Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Bruce Pagacz" - Exciting New Designer!

Bruce Pagacz - Festival of Flowers - October, 2012

It's hard to believe finals are almost here and students can register for the Spring Semester.  So many talented students at City College, I could write a blog every week about them.  This semester I want to share the talent of a wonderful student that I've had the privilege to instruct and watch develop into an exciting designer.  Bruce Pagacz was a Floristry student a few years ago and then went to work for Floral Supply Syndicate at the San Francisco Flower Market.  Bruce decided to come back to City College's Floristry Department and take the RF 85 class (Intro to Flower Arranging) so he could practice his passion to design again.  Students can take this class twice for credit and they bring their own materials.  I demonstrate a different design every class session.  Bruce's interpretation of the lesson is always intriguing.  He passionately designs in his own unique style with fascinating textures and materials that bring a smile to every one's face in the class.

Last month Bruce participated in the  Festival of Flowers at The Cathedral of St. Mary's in San Francisco.  I encourage the students to attend this show.  Many talented and accomplished Bay Area designers are featured.  Bruce being a humble individual did not tell me he was an exhibitor.  Unexpectedly, I came across Bruce's displays.  I was delighted to see his work and thrilled the public had the opportunity to enjoy his talent.  I want to share his designs and thank him for making the RF 85 class an extra special experience for all of us. 

Bruce Pagacz - Festival of Flowers - October, 2012

Bio - Bruce Pagacz

My initial interest in floral design is largely due to the encouragement and influence of my friend Linda Hartley, who studied Ikebana.  I have an MFA in Painting and Mixed Media from the San Francisco Art Institute.  My previous employment in visual merchandising has also provided me with both educational and practical backgrounds that have been of value to me in pursuing my floral design career goals.
Early on in the process I realized that additional education was needed in order for me to understand the full gamut of the industry.  In searching for the educational component I was pleased to find that City College of San Francisco offers an exceptional program in Floristry.  I have learned a great deal from the program they offer and have advised other people who may be in Floristry to consider the program.  I have also met some wonderful people who have been of inspiration to me.
For the last three years I have been employed in floral retail at Floral Supply Syndicate in the San Francisco
Flower Market.  My employment there and my presence in the market has allowed me to interact with shop owners, designers, event planners and individuals who are just trying to do it themselves.  This has added another dimension and insight into the industry.

My future goals include assisting in working and installing events, working in a shop or floral studio and pursuing my own business adventures and designs.  I also desire to expand my floral knowledge base by spending some time in Europe and taking a series of classes from European designers in the industry.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Succulent Cutting Gardens

Succulents are trendy and popular with designers and consumers.  Their an extraordinary material that is contemporary and interesting.  The design possibilities are endless whether it be in a floral arrangement or landscape design.  Oddly as it sounds, the latest trend in the floral design world is to spray paint the succulents. It's fascinating  to see this new technique being used in design. I gravitate toward environmentally friendly specimens, but I'm always on the look out for whats new and different.  Vertical and hanging plantings of succulents are popular in garden design.

The succulent garden above has been a four year project.  This labor of love is used as a decorative cutting garden.  I've used these succulents from garden to arrangement to garden again (reusing, recycling).  The garden is propagated by stem cuttings and some of the species include Echeveria, Crassula, and Aeonium.  The garden is 90% Echeveria which is known to have 150 species. Succulent and cacti mix was added to the soil.  The garden is watered once a week in the summer and much less in fall, winter and spring.  Watering depends on climate temperate and rainfall.  These succulents like sun/part shade.

The garden is great for my demonstration designs or large event designing.  It's an ongoing wonderful process that is green, organic and local.  I highly recommend designers to have their own succulent cutting garden.  If your limited on space, container gardens could work just fine. I have a few small container gardens included in my garden. Pillows and Demijohn bottles are incorporated into my design. These decorations add the element of surprise to the garden and give restful breaks between all the wonderful succulent textures.  The bath is a fabulous way to bring native species of birds into your garden.

The succulent garden is between two outside lounging areas.  The placement of the garden makes a great focal area and does not disrupt the flow of conversation or views between the two areas. The Demijohn jugs in the garden were left over from wine brewing. The glass is a beautiful accent that enhances the garden.

Demijohn is a glass vessel with a large body and small neck sometimes enclosed in wickerwork. 


The concrete pillows are from Cottage Garden of Petaluma, California.  This is one of my favorite places for design inspiration.  I highly recommend everyone to visit this location.  These stepping stones are sold under the name Tuffits.  They come in different colors and styles.  Fabulous garden art that's so realistic everyone will want to touch them.


