How to Order Flowers the Right Way

Expert advice for sending beautiful blooms

Photo: Lindsey Harris

Grimshaw dreamed up two arrangements for Garden & Gun: one distinctly personalized for the recipient (at left) and one monochromatic that’s a great choice for any occasion (at right).

Whether you’re ordering for a significant other, a friend, a family member, or a colleague, knowing what to ask your local florist is the key to delivering something thoughtful and beautiful—and as unique as the recipient. After years in the event business, Charleston, South Carolina, floral designer Sara Grimshaw knows exactly how to make flowers personal. Her firm, SYG Designs, creates arrangements for every occasion imaginable and is known for an inventive, fashion-forward aesthetic. We asked her for a few pointers on sending a truly memorable arrangement for Valentine’s Day—or any occasion.


Ask for something with fragrance. “I love the scent of hyacinth and include it in my designs whenever a client requests fragrant flowers,” Grimshaw says. “Hyacinth is easily available most times of the year and is not overly expensive. In the summertime when availability is an issue, I recommend garden roses for fragrance.”

Photo: Lindsey Harris

Different shades of fragrant lilac and feather acacia create a simple arrangement with broad appeal.

Request at least one local or foraged ingredient. “I love walking out the door and looking around and seeing what looks beautiful right now,” Grimshaw says. “Gardening and foraging are two things that keep floral design interesting for me. I have a garden and a greenhouse at home for growing flowers and greens for the shop. I love adding local camellia greenery, maidenhair fern, or passion flower vine to our designs—passion flower vine grows rampant in South Carolina and is available most of the year. I love the unexpected element of having it trail out of an arrangement onto the table, which most people don’t often see in commercial floral design.”

Inquire about the style of container. “A pedestal vase or a compote (footed bowl) are great containers to request as they make any flower arrangement look more stylish. If you are reaching out to a flower shop in an area where access to interesting containers might be an issue, request a simple clear glass cylinder vase and let the flowers speak for themselves.”

Photo: Lindsey Harris

A clear footed bowl and trailing foraged passion flower vine to set off a mix of bold, colorful blooms.

When in doubt, keep it monochromatic. “We often ask about the recipient’s personal style,” Grimshaw says. “Are they modern? Preppy? Traditional? Bohemian? We also ask what the occasion is so we can keep that spirit in mind. If you know the person well, it is easier to know based on their home or clothing choices. If you don’t know the person well and want to send something that will suit any occasion and household, ask for whites, ivories, and greens or monochromatic arrangements in different shades of the same color or using all one bloom.”

Remember these words: no filler flowers. Above all else, “Ask for no filler flowers,” Grimshaw says. “Every floral designer will know what that means.”

Photo: Lindsey Harris

Grimshaw’s studio in Charleston, South Carolina.