Maria Maxit | A Recipe in Bloom

Maria Maxit in Houston uses greens and splashes of burgundy to design an aromatic arrangement that smells, if not tastes, as good as it looks


My inspiration for this design was Houston’s urban, concrete jungle—also known as Central Market. The lush, colorful selection in the produce aisle can be a game changer for a floral designer. Everything from squash to the highly textured kale can be a unique element in an arrangement. Scents really guide me as well. One of my personal secrets is to add herbs to an arrangement for not only the play of colors and textures, but also the intoxicating aromas, which will make others fall in love with the design.

MATERIALS: purple kale, broccolini, dusty miller, calla lilies, purple basil, ‘Polo’ roses, ‘Quicksand’ roses, ornamental kale, ranunculus, poppy pods, dill, artichokes, purple squash

TOOLS & SUPPLIES: clippers, florist’s knife, 1 block of floral foam, floral wood picks, floral wire, floral tape, container


First, soak the floral foam in water before placing it inside the container. Then tape the foam to the container in a crisscross pattern.


Establish the asymmetrical shape of the design with purple kale. Cut each stem at an angle with a floral knife before inserting it in the foam.


To add volume, fill in the arrangement with purple basil. Then continue filling in with broccolini.


Once the foam is sufficiently covered up, it’s time to add the artichokes. Cut each stem pretty short, and then insert a pick into the bottom. This will help stabilize it when placed in the foam. Then group a few in the center of the design.


I like to give highlighting colors to the arrangement by adding lighter pieces, such as the ‘Quicksand’ and ‘Polo’ roses and dusty miller. Group a few roses on one side of the arrangement (be sure to cover up the floral tape), and nestle another rose into the other side. Continue by scattering dusty miller throughout the design.


Before adding the purple squash, it has to be wired. Pierce the stem with a wire, and pull it through before bending and twisting the ends together. The wire will act as a thin “stem” that will secure the squash to the foam.


Add the wired squash to the low side of the asymmetrical design, letting it hang over the edge of the container. Then continue to fill in with the ornamental kale.


Now it’s time for the more delicate pieces. Before adding the calla lilies, use your thumb to gently mold each stem into a curve. Then add the wispy pieces of dill throughout.


Add the poppy pods and ranunculus cut at various heights to accentuate the asymmetrical shape. When you think it’s finished, step away and look to make sure the design has enough movement and no holes. If necessary, just add a few things to fill in.
“Combining polar opposites—light and dark tones, masculine and feminine materials—creates a moody feel, which I love. I also like to incorporate the kinds of organic elements that are usually overlooked, especially things with delightful but unexpected fragrance.”

Produced by ABBY BRASWELL  | Photography by JULIE SOEFER