Arts & Culture

A Truly Southern Thanksgiving Centerpiece

To floral designer Shean Strong, mustard greens aren’t just for eating

photo: SHEAN STRONG


We’ve all seen the bounty of traditional Thanksgiving tablescapes wielding gourds and squash and tumbling fall leaves. But the Atlanta floral designer Shean Strong has another idea for creating a showstopping tableau: mustard greens, which grow in abundance this time of year and can easily be found at farmers markets and grocery stores. 

“When you think outside of ‘just flowers,’ that’s where you get the good stuff,” Strong says. “I love incorporating other edible elements, too, such as enoki mushrooms, the giant Swiss chard leaves, the scabiosa, and the persimmons, to set off the bright mustard greens.”

When arranging, “Hydration is key when it comes to working with edible greens,” Strong says. “In order for them to stay fresh, be sure to give the stems a cut and place them in clean water.” Then, placing the water vase in a fitting vessel is essential. Here, Strong chose a wicker basket to keep the bowl of water tucked out of sight. “Woven vessels always feel inviting, comforting, and communal,” he says. The watering and the right containers help keep the chard leaves stiff enough to support the mustard greens and other elements, too.

photo: SHEAN STRONG

The height and drama play well on a sideboard or on a welcoming entry table and can easily be modified to create a lower version to stagger down a long table as well. In the latter case, “I suggest creating two of these to create balance, or as a long, singular arrangement. And don’t be afraid to let your vegetables cascade onto the table.”

Below, watch Shean create this arrangement and share more tips.

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