Letters From Floral Design Students

Letters From Floral Design Students

Hey Michael,
I just taught a “floral therapy” class for 10 ladies living in a homeless shelter. We made hand tied bouquets and they loved it. I gave everyone 18 roses and had the ladies arrange the roses three different times before they wired the bouquets and added the ribbon, just like you had us do! When the first gal came into the class and saw the beautiful fresh roses she gasped and with tears in her eyes said “Real flowers, oh my god, they are beautiful. Do we get to keep them?” It was an amazing evening filled with such positive energy I was grateful I could add some cheer to their day!
All inspired by you Michael!


From Maggie P. who attended our Milwaukee School…

I just wanted to drop the Milwaukee School of Flower Design a line to say THANK YOU for teaching me flower design 101- I opened my own LLC a year later and do weddings now. I met my boyfriend at Rojahn for a christmas seminar after landing a job in management for a garden center last year. I now work in publishing due to a fortunate turn of events and getting a job in my undergrad degree. However, I’m still so grateful for everything this school taught me. I’ve learned a ton as a small business owner and know how to turn a profit. It’s a great part of my life. I hope Michael Gaffney and my other instructor Sheri know how much their curriculum meant to me in summer/fall 2011 and how much their teaching influenced my early-mid twenties. I just did a wedding by myself at the Hilton in Chicago and the boutonnieres happened to make it on the front page of the Trib the next morning for the grooms’ celebration of new legislation. Thank you for everything. I always extoll the merits of your school to those around me. Hope you’re having a great summer.


We took your class in Chicago over the summer. We successfully opened our florist shop, The Twig, in Shullsburg, WI, in October 2010! We have been embraced by the community and complimented on our work as being fresh and creative. We are starting to get more individual orders for different occasions and have done a lot of funeral work in town which has given us exposure to the community. People have commented that we are the “new wave” of floral design in the area. They love what we are bringing to their town.

We are also talking to 4 brides for summer weddings. Valentine orders are looking very good so far and we will be decorating several restaurants. Thanks for all your support and wonderful teaching methods that have brought us that much closer to success. You are the best!
Linda & Heather

Hi Mike!
Here’s some pictures of my niece’s wedding last Aug. I was a little bit nervous because I made 35 center pieces for the receptions, plus the church flowers, 27 boutonnieres, 19 corsages, 1 pomander, 6 bridesmaids’ bouquets, bride’s bouquet and throw away, and decorated their backyard for pictorials.

I thought I couldn’t get it done, although I had my relatives and friends do the table center pieces. I just showed them how to do it. It was a big project but it went well. And thank you again for teaching me how to do big flower arrangements. It helped me a lot, especially in giving me confidence that I can do it!

I have no regrets in taking my Master Class at the Milwaukee School of Flower Design. Again, a million thanks for accepting me into your school. You’re the best!

Jan Weyh


“I can’t believe what I walked out of class with the very first day: tons of flowers in my arms beautifully designed…”

Steven W.
New York City


I can’t believe what I walked out of class with the very first day: tons of flowers in my arms beautifully designed…

Steven W.
New York City


Your class was THE BEST thing I’ve done in years. I love this and have you to thank. So, THANK YOU very much!

Happy holidays and my best to you,
Katie Bates


This note is from a student responding to an email from our registrar, Judith Olson regarding postponing taking our next Master Class…

Thanks Judy! It’s for a good reason, theoretically. The School gave me such a good education that my services are in demand, and I’m too busy to drive up each week! So, it’s really the School’s own fault I can’t come, but I’m still thanking them!! 🙂

Hope to make it next year!

Becky Ruby
lilly lane, llc.

“the School gave me such a good education that my services are in demand…”

Becky Ruby
lilly lane, llc.


Hi Michael!
It is Hope from the summer session of the San Francisco School of Flower Design! I just wanted to drop a line your way and wanted to fill you in on the news that I am doing a small wedding in New York City! I found the ad on Craigslist. Basically she just wants a floral designer who wants to expand their portfolio. It is small, only 7 bouquets, a throw away bouquet, 8 boutonnieres and 2 wrist-lets. She will provide all the materials, I will make her arrangements, and then I will get paid in professional pictures taken of my work. It seems kind of perfect for me! It gives me the chance to actually do a real wedding, and get awesome pictures of my stuff! I am meeting with her in the city Friday and I can’t wait! This will be the first time I am doing any big event on my own; I am so used to working with my florist and my boss to catch me if I fall, but going to school has given me much more confidence in my design. I would never have felt comfortable responding to this ad if I didn’t go to school. And my work at the florist has improved much more as well! My boss is fully confident in me filling orders without her being there, and my speed has greatly improved.

