A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design

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Speaking Your Language!

For centuries, people have “discussed” art, so it’s not surprising that thru the ages a language, “a vocabulary” developed to describe art and design – for architecture, painting, dance, graphic arts, websites, floral design, etc.

From New York to New Zealand, from New Delhi to Newcastle on Tyne, ELEMENTS AND PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN are the “vocabulary” that has come to express common understandings and ideas about art and design. Indeed, they do not belong to any one person or organization, nor to any one country. They are the property of all mankind, and have belonged to them from the beginning of time. They are UNIVERSAL!

“A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design, A Guide for Judges, Designers, Teachers, Mentors and Hosts” explores the “vocabulary of the arts,” nurturing a strong understanding of Elements and Principles of Design and how they function.

Increased understanding unlocks how to infuse expressive content into design, whether a designer, teacher, judge, or regardless of which organization is involved. And it unlocks how to see and recognize excellence in design. The tools presented in the book, the Elements and Principles and more, are relevant around the globe.

Scoring by competent judges, with consistency to an organization’s standards, brings integrity to the process, along with fair and just results. Depth of understanding of Elements and Principles is critical to applying a system of scoring.

NOTE: Some aspects fall beyond the scope of the book, such as the ‘application of details of judging’, for example, the number of points to be allotted to particular Elements or Principles of Design. These details are appropriate for each organization to determine internally.

September 14th, 2016|

Garden Club Members – Is This Book for You?

How humbling it is to hear comparisons between Esther Hamel’s long-revered 1960’s book “The Encyclopedic of Judging and Exhibiting” and our “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design!” We are truly honored when people who know the Hamel book make such a comparison and, quite honestly, nothing makes Hitomi and Kathy feel more proud! Thank you, readers, for the ultimate compliment!

Our contemporary book is brimming full of updated and new information. It is written for a broad range of audiences in the floral community – from amateurs to garden club members to professionals. As the subtitle says, it is for designers, teachers and mentors as well as judges.

It uses a graphic, easy-to-read style with 338 full-color images and 39 exercises to address 21st century design, techniques and materials. It is particularly helpful in handling new and more complex designs.

Many garden club readers tell us that “A Fresh Look for Judging” is a great favorite they’ve added to their libraries and use as a constant reference.

Maybe it’s right for you too!

September 13th, 2016|

Comments from Garden Club Members:

“After going through the National Garden Club schools and ultimately attaining Master Judge status (now Emeritus) and becoming an Accredited GCA Floral Design Judge, I can confidently say this fresh approach is long overdue.

“You have renewed my original vigor to the task of good judging. I will pass on the info to purchased a book to anyone I know who wishes to improve their exhibiting and/or judging skills.  It was well worth the wait.” – G, Pennsylvania


“Oh my goodness — you can’t imagine my excitement upon receiving “A Fresh Look at Judging!” I have been devouring it with such pleasure and saying ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’ along the way!” – B, Pennsylvania


“Received the book Monday, and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

Thank you, Kathy, (and Hitomi) for recognizing – and fusing together – Western, European, and Asian designs techniques into EPTAS for the 21st century!” – G, California


“Thank you for all of the great work that went into creating this wonderful guide. You have inspired me and given me new tools for understanding and explaining this amazing field!” – B, Pennsylvania

September 12th, 2016|

Perspectives From Designers

In winter, visions of quince and helleborus, tulips and fine handwork dance in the heads of designers and arrangers as they plan for upcoming competitions and expositions. With spring just around the corner, designers perfect the unique concepts they have been percolating throughout the winter. They refine their artistic interpretations for flower shows, home and garden tours, ‘Bouquets-to-Art/Art In Bloom’ museum-type expositions and competitions, and even for WAFA in Ireland this June.

As it nears time to actualize designs, designers tell us that “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design is an inspiring resource for sorting out their perspectives and bringing clarity to their thinking. They tell us they come to the workbench with greater confidence for investigating their strengths and weakness. They delight in having new tools for evaluating themselves and elevating the quality of their entries.

Some are practice judging their design concepts even before their designs are fully completed and are using the practice sessions to make informed decisions about their designs. Others are striving to push the envelope and present greater emotional content in their designs.

We are pleased to hear from all of you, designers, judges and teachers alike, and happy to know how helpful you find “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design.”

February 19th, 2014|


This book has been 6+ years in the making!  ‘A Fresh Look at  Judging’ has become a hefty volume of the most comprehensive text on Judging Floral Design ever. It is an ideal reference book for all floral judges, would-be judges, competitors, designers preparing for certification process, educators and students of designs.

Kathy Whalen AIFD and I are proud to announce that the book is now shipping! The book, as the name indicates breathes a breath of fresh air into the world of judging. It brings forth some fresh approaches to ‘judging’ to hopefully inspire and to enlighten you on the topic. Thank you for being so patient with us.

Hitomi Gilliam AIFD

October 8th, 2013|Tags: |

Thank you

Thank you for the faith and trust you placed in Hitomi and I as we completed “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design“. Your immediate enthusiastic response to the book has delighted us.

