The Art of the Centerpiece

A closer look at contemporary floral design in a new book about farm-to-vase flowers

Photo: A foraged centerpiece assembled from white azaleas, dogwoods, and spiveas. Photo by Andrew Ingalls

Tis the season for blooming branches and buds. And that’s exactly why the new book In Full Flower, by veteran garden writer Gemma Hart Ingalls and photographed by her husband Andrew Ingalls, caught our eye. It profiles the work of twenty-one floral designers around the country, who create artful arrangements with local, seasonal, and foraged ingredients—and singular flair. Gemma compares the current obsession with floral art to the same fervor many now share for food, writing: “Similar to a memorable meal meticulously created and presented, only to be consumed shortly thereafter, flower art is living, nebulous, time-based stuff, to be appreciated in the moment, and then it’s fleetingly gone, back to the earth.”

And while the blooms she documents in the book indeed might be fleeting, the inspiration in the 225-page volume is not. Rightly so, there are several Southerners in the mix: Alicia and Adam Ricco of Bows + Arrows in Dallas, Texas; Mandy and Steve O’ Shea of Moonflower in Comer, Georgia; and Holly Carlisle of RoseGolden Flowers in Birmingham, Alabama. What do all three have in common? A sense of place in their wildness and exoticism. As Mandy O’ Shea put it in the book: “Nature in the sultry South is rarely ever tight and contained and our job is to emulate its beauty. There’s so much to be inspired by in our daily life—a walk through the fields or the woods, the architecture of an old building, or the art of friends and loved ones.”

For a closer look at a few of our favorite arrangements from each firm, scroll down.

Floral Design Firm: RoseGolden Flowers
Southern by Way of: Birmingham, Alabama

Photo: Andrew Ingalls

An inventive pale pink, hot pink, and saffron-yellow arrangement by Holly Carlisle with peonies as the star players.

Floral Design Firm: Moonflower
Southern by Way of: Comer, Georgia

Photo: Andrew Ingalls

An overflowing design by Moonflower incorporates both blooms and branches grown and foraged on Mandy and Steve O’Shea’s Georgia farm including ranunculus, fig branches with fruit, oak leaf hydrangeas, star jasmine, and alliums.

Floral Design Firm: Bows + Arrows
Southern by Way of: Dallas, Texas

Photo: Andrew Ingalls

Tumbling garden roses and anemones in modern, tonal shades of pink by husband-and-wife duo Adam and Alicia Ricco.