Close your eyes and imagine…

You walk inside a castle and are drawn to a doorway by a lovely scent that gets stronger with each step. You enter the room.

Fragrance envelops you — a complex, rose scent with hints of citrus and spice, raspberry and vanilla. A field of David Austin Wedding Roses — thousands of them — hovers in the air before you.

Color is all you see — roses in every shade of pink, peach, blush, magenta, raspberry. There are two-toned yellow roses, white roses with a tiny touch of blush at the centre, blooms with petals that change from deep pink to light, from coral to gold.

You begin to notice their shape and texture. Some flowers are deeply cupped; others are broad and flat. One large beauty is so densely petaled it looks like white lace. The cut out edges of another suggest a charming pink ruffle.

Rising above it all are enigmatic floral creations — compelling, innovative designs that speak to you of fire and water, air and earth. You move forward to learn more…

It’s not a vision. It’s a description of the “David Austin Roses Experience” awaiting visitors at Fleuramour, one of the largest and most prestigious floral design events in Europe. On Sept. 23-26, Alden Biesen, a 16th Century castle in Bilzen, Belgium, will be filled with a dream-like landscape of transformative floral design.

Thousands of people — both floral professionals and everyday flower lovers — will be at Fleuramour this year. The “David Austin Roses Experience,” designed by European Master Certification (EMC) students and instructors, is expected to be one of the highlights.

“There will be more than 5000 David Austin Roses in one room, the scent will be amazing. We want people to stop, take in the fragrance, the visual impact and feel the emotions these beautiful flowers evoke,” said Tomas De Bruyne, (DeBruyne and fellow floral educator Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, are the founders and directors of the EMC Program.)

The unusual, multi-sensory display features a full array of David Austin Wedding Roses and individual designs by eight EMC students.

EMC invited its advanced students and graduates to choose one of the four elements – Earth – Air – Fire – Water — from Fleuramour’s theme and submit ideas for designs featuring David Austin Roses.

“They had to be forward-thinking, experiential — this isn’t about just creating (the look) of a fire. It’s about giving people the experience of fire, through flowers,” said Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD.  The eight designs selected “are all very different. There’s a lot of innovation…students came up with some new techniques and even new materials,” Gilliam said.

At Fleuramour, the young designers will be on hand explaining their concepts, sharing ideas, and helping visitors appreciate the full David Austin Roses Experience. “Most of the time, floral designers come in, do an installation and leave,” said Gilliam. “At Fleuramour we get to see people react to our work, to talk to the public and to other designers about it.”

Just as David Austin is passionate about roses, said De Bruyen, “EMC is passionate about inspiring people and raising the floral industry to a higher level.”

Meet the EMC Fleuramour 8 — the student designers whose work will be featured. 

About the EMC

Partners Tomas De Bruyne and Hitomi Gilliam founded the European Master Certification Program in 2011. Students who complete the three-part program receive comprehensive training in all of the fundamental skills, techniques, theory and creative processes required to run a flower business in Europe. Now completing its third cycle, EMC has 20 graduates and more  than 50 students approaching the final steps toward certification.

Learn more about the EMC.

Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, is an internationally sought-after floral artist who has guest-designed throughout North America, England, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Singapore, Australia and Columbia. She is one of only seven recipients of AIFD’s coveted ‘Design Influence Award,’ a frequent featured designer at AIFD National Symposium, and one of the most requested lecturers for major art museums and botanical gardens across North America.

Tomas De Bruyne is an internationally renowned floral designer and educator from Belgium who has presented programs around the world. He has won many medals, including placing fifth at the 2002 World Cup. For clients, he strives to create create artistic designs within the customer’s commercial framework with a clear focus and respect for the flower’s own character and quality. He has authored 19 books on art, inspiration and floral design. In 2013, a new variety of Gloriosa Lily was officially introduced, bearing his name.