Looking to Spring with Susan McLeary

This Michigan-based designer is not bashful about exploring unusual shapes for her arrangements. Her avant-garde, jewel-toned creations bring warmth to the wintry season
floral designer susan mcleary wearing a green sweater, standing beside a mantel she has decorated with succulents and spring flowers
Susan McLeary

Floral designer Susan McLeary thinks outside the vase. She creates imaginative arrangements, always with exciting dimension and an artist’s awareness color and textures. A look at her Instagram feed (@passionflowersue), also shows her extraordinary skill with succulent jewelry and floral wearables—the techniques for which she shares in her book The Art of Wearable Flowers (Chronicle Books, 2020).

In the arrangements that follow, originally created for Flower magazine’s Jan/Feb 2018 issue, McLeary marries the luxe textures of succulents, ranunculus, and hellebores with a rich palette that looks forward to spring.

succulent and floral arrangement on a mantel

McLeary used succulents, ranunculus, hellebores, scabiosas, sweet peas, and fritillaria in a riot of rich colors to give this mantel arrangement height and her guests a topic of discussion.

succulent arrangement under a round glass coffee table top with a brass base. Floral design by Susan McLeary

The designer enjoys finding new mediums for her flowers, such as jewelry or even furniture, like this glass coffee table.

connected two-piece floral arrangement with succulents designed by Susan McLeary

This cascading bridge piece can be used in many settings: for an entryway, a sideboard, an escort card table, or, as pictured here, resting on a pair of side tables. For flowers, McLeary chose her early spring favorites in a rich palette. Get the step-by-step instructions for this cascading arrangement.

Connected two-piece floral arrangement with succulents designed by Susan McLeary

In another example of a two-piece arrangement, succulents, ranunculus, hellebores, sweet peas, jasmine vine, tulips, muscari, and Fritillaria persica fill a verdigris container and appear to have sprung up from the top of this side table. The second photo gives us a closer look at the lower piece by itself.