Secret Garden Arrangement How-To

Holly Bryan of Holly Bryan Designs didn't just select flower showhouse rooms, but was inspired to create a secret garden arrangement with step-by-step instructions.
Arrangement of pink roses, yellow cymbidium orchids and other flowers inspired by a painting at the Flower Atlanta Showhouse

Plato was well known for his philosophy that art imitates life, while Aristotle believed that life imitates art. When asked which of these two ancient doctrines she subscribes to, Holly Bryan didn’t have to think twice before replying “both.”

Holly Bryan portrait

The Atlanta-based floral design phenom backed up her answer with a masterpiece of her own making—a bountiful, fresh arrangement inspired by an abstract floral painting by Ashley Cunningham. The piece, Ordinary House Plant 2, is one of three original works by various artists featured in a secret garden-inspired bedroom designed by Tammy Connor Interior Design for the Atlanta Showhouse. “I was captivated by the rich contrasts in the painting,” Holly says. “I love the dramatic juxtapositions of the light and bright hues, along with the heavy brushstrokes coupled with simple botanical drawings. For my arrangement, I took a similar approach and chose flowers and foliage with distinct shapes, textures, and colors that, despite their differences, come together harmoniously and organically like blossoms in a real-life garden.” 

Ashley Cunningham painting, "Ordinary House Plant 2"
Penny Morrison "Jaipur Berry" linen floral print
Graphic printed pillow, "Mughal Gardens" by Katie Leede in Melon
Polka dot fabric "Tika" in Blush from Lisa Fine Textiles.

The painting by Ashley Cunningham served as Holly’s inspiration for her floral design. She also pulled colors from other elements in Tammy Connor’s bedroom design, including the linen floral print (Penny Morrison “Jaipur Berry”), the graphic pillow (Katie Leede “Mughal Gardens” in Melon), and the polka dot fabric (Lisa Fine Textiles “Tika” in Blush).


Flowers and plant materials for Holly Bryan's Secret Garden inspired flower arrangement hanging on a board.
  • Coated chicken wire
  • Plastic liner
  • Waterproof floral tape
  • Leucothoe
  • Nandina
  • Lamb’s ears
  • Banksia
  • Calycina
  • Lisianthus
  • Cappuccino Beige Rose
  • Rex begonia
  • Cymbidium orchid
  • Asparagus fern


Holly Bryan securing chicken wire in plastic bowl liner for flower arrangement. Japanese bowl on lazy susan on table.

STEP 1 Mold chicken wire to fit the plastic liner, and secure it inside by making an X across the top using floral tape. Place the liner inside the bowl, and fill with water 1 inch from the top.

Hands adding Leucothoe and Nandina brances to bowl.

STEP 2 Create a base layer by inserting long branches of Leucothoe followed by Nandina. Loosely add in Lamb’s ears to fill in any holes.

Holly Bryan adding Banksia, Lisianthus, and roses to flower arrangement in bowl.

STEP 3 Insert Banksia at three different heights, and round out the arrangement with Calycina. Add Lisianthus to evenly disperse color and texture. Clip roses at varying heights, and strip the stems of all leaves, including those near the blossom. Create small clusters of roses, and gently insert them at varying angles and heights.

Holly Bryan adding Rex begonia and yellow Cymbidium orchids to flower arrangement.

STEP 4 Cut the stems of the Rex begonia, and insert the blooms at varying heights and angles. Split the Cymbidium orchid in two. Insert one stem vertically toward the top of the arrangement and the other to the side.

Floral designer Holly Bryan checking arrangement and filling holes with asparagus fern.

STEP 5 Rotate the arrangement to check all sides. Lightly fill in any holes with sprigs of asparagus fern to complete the final layer of color and texture.

See more from Tammy Connor’s girl’s bedroom, the Atlanta showhouse room that inspired this arrangement.

“I chose flowers and foliage that come together organically like blossoms in a real-life garden.”—Holly Bryan

Produced by Margaret Zainey Roux | Photography by Robert Peterson

Find more from Holly on her website and follow her Instagram.