May 19, 2017

McQueens Italian Masterclass | Palazzo Tartagliozzi in Cermignano | May 2017

Last week, I was invited to attend a McQueens Italian Masterclass at Palazzo Tartagliozzi in Cermignano. (You may have seen my images on Instagram, plus photos and videos on Instagram Stories?)

Well…what an incredible experience it was! I arrived on the Wednesday evening in darkness and couldn’t quite believe my eyes the next day when I looked out of the window to see snow-capped mountains in the distance.

In today’s post, be prepared for lots of photos, whilst I share with you my time there, starting with images of the beautifully restored palazzo…

On the top floor was the newly renovated studio where the course took place. Not only were its rustic doors and walls ideal backgrounds for Instagramable images, but the space was also filled with copious amounts of natural light.

Now…let’s talk about the flowers! Displayed along the whole length of one side of the studio were buckets upon buckets of gorgeous top-notch blooms in a kaleidoscope of colours.

After breakfast at the palazzo, Day 1 started with a welcome from the wonderful McQueens Flower School tutors, Emily and Giuseppe.  Introductions were made around the room and I discovered that fellow students had travelled not only from the UK, Italy and Holland, but also as far afield as Taiwan and Malaysia!

Emily then demoed how to make a McQueens Stella bouquet, a classic example of the brand’s style using a limited colour palette of yellow, white and green. Roses, achillea, lisianthus, matricaria and craspedia were combined with mint, sage and pistachio.

Next, it was our turn to firstly condition the foliage and then the flowers, before spiralling our stems into a domed hand-tied design. And as you’ll see in one of the images below…we may have floated our bouquets in the palazzo’s swimming pool for special photographs!

By the way, in the past, I’ve generally veered away from yellow blooms, but after making this design, I’m definitely converted…

Once we’d gift-wrapped our bouquets, it was then time for food. And we were in for such a treat! A delicious three course lunch was in store, accompanied by local wine. I’m a huge fan of Italian food and was utterly blown away by all the meals at the palazzo! Local cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella and taleggio, home-made pasta, wonderful bread, delicious tiramisu…let’s just say, we certainly didn’t go hungry.

After lunch, Giuseppe talked us through a table design, which we were going to make to decorate the table where we were having dinner that evening. It featured orange roses and calla lilies, and here it is complete and in situ below…

It was so lovely to enjoy all our efforts whilst we had dinner…another three course affair! It was also great to get chance to properly chat to and get to know the other students, and learn about their floral journeys. And we were very lucky that Kally Ellis, the founder of McQueens, was also with us.

Day 2 started, with what was for me personally, one of the highlights…making a very large focal vase! Thank you so much for all your comments when I posted a picture, showing the vase’s scale, on Facebook, After the precision of the designs on Day 1, I loved being able to make something much more informal, relaxed and freestyle.

Emily demoed how to create it and then it was our turn. After placing flexigrass inside the vase, we constructed a ‘nest’ of foliage which included eucalyptus cinerea, ruscus and grevillea. We then added stunning purple delphiniums…

…guelder rose, snapdragons, roses and aconitum. And we finished if off with a final flourish in the form of wispy green bell. Here’s my finished design below…

After another scrumptious lunch, next on the agenda was creating a candelabra. Following a demo by Giuseppe, we made the design in pairs. We greened up with eucalyptus cinerea, pistachio and mint. Then added roses, peonies, guelder rose, spray roses and jasmine trails.

Here’s a close-up…

Another fun evening then ensued with yet more wonderful food and a glass of wine or two…

Day 3, our final ‘flower’ day, was when Emily and Giuseppe really pulled out all the stops with their planned designs to decorate the table for our last evening together. With their guidance, we all collaborated to create this amazing table runner below.

Starting off with a base of pistachio and ruscus foliage, we then added several different varieties of beautiful roses in shades of pink and cream.  And to add a pop of orange, ranunculus were inserted throughout the design.

Whilst we were watching a pasta-making demo downstairs in the kitchen, the room was transformed and made ready for the evening, with the addition of hanging calla lilies and candlelight. Doesn’t it look sensational?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the McQueens Italian Masterclass. Emily and Giuseppe’s teaching style was absolutely ‘spot-on’. Every detail had been thought about, nothing was too much trouble and no question went unanswered. They really couldn’t have been more helpful or encouraging. And they shared so many valuable hints, tips and techniques!


The next McQueens Italian Masterclass is taking place at Palazzo Tartagliozzi from Wednesday 23rd August to Sunday 27th August 2017. For full details and to secure your place, please contact or call 020 7251 5505. The course is suitable for florists of all abilities, from complete beginners to seasoned professionals who are looking for an opportunity to create large scale designs.

For information about all the courses at the McQueens Flower School please visit the McQueens website. Social media wise, you can find the company on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Plus they have a captivating YouTube channel, which you should really check out!

P.S. By the way, just in case you missed it, here’s a link to a short YouTube video which I published on Monday featuring the masterclass. And just to let you know…next week, I’m travelling to Majorca to attend a business retreat. I’ll be back the following week. In the meantime, I’ll be popping in and out of Instagram and Instagram Stories.

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