Many of you have indicated how much the book resonates with you as it addresses designers and their readiness, teachers and the tools to better equip them, the depth of training for judges as they learn to apply their knowledge to seeing, scoring and critiquing and, of course, the benefits that accrue to competitors who put themselves out there.

May the book inspire you to new ways of seeing and doing that will make judging an exciting path of growth for you, the arranger, teacher, judge and viewer. Each can rejoice in well-deserved pride of accomplishment.

Kathy Whalen AIFD

October 7th, 2013|

Not Since the 1960s!

Can you imagine! Not since the late 60s has a new book on judging floral design been published in the United States.
Enter: “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design” by Hitomi Gilliam AIFD and Kathy Whalen AIFD.

Flower designers pursue a never-ending quest for beauty and excellence. They constantly evaluate their work to see ‘if this flower placement is at the ideal angle’ ‘if, when that line is elongated, it intensifies emotion and tension,’ etc.

Gilliam and Whalen use a fresh unprecedented approach to guide arrangers, teachers and judges regarding important aspects of floral design and judging. Though it has many pictures, the book is subject-matter oriented. They provide rich and innovative content that is not found elsewhere. The book is subject-matter oriented and incorporates hundreds of images to make the book’s message more meaningful.

The book’s audience is anyone who loves flower arranging. If they want to do it better and acquire a 21st century perspective on arranging and judging, this book has the breathe of knowledge to propel them forward. It is intended for groups at all skill levels such as hobbyists, vocational school students, World Skills youth, students of design, garden club members and professional designers. Judges and teachers will appreciate the carefully researched content that introduces powerful and progressive insight for explaining and evaluating today’s designs.

Unlike how-to books, “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design” demonstrates why arrangements work and don’t. Its graphic presentation makes the content reader-friendly. The 464-page book is filled with 338 full-color images and includes 20 charts, 39 exercises, a wealth of checklists, a dictionary and an annotated list of resources. There is also a CD with 25 images for practice-judging, more than 1000 botanical and common names as well as extensive vocabulary lists for creating expressive critiques. It is a contemporary resource designed for personal growth.

The book is written by two highly regarded flower industry professionals. Both are award-winning designers with impressive credentials who are tops in their field. They have created an innovative reference for an audience that is thirsty for information beyond beautiful pictures.

“Destined to become the standard reference icon for years to come.” is how Jim Johnson, AAF, AIFD, TMFA, Distinguished Lecturer and Director Emeritus, Benz School of Floral Design of Texas A&M University puts it.

September 30th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , |

Publisher’s Overview

Hitomi Gilliam AIFD and Kathy Whalen AIFD have combined their talents to write, design and illustrate a book embracing innovative approaches for judging today’s floral designs. What judges need to know is the same body of knowledge that all designers, competitors and teachers need to know so each can achieve their personal best.

Designer, teachers and judges have patiently anticipated the publication of “A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design“, which has been many years in the making. The book presents extensive coverage of critical topics. Much of the content is new material that provides a contemporary perspective for floral design in the 21st century. Valued information on judging, previously found only in word-of mouth conversations or in workshop notes, has also been put into print. And, of course, tried-and-true subject matter that has stood the test of time is a component of the book.

Yes, this is the robust book people have been waiting for and it’s full of contemporary insights – a unique blend of old and new material.

BCFL Group, Publisher

September 29th, 2013|

Book Ordering Made Easy

A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design” is available for online purchase. Our goal is to provide excellent service to buyers.

Orders for 1 to 16 copies
      Book orders of 1 to 16 books for continental 48 states will generally be shipped within 24 hours Monday thru Friday and should arrive within 3-5 business days after being shipped. Please allow a little more time to remote locations. Larger orders may need an additional day.


Purchase 1 to 16 books shipped within the Continental 48 States

20% Discount Available for 2 or More Cases of Books
    Customers ordering 2 or more cases of 8 books (a total of 16 books) will receive a 20% discount when books are shipped to the same address.
Orders for More Than 16 books, or Orders to Alaska and Hawaii, or International Orders
      The process for these orders will include receiving a shipping quote, usually within 24-48 hours, Monday thru Friday. Each country has practices that may also influence delivery time.


Other book purchases

    If more than one book is purchased, the package is double-packaged to provide additional protection during shipment. Books shipped internationally, even single books, are also double-packed.

BCFL Group, Publisher

September 23rd, 2013|

Praise from Tomas De Bruyne

Tomas De Bruyne contributed to ‘A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design’ with his wonderful Foreword. Concluding the foreword, Tomas writes:

“The book devotes the necessary attention to this topic and is worthy of carrying the title, ‘A Fresh Look At Judging Floral Design.’ This work is not a coffee table book but rather a reference book offering guidance to the reader who dares to confront his or her inner self, which is a necessity as a juror. This book should get a front row spot in the bookcase of each floral designer who wants to push and/or cross his or her boundaries.

I am of the opinion that the two authors supplement each other very well and in doing so have created a book that covers all aspects in an inspirational and balanced manner.”

Read the rest of Tomas’s foreword in ‘A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design.’

September 16th, 2013|Tags: |