I went on you website and I was breath taken by the pictures of your flowers and ceramics! What talent! -Hope


Hi Michael!
I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you have instilled in the five of us that attended your L.A. School Of Flower Design classes! You didn’t hold back and you taught us “the real deal” about the floral world. For that we thank you. We aspire to do great things in the industry after attending your classes. My partner and I will be opening up shop very soon. We’ve already secured work with an event planner. Along with a very large apartment complex that will utilize our services in their lobby as well as their tenants. We will continue to try and make the business grow. Friends and family from my old law firms have already committed to purchasing from me once we get into full swing. Please keep me informed regarding the NBC piece this month. I look forward to it. Take care and I hope to hear from you soon.
Your grateful student,

Dwayne Baker


December 12th 2009
Dear Michael,

I am a former student. I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know where I’ve taken my design experience to. My husband and I are still running our restaurant in Sheboygan Falls, but I have been doing wedding flowers and other events, both on premise and off. This year, I designed a wreath and a centerpiece for the “Festival of Trees” fundraiser for charity. My wreath took first place in the People’s Choice Award category, and my centerpiece took second place. Not bad, since I was up against many local florists…also I had a full page write up in the Sheboygan Press about the outside decor of our restaurant. Cheryl says you have expanded your flower design schools to New York and San Francisco and now Los Angeles…cool! I will check out the TV coverage on line! Best wishes to you, Michael. I truly enjoyed your flower design classes and have learned well. Have a great holiday season, where ever you are teaching.

Jackie E.

“I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you have instilled in the five of us that attended your L.A. School Of Flower Design classes!…”

Dwayne Baker


August 30th 2006
Dear Michael and Richard,

Thank you for a wonderful learning experience. Before signing up for classes at Milwaukee School of Flower Design, I did a lot of reading and investigating. I talked to people who are respected in the floral industry. They had nothing but praise for your program. One said, “I wouldn’t go any other place to get training”. After attending the course, I concur with him.

I was pleased we studied the principles of flower design, positive and negative space, and color; not just how to put flowers into a container. Thank you for giving us the formulas and then encouraging us to experiment and create beyond the expected. Your critiques were always positive, helpful and appreciated.

Together you make up a dynamic team, each supporting the other. It is reassuring to know that you will be there to answer questions for us in the future.

The flowers we worked with were beautiful. At times, it was difficult to choose which ones to use, there were so many. The last “thanks” is for the crystal vase from George Watts. Going this extra mile shows quality, class, and that a lot of thought was put into every detail of your program. Best wishes for the future. Milwaukee is lucky to have a program such as this.

Sincere thanks
Beverly B.
Late Bloomers


Dear Michael,

I hardly know where to begin to express my appreciation. What a singular privilege it has been attending your School of Flower Design and learning from an accomplished master of the art!

Thank you for creating such an appealing, welcoming welcoming, ambient sanctuary environment in the learning space you designed. Every session was highlighted with wonderful music, a stunning rich array of colorful, fragrant, beautiful flowers, a complementary variety of lush greenery, and the bonus of many special thoughtful creative touches you so generously lavished upon us (like the exotic lotus leaves and decorative chopsticks, to name just a few).

I’ve no doubt I speak for our entire class when I say everyone much appreciated you sharing your talents with such personable warmth and engaging humor. your knack for candidly “telling it like it is” with genuine openness and personal caring and interest was especially refreshing, welcome and beneficial to us all.

Thank you for enriching our lives by sharing from your wealth of years of knowledge and experience and business savvy. A breath of fresh air and an exceptional expression of loveliness in today’s busy world. Thank you for your motivational encouragement. It has been a blessing, an honor, and pleasure learning from you these past eight weeks.

I just have to add this. Honestly, it is a mystery to me if or how you could make any profit by the school, as I was non-stop impressed how you went all-out and spared no expense or detail in supplying the best-of-the-best or your students per the quality of instruction, extraordinary abundance and variety of exquisite flowers, vases, other containers, supplies and accessories provided. Thank you, thank you Michael! It was a completely “over-the-top”!!!

Sincerely, S. Fritz


To: Administrator

I have recently completed the Flower Design course with your school and wanted to express my sincere appreciation for your outstanding program. The program was well organized, professional and gave me the hands on experience needed to start work in this career field.

The classes were small enough to get one on one feedback on each design. I especially like the hands on experience which developed confidence in each specific style. The instructors were talented floral designers but also patient with beginner students. They were able to give the students just the right mix of encouragement and honest critical assessment for further improvement.

I enjoyed the visit to the wholesale floral company. It opened my eyes to another part of the flower industry and enhanced my knowledge of flower identification as well as seasonal design. I would highly recommend your school to anyone who is seriously interested in joining the floral industry.

Sincerely, M.J. Meyer

“I have recently completed the Flower Design course with your school and wanted to express my sincere appreciation for your outstanding program.…”

M.J. Meyer


Thanks for being patient and encouraging with this clueless newbie who previously knew nothing about arranging flowers. Now? Viola/presto/change-o!- “Why yes- I can do hand-ties, wiring and taping, tall-vasing, dish gardens, pave…” …What amazing things you can bring about in just 8 weeks. Thanks a million again.

