Home & Garden

Summer-Thriving Blooms (and More Floral Arranging Secrets)

The Atlanta floral designer Shean Strong talks how to develop a theme, flowers that can take the heat, and why his grandmother is his biggest inspiration

Photo: Courtesy of Shean Strong

A pink arrangement by Strong for Garden & Gun.

The thirty-three-year-old Atlanta floral designer Shean Strong attributes his love of flowers to his stylish grandmother, whom he visited often as a child at her home in Florida. “We decorated for every holiday together,” Strong recalls. “I would help her set the table for dinner parties, and flowers were always a part of that.”

And even though Strong thought he was headed in the direction of a medical career, with a biochemistry major in college, a single weekend spent arranging flowers for a friend’s wedding changed all that. In 2017 he founded his firm, and hasn’t looked back—except to uncover yet more family connections to flowers. “When I started my business, my grandmother told me how my great-grandmother owned a flower shop in Florida, to my surprise,” Strong says. “I thought this was my own forged path, but I’m now even more invested in flowers, knowing they are a part of my lineage.”

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Today Strong not only designs installations for weddings and events across the Southeast, but also teaches both in-person and virtual workshops (which can find out more about here). These classes allow him to instruct attendees on his Caravaggio-esque creations in real time.

Strong favors elements that lend themselves to painterly scenes, such as a spray of wild raspberries or blooming citrus tucked into an arrangement, or a single color setting the theme. For the look he dreamed up for Garden & Gun below, Strong incorporated monochromatic tones of pink using jasmine, Japanese ranunculus, hellebores, fritillaria, sweet peas, and dried palm shoots.

Strong’s arrangement for Garden & Gun.

“I am more concerned about the color story than the bloom itself,” he says. “Because I find you’re able to create a more tangible mood with a color palette than with specific stems.”

He also knows a thing or two about what flowers stand up to sun and heat for outdoor events in the South, noting that roses, antique carnations, ranunculus, and orchids are all enduring choices for spring and summer weddings and parties.

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Perhaps the most important takeaway from his curriculum is that there isn’t really a “right” way to put an arrangement together. “In each class I always go over traditional floral rules, color theory, and design techniques, but also tell every attendee, you have to know the rules in order to break them,” he says. “And I have a firm belief that each person finds their creative voice this way, by designing for themselves.”