Horticultural expert

Mesa resident Dr. Dirk van Leenen is offering a 10-week course on floral design. (Special to the Tribune)

Mesa resident Dr. Dirk van Leenen has a bargain for anyone who wants to learn the art of floral design.

An internationally accredited horticultural and floral design expert, he’s starting a 10-week instructional program Oct. 12 at the Las Sendas Clubhouse, 7900 E. Eagle Crest Drive, and each day’s lesson will end with students taking home a floral design.

Van Leenen is only one of 12 Dutch master designers in the world and gave floral design lessons in 20 countries over 45 years as a representative of the United Nations.

A native of The Netherlands, he has spent his life working with flowers and has several degrees in horticulture and floral design. 

He also studied English at the University of Leiden in Holland and worked a number of years in Holland as an English teacher and has published four books.

Three books comprise a trilogy of novels that detail how the Dutch Resistance helped Jewish families during World War II to escape Nazi concentration camps. The novels, including “Resistance on a Bicycle,” came from stories that van Leenen heard from his parents, who were part of that Resistance, as well as his own memories as a child growing up in those dark days,

“They risked their lives to hide many Jewish families from the Nazis and then shepherd them away to safety,” according to a review of “The Last Train to the Concentration Camp."

But war will be a far cry away from van Leenen’s classes.

He has scheduled the two-hour classes, held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., so that the students will have an arrangement to take home every week – even for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tuition is $495 but some might consider that a steal since van Leenen provides all the materials – including the flowers, containers and tools.

“I basically break even,” van Leenen said, noting each arrangement a student takes home is valued at $50.

He said a typical class involves about 20 minutes of theory – for example, that colors “have weight” and impact any arrangement – followed by actual work on arrangements and concluding with critiques that he offers on every student’s work for the class’ benefit.

Indeed the theory behind floral arrangements is extensive, he said, and Dutch masters studied it for years.

Van Leenen, who studied horticulture at a university in Holland, said, “Even though these classes are for amateurs and hobbyists, the knowledge they gain will supersede that of many professional flower designers. … This is truly hands-on learning.”

His classes have won plaudits from former students – and not just for the creations they learn to make.

“This is so relaxing “ said Jean Perrin. “It’s like therapy.”

The classes are limited to 20 people. 

To find out more and sign up: 480-512-9757

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