Small wire fencing is placed around the garden for protection from animals.  Athena has been known to lay, roll and even dig up the succulents.  The succulents were easily replanted because of their hardness.  I hope you experiment with your own succulent cutting garden.  It's great to have that extra special specimen at your finger tips through out the year.  Have fun with this Eco-Friendly Garden.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CCSF Student "Seray Diep" New Owner of West Portal Floral Company

 Seray Diep award winning floral designer

Seray Diep alumni of City College of San Francisco in the Environmental Horticulture and Floristry Department and Daniel Yee of San Francisco are the new owners of West Portal Floral Company located in San Francisco, CA.  Diep with his expertise in flower shop operations and floral design has joined forces with Yee who excels in business and marketing.  This is Dieps' second floral business and location.  He also owns an operates Lady Bug Flowers in Sausalito, CA.  They are excited, passionate and enthusiastic about this new venture and welcome all to the new location at 51 West Portal Avenue in San Francisco, CA.   We wish them much happiness and success! 

West Portal Floral Company is a full service flower shop with High Style European floral design, fresh cut flowers, orchids, weddings, business accounts, funerals, all occasions and delivery in the Bay Area.  Contact information:  415-661-7277 and

Seray Diep and Daniel Yee new owners of West Portal Floral Company

Jenny Tabarracci AIFD and Seray Diep at West Portal Floral Company

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Floral Jewelry "Broaches"

Floral jewelry is contemporary and popular in the industry.  It's also a great way to practice and improve your hand skills.  This is a way floral designers can create a trademark design.   I pay particular attention to retail stores such as J. Crew, Anthropology and Nordstroms for observing trends and design inspiration.  I've noticed more broach style jewelry displayed throughout these stores.  The classic broach styles are being shown with color trends and upbeat twists.

City College of San Francisco Students made the above broaches for a project we were involved with recently.   These armature structures are made out of aluminum wire, bullion wire, pearls, beads and ribbon. A broach style pin and clasp were wired on all the backs to make them authentic.  All they need are floral accents to complete the design.  Fresh floral adhesive works great for gluing the materials on.

These are fantastic to have displayed at the sales counter in your flower shop or in the consultation area in your design studio.  They can be displayed with and without flowers.  Great conversational pieces and keepsakes with your customers and clients.  I hope this inspires you to explore floral jewelry and even make your own line.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Floral Trend "American Gypsy"

Oxana Sanukova and Talmage McLaurin

City College of San Francisco presented in Talmage McLaurin's 2012-2013 American Floral Trends Forecast program.  We were requested to design a wedding bouquet for the  "American Gypsy"  Trend.  This hit home with us and we ran with it. The process was truly exciting!  I even nicknamed the team  "American Gypsy's".  The City College students are wonderfully diverse in so many ways. They have unique expression, individual talent and so much culture to share .  This just fits right into the Trend.  Each student has their own style with characteristics of cottage shabby, retro, country or global chic.  I truly saw each of them in this Trend.  I encourage you to visit Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, if you haven't already.  These retail stores display a good feel for this Trend.  I asked Oxana Sanukova the youngest member of the team to led the design because this Trend has a youthful look.  It's important to see how the youthful mind is thinking.  Oxana had the freedom to explore and create after the framework, mechanics, colors, elements and flower choices were decided by the team.  I was thrilled to see how she handled this project with such sophistication.  Below are pictures of the process of this design.  I hope you get a chance to explore the possibilities with this exciting Trend.

The program was presented at the American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium in Miami, Florida on July 15, 2012. The program was presented and led by Talmage McLaurin who is the publisher of Florists' Review Enterprises.  The Floral Forecast Trends of Rural Route, Garden Club, Sea to Shining Sea, American Gypsy and New Victorian are also explained and shown in the January, 2012 issue of Florists' Review magazine.

The original model design done on a smaller scale.  We experimented with this first and then welded a larger bouquet frame to expand the size for the actual design. The frame was wrapped with fabric and then larger buttons and fabric decor were added.  The technique of inserting through the button holes and wrapping onto the frame was used with silver decorative wire.

Kana picked the white hypericum berries off the stems and Yumi beaded them onto dental floss with a needle.  These were added to the bouquet by Oxana for additional accents and movement.  They took the appearance of pearls.

Yumi beading the hypericum berries on dental floss with a needle.

Oxana wired the hypericum berries to the bouquet frame.

