Haskell Harris (@haskellharris) is the style director at Garden & Gun.
On any given day at the Garden & Gun offices in Charleston, South Carolina, you’ll find all manner of flora on display, from fragrant arrangements in our communal kitchen to a small forest of twelve-foot Ficus trees. We owe these moments of organic beauty to local floral designer Sara Grimshaw of SYG Designs. She’s our resident floral expert and someone I’m endlessly pestering with horticulture questions when she stops by the office. I love the way her creative mind works because she understands tradition but chooses unexpected, modern colors and compositions, and never fails to incorporate Southern plants in her work, whether they’re something she grew in her backyard or foraged. Last week, I asked her advice on matching floral arrangements to vessels—both traditional and unconventional ones. Her ideas for three easy, beautiful ideas that work well with specific shapes follow below.
Composition: Foraged hosta leaves, wild honeysuckle vine, mock orange, Bowl of Cream peonies, and white coneflower.
Why it works: “I love the traditional ginger jar shape because the narrow opening and depth of the vase make it relatively easy to whip up an interesting design without having to use chicken wire or tape to hold things in place,” Grimshaw says. “I started with the hosta leaves and the honeysuckle and then added one of my personal favorites, luxurious Bowl of Cream peonies. For texture and a pop of color I layered in white coneflower from the garden. Even when the blooms have expired, coneflower seed pods are a beautiful textural element.”
Perfect for: The kitchen counter or entry table or console.
Composition: Local foraged, Southern hydrangeas, sweet pea, clematis, viburnum, blueberry branches, lavender phlomis, passion flower vine, and wild honeysuckle.
Why it works: “A footed bowl is a favorite container shape for me to design in,” says Grimshaw. “I wanted this arrangement to be overflowing and full, so I started by creating a base with hydrangeas. Then I worked in the trailing clematis, passion flower vine, and wild honeysuckle to create a feeling of abundance. To achieve more height and scale, I clustered in the sweet pea and added touches of blueberry branches and lavender phlomis.”
Perfect for: A focal piece for a dining table or one side of a bar.
Composition: Marigolds, zinnias, begonias, blueberries, and David Austen Juliet garden roses.
Why it works: “Cocktail glasses make great petite vases. This arrangement is filled with local Southern flora and I like keeping this sort of wildflower-y design in the same color tones to create organization but also highlight the individual blooms,” Grimshaw says. “Colorful arrangements like this can also be beautiful but a more monochromatic or tonal approach is calmer on the eye. It’s easier to appreciate the different petal patterns, textures, and shapes when the color transition is smoother.”
Perfect for: A bedside table in a guest room. “I also love the idea of giving a set of glasses with one filled with flowers as a hostess gift,” Grimshaw says.