I have attended altogether 3 more flower design classes since seeing you, and (nowI have the unusual opportunity to “tell it like it is” to you- fancy that!)-over-all there was no comparison to you as a teacher, the content, the instruction and everything you provided- you are clearly “the winner” hands down in all categories. I don’t know if such a thing constitutes typical protocol or if association with you has left me with high flung notions that it is fitting students be treated like royalty in flower design classes henceforth- but my, you sure are generous! Case in point: for one class I attended, one of several items noted on the supplies list I was to bring was 2 floral wires. After Michael’s, being instructed to provide 2 wires for my self seemed trifling, for I only know the pull-out-all-the-stops, show stopping Michael-style teaching where Michael provides and does EVERYthing for EVERYbody EVERY time.

just learned last week from someone that flower design is offered at a local tech school here, and a textbook priced over $100 is required. And from what I have seen “out there” so far, typically students must provide ALL their own personal tools for a course in flower design such as yours. In my opinion, if students suggest you should have provided (and way more than what others’ classes seem to provide:. I can’t imagine a day will ever come when I’ll say to myself, “Gee, if only that Michael had done this or provided that…”

Michael has set up in the studio space which Michael has probably thoughtfully decorated to artistically coordinate with the evening’s lesson theme-to ensure his students are contentedly satisfied while they wait for Michael to walk around serving them flowers, greenery, supplies, tools, and containers. Why, Michael will cause it to rain pounds of on-site wires if he determines his students have need of them! And it wouldn’t be an unusual sight to find Michael hand-delivering those wires at each station like a waiter serving tables at a fine restaurant.

Please pass on my best and warmest regards to Richard after giving yourself another big pat on the back. Your school comes with one inherently fretful drawback: I’m now prone to experiencing bouts of School of Flower Design withdrawal every Mon and Wed evening- it’s quite awful!

Thanks for Everything.
SueZee, 2006


Hi Michael,

I wanted to let you know that the event I had on Saturday was a hit! I got so many compliments on the arrangements. I did the hand tied bouquets, filled with yellow and white Gerber daisies and the regular white and yellow daisies with the yellow filler, bear grass, and collared it with some big tropical leaves. I then tied them with a big pretty bow. Everyone was amazed that they could stand by themselves. Since they were 60 inch rounds, I bought some small votive vases to put around them that I wanted to fill with flowers. Well, I ran out of time and Daisies so I added the Solidago and some other left over greens and they turned out really nice. The yellow vases with the greens just added more color.

Then I had cocktail tables where I used the same flowers and did a paved arrangement in yellow and clear vases. I cut lemons and added them to the clear vases to add some color and sat the arrangement on top. We lit candles and they just ate it up. I lined paved arrangements on the gift table with the little vases and put fresh whole lemons and limes in -between the vases.

I made $700.00 which was very reasonable for all the tables that I did. She is a good friend and I got a lot of exposure!

This was a learning experience. I literally stayed up all night on Friday. I really needed some help and I was able to get my mom and aunt to help me. It was a lot of work but well worth it.

Thanks so much! Attending the school was one of my best investments yet!

Rachel Ivy


Dear Michael,

I just have to tell you that attending the School of Flower Design, beginners and masters programs, was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I would get up each Monday and Wednesday morning looking forward to each class. Flower designing isn’t always easy but it’s fun and satisfying. When friends ask me how I liked the classes, I told them “It’s the best 6 hours of my week! The time flies and I hate when it’s over!”

So now I enjoy designing flowers for myself, friends, our business and our church. I have run a business for over 20 years and I know how demanding it is. And, conversely, I’ve been the boss too long to be an employee again. Being a professional flower designer allows me the luxury of doing as little or as much designing as I like while bringing beauty and joy to those I care about most.

Whether you want to work in the business or design for yourself, The School of Flower Design can be the best 6 hours of your week! Pam Dunkel, Feb. ’08

“I just have to tell you that attending the School of Flower Design, beginners and masters programs, was the best thing I have ever done for myself.…”

Pam Dunkel


Dear Michael Gaffney,

I just completed your class at the San Francisco Flower Mart and it was every bit as advertised.

Thank you for your personalized style of instruction, your honest way of critiquing students work and for providing a centralized place to learn at Nuckton Co. (right in the flower mart). There was a lot of information to process about the industry and designing in 8 classes!

I must admit that I had some angst about asking you simple questions about the floral industry but you did answer everyone’s questions and always stated your opinion and gave recommendations based on your industry experience.

The environment and class structure that you provided, including 2 really talented designer gems Dawn Walker-Weeks and Jennifer Harter, was more than I expected and I was not disappointed in any area.

What a great idea you had opening a design school and providing all the materials as part of the tuition. Your sincere and honest manner in dealing with people is one of the key elements that made you successful (well let’s not forget the plain hard work!).

I wish you continued good luck and happiness in your work.

Marion Cassity
Union City, CA


Dear Michael

Thank you so much for responding to my text. As I mentioned I completely adored the flower design course and have been visiting the flower market in order to raise my standard and get some practice in. I didn’t really know what to expect from the course but it blew me away. I especially enjoyed your classes and feel I’ve taken so much away from the experience.

I’m going back to London on the 14th September and my fiancé will be joining me there at the beginning of October. We’re not ready to leave San Francisco but hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to come back.

Thank you again for a wonderful course

Best wishes