“I have never met a stick in the woods that I didn’t like,” laughs Greensboro floral designer Randy McManus as he untangles an unruly mass of curly willow. “I am a forager and discoverer, and I love digging so deep into the soil that I can almost feel its nutrients. I actually feel cleansed after getting my hands dirty, whether I am way out in the woods or I’m just working in my own backyard garden.”
Randy, who opened his eponymous flower market and design studio in 1978, says that his organic approach to floral design stems from his childhood on the family farm in Guilford County, North Carolina. He is not formally trained but rather self-taught over the course of countless summers spent exploring hay fields, plucking wildflowers, and experimenting with the different colors, shapes, and textures of his harvest.
While Randy’s process has matured and his product has been refined over the decades, he remains true to his go-with-the-flow floral philosophy. In fact, his arrangements are so natural in form that one might be hard-pressed to label them “arrangements” in the first place. “I gravitate toward a looser, free-flowing aesthetic,” Randy says. “There is nothing wrong with a formal bouquet or a tight mound, but there is beauty in the way a crooked flower softly drapes or how a fistful of gnarly blooms looks as though it’s still growing from the ground.”
Nothings says “summertime” quite like a fistful of wildflowers. To capture that carefree vibe, floral designer Randy McManus filled a hollowed birch log with a rainbow of blooms and branches in various shapes and sizes, creating an organic display that is both elegant and enchanting.
- Simple glass cylinder vase
- Hollowed-out birch log
- Seeded eucalyptus
- Light pink garden roses
- Blue thistle
- Queen Anne’s lace
- Orange butterfly weed
- Antique purple hydrangeas
- Pincushion protea
- Moonstone roses
- Zebra grass blades
- Fern fronds
- Dried pitcher plants
- Dried mushrooms
—Floral designer Randy McManus
STEP 1: Place the glass cylinder vase inside the hollow birch log, and add water until half full. To establish the height and flow of the arrangement, insert the tallest clippings first, including the hellebores, eucalyptus, delphiniums, and clematis.
STEP 2: Add weight to the arrangement by bringing in garden roses, thistle, Queen Anne’s lace, butterfly weed, hydrangeas, pincushion protea, and moonstone roses. Optional: For a brighter arrangement, incorporate additional white flowers such as lysimachia and hypericum.
STEP 3: Tuck zebra grass blades, fern fronds, and pitcher plants into the arrangement on an angle. Optional: Add a few branches of dried pussy willow and/or curly willow to one side for a more organic, asymmetrical profile.
STEP 4: Turn the arrangement 360 degrees to check for gaps. Tuck dried mushrooms into the natural holes in the birch log and affix with hot glue.