  The completed "American Gypsy" Wedding Bouquet for the program.  The bouquet can be carried by hand or like a purse.  Gerbera, craspedia and hypericum berries were the floral materials used.
 Instructors and Student AIFD members on stage after the program.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

City College First Place "Champions"

City College of San Francisco's First Place Team:  Kanako Copeland, Oxana Sanukova, Imelda Iraeta, (Instructor -  Jenny Tabarracci AIFD), Yumi Ota, Julie Harris

City College of San Francisco's Menzies Chapter competed against 11 other Colleges located throughout the United States at the American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium.  The Symposium was held in Miami, Florida July 12th - 16th, 2012.  This was a student competition with 34 competitors. City College received 8 of the 15 awards including First Place Overall School. 

The student's were required to complete four designs in 3 hours and 45 minutes for the following categories:  buffet, wedding bouquet, centerpiece for sweetheart table and napkin decor design which must be duplicated.

In addition, Oxana Sanukova received a student scholarship of $800.00 from the AIFD Northwest Region and Foundation at the Symposium.  This award was in recognition for her outstanding achievements as a student of Floral Design.  

Below is a listing of student placements and award recipient's from City College of San Francisco. Congratulations to this super talented team!

Overall School Placement: 1st place - City College of San Francisco

Overall School Winners:     1st place  - Yumi Ota
                                        2nd place - Imelda Iraeta
                                        4th place - Oxana Sanukova
                                        5th place - Julie Harris 

Buffet Design:                   3rd place - Oxana Sanukova

Wedding Bouquet Design:   2nd place - Imelda Iraeta 

Sweetheart Table:              2nd place - Imelda Iraeta
                                        3rd place  - Yumi Ota

Napkin Decor:                    1st place  - Yumi Ota

People's Choice:                Yumi Ota

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

American Floral Trend "Garden Club"


City College of San Francisco Student AIFD Chapter along with 12 other SAIFD Chapters were requested to create designs for the 2012-2013 American Floral Trends Forecast program.  The program was presented at the American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium in Miami, Florida on July 15, 2012. The program was presented and led by Talmage McLaurin who is the publisher of Florists' Review Enterprises.  Each college had a student representative present the design on stage with Talmage.  Julie Harris spoke about the " Garden Club" container design and Oxana Sanukova spoke about the "American Gypsy " wedding bouquet .   These American Floral Trends of Rural Route, Garden Club, Sea to Shining Sea, American Gypsy and New Victorian were also explained and shown in the January, 2012 issue of Florists' Review magazine.

The biggest challenges for us were conceiving a fresh and innovated design that translated the Trend and getting the props and mechanics to another state.   Each college was provided the concepts, color swatches,  possible flowers combinations and elements for their Trend.  The concept for "Garden Club" is a progressive and modern approach to the local garden clubs of America.  Think in terms of micro and vertical plantings, modernized garden tools, colorful garden boots, gilded wood, spheres and stylized birds to name a few of the Trends characteristics. Below is the process of the design in the workroom at Miami. The students did a phenomenal job working individually and as a team.  I had a smile on my face from ear to ear during the program.  It was so exciting and joyful to see all the students interact with Talmage on stage.   This was a wonderful experience for everyone.

 Julie Harris and Imelda Iraeta (above)

Brightly colored garden hoses are available to the consumer in many hardware and garden stores.  We decided this would be a fabulous prop and material to use in the design.  The hose was sculpted in a sphere using matching cable ties.  This material is great for movement and line.  Also, it works well for shipping.

Geometric forms are a characteristic of this Trend and the repetition makes a strong statement.  The spheres fit snug inside the containers without any additional mechanics.  Curving lines and a modern sleek look work well with the containers and the Trend.

 Oxana Sanukova (above)

Monobotanical compositions are another characteristic of this Trend.  We decided to use composite rose designs which reinforce geometric forms and add a garden feel to the display.
The rose petals are glued to cardboard which was wired to an embellished wreath ring.  The wreath ring was wrapped with double sided satin ribbon then angle hair and aluminum wire were wrapped over that for additional accents.

Yumi Ota, Kanako Copeland, Oxana Sanukova, Imelda Iraeta (above)   

Final prep work for the display and then lemon leaves were glued to the back of the wreath rings to hide mechanics.

