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He’ll Be the Judge of That…

By Nancy Arsenault

Stow’s Tony Tedesco inside his Main St. Studio. His birch limb arrangement, one of many unique arrangements for which he is known, can be seen in the background.
Nancy Arsenault

As the endless gray days seem to stretch on, at least one Stow resident  sees only springtime. The Boston Flower & Garden Show opens next Wednesday and  Stow’s Tony Tedesco will mark another year there, having attended every Boston Flower Show for the past 65 years – yes, 65 years. As in many past years, Tedesco will be judging the floral arrangements and designs submitted by local clubs and organizations.

Tedesco is one of the top flower show judges in the United States, often lecturing to a circuit of Horticultural Societies and Garden Clubs around the country and speaking to larger trade groups in countries around the world.

He has designed sets for flower show stages and exhibition areas and he has literally “written the book” on modern day floral design for the National Garden Club. Their tome on floral design and arranging is a how-to recipe book of  43 of Tedesco’s creations and is a floral Bible for those looking to enter competions….and win.

Two years ago, the World Flower Show organization brought their annual meeting and exhibition to Boston, and for Tedesco, it was an opportunity for the Stow florist to shine on home turf. It was at that show he created a 15ft. arrangement in front of a crowd of 600, explaining his method while going about his work, one of only 6 American designers selected to showcase a new creation at this event.
The design had to be an original creation, using certain floral elements and had to be arranged within 30 minutes, with hundreds of people watching.  “I had a ladder. I constructed a pedestal on rollers on a track I could turn,” said Tedesco of the composition that included red bamboo poles and other tropical samples.

A peek inside Stow florist Tony Tedesco’s One Main St Studio
Nancy Arsenault

“It took forever to draw it out,” he said of the idea first conceived in his Stow Florist/One Main St Studio at the corner of Great Road and Hartley Road.   Once sketched out, he went to the Boston Flower Exchange wholesale market and purchased all of his “building materials”. Then he constructed  an experimental full-sized frame in his backyard for a run through before the Conference came to town. “It was under a tarp out there for weeks,” said Tedesco of the piece and the time he spent mastering its execution.

Tedesco sees himself as part construction master, part architect and mathematician, part artist and sculptor and whatever part remains is for the florist who knows what texture, style and colors will best comprise the design.  If the perfect container for an arrangement does not exist, Tedesco will create one, as he did with PVC pipe and smaller attached tubing, out of which all different sized stems emerged in an award winning contrasting green and white arrangement for one exhibit.

He showed an example on Monday of a texture creation he had just finished that would meet the requirements of a competition design that looks for several elements of one plant, but used in different ways. While most arrangers would gravitate toward a flower of some sort, Tedesco chose the birch tree. His wall hanging featured small rounded birch limbs, alongside delicate brown twigs bundled together, lying next to the flattened paper bark of the birch all mounted onto the hardened and flattened brown interior bark found in the larger trunk.

While Tedesco’s career takes him all over the world, he is still very happy with his corner of Stow, though  it wasn’t always so ideal.

Another unique creation using small branches and cabbage.

When Tedesco moved here 40 years ago from Sudbury, his livelihood was threatened, as he could not continue as a floral design judge without being affiliated with a local Garden Club chapter, a mandatory requirement within his field. So he and another designer who also lived in Stow, formed the Stow Garden Club, recruited members and developed a program. That Club is still active today, often enjoying lectures and teaching seminars given by Tedesco.

When not preparing for shows, lectures or judging events, Tedesco maintains a successful internet and telephone order floral business, serving mostly Stow clientele and their friends and relatives who hear of him through word of mouth.

Though he doesn’t have a retail shop for clients to wander through, Tedesco’s One Main Street Studio is busy creating for weddings, church services, funerals, charity events  and special occasions.  To keep his creative juices flowing, he supplies arrangements for the Museum of Fine Arts and submits exhibition pieces at Tower Hill Botanical Garden and Worcester Art Museum. Stow Florist/One Main Street Studio is available online at or (978) 897- 5720.