major damage to a few of the flower shops:
VAVA Bloom in The Woodlands, Lanell’s Flowers in Houston, Lush in Clear Lake and Flowers By Minerva in Houston. There was also some damage to MC Florist and Elaine’s Flowers and Gifts. I hope that these shops reach out to TSFA and AIFD for their Hurricane Harvey Florist fund (see flyer above for more information)

We saw many things that were heart wrenching, but we also saw some of the best in people from Industry friends and partners reaching out to help us in Houston, to total strangers taking boats up to our homes to rescue us from approaching water. But whatever the case may be we all were a prime example of how the world needs to be in the face of adversity and I for one am HOUSTON STRONG!

Check out this link to an awesome video, You might recognize one of the rescuers as Scott McCool a long time Houston Florist. He just changed hats for the day, you know we all are flexible like that...

The below link is a fundraiser that was spearheaded by Sturgis Michigan Floral Friends Doug and Karen Bates thank you so much to the Bates family and everyone involved in Michigan we love and appreciate you!

In the photo collages following this article, you will see individual acts of Heroism. The Love from Florida Collage is featuring photos from a relief effort spearheaded by Deborah Del La Flor and her crew at Del La Flor Florist and Garden Center in Ft Lauderdale Florida.
The Hero Collage is a page of people I witnessed doing incredible things like Scott McCool taking his personal boat into the flood waters to rescue strangers, Robin and Hector Martinez opening their home and hearts to a crew of Stranded Sailors, and Gerry Johnson, Pamela Bates Chism's mother, being carried from her flooded home in Spring, Tx.

Hurrican Harvey aid volunteers

Heroes of Hurrican Harvey

Hurrican Harvey aid from Michigan

Message from the President

Greetings Floral Family, 

In light of the recent storms in our city and across the country, my heart has been very heavy over the past few weeks. I trust that each of you are recovering well and the damage was minimal for most of you. Our hearts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones during this tragic event especially that of the Rogers family in Fulshear. Rochelle has been a long time designer in the area and will be greatly missed, not only by her family but also her community and the floral family as well. Houston will be in recovery mode for a long time to come, but we all know that we are Houston Strong and we will be back, bigger and better than ever before. For those shops who did receive damage, there are resources out there for you and you can contact us for that information. If you would like to give funds to help a shop in need, you can go to our website and follow the link to donate to the AIFD Foundation fund for Harvey relief for Florists. All of the money given there will stay in Texas for our friends and family.  

On a brighter note, we have several exciting things coming up in the next couple of months that we will need your participation in. The Bayou City Art Festival has asked us to partner with them in the October event. We will be asking a local shop to create a large art piece that will be displayed in a prominent spot at the festival with a sign for Allied. We will also be doing a floating piece for the reflection pond, as well as centerpieces for the tables in the eating areas. If you are interested in helping with this event, please contact us and let us know so we can get you plugged in. Also in October, we have been asked to participate in the Bras For a Cause event with KRBE for Breast Cancer awareness and will be needing several participants there as well. I am excited to be working with such great and giving people as those who are members of Allied. We are moving forward at full speed and our city is taking notice. Hopefully you will start to see the affects in your shops soon. Keep watching for information as it comes out about all of the cool new opportunities to get involved with Allied and we look forward to seeing each of you at our upcoming programs. 

As always Keep Bloomin. Go out and make something beautiful today. 

Alan Masters AIFD, CFD

Become a Member of Allied Florists of Houston

To see all the benefits that membership provides go to the About Us page.

Dues can be paid online and fax your completed application to 281-360-1035 OR
Mail your check and completed application to:
Allied Florists of Houston
c/o: Taylor Wholesale
1601 W. 21st
Houston, TX 77008

Retail Membership Qualifications 
Retail shops actively engaged in the full time sale of flowers, plants, and related items and located within 100 miles of Houston qualify for this classification. 
The locations shall be clearly identified by an outside florist sign; shall have a separate sales area; a floral display refrigerator; and shall have a delivery vehicle.
At the time of application for membership, the retail shop shall have been engaged in the florist business for at least six months; have a commercial telephone listing; have a full time designer on duty at all times; and belong to at least one wire service.
~ Annual dues are $150 billed each July
~ Includes Voting Privileges
Download the Retail Membership Application.

Wholesale / Grower Membership Qualifications
Individuals, wholesalers or wholesale-grower firms who are actively engaged in the production and/or distribution of cut flowers and/or plants and/or related items and located within 100 miles of Houston qualify for this classification.
~Annual dues are $150 billed each July
~ Includes Voting Privileges
Download the Wholesale/Grower Membership Application.

Associate Membership Qualifications
Associate Members shall be firms or individuals engaged in wholesale or floral related businesses not qualifying for retail member classification.
~Annual dues are $150 billed each July
~ Includes Voting Privileges
Download the Associate Membership Application.

General Membership Qualifications
General Members shall be individuals employed within the floral industry or students or instructors of floriculture, landscape gardening, landscape architecture, or ornamental horticulture. 
~Annual dues are $50 billed each July
~ NO Voting Privileges.
Download the General Membership Application.

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