  Imelda Iraeta and Julie Harris (above)

We used only two colors (green and orange) from the color pallet of this Trend to keep it clean, simple and modern.  The last steps are to wire the composite rings to the hoses, transport to the staging area and then set all displays an hour before the show.  This design is a lot of fun and I encourage you to experiment with the hose and make your own creation for the "Garden Club" Trend.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Join us for lots of fun at the Kitayama Brothers Open House and Design Contest on Saturday, June 16th.  I’m thrilled to be a judge for the Competition and can’t wait to see all the new talent.  I’m especially excited to judge the new division with the student competitors.  I competed in many floral design competitions in the beginning of my floral career and learned so much from each one.  Being a competitor teaches you how to make the quick decisions which are necessary in any successful floral business.

The CCSF students are ready for the Kitayama Cup!   I’m holding an Inverted Hand Tied Bouquet designed by Gwen Cabangis last night who is one of my students in the wedding class this semester at City College of San Francisco.

Wine & Vine Design is the competition title this year and the competitors will design two pieces, a centerpiece and a bottle adornment.  The Open Division is for all floral designers with more than five years of professional design experience.  The new Level I Division is for all floral designers with less than 5 years professional design experience and students of floral design.

Cash prizes are awarded to First, Second, and Third place competitors in both Divisions. There is also a People's Choice Award.  This is where all attendees have a chance to pick their favorite floral design.  We hope to see you all there to share this wonderful educational experience!  Please email: for contest details.  Deadline for registration is June 1st

Sunday, April 1, 2012



APRIL 12, 2012 - 6:00 TO 9:00PM
 AIR STANDS FOR "ARTIST IN RESIDENCE".   This is an exciting program that student members of AIFD coordinate with their advisor.  Student AIFD (SAIFD) maintain Chapters from 13 colleges and universities throughout the U.S.  The Chapters are required to host AIR programs at their instructional facility.  AIFD designers are invited to teach, demonstrate and share their expertise. Local suppliers/wholesalers and growers can participate by donating product for a program.  The latest trends, techniques, and styles are implemented into these programs and student interaction is essential.  An important objective is to build bridges of community and career opportunities while also helping industry designers become more acquainted with the colleges training programs. The Menzie Chapter at City College of San Francisco is strong and competitive.  The Chapter has produced many award winning students that became AIFD members and industry leaders.

Friday, March 30, 2012


"Ruth Asawa's wire sculptures and her concept of classic shapes
with unexpected materials was the inspriration for the floral design.
Her weaving and tying of wire, circular shapes inside each other and the
shadows they project are brilliant techniques for floral designers to
expand and explore." Jenny Tabarracci
 Twenty years ago I experienced my first Bouquets to Art.  I was lucky to assist a talented designer of a wonderful flower shop that was located in Mill Valley, CA. (Hastings and Hastings). This experience was exhilarating and I dreamed of being a designer in the show one day.  My first opportunity exhibiting was in1998 and each year is just as challenging and inspiring as the next.  The creativity of the show is amazing.   I wanted to address some of the most common questions asked to me about the show.  I hope this provides more insight on what happens behind the scenes for a floral designer at Bouquets to Art.

1.  How do you decide on the art work?

     The floral designers pick their top 5 choices and the BTA
      committee selects one of these.

2.  How does one go about exhibiting in the show?

     The floral designers are selected and invited by the BTA
      committee.  You can ask the committee to be an
      exhibitor or you can be recommended. They may want
      to see your work and meet with you.

3.  How often do you refresh the design?

      This depends on the materials one uses.  The designs
       can be refreshed an hour before the museum opens or

4.  Who pays for the flowers and materials?

      The exhibitors pay for all of their design expenses.

5.  Can you use any materials that you want?

      No, the museum prohibits the use of some materials.
      The BTA committee provides the floral designers with a
      list of what is acceptable.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Living Walls - City View at Metreon

 I was fortunate to attend The International Special Events Society’s Biennial Vendor Showcase and Educational Program that was hosted by City View in January.  I was attracted by the venue’s contemporary aesthetics and urban-chic decor.  Immediately my eye found three living walls made out of succulents which are located on the outdoor terrace.  The contrast of framed living organics against the spectacular cityscape of San Francisco is an exciting concept for floral design. 

City View at Metreon is located at:

Fourth & Mission Streets
San Francisco, CA  94103
Fourth Floor

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever

Program Announcement -
American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium, 2011 
Video by Robert Kitayama. 

Cocktail Decor

Strawberry Spheres For Composite Design
Mossed Tower Vases For Composite Design and Men’s Bathroom Decor

Composite Design
Guest Table Accents

Elevated Centerpiece

Stage Decor

Stage Decor
Stage Decor