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Kelly Marie Thompson of Fleur

The Chicago floral designer and shop owner creates romantic arrangements with a nod to Midwest prairie sunsets
Portrait of floral designer Kelly Marie Thompson in her shop, Fleur, in Chicago. She wears a denim tunic and dark pants, and holds a small bouquet of roses. She's surrounded by flowers, grasses, large tropical leaves, and the antiques that fill the shop’s exposed brick frame.

When Kelly Marie Thompson was designing floral arrangements for Flower magazine’s visit to her shop, Fleur, in Chicago, she looked to nature for her creative catalyst.

“I was inspired by the romance of the Midwest prairie sunset, which led me to choose several wild grasses to mix in with the flowers,” she says. “I wanted a soothing palette that would evoke a peaceful feeling, incorporating rusty bronze, pale orange, and soft pinks that hint at the season but perhaps are also a little unexpected.”

Enjoy a peek inside Kelly’s shop and the trio of designs she created for us. You’ll also find her step-by-step floral tutorial at the end of this post.

A Look Inside Fleur

Located in historic Logan Square, her boutique offers seasonal cut flowers from primarily local sources, along with jewelry, paper goods, and home accessories.

Fleur in Chicago

The mix of antique furniture in the shop gives it the feel of a living room.

“Shop Kitty,” aka Sweet Pea, basks in the late October sun.

Flowers and grasses selected for the photo shoot with Flower magazine

A Trio of Floral Designs

“I’m drawn to using wild grasses in my designs. They add more unusual texture and another element to arrangements other than greenery and flowers.” – Kelly Marie Thompson
Kelly Marie Thompson floral design in a long, oval antique dough bowl

Materials

  • Wild grasses
  • ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus
  • ‘Romantic Antike’ roses
  • ‘Koko Loko’ roses
  • ‘Prairie Sunset’ roses
  • Anthurium
  • Pieris japonica
A Kelly Marie Thompson floral design in a low compote vase

Materials

  • ‘Blushing Bride’ protea
  • ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus
  • Wild grasses
  • Pieris japonica
  • Dried pampas grass
Finished floral arrangement demonstrated by Kelly Marie Thompson. Materials: Pieris japonica, Plum tree foliage, Bridal veil grass , Millet grass, Explosion grass, ‘Blushing Bride’ protea‘, Prairie Sunset’ roses, ‘Romantic Antike’ roses, ‘Koko Loko’ roses, ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus

Materials and step-by-step instructions for this floral design follow. 

Kelly’s Floral Tutorial

The materials are laid out on a flat white surface: Pieris japonica, Plum tree foliage, Bridal veil grass , Millet grass, Explosion grass, ‘Blushing Bride’ protea‘, Prairie Sunset’ roses, ‘Romantic Antike’ roses, ‘Koko Loko’ roses, ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus

Materials

  • Pieris japonica
  • Plum tree foliage
  • Bridal veil grass
  • Explosion grass
  • Millet grass
  • ‘Blushing Bride’ protea
  • ‘Prairie Sunset’ roses
  • ‘Koko Loko’ roses
  • ‘Romantic Antike’ roses
  • ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus

Step-by-Step Instructions

Click the arrows (or swipe if on a mobile device) to see each step.

Step 1 photo - Kelly Marie Thompson Floral Demonstration
1 | "I used a low terra-cotta pot to complement my palette," says Kelly Marie Thompson. "Ball up chicken wire to create a base, and insert it into the container. Then trim and add the japonica, which is rust-toned and textural."
Step 2 photo
2 | Add branches of plum foliage. Trim them fairly short, and then place throughout the base of japonica.
Photo for step 3
3 | Now the mix of grasses—bridal veil, explosion, and millet. Place these at varying angles in the arrangement. There’s no exact formula; just step back every once in a while and make adjustments as needed.
Step 4 photo
4 | Use the ‘Blushing Bride’ protea in small groupings at the base of the arrangement. They impart a soft pink to the palette, and the texture is wonderful.
Step 5 photo
5 | Time for roses! Place ‘Prairie Sunset’ roses in front, and start to add more volume to the arrangement. Add a few ‘Koko Loko’ roses, which bring a depth of color and help blend the palette.
Step 6 photo
6 | Place about six ‘Garden Antike’ roses to add another more muted and romantic shade of pink. This is a good time to step back and make any desired adjustments and look for holes to fill in.
Step 7 Photo
7 | Finally, the ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus—let these flowers float throughout the arrangement. They add movement and another layer of color.

Produced by Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Jaclyn Simpson

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