By Allison Ganey
While the holidays look very different for most of us this year, we’re still finding ways to make them special. Just because we’re limiting gatherings doesn’t mean we have to skimp on the holiday decor! Now is the perfect time to explore new ideas, and a memorable floral centerpiece is a great place to start. To help inspire you, we asked local floral designers for their advice on all things holiday florals!
With so many different styles or arrangements, how can someone choose the right style for them?
Amy Parr of Amy’s Floral Design: “Go with whatever you love. Flowers are an emotional purchase, and there is no need only to pick traditional, contemporary, or any specific style. In fact, it is fun to try different styles and see how those styles compliment your living space. Sometimes a traditional treatment looks great in a contemporary home setting.”
Susan Spanger of Bloomful Floral Design: “Always taking personal style into consideration, my goal is to design a statement piece for my clients. I believe that a floral arrangement is meant to elevate your space and mood, whether you keep it for yourself or give it away as a gift. Designing an inspiring piece means that you should incorporate movement. People feel inspired when you can showcase the elegance and wispiness of certain flowers, the naturally occurring linear lines, and the gorgeous droop and swoop of leaves and stems. The space in an arrangement is as important as the flowers are chosen. These elements provide the still life balance through movement in a floral arrangement. My job is to figure out exactly how to deliver the right results to every client while factoring in their favorite flowers and fragrances, preferred color palette, and aesthetics. For example, I recently made a Thanksgiving centerpiece for a client who intended to give it as a housewarming gift. I found out later that she loved it so much that she brought it back home with her after the Thanksgiving meal. That is positive feedback for me! Fortunately, brides usually have a great sense of what they are looking for, and always share sample photos. One of my bridal clients recently told me that she will always treasure her bridal bouquet (preserving it) and that it “smelled like happiness.” That comment really resonated with me.”
Jessica Bowen of Flower Girl CT: “One of the easiest ways to decide on the style of arrangement you purchase is to look at the environment it will be placed in. For example, if your room has a lot of colorful decor, presently, it may be best to stay monochromatic, so your arrangement stands out. Such as an all-white and silver or all red arrangement. If your room lacks festive decor, then go bold and use all the colors and metallics you like to bring in the holiday feel.”
Is there an “it” color, flower, or overall style for holiday arrangements this year?
Susan: “While always following trends, I come up with my own personal style for holiday arrangements while also taking into consideration my clients’ preferences. There are certain high-quality flowers that people often appreciate, such as peonies, parrot tulips, freesia, and garden roses. I like to design holiday arrangements with burgundy hues found in calla lilies, helleborus, anemone, ranunculus, and scabiosa. Sometimes, I include an unlikely and surprising element, such as raspberry plants with their heavily textured foliage and deeply veined leaves. One of my favorite flowers for holiday arrangements is the Star of Bethlehem, which embodies the true meaning of the holiday. With its beautiful flowering stalks, Star of B is native to the Mediterranean region and belongs to the Lily family. I also love working with all shades of amaryllis with their striking trumpet-shaped blooms and long, elegant stems.”
Jessica: “For me personally, the look this year is all winter white and silver OR all reds and magenta’s.”
Amy: “Textured neutrals with pops of earth-toned blooms and metallic ferns are all the rage. Pops of purple and burgundy are on-trend now too. Festive holiday arrangements don’t have to be white and green or the usual red and green. Floral design is about using flowers to interpret occasion or holiday in a way that feels special.”
What suggestion/s would you offer if someone came to you saying, “I have no idea what I want”?
Jessica: “In this scenario, I ask 3 questions. Who is this for? What is this for (i.e. birthday, holiday, anniversary)? Lastly, would you consider this person to be traditional, more conservative in their aesthetics, or do you see them as more vibrant, bold, and daring in their look and personality?”
Amy: “It is important for a floral stylist to understand the occasion for the flowers. Is it a birthday celebration or thank you? How large is the table or how big is the room? Is this a gift from one person or a group gift? I often watch how clients respond to the flowers on my flower bar at Hayfields Market. Some people love wild-looking garden blooms, while other folks like roses or tropical cuts.”
Susan: “I usually start by asking a potential client if they prefer a high profile or low-profile arrangement? Are they looking for a centerpiece or a smaller arrangement to accent a room? I always inquire about their specific preferences for colors, flowers, aesthetics, and vessels, along with their price range. After those initial questions, I begin making suggestions on any seasonal flowers that are a great fit for what they are looking for, as well as specific textural or rarely-seen accents they might like. I often try and put a distinctive twist on my floral arrangements to make them memorable and one-of-a-kind.”
Do you have any tips for incorporating non-floral items, like branches, etc.?
Amy: “I recently led a “botanically inspired” flower styling workshop for a local garden club. I had students use foraged branches from their yards to create the base grid for the arrangement. Our yards and home gardens are a great source for branches and blooms. Adding cut oranges, baby pears, or bunches of grapes works well too.”
Susan: “I do like to include nature-inspired elements in many of my arrangements, most frequently curly willow branches. These branches always add amazing height, texture, and visual impact on arrangements and centerpieces. This Fall, I’ve experimented with different types of feathers (e.g., peacock and turkey), different types of fruit (e.g., wild grapes, pomegranates, pears, and figs), and items found in nature such as ferns, blue spruce, boxwood, and evergreen boughs. When teaching floral design classes, I tell my students to keep their eyes open when going on nature walks. You never know when you will find something unique that you can fold into your arrangement.”
Jessica: “Yes, Just do it!”
Share your background! What led you to floral design?
Susan: “My love of flowers started at a young age and was nurtured by my parents, both of whom were avid gardeners. Fast forward, and I shifted gears after thirteen years in the corporate world to become a floral designer. I honed my floral design skills and gained experience during a six-year stint as Boutique Manager and Floral Designer for Beethoven’s Veranda based in North Bergen, NJ. Inspiring collaborative creativity through the design process has always been a motivation for me. I also firmly believe that creating your own style for floral arranging, learning the basics of gardening, and tending to houseplants are all valuable life skills. These beliefs, along with an entrepreneurial spirit led me to start my own educational floral design company called Bloomful Floral Design in 2017.”
Jessica: “12 years ago, I was asked to help out a family friend in a pickle at her shop that she couldn’t work in, and it was one of those things you just know you can do instinctively, so I knew I could help. One week later, I was asked to manage said shop full-time and began self-teaching myself on youtube for 12 hours a day. I eventually moved on so that I could freelance with those I wanted to learn from when I needed to grow and knew this was my life’s passion.”
Amy: “A friend from the Rusticus Garden Club gave me one of Paula Pryke’s books years ago. I promptly read every one of Paula’s books and was fortunate to attend Paula’s Flower school in London. After attending Flower School, I returned to the states, incorporated Amy’s Flowers, and met Renea Dayton of Hayfields Market where we have a flower bar and offer a wide range of floral design services.”
Check out each of these lovely floral designers on their social media:
Amy at Amy’s Floral Design – @amys_flowers_ny on Instagram
Susan at Bloomful Floral Designs – @bloomfulfloraldesign on Instagram
Jessica at Flower Girl CT – @flowergirlct on Instagram