Pedal to the metal on her petals

Maricopa women pursues budding career as floral designer

Diana Cockle, 54, of Rancho El Dorado, is embarking on a new career as a florist and entered her first floral-design competition on Jan. 15. [photos by Bryan Mordt}

She has worked in banks. She has dressed hair. She has shipped freight all over the world.

And she’s been pretty good at all of that. Yet still she yearned for something that might bring her the sweet smell of success.

So, Diana Cockle of Rancho El Dorado, on the suggestion of a friend, took a floral-arrangement class from one of the nation’s leaders in the industry, Michael Gaffney.

“I went up to Phoenix and trained with him for about a week, and from Day 1, it was like, wow, you can not only do something with something that’s so beautiful but you can also make it more beautiful. It’s just crazy.”

Diana Cockle has been a banker, a hairdresser, co-owner of a logistics company — and now a florist.

And now, it’s her business, albeit one that can best be described as budding.

She’s been a florist since last May, but already the work she does from her home as Royal Blooms LLC is gaining acclaim around Maricopa.

Cockle took first place last fall in the Pacana Park Truck or Treat pumpkin contest. She was busy through the holidays creating arrangements and wreaths for clients. Recently, Mayor Nancy Smith asked Cockle, 54, to create an arrangement for the funeral of Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb’s son, Cooper.

“It was a huge honor for me to be able to do that,” Cockle said.

On Jan. 15, she is competing in her first Arizona State Florist Association-sanctioned floral competition, Dueling Designer of the West, at Arizona Flower Market in downtown Phoenix. Winner of this heat will go on to the Big Finale in September against winners of other heats.

Diana Cockle was trained to make displays like this by international floral-arrangement expert Michael Gaffney.

Her plan is to elevate her business from her kitchen countertop to a brick-and-mortar shop.

“Once the surf park gets built, my plan is to have a shop over in that area and do this full time,” she said.

She and her husband still operate their Maricopa-based logistics company together, shipping freight worldwide. They’ve lived in the city for 18 years.

Her Royal Blooms LLC business still is largely word-of-mouth although it now has a Facebook page.

“We’re holding off on creating a website because once I do that, I will be inundated,” she said. “And then I’d worry about the quality trying to keep up.”


Learning from the best

Gaffney has been a floral designer for 25 years. He has appeared on the Hallmark Channel, the Today Show and authored books on floral design. He owns 16 floral-design schools across the U.S. and three in Europe.

Now a home-based business, Diana Cockle has plans to open a brick-and-mortar flower shop.

“A friend had attended his class in Phoenix and loved it,” Cockle said. “Michael Gaffney is known to the stars, to Hallmark, he’s got a prestigious background. He goes around the country and teaches classes to anyone who wants to learn more about flowers. So, I attended classes. He just goes above and beyond. It was amazing.

“It’s an industry that if you’re not consumed in education, you’re going to fall behind. It keeps you up with techniques, how to look at things and how to combine things that just enhances your ability to create.”

She’s now confident that if you want a custom floral display, she can arrange it.

More information: [email protected] or 520-252-1301.